Thursday, October 8, 2009

No Defense for the Hondo Rush

Back in early September, we purchased a Wii. There were a number of reasons for this, not the least of which being that I really needed to find some form of physical activity that I would actually be motivated to do. Since my workplace has a Personal Wellness and Development Account that would cover the cost, we went to Costco and took the plunge.

We ended up leaving with the Wii itself, an extra controller, the Wii Fit balance board, and a game called Active Life Extreme Challenge, which sounds like a Japanese game show, but isn't. Well, probably isn't, anyways. Two weeks later Nintendo announced a 20% price drop on the Wii hardware itself, which in many ways is the story of my life, but I digress.

Using mostly Wii Fit (which doubles as a scale), I managed to drop 11 pounds in the first month of using it, and the whole family enjoys the thing, so it has certainly been a worthy addition to the household. In a mad fit of bedbug-related retail therapy, I also purchased Rockband 2, and the girls have been mad for it; score another victory for the family the plays together. Despite the whole 'rockstar' oeuvre that the game is shooting for, however (it is produced by MTV Games, after all), I do have to confess to getting a weird Partridge Family vibe when the four of us play together; thank goodness there isn't a keyboard peripheral.

Since the Rockband 2 'incident', I have been (ahem) actively discouraged from any further Wii purchases until after Christmas, which hardly seems unfair given the circumstances. But as mentioned in an earlier post, the Edmonton Public Library now has a selection of Wii games, which has been a great help not only recreationally, but also as an evaluation tool against future (and by future, I guess I mean 2010) purchases. For instance, despite that fact that you can check games out for a generous 7 day period, Pirates Vs. Ninja Dodgeball was like the little yellow cat of song and went back the very next day. Ghostbusters was quite a bit of fun and a natural for the Wii's motion controls, plus it features the original cast members, which is a treat.

Yesterday I got an e-mail from EPL informing me that Punch Out was on hold for me at my branch, so I wasted very little time in getting over there after work to pick it up.

As a child of the 80s, I have fond memories of the original Punch Out arcade game, although I wasn't very good at it. The frantic computer play-by-play ("Uppercut! Uppercut! Left hook! Jab!"), coupled with the satisfaction of knocking out even the easiest opponent, Glass Joe, meant the loss of a lot of quarters back in the day.

I know Punch Out went on to be a popular title on the old NES and Super Nintendo system, and as a Mike Tyson license no less, but I never played it on those platforms. In all honesty, the idea of a boxing game that would tire out more than my thumbs really appealed to me, the game reviewed really well on Metacritic, and when I read that it supported the balance board, I knew I had to give it a try.

Long story short, despite the fact that dodging and ducking with the balance board is a very sketchy proposition, I played my way through the first 4 boxers last night ending up with the Minor Circuit belt. By the end I was a sweaty mass and today had a noticeable tremor in my legs from all the actual ducking I had done.

It has that great video-game compulsion factor that bled my pockets dry of caribou coin back in the day, that notion that this time, THIS time, I would be victorious. Never mind that the whole proposition probably more resembled Daffy Duck loading a musket ("First the powder, THEN the wadding...BLAM") than anything else, hope springs eternal. Coupling that 'one more time' geas with a physically engaging activity is just what the doctor ordered for this sofa spud.

Graphically speaking, the Wii doesn't have a lot of horsepower, which is good, because it puts a lot more focus on the gameplay where it belongs, but Punch Out is a pretty good looking game. It uses cel shading and cartoonish caricatures to give it a real Saturday morning feel. The opponents are brutally steretypical but inoffensive and fun. Piston Hondo, of the titular Hondo Rush, hocks sushi between rounds. My most recent opponent, Bear Hugger, hails from Salmon Arm, BC, which shocked me, since all other Canadian game characters seem to hail from Toronto or Montreal, if they come from a city at all, and as cliched as a bearded lumberjack who drinks maple syrup might be, there is an undeniable appeal to a character who has a punch called the 'Salmon Arm' and is prone to yelling 'Sockeye!' before punching you in the face.

So I threw Fenya on the game tonight and watched her tie a whuppin' on Glass Joe, Von Kaiser AND The Disco Kid without a single loss. It took me half an hour just to beat Von Kaiser the night before. Then we tried playing head to head, and, surprise surprise, she kicked my ass, much to the delight of those in attendance. And this despite my gaining some sort of power-up in the second round that turned me into an Incredible Hulk sized abomination. So now I can go to work tomorrow and when someone asks me why I am making so much noise getting out my chair, I can tell them I am sore from the savage beating my 10 year old administered on me the night before.

Well, whatever. I still have the belt.


  1. dude - that story is a riot - thanks a ton. I am definitely getting Punch Out for the clan this Christmas.

  2. Stephen, I strongly suggest you purchse Wii Sports Resort; it is top-drawer entertainment. I had a great deal of fun punishing Earl with a baton.

    I felt like I was on old-school American Gladiators.