Wednesday, March 16, 2011

PAX East: Punch-Out!! (Wii)

Play time: 30-40min

What Happened:
For our second PAX Console Freeplay game, we tried out Punch-Out!! Issam and I played single player together, switching off whenever one of us got knocked out. We got knocked out a few times (well, really just me), beat the first four contenders and lost once against the fifth.

Basic gameplay is that you face one contender at a time. You use the joystick on the Nunchuk to dodge, and you shake the Wiimote and Nunchuk up and down to punch. You can also aim your punches up or down to punch the contender in the face or mid-section. Overall, like most fighting games, it's a timing game. You have to dodge at the right time and land a punch at the right time.

What I Liked:

Fun! This was a really fun game!! It felt like it was simple enough to learn and get into quickly, but complex enough that it was challenging. Making contact with your opponent was satisfying - particularly when you catch him in the face when he's mocking you.

Shake to get up! When you get knocked down, you have to shake the Nunchuk and Wiimote to get back up. This was an incredibly fun mechanic because of the sense of desperation you felt to get up! Funnily enough, although it was generally the same thing you're doing the whole game (shaking), it felt like a totally different mechanic.

Intro drawings. Instead of having anything complicated to introduce the other boxers, they showed a series of 3 still images for each character. I thought this was really smart! The drawings were a super low budget way to show a great sense of character.

Tag Team. Not part of the game, but Issam and I had a lot of fun working together trying to figure out the timing to beat guys. I think it was playing it together that made it the most fun.

Bruises. There's a dynamic bruising system! If you hit a guy in the face a lot, he gets black eyes or loses teeth - if you hit him in the stomach a lot he gets bruises on the stomach and chest. It's a neat detail, and I think it really pays off in a simple game like this, where pretty much all you're looking at is the other guy.

Lovably hate-able. For the most part, the bad guys were really funny! I know that much of the credit for the original ideas go to the original Punch Out devs (I'm pretty sure most of the characters are in other games?), but I can still point it out. Having them all based on countries was really funny. Also, credit going to the current devs, the character animations were great - the sense of character is really exaggerated and over the top, which is something I will always be a fan of. :) They were pretty much all jerks, in a lovably hate-able way - you definitely wanted to punch them.

What I Didn't Like:

Lack of tutorial? For the most part, it was easy to figure the game out by experimenting, but we never figured out how to block. Maybe there was a tutorial we could have played before starting gameplay.. but there wasn't a tutorial built in.

Little Mac is boring. For all of the character that everyone else has, Little Mac is super boring!! I get the idea of the 'every-man,' but it might have been cool to try to give him a little something to make him interesting. Particularly since everyone else is very over the top, it might have been cool to make him really understated - so that way when personality shone through it would be more satisfying.

German guy. The German stereotype made me a little uncomfortable, honestly. Also, according to Issam, the French guy was voiced by a Quebecois. :)

How Do I Feel About Continuing?:
I really enjoyed playing and wasn't tired of it yet - but I can't really see playing this game for a long period of time. I think for children in particular this would be a really great game for a longer period of time.

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