Punch-Out

Date Completed : May 26, 2013

Punch OutI played the original Punch-Out years ago when Mike Tyson was still the star.  Way back then I was never able to make it past the first bout with Bald Bull.  Nintendo Power had published a code ( 007 373 5963 ) that skipped directly to the fight with Mr. Tyson but I was hopelessly able to make any progress in that fight at all.  I didn’t own a copy of the game so I was only able to play infrequently and I was never able to dedicate the time required to complete the game.

Thanks to the launch of Nintendo’s Virtual Console on the Wii U and their 30 cent game promotion I finally own a copy of Punch-Out.  The version on the Virtual Console is the updated version that replaced Mike Tyson with Mr. Dream but otherwise it’s exactly as I remembered it.  Anyone who has made any progress in Punch-Out knows that it as much a puzzle game as anything else.  The trick is to memorize your opponent’s patterns and to determine what the appropriate counter is.  For example, if your opponent winks his left eye it may indicate that you should dodge right, counter with a sock to the head and then follow up with a string of alternating body punches.  Determining these patterns can involve a lot of trial and error so I elected to use Gamefaqs to save some time.

Most of the early fighters don’t offer much challenge and I finished with them quickly.  Later enemies move a lot faster and I had to spend time to train myself to implement the appropriate series of counter punches without thinking.  I stubbornly refused to use state saves during fights but after getting to the last three fights I had to give up on this policy.  My children were not interested in watching me play this game so I frequently played it while they were using the TV to watch Fireman Sam.  This meant I often played without sound which made it hard to get into a rhythm against opponents.  My younger boy also has an irritating habit of sticking his toes into the various holes on my head if I happen to be sitting down which caused my concentration to suffer.

The final bout versus Mr. Dream is extremely difficult.  He can knock you out with a single punch, no matter how much health you have and he is much faster than previous opponents.  Fighting him with no sound and toddler toes in my ears is possibly the greatest video gaming challenge I have ever faced.  I resorted to creating a save state after every successful dodge and I STILL lost my first fight against him.  Losing to Mr. Dream knocks you back to the previous match versus Super Macho Man.  Getting knocked back a level after a loss is easily the worst part of 1980’s era video games.  After a second match versus Mr. Dream I was able to win by decision.

Punch-Out is hard.  The game itself is short but you’ll spend a lot of time losing matches while you memorize your opponents and determine their counters.  Gamefaqs and liberal use of state saving helped a lot but they could only get me so far.  Punch-Out still has a certain amount of retro charm but the difficulty ratchets up so quickly that only the truly dedicated will be able to complete it.

Pros

  • 30 cent promotion! (Which is sadly over now)

Cons

  • Very difficult.
Is it fun: Yes
Score: 5/10
Length:  2 hours
System: Wii U (Virtual Console)
Genre: Sports / Puzzle
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