Sunday, May 10, 2009


I'll be going back to my job at Nintendo in the morning. I'm glad. I like that job, and having a bit of income also sounds pretty nice. Cheers all around!

Today, I discovered one more reason to love Nintendo:

Editor's Note: The thing I'm loving here is commercial, though the game looks fine, as well.

The above commercial probably doesn't mean much to you if you haven't played Punch-Out!! on NES, which makes it an odd bit of advertising. Actually, I'd love to knowwhat you think of this commercial if you've never played Punch-Out!!, so, please, leave a comment before reading further.

But, yeah, Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! (later reworked into Punch-Out!! featuring Mr. Dream after Nintendo decided it would be best not to be associated with Iron Mike) is considered one of the great NES classics. I've been obsessed with Nintendo for most of my life, but I somehow missed out on Punch-Out!! until about five years ago. I was aware of the game, and wanted to play it, but the opportunity just didn't arrive until long after the days of the NES. When I did finally play it, I thought, "Eh." Didn't really do much for me, but I had only played it for a minute or two and an old friend's house, so I assumed I might like it a bit more if I got a chance to play it at a bit more length. Then, a few months ago, I bought a copy and... still didn't love it. I just wasn't getting the appeal.

Now there's a new Punch-Out!! on the way, though, and I've been following it since it was first announced. It looks like it will be very similar to the older games in the series, but it has pretty graphics, so I've been looking at all the new videos that get released and checking out all the still images, and somewhere along the way, I was convinced to go back and try the original again. I'm happy to announce that my initial impressions were wrong.

I don't want to go too in-depth, here - in fact, I doubt many of my regular readers have even made it this far, as my posts where I gush about video games never seem to be too popular, so I'll just go over the basics. Punch-Out!! looks like a boxing game, but it's not really. It's simply a video game-y video game with a boxing theme. The opponents all follow different patterns. You learn their patterns, and figure out how to exploit them to win fights. It's a rhythm and puzzle game.

What I think I like even more than the game part, though, are the characters. They're completely horrible! All of them! Awful! The first boxer you fight is a wimpy French guy named Glass Joe. In the Wii game, croissants fly out of him every time he gets punched. What interesting is that he's probably the most sensitively portrayed character in the game. Next up is German stereotype, Von Kaiser, followed by Don Flamenco from Spain, who dances around the ring with a rose in his mouth before the fight. Great Tiger from India has a turban and magic powers. Piston Honda says inspired lines like, "Sushi, kamikaze, fujiyama, nipponichi..."

Part of the fun is just witnessing what kind of playful racism the game was able to get away with, without raising any controversy. I was surprised to see that the characters are back, and just as stereotypical as ever on the Wii, but I'm not really offended. Ignorance and prejudice in the form of things like racism and sexism generally tend to bother me, but for some reason, this doesn't phase me at all. Maybe it's just that all of these characters are so far over the top. It's an equal offender, though it's worth noting that the protagonist is American, and that the previous games in the series were developed in Japan.

I'm not quite sure why I'm okay with these racist, stereotypical characters, but I do know that they're endearing and memorable. There are probably people who haven't played Punch-Out!! in 20 years who can still remember all the characters, and maybe even give you a quote or two from each.

This post has gone in a different direction that I planned. In short, Punch-Out!! is lots of fun, even if the characters evoke mixed feelings. Also, racism is terrible, but political correctness is taken too far by people who are afraid that others will think they're racist. If you're really worried that other people will think you're racist, maybe you are.

Happy Mother's Day.

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