Super Punchout is a different kind of experience than just about every other game out there. Simply put there aren't any other games quite like the Punchout series, giving the 2 games a lot of originality. If you've never played a Punchout game, you owe it to yourself to try them out. They're fun, addictive and have a pattern-based gameplay you wont find anywhere else. Super Punchout had a lot to live up to when it was released in '94, being that Punchout, also known as Mike Tysons Punchout, was one of the best games on the NES and a true classic. It managed to pull it off, and is a fun game, but is unlike the original in many ways, often in the worst ways. The game is much more arcade-ish than the original, and instead of the game being set up into 2 minute rounds, Super Punchout has only one 3-minute round per fight. However, the game has a back-up battery and can save your record times for your fights, giving it a boost of replayability. On to the breakdown..
Super Punchout sports cartoony, well animated graphics. These are some of the best on the SNES without considering CG rendered games. Back when I first played the game, the graphics really surprised me, and were some of the best to date. Your fighter (I actually don't know his name in this one, but I think it's "Little Joe", so I'll refer to him as Little Joe throughout this review) Little Joe is seen from a behind the back view, from the waist up, with a transparent look to him so you can see your opponent at all times. The opponents are what are so amazing about Super Punchout, they come in all sorts of sizes, and all look diverse. Some of them are really cartoon-ish, with lots of bells and whistles, while others seem like serious fighters, without any real gimmick. Like I said, the animation is done very well, with many different movements, jerks and attack patterns for each boxer. As you move up in the game, the opponents get harder and harder with more complex attacks, and so the later on enemies generally have more animations. Overall the graphics are done very well, in a new and different sort of way. I remember looking at the screen once thinking it looked exactly like a cartoon.
Graphics Rating: 94
The gameplay is what set apart the original Punchout from ever other game in existance, and Super Punchout, being the sequel, plays much like it's predecessor, only with more attack options and bigger more vibrant graphics. First the negative: As I said before, the game is shortened to one 3-minute round, a downgrade from the original. Also, super punches come from a power meter along the bottom, that when filled up gives you the power to do super punches and rapid punches. The meter fills up a little each time you land a punch and shortens a little each time you take one. While this is a good system, I would have preferred something a little closer to the star system in Mike Tysons Punchout. Other than that, the game plays like an absolute dream. At times it can seem better than the original. The catchy thing about it is the pattern-based gameplay, as I like to call it. The enemies each have thier own pattern, you can tell when they are about to do a certain move because they will give it away with a jerk or a movement of some sort. Once you memorize an opponents every move he becomes much easier to beat from that point on, but don't think it's gonna be easy. The game has a pretty good learning curve as well, making the first opponent, Gabby Jay, more of a warm-up than an opponent, and the final opponent, Nick Bruiser, a pretty tough mother fucker that will take a few days of practice to beat (he still aint got nothin' on Tyson though). Your fighter, Little Joe I think his name is, has a pretty limited range of moves compared to his opponents. There's the normal punch, super punch, rapid punch, and that's about it besides ducking and dodging. Y throws a left punch while B throws a right punch, and A is used when the power meter is filled up, press it once for a super punch and 2 times quickly for a series of rapid blows. That's about it, very simplistic gameplay, manipulated in more ways than you can think of. You can also block by pressing up on the controller, and blocking too much will render your fighter uncontrollable for a varied period of time. When you get an opponents life meter to zero, he goes down, you must either knock him out 3 times or knock him out for ten seconds, failure to do so will make your opponent the winner of the match, unlike in the original where there were judges and you could win if you had more points than your opponent. When you go down, you can press buttons rapidly to get back up, and when your opponent goes down, you can press buttons as fast as possible to get more life in your meter. If it sounds confusing to you, it's not, it's actually one of the more simplistic games to play, so try it out.
Gameplay Rating: 90
The music in Super Punchout is done well, with a few tracks that are done very nicely, and may stick in your head for a while. In championship mode, each fighter is introduced with a screen showing dialogue from them talking to Little Joe before the match, and also feature a signature song for each of the fighters. These are usually little ditty's that last for about 20 seconds and repeat, but it's a nice feature, and some of these tracks are really good, like Nick Bruisers hard-hitting music for example. All of the music during the fights stays the same throughout the game, and is just your basic fighting music to provide the atmosphere of the boxing ring, it's nothing that will grab you. The best track in the game, if you ask me, is the ending. The ending music gets stuck in my head sometimes even though it's been a few months since I played the game. As you could probably tell, good sound effects in a game like Super Punchout are an absolute necessity, and Super Punchout delivers, with one of the best jobs on sound effects we may ever see. Each punch you can feel connecting with you opponent, as the sound rings through your ears. Each enemy has thier own signature grunts when they are being beaten badly by Little Joe, each and every movement you can feel, with help from the sound effects. So while the in-game music is nothing catchy, it provides good atmosphere, and some of the tracks in the game are really impressive, not to mention the sound effects.
Sound Rating: 92
In some games, a storyline can be a really important factor -- Super Punchout, however, is not one of these games. For what it's worth though, Nintendo did come up with a basic story for the game, it's basically Punchout redone, one boxer's determination to become the world heavyweight champion. Little info is given on Little Joe, but an opening sequence showing him lace up his boots, get on his gloves and head out to the ring really give you a good idea of what it's like for him. Each of the enemies is unique in thier own way, and some of them have interesting and funny background stories, given in the Super Punchout instruction booklet which I haven't seen in a few years, but I can still remember some of them. Gabby Jay, the first opponent, is a retired man from france with a 1-99 record, he graduated from the Glass Joe school of boxing by KO'ing Glass Joe, his one win (you may remember Glass Joe from Punchout). Rick and Nick Bruiser have a sibling rivalry going on, and you can tell by thier dialogue in the game. Nick is the world heavyweight champion while his brother Rick has only lost to him. Super Punchout honors its heritage by including many of the characters from the original Punchout, such as Bald Bull, Mr. Sandman and Super Macho Man. While during gameplay, you're not really thinking about the story, it's there in some way or form.
Storyline Rating: 84
Nintendo is laying it on thick in the replay deparment for Super Punchout. The main draw is the time attack feature, which lets you play anyone you've beaten in championship mode, racing your own fastest times. There are some times already programmed into the game when you buy it, which can easily be beaten after some practice (did anyone notice a lot of the times were made by the name "DanO"? Undoubtedly named after Nintendo's Dan Owsen). It's exhilerating to come back and beat your fastest time, it gives you a huge feeling of accomplishment. Super Punchout has a very detailed records section where you can view all of your records, as well, adding a bit of perfection to the time attack mode. Besides the time attack mode, the game is just plain fun to play, the best feature for replay value. The game also keeps track of your wins, showing your win/loss record at the end of the game in championship mode. You must beat the first 3 divisions without losing to access the special circuit and be able to beat the game. Also, if you beat all of the divisions at any time without a loss, you get a black and white picture of Little Joe knocking out Nick Bruiser at the end of the game. Beat the game with no losses at all, and you get a colorized picture. All in all very good in the replay department.
Replay Value: 95
Super Punchout is a game I would recommend to anybody, forget the fact that it's a sports game, because it plays nothing like any other sports game you'll ever play, or any other game period, for that matter. It's fun, it's addictive, it's replayable, it's funny and cartoonish, it has a lot of positive attributes. However, it doesn't quite beat the original Punchout. It doesn't have that extra something that it's predecessor, but what can you expect? Super Punchout was better than I expected it to be, and the time attack mode has had me playing the game often. It's a wonderful game that can be found for $10 at almost any videgame store in the mall, get it.