Punch-Out!! - hands-on

Folks who grew up on Nintendo’s cartridge-based consoles have been very vocal in expressing their belief that the company has done a poor job catering to them lately. Nintendo has promised that this passionate audience has not been forgotten and has offered Punch-Out!! in playable form at this year’s Game Developer’s Conference as proof.

Like other boxing games for the Wii, Punch-Out!! utilizes motion controls. But unlike many of those other games, the controls seem to work fairly well. You throw a left to the body by punching with the Nunchuk and a right by swinging the remote. Pushing up on the analog stick while punching will direct your blow to the head, while pushing left, right, or down will cause Mac – your onscreen fighter - to dodge in that direction. A traditional control scheme is also available for those who want to kick it old school. Just turn the remote sideways and use the d-pad and face buttons. This method works great; the controls are tight and responsive.

Punch-Out!! is full of returning characters. Underdog boxer Little Mac is back and so is his trainer/coach/manager Doc, who still offers pseudo helpful hints between rounds. Of the game’s 13 pugilists, only a few were present in the demo we played. One, Disco Kid, is new. Not all of the boxers have been announced as of yet, but Glass Joe, Von Kaiser, King Hippo, and Don Flamenco are all back for more punishment.

Punishment is exactly what we dished out during our brief time with the game. Glass Joe offered little resistance, though our inability to earn a star punch did lengthen the bout a bit. Von Kaiser was up to his same old tricks and didn’t last long either. Next up was Disco Kid, the demo’s lone new boxer. Learning his tells and adjusting to his timing took a few minutes, but after he knocked us down once, we fought back with a vengeance and put him down in the second round.