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Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!

Mike Tyson's Punch-Out BoxMike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! is a boxing game developed by Nintendo Research & Development 3 (R&D3) division and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Entertainment System.   The game is an adaption of the 1983 arcade game “Punch-Out!!” and it’s 1984 successor “Super Punch-Out!!”.

Both the original arcade game and the revised Nintendo Entertainment System game were designed by Nintendo R&D3 general manager, Genyo Takeda.  The game incorporates characters from both arcade games as opponents but with modifications to their boxing styles.  The artificial intelligence (AI) of each boxer was modified to follow a set pattern that required players to figure out through trial and error.  Players would have to memorize each opponent’s attack and defensive styles to figure out how to defeat them.  The new gameplay mechanic was incorporated to make the game feel less like an arcade game where the opposing boxers’ moves were randomized to ensure for shorter gameplay.

Knowing that the Nintendo Entertainment System was not capable of emulating the arcade game like for like the development team needed to alter the game’s playable boxer.  Instead of implementing a wire-framed boxer or a transparent boxer in order for the player to be able to fully see the opposing boxer, they decided to make the playable boxer tiny.  This change ultimately led to the character being named Little Mac, a 17-year-old boxer weighing approximately 107 pounds.

Players take on the role of Little Mac, a 17-year-old boxer from the Bronx who is ranked number three in the minor circuit.  Players must work their way up through the rankings in order to qualify for a championship match again the World Heavyweight Champion, Mike Tyson.  On the path to the championship match players will have to work their way through the minor, major and world circuits by winning 14 bouts against various opponents.

The development of the Nintendo Entertainment System adaption of the arcade series began before obtaining an endorsement from Mike Tyson, in fact a fully completed Famicom version of Punch-Out!! was released in Japan as part of a competition without the inclusion of Mike Tyson.  Nintendo released a gold Famicom copy of Punch-Out!! as a prize for participating in the Famicom Disk System’s Famicom Golf: U.S. Course tournament held in September 1987.  Nintendo produced 10,000 units of the Gold version of Punch-Out!! for the Famicom for distribution to contestants.  Nintendo gave out 5,000 copies as high score prizes while the remaining 5,000 were given away through a lottery.

Developer(s)Nintendo R&D3
License“Iron” Mike Tyson
License OwnerMike Tyson
PredecessorSuper Punch-Out!! (Arcade)
SuccessorSuper Punch-Out!! (SNES)
Nintendo Entertainment System
Media TypeCartridge
ReleaseGold Contest Version
JP: September 18, 1987

Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
NA: October 18, 1987
JP: November 21, 1987
EU: December 15, 1987

NA: August 2, 1990
EU: August 15, 1990
Sales3.02 million
RatingPre-Dates ESRB
Rereleased Platform(s)Ports
Arcade (PlayChoice-10) – 1988

Digital Releases

Wii – 2007
Nintendo 3DS – 2012
Wii U – 2013
Nintendo Switch – 2019

The final opponent in the gold Famicom version of the game is Super Macho Man, who is the same final opponent in the arcade sequel Super Punch-Out!!.  This version of the game never had a retail release and was only part of a Nintendo promotional contest.  While the game was in development Minoru Arakawa, president of Nintendo of America attended a boxing event that featured Mike Tyson.  Arakawa was astonished by Tyson’s talent and wanted to use his likeness in the upcoming port of Punch-Out!! to help promote the game.

Arakawa was able to negotiate a three-year contract with Tyson to use his name and likeness for a reported $50,000.   Nintendo was able to broker a cost-efficient deal with Tyson as the offer happen shortly before Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion in history.  The deal was risky for Nintendo as Tyson was still an up-and-coming boxer when the contract was signed in 1986, however the risk paid off as by the time the Nintendo Entertainment System version of the game was scheduled for release in October 1987, Tyson was the WBA, WBC and IBF heavyweight champion and held a 31-0 record.

Mike Tyson playing Punch-Out!! on the NES

Nintendo capitalized on their exclusive deal with Mike Tyson by incorporating him as the final opponent in the game.   The game released first for the Nintendo Entertainment System in North America on October 18, 1987, two days after Tyson successfully defended his title against Tyrell Biggs to become 32-0.  As Tyson’s fame transcended boarders Nintendo revised the Famicom version of Punch-Out!! that was used for the Famicom Golf: U.S. Course tournament to include Mike Tyson as the final opponent and released the game as Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! in Japan on November 21, 1987.

The game became an instant success going on to sell over 2 million copies in North America alone.  When Nintendo’s three-year license agreement with Tyson expired, they chose not to proceed with renewing his contract as he was no longer the Heavyweight Champion at the time.  Instead, Nintendo opted to replace his character in the game with a new character named Mr. Dream.  In August 1990 the title was re-branded and rereleased simply as Punch-Out!! throughout North America and Europe.

Game Screenshots:

Overview of Mike Tyson's Punch-Out - Friday Night Arcade


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Minoru ArakawaMinoru ArakawaProducer
Genyo TakedaGenyo TakedaDirector
Kazuo YoneyamaGame Designer
Profile PlaceholderMayumi HirotaGame Designer
Makoto WadaCharacter Design
Yukio KaneokaYukio KaneokaMusic Composer
Akito NakatsukaAkito NakatsukaMusic Composer
Kenji YamamotoKenji YamamotoMusic Composer
Profile PlaceholderMasato HatakeyamaProgrammer
Profile PlaceholderM. TayaElectrical Engineer
Profile Placeholder S. FunakoshiElectrical Engineer
Profile PlaceholderY. KuriyamaSecretary

Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! (North American Release)

Punch-Out!! (North American Release)

Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! (Japanese Release)

Punch-Out!! (Japanese Release)

Media & Promotional Material