Review by Gbness

"Ear-bite over there, if I may ask"

Fear the man himself -- not the game. Mike Tyson, perhaps the greatest boxer ever, one to create fear in every opponent's heart! Not a bad idea at all from Nintendo! So it was then that I saw the name. Mike Tyson's Punch Out!!. A shock of fear went down my spine, knowing the difficulty that would surely lie ahead of me! Together with two exclamation marks, and you know Mike Tyson wants some food -- his opponents. I fought back my fear, turned the NES on and popped Mike Tyson's Punch Out!! into my NES. Another page back in my exciting life.

It would be egregious to think that Mike Tyson wasn't going to be in a tough game, and it sure shows. Instead of those rough, tough handsome guys with spikey blond hair and a sword, we've got the very "little" Little Mac, a small man who's about to take down Mike Tyson, little man vs. the world. Despite being small, he must be one brave man to be doing it with only his two fists and a coach standing behind him to pat his back, which one could erroneously think is a form of preparation.

Mike Tyson isn't all that poor Little Mac has to take on. He's got one of the most comical cast of enemies in a video game. Old man "Glass Joe", a guy who wants to use Little Mac as a tool to win his first fight and retire; King Hippo, a great overgrown brute resembling a hippo; the incredible Spanish Don Flamenco; and the hilarious Soda Popinski (whom Nintendo considered calling 'Vodka Drunkenski'); and best of all is the referee, whom I believe we all know and love very well, the man with the large circular nose... His name is Mario.

All of them being rather comical opponents, they all have numerous tricks hidden up their sleeves. It is quite comical how little (pun intended) Mac can do against these beasts who almost live to kill: he can duck by pressing down twice, you can do a throw at the enemy's head by pressing up, and you can attack with your left and right hands with the A and B buttons, but is that it? Unfortunately, that is quite true, so you can't just think things among the lines of:


"I'll knock you out cold, you filth" (brute force comes quickly)

Oh no. A rather innovative thing Nintendo assured is that the opponents (almost all of them) have some kind of weakness, and that's what the fighting is based on. This makes returning to the fight far more enjoyable, as well as far more challenging. A good example is Glass Joe, who is normally a defensive opponent, will try an offensive attack around 40 seconds in, which is your chance to attack! Of course, they get a lot deeper and more complicated than that when you get further in.

Landing a hit in at the right time will also give you a star, something you would do well to collect a lot of, in the course of the three rounds that you're given (each giving you a limit of two realistic minutes to complete). Once you collect three stars, you can say a prompt "good bye" to the opponent. Of course, if you try _too_ hard to get lots of hits in on the enemy and get hit in return, you'll lose points. Usually you've got to get a certain number of points to win. Although it may seem like a lot of memorization and looking out for patterns, the whole thing is enjoyable.

As I have mentioned, the hero you've got merely goes around in green and black, and is about half the size of one's finger on your TV screen, whereas everyone else towers above him, about the size of the finger itself. The fights are (obviously) set out in a boxing arena, which looks adequately realistic for the time although it just looks plain dull. All of the boxers, especially King Hippo (or Soda Popinski, the one who has a drink before the fight) are detailed as much as you need from an NES game, guaranteed.

Despite there only being a single song in the game, which is rather repetitive and probably won't win your respect over the first time you hear it, you'll soon think it to perfectly match in with the game and then start to love it. The kicks and punches all sound realistic enough for their own good, although most of the sound is a collection of beeps and blips. What is good, however, was the roaring and cheering the crowd puts on when the fight begins. Ah yes, now _that_ is the way to emulate a boxing match in a video game!

Face it -- Mike Tyson's Punch Out!! was made 15 years ago, but it still remains one of the best boxing games ever made, and it certainly takes that title for NES boxing games. What with the amazing enemies, phenomenal enemy AI, and occasionally a good laugh now and then, and the game requiring a little thing called strategy (something many people have not grasped), it's one of the games you can play for several hours and still not get tired of. Add everything up, and it's one of the few titles that will go down in history.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 08/10/04

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