Punch-Out!! – NES
It’s a real knockout!
Developer: Nintendo Integrated Research and Development, Nintendo Research and Development 3
Release Date (NA): October 1987
Nerd Rating: 9 out of 10
Reviewed by LifeShowChris
You heard it right folks, we are about to embark on a trip back in time to see just what Little Mac was doing in Cold War-era USA. I am talking about Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! of course. With a flurry of Goliath-style characters, Little Mac must work his way up the rankings to fight Iron Mike himself for the World Video Boxing Association title. You may notice that Little Mac is exactly that, little. Every match you fight will be a David vs. Goliath style bout with overly large and insanely cartoonish characters. It is the characters that give the game so much charm. From Mario refereeing your bouts to a Carl Winslow style coach named Doc Louis, you will go up against the likes of Soda Popinski, Don Flemenco, Bald Bull, and possibly Mr. Sandman if you can make it that far before getting the old 1, 2, knockout.
The visual style of the game is stunning with the typical fighter at the bottom boxing style game and dramatized characters in every corner. Inside of the ring you are accompanied by the great Mario who is making a cameo as a referee. Evidently, Mario moonlights as a referee whilst Luigi drinks the night away hoping to forget that he has to constantly help Mario save a princess that has a knack for getting captured by a giant, fire breathing, turtle type creature, over and over again.
The controls are simple and straightforward with a repetitious pattern style of execution to defeat each foe. You can duck, dodge left and right, and jump with the directional pad. That is right, you will need to jump to deliver blows to your competitors’ feeding holes. The buttons will deliver respectable left and right jabs and the start button will deliver a devastating uppercut depending on the quality of your timing. If you are lucky enough to get a star, of which you can hold 3 but only use one at a time, you will need to ensure you land it while the opponent is dazed. If you get hit you will lose a star and if you are knocked down or the round ends you will lose all the stars you are holding. Make sure you use these stars appropriately and not like you did with your last girlfriend, otherwise you will be left holding nothing but sorrow and sympathy as you are smashing the A and B buttons attempting to get up from that brutal knockdown.
The sound in this game is average. Although it may sound good once, it will become annoying and make you certainly go insane. The only variances through the game’s sound are the Title Fight and the different intro themes for the various fighters. Imagine sitting down at 10 p.m. to play and at 1 a.m. you still can’t seem to make the connection with King Hippo’s stomach as he pummels you down again. How would you feel hearing the same thing 40 times in a night over and over again, reminding you of just how horrible you are at playing Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!.
Now I think it is time we get down to the real meat and potatoes of the game. Is it fun? Does it have the ability to make you want to play it over and over again? For me the answer is very simple and straightforward. Considering it took me over a year to beat Mike Tyson the first time, I was able to play it non-stop. Then the time came and I was finally able to rise again and defeat Iron Mike Tyson. After that I hardly ever played the game. It most definitely is addictive while you are attempting to take home the belt for the largest fight in the game and you will do almost anything it takes to get it done. However, once you have completed this task, the game can become mundane. It becomes mundane as you are attempting to get to Mike but for some reason the allure of battling the man in the black trunks just sits in the front of your mind, burrowing little holes into your brain until you can defeat him. After that, nothing changes and you can go back to your run of the mill job and forget that you just spent 1,257 hours replaying the same fighters 600 times just to get rocked by Tyson himself 8 times before you finally grew the cojones to get the job done. If I am lying, then just tell me you didn’t feel the same way when you finally beat the game.
So what do I think about the game? I think it is an excellent piece of gaming history and it should be in the Hall of Fame. If you are ever a bit bored and you haven’t played for a while then pop it in and give it a whirl. See if you are still just as bad as you were the first go round. Overall I would give this game a 9 out of 10. It has a fun soundtrack, but it can get old. It has good visuals with a cast of extraordinary fighters to battle against. Although somewhat repetitious, the game will be as much fun as any other game for the first play through. If you take your time and study the varying repeating patterns for each fighter you will stand a better chance than if you were to play after a 5th of whatever is in Soda Popinski’s bottle. Just for a reference, the original arcade version had him named Vodka Popinski. It only seems fitting.
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