Hello and welcome to another edition of "Do's and Don'ts", a series in which I talk about what developers and publishers should/shouldn't do when it comes to games, practices, etc. In this installment, I'll be talking about what I would like to see from a hypothetical new Punch-Out!! game.
During a recent Direct, Nintendo announced that they were bringing select Wii titles to the Wii U via download from the Nintendo eShop. The first three titles that were to be announced were the excellent Super Mario Galaxy 2 (despit the original being a bit better), the Wii version of Punch-Out!!, and the Metroid Prime Trilogy, which was nothing short of a brilliant decision by Nintendo and massive flip of the bird to all the scalpers on eBay who had the nerve to sell copies for as low as $80. I still own my Wii and my original copy of Super Mario Galaxy 2, and I intend to download Trilogy when it comes out next week, but a few days ago I downloaded Punch-Out!! for the Wii, and it's as awesome as I remember it. The game still looks nice (despite being in standard definition), the game sounds great, and the gameplay is classic Punch-Out!!, striking a perfect balance between challenging and fair. Soda Popinski is still a dick though.
After playing it for a bit, something occured to me: wouldn't it be great if we got a new Punch-Out!! game for the Wii U? Despite not being as popular as Nintendo's other franchises, the Punch-Out!! series is still loved by a lot of people, myself included. And with this recent re-release and his apperance in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U & 3DS, interest in Little Mac and the series he hails from is pretty high right now, almost like Marth and Pit were shortly after their debuts in Smash. So yeah, as far as I'm concerned, it's not a question of IF we're getting a new Punch-Out!!, but WHEN. And when Nintendo decides to make a new game, here are some of the things I'd like to see them do, and what to avoid like one of Mike Tyson's haymakers.
DO: Create some new, original boxers
More Fresh Meat to wail on please.
As much I enjoyed the Wii iteration of Punch-Out!!, one of the few problems I had with it were the boxers themselves. Yeah, you had fan favorites like King Hippo and Don Flamenco, but of the fourteen boxers that Little Mac had to fight his way through, only two of them made their debut in this game, with everyone else being a boxer from a previous game. Donkey Kong was one of the new characters, and the other one was Disco Kid, who's big dumb grinning face you can see above. Maybe developer Next Level Games didn't have enough time to put in new characters, or maybe they had some designs that Nintendo didn't approve of. Maybe Nintendo was afraid that because the Punch-Out!! series was (at the time) dormant for so long, that people wouldn't buy it unless they had some old boxers. Whatever the reason, for the next game, give me some new people to Star Punch.
Punch-Out is famous for boxers from various parts of the world, so use that to your advantage. Why not have a singing cowboy from Texas who's songs determine what punches he's going to throw? Or how about a mime where you have to pay attention to their visual cues on account of them being silent? Hell, a lot of the classic boxers are a lot bigger than Little Mac, but why not have one who's the same size as Mac or, dare I say it slightly smaller? The possibilities are endless. Now I'm not saying you should get rid of the old boxers completely, but I do hope going that in this game, the new and interesting boxers are as plentiful as the veterans.
DON'T: Add gimmicky control schemes
Remember the Wii Fit Balance Board? Of course you do; it was the thing that your non-gaming relative bought the Wii for back in it's heyday because they saw a report on CNN/Fox News/MSNBC that said that the Wii was an amazing way to lose weight and was perfect for them to get into shape because reasons. But what most people don't remember is that the Wii Balance Board was compatible with a few other games besides Wii Fit, and of those games was the Wii version of Punch-Out!!. Using the Balance Board with the Wiimote and Nunchuck in Punch-Out!! was about as much fun as being Muhammed Ali's personal boxing bag, and most people I know stuck with the Wiimote by itself for most of their playthrough(you could use the Wiimote and Nunchuck together as well, but it wasn't as good). Which is why when it comes to the next Punch-Out!!, I ask this of you Nintendo: don't add gimmicky controls. Just let me use a traditional control scheme.
Now to be fair, Nintendo isn't as motion control crazy as they were last generation. In fact, a lot of big Wii U games support the Pro Controller and use mainly traditional control schemes, and I personal couldn't be happier to see that (and I'm saying this as someone who rather enjoyed my Wii). But then there's the elephant in the room: the Gamepad. I wouldn't mind seeing it used for off-screen play or use the screen to display important info like health, how much time is left in a round, etc., but don't make me have to tilt it block or throw a punch. It's pointless and takes up valuable resources and time. Time that could be used to make the game look nicer, make some new music, add some new boxers, or......
DO: Add more characters from other Nintendo franchises
So I know this contradicts my previous point of "new original characters", and if given the choice between new characters and having Little Mac box a famous Nintendo character, I'll take the former everytime. At the same time.....the fight with DK was super cool and a nice little reward for completing the game's harder modes. And even though he kicked my ass on numerous occasions, it was still an absolute blast to play. So why not do something like that again?
Obviously, you would have to limit yourself to male Nintendo characters only, since I can't imagine many people would be down with watching Peach getting all black and bruised, but that shouldn't be a problem. Besides Donkey Kong, you also have other heavy hitters Bowser, Ganondorf and Wario, or if you want to spice things up, maybe have charaters that aren't as big but can still pack a punch like Link, Captain Falcon and Pit, speedy characters like Fox or Falco, or even tricky characters like Waluigi. Hell, if you want to make things interesting, make Shulk a boxer and have him use the Monado's power to make himself faster or able to take a punch better, or even Mewtwo and Lucario. Now I'm not saying you should make the next Punch-Out!! an all out Nintendo brawl, because frankly if I wanted to see Little Mac beat the crap out of various Nintendo characters, I'd just play Super Smash Bros. But at the same time, it would be a nice change of pace to see characters from Nintendo's other franchises put on a pair of boxing gloves and have a go with Little Mac. No items, three stock, Fox only, Final Destination.
DON'T: Add multiplayer
Punch-Out!! for the Wii had a multiplayer mode.....and it kind of sucked. To be fair, it did play better than the Master Chief Collection's multiplayer, but it's not exactly something you would see played at EVO. For those of you who don't know what it was about (consider yourself lucky) it went something like this: you and your friend on the couch (there was no online) pick between Little Mac and....a different colored Little Mac. Once you picked your Mac, you and your friend would try and hit each other and dodge punches and jabs (which is actually a bit harder then it sounds due to the split screen setup during this) until one of you gets enough energy to turn into Giga Mac, a.k.a that thing he turns into whenever he grabs the Smash Ball. From there it turns into a more traditional fight, with the person who isn't Giga Mac dodging Giga's punches and looks for tells to get Stars. This goes on for a bit until the player who's Giga Mac turns back into regular Little Mac, and the cycle contuines until someone is declared a winner or both of you get bored and switch over to Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Don't do that in the next Punch-Out!! game; it was dull, boring, and felt unnecessary. You could argue that multiplayer for Punch-Out!! could work if you add the option to play as the boxers you fight in the main game, but in order to do that, you'd either have to A) make it a Party Mode and add random elements like items and special abilities so that characters like Glass Joe and Von Kaiser stand a chance against Super Macho Man and Mr. Sandman or B) do nothing and make them handle and react the same way they do in the main game. And from where I'm sitting, neither of those is a good idea, as the former removes any kind of skill and timing (you know, the core of Punch-Out!!'s gameplay) in favor of luck, while the latter means that people will be mainly playing as the Major and World Circuit boxers, while everyone from the Minor Circuit outside of King Hippo (assuming he's in the Minor Circuit in the next game) gets left out in the cold. So yeah, just to make it easier on everyone, don't have a multiplayer mode; some games benefit greatly from multiplayer, while in others it feels tacked on and completely superfluous. And unfortunately for Punch-Out!!, it's one of those series where it just doesn't work.
DO: Keep Doc Louis
Winning is a lot like a choclate. I just love it baby.
Okay, so this is one of those "no duh" situations, but I feel it should still be addressed. Doc Louis didn't do much in the NES Punch-Out!! other than give you generic tips or tell you to join the Nintendo Fun Club. After being absent in Super Punch-Out!!, Doc Louis returned in the Wii game, completely different than he was in the original. Sure he still gave generic advice and told Little Mac to join Club Nintendo (R.I.P.), but he would do it in way that was part lame, part funny, and all around memorable. From telling Little Mac to "dance like a fly, bite like a mosquito", to having an obsession with chocolate bars, Doc Louis in Punch-Out!! for the Wii was hiliarious, and he brought some much needed comic relief; no matter how hard I got hit in the face, I knew Doc would be there in the corner to give me words of encouragment, crack a joke, or eat a chocolate bar. That last one would mysterious restore some of my health.
So yeah, there's not really much else to say. Give me more Doc Louis Nintendo.
DO: Make a Punch-Out!! line of amiibos....specifically King Hippo
....Seriously Nintendo, just let me buy an amiibo of King Hippo. I don't care if the amiibo bubble has burst by the time this new Punch-Out!! comes out. Let me buy a King Hippo amiibo, and I will love you forever. FOREVER.
So yeah, that's what I would love to see in the inevitable new game in the Punch-Out!! series. Do you agree or disagree? What would you guys personally like to see in a new Punch-Out!! game? Sound off in the comments. Thanks for reading, and remember guys: float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, eye of the tiger, and other boxing terms and metaphors. Good night and good luck.