Review by ZFS
"Ding, ding ding -- we have a knockout!"
"Dancin' like a fly, bitin' like a mosquito!"
Ah, if that quote doesn't instill a newfound confidence in you, nothing will. Those are the great words of Doc Louis, the lovable coach who will be assisting you on your uphill journey to become a big time boxer. Punch-Out!! was released back in 1987 when Mike Tyson was a boxer worth talking about, arguably the greatest who ever participated in the sport. Nintendo managed to strike a deal with the big name and thus this little gem managed to be created.
Punch-Out!! puts you into the shoes of a young man named Little Mac. He's a 17-year-old kid from New York looking to make a name for him in the world of boxing. But, he's there to prove something else the other boxers are not! Little Mac, like his name implies, is a rather short fellow who isn't overly muscular or very threatening looking. His mission is to prove that to be a good boxer you have to have more than just brute strength, but heart! Little Mac is always there fighting the Bald Bulls or Piston Hondas of the world that are so much bigger than he is, showing off that indomitable courage. aww yeah little mac
Luckily, Little Mac doesn't have to take on these gruesome trials by himself! Oh no, he's got his faithful trainer Doc Louis beside him. The two combine to go through each 'series" in the boxing world. He starts off in the 'Minor" league and eventually moves on to the "Major' and "World" leagues, then squaring off against Mike Tyson himself in the legendary Dream Match! Little Mac is all about proving the little man can pull through with heart and courage, and can even take on the ear biting Tyson himself. That's right, this little man is not afraid of any human appendage-eating monster, he'll show him what's up.
As our lovable hero starts off, he's got to make use of his current skills that he so conveniently learned from the Doc. When he's in the ring, Little Mac can perform some very basic techniques, but they go a long way when executed properly. He can dodge by simply stepping left or right, perform a brutal uppercut to catch his opponents off-guard, and block so that he doesn't get smacked with some vicious attacks from his opposition, and then the basic jab at the stomach -- Soda Popinski will really regret downing that pop before the match! But while these techniques are at Mac's disposal, he has to learn when and when not to pull these off.
The opposition, which ranges from the simple Glass Joe to the insane Super Macho Man, is armed with a far larger, more varied array of attacks. In order for the little champion in Mac to come out, he'll have to watch out for the different patterns that these opponents pull off. For example, Don Flamenco is a big defensive boxer -- secret information right here -- and because of such, he'll block for a good majority of the time. However, if Mac waits for him to pull out an offensive technique, he can dodge and punish him hard! Each opponent has a certain weakness that Mac can take advantage of, along with a pattern. Once he's figured out the pattern, there's no one going to stop him!
To help reinforce Mac's idea about courage and heart over everything else, his attire is a simple black and white tank top and shorts. His choice of clothing is, by far, the coolest that anyone will find. We all know that once he becomes the World Champion, everyone is going to want to buy his or her own generic black tank top and white shorts to emulate him. The opposition that our hero will face carries some fancy attire that is a variety of colors and is different depending on what type of "personality" they're trying to pull off. Admittedly, they do look pretty nice given the strict limits that were back during the time. Their huge exterior and vibrant clothes are more than enough to please the audience at home watching Mac's road to the championship!
With the road to victory slowing winding down, our Little Mac seems to have proven himself worthy of the title of "Champion." He took down his opposition with a series of gruesome jabs and uppercuts, dodged the special techniques of his foes, and did so while managing to look adequate. If there were ever a reason to play Punch-Out!! it would be for the reason of being able to play as this little champion who braved the odds, stood up against the big giants, and ultimately pulled through as the World Champion and slayer of the Human Appendage-Eating Monster!
But really, when it comes down to it, Punch-Out!! is a brilliant game. It isn't the most realistic boxing experience you're going to find out there, but it is the most fun. To this day, there has yet to be a boxing game that can stand up to the incredible Punch-Out!!. The difficulty is there, the simple yet amazing gameplay is there, and the graphics are very enjoyable, even if they are quite dated. And, come on, any game where you can play as Little Mac is a game that you should want to play.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/27/05, Updated 09/07/07
Game Release: Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! (US, 10/31/87)
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