“Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!” was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1987 by Nintendo. The game itself is actually a port combination of the “Punch-Out!!” and “Super Punch-Out!!” arcade games. You play as boxing newcomer Little Mac as he fights his way to the top of the World Video Boxing Association’s ranks to become its world champion and finally take on Mike Tyson himself in the Dream Bout. The game features a colorful cast of boxers from around the world, an exciting level of challenge, and even Mario making a cameo as the referee.
Little Mac has only a few moves at his disposal, but the simplicity is part of the fun. Mac can dodge punches by pressing either left or right on the Directional Pad (D-Pad) or can guard his face by pressing down. To go on the offensive, hit either the A or B buttons to jab with your right or left fists respectively. Occasionally, you’ll hit an opponent off-guard and gain a Star. When you have a star, hit the Start button to use Mac’s Super Punch and knock your opponent right back into the red corner.
It wouldn’t be much of a challenge if your opponents just stood there taking punches, right? You’ve got plenty to worry about with this cast of boxers. Mac has a certain amount of hearts at the beginning of each match. If Mac takes a hit, has one of his hits blocked, or guards a hit, he loses a heart. If you lose all your hearts, Mac becomes tired and cannot attack his opponent. You’ll have to dodge attacks until your hearts refill and you can attack again.
Matches consist of three three-minute rounds. Both boxers have their vitality shown near the top of the screen. A match ends either when the three rounds have expired, a boxer has been knocked down three times in one round (Technical Knock Out, or TKO), or when one boxer doesn’t get up ten seconds after being knocked down (Knock Out, or KO).
The game is fairly simplistic when it comes to presentation, but it’s probably for the best. There’s not a whole lot of music, but the song you’ll hear the most is catchy enough so that you won’t get sick of hearing it. By today’s standards, the graphics are awful, but they’re clear enough to convey the comedy of some of the characters and not distract you from what you need to be doing.
The boxers you face are all interesting in their own right, and stereotypically represent each country their from. Glass Joe, of France, is your first opponent and a real push-over. Don Flamenco, of Spain, fights with the flair and vanity of a Spanish toreador. Great Tiger, of India, uses mirages to throw you off-guard during his Magic Punch attack. Mike Tyson is the ultimate challenge in the game, and you’ll need all the skills and trick you’ve picked up along the way to take him down.
“Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!” is largely considered one of the best games on the NES. The game is simple enough to pick up and keeps you addicted as the challenge grows. The game’s popularity was enough to warrant two sequels: “Super Punch-Out!!” for the Super Nintendo, the NES’s 16-bit successor, and “Punch-Out!!” for the Nintendo Wii.
However, the game isn’t without it’s drawbacks. There’s no pause feature, which might turn some players off, but the rounds are short enough so that it’s not a huge deal. The game features a 10-digit password system that will take you to the beginning of one of the three boxing circuits and keeps your win-loss record intact. If Mac loses three fights, it’s game over.
The game has undergone some revisions since it’s original release, however. Mike Tyson was chosen to headline the game initially due to being the Heavyweight Champion of the world at that point. Around 1990, the license to use Tyson’s image had expired, and Tyson’s incarceration for the rape of Desiree Washington didn’t necessarily help things. Nintendo removed Tyson’s character from the game and replaced him with a fictional boxer, Mr. Dream. This version of the game is currently available for download and play on the Nintendo Wii and Wii U’s Virtual Console for 500 points.