Super Punch-Out!!

      Since they're commercial products designed to make money, video games usually beget sequels. When a game is good, anticipation for the sequel is high. The sequel is expected to build on the previous game's mechanics and bring us familiar characters in new situations. When the game mechanics are simplified or completely changed, fans get pissed. Deus Ex: Invisible War is a good example of a sequel that almost universally disappointed fans because it was shorter and less complex than the original. Despite being good games in their own right, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and Castlevania II: Simon's Quest are also reviled in some circles because they were drastic departures from their predecessors. I always try to keep an open mind when I play sequels. When a game is graphically or stylistically different from the other games in the franchise, I'm usually willing to give it a shot. Except for all of that fucking sailing, I was even able to enjoy Wind Waker. Still, there is one sequel that managed to disappoint me in almost every way imaginable. Since this is a Super Punch-Out review, I hope you've figured out where this is going.

      In 1987, Nintendo delivered gave us the fiercely awesome Mike Tyson's Punch-Out on the Nintendo Entertainment System. The game featured a Stallonesque boxer named Little Mac who had the unfortunate disadvantage of being three feet tall. But despite being a midget, Little Mac could box like a motherfucker. Under the guidance of Doc Louis, Little Mac faced off against giant cartoonish opponents and began a meteoric rise to the top of boxing world. After defeating such opponents such as King Hippo and Soda Popinski, Mac would eventually challenge and defeat the most cartoonish boxer of them all: Mike Tyson. Little Mac had struck it big, and so had Nintendo; Punch-Out became a classic of legendary proportions. But then, things went wrong. In 1990, Tyson lost all three of his title belts to Buster Douglas. Since he was no longer the champion, Nintendo opted not to renew their licensing deal with Tyson. Apparently being one of the greatest boxers in the entire fucking history of the world doesn't matter if you don't have a title belt. Mike Tyson's Punch-Out was halted and the game was repackaged as just plain old Punch-Out and Iron Mike was replaced with a white guy called Mr. Dream who boxed in a suspiciously similar manner. This move was rather disappointing. Tyson had never been a particularly kid-friendly opponent; he was scary as hell. And as Tyson's life and career began to unravel, he only became scarier. He was the perfect villain. Unfortunately, Nintendo didn't see it that way. When Super Punch-Out went into development in 1993, there was no discussion about bringing Tyson back into the fold. That's because Mike Tyson, or Rapey Magoo as he was known at the time, was in jail for sexually assaulting a Miss Black America contestant. The lack of Tyson is lamentable, but it doesn't ruin the game. After all, Punch-Out was a still great game even without him. Unfortunately, there are much bigger problems with Super Punch-Out. Here's a list of my complaints:


1. Bullshit Rules

      In Mike Tyson's Punch-Out, you are given three rounds in which to KO or TKO your opponent. If you fail to do so, you can still win by judge's decision. You know, just like in real boxing. In Super Punch-Out, you have three minutes to score a KO or a TKO on your adversary. If you fail to do so, you lose. What the hell is the point of a boxing game if it doesn't try to simulate actual boxing rules?


2. Little Mac

      In Mike Tyson's Punch-Out, Little Mac was a Rocky Balboa wannabe who was dwarfed by all his opponents. You felt like an underdog when played the game, and that made your victories all the more satisfying. In Super Punch-Out, Little Mac has apparently gone Super Saiyan. I wouldn't have minded some basic stylistic changes to Little Mac, but they completely changed the fucking character. Screw you, Nintendo.


3. Look Out, Radioactive Man!

      The challengers in Punch-Out always telegraphed their punches with visual cues; the same is true in Super Punch-Out. But if you happen to be borderline retarded, Nintendo has you covered. If you find it difficult to memorize basic attack patterns, fear not, because your opponent's trainer will yell out right before he does a super move. These text bubbles are both ugly and insulting. If you can't figure out when Super Macho Man is about to go into an attack, you fucking deserve to get hit.


4. The Doctor Is Out

      While your opponents all have trainers to yell stupid advice to them, Doc is missing in action. What the fuck? How in the hell am I supposed to win without Carl from Family Matters imploring me to join the Nintendo Fun Club in a timely fashion? I'm sure it can be done, but what's the point?


5. The Opponents Are Shitty And Boring

      The biggest problem with Super Punch-Out is that most of your opponents aren't interesting. Whereas almost every character in Mike Tyson's Punch-Out is memorable, Super Punch-Out only has two worthwhile opponents and they were both holdovers from the NES game. Don't get me wrong, the bad guys in Super Punch-Out look phenomenal, but they lack any sort of real personality. To prove it, here's a rundown of all sixteen boxers in the game's four circuits and why they mostly suck:


      Your first opponent is Gabby Jay, a tired old Frenchman who looks a lot like U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton. He has apparently had only one win in his entire boxing career and 99 losses, yet somehow he is still the #3 contender on the Minor Circuit. In order for him to keep this position, there must be absolutely no legitimate boxers interested in winning the WVBA Minor Circuit Belt. Come on, this loser is 56 years old, a fucking kindergartner could beat him up. I imagine that the only reason he's still a contender is because his scary ass moustache keeps challengers away. Gabby Jay has no personality and even less boxing skill. If you can't beat him, you should kill yourself.


      Oh look, it's a big generic fat guy. Bear Hugger embodies everything that's wrong with Super Punch-Out. If you were to ask any gamer to name as many characters from Mike Tyson's Punch-Out as they could, very few of them would fail to mention King Hippo. King Hippo was one of the most memorable characters in the NES game and it would have been fucking awesome to see him return in 16-bit splendor. But no, instead we get this uncharismatic bastard. If I were Canadian, I would be particularly offended by Bear Hugger because he gives Canada a bad name. After playing this game, people might think that all Canadians are hairy shirtless slobs who wear OshKosh overalls and rape woodland creatures. This stereotype is both offensive and largely untrue. Canadians are pretty hairy, but they wear shirts and they certainly don't rape animals. Shame on you, Bear Hugger. Your attacks on America Lite will not be tolerated.


      In case you didn't know, Piston Hurricane was in the original 1984 arcade version of Punch-Out. And if the arcade game were anywhere near as fun as the Nintendo game, I might have actually been happy to see him return in Super Punch-Out. But Piston Hurricane sucks, he doesn't even know when to use will instead of can in a question. I'll take Piston Honda over this piece of human garbage any day of the week.


      Not everything about Super Punch-Out is bad; Bald Bull makes a return here. The Turkish Terror looks great on the SNES even though he no longer towers over Little Mac. Bald Bull probably should have reported him to World Video Boxing Association over potential steroid use; I'm not quite sure why he hasn't. Maybe he wants to kill Little Mac in the ring in dramatic Rocky IV style. If that happened, Doc Louis would be forced to make a difficult choice about whether or not to get back into the ring one last time and avenge his fallen friend. While he tried to decide, the gamer would be treated to a video montage of Mac and Doc training together while Survivor's "Now I Totally Have To Make A Difficult Choice" played in the background. Man, that would be awesome. Screw Super Punch-Out, I want to play that game I just made up.


      The first opponent in the Major Circuit is a black guy with dreadlocks. He's from JAMAICA and his name is BOB CHARLIE. Get it, instead of BOB MARLEY? Oh man, that's soooo funny. Bob Charlie is actually the easiest opponent in the game, he just sits in the corner smoking pot the whole time. Then halfway through the match, he dies of cancer because his retarded Rastafarian religious beliefs prevented him from seeking treatment for it. Take that, ya damn hippie.

NOTE: If you find yourself wondering if any of the above is true, this website isn't for you.


      Dragon Chan is a martial arts expert who vaguely resembles Bruce Lee and/or Jackie Chan. Also, he likes to kick a lot. Personally, I love kicking stuff. I think kicking is one of mankind's greatest inventions... BUT IT'S NOT FUCKING LEGAL IN BOXING. Seriously, what the fuck? Little Mac doesn't get to kick, why should this douchebag be allowed to do it? He shouldn't. In fact, he shouldn't be in the game. Let's move on to the next crappy boxer.


      Goddammit, must every single guy in the Major Circuit suck? Masked Muscle is a luchador who apparently makes a little extra money on the side by boxing. Unfortunately he has trouble keeping boxing rules and wrestling rules separate, so he'll often cheat. Specifically, he will occasionally spit in your eye. When you're blinded by Masked Muscle's spit, you'll still be able to see and dodge him but you won't be able to punch him. Go figure. If Masked Muscle had any other wrestling moves besides spitting in your eye, he'd actually be pretty cool despite being a dirty cheater. He doesn't, so he's not.


      Who the hell decided to bring back Mr. Sandman? I know he was in both the original arcade version of Punch-Out and Mike Tyson's Punch-Out, but I can't imagine that Mr. Sandman was a fan favorite. He's big and mean, but he's not an ample substitute for better characters such as Great Tiger or Don Flamenco. I know I already mentioned King Hippo, but again, I would have rather seen him than Mr. Sandman too. The programmers must have been on crack when they decided not to include King Hippo. If he was good enough for the Captain N cartoon, then he was fucking good enough for Super Punch-Out.


      The first guy you fight in the World Circuit is the highly forgettable Aran Ryan. Aran is supposed to be Irish, but he looks more like he's from Eastern Europe. In fact, he bears an uncanny resemblance to Vigo, Scourge of Moldovia, Sorrow of Carpathia. Unfortunately, Aran doesn't sit on a throne of blood. Hell, he doesn't even throw potatoes at you. Aran Ryan is an exceptionally mediocre character who had the potential to be fantastically offensive. Nintendo had a huge opportunity to piss of the Irish here and they blew it. Instead of creating Aran Ryan, they could have just given Von Kaiser a bottle of Guinness and repackaged him as Seamus McBlarneystone.


      One of my biggest problems with Super Punch-Out is that it looks too much like anime. The original game was cartoony, but this game actually looks like a fucking cartoon. Even though the game's competitors are supposed to represent many different countries, they all have a decidedly Japanese feel to them. And nowhere is this more evident than in Heike Kagero, the only competitor who's actually from Japan. Heike Kagero is a guy who wears pink lipstick, pink eye shadow, and pink boxing gloves. Kagero is a bishonen, which is a fancy Japanese term meaning TOTALLY GAY. If you're not careful, he'll whip his hair at you. Like, really hard and stuff. This is the type of bizarre shit that only the Japanese could appreciate.


      Hey look, it's a palette swap of that douchebag Bear Hugger. Fantastic, that's just what I wanted to fight. This guy is called Mad Clown, but he should really be called Half-Assed Clown. His clown makeup doesn't include the classic whiteface that every other fucking clown in the world uses. Some might say that makes him original, I say that makes him LAME. In a game that's built around goofy stereotypes, why the hell wouldn't Nintendo design a clown character that conforms to society's expectations of what a clown SHOULD look like? On top of that, his outfit is far too bland. Give him some frills, give him a fake flower in his lapel that shoots water, give him something dammit. Oh well, at least he juggles.


      One of the few good things about this game is that Super Macho Man returns. His name is spaced improperly, but the super vain boxer from Hollywood, California with the disgusting pecs is back. One thing I never really understood about Super Macho Man is why his hair is gray. The guy's not even 30, but he looks like George Hamilton on steroids. In Mike Tyson's Punch-Out, Super Macho Man was the last guy you had to beat before you faced Iron Mike. In Super Punch-Out, Macho is the World Circuit Champion. Unfortunately, Macho Man hasn't been elevated to end boss status. If you're able to complete all three circuits with 4-0 records, you'll unlock a fourth circuit filled with four new guys who all suck.


      The Special Circuit opens with Narcis Prince, a British boxer who looks a lot like Trunks from Dragon Ball Z. Oh and guess what? He's narcissistic. Bet you didn't see that one coming. If you manage to punch him the face, he'll freak out like a cat on acid. If you don't, you probably won't beat him.


      Hoy Quarlow is quite possibly the most annoying character in the game. He's 78 and he's Chinese, so it shouldn't take you long to figure out that he's some sort of stereotypical wise old martial arts master. Quarlow isn't so much an actual boxer as he is a cheesy bastard who whacks you with his walking stick. This guy seriously has like one or two actual punches that he might decide to throw during a match. I guess one of the rules of the Special Circuit is that you don't have to even PRETEND that you're a competitor in a boxing game.


      So here we are at the #1 contender in the Special Circuit, the second-to-last opponent in the game. Now you shall face the wrath of... MR. CLEAN!? For a game that seemingly prides itself on being an interactive cartoon, Rick Bruiser is an awfully bland character. I don't think I could possibly come up with an idea more uninspired and mundane than Rick Bruiser. Oh wait, there's the next guy...


      Oh look, it's the same damn guy you just fucking fought! That's real creative, Nintendo. Nick is Rick's twin brother, only he's way angstier. Unlike Rick, Nick doesn't smile and he doesn't fuck around. He's also somewhat easier to beat. Whereas Rick blocks a lot of punches, Nick does not. But honestly, who cares? The last two guys in the game are palette swaps of a character model that's boring to begin with. Whoever though that Rick and Nick Bruiser would be cool characters should be shot, preferably several times. What a weak fucking way to close the game. The developers should have made Wario or Bowser the last guy. It would have been kinda cheesy, but it still would been better than some generic bald guy.

      Although I loathe it, Super Punch-Out is considered to by many to be a worthy sequel and a true SNES classic. I just don't see it. To me, this game feels like Nintendo decided to take the basic concept of Punch-Out and adapt it to the Super Nintendo rather trying develop a sequel to Punch-Out. So instead of a game that feels like Punch-Out II, you have a 16-bit game that bears a mild resemblance to the NES classic. The game actually feels and plays a lot like Nintendo's Punch-Out arcade games and that's a shame. 1984's Punch-Out and 1985's Super Punch-Out may have led to the creation of Mike Tyson's Punch-Out, but they lacked the overall charm of the 8-bit platform game. The NES game sold like gangbusters, so it would have done Nintendo well to emulate it instead of a pair of relatively obscure arcade games. Super Punch-Out's designers seem to have assumed that Mike Tyson's Punch-Out was so popular because it had very good graphics for its time. In doing so, they created a SNES boxing with very good graphics for its time. Unfortunately, graphics alone do not a great game make. The NES Punch-Out was successful because it had good graphics and cleverly crafted characters with comical mannerisms. The Super Punch-Out team never quite mastered the second part. The characters fell short and so did the game.


Posted by: Syd Lexia