Game Music

The Sweet Sound of Nostalgia: Punch Out!! In-Game Audio Impressions

May 19, 2009 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook The Sweet Sound of Nostalgia: Punch Out!! In-Game Audio Impressionson Twitter

It’s crazy to think that Punch Out!! is already here. It kind of snuck up on all of us, as Nintendo waited until pretty late in the game to announce the title. Since the announcement, however, I had been wondering just how much of the game’s music would be referencing the music of the original Punch Out!!, and I’m here to tell you that you that most of it does!

I’ve plowed through a good portion of the game, and while I can’t say a whole lot about the specific tracks as it’d spoil the identities of some of the returning characters, I can tell you that I was pleasantly surprised by the variety and the quality of the music, which we all know has been lacking in a number of core Nintendo franchises on the Wii.

Hit the jump and learn all the precious details regarding the music of Punch Out!! on the Wii.

So, first off, I should tell you the names of those involved. While we all know that Kenji Yamamoto was responsible for the classic NES soundtrack, the Wii version is handled by an in-house team at Next Level Games, the developer of the title. The sound design team includes Matt Harty, Scott McFadyen, and Denise Ng, while the composers who contributed to the game are Mike Peacock, Darren Radtke, and Chad York, who also acts as the title’s audio director. While none of these names are immediately familiar, I am impressed and appreciative of their work on the title, as they’ve certainly paid a fitting tribute to the source material while injecting some new themes into the mix that work really well with the established Punch Out!! themes.

For those who were wondering just how soon the iconic theme from the NES would be returning, you’ll be pleased to hear a rockin’ rendition of the piece right from the Wii Channel menu screen, laying the nostalgia on thick before you’ve even started the game. Even the gamey punch sound effects that are triggered when you navigate the menu will take you back to the old days.

The Punch Out!! title screen itself greets you with an entirely new theme, however. While it’s rock in style with chugging guitars and the like, the inclusion of brass gives it a smooth vibe. The mood continues when you’re selecting your Mii profile, leaning more towards the realm of jazz with its lighter instrumention. If I had to pick a single style to describe the majority of the menu pieces, however, I’d probably say ska with its upbeat melodies and extensive use of rock instruments and brass. I particularly enjoy the track that plays when you’re selecting your opponent, as it features a neat jazzy piano melody along chugging guitars and bass that creates an atmosphere of mystery that’s fitting given the shaded characters standing in the boxing arena who have yet to be unlocked, leading you to guess who they are based on their outline.

When it comes to the individual stages, this is where I can’t say too much. Each bout features a unique arrangement of the classic Punch Out!! fighting theme that is based on the characters’ homeland. Again, without giving too much away, I can use Glass Joe and Von Kaiser as examples, as their inclusion in the game has been widely publicized. Glass Joe’s theme sports accordions and acoustic guitars, creating an image of a small outdoor café on the streets of Paris, while Von Kaiser’s version is a foreboding orchestral masterpiece that sounds like something out of Rocky IV. The final bout features a heavy metal version of the theme with an increased tempo that matches the intensity of the battle perfectly. I was listening to this one for a long time while trying to win this match, and I thrived on the high energy of the arrangement.

I suppose it’d make sense to tell you a little about the game while I’m describing the music. This is really your classic Punch Out!! from head to toe. I really dig the Wii controller scheme that requires you to throw punches with the Wii remote and nunchuk, but you’ll likely find yourself using the classic NES-style format with the Wii remote on its side to get through some of the tougher bouts. I really had a lot of fun with both controller schemes.

The sense of humor that you’d expect from a title featuring so many wacky characters is also intact. From the croissants that fly through the air when Glass Joe goes crashing onto the canvas, to quips like “Join the Nintendo Fan… I mean Club Nintendo today!” from your trainer, you certainly should prepare yourself for a large dose of nostalgia that will hopefully leave you satisfied. Even when you complete the game, there’s more to be unlocked, with more modes and even objective-based bouts that will have you pulling your hair our trying to win fights using only 5 punches or trying to land every punch.

Back to sound quality, with the exception of Super Mario Galaxy, I feel that Nintendo hadn’t been utilizing the Wii hardware to its fullest in terms of audio. While Punch Out!! doesn’t offer anything mind blowing, it doesn’t sound like general MIDI by any means, and for that I’m thankful. You’re going to hear your favorite Punch Out!! themes done more than a dozen different ways along with some memorable new themes, so I think the team at Next Level Games has a lot to be proud of. I recommend picking up the game if your Wii is getting a bit dusty, and maybe if we’re super lucky, Nintendo will consider releasing a soundtrack album via Club Nintendo or something. We can hope, right?

Have you been looking forward to Punch Out!! on the Wii? Did you have any expectations regarding the music in the game?

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