I first saw Punch-Out!! in the corner of a Smith’s grocery store in Layton, back when Smith’s still had games in the corner. I never got a chance to play it, my mom was in a hurry to get her shopping done. But eventually, I got to play it.
The game had you as a nameless boxer that looked like the Incredible Hulk, only with a wire-grid body. The game offered six opponents, and your first was Glass Joe. I usually only got to Bald Bull before losing. The game had a voice synthesizer. The announcer would call our “left, right, body blow”, and your opponent would taunt you after you lost, saying, “Get up and fight.” This game was pure genius!
Nintendo released Super Punch-Out!! in the arcade the same year, giving you six more fighters and jacking up the difficulty. Bear Hugger was your first rival, and boy did he hit hard. In 1985, a spin-off called Arm Wrestling was released (I have never seen this game). But when you talk about Punch-Out!!, chances are that most people remember the NES game.
Nintendo signed with Mike Tyson to create Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, due to the increasing popularity of the Nintendo Entertainment System and Mike Tyson’s rise to fame. It was almost a perfect pairing. You got past all the cartoonish boxers, some from the arcade and some that were modelled after arcade opponents (Pizza Pasta and Kid Quick never made it home, Vodka Drunkenski became Soda Popinski), then you met Mike Tyson, who was like his real life counterpart: one punch ends the match, and he hits with bad intentions. Not only that, but your fighter now had a name, Little Mac, and it was his story to the world championship and beyond.
Nintendo rereleased the game without Mike Tyson, due to Tyson’s increasing trouble with the law, replacing him with Mr Dream and calling the game, simply, Punch-Out!! The Mike Tyson version, however, is not at all hard to find, as Nintendo made and sold a lot of copies.
Punch-Out!! came to the Super NES in the form of Super Punch-Out!!, giving you a whole new roster of boxers to fight. The only returning fighters were Bald Bull, Mr Sandman, and Super Macho Man. The game went back to it’s arcade roots, as the fights were reduced to one round, unlike the NES game where you had three rounds. There was also no win by decision; you had to knock out your opponent, or lose the match if time ran out. Your fighter was once again nameless, as he looked nothing like Little Mac, though Nintendo still refered to him as Little Mac.
I waited for a new Punch-Out!! to come out after that one, like Punch-Out 64 or something. It didn’t happen until the Wii, which was very welcome.
Now, I’d like to see a Punch-Out!! for the DS. I’ll take anything, even the arcade games through DSiShop. I’m not picky.