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Mike Tyson’s Punch Out on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) – More Great Video Games
Mike Tyson’s Punch Out on the NES is basically one of the best games of all time. If it doesn’t rank high on your list, then I suggest you stop smoking so much crack. That stuff is bad for your health, dude. Nevertheless, a lot of people think this game stinks for some reason. Maybe those people are just kids who didn’t realize how much butt this game kicked in the 80s because they weren't born yet. I still remember the kids lined up to play this game on the Nintendo M82 demo machine. Anyone remember that thing?
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You might find it interesting to know that the original game was an arcade cabinet, and Nintendo Ported the game to the NES console. They released the arcade game in 1984, and the NES version in 1987. The arcade machine required a dual monitor cabinet – very unique for the time. They followed the game up with the less successful Nintendo Arm Wrestling arcade game. I know - that sounds like a joke. It was real. Real stupid.
My first time playing Punch Out on the NES was at a friend’s house. Glass Joe basically beat my ass into the floor over and over, but I was hooked. This was such an interesting and unique game. There was nothing else like it on Nintendo at the time.
Eventually, Nintendo removed Mike Tyson’s name from the cartridge and just called it Punch Out. A Lot of people think that they did this because he got convicted of rape in the early 90s and sentenced to 10 years in prison. This isn’t true, however. Nintendo paid Tyson $50,000 dollars in 1987 when they decided to port their arcade game Punch Out!! to the NES. The contract with Tyson was to last 3 years. When it expired in 1990, they chose not to renew the contract. Instead, they simply removed his name from new copies of the game and changed the final boxer to “Mr. Dream.” I believe Tyson then sued Nintendo for doing that.
Anyone who has played this game remembers the music. I play the tune on piano all the time, and a lot of people recognize it. It's by the guy who wrote the famous Mario theme, Koji Kondo. One of the reasons for the memorability has to do with the fact that the entire soundtrack for the game is only 3 minutes long! You basically had the fight theme song, the main theme at the start, the training theme, those ditties that play before each fighter, and a handful of other short tunes. Hmm, it actually sounds like it should be longer than 3 minutes when you put it that way!
Anyway, for its time, the gameplay was very good. I rented Punch Out all the time. I still remember asking my baseball coach how to beat Great Tiger – his ruby blinked before his punches! I hadn’t noticed. My mother figured out how to beat Bald Bull’s death charge. There was something very exciting about trying to beat the game, and I got pretty far as a kid in comparison to other games. I think I made it up to Soda Popinski.
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A Game to Play Again and Again
The game was very well made. The difficulty scaled up absolutely perfectly from one fighter to the next. The special techniques and themes for each fighter were hilarious and awesome. King Hippo, the fat fighter who laughs at your belly punches was funny as all heck. Don Flamenco’s incessant swooping punch was very memorable. The later fighters like Super Macho Man were hard to master, but it felt so rewarding to beat them. That was the great thing about this game – you didn’t have to beat it to feel accomplished. If you just beat that next fighter and finally mastered beating him, you felt a huge sense of accomplishment. Mike Tyson’s Punch Out was a game that you knew you had to study slowly in order to beat, and every step of the way you were rewarded. It was satisfying.
It had tons of replayability. It was pretty easy to forget how to beat the later fighters, so you would have to learn again. Furthermore, there was a lot of room to improve your game. There was always a chance for an elusive knock out (instead of the technical knockout that happens when you knock them down 3 times during a round). Some people have gotten very good at knocking out various boxers. There are various tricks to doing it coded into the game, such as fighting without blocks, and getting in hits at just the right time in order to prep them up for a knockout. In other words, if you hit them while they try to hit you, it really gets 'em good.
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Tyson Was Very Hard to Beat
Now, as a kid, I never got past Soda Popinski. Nowadays, I can make it all the way to Mike Tyson. It usually takes some time as I relearn all the tricks to use against the late fighters, and the basic timing and strategies. Tyson is relentlessly hard though, and it’s ridiculous that his swooping punches knock you down faster than a pimp who thinks his women are holding money out on him. If memory serves, the regular punches do like half damage at least, or maybe more than that. He eventually switches to those. I think I managed to knock Tyson down twice over a fight once, but he always has beaten me on points. It took me hours to get to that point, too. Luckily there is a code to replay him over and over.
By the by, if memory serves, Punch Out on NES would save your password so that you didn't have to retype it after you got your ass handed to you. What the heck, Nintendo? This concept should have been on every game out there.
Nintendo didn’t release a real sequel to Punch Out until 1994 when they came out with Super Punch Out. Most people don’t know about or remember the sequel that they released on NES called Power Punch II. Huh? How can you call it a different name and then write II? They had planned to use Mike Tyson in the game again, but his legal troubles and the issue of needing to pay him again to use his image made them halt production. Oh, plus the game totally sucks. It’s set in outer space.
Yeah – let’s make a sequel to one of the greatest games of all time with a stupid, asinine, slap in the face concept like watching Tyson battle robots and aliens in space. It was a trainwreck. No wonder Nintendo tried to disown it.
Such Great Memories
The original game is still fun to play to this day, and among video games – it’s still unique. Unlike a lot of other games from the 8-bit era, this one is unique enough to warrant a few replies nowadays. Sidescrollers tend to be pretty cliché after you play through Super Mario 1-3, but this one is still fresh and original. Super Punch Out was a great game too in its own right, but it feels slightly different. I think it’s the perspective issue. It was very clever of Nintendo to use “Little Mac” in the Original Punch Out game, because it lets you get a full view of each opponent without having to use see-through, transparent bodies for your boxer. It’s a simple game when you break it down, but it just has such a charm to it. I love it, and I’m sure you do too.
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