The Punch-Out!! series consists of boxing-themed video games created by Nintendo, in which the player controls a boxer who fights other boxers in order to rise through the ranks of the World Video Boxing Association, and eventually become the world champion.
All of the Punch-Out!! games follow the same formula: the player plays as a boxer and fights an opponent, having the ability to throw punches, and dodge or block their opponents' attacks. Players can throw left- and right-handed punches, and target those punches to their opponent's head or body. Opponents usually block punches that the player throws, but they become considerably more vulnerable if the player dodges an attack of theirs; this is called a "stun", and this dodge-and-counter strategy is the fundamental part of playing the game. The player can also use a special attack, the Knockout Punch or Star Punch, depending on the game. The former can be used when the player fills out their Knockout Meter, which fills when the player lands consecutive hits on their opponent while not getting hit, while the latter is dependent on Stars, which the player can earn by hitting opponents at crucial points of vulnerability, such as right before they attack.
The player's goal in each fight is to knock out their opponent before the match ends, while not being knocked out themselves. Both fighters have a set amount of health, which is displayed with a health meter. Once a fighter's health meter is empty, they will be knocked down, and the match's time will be paused as the referee starts counting to 10. If the downed boxer can not stand back up before the referee reaches 10, they are considered to be knocked out, and the other boxer will win the match. If they do manage to get back up, the match will continue, and the boxer will regain some of their health. If a boxer is knocked down three times in the same round, or three times overall in games with single-round matches, the other boxer automatically wins with a "technical knock-out".
The maximum time limit of a match varies between the games; in some, a match lasts a full, three-minute round, while in others, a match lasts three three-minute rounds. Once the time limit has been reached, the player will either lose the match automatically, or the match will be decided by a split decision; this, too, varies between games. When a player loses a match, they will either rematch the boxer they just fought, or drop down in the rankings and fight the previously-fought boxer, depending on the game. When a player wins a match, they move up in the rankings and fight the next boxer. Once the player has defeated all of the boxers, up through the World Champion, they win the game.
In some games, players have a "hearts" statistic, alongside their health. These hearts represent the player's fighting spirit, and are displayed as a number alongside a heart symbol. The number of hearts varies in each match, and the player will lose some if they get hit by an opponent's attack, if they block an opponent's attack, or if one of their attacks is blocked by the opponent. Once the player runs out of hearts, they will no longer be able to attack. In order to restore their hearts, the player must dodge their opponent's attacks.
The series consists of eight different games, along with spin-offs.
- Punch-Out!! - The original arcade game, created in 1984.
- Super Punch-Out!! - The sequel to the first arcade game, also created in 1984.
- Punch-Out!! - A Micro vs. System game formerly known as Boxing, which was re-released under the new name in 1984.
- Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! - The first Punch-Out!! home release, created for the NES, and released in 1987.
- Punch-Out!! featuring Mr. Dream - The 1990 re-release of Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, which was created after Tyson's contract expired and was not renewed. This version of the game is also available on the Virtual Console service for the Nintendo Wii and the 3DS .
- Super Punch-Out!! - Another Punch-Out!! game, released in 1994 for the SNES.
- Punch-Out!! - The first Punch-Out!! game to be released in 15 years, this game was released on the Wii in 2009.
- Doc Louis's Punch-Out!! - This WiiWare game was available as a free download to North American Club Nintendo members who had reached Platinum Status by June 30, 2009.
- Arm Wrestling - This 1985 arcade game was developed by Nintendo. Its gameplay was similar to that of Punch-Out!!'s, though the game's focus was on arm wrestling, not boxing. It also featured Bald Bull, a Punch-Out!! character, as an opponent.
- Frank Bruno's Boxing - A 1985 unofficial port of the arcade version of "Super Punch-Out!!" released for the Commodore 64, the ZX Spectrum and the Amstrad CPC, exculsively in Europe. It features Frank Bruno, a real-life British boxer, as the main character.
- Power Punch II - A would-be sequel to Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, the game was originally known as Mike Tyson's Intergalactic Power Punch, which featured Tyson as the main character, until an incident involving Tyson in 1991 caused Nintendo to pull the plug on the project. It was later released in 1992 as Power Punch II, with a Mike Tyson look-alike named Mark Tyler as the main character.
The Punch-Out!! series is well-known for its characters, most of which are exaggerated stereotypes of people from diffferent countries - for example, Glass Joe, a Frenchman, is depicted as a weak, reluctant fighter, while Super Macho Man, a Hollywood celebrity, is shown as an extremely egotistical bodybuilder. Throughout the series, there have been 29 different opponent characters. Many of these characters have appeared in more than one game.
Appearances in Other Video Games
The series has made multiple appearances in other games as well. Super Punch-Out!! appears as a bonus on the Nintendo GameCube version of Electronic Arts' Fight Night: Round 2, and Little Mac, the star of Super Punch-Out!! appears as a secret boxer in full 3D. The series also makes frequent cameos in some microgame of 9-Volt's in the WarioWare franchise. Mac later appears in Super Smash Bros. Brawl as a character the player can summon from an item called an Assist Trophy. When the Assist Trophy is used, Little Mac will be summoned to the field, run to the closest opponent, and attack with a barrage of punches or a Star Uppercut. Little Mac also appears as a trophy. He later appeared in Skip Ltd.'s Wii video game called Captain Rainbow, where the main character has to help him get in shape to regain his championship title. Little Mac was announced as a playable character for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U on February 13th, 2014
In other media
Topps and Nintendo of America made a series of trading cards featuring characters from the Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Double Dragon, and Punch-Out!! series. The Punch-Out!! cards are of the various opponent boxers that Little Mac fights. The 10 character cards have scratch-off spots on them, while others have stickers and game-related hints. A Punch-Out!! short story was also made for the Nintendo Comics System. King Hippo is one of the main villians in both the comic and cartoon series for Captain N: The Game Master. Other Punch-Out!! characters make rare appearances, but Little Mac appears (in-game) in the cartoon's intro as the game that Kevin Keene is playing before entering Videoland.