Punch-Out!! (Wii)

Game Review

Punch-Out!! Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

Fighting fit

It's hard to believe, but it's been 15 years since a Punch-Out!! game was released. Perhaps this is due to the fact that even though the games were made by Nintendo, naturally situated in Japan, they never really found an audience over there. When the Wii came out this was even more of a shame; a new instalment in the series would fit so well on the system, but it didn't seem like Nintendo would make one.

Thankfully, Next Level Games (who you might know as the developers of the two Mario Strikers games) asked Nintendo about the Punch-Out!! series and expressed interest in making a new one. Surprisingly, Nintendo agreed and the end result is this Wii-exclusive update.

The main gameplay in Punch-Out!! is still the same as always - it's not really a boxing game, but more of a puzzle game. You work your way through various opponents as you try to figure out each one's pattern, reacting correctly to each of their moves to dodge them and successfully mount your own counter-attack. The rules are exactly the same as those of the NES game - there's a maximum of three rounds in every fight. If either you or your opponent is knocked down thrice in one round you or he will lose instantly by a TKO (Technical Knockout). If you're knocked down multiple times in multiple rounds you (0r your opponent) might not be able to get up again, which will get you a normal KO. If you're good at timing, a few opponents actually have weak spots which, when hit at exactly the right time, will KO them in a single punch.

Next Level Games chose to bring back unique elements from both previous console games; as was the case in the NES game, you can earn stars by hitting opponents at exactly the right times (while they're taunting or right before they're about to throw a punch, being two examples). You can then use these stars to unleash powerful uppercuts which take away a ton of health. Unlike the NES game, however, it's actually recommended you save these up before unleashing them - if you use 3 stars (the maximum available) at the same time you'll bring down an opponent's health from full to near empty.

An element from the SNES game which has returned is the ability to recover some health while your opponent is knocked down. Simply keep throwing punches while the referee is counting down and you'll slowly but surely recover some health, which can come in good use.

Every opponent from the NES game returns (with the obvious exception of Mike Tyson/Mr. Dream) making for 10 fighters. To up the count a little Next Level Games also took two characters from the SNES game (Bear Hugger and Aran Ryan) and even added an entirely new character, Disco Kid, bringing the total amount of fighters to 13. All of these (except Disco Kid, obviously) behave pretty much exactly like they always did; it's pretty entertaining to recognize an opponent's moves from one of the old games.

Unlike the previous games, however, this time it's not over once you're champion of the world; as in real boxing, your new job will be to defend your title. You'll have to face all 13 fighters again in the same order as before, but be warned - they've been training so they're much, much stronger than before, with more health, more power and entirely new moves. Even Glass Joe - the single easiest opponent in any videogame ever - will actually put up a decent fight and probably KO you at least once while defending your title! Once you've beaten all 13 fighters again there's yet another mode which also includes a top-secret 14th opponent - but you'll have to find out who that is yourself.

If you'd like to rebattle fighters you've already fought (Both the regular and Title Defence versions) there's also an Exhibition Mode - Each of the fighters has their own set of 3 "challenges" (such as not dodging, KO-ing an opponent in a certain number of hits or finding a weak spot) which you can try to achieve here as well. Once you've cleared all three challenges for a specific fighter you'll unlock his sound test - you'll be able to listen to all music and sounds related to that fighter, including Doc Louis's between-round advice and all of the opponent's quotes.

The opponents themselves have got to be the greatest thing about the game. On the NES and SNES they weren't really interesting but because the series has now gone 3D they've all been given fantastic personalities; each opponent has their own intro "movie", consisting of a bunch of pictures detailing their personality and they'll speak in their native language (such as French, Russian, or... Hippo?) during the fight and between rounds, taunting you or praising themselves. They've all also got some great animations - they look so good that it might not be a stretch to call Punch-Out!! one of the best-looking games on the Wii.

Each fighter also has their own personalized music. All of the classic NES Punch-Out!! songs have been remixed 13 times - once for every fighter - giving them all a unique style befitting the character they belong to. There's not a bad song in the bunch and you'll be wanting to clear all challenges in Exhibition Mode as fast as you can just to unlock them all in the sound test.

Next Level Games has also attempted to include a multiplayer mode. When this was first announced it didn't really sound like it would work with the Punch-Out!! gameplay and as it turns out that's completely right - both players will play as Little Mac, simply punching away at each other while occasionally dodging. Once you hit your opponent enough times you'll turn into Giga Mac, a gigantic version of the tiny fighter who can dish out far more damage. In the end though, all you'll really be doing is mashing buttons randomly; the attacks are too fast to actually react to, meaning multiplayer is a rather useless addition.

As with any Wii game it just wouldn't be complete without motion controls. In Punch-Out!! you can use the Wii remote and nunchuk to throw your punches and it actually works quite well for the first few fights. Once you get to the later opponents though, you'll begin to find the reaction time far too slow. It might have been nice if the Wii Motion Plus was released earlier and implemented into the game. Thankfully, there's also a "classic" control option - just tilt the Wii remote on its side and you can play it exactly the same way you play the NES game on Virtual Console.

Punch Out!! also allows you to use the Wii Fit Balance board, but it ends up being more of a novelty than a useful control method. You can choose to make use of it for the ducking and dodging play control aspects of the game, but it ultimately ends up being too sluggish and unresponsive. You'll also likely find yourself concentrating more on trying to effectively use the Balance Board than throwing the various punches and combinations needed to win the fight. Much like other Wii titles that have allowed the use of the Balance Board, it once again feels like a very tacked-on feature that little thought was put into during development.


After their great efforts with the Mario Strikers games, Next Level Games have once again proven they know how to handle Nintendo franchises. Punch-Out!! on the Wii is an absolutely amazing new instalment in the classic franchise with a ton of content for both new and old fans. The multiplayer and motion control aspects are a bit of a let-down but there's just so much other good stuff here that it's easy to overlook these minor niggles. This is quite possibly the greatest revival of all time; please Nintendo, don't let the franchise die off again!

From the web

Game Trailer

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NINTENDO set to release new version of the classic Punch-Out!! game originally seen on the NES

User Comments (67)



Cheesy said:

Nice Review. I really wanna pick up this game because of the positive feedback its gotten. Also, Punch-Out FTW!!

BTW, First.



pixelman said:

Called the score the second I clicked the link. Bwahaha. Great review! This game is awesome. Super Macho Man is ridiculously hard.



Machu said:

I told myself not to buy Punch-Out, but having read great reviews such as this, I shall be picking this up alongside Boom Blox on Friday.
Nice 1 Marcel you just cost me 30 squid.



Dazza said:

Nice review Drake, it was cool to find out that it stays true to the NES original yet borrows from the SNES version like regaining health when your opponent is down. I'll have to get my hands on this very soon!



ToneDeath said:

42-53 (40 KO)
"Dance like a fly, bite like a mosquito."

Great game, and a good example of Nintendo's 'easy to learn, difficult to master' styles of gameplay. It can be very tough, but it's always fun and has that 'just on more go' addictiveness going for it. I'm currently trying to beat Don Flamenco in Title Defense, and I'm still determined because I KNOW I can beat him...eventually.

Remember:"A comeback is like a YoYo; you might go down, but you'll come right back up again... And you may end up walking the dog."



Link79 said:

This game is awesome! It's a must have for Wii owners! I just love how the boxers are more fleshed out and have alot to say during the fights. Newcomer Disco kid is hillarious and Aran ryan from the snes punch-out has been made into a psycho boxer. He gets in your face and taunts you while your down. I love it!



MrPinguy said:

@ TwistedVivid
I know that Mike Tyson was a nice feature on the Punch-Out!! for the NES.
But seriously, he's not THAT big of deal nowadays and if thats the only reason to not buy Puch-Out!! Let say its a bit lame. (Of course if you have other reasons that make sense thats another story...).

Punch-Out! Have 5 Diffrent games and a Spin-off! (Without conting Mr. Dream that is the same as Mike's) 5 games and a Spin-off!!! Mike's one is the 4º game in the series (if you count the the said Spin-off).
There is much more about Punch-Out!! than Mike Tyson.



Objection said:

I played this at a friend's this weekend and it looked pretty good. However, I don't know if I will get it, since I'm not a fan of games that want you to play over and over until you learn an area/enemy and can do it perfectly in order to win which Punch-Out nearly requires.



Knux said:

Great review Drake! I love the NES version,so I must buy this.



greyelephant said:

This game is absolutley my favorite game on the Wii for now. It's going to take something serious to dethrone this title. Did I hear someone say Pikmin 3......?



ToneDeath said:

42-55 (40 KO)
"Join the Nintendo Fun...I mean Club Nintendo today, Mac"

I know I shouldn't really compare the two, but I think as a single player game Punch-Out!! is more fun than Fight Night (rounds 2&3 being the ones I've played), but EA's series takes the cake for multiplayer. I don't really think Punch-Out!! should have points knocked off for it's weaker head-to-head mode though; like Smash Bros. Brawl (with its' overlong adventure and dodgy online modes) the developers were a little TOO genereous if anything. One Wii remote in the NES position is all you need for this game, along with blood, sweat...and chocolate!



Drake said:

@ LinktotheFuture: Just go to Exhibition on the main menu and select a fighter.



Big_A2 said:

Does anyone here know why there's still no realese date for Australia?



Supermarioman said:

Well I'll get this eventually, it looks really great and really hard. But all I wanna do is verse that 14th secret Nintendo Character. I know who it is, but I don't feel like spoiling him.



Philip_J_Reed said:

Playing this game, I'm pretty convinced that I will never, as long as I live, achieve all of the challenges.

And that's a GOOD thing. The "main" section of this game is easy enough for anyone to play. The additional sections (title defense, challenges...) are preposterously hard to give every gamer of every skill level a real fight.

I love it.



Cheesy said:

BTW, for anyone wondering, there IS a secret character in this game but I won't spoil it for anyone. He's the true final boxer. Search it on Youtube.



MrPinguy said:

"True final boxer" well not quite, he is more like an bonus char than the final guy.
The final one is Mr. Sandman both in the normal and TD mode.

EDIT: (Personally i think that in TD it's not Mr. Sandman IT'S MIKE "Sandman" TYSON XD... well for me looks like him...)



SwerdMurd said:

^and it's about time he was the last guy....always thought he was cooler than Macho Man, yet Macho Man always showed up later (thus, was harder...)



Kid_A said:

It's a fantastic game, and I agree with the score. I must say, though, me and my friends have really been enjoying multiplayer. It's only a waggle fest if you make it that way. In fact, as we got better, the multiplayer matches got downright strategic. Also, I haven't had any problems with motion control responsivness. I actually think they're the preferrable way to play. My only complaint was the lack of online leaderboards.



naut said:

I'm ecstatic that Nintendo brought the Punchout!! franchise back, so I'm also thrilled that it got such a good response. A no-brainer buy.



Teppo_Holmqvist said:

"Punch Out!! also allows you to use the Wii Fit Balance board, but it ends up being more of a novelty than a useful control method. You can choose to make use of it for the ducking and dodging play control aspects of the game, but it ultimately ends up being too sluggish and unresponsive."

Actually, it works just fine if you actually do duck and dodge instead of half-hearted efforts.



timp29 said:

Yeah no idea on a release date for australia . And i'm a little disappointed if the controls are sluggish like drake said. Wii Sport's boxing title was fantastic and had huge potential which I was hoping would be realised through punch out wii. I will still buy this game, especially after reading what Kid A had to say



James said:

Seems to me that with the problems you mention - sluggish, unresponsive controls, poor multiplayer (for which there's no excuse) and rubbish Balance Board support - there's no way this game deserves a 9 out of 10. Why bother developing a motion-enabled update of a NES game if you need to use NES-style controls for the final battles? That's just bad design if ever there was any.



Wiiloveit said:

For me Punch-Out!! is ace, at least in single player (haven't had chance to try multiplayer yet). From the outstanding visuals to the great controls (which I think are absolutely fine - I experienced no problems - although I don't have a BB), and the challenges for more experienced players could make this last ages whilst never getting old. Although Nintendo could've relived a different franchise other than PO, they did a damn good job here.
The one thing that I would change about this game though is that although I know that it would be tricky to implement an online mode, it's a shame that NLG didn't include it.



Kirk said:

With a few more new fighters, animated ring intro's (or just something animated instead of those still images), an online mode for competitive play with leader boards for knockout times, slightly prettier menu screens, and possibly the ability to play as the other fighters in multi-player mode too, this could have been a perfect 10 in my opinion.

As it is it's still a great game but it makes me sad that these blatantly obvious little niggles weren't addressed/added because it's frustrating to see a game that so clearly came so close but that just skipped a few small layers of polish that could have made it truly magical.

It's still a great game though and one that I'm actually looking forward to playing on Wii, and they can and maybe will, hopefully, release a sequel with all those little things...



Kirk said:


The thing is that those issues with the motion controls really are inherent issues with the current Wiimote/Nunchuck motion technology itself as far as I'm concerned so you can't really blame the developers if the controls don't work that well in this case.

They actually did the best they could with what they had imo.



Teppo_Holmqvist said:

"Why bother developing a motion-enabled update of a NES game if you need to use NES-style controls for the final battles? That's just bad design if ever there was any."

Shrugh. I have so far went King Hippo TD with motion controls. Seems working fine for me. It's not really my problem that most reviewers are uncoordinated slouches.



J_K said:

Not bad on the review but I do feel it understated a few things. The review ultimately comes off saying that the moves of the NES/SNES buddies of old are familiar and you'll recognize them making it sound like 'more of the same.' Ultimately that's just half right. I've pushed it as far as Soda Popinski so far in the game and while there are a couple moves you'll identify with, that doesn't necessarily mean they're the same. Old Don Flamenco used to be a snap, you'd pop em, he'd block, then do that swing over and over. He does it still, kind of, but also throws in some jabs and other bits. Once you beat him enough something funny happens I won't ruin, but he goes into a rage and swings like nuts all over. If you think you can use your old moves on anyone, including lame Glass Joe, you're going to get popped and probably dropped too. Old Soda is giving me hell now as his timing has changed a lot, but the moves more or less are the same, but made worse he can cheat and refill his life, and I hear you can stop it with a shot but it's hard to time and if you don't he'll ride those 3 rounds out.

The game may look 'old' but it's all new with the moves.



GKB said:

I wasn't planning on getting this game but after reading the reviews I bought it. I must say this game is awsome, well worth the purchase! I do have one question about the review...WTH is a niggle?



J_K said:

A minor complaint/criticism is basically what a niggle amounts to.




Good review but I disagree with the comment on the motion controls. I was able to beat the game using the motion controls and had a lot of fun with it. It does provide a bit more of a challenge but never felt frustrating. Once you get used to them, the standard controls feel a bit boring.



LinktotheFuture said:

I am a big fan of the motion controls as well. It may make the game more difficult, but it also makes it more fun.



iSonic said:

Man, this game looks sweet. I would go get it except for the fact my wii isn't working. Ugh!



J_K said:

You mean 'really not functional sports boxing' right? That setup was awful and the rude fact they gave no instruction how to move precisely made it even more of a pain.



Crunc said:

I had read, though sadly can't provide a link so take this with a big grain of salt, that the developers chose not to use MotionPlus. They had the option to do so as the tools were available, but did not because they felt if they used it it would no longer be Punchout. I think I can go along with that. Punchout is all about patterns and timing (and humor).

I've purchased the game, but have to wait until my birthday for my wife to give it to me, and by that I mean the game, and not a right hook. I hope!



Modern_Legend said:

They really should make this game's local multiplayer give u the option to choose from any character to fight ur friends other than just lil mac and charlie. REALLY i want KING HIPPO VS BEAR HUGGER DUDE!!!! Man if i could play one and my friend the other in multiplayer, id be hooked just fighting as so many different guys. Id probably side with DK since i love music and hes cool..just cool wow i dream so many things that shud but wont happen

EDIT: I agree motion controls are fantastic, but sumtimes when im lazy buttons just do the trick for me. I still have my mario kart gold wheel to prove i use motion 100% in that game



alvieao said:

Indeed, it's been 15 years since the release of Super Punch-Out!! on the SNES. Outside of cameos in WarioWare, Fight Night Round 2 and recently Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Little Mac has not seen a comeback until now. I've finally played Punch-Out!! (Wii) and I must say the game is simply brilliant. The cel-shaded visuals are fantastic, and the classic remixes are awesome. The use of voice-overs for Doc Louis and Little Mac's opponents really brought life into the world of Punch-Out!!. Nintendo and Next Level did an fantastic job with the Wii iteration of Punch-Out!!. As for the special opponent: let's just say he was an audience member in the arcade games and decided to return the favor 25 years later. Punch-Out!! is definitely a 9/10...



Toon_Link said:

It looks pretty fun, might get it one day.
I know this isn't the place for this but, what is the big, fat guy's name?



Modern_Legend said:

king hippo if u mean the guy with the crown. bear hugger is the fat one with the red gloves and bald head and brown beard

EDIT: Altho this game is good, i think it can only advance furthur on its next release is if there are like 20 fighters, 10 old, ten new. Also, Players can choose who they fight as in multiplayer, without restrictions of lil mac and charlie. OR/AND maybe they should make it so u can move freely in the ring....one or preferably all of these 3 things i believe can make this game a much better boxing game to succeed this one.



nothankyou said:

Man, I LOVE This game, the Wii controls work way better than the buttons, and it's actually pretty hard, too.
I'd give it 10/10.



nephew77 said:

Great review, Marcel! This was my favorite on the NES, and it may be my favorite on the Wii. I can't put it down. On Hippo now the second time through. I haven't seen a better win-the-game-bonus since the second quest of Legend of Zelda!



Turbo857 said:

I really hate when reviewers complain that Punch-Out's motion controls are too slow. They're actually spot-on responsive and I've beaten the game several times. I can never go back to buttons with this series.



2Sang said:

I think I'll have to pick this up now that little mac is in smash

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