Punch-Out! [Game Review]

Game Review: Punch Out | NES | NES Classic | Video games | gaming | video game review | blogging | DoublexJump.com

Title: Punch-Out!
Developer: Nintendo R&D3
Publisher: Nintendo
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 is a game that’s loved by all but Kris and I overlooked it even when we were older to actually play it. Since we have it on the NES Classic we finally gave it shot.


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.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
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!

Rachel Mii Double Jump
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.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
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.

Rachel Mii Double Jump
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.

Punch-Out gets…
4 out of 5 lives.

Have you played this game? What did you think? Let us know in the comments! 

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Readers Comments (6)

  1. Did you see Donkey Kong in the audience?

  2. <3 for Punch-Out! Glad to see you two give this a shot! This one really sends me down memory lane.
    It was a real turning point game for me. One of the first games I ever played, because all my older cousins were really into it at the time. The fact that button mashing doesn’t work at all really forced me to understand how to play the game properly, which in turn got me to really think about how to play every game properly. It’s almost more of a puzzle/rhythm game than a beat-em-up ir fighting game. I vividly remember feeling really proud of myself as I beat Glass Joe for the first time and my older cousins were there to cheer me on. Hitting the super punch with the Start button after correctly navigating through a series of dodging and blocking never got old for me, especially as knock out blows emphatically sent the opponent flying across the screen.
    Another cool thing about that game was that EVERYONE knew the code to get to the final boss. Any new player could just skip to it, but you could never beat it on your first try. Heck, you would never beat it until you played the game from the beginning to learn its mechanics, effectively making the code useless to anyone other than players who put in the effort to master the game.
    Though I remember watching my older cousins beat Mike Tyson – ahem – Mr. Dream as kids, I’ve never been able to do it to this day. One of the most brutal final bosses in any video game ever. His opening flurry of punches is so fast that I’ve never been quick enough to dodge them. Probably the hardest Nintendo boss ever come to think of it. Should give this another try on stream and maybe finally cross Mike Tyson off my bucket list.
    I did get to take a photo with Mike Tyson while wearing my Punch-Out shirt though, and that might be the dorkiest thing I’ve ever done.
    It’s not a popular opinion, but I think Super Punch Out is even better. Crazier fights, different types of super punches, and a more reasonable difficulty curve. No one talks about Punch-Out on the Wii, but that game is great too.

    • You bring up some good points! We were just button mashing for the most part and then the more we played I realized there was a little bit of strategy involved. It’s a good game, certainly one we’ve missed all these years.
      I’m glad this game has such an impact on you! That’s really cool. I also enjoy the Instagram picture. That must be a great memory for you. 🙂

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