I'm not usually one to write about video games, but with the upcoming Wii release of Punch Out, I just had to take a trip down memory lane - er - ring.

One of, if not THE greatest title ever released on the original Nintendo is "Mike Tyson's Punch Out!!" I'm a modest man, but I will attempt to chronicle the numerous virtues of this game to convert a few of you non-believers out there.

The Title - Forget Mike Tyson. Forget "Punch Out." There's one thing in this title that makes it so significant. See below:



Yes, the double exclamation point. How many video games can boast such bold and self-righteous punctuation?? Those exclamation points don't say, "pick up the controller for a fun gaming experience." They say, "You better strap that controller to your hands and arm yourself, son! This train is coming!"

Save Codes - This game was innovative with the first use of save codes for video games. With other Nintendo games, you could spend hours playing, but when the power went off, you had to start all over again. Not with MTPO. Every time you wailed on someone, you got a code you could enter at the start screen so you could pick up where you left off. The game was so goddamn difficult anyway, without save codes, beating the game would have been downright impossible.

Great Characters - Oh man, this game had some great personalities. Though the object was always the same - tear your opponent a new corn chute - the method to beat your opponent changed. Each character had their own quirks and weaknesses that you had to exploit to knock them out. And if you didn't figure it out, brother, you might as well pack it in because these guys would eat your lunch.

First of all, your character, Mac, was some young pup who looked more like a communications major frat boy than a professional boxer. It didn't help that he was literally 1/8 the size of most of his opponents. And his reflexes were as slow as an old man with an intestinal blockage. The good news is that Mac is tough and wily and coached by the sometimes-wise-but-usually-unhelpful Doc. Honestly, Doc was pretty much a proverbial geyser of horsecrap in between rounds.


Little Mac: "Hey, after I knock out Bald Bull, let's head over to the Chi Omega house and score some ass!"


The opponents ranged from the laughable (Glass Joe record: 1-99) to the freaking aggravating (Mr. Sandman and the "Dreamland Express"). There was the beauftiful, busty King Hippo, a fat guy who was only vulnerable when he dropped his shorts, and Soda Popinsky, who would chug "soda" between rounds (perhaps Surge?). Just about everyone after Piston Honda (minor circuit title holder) would give you some degree of fits, so it's no wonder why to this day I harbor so much aggression.


King Hippo: Rack 'em up! You could motorboat those.


Mike Tyson - Before he was a convicted felon and actually hit men instead of women (that's right, I went there), Mike Tyson was a feared video game champion. Beware: this freakin guy was the size of an Alaskan grizzly bear. Once punch from "Iron" Mike was all it took to send you to the canvas, and he had the best defenses of any opponent. You wouldn't even be able to hit him in the first two minutes of the first round. He blocked everything, as if the Japanese game designers spent hours in a secret laboratory and single-handedly invented a whole new level of "rigged."


Have fun watching Tyson ruin your shit over and over again.


I never beat "Iron" Mike, and to this day, he remains one of my great video game nemeses. A few years later, a friend of mine fired up his GameGenie and we owned Mike Tyson in two rounds. It was an 8-bit raping worthy of Tyson himself. I know it doesn't seem fair, but then again, neither is biting someone's ear.


Iron Mike: Eyes so full of promise, teeth so full of anger. A gentleman and a scholar.