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‘Punch-Out!!’ returns




In the early 1980s, after Muhammad Ali retired, boxing was losing its mojo. It took two larger-than-life brawlers to bring star power back to the ring: Mike Tyson and Little Mac.

They were the stars of the 1987 Nintendo game “Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!” If you had a Nintendo Entertainment System back then, odds are that at some point you laced up Mac’s gloves, stepped into the ring and pounded your way through a roster of palookas like Glass Joe and Bald Bull. The final match, if you made it that far, was against the fearsome Tyson.

We all know what’s happened to Tyson over the last two decades. Little Mac has kept a much lower profile (although he did pop up in last year’s “Super Smash Bros. Brawl”). But now they’re both coming back: Tyson in the movies, Mac in the long-awaited Wii version of the fondly remembered NES classic.

“Punch-Out!!” (Nintendo, for the Wii, $49.99) is certain to cause flashbacks in gamers of a certain generation. It smartly retains the cartoony appeal of the original, although the characters are expanded into three dimensions.

Once again, your first fight is against the wimpy Frenchman Glass Joe. As you build your skills, you challenge tougher opponents like the belligerent German Von Kaiser, the boozy Russian Soda Popinski and the flamboyant Spaniard Don Flamenco. Nintendo has asked us not to reveal the identity of the final opponent, but he’s a perfect choice.

RATING: 3 stars out of 4.


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