5: Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!

Genre: Boxing

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Year: 1987

Basic Idea: Ignore Doc’s worthless advice, or join the Nintendo Fun Club today!

Review:  When we first got this game I wasn’t terribly good at it.  I would have trouble with Great Tiger and Bald Bull, and Soda Popinski was often the death of me.  I knew what to do, generally, but just couldn’t do it fast enough.  One day, like riding a bike, I finally figured out how to do a quick-dodge and punch.

Of course, learning this only helped defeat Super Macho Man and his double-D breasts.  Mike Tyson is on a whole other planet.  It took me a long time, at least a year or two, before I was able to fell him (perhaps I was inspired by Buster Douglas).  There are a select few final bosses on the NES that provide that sense of accomplishment combined with intense relief.  Mike Tyson still does that for me today.  I can beat him about 40% of the time, and it remains intense.  Because no matter how well you’re doing against him, the match can be over at any second.  Considering this is exactly how most of his real-life opponents felt while facing him, I think the designers absolutely nailed it.

I still play this game multiple times per year.  The cast of characters are funny and unique, maintaining interest through each fight.   The learning curve is perfect.  And the replayability is off the charts.  I’ve won this game multiple times, and the final three opponents (Mr. Sandman, Super Macho Man, and Tyson) still make me sweat.

There’s a cool story about how we figured out how to defeat Bald Bull, but I’ll let my brother tell it.

8 thoughts on “5: Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!”

  1. Heh, expected you to put it right in the write-up. Well..

    We had Ball Bull all figured out except that darn charge. No matter what we did we couldn’t avoid it. One night I must have gone to bed with Punch-Out on the brain, because I had a prophetic dream. I don’t recall if I dreamed I was playing it or if I was Little Mac himself. I stood my ground and punch Bald Bull in the gut before he reached me with his charge and it worked!

    Told my brother about it and we decided to try it out. It worked! That was awesome. I have not had a prophetic dream since, but it’s nice to know my one time shot at it did not go to waste on something less important.

  2. This was a top-tenner in my top 50 across all consoles, I think. I simply cannot explain the replay value of this. It’s a game about patterns and memorization with a fixed progression. How can it be so damned satisfying to play over and over? I don’t know, but it is. I remember hating that you could dominate Tyson for a round and then fall to three or four punches, but as you said, that was Tyson.

    1. I’ve realized while doing this countdown that while graphics and sound don’t make a game great, they can make it addicting and replayable. The satisfying sound of a bomb dropping when your opponent falls; Mario calling a knockout; the exasperated look on your opponent’s face when they’re losing to a kid; the theme music each boxer has. More than that, perhaps, is the rhythm of the game. Punch, counter-punch. Left, right, left, right. Like a great song, you can listen to it over and over and over again.

  3. Well, I was a bit disappointed that Mike Tyson scored better than Zelda, but I’ve never played the former (and don’t plan to, boxing games just don’t appeal to me, even on the Wii), but hey, I loved the story about how you, Ryan, had a dream and figured out in your dream how to take out Bad Bull, and then tried it out the next day, and it worked! Classic! Of course, if you would have told your Mom about it back when, I would have probably just said, “that’s cool,” and gone on to other things, as Moms do. :} And Ryan, I loved your comment: I have not had a prophetic dream since, but it’s nice to know my one time shot at it did not go to waste on something less important. I have only had one prophetic incident, years back, and believe me, it was less important than yours!

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