Wade Hixton's Counter Punch Review

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Publisher: Destination Software
Developer: Inferno Games

Platform: Game Boy Advance
Reviewed on Game Boy Advance

Wade Hixton's Counter Punch is a tribute to the quintessential boxing game, Mike Tyson's Punch Out, on the Game Boy Advance. Without explicitly paying homage, Counter Punch features a near identical fighting system, diverging in story, style, and secondary features. Dissimilarities aside, there are too many obvious nods to the classic boxing title that the comparison to Punch Out! can't be ignored. Can a rookie game go pound for pound with one of the heavy hitters of the NES era? Absolutely.


Carrie Gouskos

Round One

There are few gamers that haven't played (or at least heard of) Mike Tyson's Punch Out, one of the epic titles from the Nintendo Entertainment System. Fewer may know that the name was changed to Punch Out and the final boss morphed into the ambiguous Mr. Dream because Nintendo wanted nothing to do with Mike Tyson once he was jailed on rape charges. Even fewer may be able to recite the code to get to Tyson (007 373 5963) without the aid of Google. If you can, you'll want to pick up Wade Hixton's Counter Punch on the sheer recommendation that it is a modern-day Punch Out. You'll be glad you did. Others might need more convincing, but no matter what relationship you have with the giant of boxing games, you'll find that Wade Hixton is worth every penny.

Wade Hixton's Counter Punch is a cel-shaded boxing game, in which you play a wacky southerner who happens upon a small town called Piney, which is full of people wanting to kick his butt. It's not too out of the ordinary, given that Wade is a little dimwitted and prone to annoying almost everyone he encounters. The dialogue and background story are just cute enough to warrant a smile now and then, but for the most part they are unobtrusive and can be ignored.

Round Two

After entering the town and engaging in a preliminary fight, your newly self-imposed agent, Don, gives you a beeper and opens up the whole town for exploration. The beeper fields messages from Don and other people that you meet, most of whom happen to be boxers. After encountering the goofy Wade in one way or another, they always want to fight him, making it easy to sharpen your boxing skills, but not so easy to make friends. The characters are really fantastic, especially Sweetness, a pink robe wearing pimp whose words all end in "izzle" and who gets extremely offended when Wade doesn't want to wear a pink sport jacket because it's a girl's color. This looks like another subtle reference to Punch Out! which notoriously featured Little Mac training in a pink jumpsuit (or maybe as a fan of Punch Out! I'm just stretching it). After beating any fighter, he/she will begin to page you with various challenges, such as one where you cannot block the whole fight, another where you can't dodge, or yet another in which you can only suffer fewer than five hits. These challenges are not difficult, but serve as a quick way of earning extra cash. Money in the game is used to buy new moves, to pay off a few of the non-fighter NPCs to help you in the ring, or (most importantly) to buy silly hats for the referee. Since the game is fairly simple, none of this extra stuff is necessary to get all the way through, but is worth unlocking for the sheer entertainment value of seeing the game's quirky humor in action.

Despite the strength of the game's supporting features, the value of Wade Hixton is in the boxing itself. The view is static, and is set behind Wade so that you can see most of the opponent. The key is to watch his or her movement, duck or block, and then counterattack with an onslaught of your own punches. If you fend off your foe's attack, your punches are guaranteed to land, although fighters have different recovery times and stamina levels to factor into your tactics. Typically if the opponent draws back his left fist (on your right side), you must duck to the right in order to avoid it. With some fighters, it is difficult to tell which type of punch they're executing at first, but after a few fights, almost all of them are easy to take down. Each fighter, of which there are nine, also has a special attack, which requires a completely different type of defense. Again, once you figure out the secret, execution is easy.

Knock Out

That's pretty much it. You travel around Piney, annoying people along the way, answering quarrels in the only real way you can – in the ring. Perhaps the constituents of Piney would benefit from a few anger management classes, but that is a different (and much less interesting) game entirely. Wade Hixton is simple game, only flawed in that we would have liked to see so much more of it. However, for $20, it's hard to find a game that is as worthwhile as Wade Hixton. This truly is re-mastered classic gaming entertainment.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on June 15, 2004 8:59 AM.

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