Total time played: 200 Hours
Short review: My favorite game of all time. 25 years later and the game is still fun and challenging. Each character has a unique personality and you will have to use memorization, speed and dexterity if you want to stand a chance against Mike Tyson.
Interesting links related to Mike Tyson’s Punch Out
- Video review (IrateGamer)
- Speedrun (16min 27sec)
- Sinisterwon high score world record
- Sinisterwon speedrun tutorial part 1
- James and Mike Monday’s play Punch-Out
- Blindfolded speedrun
- Mike Tyson Plays Punch Out
- Teens react to Punch Out
- Live Action Punch Out Remake
My first memory of Punch-Out is going to the grocery store (Winn-Dixie) with my dad and after we checked out I noticed an arcade machine by the exit. The game was Punch-Out. I had never heard of it but it looked fun and luckily dad had a quarter for me to try. I quickly lost in the first match and we left.
Not long after I was on the playground at school when I saw two older boys fighting. One boy had another boy pinned to a brick wall and slammed him repeatedly while yelling “Tell me how to beat Mr. Sandman in Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!” It was the first and last time I ever saw a fight because one kid wouldn’t give another kid NES tips.
A few months later at the local video store on a Saturday night I saw Punch-Out on the shelf. I remembered it from the grocery store and decided to give it a shot.
When I got home and turned the game on I heard a short 8-bit beep and saw a black screen. The game had a glitch. I took it out and blew inside and tried again, same thing. After several attempts I had my dad give it a shot. He got the same black screen and beeping. But, while he thought of what to do next I was greeted by Mike Tyson. At this point we realized the beeping was supposed to be a ring side bell and the black screen was intentional.
After hours of practice and two boxers I was about to fight Mike Tyson, or so I thought. Instead I was greeted by Japan’s finest, Piston Honda. I struggled with Piston Honda and no matter what I could not win. But, the next morning, after some sleep I tried again and to my surprise I beat him and then was treated to a training montage of my character Little Mac running behind his trainer, Doc.
The fourth fight put me against Don Flamenco. I could not beat him, he blocked everything I threw at him. But, that didn’t stop me from calling my grandmother and telling her all about the game. She ended up coming over to watch me play. I know now she didn’t care about the game at all, she was just happy to see me so passionate about something.
We took the game back to the video store but I thought about it constantly. I flipped through some Nintendo Power magazines and found a code to get to Mike Tyson. The next chance I got I rented the game again. As I went to the checkout counter I excitedly told the woman working the code to get to Mike Tyson, 007 373 5963. She couldn’t have cared less, but I was so excited I wanted everyone to know.
The first thing I did upon turning the game on was type in the code. 20 seconds later I had been knocked down 3 times. Mike Tyson was impossible. He knocked me down with one punch every time. No matter how much I tried I couldn’t even get a punch in on him.
I decided to play the game from the beginning and this time was able to use the famous “right, left” combo on Don Flamenco to beat him. After me, my brother and my mom attempted King Hippo a million times mom let me call the 1-900 Nintendo help line. I spoke to a counselor who told me that I had to hit King Hippo in the mouth and then in the stomach after his pants fell. After the short phone call that I’m sure cost $4.95 I beat King Hippo.
The next fighter, Great Tiger, used a special spin punch that took him all around the ring, I couldn’t dodge it. Again, I called the help line and was told that holding down on the controller each time he spun I would block the punch and after five blocks he would stop. Down went Great Tiger.
A third call to the help line told me that if I hit Bald Bull on his third hop of the bull charge he would go down. This one required a lot of timing precision and I wasn’t able to pull it off. Bald Bull was the end of the line for me for many years.
My friend Jimmy called me one night in the fourth grade and said his mom had bought him Punch-Out. I spent the night that night and called him a liar saying he had just rented the game. He proceeded to say “if I didn’t own the game, would I do this?” and ripped the cardboard box for the game in half. My jaw hit the floor for two reasons: 1) he really owned Punch-Out 2) I couldn’t believe he ripped the box. We stayed up all night playing and drinking Strawberry Soda. I ended up puking and to this day I can’t drink Strawberry soda.
When I went to college Jimmy gave me his copy of Punch Out and it has been the game I revisit the most often. There is something special about Punch-Out. It is a boxing game, but it is less of a strategy or action game than a game like Guitar Hero. Each fighter has tells that you have to memorize and then react accordingly. The game is one of the few that takes both memorization skills and hand eye co-ordination.
I have been playing a lot of the game on my HDTV but Punch-Out plays differently. There is a very small lag when playing on an HDTV but on 99% of games it is not noticeable, but as you get deep into Punch Out the game plays differently. No matter how much I try I cannot beat Sandman, Super Macho Man or Mike Tyson on a non-tube TV. After setting up save states on my Retron-5 to train like a real boxer I realized all my training was for nothing.
I had to play it old school, from the beginning, no save states and just play over and over until I beat it. Luckily the hundreds of hours I put in over my life make the game pretty easy until the final three fights. One interesting thing I found playing on HD vs tube TV’s is that on my HDTV I learned the timing of knocking Bald Bull down during his bull charge 90% of the time. Playing today on my tube TV the feel was different and I never once hit him. Infact, the only match I lost on the run that I beat the game was against Bald Bull.
There is so much to love about this game. Even though I say the game isn’t really a strategy game some people have turned it into one. The speed runner superstars “SinisterWon” and “Zallard1” have turned the game into something olympic athletes could be proud of. Using rom and emulator technology they have learned so many secrets about the game that have allowed them to consistently beat the game faster and faster. Over 25 years after the games release these two guys still go back and forth for the world’s fastest time. To learn how they did it is so overwhelming, they have memorized every frame of the game, they know exploits that save individual frames off of their final game time. I highly recommend watching these two speed runners and listening to them talk about the time, dedication, finger skills and trouble shooting that has gone into their life’s obsession.
The other thing that makes Punch-Out special is the cast of characters. Each boxer has a very unique look and personality. As a kid I never noticed the possibly offensive stereotypes but as an adult it is all I can think of. The NES was one of the first systems that allowed for distinct characters but Punch-Out is the game that best expresses the personality of each character through movements and facial expressions. It is also the only NES game that has ever made me laugh. The first time I got to Super Macho Man and watched him flex his peck muscles I could not control my laughter.
Take a look at this fan made screen capture of all of the Punch Out characters. From this single frame you can see the personality of the characters.
Finally, fan made custom Punch-Out action figures. I would love to own these and hope that in the future Nintendo releases something of this quality.
After 25 years of playing Mike Tyson’s Punch Out I was finally able to beat it. I had beaten the game two times before by using the code to start at Mike Tyson. I had also gotten to Mike Tyson from the beginning on multiple occasions but I had never beaten the game straight through. I would have beaten the game a week or so ago but while building a shelf to hold my NES game I shot a nail through my left thumb and have not been able to put any pressure on it.
Also, in the photo below I look really sweaty. This isn’t because I was stressed or because I moved around a lot while boxing. I had just come inside form mowing the grass in 90 degree heat. I figured before heading upstairs I would attempt Punch Out again and it just happened to be the time that I beat it.
On my journey to beat as many NES games as possible this is game number #100. Now, to take a little break from the NES and play through a few SUPER NES games that I have never played such as A Link To The Past and Final Fantasy III.