Review by Daniel T

"{A true landmark in video gaming history}"


''Punch-Out!! by Nintendo. Eleven world class contenders take 'em down with your controller, beat 'em all and you've got a shot at Tyson's title! But for that you've gotta beat Mike Tyson...Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! from Nintendo, now you're playing with power.'' -1987 Punch-Out!! game commercial

What an understatement indeed. This is quite a powerful game with a very unique feel to it. I first had heard tales of this legendary game from many people on this site, but did not get around to playing it until late last year. On October 4, 2001 I found this game at a local store and bought it on the spot. I was instantly in awe of this game and it captured my imagination like no other game has or ever will for that matter.


Although it is a very inspiring story like that which has already been used in the Rocky movies of the underdog, it is also quite simplistic. Little Mac is a 17 year old boy growing up in Brooklyn, New York. He struggles to find his place in the world, but one day this all changes. He meets with former W.V.B.A. champ Doc Louis. Louis sees the potential in Mac, when, walking down the street he sees Mac fending off two huge bullies. He notices that this small boy possesses true heart and courage, the type that can make a championship boxer. Thus, rather than letting Mac continue on this futile journey of sticking up to low life bullies, he asks him if he would like to use his skills in the ring. Doc teaches Mac all there is to know about the sweet science of boxing and becomes his official trainer. The two begin on a quest for true victory knowing that the road will be long, but they are determined to shake up the boxing world.

Meanwhile, a legend is born in the heavyweight division by the name of Mike Tyson. He follows the dream of his late trainer Cus D'Amato in becoming the youngest ever heavyweight champion in history. A seemingly unmovable force, he knocks all of his competition with bad intentioned right and left uppercuts. He seems unstoppable and destined to destroy Rocky Marciano's record of 49-0. At this time, Little Mac moves up the ranks of the W.V.B.A. becoming minor champion with a startling knockout victory over Piston Honda. He continues to raise to the top in early '87 with a knockout of Bald Bull to earn the major championship. Then on April 1, 1987 he shakes up the W.V.B.A. with a shocking knockout victory of the muscle bound giant Super Macho Man. He is now recognized as the W.V.B.A's undisputed world champion.

Iron Mike is now WBC, WBA champion and gets the opportunity to unify the titles with an August 1, 1987 bout with IBF title holder Tony Tucker. He does just that and becomes the first undisputed heavyweight champion since ''The Greatest'' Muhammad Ali. A few days later he gets a phone call from a person who he perceives to be as an eight year old boy. This boy is Little Mac and he issues a challenge for Tyson's titles. Tyson laughs arrogantly, but accepts the challenge feeling as though he has nothing to lose against some punk kid.

The fight is allowed on the W.V.B.A. grounds and is hyped up as ''The Dream Fight!!'' by Doc Louis. The battle between the two youngest ever champions in their respective divisions is on. Will Mac's dream of becoming the undisputed champion be realized? Can he overcome all odds and dethrone the 31-0 Tyson? It's all up to you!!


This game follows the rules of the amateur level of boxing with one exception. There are 3 rounds in a fight, with 3:00 minutes per round. What is the exception you ask? Well an entire fight only takes place in one confined area. Mac will always have his back near the ropes for the entire fight. This usually gives the edge to the fighter who is away from the ropes in real boxing, however this game does not represent official boxing. Thus, the fights are more exciting, since both fighters must go all out for victory and cannot run or try grabbing the other to waste time like in other boxing games. Also the fact that one cannot pause the game makes the battles much more intense.

Little Mac can win fights in three different ways by KO!, TKO or by decision. However, not all of the opponents can be defeated in some of these ways. Doc Louis provides assistance between rounds, which proves to be very helpful for a person just starting the game. The gameplay is great and addictive overall.


Since Little Mac does not have to move around the ring at all the controls are perfect. Dodging left or right is quite easy it only gets tougher when one must master the quick dodge technique against the tougher opponents. Nothing too complex to learn though. Punching is very easy as well. The start button is used as the powerful star uppercut and it is very easy to execute once Mac has obtained one. Easy and effective controls are always a good sign in determining a great game.


For its time, simply unbelievable! The character sprites are cartoonish because they are meant to be. The special chip that was used to increase the size of Mac's opponents works great. I just love the facial expressions of the fighters as well, it really gives this game a unique touch. I am amazed Nintendo was able to add these features. Also the way each opponent begins the match with their own dance or intimidating factor is also brilliantly done. The colours are very good, except for the scene in which Mac is running in pink sweat gear. What was that all about? The ring looks good and changes from time to time. Mario as the special guest referee works well for this game and he looks the way he should. Excellent!!


The only downside of this game really. The punches sound funny and the barking noise of characters such as Glass Joe, Don Flamenco and Mario are annoying. I do enjoy the strange Soda Popinski, Bald Bull and Mr. Sandman laugh though. The music is great. Each particular tune perfectly matches the action. When Mac is knocked down the music sets the tone of panic, that Mac better get up quick. If an opponent is knocked down the music is more positive and confident oriented. The Punch-Out!! rendition inspired by the Rocky movies is also very good, it has a hero's welcome type of feel to it. Of course my favorite is the music heard when Mac is sitting on his stool and must retire or make a comeback. It has a great beat to it. I liked it so much at one point that whenever I would lose to Tyson, I did not feel bad since that music would follow.


The first half is easy and then your reflexes get put to the test. It will take a lot of practice and determination to defeat Iron Mike especially. Once you crack an opponent's pattern, it becomes very easy. The key is not to be intimidated. The opponents are so much bigger than Mac to prove that very point. If one believes that an opponent like Tyson is unbeatable, he or she will never defeat him.


All the above points make this game a truly enjoyable experience whenever one decides to play. The fighter quotes are fun as some fighters make fun of themselves or Little Mac. I really like the idea of the discussions between rounds. I do not believe any other game used this and it works well. Even Doc Louis joins in and is not embarrassed to put Mac to shame, by telling him to join the Nintendo fun club when he is not performing at his level. Other boxing games used taunting gestures in the actual fights. One game in particular called Greatest Heavyweights for the Sega Genesis system, came the closest to the brilliance of Punch-Out!! with its realist play. This game is still the undisputed champ of fun though.


Beating the game is not enough, not when there are so many other things to achieve. One can try beating every opponent in the first round depending on the type of cartridge they own. There are many things to discover and this raises the replay value to a high level. Even when one has achieved all the goals he or she has set for themselves, they will still notice that it is hard to stay away from this game. I myself officially retired from competitive status on September 1 of this year, but yesterday played for fun beating Tyson in Round 1 four times in fifteen minutes.


This is just one of those games that every gamer should own. I myself first played this game very late(14 years after its release), but even then it is still just as fun as ever. Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! is the type of game that will always have a lasting place in gaming history. Everyone who has ever played it has never nor will ever forget the memories this game has brought them. It ranks in my book as one of those games that is a landmark in gaming history. The original Legend of Zelda series, the original Super Mario Bros series and Double Dragon are the other landmark games. They have all inspired and set the standard for many of the popular games of today and for that are true classics.

No game has ever inspired me as much as Punch-Out!! It brings out the best in me as I have completely dominated this game in every way in a short period of time. I even made my own game genie codes later which was a gift from God. Mike Tyson's Punch-out!! shall always have a lasting place in my heart. I take my hat off to the greatest game ever made.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 09/09/02, Updated 09/09/02

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