Punch-Out!! deserves a special place in ever Nintendo fan's heart. It's fast, reflex-intensive gameplay set it aside from most other fighting games. Punch-Out wasn't so much about throwing fireballs at your opponent as much as it was moving at just the right time at just the right place. It's been 15 years since the last Punch-Out title, and the Wii iteration of the franchise is just as quick, exciting, and charming as it was way back when.
Graphics - 9.5 - Punch-Out!! looks good. Great, even. It's no Super Mario Brothers, but it takes the Wii hardware and stretches it to the best of it's ability. Technically, it's not so impressive, but artistically, it's perhaps one of the most charming titles on Wii.
I'm sure those who played the original Punch-Out!! on the NES remember its very cartoon-like nature. Each character had his own personality, and his own move-set. The Wii version is no different. Not only does it give each character their own extremely unique appearance, it gives them each their own very fluid animations, only underscoring the amazing art style even more.
Storyline - 8.0 - Being a big advocate of video game stories, I can honestly say that Punch-Out!! doesn't have much. Once again, you play as Little Mac who must work his way up to obtain (and later defend) his title. Fortunately, the game offers some nice cut-scenes between fighting circuits and illustrated slide-shows to give off the backgrounds of your opponents. There may not be much of an actual story in Punch-Out!!, but what it has evolves nicely, and in a way that both casual and hardcore gamers can appreciate.
Controls/Gameplay - 9.0 - Little Mac is not the only thing returning to Punch-Out!!'s Wii incarnation. The original NES controls are also making a comeback and, in my honest opinion, this is the way to play the game. There are motion controls for casual players, but because of the reflex-intensive gameplay, they don't really work so well later on in the game.
If you didn't know already, Punch-Out!! is not a boxing 'simulator'. Indeed, it's almost a puzzle game. When your opponent strikes, you must dodge in time, and then quickly counter-attack. The opposing fighters always give you visual cues as to when they're going to strike, so paying attention is a huge part of Punch-Out.
Despite the game being rather linear, it still has a lot of replay value. There is a multiplayer mode, but it's a pretty generic head-to-head fight against clone Little Macs. There is a way to boost your strength and turn into Giga Mac, but in the long run, you won't be playing this nearly as much as the single player modes, which include going back to defend your title and a mode where
you must accomplish three challenges in order to obtain unlockable music.
And speaking of music...
Sound - 10.0 Punch-Out!! sounds amazing. It has by far the greatest audio track I have ever heard in a Wii game that was not developed by Nintendo. (Punch-Out!! was made by Next Lever Games, creator of Super Mario Strikers) Each fighter has remixes of the classic 8-bit tracks based on their country of origin. You'll hear mysterious chanting and bongos when fighting King Hippo from Hippo Island, and a disco mix when facing Disco Kid (how original!).
The voices all sound amazing too. There are a couple of problems, but they don't take anything away from the experience, so I won't deduct from the score. One issue is that the international fighters all speak their native languages, albeit without subtitles. This means you'll have no idea what Glass Joe says when you punch him so hard that croasants fly out of his nose! I also think that your trainer, Doc Louis, sounds really rushed. Nintendo could have gotten a big-name actor (Carl Weathers, anyone?) to voice this iconic character, and instead, you get some weird sounding voice actor who isn't really trying at all. Like I said though, that's my own personal opinion, and most gamers probably won't notice it.
Punch-Out is a really well-known franchise and reintroducing it like this is a huge risk on Nintendo's part. Thankfully, they were very successful in retaining the old school feel of the NES games, and even added in some new stuff to keep the fans occupied.
Final Score: 9.0/10.0