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GDC09: Punch-Out!! Wii hands-on

Kevin Kelly

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Little Mac is definitely back, and he brought Doc Louis with him. He's also hauling a heck of a lot more pixels this time around, and we're happy to report that Punch-Out!! is indeed still fun to play. The Nintendo booth (the largest and lone major gaming publisher on the show floor) was showing off Punch-Out!! on a few stations, although sadly without the Balance Board functionality that's coming to the game.

It did show off four of the thirteen total fighters, including Glass Joe, Von Kaiser, King Hippo, and the newcomer, Disco Kid. He looks like what you'd get if you crossed Mike Tyson with Ric Flair, and pulled him through a Disney movie animation wringer. He likes to primp, check himself out in a mirror, and pose for the crowd. Little Mac learned the lesson about the dangers of vanity long ago, so there's no such worry. Head after the break and start training, Punch-Out!! comes out on the Wii this May.

Gallery: Punch-Out!! (Wii) | 20 Photos

You're probably wondering if the game feels a lot like Wii Boxing, and that's going to be an obvious comparison for everyone. There's no way around this, because you're throwing your arms out and simulating punches. It'll be that way for any boxing game on the Wii, for all eternity. After about 10 minutes of gameplay, my arms were throbbing, and I felt like I'd just done 30 minutes of Tae-bo. While it's not a bad idea if you're a gamer looking for a workout, an hour or more of this in a row is going to leave you unable to lift a pencil the next day.

Little Mac has a lot more options to punch, dodge, duck, shoot body blows or uppercuts, and he also has special Star Punches. To get a Star you have to hit an opponent in a certain way, with Disco Kid it's after one of his posed punches. Dodge it, wham him, and you've got a star in your meter. Once you've collected one, you can hit the A button while swinging to unleash a devastating punch. Just like in the NES version, you'll lose a star if you get punched.

You can use the Wiimote in Classic Control mode to emulate the old NES controls, or hook up your Nunchuck and go for the whole Motion Control experience. Flick the thumbstick on the nunchuck to the right or left and you'll dodge, pull it down to duck, and push it up to punch your opponent in the face. While the Motion Control version feels fun briefly (and using the Balance Board to dodge punches should be fun... also for about 30 minutes), the classic mode really feels like the Punch-Out!! we know and love.

Nintendo's added in a lot of damage graphics to the opponents that stack up over time: hit them with a lot of body blows, and their midsection will start to turn red and bruise, punch 'em in the face a lot and you'll see black eyes and welts. I mean, just check out the lump on Von Kaiser's face in that main image. It looks like he's a teenager who just hit puberty. The cel-shaded graphics look shiny-cool, the characters move like they're straight out of an anime and it's weird to see these guys not in 8-bit graphics. It would've been nice to see Nintendo offer up a slew of new boxers, while making the old guys unlockable, but hey, it's Punch-Out!!, and it's back. Ding ding ding!

Gallery: GDC: Punch-Out!! | 10 Photos

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