logan f. fowler keeps it clean and comes out boxing …
Back when I created my top 10 list of video games, I left out one glaring omission. This is my apology: a whole blog dedicated to it.
In 1987, Nintendo released a game that had a ton of over the top characters, but one non fiction one who would be the most ridiculous boss in all of gaming. Seriously, it’s been 24 years since the game has been released, and I STILL haven’t beaten the end dude.
The boss? Mike Tyson. The game? Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
As the protagonist Little Mac, the 17-year-old boxer from Brooklyn, you take on a colorful cast of characters featuring the weak Glass Joe, the mysterious Great Tiger, the charging Bald Bull, the bad ass Mr. Sandman, the pompous Super Macho Man, among others, and of course, the end all be all, Iron Mike. Even in 8 bits, the personalities of each showcased themselves greatly that they took on a life of their own. And of course, I can’t forget Mac’s mentor, the chocolate bar-loving, advice-spouting Doc Louis.
Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! wasn’t a traditional boxing game. In fact, the skill in winning was knowing your opponent. Each of them would give subtle hints as to what their next attack would be, and you had to pay attention in order to keep up with the boxer you were facing up against. If you could time it right, a jab to your opponent could earn you a power star, which would give little Mac a punch with more oomph. However blocking and getting hit made your heart meter decrease. Along with that, one wrong move in your attack arsenal and it could be lights out for Little Mac, and in that case referee Mario (yes, THAT Mario) would call either a K.O. or a T.K.O.
The increasing difficulty of each boxer only keep players coming back for more, and a password system made it easier to get back into the game based on your ranking at the time.If you successfully made it up to Tyson in one sitting, well then bravo. But once Mr. Tyson came onto the screen, palms got sweaty, your throat went dry, and fear set in. He was a force to be reckoned with and his lightning-fast moves were stuff of video game frustration legend.
In 1990, Nintendo released Punch-Out!! This was not a sequel to Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, but rather the same game with a new end boss. Due to the fact that Tyson was going through a major legal battle at the time, the company decided to replace Tyson with the fictional Mr. Dream. While I own this version of the game on my Wii virtual console, I still consider Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! the real version, as it is a childhood favorite.
In 1996, Punch-Out!! finally did receive a sequel by the name of Super Punch-Out!! for the Super Nintendo. I never owned a SNES but I did download the game on my virtual console as well, but while it was fun, it never matched the original NES version. I don’t know why; it might have been the characters didn’t really entertain me as much as they did in the NES version, although some characters do reappear (Super Macho Man, Mr. Sandman, for instance). Or maybe it was because the fighting wasn’t balanced, as some characters I could easily beat, then had problems with the next, and then could easily beat again. Maybe it’s because I thought the game was cheap in some areas with some attacks (“Why is this guy kicking me in the face?!”), or maybe…maybe I’m just reading into it too much. Still, as a fan of the series, I gave it a shot, and despite the gripes, I enjoy it.
In 2009, my geek meter bell rung loudly. A new version of the game, simply titled Punch-Out!!, was released for the Wii. Giving the series a new coat of paint but retaining the control scheme and over the top humor that burned the images of the NES classic into our brain, Punch-Out!! combined characters from the NES version (all of them, actually, sans Mr. Dream or Mike Tyson) and the SNES version (just a few) with one new addition (Disco Kid). The game gave us a nostalgic trip down memory lane.
While the main campaign was easier than both its predecessors on the home consoles, Punch-Out!! was no slouch in the difficulty department. The campaign had you fight the boxers one time, then taking them on again with alterations to each character. For instance, Glass Joe wore a helmet, and King Hippo had a sewer cover over his weak belly.
Also, there was a mode where you had certain challenges for each boxer, like earning all the power stars you could, or finishing the battle within a certain time frame. It made the game even more frustrating and gave players added challenges.
There was also multiplayer mode which pitted Little Mac against Little Mac, and while watching one Mac transform Hulk Style into Giga Mac was a treat, the lack of variety in the mode was not one of the game’s strong suits.
While Punch-Out!! was never that big of a franchise (speaking along Mario or Zelda standards), the original game still hold up till this day, which proves the staying power of such a simple concept. For this fan though, it’s definitely one of my personal favorites, top 10 Nintendo games and Wii at least, and is the only boxing game I’ve ever played (sans Wii Sports). Both are fun, fast, and furious; what more could you ask for in a game franchise?