Developer: Nintendo R&D3
Category: Sports, Fighting
Release Date: February 1984
How we got the game: We got it on the NES Classic
This is one of those random games that we’ve heard about but were just a tad too young to actually get the chance to play on its original console. With Little Mac appearing in the Smash Bros. franchise, we reheard of Punch-Out and finally tried playing it ourselves on our NES Classic. And we didn’t find it too bad!
Punch-Out’s gameplay is fairly simple, using the A and B buttons to punch with the right and left arms respectively. Left and right on the D-pad allows Little Mac to dodge punches (supposedly — I personally wasn’t very good at that), and down on the D-pad lets your character duck. Holding up while punching let you do an uppercut on your opponent.
That’s basically it for the controls. Your opponent can sort of charge before they punch but I wasn’t sure if we were able to do that as well (if so, we never figured out how to do it) or if it was just a warning to give you time to dodge the oncoming attack. There are two white bars at the top which is your HP and your opponent’s HP respectively. Once you lose HP you can rapidly press the A button to get back up. If you get knocked out too many times though in three rounds, you lose.
It seems that you had to knock your opponent’s HP down four times for a total knock-out to win the fight and move on to the next opponent. If your opponent dodged or blocked your punches too many times, you could lose the stamina to move. It left you open to your opponent’s punches, but after dodging your opponent once or twice, you seemed to gain some of your stamina in return.
The stamina was definitely the hardest part. Once I lost it I got flustered and took a lot of hits. It kept a good balance though between the defense and the offense. There’s no tutorial at the beginning so the controls were a learning curve, but there’s not much to it so it worked.
Being a game from the mid 80s that was recreated for the NES Classic, the graphics are definitely faithful. It’s one reason why we enjoy having the NES Classic. Little Mac and his opponents were distinguishable from each other, and it was a treat having “Mario” be the referee of the boxing matches!
The graphics were certainly interesting to see. They were good, especially for their time, but if a game came out like that now I don’t know how I’d feel about it. I did think it was a nice touch that the opponents were much bigger than Little Mac. I found it to be symbolism despite Little Mac’s name.
The sound effects were fun to listen to, and the music helped ramp up the excitement of the fighting matches. Playing off the point of the opponents being bigger than Little Mac also gave the players a sense of suspense and a challenge. It worked well with the music.
The music was certainly fun, I agree. The sound effects were spot on – as spot on as you can be with punching. Still, it amped up the gameplay.
Punch-Out is a fun little game that’s easy to pick up, even if it takes a little practice to get used to the controls. Fights are quick enough for someone to play for just a few minutes and each opponent is a fun and unique challenge.
This is one I’ll probably go back to from time to time if I need to do a little button-mashing or want to see how far I can go in one sitting.
4 out of 5 lives.