Monday, November 28, 2016

Arcade Hits: Super Punch Out

A few weeks ago Retronauts discussed a relatively rare arcade cabinet running Nintendo's Punch-Out. They discussed how Nintendo had a huge warehouse full of monitors because they over ordered Donkey Kong pieces thinking they would sell through.

Genyo Takeda and Shigeru Miyamoto were tasked with coming up with ways to burn through this inventory.

They attempted to figure out ways to make racing games using two monitors, but short comings in technology prevented them from rotating images in the way they wanted.

Instead they came up with the concept of a boxing game where the top monitor would display images of the fighters, the time left in the fight, and several meters used in the game.

I was intrigued by this story, not really knowing where to find this thing, I put it on my list of must plays if I ever came across it. And then I happened to stumble upon it at one of my favorite breweries in town.

The art style and even the characters are very similar to what would eventually come out for the NES, but the controllers and game play are much different.

You have a joy stick that let's you dodge side to side and block. Then there's two buttons up higher and slightly to the right for each
hand to throw a punch. And then there's a third button to the far right that let's you hook / uppercut or KO if the correct meter is filled up.

I watched a few people play the game, seeing how they did. Most people were able to take down Glass Joe, not as easily as you can in the NES game, but easily enough, but most went down playing Piston Hurricane.

Eventually enough people had cycled through and the line died down, so I popped my quarter in to try.

For the years of practice I've had playing the original, I really thought muscle memory would kick in and I'd make it at least 3 matches. However, this is an arcade game meant to eat your quarters like a starving monster.

Not only was Glass Joe a bit harder than I remember, but having the extra button for the KO and all the other meters threw off my rhythm in that, I didn't have one.

I knocked Joe down twice and then he came at me hard and often.

It was fun, but the controls felt a little loose, a little delayed. Unfortunately I had no cash on me and only one quarter so I didn't get a second try.

It's definitely worth going back to give it another go. Something about the warm glow of the ring and the dim secondary monitor got stuck in my head and for the past couple days, it's all I've been able to think about.

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