I've never played Nintendo's Super Punch Out, however I have been reliably informed that it was a very good boxing game. This game is slightly based on that one, so you could call it a kind of sequel if you liked. Armed with this fact I decided that I couldn't in anyway compare this to Punch Out without playing Super Punch Out for a while, which I duly did. And to my amazement I noticed similarities between the two games right away.
Punch King puts you in the shoes of a green haired rookie, Tiger Armstrong, intent on making a name for himself in the ring and ultimately becoming World Champion. The game does not really sell itself as a serious boxing game with such interestingly named fighters as 'Otto van Pummelyu' or 'Bucky Booth'. Not exactly seriously named characters! Then again, Super Punch out wasn't any better with you fighting a big fat bloke called 'Bear Hugger' or a bloody Clown!
The game features 3 modes of gameplay. The first being Arcade mode, which pits you against each of the games 12 characters in turn, travelling to various locations around the world. This mode isn't as easy as the Punch Out equivalent and even the first fighter can take quite a while to beat. I can see a fair few children and casual gamers getting frustrated over this.
The second mode is vs. mode. In this mode you choose which boxer you want to fight as. However the problem with this is that you can only fight as boxers you have beaten previously in Arcade mode. You can also choose where in the world to fight. This however has the same restriction as with the boxers so at the beginning you are limited to a very small choice of boxers and locations, unless of course you complete Arcade mode first.
Finally the third mode is Survival Mode. As the name suggests you have to stay on your feet for as long as possible! In this mode you fight as Tiger against any opponent chosen by the computer. When you get KO'd the game is over.
Like I have mentioned previously the game-play isn't the best. It isn't necessarily bad that the first guy you get to fight is pretty tough, but you really don't know what to do for ages and you may well end up pressing buttons in the hope it will do what you think it should do! You will eventually get the hang of things and then the only option is to spot a weakness in your opponent's armour, which again does take some time to do.
The fight is broken down into 3 rounds and between rounds you get advice from your trainer and some from your opponent, which isn't always helpful.
The game is pretty well put together, the sprites are nice, if somewhat large and while the backgrounds are varied, you really don't get the time to look at them. You're usually too busy trying to learn what to do or working out how you can get more than 2 punches in succession.
The story isn't the most original and if I had to choose between this and Super Punch Out then I'd go for Super Punch Out every time. The game could have benefited with a 2 player option, especially as the vs menu options suggests that it could have had one.
I would think very carefully about purchasing this game. If you want to give it a try go ahead, its not terrible but does take some time to get into.