|First game||Punch-Out!! (NES)|
|Designed by||M. Wada (Punch-Out!!, 1987)
Eddie Visser (Punch-Out!!, 2009)
|Voiced by||Gary Chalk (Captain N: The Game Master, 1989-1991)
Scott McFadyen (Punch-Out!!, 2009)
King Hippo (キング・ヒッポー Kingu Hippō?) is a fictional boxer from Nintendo's Punch-Out!! series. King Hippo first appeared on the Nintendo Entertainment System game Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, as the second competitor in the Major Circuit. Subsequent reviews have characterized King Hippo as one of the most iconic characters from the game. The character also featured prominently on the NBC Saturday morning cartoon, Captain N: The Game Master. His obese figure and his face both resemble those of a hippopotamus.
Concept and characteristics
King Hippo was originally created by Punch-Out!! character designer M. Wada. His most recent appearance was illustrated by art director Eddie Visser.
King Hippo's face and girth resemble that of a hippopotamus, hence his name. He is an obese man from the fictional Hippo Island (not hailing from the real, sub-Antarctic Hippo Island). His age, weight, and height are all unknown. He is often depicted wearing a crown. He has tanned skin (coloured blue in Captain N: The Game Master) and a large mouth.
In the video game, he guards his stomach while punching and blocking. When he opens his mouth and pulls one fist back, the player's character, Little Mac, can punch him in the face to stun him briefly and make him drop his guard. Mac can then repeatedly punch Hippo in the stomach, causing his trunks to fall down with every hit. Once Hippo is knocked down, he will be unable to stand under his own weight before the referee finishes the ten-count, leading to a win by knockout for the player. In the Wii version of the game, his underpants have starmen on them.
In the Wii version's "Title Defense" mode, Hippo enters the ring with a manhole cover taped to his stomach; Mac must knock it loose before he can strike at that weak spot. He speaks English in the cartoon and NES game, but only makes grunting noises in the Wii version.
King Hippo first appeared in the 1987 NES video game Punch-Out!!. He returned in 2009, in the Wii video game of the same name (voiced by Scott McFadyen). Some advertisements for the Wii game featured the protagonist Little Mac training to reclaim the World Circuit Title from King Hippo.
King Hippo has a featured role in the animated series Captain N: The Game Master, as one of Mother Brain's henchmen. He has blue skin, and is often paired in a comedic duo with the Kid Icarus villain, Eggplant Wizard. He was voiced by Gary Chalk. This version of King Hippo also appears in the comic books based on the series. He makes a cameo appearance in the Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness comic book, as part of a guest comic written and illustrated by Girly creator Josh Lesnick. In it, Scott Pilgrim battles him, and has to discover his weak point.
Promotion and reception
Since appearing in the NES video game Punch-Out!!, King Hippo has received largely positive reception. He has appeared in several pieces of merchandise, including being included in a series of Punch-Out!! Topps trading cards and figurines. Promotional merchandise was created for the Wii Punch-Out!!, which included replicas of King Hippo's crown and boxer shorts, as well as a King Hippo desktop punching bag. GameDaily listed him as the 10th best Nintendo character ever, stating that he "stands out" more than the other boxers in the series, including Little Mac. They also listed him as one of video game's "most lovable lummoxes", commenting that he seems invulnerable until his weakness is discovered. They also described him as one of the series' "most memorable opponents," commenting that his appearance in the commercial "sets the stage for a dramatic rematch" against him, describing him as "tougher than ever." Game Informer described the battle with King Hippo as being a "puzzle". He has been described by sites such as IGN as one of the more famous boxers in the Punch-Out!! series, often being used as an example of what characters appear in Punch-Out!!. IGN listed King Hippo as the 64th best video game villain, though they describe him as a "push-over" in the NES Punch-Out!!. Cracked listed him as one of Nintendo's greatest villains.
Destructoid editor Colette Bennett featured King Hippo as a headline to her article "What makes a boss unforgettable?". She discussed how she became humiliated after losing to King Hippo in the NES Punch-Out!!, presuming him to be easy. She noted King Hippo's distinctive appearance, which makes him more memorable and more important to conquer as a result. IGN editor Lucas M. Thomas listed King Hippo as a character that he would want in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, commenting that in spite of his exclusion from most later titles in the Punch-Out!! series, he is still popular amongst fans due to his role in the NES game and in the Captain N: The Game Master cartoon. Operation Sports editor Christian McLeod, in praising the visuals of Punch-Out!!, commented that through them, King Hippo "gives new meaning to the term "fat slob."" N-Sider editor Brandon Daiker similarly praised the visuals, citing how King Hippo "launches fruit into the air once you knock him on his ample duff."
In his celebration of "gaming's greatest fatties", Antista commented that the NES Punch-Out!! was King Hippo's game, in spite of featuring Mike Tyson in its original release; he described him as being its most memorable character. When asked if the Wii Punch-Out!! would bring the cast of characters into "Nintendo pantheon" games such as the Super Smash Bros. games, Next Level Games designer Bryce Holliday commented that he considered characters such as King Hippo and Little Mac as already being at that point due to their appearances in Captain N: The Game Master. Wired editor Andrew Kardon commented that when he purchased the Wii Punch-Out!! game, he was worried that it may be too violent or scary for his children, but he was also excited to show them King Hippo, who he regarded as the best opponent in the NES game. 1UP.com editor Scott Sharkey listed King Hippo as the fourth best fat guy in video games. GamesRadar editor Brett Elston called King Hippo one of the most famous boxers in video games. A parody article appeared on the web site The Onion, purporting that a Mike Tyson interview featured an interview with King Hippo, amongst other Punch-Out!! boxers.
In discussing his race, Retronauts discussed how King Hippo was a racial stereotype of islanders, commenting that the stereotype was that they were all fat and lavish. Bit Mob editor Brian Shirk commented that the stereotypes utilized in King Hippo were uncalled for, stating that his "subhuman caricature is particularly offensive, and it likely stems from the typically savage portrayal of Polynesians in literature and film." GameDaily commented that while he is a "lovable oaf," others may see him as a "fat Pacific Islander who loves stuffing his face."
King Hippo's weakness is considered one of the things that makes King Hippo iconic. Game Informer writes that the "secret to beating this flabby fighter was probably even more widely known than the 30-lives code in Contra". GamesRadar editor Chris Antista commented that fellow Nintendo character Wart's "open mouth weakness" was the most notable since King Hippo's. His pattern was described as being the most difficult to discern by Shack News, who used it as an example of the idiosyncrasies of the game's boxers. Colette Bennett echoed sentiments of the notability of his weakness, stating that "anyone could tell you King Hippo's weak point". 1UP.com editor Bob Mackey also listed him as the third worst dressed video game character, commenting "Who could have guessed that a fat man and his ill-fitting shorts could have produced such an iconic moment in gaming?". Mackey added that King Hippo's shorts falling down was "talk of the schoolyards during the 80's".
His role in Captain N: The Game Master, however, has been met with negative reception, in spite of contributing much of King Hippo's fandom. Destructoid editor Conrad Zimmerman, while discussing the Captain N episodes, frequently criticizes the primary antagonist, Mother Brain, for using King Hippo and Eggplant Wizard, an enemy from the Kid Icarus series, also questioning why King Hippo was blue. In his review of the Captain N: The Game Master DVDs, DVD Verdict editor Judge Johnson criticized King Hippo and Eggplant Wizard as being idiots. However, GamesRadar editor Chris Antista comments that his role in Captain N was his biggest achievement. IGN editor Lucas M. Thomas described King Hippo in Captain N as being a "muscle-headed moron".
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