Punch-Out!! (NES)

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Front packaging of the re-release
Developer(s)Nintendo R&D3
Director(s)Genyo Takeda
Producer(s)Minoru Arakawa
Designer(s)Kazuo Yoneyama
Mayumi Hirota
Programmer(s)Masato Hatakeyama
Artist(s)Makoto Wada
Composer(s)Yukio Kaneoka
Akito Nakatsuka
Kenji Yamamoto[1]
Platform(s)Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Gold Version
    • JP: September 18, 1987
  • Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!
    • NA: October 18, 1987
    • JP: November 21, 1987
    • PAL: December 15, 1987
  • Punch-Out!!
    • NA: August 2, 1990
    • EU: August 15, 1990
Arcade systemPlayChoice-10

Punch-Out!!,[a] originally titled Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!,[b] is a 1987 boxing video game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Part of the Punch-Out!! series, it is an adaptation of the arcade video games Punch-Out!! (1984) and Super Punch-Out!! (1984). Differences from the arcades include the addition of undisputed world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson as the final boss. It received critical acclaim, and is retrospectively considered one of the greatest video games of all time.[2]


Little Mac has punched at the right time to defend himself against Bald Bull's "Bull Charge", instantly knocking his opponent down.

Punch-Out!! features Little Mac, a young boxer fighting his way up through ranks of the World Video Boxing Association. After facing a series of colorful fictional opponents in three circuits and winning the championship in each, Little Mac enters a final "Dream Fight" against a highly skilled boxer. In the Gold Version, the final boss is Super Macho Man, who was also the final opponent in Super Punch-Out!!. Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! features Mike Tyson, the real-life World Heavyweight Champion at the time. After the license to use Tyson expired, he was replaced by the fictional Mr. Dream.

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, but loses them whenever Mac is hit or knocked down. To defend, Mac can dodge left or right, duck, and block punches by putting up his guard.

Little Mac has a heart counter, which decreases upon being hit, blocking a punch, or throwing a punch that the opponent dodges or blocks. When the counter decreases to zero, Little Mac temporarily turns different shades of pink and appears tired/exhausted, leaving the player unable to attack but still able to dodge, duck, and block. At this point, Mac can regain some hearts and his normal color palette only by avoiding the opponent's punches. He immediately loses all of his hearts upon being knocked down, but can regain some by getting up.

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 certain point total by punching the opponent. 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 in the rankings – one place for the Minor or Major Circuits, two places for the World Circuit. 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, or a loss in the Dream Fight, ends the game.


Little Mac faces a total of 14 opponents: three in the Minor Circuit, four in the Major Circuit, six in the World Circuit, and Mike Tyson or Mr. Dream. All character sprites except King Hippo are reused for two characters each, with changes made to colors, head, or special moves.[3] Mario has a cameo as the referee.[4] Three opponents from the Minor and Major Circuits reappear in the World Circuit, with new attacks that force the player to devise a new strategy.


Punch-Out!! was developed by Nintendo Research & Development No. 3.[5][6] Genyo Takeda (the producer of the Punch-Out!! arcade games), was the director of the NES game.[7] Because the NES is not as powerful as the arcade hardware, they could not recreate the arcade graphics. Instead of making the playable boxer wire-framed or transparent in order to see the opponent,[citation needed] they made the playable boxer smaller and named him Little Mac,[8] a 17-year-old boxer weighing about 107 pounds.[9] The behavior of each opposing boxer follows a set pattern requiring trial and error and memorization to defeat them.


The theme song for Punch Out!! is "Look Sharp-Be Sharp",[10] composed by Mahlon Merrick.[11] It originated with the radio and TV program Gillette Cavalcade of Sports (1942–1960).[12] The opening theme of some characters are classical and folk themes: Glass Joe has the French national anthem, "La Marseillaise"; Von Kaiser, Great Tiger, and Super Macho Man have "Ride of the Valkyries" by Wagner;[13] Piston Honda has Japanese folk song "Sakura";[14][15] Don Flamenco has the prelude to the opera set in Spain, Carmen by Georges Bizet;[16] and Soda Popinski has Russian folk song "The Song of the Volga Boatmen".[17]


Gold version[edit]

Before the public release of Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, Nintendo released it in a gold-colored Famicom cartridge titled Punch-Out!! in Japan, without Mike Tyson, as a prize for participating in the Famicom Disk System's Family Computer Golf: U.S. Course tournament held in September 1987. 10,000 units were produced—half were given as high score prizes, and the rest were given as a lottery prize.[18] Its final opponent is Super Macho Man, who is also the final opponent in the arcade game Super Punch-Out!!.[19]

Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!![edit]

Around the time the Gold Version was released for a Family Computer Golf: U.S. Course competition,[19] Nintendo of America's founder and former president Minoru Arakawa attended a boxing match during the Heavyweight unification series that featured its future champion Mike Tyson. Arakawa became so astonished with the athlete's "power and skill" that he was inspired to use his likeness and the tournament itself in the upcoming game.[20] Tyson was rumored to have been paid $50,000 for a three-year period for his likeness. This transaction was something of a risk for Nintendo, as it occurred before Tyson won the World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight championship from Trevor Berbick on November 22, 1986, which greatly increased the profit for the game.[21] Nintendo re-released Punch-Out!! in Japan.


Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! was re-branded simply as Punch-Out!!, and re-released in the U.S. and Europe in 1990[22] and 1991, respectively.[23] When Nintendo's license had expired with Mike Tyson, his likeness was replaced by a fictional character named Mr. Dream.[24] His visual likeness and undefeated record are based on Rocky Marciano.[25] This version of the game is used in all Virtual Console releases, Animal Crossing, the NES Classic Edition, and on Nintendo Switch Online (which Mike Tyson contested).[26]


More than 2 million copies of Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! were sold in North America by 1988. It is one of two NES games to reach this sales milestone that year, along with The Legend of Zelda.[32][33]

Punch-Out!! was well received by critics. In 1989, Computer and Video Games magazine said the NES version of "the great boxing arcade game" had "big, brilliantly drawn and animated sprites, a brilliant control method and utterly superlative gameplay", making it "definitely THE best boxing game available on any machine".[28] ACE magazine in 1989 listed it as the second highest-rated NES game, after Super Mario Bros. They stated it bashes "the proverbial s@*t out of any other home boxing game on any other console or computer" and it proves "that even if Nintendo's hardware may be technologically naff, they can still squeeze an excellent game onto a cartridge".[27]

A GameSpot reader poll ranked it as the 6th greatest NES game. Nintendo Power magazine ranked it as the 17th best game for a Nintendo system in its Top 200 Games list.[34] In August 2008, Nintendo Power listed it as the sixth best NES game, praising it for putting arcade-style fun over realism.[35] Historian Steve L. Kent called it the second major game of 1987.[21] Author Nathan Lockard cited the graphics, violence, controls, and the variety for making it a "true classic" and one of the best NES games.[36] In 2005, Punch-Out!! is on GameSpot's list of the greatest games of all time.[37] Editor Shawn Laib of Den of Geek ranked it 7th out of the 15 Best NES Games of All Time,[38] and Esquire's Dom Nero and Cameron Sherrill ranked it fifth.[39]

GamesRadar ranked it the 11th best NES game ever made, calling it a "brilliant puzzle game [disguised] as a sports game".[40] Game Informer ranked Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! as its 14th favorite game ever in 2001. The staff noted that no boxing game since has been as "beloved".[41] IGN named it the 7th best NES game.[42] Official Nintendo Magazine ranked the game 74th in a list of greatest Nintendo games.[43]

In media[edit]

On The Tonight Show on October 29, 2014, Mike Tyson was challenged by host Jimmy Fallon to play the game on live TV.[44] The virtual Tyson defeated the real Tyson in the first round by TKO.

While interrogating a murder suspect in Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Season 5 episode "The Box", Detective Jake Peralta laments the difficulty of beating the Punch-Out!! character Great Tiger as he teleports around the ring. To which the accused confidently asserts, "I beat him every time. You just punch him when he gets dizzy."


  1. ^ Japanese: パンチアウト!!, Hepburn: Panchi-Auto!!
  2. ^ Japanese: マイクタイソン・パンチアウト!!, Hepburn: Maiku Taison Panchi-Auto!!


  1. ^ Yamamoto, Kenji; Sakamoto, Yoshio (n.d.). "Developer Interview, Volume 3" (Interview). Interviewed by Akinori Sao. Kyoto, Japan: Nintendo. Retrieved May 11, 2020. Yamamoto: 'First, I worked on the sound for Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!'
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  22. ^ "Bulletin Board – Nintendo Classics Reissued!". Nintendo Power. No. 18. November–December 1990. p. 96.
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  25. ^ Wong, Kevin (January 5, 2016). "Every Punch-Out!! Opponent, Ranked". Kotaku Australia. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  26. ^ "Mike Tyson takes issue with Nintendo's re-release of 'Punch-Out' having Mr. Dream as final boss". CBS Sports. Retrieved November 11, 2021.
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  28. ^ a b "Complete Games Guide" (PDF). Computer and Video Games. No. Complete Guide to Consoles. October 16, 1989. pp. 46–77.
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  33. ^ Sheff, David (1993). Game Over: How Nintendo Zapped an American Industry, Captured Your Dollars, and Enslaved Your Children. Random House Incorporated. p. 172. ISBN 9780679404699.
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  35. ^ "Nintendo Power - The 20th Anniversary Issue!". Nintendo Power. Vol. 231, no. 231. San Francisco, California. August 2008. p. 71.
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  43. ^ "80 - 61 ONM". ONM. Archived from the original on February 23, 2009. Retrieved September 9, 2022.
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