As part of our Game of the Year Awards, Nintendo Life is inviting you to choose one game as your Reader’s Game of the Year. You can vote for anything released on a Nintendo platform in 2009, be it WiiWare, DSiWare, Wii or DS, but you only get one vote, so use it wisely!
To remind you of some of the stellar titles we’ve seen in 2009, we’ll be writing a series of articles recommending some games that you may have forgotten about in the traditional Christmas rush. This time, Marcel van Duyn will tell you why Little Mac deserves more than just boxing victories.
Disappointingly mainly forgotten as one of the earlier games released this year, Punch-Out!! is still easily the most noteworthy Nintendo title of the last twelve months. After a hiatus of about fifteen years, it was amazing to finally see what is arguably the most well-known boxing franchise return once more. Nintendo picked the perfect developer for the job - Canadian developer Next Level Games previously crafted the frantic Mario Strikers titles and expressed great interest in reviving some classic Nintendo IPs. Nintendo surprisingly agreed with this, and allowed them to make the best Punch-Out!! title yet.
A slight remake of the NES game, you once again take control of Little Mac as he fights his way through three increasingly difficult boxing circuits. Every single NES opponent with the exception of Mike Tyson/Mr. Dream is here, along with two fighters from the SNES game and one completely new opponent. Just like the previous games, it's more of a puzzle game than a fighter - it's all about figuring out your opponent's attack pattern and reacting accordingly.
The games were always known for their wacky stereotypes, which is just as true this time - since the series can take advantage of 3D graphics for the first time, all of the fighters look absolutely incredible, while still staying 100% true to the way they appeared on your screens in the 80's and 90's. As you beat them up, just like in the old days, they'll start to show wear and tear in the form of bumps and bruises on their bodies. To add even more to their personalities, they've all also got short intro movies, showing just how exactly they keep themselves in shape (or out of shape, in the case of King Hippo!) and they'll also taunt you between rounds in their native language.
The Punch-Out!! games were never really known for their replay value. After beating all opponents, there was really nothing to do other than trying to improve your best time on each! Next Level Games absolutely did their very best trying to improve on it for this installment, though. After beating the game once, you must do what you'd think would come naturally to the champion - defend your title!
All thirteen opponents will challenge you again, and they don't mess around the second time - with a whole arsenal of new moves and tricks, even the normally puny Glass Joe is highly likely to floor you in the first round when you attempt to beat him up again. Only after warding off all revenge-seekers can you truly claim to be a Punch-Out!! master. There's also a head to head two-player mode, but although Next Level Games tried hard to get the most out of it, it just doesn't work too well with Punch-Out!!'s gameplay.
But it just wouldn't be the same without the iconic music from the NES title: choosing not to mess with what works, Next Level Games added only very few new tracks to the game. Each and every opponent has his own variation on the main theme, which sometimes makes the song almost unrecognizable, yet completely awesome. We particularly liked Soda Popinski's amazingly epic remix, consisting of a Russian choir singing to the music.
Punch-Out!! blew us away when we played it - who could've possibly thought that such a stupidly simple gameplay formula would still work so well in a day and age where practically all games utilise every single button on the controller? We awarded Little Mac's latest and greatest rise to the top a fantastic 9 out of 10 stars, and we still think it's worth every single one of them. One of the best franchise revivals ever, the developers obviously cared about catering to the fans as much as possible, and it shows in every single aspect. That's why you should remember the game and nominate it as the best title released on a Nintendo format this year.
If you think Punch-Out!! deserves your vote as Game of the Year, make sure we know about it! Use the Contact Us form, message it to us on Twitter or leave a voicemail on our Skype line at the username NintendoLife. We'll have more games lined up for your consideration in the near future, so keep coming back to see which games we think deserve your vote as Nintendo Life Reader's Game of the Year!