Monday, 8 March 2010

Retro Mondays: Punch-Out (NES)

One of the finest games ever to grace the little grey dust-eating dream machine, this Monday sees us looking at the incredible Punch-Out.

Back in the days of no advertising, box art was pretty much all you had to go on. Especially if you shopped at Toys R Us, where the little carts of hopes and dreams were locked away in trophy cabinets, so greasy little fingers couldn't get them. With this in mind, just look at that box. Jesus Christ. How this thing acutally shifted units is beyond me. Mario was the chuffing Ref for god's sake, and he doesn't even get a look in! It looks more like Pit Fighter than it does Punch Out. I pity the poor macho fools, buying this to impress their mates when they came in from the pub. Boy were they in for a suprise.

The first rhythm action game, with no rhythm. Punch Out was brilliant. The basics of Boxing, mixed with the tells of Poker, and the sequencing of a Gregorian Dance, this game was something different. The basic mechanic of it was well-timed boxing, with Mac the protagonist remaining in the centre of the screen. Ducking, blocking, high and low punches were all you had to worry about, but the gameplay mechanics were clever. The system had its limitations, and Nintendo knew this. They didn't try to over-achieve, they didn't try to make a game that was wildly ambitious and didn't deliver. They made a game with heart, with flair, and with incredible characters.

Every opponent was a puzzle. A mountain to climb. Without ringing the Nintendo Hints line, there was little help, and no hints from the game itself. It was a brick wall, but the clues were there. Every opponent had their own unique charm, their own look and their own incredible character design. We look back now at characters like 'Piston Honda' and 'Von Kaiser' and see the naive stereotyping, but the characters were really interesting, and brilliantly designed.

And the THEME MUSIC! Never have I wanted to bust some serious chops than when listening to the 8-Bit tuneage of Punch Out. Never fear, I've even included it. We spoil you here at GainBoy...

Not even Mike Tyson could ruin this game. That's how good it was. Voted by Nintendo Power as the 17th best game ever on a Nintendo System, the game is proof that simplicity is sometimes best, and that if you're given a nickname like 'Glassjaw Joe', you really are going down in the first.

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