Punch-Out!! is an arcade boxing title released by Nintendo, in Japan in 1983, North America in February 1984, and Europe in July 1984. It was the debut title in the long-running Punch-Out franchise and featured the first appearance of many characters who have remained featured in the series since then.
This was the first boxing game, and the first hand-to-hand combat game in general, to become popular enough to launch its own franchise. It was a technical breakthrough, for its large, detailed, colourful sprites, and 480p resolution using a dual-monitor setup. It introduced several gameplay innovations, such as an over-the-shoulder perspective and the player stamina meter, enemy stamina meter, recharging health and dodging mechanics.
The player controls an unnamed green-haired boxer who is displayed from a behind-the-back view as a green wire-frame during gameplay - this was done to allow the player to see the opponent more easily. The player can throw high and low / right and left punches using two buttons in combination with the joystick, as well as press a third, larger button that is used for a "super punch" - either an uppercut or hook - when the player fills an on-screen meter via landing multiple normal punches. The player must quickly react to visual cues from the opponent in order to block or dodge incoming punches.
The player works their way through a series of opponents until they earn the right to face the world champion, Mr. Sandman. Like many arcade games from the same era, Punch-Out!! does not have a true ending. If the player progresses through all of the boxers and manages to win the world title, the game starts them over at the first opponent again. The second time through the green wireframe character is yellow, and the opponents have different colored attire and display more complex and dangerous techniques.
Unlike the later home games in the Punch-Out!! franchise, there is only one round per fight. The player must KO his opponent within that one round. If the time expires it goes to a "decision" which results in a loss for the player. Although there is technically no TKO win condition in the game, three knockdowns (either to the opponent or player) will result in a knockout.
In order of appearance:
The Punch-Out!! arcade cabinet was somewhat unique in that it used two monitors - one in the standard arcade cabinet position for the field of play and another monitor above it that displayed game data like player/opponent portraits as well as health meters.
Punch-Out!! also featured digitized speech that served multiple purposes, an announcer introduced the opponents before a fight as well as called the action on the fly during a bout (ie "Right! Right! Left! Bodyblow! He's down for the count!") and gave an audio cue to the player when their super meter was full ("Put him away!" or "Knock him out!"). The announcer also encourages the player to "Come on, stand up and fight!" after a defeat. Other brief samples were used for boxer voices, mainly just grunts when the player was hit by an opponent and a laugh that would be heard when the player was knocked out by the computer opponent.
Punch-Out had an arcade sequel, Super Punch-Out!! It spawned several home console titles bearing the Punch-Out name with a similar (although not identical) gameplay style. It even had an arcade spin-off Arm Wrestling (which featured Bald Bull as a masked opponent named Mask X). Punch-Out!! is generally regarded as one of the original iconic Nintendo franchises, although not at the level of Mario or Zelda titles.
The 1984 Game & Watch handheld game Boxing, developed by Nintendo R&D1, was called Punch-Out in North America. This game was later included in the Game Boy Advance compilation Game & Watch Gallery 4, under the title Boxing.
During gameplay, iconic Nintendo character Donkey Kong can be seen sitting in the audience. Donkey Kong Jr, Mario and Luigi are also sitting near him.
The title screen music is the "Gillette Look Sharp March," originally used in Gillette radio and television ads, and later used for the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports television program in the 1950's.