Welcome back aboard the Nostalgia Train! Our next trip into the past is a nod to the late Muhammad Ali; I’m pretty sure if video games existed during his rise to fame, this game would have been named after him. Alas, the times did not coincide. We still ended up with the best boxing game ever; Punch Out!! Originally called ‘Mike Tyson’s: Punch Out!!’ in North American, this gem from 1987 had gamers bobbing, weaving, and weeping as they faced a gauntlet of powerful opponents.
Living the Dream: Fight to the Top
Little Mac, our protagonist, has a dream to punch his way through the ranks of Boxing’s greatest champions and face off against Mr. Dream himself. Before he can face Mr. Dream, he has to knock down a legion of quirky and tricky boxers. Little Mac must complete each ranked match in order to rise in the rankings. He must bust through the minor and major circuits, conquer the Title Bout, and earn his time in the ring with Mr. Dream.
While there isn’t too much more to the plot, and there isn’t much of a need for it. It’s a classic tale of an unknown’s rise to the top. It’s the ‘every man’ story: someone with a dream up against the odds with the desire for glory. Just make sure you have a pen and paper handy; otherwise, your dream may end before you fall asleep.
Rising in the Ranks: Eye of the Tiger
Punch Out!! pits Little Mac up against 14 opponents. There are three boxers in the Minor Circuit, four in the Major Circuit, and six in the World Circuit. The final opponent in the game is Mr. Dream/Mike Tyson. Players must defeat each opponent in order to work their way up to Mr. Dream. If Mac happens to lose a bout, it’s no big deal; he has the chance to have a rematch. Unfortunately, if players lose a Title Bout (the match at the end of each Circuit,) he will drop down in the ranking and have to face a previous opponent. The penalty for losing the Major or Minor Circuits is falling back one place. For the World Circuit, Mac will fall back two spots.
Between Title Bouts, players are treated to a training cut scene. Mac follows after his trainer, and the players are gifted with a pass-code. Nope – there was no saving in Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! We had pass-codes that would return us to beginning of whichever Circuit we were about to start. Thankfully, this includes the fight with Mr. Dream.