"One of the greatest games ever? You'd better believe it"

Mike Tyson's Punch-Out. The very mention of that title warms my heart. There isn't an old school gamer alive who hasn't heard of this game. I can't imagine there are many gamers who haven't played it, through emulation or the cartridge version of the game itself. The very fact that there are a few scores that are lower then 7 is utterly shocking. How can any video game player, old or new, not fall in love with this game the moment they play it?

My first experience with this game was not with the cartridge. It was on one of those ancient arcade machines that let you play nes games on a timer. It was always some lame amount of time, where you didn't have the time to complete anything, like 200 seconds. This game was at some little convenience store down the street. The first time I went to check it out, some guy was working on the Neo-Geo arcade machine next to mine. After just getting to Piston Honda, having no more quarters, and realizing I had 20 seconds left, I let out a loud groan and said ''This stupid thing, I'm out of time and just got started!'' So this nice guy opened the front area where you put in the quarters, pressed a button (or flipped a switch, I forget), and I suddenly had a timer at 999 seconds that wasn't moving anywhere. After giving him many thanks, I went back at it, losing to King Hippo. From that day forward, I was hooked. Later that year I got a NES for my birthday, and I specifically requested this game to go with it. I lost it at some point years ago, and recently I got my hands on it again via ebay.

Story: 9/10
Little Mac, the world's strongest midget, has a dream. That dream is to become the world’s shortest, greatest boxer, and to beat up Mike Tyson in his pre rape conviction/ear biting stage. To realize his dream, he must pound through an array of stereotypes from around the world, ranging from weak Frenchmen, drunken Russians, cocky Asians, and self-absorbed Spaniards. But can Little Mac over come these obstacles and become the strongest midget the world has ever seen? Only YOU will decide that.

Controls: 8/10
The controls are incredibly responsive. In an age and a system where games can be very slow and very unresponsive, they are quite spectacular. If you quickly tap left or right to dodge, then you dodge faster then usual. Punching and dodging must both be timed accurately. You get a super punch by surprise hitting your opponent to get a star and pressing start. My one complaint with the game, the one thing that annoys me to this day, is the lack of a pause feature. I don't know why the designers decided not to implement one. It's not as if pausing would give you an advantage in game play. Most likely it would hurt you. Regardless, it's irritating not having it, cause when you're in the middle of a fight with Super Macho Man and you have a sudden itch, death comes swiftly. Luckily, we get an endless amount of time between rounds.

Sound: 10/10
Some of the most non-annoying sound effects found on the NES. Various punching noises(for the different strengths of punches thrown), a whistle when you get knocked down that seems like it'd be annoying but isn't, the maniacal laughs of your opponents, the little voice of the referee, and the pleasant sounds of the menu when entering a password. No problems here.

Music: 10/10
Another pleasant surprise, considering the system and the year, is the large array of music. There's the opening/ending music, the unhappy tune when you lose, and the victory tune. Most of the boxers have their own unique entrance music. The song during each fight is the same, but it is a very good and fitting song, so it's not annoying in the least. During the 2 cut scenes in the game, we are treated to one of the single greatest songs in any NES game. Heck, there is even a little song when you get knocked down and try to stand up.

Graphics: 10/10
I've seen some pretty awful graphics in NES games. Terrible uses of color, sprites that look extremely pixilated, and a serious lack of detail. Punch-Out appears to have been a labor of love for the graphic programmers. Rarely does the Nintendo use their full array of colors so well. Every sprite is very clear, bright, and the pixilation is barely obvious. The day and night cut-scenes use a bunch of colors themselves very accurately. Speaking of the cut-scenes, they are quite detailed. The New York City skyline actually looks like a city, with the sky scrapers having their own detail and the Statue of Liberty looking very convincing, especially at night. The boxers themselves look detailed as well, with muscles and what not drawn proportionally, even though their bodies aren't. Mike Tyson even looks like Mike Tyson. Oddly, Little Mac is the only one in the game without much work put into him.....

Gameplay/Fun Factor: 10/10
Boxing games have varied greatly as far as fun and realistic gameplay goes. While some can play like real boxing, yet be slow, unresponsive, and generally boring, other can have a very unreal feel and be fun as can be. Mike Tyson's Punch-Out is probably in the later category. This doesn't feel like real boxing at all, considering the only movement little mac does is dodging and punching. What we do have, however, is a nearly endless supply of fun gameplay.

It seems like a very unfair advantage, with Little Mac being less then half the size of virtually every opponent. But I guess in boxing small size means more quickness. No matter how fast, slow, or powerful the other is coming at you, dodging is easy if you time it right. If your timing is off, however, watch out. That is probably the most fun aspect of this game; learning to time your dodges and punches. Every boxer has a weakness(except, seemingly, Mike Tyson), so timing is especially key if you plan to exploit them. No matter how many years you play, or how good you think you are, you are destined to lose every once and a while simply because of human error. The very fact that there is no way to master it gives this game a vast replay value.

Rent/buy/download?
If you see this in a used game store, buy all means spend the 5-15 bucks to buy it. If you can't find it in a store, then steal it from a friend. If you don't know anyone who owns an old copy, go for ebay(that's what I did). If none of these means are an option, I suppose you can download it, but trust me, it's not the same as holding a controller in your hand and giving it a go on your TV screen.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 06/26/03, Updated 06/30/03


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