- slide 1 of 6
Addictive Video Game Boxing - Punch-Out!! Review
If you ask any NES era gamer to name one boxing title of that time, most of them will mention Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! That game featured simple yet great controls and gameplay mechanics as well as a roster of interesting fictional boxers. Ultimately, gamers had to make it to Mike Tyson at the very end of the game. In 1990, Nintendo’s contract with "Iron" Mike ended, and he was then replaced by a fictional character named Mr. Dream. The Mr. Dream version of Punch-Out!! is available for download on the Virtual Console, and if you download it, you’ll see that it doesn’t matter whether you’re fighting Mike Tyson or Mr. Dream, because this game is still a lot of fun.
- slide 2 of 6
The premise of Punch-Out!! revolves around a 17-year old boxer known as Little Mac trying to make it in the sport of boxing. With his trainer Doc Louis aiding him, Little Mac sets out to climb the ranks of the World Video Boxing Association. This is where you come in. As Little Mac, you have to be ready to face a number of challenging opponents, each with their own fighting styles and patterns.
As you progress through each of the game’s bouts, you immediately notice the difficulty rising a few notches. The key to surviving and making it to championship gold is to memorize your opponents’ patterns. They usually give off a hint that they’re about to attack. For example, one character raises his eyebrows, and when he does so, you better be ready to dodge his attack and respond with a jab of your own.
Once you get the timing down, defeating the unique cast of characters such as Bald Bull (a huge, imposing beast of a boxer) and Soda Popinski (formerly Vodka Drunkenski, whose name was changed due to the racial connotation relating Russians with alcohol), you’ll have to rely on patience to pick your spots. You can’t swing your fists wildly here and expect to rise to the top. You really need to read your opponents and attack when you have an opening. It’s a gameplay design that worked well for the game during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, and it is still solid today.
- slide 3 of 6
- slide 4 of 6
Graphics and Sound
The visuals in Punch-Out!! are a mixed bag. On the one hand, character sprites all feature a nice level of detail that gives each of the boxers his own attitude and charm. On the other hand, everything onscreen looks pretty plain. The audience isn’t spectacular, and with the ring taking up most of the screen, there isn't much variety in terms of visuals. Still, the moment you begin playing, you realize Punch-Out!! isn’t about the graphics, it’s about the gameplay.
The sound design is a little better, but still lacks in terms of in-game music. You hear the same theme for every fight, and the only other music you hear is when you win a championship or see the game’s cut scenes where Little Mac and Doc Louis are training. Still, the song that plays during bouts is definitely catchy, and it will stay with you for a while after you stop playing.
- slide 5 of 6
Punch-Out!! is a highly addictive boxing game. Once you get started, it’s hard to put it down, and you immediately want to take Little Mac all the way to the top. The game’s colorful cast of characters, intuitive mechanics, and simple control scheme make this game inviting, and even with its simplicity, Punch-Out!! offers a deep gaming experience that you can come back to time and time again. Also, because your opponents become increasingly difficult as you climb the ranks of the WVBA, don’t expect to get through this game on your first try. You may find yourself engaging in rematch after rematch as you try to claim the biggest prize in the business and attempt to dethrone Mr. Dream.
- slide 6 of 6
Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream Overall Score
No, “Iron" Mike Tyson may not be featured in this rendition of Punch-Out!!, but that makes no difference. This is the exact same game with the only difference being a different end character. Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream is challenging, addictive, and a great deal of retro fun that has aged very well over the years. At 500 Wii Points, it’s impossible not to recommend this game.