PUNCH-OUT!! / Nintendo / NES (1988 - as Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!)

Sadly, due to the nature of licensing agreements and whatnot, we will not be seeing this game in its classic form. Mike Tyson, noted boxer and flesh eater, is no longer obligated to lend his name to Nintendo's quality products and it's not too likely they're going to strike up another deal with him. So, we get the gimped re-release of this game where Mr. Dream is the final challenge and we no longer get to see Iron Mike's gruesome 8-bit mug on the title screen. Fortunately, most of the qualities that made the original so endearing survived the purge - the core gameplay, the bike-thieving Doc and his shilling for the Nintendo Fun Club, and all the lovable racial caricatures that made the original game great. You still guide scrappy pugilist Little Mac as he fights his way through one vaguely offensive challenger after another - the sissy Frenchman with the glass jaw, the efficient German who comes out to strains of Ride of the Valkyries, the smooth Spanish flamenco, the bald violent Turk, the drunk Russian, the mean black man from Philly, and et cetera. Abandoning realism in favor of smooth simple gameplay and pattern recognition, this was a milestone in that it was one of the first NES games to use really big sprites and also probably the first boxing video game that was actually fun to play. Without everyone's favorite fighting cannibal it's just missing a certain *something*, but it's good to see this one available again at least in some form.

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