System: Nintendo Wii
Reviewer's rating: ****
ESRB rating: Everyone 10+
Game type: Boxing
Kind of like: "Battleclash" with fists instead of guns
Best feature: The controls are very intuitive.
Worst feature: More opponents, please!
The bottom line: It's been a long time out of the ring, but "Punch-Out!!" is back.
Nintendo's update on its classic boxing game is fresh and fun - the best the series has had to offer.
In "Punch-Out!!" you use the Wiimote and the Nunchuck. If you don't have a Nunchuk, you can use only the Wiimote and play the game with just buttons, but it's not nearly as fun. Punch with your character's left or right hand by thrusting the Wiimote or the Nunchuck forward. Block, dodge and duck with the Nunchuk's thumbstick.
As intrepid boxer Little Mac, you take on just over a dozen tough customers, including old favorites such as Mr. Sandman and Bald Bull. New fighter Disco Kid will try to confuse you with his crazy techniques.
The essence of the game is that your computer opponents have different attacks that have to be dodged or countered in different ways. Once you learn how to recognize an opponent's attacks, you can avoid them and strike back. In a way, "Punch-Out!!" reminds us of the old Nintendo "Battleclash" game, except you're using your fists instead of missiles.
Some people might think that using the Wiimote and Nunchuk would feel gimmicky. It's anything but. The two-fisted control system really is the best control scheme this series has ever had. It's totally intuitive.
Hardcore Wii workout types may want to try the Wii Balance Board, which is also compatible with the game. We make no promise that the game doesn't become much harder this way.
Two players can play against each other, but this isn't as interesting as the computer opponents. We only wish there were more computer characters.