North American box art
Punch-Out!! (パンチアウト!! Panchiauto!! ), originally released in North America as Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, is a boxing sports fighting video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) developed and published by Nintendo in 1987. It is a port of both the Punch-Out!! and Super Punch-Out!! arcade games (mostly the latter) with some variations. It has consistently been ranked among the best games released for the NES platform. Mario makes an appearance as the game's referee.
Genyo Takeda, who produced the Punch-Out!! arcade games, directed the NES versions. Because the NES was not as powerful as the arcade hardware, Takeda and his crew realized that it would be impossible for the NES port to faithfully emulate the arcade graphics. Instead of making the playable boxer wire-framed or transparent to see an opponent, they decided to shrink the playable boxer, so that players could easily see opponents over his head. Though the arcade's playable boxer did not have an official name, he was referred to as "Little Mac", because of his small stature and the "Mac" part being a play on the popular McDonald's hamburger, the Big Mac. Other things added to the NES version that the arcade versions lacked were a rough plot, a background music track played during fights, animated cutscenes and a password system for saving progress.
Around the time the Gold Version was released, Nintendo of America's founder and former president Minoru Arakawa attended a boxing match featuring future heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. While watching the boxer fight, Arakawa became so astonished with the athlete's "power and skill", he was inspired to use the athlete's name and likeness in the upcoming port of the Punch-Out!! series to help the game sell well. Tyson was rumoured to have been paid $50,000 for a three-year period for his likeness. This was something of a chance for Nintendo, as it occurred before Tyson won the World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight championship from Trevor Berbick on November 22, 1986.
Punch-Out!! features a boxer known as Little Mac working his way up the professional boxing circuits, facing a series of colorful, fictional boxers, leading to a final fight with real-life boxer, the then-World Heavyweight Champion, which is Mike Tyson in the original version and Mr. Dream in the later version.
Little Mac has a limited repertoire compared to most of his opponents. His punches are limited to left and right jabs, left and right body blows, and a powerful uppercut. The uppercut can only be used once the player earns a star, which is typically accomplished by counter-punching the opponent directly before or after certain attacks are launched. The player can acquire up to three stars. To perform the powerful uppercut the player needs to press the start button once a star is earned. To defend, Mac can dodge left or right and can block attacks by ducking behind his guard.
Little Mac also has a heart meter, which decreases by three upon being struck by an opponent (except in the case of Tyson's / Mr. Dream's "dynamite punches," which knock Little Mac unconscious immediately upon contact, thereby reducing his heart meter to zero) and one upon blocking an attack or an opponent blocking/dodging the player's attack. When the heart meter decreases to zero, Little Mac temporarily turns pink and appears exhausted, leaving the player unable to attack or block but still able to dodge. At this point, Mac can regain some hearts (and his normal color palette) only by avoiding the opponent's punches.
A bout can end by knockout (KO), if a fighter is unable to get up within ten seconds after being knocked down; by technical knockout (TKO), if a fighter is knocked down three times in one round; or by decision, if the bout lasts three full rounds without a clear winner. In order to win by decision, the player must accumulate a high enough point total by punching the opponent and/or knocking him down. However, some bouts cannot be won in this manner and will automatically result in a loss for the player if the opponent is not knocked out. Mac can only get up three times during any one bout; if he is knocked down a fourth time, he will be unable to rise and thus lose by knockout.
When Mac loses his first bout to a ranked opponent, he will have a chance to fight a rematch. However, if he loses a Title Bout, he will fall one or more places in the rankings. Losing a rematch causes him to fall one place (unless he is already at the bottom of his circuit), forcing him to fight his way back up. A third loss (not necessarily a consecutive one) ends the game. The exception is the final fight against Mike Tyson/Mr. Dream; a loss to them automatically results in a game over.
Many of the character sprites in Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! are each used twice, just changing the head image, colors, and the unique special moves performed. The exception is King Hippo.
Before the release of Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! in North America, Nintendo released the game in a gold-colored Famicom cartridge simply titled Punch-Out!! in Japan, without Mike Tyson in it, as a prize for the Golf U.S. Course Famicom Tournament. This version's final boxer was Super Macho Man, who was also the final boxer in the Super Punch-Out!! arcade game. When Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! sold well in North America, Nintendo later released the Mike Tyson version in Japan.
After Nintendo's license to use Mike Tyson as a special Punch-Out!! character expired, Nintendo replaced Tyson with a fictional character called Mr. Dream and re-released the game in North America as simply Punch-Out!! in August 1990 in limited quantities. This version was released on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console in Japan on February 1, 2012, in Europe on March 1, 2012 and in North America on March 8, 2012.
Along with several NES titles by Nintendo, Punch-Out!! was later ported to several other platforms in Nintendo media. In Animal Crossing for the Nintendo GameCube, it was one of the rarer unlockable NES games one could acquire within the game. It was also released through the Wii's Virtual Console service on March 30, 2007 to the European and Australian regions, April 3, 2007 in Japan, and in North America on April 16, 2007. During that release, reports have surfaced stating that when the game is played in progressive scan, the Virtual Console version of Punch-Out!! suffers from a lag in controls, which significantly raises the difficulty level compared to other versions of it. The Japanese Famicom version was released for the 3DS Virtual Console on February 1, 2012, making the first Famicom game that was not part of the Ambassador program. Nintendo later re-released the Game & Watch game, Boxing, retitled as Punch-Out!! to promote Punch-Out!!'s release.
Punch-Out!! has been well received by critics. A GameSpot reader poll ranked it as the 6th greatest NES game. It was rated the 17th best game made on a Nintendo System in Nintendo Power's Top 200 Games list. In August 2008, Nintendo Power listed it as the sixth best Nintendo Entertainment System video game, praising it for putting arcade-style fun over realism. Author Steve L. Kent called it the second major game of 1987. Author Nathan Lockard cited the graphics, violence, controls, and the variety for it being a "true classic" and one of the best NES games. GamesRadar ranked it the 11th best NES game ever made. The staff called it a "brilliant puzzle game [disguised] as a sports game." Punch-Out!! sold in excess of 2 million copies. Game Informer ranked the Mike Tyson version as its 14th favourite game ever in 2001. The staff noted that no boxing game since Punch-Out has been as "beloved."
Punch-Out!! was featured in the comic books of Valiant's Nintendo Comics System. Three stories are based around Little Mac, Doc Louis, and other boxers from the NES version, and Mac briefly appears in the comic that introduces the story of Captain N: The Game Master. Mac doesn't appear in the Captain N stories himself; however, King Hippo is featured as a villain. Also, in the opening sequence of the Captain N TV series, the protagonist Kevin Keene was seen playing Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! before being forced into a vortex that formed in his television's screen.
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Little Mac appears as a regular Trophy and an Assist Trophy. He sports a more textured look and performs punches and uppercuts. In the same game, the music from the Manhattan skyline scene in Punch-Out!! can be heard in the song titled "Famicom Medley." In the Wii game titled Captain Rainbow, Little Mac appears as a supporting character.
Power Punch II
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Soon after the release of Punch-Out!!, Krome Studios Melbourne began developing an official sequel starring Mike Tyson with manager Don King. Originally titled Mike Tyson’s Intergalactic Power Punch, the game was supposed to take the series into outer space where Tyson would participate in an intergalactic boxing tournament against various space aliens.
The game's production ran into immediate trouble, however, following Tyson's incarceration for the rape of Desiree Washington. Beam changed the Tyson character's name to Mark Tyler and modified King but did little to change Tyson's in-game character sprite.
Nintendo saw the game and disliked it, refusing to publish it due to lack of quality. Eventually, American Softworks Corp. published the title, and the game was released on the NES as Power Punch II, despite the fact that it was the first Power Punch title.
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