Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Punch drunk love
My review of Punch-Out!! is up at thephoenix.com. Updates, re-launches, and re-imaginings of old games are nothing new, but Punch-Out!! barely tinkers with the formula. Nintendo has been successful in translating Mario, Zelda, and Metroid into 3D, but in each case that has resulted in something new -- something that has fundamentally transformed each game, while still retaining the feel of the original. Punch-Out!!, though, is the same as it ever was. It plays exactly like Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! did, more than 20 years ago. What's surprising is how fresh it still feels.
I wish other game makers had the secret formula for difficulty that Nintendo alone seems to possess (even when they farm out development duties, as was the case here). Nintendo games always seem to live at the outer edge of my competence. They always seem difficult but not impossible. The difficulty ramps up so well in Punch-Out!!. No matter how hard an opponent may seem, it's also hard not to try again after losing. You always feel this close to getting it right.
I'm not even sure what's left in Nintendo's stable at this point, but if this is where the bar is going to be set, I say bring on the Kid Icarus remake.