Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! (known in some releases simply as Punch-Out!! and as Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream) is a behind-the-back boxing game developed by Nintendo R&D3 and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America on October 18, 1987, in Japan on November 21, 1987, and in Europe on December 15, 1987.
A home adaptation of the 1983 arcade game Punch-Out!! (and its sequel), Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! puts players in the role of a young up-and-coming boxer, known as "Little Mac", as he fights his way up the ranks of the World Video Boxing Association (or W.V.B.A.) through boxing matches against numerous colorful opponents from around the world in an effort to challenge the eponymous real-life World Heavyweight Champion Mike Tyson.
The game later received an arcade port for NES-based PlayChoice-10 hardware, adding a leaderboard system for completing fights in the fastest time. In addition, the game received a special limited-edition release in Japan prior to its original release (simply as Punch-Out!!), known for its gold-painted cartridge and exclusion of Mike Tyson and the Dream Fight segment.
Because their contract with Mike Tyson lapsed in 1990, Nintendo opted to release a modified version of the game with Tyson's name and likeness removed. Released only in North America on August 2, 1990 and Europe on August 15, 1990, this version (known simply as Punch-Out!!) replaces Tyson with the mysterious Mr. Dream (who is a simple "head swap"). This version was later included as an unlockable bonus game in the GameCube version of Animal Crossing, digitally re-released worldwide as a Virtual Console title for the Wii (in 2007), Nintendo 3DS (in 2012), and Wii U (in 2013), included in-part as part of NES Remix 2 and Ultimate NES Remix, included in the NES Classic Edition micro-console, and included in the Nintendo Switch Online - Nintendo Entertainment System service for the Nintendo Switch (on April 10, 2019).
Punch-Out!! utilizes many of the trappings seen in the real-world sport of boxing; however, its actual gameplay is relatively simplistic compared to modern boxing simulation games and is comprised strictly of reflex-based timing challenges with light puzzle-solving elements. Each bout consists of three rounds lasting three "minutes" each, although time elapses faster than normal on the in-game clock. Little Mac, the player character, is always positioned towards the screen's lower half during a bout. Mac's sprite is usually drawn facing away from the screen and towards his opponent, who occupies the upper half of the screen area.
Pressing the controller's B button throws a left body blow and A throws a right body blow. Holding Up on the D-pad while pressing B or A throws a left or right jab toward an opponent's face. Left and Right on the D-pad allow Little Mac to dodge incoming attacks, and holding Down can block most standard punches. Players can also duck under attacks by rapidly pressing Down twice.
Due to Little Mac's short stature, players must use a measure of strategy to defeat his relatively-gigantic opponents. These rival boxers perform one of several distinctive gestures (commonly referred to as "tells") before throwing certain types of punches. After dodging or blocking an opponent's attack, the player can often respond with one or more counter-punches. As Little Mac's opponents become more difficult, progress usually hinges not only on raw reflexes, but also the player's ability to recognize an opponent's tells and deliver effective counter-punches. There are some instances in which Mac can safely execute an opening attack, either to successfully land blows or to provoke an opponent into performing a counter-attack which will leave him vulnerable.
Stamina meters for Little Mac and his opponent are displayed at the top of the screen. Stamina is consumed each time a boxer is hit successfully by their opponent. Boxers running low on stamina can regain small amounts of it by landing punches on their opponent. Once per bout, players may press the Select button between rounds to recover some extra stamina. When a boxer's stamina is depleted, they are knocked down onto the mat and must try to get up before referee Mario can perform a ten count and declare a knockout. If Little Mac is knocked down, the player can attempt to recover by button mashing the controller's A and B buttons; however, Mac can only get back up a handful of times per match before he becomes totally exhausted. Additionally, any boxer who falls three times in a single round is considered defeated by TKO, or "technical knockout". If neither boxer has been knocked-out by the end of the third round, Mario will declare a decision winner based upon the player's total point score, although some opponents cannot be defeated by Mac in this manner.
Little Mac's fatigue is represented by a Heart counter in the upper-left. Each match begins with a set number of Hearts; bouts against opponents that require extensive blocking will usually start with a greater number of Hearts for Mac. Each time the player's attack is blocked by an opponent, or Little Mac takes a punch from his opponent (whether blocked or unblocked), Mac will lose Hearts. When Mac's Hearts reach zero, he becomes fatigued and must spend a few moments dodging his opponent's punches before he is able to attack again.
If the player hits their opponent at certain critical moments during a fight (i.e. just before an opponent throws a strong punch), Little Mac earns a Star. The player can hold up to three Stars at a time, which allow Little Mac to execute a slow but very strong uppercut by pressing the Start button. If Little Mac's uppercut successfully connects, it typically deals a large amount of stamina damage to his opponent; in some cases this may even knock a boxer down onto the mat with a single punch. Mac will lose one Star if he is punched by his opponent, and he loses all his Stars if he is knocked down.
Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! consists of three title circuits as well as the final "Dream Fight" against Mike Tyson or Mr. Dream (depending on the version). Any boxers who Little Mac faces a second time in the World Circuit become significantly more difficult to defeat compared to their first encounter.
As Little Mac wins fights, his rank in the current circuit rises accordingly. Losing a non-title fight will prompt the player for a rematch against the same opponent; if Mac loses the rematch, his rank will drop by one (unless Mac already ranks at the bottom of a circuit), requiring players to climb back up the ranks by defeating the previous boxer again. If Little Mac loses a title bout in the Minor or Major Circuits, his rank immediately drops by one place. Losing the title fight in the World Circuit drops Little Mac's rank by two places. A total of three losses for Little Mac results in a game over. Losing the Dream Fight will also result in an immediate game over with no opportunity for a rematch.
A secret fourth circuit called "Another World Circuit" can only be accessed by entering a special password. It consists of bouts with King Hippo and Great Tiger of the Major Circuit, followed by the full roster of the World Circuit, and finally Mike Tyson. Any loss in Another World Circuit results in an instant game over.
|Glass Joe: Essentially a warm-up opponent, this timid Frenchman allows Little Mac to initiate most of the contact both to the head and body at the outset of the fight. Glass Joe will taunt Mac if he hasn't been knocked down within the first minute or so of their bout. True to his name, any strong punches to Joe's jaw will send him reeling to the mat.|
|Von Kaiser: Despite appearing more intimidating than Glass Joe, it's possible to defeat Von Kaiser even more quickly than his pathetic predecessor. Kaiser's jabs can be interrupted with a well-timed blow to his rapidly-shaking head, often earning Mac a Star in the process. While stunned, the Teutonic boxer is highly vulnerable to one-hit knockdowns delivered via Little Mac's uppercuts.|
|Piston Honda: The Minor Circuit champion and a proud Japanese prizefighter who occasionally lets his guard down for long enough to be tagged with surprise jabs. Honda presents the greatest challenge of the circuit with his trademark "Honda Rush" of alternating jabs; however, the odd dance he performs beforehand leaves him open to a one-hit knockdown if players know precisely when to strike.|
|Don Flamenco: This vain Spaniard prefers goading Little Mac into delivering the first punch before blocking and countering with an uppercut. Fortunately for Mac, this technique leaves Don wide open to a flurry of follow-up jabs when his uppercut fails to connect. Due to his reliance on blocking, players may often find themselves low on Hearts while fighting Flamenco.|
|King Hippo: Hailing from fictional "Hippo Island" in the South Pacific, the obese King Hippo sports a nigh-impenetrable defense until he opens his large mouth while winding up for an overhead strike. Players can punch his open mouth to cause Hippo's shorts (and body defense) to fall for several seconds. Once he's knocked down, the portly patriarch won't be able to get back up.|
|Great Tiger: An Indian magician with a penchant for illusions and trickery. The jewel in his turban flashes just before he delivers a jab, and Great Tiger crouches before executing an uppercut. His "Tiger Punch" involves teleporting around the ring and surprising Mac with a series of strong jabs; if Mac can block them all, Great Tiger will be open to a one-hit knockdown.|
|Bald Bull: The Major Circuit champion whose spinning jabs and uppercuts are noticeably faster than those of previous fighters, despite his bulk. His devastating "Bull Charge" can send Mac to the mat in one shot, but players can counter this intimidating Turk's trademark technique with a perfectly-timed body blow.|
|Piston Honda (Rematch): The first bout against a previous opponent sees Honda defending his #5 rank in the World Circuit. He's much more aggressive this time around, with improved defense and a new crouching feint followed immediately by an uppercut. However, his Honda Rush can still be countered relatively easily with a well-timed body blow.|
|Soda Popinski: A fast, hard-hitting Russian boxer who drinks "soda pop," Popinski punishes Little Mac with quick uppercuts, triple-jabs and the occasional sucker-punch jab. He's even fast enough to dodge Mac's Star punches if they're not perfectly executed, but players who can land an uppercut on Soda will send him down for the count.|
|Bald Bull (Rematch): Little Mac can't knock Bald Bull down during their rematch without using an uppercut or countering his Bull Charge. Bald Bull has refined his technique and now hangs back for a random number of seconds before executing a charge. He can also perform a "half" Bull Charge in which he squats near the middle of the ring before charging, making his timing more difficult to anticipate.|
|Don Flamenco (Rematch): Although Flamenco doesn't seem to gain any new techniques between matches, his overall skills have been vastly improved. Don is more difficult to provoke this time, and his punches are much faster than before.|
|Mr. Sandman: A brash prizefighter from Philadelphia with lightning-fast technique and outstanding defense. His "Dreamland Express" consists of three consecutive uppercuts with no wind-up animation. Mr. Sandman will block any jabs to his face while stunned, requiring Little Mac to deftly switch between face jabs and body blows in order to punch through his defenses.|
|Super Macho Man: The World Circuit champion and final obstacle before the Dream Fight, the self-obsessed Hollywood-born Super Macho Man enjoys flexing his pectorals to taunt Little Mac. His moveset is largely identical to Popinski's, with the notable addition of his special "Macho Spinning Punch". This technique has two variants: a single spin and a multiple-spin attack. Little Mac must dodge on each rotation or he'll be knocked down instantly.|
The Dream Fight
|Mike Tyson / Mr. Dream: The true final boss of the game. For the first ninety seconds of the match, he unleashes a barrage of uppercuts that will flatten Mac if any of them manage to connect. After that, the fight becomes a battle of attrition; Little Mac must try to wear him down over the next two rounds in order to achieve a TKO or win by decision.|
Due to its lack of a battery backup feature, players must enter ten-digit passwords at Punch-Out!!'s title screen to resume a previous game. These passwords are provided when the player defeats a circuit's champion and earns their title belt. Passwords reflect the player's win-loss record and their total number of wins by knockout. Punch-Out!! will also accept special passwords that cannot actually be seen in-game.
- 005 737 5423 - "Minor" title-holder, 3-0 3KO (vs. Don Flamenco)
- 777 807 3454 - "Major" title-holder, 7-0 7KO (vs. Piston Honda (Rematch))
- 267 853 7538 - "World" title-holder, 13-0 13KO (vs. Super Macho Man)
Another World Circuit
"Another World Circuit," the game's hidden fourth circuit, can only be accessed via password. This password also requires a special input in order to function. While the last number in the password is selected, do not press Start; instead, hold down A and B while pressing Select.
- 135 792 4680 - "World" title-holder, 3-1 3KO (vs. King Hippo)
The standard password provided after winning the World circuit title returns players to the title match with Super Macho Man, as opposed to the subsequent "Dream Fight" against Mike Tyson. However, a special password can be used to skip straight to Tyson.
- 007 373 5963 - "World" title-holder, 0-2 0KO (vs. Mike Tyson)
The game's ending credits can also be viewed with a password; it requires the special A+B+Select input while entering the final digit.
- 106 113 0120 - Ending Credits
One special password only generates a "busy signal" telephone tone. This is a humorous reference to the Nintendo of America customer support telephone number that was originally printed on the underside of all North American NES consoles. Although this phone number has since been officially retired by Nintendo, calls to the old number still route to NOA's current customer service hotline.
- 800 422 2602 - Busy Signal
Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! was directed by Genyo Takeda, the same individual responsible for producing Nintendo's prior arcade titles Punch-Out!! and Super Punch-Out!!. Although the game's mechanics and many of its opponents are taken directly from these earlier arcade releases, the home console version of Punch-Out!! sports a flatter graphical style more suited to the hardware limitations of the eight-bit NES. The wireframe model sprite representing the unnamed player character in the arcade games would not have been feasible to recreate on NES, and so Little Mac's sprite was drawn much shorter than his opponents so that the rival boxers would remain visible during a match.
In the arcade release of Super Punch-Out!!, Soda Popinski was named "Vodka Drunkenski"; his name was changed in Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! to avoid any references to alcohol. Mario was also added as the referee for the NES version in one of his many cameo appearances. Speech bubbles replaced the arcade version's voice samples to conserve the game's more limited memory capacity on an NES cartridge. Unlike the arcade games, Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! also features animated cutscenes, background music during matches and a password save system.
Gold Cartridge Release
Although the NES version of Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! was released commercially in Japan after the North American version, a special gold-painted cartridge was also produced by Nintendo for the Famicom. Only ten thousand copies of the Punch-Out!! golden Famicom cartridge were made; the box, manual and label all feature artwork of Bald Bull, and the housing's overall shape resembles that of larger NES cartridges. This rare version of the game was distributed by Nintendo as a prize in a Famicom Golf "U.S. Course" tournament event held in September 1987, only a month prior to Punch-Out!!'s release overseas. Super Macho Man is the final opponent in this version; there is no match against Tyson or Mr. Dream.