Let's keep it clean! Now come out boxing!
Nintendo's series of boxing games, most notable for the wide variety of colorful, stereotypically-depicted opponents and for the primary protagonist, Little Mac, being WAY smaller then any of them.
Funny thing, though; while Little Mac, a young man in his late teens hailing from the Bronx, New York, trained by former heavyweight champ Jerome "Doc" Louis, is the most well-known protagonist of the games, the same why Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! is the most well-remembered game of the series, that's not how it all started. It all started back around 1983, when hot off the success of the Famicom (Japan's version of the Nintendo Entertainment System), they still wanted to continue to expand their line of arcade games. With Genyo Takeda, the general manager of Nintendo's Integrated Research & Development Division, as lead designer, and Shigeru Miyamoto as the character designer, the original arcade Punch-Out!!
was created, with a green-haired wireframe nameless protagonist that the player controlled as he fought his way through 6 opponents: Glass Joe from France, Piston Hurricane from Cuba, Bald Bull Instanbul, Kid Quick Brooklyn, Pizza Pasta from Italy, and Mr. Sandman from Philadelphia. The game was so popular, that a sequel arcade game was made, Super Punch-Out!!
, this one with a modified design and 5 new opponents: Bear Hugger from Canada, Dragon Chan from Hong Kong, Vodka Drunkenski from Russia, Great Tiger from India, and Super Macho Man from Hollywood. A little known spin-off, Arm Wrestling
, made by the same development team and featuring Bald Bull as "Mask X", was released around this time as well.
Then Nintendo decided to bring Punch-Out!!
to their home console gaming system, but doing so would be tough, due to the technical limitations of the NES/Famicom. They could not make the player character wireframe like in the arcade games, so instead, they made the protagonist, the aforementioned "Little Mac", very small, so that he wouldn't obscure the the characters he was fighting against. The NES Punch-Out!! was released in Japan with a gold-colored Famicom cartridge, and featured many returning boxers from the arcade games, specifically Glass Joe, Great Tiger, Bald Bull, Vodka Drunkenski (whose name was changed to Soda Popinski to remove association with alcohol), Mr. Sandman, and Super Macho Man as the final opponent, and also introduced new fighters, namely Von Kaiser from Germany, Piston Honda (a look-alike of Piston Hurrican) from Japan, Don Flamenco from Spain, and King Hippo from "Hippo Island, South Pacific". When it came to the games American release, though, Nintendo of American's founder and then president, Minoru Arakawa. attended a boxing match with professional boxer Mike Tyson, and was so impressed with his "power and speed" that he wanted to use his likeness and name for the game. A three-year contract was all set when Tyson won the World Boxing Council heavyweight championship, and thus Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!
was born, in which after defeating Super Macho Man, the player had the chance to fight the heavyweight champ himself in a special fight! This version of the game was eventually released in Japan as well. Once Nintendo's contract with Tyson expired (contrary to popular believe, this WASN'T because of the accusations of rape, and when Mike kind of went crazy, which happened much later; it was simply because Mike wasn't the champ anymore and Nintendo didn't feel the need to renew their contract with him), a different version of the game, which instead replaced Mike Tyson with a white look-alike called "Mr. Dream", was released, and subsequently re-released in various compilations and also the Virtual Console for the Wii, Nintendo 3DS, and Wii U.
Several years later, a sequel was made for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System called Super Punch-Out!!
. This game featured a blonde-haired protagonist (sometimes called Little Mac, sometimes not), who was around the same (or similar) height to the opponents he faced, and instead of being small or wireframe, he was transparent when he fought them. This game brought the series back to it's arcade-style gameplay, and also featured one of the most impressive and varied rosters of the series, featuring Bald Bull, Mr. Sandman, and Super Macho Man from the previous games, as well as Bear Hugger and Dragon Chan from the original arcade Super Punch-Out!!
, plus many MANY new, original characters... I want to name them all, but I'll spare you a read-through of that... instead I'll put it in the spoiler:
-Gabby Jay from France (and Glass Joe's "pupil")
-Bob Charlie from Jamaica
-Masked Muscle from Mexico
-Aran Ryan from Ireland
-Heike Kagero from Japan
-Mad Clown from Italy
-Narcis Prince from England
-Hoy Quarlow from China
-The Bruiser Brothers, Rick and Nick, from parts unknown
The game was praised for it's graphics and gameplay, which also had it's complaints, particularly from people who grew up with the NES Punch-Out!!
Maybe because of that, the Punch-Out!! series went dormant... at least until 2009, in which Next Level Games, a Canadian developer best known for making the Mario Strikers
soccer games, made the highly anticipated return of Punch-Out!!
for the Wii. The game returns to it's NES roots, with the player taking control of Little Mac as he fights his way to becoming World Video Boxing Association champion, with the help of his chocolate obsessed trainer Doc Louis! All the characters from the original NES game (save Mike Tyson and Mr. Dream) return in this game, as well as Bear Hugger and Aran Ryan from Super Punch-Out!!
the game also features a "new" character, Disco Kid, who was originally supposed to be Kid Quick from the original arcade game. The gameplay is the same as the NES, in which the play can either choose to play with the Wii Remote like a classic NES controller, or with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, a la Boxing from Wii Sports
. The player can even use the Wii Balance Board for dodging and ducking. This game also features a variety of other modes, including a Title Defense mode, where after Mac becomes the champ, all the old boxers come back to face him again with new, improved tactics, Mac's Last Stand, in which Mac faces random opponent after random opponent and if he loses 3 times, he retires permanently (incidentally, Mac is able to face Donkey Kong in this mode!), Exhibition Mode, where the player can complete certain challenges and unlock rewards, as well as practice against certain fighters, and, for the first time in the series, a Head-to-Head multiplayer mode, where two players play as two Little Macs and are even able to transform into a giant version called Giga Mac in this mode! The game was very popular, selling over a million copies...
Since then, though, there hasn't been much news as far as new Punch-Out!!
games go... So why make a topic like this now? Well...
That's right, Little Mac got confirmed as a playable character for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
! Plus, in a bit of strange timing, Game Grumps also started playing the Wii Punch-Out!!
around this time...
So I've been in a really big Punch-Out!!
mode lately... As you can tell, I'm a total nerd when it comes to in-depth Punch-Out!!
info... which is not to say I didn't look some things up when I wrote this... I just love the series so much, it's one of the few game series where I can't find a single bad thing to say about them, and they're legitimately fun the whole way through! There's just so much to appreciate about them, whether it be the addictive gameplay or the hilarious and varied characters. I recently bought and downloaded Punch-Out!! featuring Mr. Dream
on the 3DS for my Punch-Out!!
on the go, and I just started replaying Punch-Out!!
for the Wii... and God dang, this is so much funnier then I remember, particularly Title Defense Disco Kid! Seriously, for anyone who's overlooked the series, I highly recommend it! Punch-Out!! featuring Mr. Dream is available on the Wii, 3DS, and Wii U, and the SNES Super Punch-Out!!
is also available on Wii U. You can buy the Wii Punch-Out!!
...I kind of want to ask something to everyone who's played the Punch-Out!!
games... Well, actually I want to ask two things. One: who's your favorite boxer in the series? Two: which is the more iconic Punch-Out!!
boxer, King Hippo or Bald Bull? I know that sounds weird, especially if you think that Little Mac is the most iconic, given that he's the main character, but whenever I see/hear people talk about or mention Punch-Out!!
the one character people bring up is either King Hippo, who has probably the most memorable character design and strategy and was a regular character in the TV series, Captain N: The Game Master
, or Bald Bull, who had the infamous "Bull Charge" attack and appeared in the most games, appearing in the arcade game, the NES game, the SNES game, the Wii game, AND the Arm Wrestling
spin-off! So which do YOU think is more synonymous with the series?
Phew... well, that was a lot of fun to write up!