North American boxart featuring Little Mac in the foreground, with Glass Joe, Von Kaiser, King Hippo and Disco Kid in the background.
|Developer(s)||Next Level Games|
|Genre(s)||Boxing, fighting, sports|
|Mode(s)||Single-player, Two-player, Multiplayer|
|Distribution||Wii Optical Disc|
Punch-Out!! is a boxing video game developed by Next Level Games for the Wii and is the fifth main game in Nintendo's Punch-Out!! series following the SNES version of Super Punch-Out!!. Following an early release at the Nintendo World Store in New York City on May 16, 2009, the game was released on May 18, 2009 in North America, May 22, 2009 in Europe, July 23, 2009 in Japan and August 27, 2009 in Australia (exclusively at JB Hi-Fi stores). An additional WiiWare title, Doc Louis' Punch-Out!!, was released exclusively for North American Club Nintendo members on October 27, 2009.
Punch-Out!! features a boxer named Little Mac working his way up the professional boxing circuits, facing a series of colorful, fictional boxers. The game requires reflexes in reaction to the computer-controlled boxers' moves. Aside from a few new opponents, every other opponent is from a previous Punch-Out!! game. New opponents feature Disco Kid, Giga Mac and Donkey Kong, while the classic boxers are ten of the eleven boxers from the original game, as well as two from Super Punch-Out!!.
The game allows three different control schemes. The Wii Remote and Nunchuk can be used together, a Wii Balance Board can be used along with Wii Remote and Nunchuk to duck or dodge, or the Wii Remote can be used by itself and held sideways in a traditional two-button control scheme.
The gameplay takes elements from previous Punch-Out!! games, featuring the star punches from the NES game, while also featuring stamina recovery from Super Punch-Out!!. It once again uses the round system from the NES game, featuring three rounds per opponent, with commentary by Doc Louis in between rounds. Players progress in one of three ways: by successfully KO'ing their opponent, by earning a TKO after knocking down the opponent three times in one round, or winning by a decision. If the player is hit by a knockout punch, it is possible to recover and regain stamina.
The game features several modes, including Career Mode, which has Little Mac climbing the ranks of the World Video Boxing Association by proceeding through the Minor, Major, World Circuits. A new game mode, available after completing Career Mode, is Title Defense Mode. This is a more advanced mode with some boxers in possession of new tricks and ways to protect their weaknesses. For example, in the rematch against King Hippo, he will wear a manhole cover protecting his stomach. If Mac loses to the opponent, he gives up the Champion Belt, which can be reclaimed in additional matches.
Completing Title Defense Mode unlocks the additional Last Stand Mode in which the player must face a series of randomly selected opponents with a high heart meter and a stamina bar that does not regenerate. Additionally, while the game features unlimited rematch attempts, once Last Stand is reached, Mac will retire after three losses, after which Career Mode becomes unplayable, and players must start a new file in order to play this mode again. This mode also disables the "Restart" and "Quit" options. Furthermore, there is no way to "win" this mode. Once ten fighters have been defeated, Champions Mode, an option for Exhibition Mode, is unlocked in which all of the fighters can knock Mac down with just one hit. Exhibition Mode offers three unique achievements per boxer. Undefeated boxers can be practiced against as a hologram until defeated him in the main mode.
The game features a split-screen multiplayer mode between Little Mac and a recolored clone. When one of the players has gathered enough power by repeatedly dodging all moves unscathed, he can transform into "Giga Mac" and the game moves into its single-player view, as Little Mac tries to overcome the bigger and more powerful Giga Mac.
The game was revealed in 2008 at the Nintendo Media Summit, where a fifteen second trailer was shown. It was later announced that it was being developed by Next Level Games, which had partnered with Nintendo on games such as Super Mario Strikers. Nintendo wished to make a new iteration similar to the original Punch-Out!! for the NES, so they asked the studio to design the gameplay to be exactly like it and the characters to look like the original games. This led to the studio designing the game with classic NES-style controls by using the Wii Remote turned sideways. Pre-production started when the Wii was released. At the time, Nintendo was discussing the idea with the studio. Soon after that, the studio created a prototype of the game.
In an interview, the game's producer, Kensuke Tanabe, described the development as a collaborative effort between the people of Next Level Games and the people from Nintendo of Japan. As an example of this, Tanabe said that the roster of opponents that are in the game were chosen by people of both studios, Next Level wanting to include more NES characters. When asked about the challenges of bringing an old franchise to the current generation, the game's gameplay lead, Bryce Holiday, said that the most difficult thing to figure out was how to design the gameplay and where to locate the camera. The game has a cel shaded graphical style, which was a decision of Next Level. Both of the developers wanted to design the graphics in a way that would be immediately identifiable to any person who catches a glimpse of the game. They also wanted to invoke the style of the previous iterations while at the same time creating some new visuals. Holiday called the style "the logical choice".
The inclusion of Donkey Kong was a suggestion from an employee of Nintendo of America, and Tanabe also wished to include Princess Peach, but that idea was abandoned because of the issue of violence towards women. The reason that there were not many Nintendo characters in the game is because the studio wanted to solidify the game's universe. The Title Defense mode was designed to make the game more of a standalone game and not just a nostalgia title, and also to make the game's length longer. The developers liked this since it added more personality to the characters. The studio adjusted the difficulty level in order to make the game easier to pick up and play. The game's 2 player mechanic was difficult task to create, according to Tanabe, because the series didn't have a template to base it on.
There were various additions to the game that were cut from the final product. One of these was online multiplayer, while another feature was the ability to move around the ring in a 3D environment. This idea was scrapped so that the game would have the same feel as the older games in the series. Other features include character customization, other RPG elements, and mini-games.
The game received generally positive reviews, averaging an 86/100 and an 87.29% at Metacritic and Game Rankings respectively. Nintendo Power's Chris Slate scored the game an 8.5/10 in the magazine's June 2009 issue, praising its similarity to the NES title of the same name. Slate stated "The folks at Next Level Games have created an amazing title that has made the 15 years since Super Punch-Out!! quite worthwhile." However, he said that the new additions didn't affect the game. Game Informer gave Punch-Out!! a 9.0/10. IGN's Craig Harris gave this game an 8.8/10, citing its nostalgic gameplay. Sumantra Lahiri of The Escapist also praised its nostalgic value, but suggested that the stereotypes exhibited by the characters that seemed harmless in the 1980s version had not aged well when early 21st century attitudes towards cultural and racial sensitivity were taken into account.
Doc Louis's Punch-Out!!
Doc Louis's Punch-Out!! is a WiiWare title that was available as a reward for 2009 Club Nintendo Platinum members in North America. It was announced alongside a Mario cap as a reward. Though a separate game, it uses the same engine as the Wii version. It also controls the same, with the Wii Remote or Wii Remote + Nunchuk used to duck, punch, and dodge. Unlike Punch-Out!! for Wii, there is no multiplayer, no Wii Balance Board Support, and only three game modes: Warm-Up, Training, and Sparring. Doc Louis becomes increasingly tougher to beat after each is completed, but Little Mac only needs to knock him out once to win.
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