Piston Hondo, as depicted in promotional artwork for Punch-Out!! for Wii.
|First game||Punch-Out!! (NES)|
|Designed by||Makoto Wada (Punch-Out!!, 1987)
Eddie Viser (Punch-Out!!, 2009)
|Voiced by||Kenji Takahashi|
Piston Hondo (ピストン・ホンドー Pisuton Hondō), originally known as Piston Honda (ピストン本田 Pisuton Honda), is a fictional character in the Punch-Out!! video game series created by Nintendo. Depicted as a Japanese boxer from Tokyo, Japan, he serves as a non-playable opponent who fights Little Mac. He is voiced by Kenji Takahashi in Punch-Out!! for the Wii.
Since appearing in Punch-Out!! for the NES, Piston Hondo has received positive reception. He has been included as part of multiple pieces of merchandise, including Topps trading cards and action figures. PC World noted him as one of the familiar characters in the Punch-Out!! series, while IGN listed him as one of the top fighters in the series.
Concept and appearances
Piston Hondo is a Japanese boxer from Tokyo, Japan. He was originally designed by Makoto Wada in the NES Punch-Out!!, where he was known as Piston Honda. He was later re-designed by Eddie Viser for the Wii sequel of the same name. In the Wii installment, he was voiced by Kenji Takahashi. To date, he has only appeared in these two games. He displays several Japanese stereotypes, including a high sense of honour, an affinity for sushi and a hachimaki decorated with the kanji Ichiban (一番), meaning "number one". Honda has similar fighting styles to Piston Hurricane, who appeared in the original arcade version. Piston appears again in the Wii remake, though his surname was changed to Hondo. When asked by GamesRadar the reason for this name change, editor Brett Elston commented that the car company Honda may have factored into the alteration, but he noted that it was a preventative measure and not a response from Honda.
Since appearing in Punch-Out!!, Piston Hondo has received mostly positive reception. He has been described as a notable character to the series by media outlets including Official Nintendo Magazine and the New York Daily News. One of the producers of Punch-Out!! for the Wii chose Piston Hondo as his favourite character in the game. GameDaily listed him as one of the greatest Japanese patriots in video games, stating that he is one of the series' "most determined combatants." The change from Honda to Hondo was found to be silly by GameSpy editor Ryan Scott who stated that Honda is a common family name in Japan. Kotaku's Michael McWhertor felt that the change was a good idea, however.
Piston Hondo has been viewed as a racial stereotype of Japanese people. GamesRadar editor Brett Elston commented that Piston Hondo utilizes several Japanese stereotypes, including a love for sushi, the ability to intercept swords with one's bare hands, and always bowing to one's opponent. He added that the game came from Japan, a country notorious for laughing off stereotypes. However, in the Canadian-developed Punch-Out!! for Wii, Elston states that Hondo engages in several "wink-wink-poke-poke Japanese moments", citing the appearance of byobu screens in his corner of the ring and him having sushi fly around his head when he becomes dizzy. Bit Mob editor Brian Shirk felt that some of Hondo's phrases were offensive. In commenting on the 2009 Wii remake, Sumantra Lahiri of The Escapist pointed out the stereotypes exhibited by Piston and suggested that while it did hold some nostalgic value, what seemed harmless in the 1980s version did not age well when early 21st century attitudes towards cultural and racial sensitivity were taken into account.
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