The Most Entertaining Boxing Game Ever Made.
I'll start this review by stating that I am simply not a sports game fan. That aside, this still remains one of my favorite NES games of all time. This holds to Nintendo's ability to make an entertaining game back in their glory days.
Mike Tyson's career behavior not withstanding, the game offers a colorful selection of characters with personality, instead of two palette-swapped fighters blandly pounding away at each other. Each character was different, fully animated and entertaining. Same went for all of the little nods to the company, from the amusing Mario cameo, to Doc's advising Little Mac to join the Nintendo Fun Club (Pre-Nintendo Power). Even Little Mac himself had a bit of spirit to him, which kept him from being the generic boxer found in the arcade.
The music was simple, and as unforgettable as it might have been, it stays with you, same as the majority of classic themes from those old 8-bit games. The sounds are basic, with bleeps for laughter and grunts, but again, it works.
Gameplay is where it excels. The game is simply FUN. Never before or since has there been a boxing game as entertaining to me as Punch-Out!! The gameplay is rock solid, and even when you learn all the strategies and secrets, it's still fun to blow through over and over again. It's one of those classics that simply remains at its heart a great game, and never loses what made it special in the first place.
Every boxer is different. And while the early ones are easy, the later ones can get cheap. Especially when they unrelentingly pound on you, or take you down in one hit (Mike Tyson).
And while battery save games were still finding their way from novel to mainstream, I have never been a password fan. The passwords in Punch-Out!! are not as bad as some games that came out, but it was still a tedious process to put in codes when you were ready to go.
Regardless of its issues, there's not enough to really bring this game down.
The Bottom Line
Punch-Out!!, like Kid Icarus
, is a franchise that screams for an update. It got a SNES sequel, and Little Mac has recently made an appearance in Electronic Arts' Fight Night Round 2
, but the series either needs a Game Boy Advance, conversion, a fighter appearance in the next Smash Bros.
game, or an all new title on the next system.
is just fine. But Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! - For all the hype and controversy it got back in the day, it remains a true classic.