Game of the Week (12/25/16) – Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!!

“He’s Hurt Me Doc!”…..”Join the Nintendo Fun Club Today Mac.”

Doc really didn’t seem to know what he was doing when it came to coaching and training Little Mac and he probably should have been reprimanded for putting a tiny 17 year old boxer up against grown men twice his age and weight. Then again, Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! is just a home port based on an arcade game of the same title (minus the Mike Tyson endorsement) so realism aside, it is still one of the undeniable classics for the NES. Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! was an instant hit when it was released in what I consider the Nintendo’s banner year of gaming, 1987 (Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Kid Icarus, Pro Wrestling, et. al.) as an addition to the “Sports Series”. In the game, you fight as Little Mac, a 17 year old boxer from the Bronx fighting his way up the ranks in an effort to become the heavyweight champion of the world. Along the way you must battle an array of ethnic stereotypes (e.g. Piston Honda, Soda Popinksi, Von Kaiser, Great Tiger) until you fight the final 3 gauntlet of Mr. Sandman, Super Macho Man and Kid Dynamite himself, Mike Tyson. You get three save points to track your progress, after defeating Piston Honda the first time in the minor circuit, Bald Bull in the major circuit and Super Macho Man in the world circuit. The best feeling is battling through all of the fighters one after the next until you make it to Tyson himself.

My first recollection of playing Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! was at a friend’s house as I did not have my NES yet in the fall of 1987 when it was released. I hadn’t read much about it but a boxing game seemed interesting to me so I inserted the cart and gave it a shot without reading the manual. The first fight against Glass Joe is intended to give new players a warm-up and practice the control scheme of right-left uppercuts, right-left body blows, blocking and dodging. You also learn that if you throw too many punches that get blocked, you will get tired and you must dodge your opponents punches without the ability to counter until you recover. I do recall losing to Glass Joe on my first attempt and that’s not a fact I would volunteer if I didn’t have a Heavyweight Title belt to my name. Every heavy weight title bout against Tyson was a sweaty palm and intensely focused battle. You needed extremely calm nerves to get through the first 1:30 of his lightning punches that would knock you on your ass in a second if you flinched and missed the timing to dodge. You could defeat Tyson by decision with 5000 or more points scored and I believe this was the method I employed when I first took him down. Since then I have been able to TKO him a few times but there is no guarantee when I fight him today that I will win. I played this game a lot as a rental before finally buying my used copy a couple years after its release. It was always one of my favorites thanks to the fun and colorful characters, the way you have to learn their tells before you’re able to defeat them and the playability of it all. As a result, I rank Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! as my third favorite game for the NES behind Super Mario Bros and Legend of Zelda.

In 1990, Mike Tyson’s contract with Nintendo ran out so instead of renewing it, Nintendo chose to re-issue Punch Out!! with a new final bout against Mr. Dream. Mr. Dream is basically a white version of Mike Tyson as they fight exactly the same. All other aspects of the game are identical. I picked up this variant sometime much later used and cheap during the late 90’s when NES games were their cheapest.

Rating: A+

Currently in my collection: 2 copies of the game (original Mike Tyson’s Punch Out and re-issued variant with Mr. Dream), both loose.

Wish list: Box and manual for Mike Tyson’s version

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