Ah, a classic! This was one of the first games where, as a kid, I felt that I truly mastered and really is one of my alltime favorites.


 Released in 1994 on the Super NES and developed by the Nintendo  the game focuses once again on the pugilistic protagonist, Little Mac, ascending the ranks of the World Video Boxing Association to become the Grand Champion. With fighting his way through four different circuits (Minor, Major, World, and Special), Little Mac must battle a whole assortment of colorful characters (luckily if not offensively just as racially stereotypical as in the original "Punch Out!" but sadly with no Soda Popinsky), each becoming progressively tougher and tougher with more intricate patterns to their attacks.


The camera is mounted in the third person "behind the back style" with Little Mac transparent throughout most of the fights in order to better see the full view of your opponent. The only time the character is ever fully visible is when he is either knocked down via the deterioration of his Life Bar (I always enjoyed this as it seemed like the opponent was beating a ghost back into his body), or if he wins the championship round of his Circuit, whereupon he will turn around, raise a fist and proclaim, "Alright" or "We Got It!" (Gripping Stuff). The gameplay is actually pretty simple: like a normal boxing match, Little Mac's goal is to either knock his opponent down three times in one round, resulting in a Technical Knock Out, or go for the less common full K.O., meanwhile while trying to not be knocked out himself. Unlike a normal boxing match though, his fights only last one 3 minute round and he must defeat his opponent before the time is up! Little Mac, to combat these foes, actually only has a select few moves at his disposal: he can perform a jab or a body blow as his basic attacks, or if he builds up his Power Meter by wracking up punches, he can perform an uppercut and hook attacks to the face or body. At the same time he can also dodge attacks by ducking down, left, or right. Overall, fairly simple stuff.


His opponents, as well, usually only resort to these attacks, sticking to set patterns that they give away with various tells (a jiggle of the fist, a yell from their side coach, or a sound that they make). Every so often, or course, these boxers have their own specific special move, such as the Japanese Boxer Heike Kagero who is able to whip you with his hair or the Masked Muscle (a Luchador), who spits in your eye to blind you. So most fights tend to break down to pattern recognition, dodging, and hitting back at the right moments. As the game progresses, the patterns get more complex and numerous per fight, and your opponents move faster and faster while taking less damage from your attacks. The later opponents, mainly after the Major Circuit, almost become impossible to Knock Out, and are almost always defeated with TKOs.



So how does a game that is literally based on pattern recognition while using the same attacks yourself over and over again any fun, or more importantly, really become a classic/work of art? Well with most video games, it is all the dressings that hide the fact this fact from the audience that make the game a classic/work of art. In a recent article on IGN, they quoted that what set Diablo III apart from a simple dungeon crawler where you just kill, grab loot, go to next room and do it again is the high production value and the tender love and care that was put into the design that HIDES the fact that this is what the game basically is, and the same is the case here. The opponents you fight are so lovingly absurd and cartoonishly goofy that you can't help but love them as much as you love fighting them. Everything from how they move, to the crazy special attacks they use, to even how they fall when they get knocked out, are all incredibly endearing. I remember just letting every fighter knock me out just so I could see them do their own unique victory dance after they one. It's so much fun to spend hours poring over each fight, trying to remember the patterns, find their particular weaknesses, and just keep inching at getting better and better at each fight (now I can breeze through the game in a short while, but as a kid it took me forever to set these patterns to muscle memory; not an easy game by far!). Plus, the music is catchy, the graphics never falter, and the gameplay is so simple that it's kind of addicting. Add in a Time Trial mode and the unlockable Special Circuit, and there is a ton of replay value that keeps bringing you back.


As far as a deeper cohesive meaning to the game, there's not too much. Each enemy fighter just kind of represents (aside from being bad racial stereotypes; sorry Bob Charlie) a particularly negative trait that our hero must crush, as he, as the awesomely just "good" guy that he is, cannot stand by while these characters flaunt their abhorrent traits. Super Macho Man is super proud, the Narciss Prince is incredibly vain, and the list goes on and on. Mainly, the game is just a simple, wonderfully produced game that makes you smile, is addictive as hell, and is a nostalgic reminder of why I loved video games in the first place. Yeah they might just be trivial games that are simple in nature, but any game that tickles my love for cartoons, my competitive nature, and keeps me addicted for hours is definitely art in my book. It's simplicity made, through innovation, into something beautifully elegant. Thanks Nintendo!


Anywho folks, keep your eyes peeled on my other blog, my next post is coming there!


Till next time!