Retro Profile: Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! (NES)

If there was a game that really helped to define the fun that could be had on an NES, it would have to be Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out. This is a game that really made our summer afternoons go by in a flash. There was nothing better than the thrill of beating down opponents who were twice your size, and having Super Mario (the referee) declare you as the winner. You play the roll of 17-year-old Little Mac. He’s a 107 pound kid from The Bronx who wants to be the next World Video Boxing Association’s (W.V.B.A.) champion. But to do that, Mac is going to have face-off with heavyweights twice his size. All the classic characters are here’Piston Honda, Bald Bull, King Hippo, Super Macho Man, and a good number of colorful characters in between them.

The controls are not hard to pick up on, and everything feels very right about this game. Mac only has a few offensive and defensive moves to keep him in the ring, and that may not sound very appealing at first, but it’s really better that way because it keeps the game simple to just pick up and play…at least for the first 2 matches. The difficulty in Punch-Out had a very steady progression. It didn’t stay too easy for too long, and at the same time, it doesn’t get nearly impossible after a few short rounds. But here’s the best part’the strategies are actually useful, which goes to show how well Nintendo crafted this game.

Looking at the personality of the characters, it’s very clear that Nintendo didn’t take themselves too seriously when they developed the game. Everybody has a lot of personality and charm in their own special way. It’s really fun to read what they say in between rounds. My personal favorite is when Soda Popinski says, “I can’t drive, so I’m going to walk all over you!” And the music was very fitting for this game too. It made you feel like you could beat these fools in no time, if you kept at it. It was also cool (for its time) to hear the music that plays when Doc (your trainer) and Mac are exercising through New York. It’s pretty unforgettable stuff.

Play or Stay? Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out is a game that comes highly recommended by me. This game is still pretty easy to find at your local used game store, or online, and it should be pretty cheap too. If you don’t care about having the original title, then you can always buy the plain old Punch-Out or just download it from the Virtual Console on the Wii. You’ll get the same enjoyment from it’I promise.

Jamie Alston is somewhat of an unusual gamer. While most people crave the visual delights that can be found in many of the current generation consoles of today, he actually prefers the 8-bit & “super 8-bit” (SNES) glory days of yesteryear. This is probably due in part to the fact that his brother chose the Nintendo Entertainment System over the Sega Genesis back in 1989…or maybe it had more to do with that time when he fell and hit his head on the blacktop in elementary school. Whatever the reason might be, Jamie has an undying love for those unnecessarily big cartridges he spent so many summer afternoons playing. When he’s not raiding trucks that “have started to move” for rations and key cards, he stays busy supporting his gaming hobby by working as a Policies & Procedures Analyst for a financial company in Baltimore, Maryland. And when he’s not working for “the man”, he’s working on the next retro review for the week. And when he’s not fighting off writer’s block and much needed sleep, he’s raiding trucks that “have started to”—well, you get the idea. Currently living in Randallstown, MD, Jamie sums up his life long dream this way: “If I one day find myself driving on the highway in a 2004 Honda Accord with an NES directional pad for a steering wheel, you can bet that I’ll be holding the up direction for that turbo boost on the straight-aways. That’s when I’ll know that I’ve finally made it in life”.