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LONG BLOG

SNES REVIEWS: Super Punch-Out!!

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For those reading one of my SNES review blogs for the first time, here is the basic concept:

"While the SNES was a constant presence in my childhood, I never had a large collection of games for it. In fact, many of the games I played I still don't know the names of. It wasn't until I say the uproar over Breath of Fire 6 that I knew I played Breath of Fire 1 in the SNES.

After reading the excellent top 100 SNES games list by IGN:

http://www.ign.com/top/snes-games

I decided to go back and play those 100 games and review them. Well, as I looked closer at the list, I realized that there are many genres that did not age well from the SNES (racing, sports) and many other genres that I am simply not good at (shmups, arcade shooters) and others that I need other players to play against for an accurate representation (fighters). Also, I played many of the more well known games such as Final Fantasy and Super Metroid."

We finished with the legacy reviews, so we are beginning with the reviews after my hiatus. Please feel free to give me advise on my reviews, as I always look for improvement.


Also, here are a number of extra rules for Destructoid:
-If you have any suggestion of a game that is not in the IGN list that I should review, please suggest it.
-Make a bet on each game to check whether Chris Charter played it or not.

Without further ado, here is:

17- Super Punch-Out!!:
Year: 1994.
Genre: Boxing Simulator.
Publisher: Nintendo.
Developer: Nintendo.
 

First things first, I am changing my rating system to better rate different genres according to their own rules. It will still be from 50 quality points, but every title will start from 25 and earn/lose points according to criteria important to the titles and genres themselves.

The original Punch-Out had the novelty of having boxing's most famous ear-eater in its title cover, which contributed as both a selling point and excuse for making the game. If a sequel was never released, few would be surprised. The original game summed up the "noble" sport of boxing into a deceptively simple dual system, and did not have much in terms of either variety or action to back it up.

Yet, the game's limited mechanics proved to be amazingly deep, and the competition that fought your Little Mac besides Tyson himself were all colorful and unique. As such, Punch-Out developed a cult following and was loved by many who tried it. Little Mac fought the odd and became more than the tech demo he started out as.

Then, in the SNES comes the Super Punch-Out. It drops Mike Tyson from the title, but it brings everything back from the original and changes little from it. In that sense, Super Punch-Out is a game that you will either love or not care for at all. If the limited nature of the game bothers you, you won't be able to enjoy its deep combat system. However, for those among you who are thrilled by the idea of applying your wits in the mat, and fighting against all the odds. Then, this game is for you.

"Now let's get this show on the road"

The title follows little Mac's attempt at winning the world championship. At least, I think its little Mac. Both his face and coloring morphed into something very different, and Doc is nowhere to be seen. Despite these minor discontinuities, the rest of the cast features the trademark loonies impersonating as professional boxers.

When the first boxer you fight against looks like a senile old man who just escaped a nursing home, your should realize that you are not fighting your regular boxing game fare. Featuring such characters as a Mad Clown, a Bruce Lee impersonator, and two semi-clone brothers, Punch-Out does bring back its trademark ridiculousness.

These boxers have a tendency to break all rules. Expect a flying dragon kick from Bruce Lee, and being hit with a staff from Miyagi-san. Each character also comes with their unique special moves, which range from the aforementioned kicks to spits and bear hugs.

However, judging from the past, the characters in Super Punch-Out are less iconic than those of the Mike Tyson's Punch-Out. While most of the boxers you fight are fun, both their quotes and overall design feels less cutting than the first game.

Punch-Out Craziness: +4
Less Iconic than Predecessor: -2

"Do you have the rhythm?"

In boxing, and in fighting games in general, there is always a mindgame going on between the two. Every move invites a counter move, and it becomes a matter of both analyzing and guessing what your opponent does. Purely reacting is slow and disadvantageous, and stupidly lashing out will only invite a quicker defeat.

The gameplay in Punch-Out takes the mindgames in boxing and makes a whole game of it. You can guard high and low for face and body punches respectively. Also, you can dodge left and right as well as duck. Your opponents can also defend themselves in the same way.

As for offensive play, you can punch right or left, high or low. However, these punches won't do much damage to your enemies. Connecting with an attack fills up your super meter, which allows you to use various special attacks that do most of the work. With the important caveat that if you are hit, the super gauge depletes, adding insult to injury.

Thus, the match evolves into a chess match between you and your opponent. Not only do you need to hit him enough to cause some damage as well as fill up your super meter, but you also need to protect yourself from their assaults in order to be in any shape to fight.

Here is where the hidden brilliance of Super Pinch-Out shines through. Each animation is a tell for you. Your opponent shows you exactly what they are doing, whether its guarding high or low, or initiating an attack. Thus, you should study your opponent and see when and how to defend.

He is punching you in the right, punch first in the left. Or dodge and give him some quick jabs on the jaw. Or just go with a body face body face combo. There are many ways to victory, and the more you understand of the system the better your results would be. Bait your opponent to react, or simply defend long enough to get a power boost that will help you completely decimate them.

In addition to their regular montage of punches and uppercuts, your opponents also have their special abilities as well. Almost always triggered by a telling jig or through orders from their coach, these special abilities are usually devastating if not dodged.

This only combines to create a system that rewards tactics and strategy above simple button mashing, which won't even get you through the first circuit. Little Mac is a smaller opponent, and he needs smarts more than brawn to defeat the competition.

This competition is divided in four circuits featuring four boxers each. But these circuits are also accompanied by an excellent Time Attack mode that invites perfecting each fight. I have not reached this level yet, but almost all fights can end in less than 10 seconds, and some can be ended with a one hit KO.

Excellent Fighting System: +5
Deceptive Depth: +5
Time Attack Mode: +2

"I have lost so many times I forgot how winning feels"

We only talked about the combat system with the assumption that you managed to understand it. However, I couldn't unlock all its secrets even after putting 20 hours into it. Patience might not be inherent in your gameplay style, and if so, a sudden rash decision could leave you down for the count.

Even in the first circuit, these guys won't have any mercy. Any mistake is easily punished, and every punch is a commitment that can be a mistake.

For many players, it might be too difficult getting pummeled to get anything from the fight. Not even figuring out precious visual and style ques. This can be alleviated by approaching the game as if a spectator, and just try and get as much information of the fighter as you can get. Simply play defensively and only occasionally land a jab.

In Punch-Out, you need to carefully study your opponents to beat them, and once you master one boxer, fighting them is simply an exercise in shortening your time. You might finish the game the first time with epic stories of comebacks, or long fights, but by the end of your time with the game, you should find the fights becoming easier and easier.

Unforgiving if you don't know how to approach it: -2


"Had your goodnight kiss?"

By now, you should have realized that much of the game's charm, as well as its gameplay system, heavily depends on how the game looks. A tell is only a tell if it can be easily viewed and distinguished after all. And here is where Super-Punch Out delivers in spades.

Perhaps one of the most visually advanced sprites in the SNES, each of the game's 16 fighters convey both in animation and art style their entire technique and personality. When Bruce Lee's impersonator prepares for a dragon kick, he leaps from side to side and lungs at you with his feet. If you were hit by that, you simply were not paying attention. Less elaborate moves are just as simply telegraphed, with each arm exactly showing how the punch is going to be delivered, and each body movement showing where to best attack.

Besides its functional requirements, the graphics show us the personality and ridiculousness of the cast in ways not feasible otherwise. Though some characters are palette swaps of each other, each character showcases their personality through both their dress style and animation. From the eccentric movements of Heike Kagero to the chill moves of Bob Charlie.

Unfortunately, the music doesn't do as well as the graphics at all. With a limited selection of music, and no track standing out at all, this is terrible for Nintendo SNES standards. I even find the music of the original Punch-Out to be better overall.

If the audio ques weren't that important, this would be one of the few games I wouldn't mind listing to my iPod while playing. Listening to eye of the tiger while fighting Aran Ryan would have been a perfect fight.

Music: -4
Graphical Design: +4
Animation: +5


In Conclusion:

Super Punch-Out is a game you will either love, or one that you will simply not care off. With a simple premise, it shouldn't be easy to know how you feel about it. For those who do fall in love with the game, they might want to just finish it and move on, or sink countless hours perfecting their craft and reducing each opponent into a shell of their former selves.

With boundless depth, and the charm to stand out, Super Punch-Out is an SNES Classic. If only it had better music.

Final: 42/50

*****************************************************************


"Tips"

1- Know thyself and know thy enemy.
2- Don't button mash, and don't panic.
3- A missed opportunity is better than getting counter attacked.
4- Being in power mode is not an automatic invisibility period.
5- Left jabs are your fastest attack.
6- Super punches come in various forms.
7- Attempt higher level tactics in Time Attack Mode.
8- Also try to knock your opponent down with a special punch, it will give you more time to recover some stamina.

"Next Game"

Everyone reading this will either get why Super Punch-Out is #17 in the list, or be amazed that it is. With very different games, we often get such divided reception. For me, it deserves a top 20 spot but only marginally.

For the next game, I am jumping all the way to #13, where I am going to play the famous cult hit Earthbound. With such hype, I am both excited and guarded going in. Here is hoping it lives up to what I have been reading about it.

Stay Tuned


For Previous SNES game Reviews:

The List

For More Screenshots:

http://www.mobygames.com/game/super-punch-out/screenshots

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About Lord Spencerone of us since 5:57 PM on 01.12.2014

Hello all, I am Lord Spencer, your friendly neighborhood royalty. Yes, the ancient bloodlines are letting absolutely anyone in these days.

Being the lurker that I am, I have been following Destructoid for more than four years. Well, its 3 AM where I live now, and I just plunged in getting HUGE in the way.

Here is hoping for a fun time.

Oh yes, here is a little more info about me that is probably not as interesting as I think it is:

-I owned and played about 1000+ games.
-I owned and read about 2000+ books (I counted comic books I read as a kid so this is not as impressive as it sounds).
-I absolutely love Legos.

Out of all the games I played, I only regret playing a few. I am a big fan of gaming, and thus I really like most of what I play.

Thanks to the excellent work of community member Dango, now I have a cool infographic of my top 20 games. This list is not my final one, but what I thought off at the moment. If you notice, they are presented in chronological order:





Oh, and here is a link to my blogs:
My Blogs