Retro Coin Op Synopsis

“Ladies and gentlemen…Introducing…In the red corner…Glass Joe!”

Six boxing greats lined the path to the championship belt in Nintendo’s Punch-Out!!, one of the arcade’s earliest boxing games. Like Nintendo’s earlier hits Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr. and Popeye, the game featured colorful, cartoon-like graphics, but the action was pure pugilistic pleasure.

You controlled a see-through wire frame boxer (curiously colored green from hair to trunks), identified only by your initials. The wire frame body was necessary to see your opponent in the game’s behind-the-back camera view, which moved from side to side to follow the action. With the joystick, you bobbed your green warrior left and right to dodge blows, and up and down to raise or lower your gloves, blocking jabs and setting up head or body punches. Separate buttons for each fist allowed you to lead with either side, setting up one-two combos of lefts, rights and body blows.

As you pummeled your foe, a “K.O.” meter built up at the top of the game’s lower screen (two separate monitors allowed full-screen action on one and stats on the other). Once that meter was filled, your fighter could throw devastating uppercuts and hooks, the better to run down your opponent’s health meter.

"Body blow! Body blow! Right hook! Put him away!"

Up first on the fight card was Glass Joe, a lantern-jawed pushover. Next came Piston Hurricane, who lived up to his name with a furious storm of combo punches when he got riled up. Bald Bull, a Turkish heavyweight, charged toward you like his namesake, throwing a powerful uppercut on arrival.

Your fourth opponent was Kid Quick, a fast-moving fighter with a huge afro. Italian strongman Pizza Pasta came next, grabbing your fighter and running down the clock (you always lost a judges’ decision if time expired).

If you managed to get through this rigorous schedule on two feet, your fighter got to take on Mr. Sandman for the championship belt. Once this very speedy champ was K.O.’d, you met your former foes in rematches, now defending your World Video Boxing Association title.

“Great fighting! You’re an up-and-coming boxer!”

Punch-Out!! scored an easy knockout in arcades, inspiring countless players to keep plopping in quarters to try to take that coveted belt. Nintendo released a sequel, Super Punch-Out!!, in 1985, introducing a new five-man international lineup of boxers—Canada’s Bear Hugger, Hong Kong’s Dragon Chan, Russia’s Vodka Drunkenski (remember, this was during the Cold War), India’s Great Tiger and the USA’s Super Macho Man.

The game later came to the Nintendo Entertainment System, now with a major celebrity tie-in. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! let home players fight through the ranks to take on the then-current, then-undefeated heavyweight champ of the world.

The Tyson connection surely boosted sales of the home version, but Punch-Out!! had already secured its place in the arcade hall of fame. By giving each of its fighters personality and a unique fighting style, Punch-Out!! helped spark a trend that would continue into the martial arts fighting games of the 1990’s and beyond.

“C’mon, stand up and fight!”

Arcade Machine Release History

1984 - Punch-Out!!
1985 - Super Punch-Out!!

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