There’s so much to love about Super Punch-Out!!: racial stereotypes, punching, brutal knockout animations, precision timing and challenging game-play, time trials (and you’ll basically never hear me say that), excessive punctuation, etc. The list could go on.
I think pretty much everyone accepts that Mike Tyson’s Punch Out was a pretty awesome game. I think even Mike Tyson would say something like “that game is a magnanimous presentation of my exceptional fortitude”. Or something way more colorful, probably, like “I’d fuck that game till it loves me”. Anyway, the original Punch Out was unforgiving and great. Mario was the ref. You loved it. It was your favorite game.
What’s neat about Super Punch-Out!! is that I had no idea it was even a thing until my second year of university. In 2002 (a post-9/11 world, if you will), my entire winter exam period was spent trying to beat my personal best times (and the times of my friend Nathan) instead of studying for my exams. I think history will show I made the right decision (history definitely doesn’t show that). I used to be able to drop Bear Hugger in something like 17 seconds. I tore that bitch up. I could beat the game front-to-back without much trouble, but I still came back to try to beat the characters faster. Again, I never do this. This is totally unlike me. But this game….
So let’s take a second to talk improvements here… it’s still Punch-Out, after all. First of all, Little Mac is a thing of the past. This is likely a good call because he was sort of a dork and his Carl Winslow coach (despite his amazing appearance in this pbf comic) rode around on that bike in the same mocking way the Duck Hunt dog laughed at your misery. So they replaced Little Mac with a guy… he’s white… his name is whatever you want… and he beats on stereotypes. Awesome. Thanks Nintendo!
I think pretty much everyone believes that when the Japanese are racist that it’s adorable. I’m not sure how that happened, but check out this cast of characters: Bear Hugger (big white guy, huge beard, overalls, king hippo analog – Canada), Piston Hurricane (Cuba, because they have hurricanes), Bob Charlie (Jamaica… when his special attack comes, his coach yells at him to “shuck and jive”), Dragon Chan (China, he makes Bruce Lee noises and kicks you in the face), Masked Muscle (giant luche libre, spits in your face and fights dirty, Mexico)…
So anyway, the gameplay is virtually identical. You have super punches, fast super punches, jabs, body blows, dodging and ducking. It’s pretty basic. But the puzzle and pattern solving in SP-O!! is awesome. There’s just so much game to love. When you nail Bald Bull with a right body blow during his charge, you feel so good about yourself. You probably will just start pelvic thrusting. You feel that good. It’s awesome.
I don’t really have any criticism here. I love this game. I’m a little rusty… I almost got beat by Gabby Jay while trying to learn to counter punch again, and Bald Bull beat me once when I forgot that his “Counter Attack” command means he only hops twice on his bull charge. Mr. Sandman tore me up completely. But man, this game is just so good. I should probably try out the one for Wii. I bet that’s awesome too if you use a controller.
What’s probably the most telling is that I will very likely enjoy the Punch-Out games more than I’ve ever enjoyed a Fight Night. Any Fight Night. That’s saying something, I bet. Probably.