Retro (Console) Gaming: What are you playing?

Well, I’ve been looking forward to the Wii Punch-Out!! and I seemed to be the only person who hasn’t played the previous games, so I set out to correct that. I got the SNES Super Punch-Out!! through the Wii’s Virtual Console (the last Wii update lets you use SD and SDHC cards up to 32GB to download and launch games off of them, solving the storage issue) and I’ve been having a blast!

The game has really held up very well, and still offers unique gameplay as no other sports (boxing) or fighting game (that I’m aware of) has tried to replicate that style.

For those who don’t know, you don’t actually control your character in a conventional manner. All you can do is choose to punch with the left or right arm, on the opponent’s stomach or face, and you can earn super punches with consequetive hits that you spend as either a strong hit or multiple fast hits. Then you have a dodge left, dodge right, block high (block low by default when you’re still), and duck to avoid getting hit.

From here on you just have to focus on your opponent’s movement. You can usually tell when they’re about to punch and do the corresponding block or counter by hitting with the opposite punch of the opponent, though that’s not always possible.

To win the match you have to knock out the opponent 3 times in 3 minutes. Sometimes with expert playing (I’m not sure how exactly) you can knock them out right away just once or twice and win, but three times is the average, and the same applies to you, except you also lose if the time runs out.

On top of that, many of the opposing boxers are cheaters. Some use kicks, others blow dust in your eyes which makes you unable to do anything but dodge, and they usually proceed to do a combo while you’re helpless like that. It just makes you wanna try harder to show them how it’s done, heh.

As the enemies get tougher so do their attack patterns. They’re not exactly patterns as they can chose when to do what, you just learn what to anticipate, and what the animation clues show you. After the first few fights, most opponents seem too hard, but as you learn the game more you eventually defeat them easily.

I don’t know how much tougher it gets (very tough according to the net), I’ve played the minor league and completed it (only 4 opponents), and now I’m up to the third opponent of the major league. The second seemed impossible at first, yet now I defeat him every time, until I learn how to play well against the next one which now seems impossible.

The visuals are charmingly goofy. There aren’t many animation frames but other than that they look very nice still. It hasn’t aged badly in any case.

With how fun it is, I’m just wondering why Nintendo never made a GBA or DS game, or at least a port of this one. It’s quickly becoming one of my favorite fighting games, though it doesn’t feel like one so it’s hard to put it in the same category. Perhaps the Wii game will be a success and spawn a DS spin off for owners of their handheld.

Here’s a little introductory video. It’s not great because most videos on the tube are speedruns and such, therefor don’t really show the gameplay. This guy’s obviously good at it too, though I wish he had kept the voice down and let the game’s sound on instead.

About the Wii game, from what I read it has more elements from the original NES Punch-Out!! like the protagonist being Little Mac instead of the generic dude you can name in the sequel, there are actual rounds to fight, the coach is the same, the bike scene with the pink suit is in, racial stereotypes are in, and it has the same number of opponents (less than Super Punch-Out!!) though it includes new ones.

It will also include support for the balance board and/or motion controls, but having tried Super Punch-Out!! I think I’ll stick to classic controls. For the game’s length, its developers claim a DVD stuffed to the brim with unlockables and extras, while it includes a simple head to head mode, so it should last a while longer despite the remake feel it holds. Here’s the first and second trailers.