Where can you get your fix of ethnic stereotypes, over-sized meatheads, and fighting? The latest episode of The Jersey Shore? Well … maybe, but I’m talking about Super Punch Out!! for the Super NES! Put your boxing gloves on and step up to the challenge.
So what’s the story here? The story is there is no story. Do you really need one for a Punch Out game? You’re a journeyman boxer trying to move up the ranks of the Nintendo Video Boxing Association. You have to plow through 16 opponents to become the undisputed champion. If you’re familiar with the NES version, you’ll notice the absence of Mike Tyson, Mario, Little Mac, and Doc Lewis. Yet even without those iconic characters, this game still stands as a great addition to the pantheon of Punch Out!! games.
Controls and Gameplay
The controls are fairly intuitive and simplistic. This is great because the game demands quick reflexes to master it. The Y button is used to throw left punches, and the B button to throw right punches. The A button utilizes power punches when the power meter is at its maximum. Press up on the control pad with one of the punch buttons to throw a punch to the face. Hitting the punch buttons by themselves will make your fighter throw body shots. As for defense, pressing down on the d-pad makes you duck and pressing left or right makes your contender do a side step move. Pressing up blocks blows to the head and if not pressing anything, your fighter will automatically block body shots. Uppercuts can’t be blocked. I have no complaints with the controls. They are simple and responsive. If you don’t like the control setup, you can modify it.
This game is really fun. It plays fast and furious; like an arcade game. This makes sense because this franchise has its origins in the arcade. All of the fighters telegraph their power moves. The key to success is memorizing your opponent’s movements and mannerisms. For instance, when Aryan Ryan steps back to the opposite end of the ring, he’s going to do his body punch, head punch combo flurry. Another example is when Super Macho Man does a little stomp dance in front of you; this means he is about to perform his mini Super Hurricane Punch. Recognizing cues like these will help prevent you from getting knocked out! Speaking of Super Macho Man, if you’ve played the NES version, you’ll be happy to know he has returned to the game along with Mr. Sandman and Bald Bull. I wish Piston Honda was able to make the roster too, but you can’t have everything.
When the power meter reaches its max, you can perform a devastating power punch. You’ll need this special move to make your odds of being the champ more likely. As the match goes along, there will come a time when your gloves start flashing. When this happens, you can punch at a faster rate and your power punches can do more damage. The use of this power punch adds to the fun factor. Once you master a certain opponent, the replayabilty comes in how fast you can knock the other guy out. The power punches contribute to how quickly you can dispatch opponents. It becomes a fun strategy to figure out when is the right time to use the power punch. Imagine my surprise when I knocked down Rich Bruiser with a power punch to the head during the middle of one of his special moves! He nearly had a full life bar left!
There are four modes in the game, with championship mode being the main part of the game. Time attack mode allows you to select any fighter you beat in championship mode and the point is to beat your opponent as quickly as you can. Records mode allows you to see the fastest knockout time records and points records for the different opponents. Lastly, the buttons mode allows for customization of the control setup. I wish the options were more varied. For example, I would have loved a mode where you could fight the opposition in a different order.
Graphics and Sound
The graphics were well done in this game. Your opponents are large and detailed. The facial expressions of your enemies really make the game come to life. Whether they are wincing in pain from your punches or mocking you after they have KO’ed you, the opponent animations are the showcase of the graphics department. The fighter you play as is also rather large and fleshed out when you can see him. He becomes transparent when the fighting commences. Being able to see through your fighter was a smart idea since if he appeared solid during the pugilistic contest, he would actually partially block the view of the opponent. Other minor details like the floor drawings in the ring, the distinct crowd faces, and cameras flashing really make the graphics pop.
The sounds associated with the game add ambiance to the playing experience. Some of the opponent introduction tunes are really catchy like Bob Charlie’s and Narcis Prince’s. The battle music is different for each of the four circuits. They are alike in the sense that all of them pump you up for the fight. Come to think of it, the battle themes would make good jogging music. I like the fact that your opponents make sounds when you hit them, or when they are taunting you. The effects when a punch connects sound crisp, accurate, and painful.
When you win a bout, your fighter turns around to look at you and says one of three things: “Piece of cake”, “Got ‘Em”, or “Too Close.” The announcer says your opponent’s name before the fight, counts knockdowns, and declares knockouts. He really sounds like an authentic boxing loudspeaker announcer. There are also crowd noises, a ring bell, and stomp sounds of some of your opponents to flesh out the sound effect detail.
I can’t find many faults with this game. It is what a video game is supposed to be; fun. Some annoyances are the lean amount of mode options to choose from, no jogging sequence or something similar like in the NES version, and while the game offers some challenge, it isn’t quite as difficult as the original Nintendo version. Although not being quite as tough as Mike Tyson’s Punch Out may be a positive for some. There is no difficulty setting. There is a save feature, which means you don’t have to beat the game in one sitting and it saves your knockout and scoring records. This is a great title and I recommend to boxing fans and if you liked any of the other incarnations. If you never played a Punch Out!! game, I suggest trying it. You do have to have quick reflexes. If you don’t, the game will train you to have quick reflexes! It’s an excellent game.
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