Review by Eggplant Wizard
"Like A Fine Wine..."
Mike Tyson's Punch Out! is a game that pretty much everyone that grew up with the NES has played and probably beaten at some point in their gaming lives. So revered was this game back in the day that is was actually considered cool (at least where I live) to be one of the kids at school that could beat Tyson. Back in the day when codes and gaming tips were freely traded in the schoolyard and back when everyone had the same system in common, this was one of THE games to own.
As far as a story in a boxing game goes, it's not all that bad. You play as Little Mac, a relatively unknown boxer who is looking to fight his way through the ranks of the boxing world by taking on boxers that are 3 or 4 times his size. Aided by your trusty trainer Doc Louis, your goal is to take down the other contenders until nobody is standing in your way but the champ himself!
These graphics were fantastic back in the day. Little Mac is presented nicely even though during the gameplay you mostly see him from the back. The other boxers are very large and each one has his own unique look. The 8-bit presentation of Mike Tyson is truly a sight to behold as it looks exactly like the champ himself. The between round trash talking is a nice added touch as it allows you to see how much damage Mac and his opponent have taken based on how their face looks.
The sound of your punches landing is somewhat cartoonish and fits the game nicely...the sound of your opponents' punches landing on Mac has a slightly more lethal sound to it befitting someone 10 feet tall beating on someone named ''Little Mac''. The catchy tune that plays during all the matches is instantly recognizable and doesn't ever seem to get old even though it plays during every single round of the game. I always enjoyed the sound of the other boxers laughing at you, which they did either after they knocked you down or right before they came out of their corner to begin a round. Overall there really isn't an annoying or out of place sound in this entire game.
This is the area where the game really shines - it's one of those games where the gameplay is so smooth and the controls are so simple that anyone can pick up and play it, but it takes good timing and practice to master it. Mac controls and moves smooth as silk, and you will never have any problems getting him to do exactly what you want him to do. The key part of the gameplay was going up against the other boxers and finding out their weaknesses. This game does not reward people that just want to attack blindly, and any of the boxers past the first 2 or 3 will knock you right down if you try this tactic. The point of the game was to dodge each boxer's punches and then counter-attack. Most times the opposing boxer would have a specific weak point which you needed to find and exploit. For example, some opponents were more vulnerable to punches to the body while some others were particularly vulnerable to the more powerful ''star punches'', which were strong uppercuts that you could obtain by striking an opponent at precisely the right moment.
The variety and increasing challenge of opposing boxers is truly a work of art, and it will take good reflexes and some practice to be able to beat the later foes such as Mr.Sandman, Super Macho Man, and Tyson.
This area of the game is very tough for me to rate. I have been playing this game for so long that by now I can beat Tyson pretty much every time I play, but for someone just playing this game for the first time I would probably bump the challenge up a point or two. Despite the fact that this game can be consistently beaten when you have mastered it, the replay value is still off the charts in my opinion.
This is truly an example of a perfect game. The gameplay and controls are as sharp as anything, the enemy variety is great, and the fun factor is as high as any game I have ever played. Getting a used NES for $20 or so is worth it just to get this game, let alone the other incredible classics in the NES library. If you haven't played this game yet, you owe it to yourself not to miss out - what are you waiting for?
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/12/02, Updated 11/12/02
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