I played a lot of Nintendo when I was a kid. Despite all of those hours spent learning button combinations and codes that serve no purpose now yet still take up space in my brain, I don’t have many games that I would identify as my favorites. Baseball Stars, definitely. Super Mario Brothers 2, which I actually beat before I beat Super Mario 1. Dragon Warrior, the greatest video game giveaway of all time. And Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, the game that has caused more memory wrinkles full of timing and codes in my brain tissue than any other game. When I was in college and the card reader in the dining hall was broken we were instructed to write our social security number on a sheet so that meals could later be deducted from our accounts. Because the notion of writing your social on a list for the Sodexo Marriott Corporation is insane and because it allowed me to save meals and stretch them longer, whenever we were asked to do this I would always list 007-37-3596 as mine. This of course is the code to jump straight to Tyson, minus the final 3. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out was so addictive that about 10 years ago I played the non-Tyson branded version at a birthday party at Barcade and a few days later went to the Nintendo Store in the East Village to buy a used Nintendo just so I could buy Punch-Out again.
Every fighter in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out has brief biographical information: height, weight, age, hometown. The player controlled character, Little Mac, is 17 years old, 5’7″ 107 lbs and hails from The Bronx, NY. When I first played the game I was 8 years old, so obviously all of the characters were much older than me, but when I played recently at 38 (I’m now 39) I noticed that I am now older than nearly every character in the game. Of the 11 fighters that Little Mac faces in the game, the only one that is definitely older than me now is Von Kaiser, at 42. King Hippo’s age is unknown, so for the purposes of this article I’m going to assume that he was named king as a child like an Egyptian pharaoh and is now in his early 30s, which is slightly past middle age for a hippo and probably also slightly past middle age for a man shaped like a hippo. For each opponent, I will consider whether given everything I know about each’s quirks as a fighter I could beat them in an actual boxing match.
- For the characters who appear in the game more than once I will be basing the assessment on each’s first appearance.
- Even though I am facing these characters in real life I get stars just as I would in the game that I can use for super punches.
- I should add that I have no boxing training and have never been in a fight.
39 years old, 6’3″, 210 pounds. I rarely if ever work out, and until I quit recently I was a smoker from age 18. I was a pretty good athlete until I stopped playing sports after high school, but I’ve retained basic coordination and can still perform fairly well in pick up sports.
Glass Joe, 38 years old
Glass Joe is an extremely passive and predictable fighter. When he deigns to go on offense he throws one of two punches, a jab or a hook. In the game it is very easy to slip in shots to accumulate stars, and if you counter the hook he throws after taunting you he can immediately be knocked down or out.
Could I have beaten Glass Joe at 38?
I believe that at 38 years old I could have beaten Glass Joe. For one thing, I possess a significant size advantage. I’m 5 inches taller than Joe and outweigh him by 100 pounds, so I have both a reach and power advantage. Even when I was in shape my reaction time was never particularly quick, but given how heavily Joe telegraphs his punches and how slow he is to follow through on them I think that even at 38 I would be able to counter and dodge.
My prediction: I KO Glass Joe in the first round
Piston Honda, 28 years old
Piston Honda has decent size and quickness. He’s 6’2, 174 lbs. He throws a straight jab, a slow hook, an uppercut, and the Honda Rush, which is a combination. He’s in very good shape.
Could I have beaten Piston Honda at 28?
I think that this one is a toss up. I believe it’s possible that I could beat Piston Honda at age 28 if I could avoid his uppercut. Glass Joe, Great Tiger, and Don Flamenco are the outliers when it comes to size; most of the fighters in the game, Honda included, are my size or larger. Piston Honda and I are essentially the same height. At age 28 I was around 190 pounds, so our weight difference is also negligible. When I was 28 I was in my second year of law school. I was mostly studying and drinking whiskey. I was going to the gym at the time, so my conditioning was better than it’s going to be at most points in this article. As long as I can slip in a few body blows while Honda is twitching his eyebrow to pick up stars I have a pretty solid chance. In addition, I know how to tell when the Honda Rush is coming and I think I could block the punches. I have much more confidence in my ability to block than I do in being able to dodge. It’s all going to come down to when he slips in uppercuts.
My Prediction: One of us gets KOed in the first round. If I can slip in enough super punches with the stars I collect I can beat him, but once he starts throwing uppercuts I’m in trouble. I don’t think this gets to a second round regardless.
Don Flamenco, 23 years old
Don Flamenco is built like a beanpole. He’s 6’1″ but only 152 lbs. Anybody familiar with the game knows that provided you can avoid his uppercut it’s possible to beat Flamenco very quickly. Flamenco’s other punch is a slow hook that can be easily avoided.
Could I have beaten Don Flamenco at 23?
I think so. I’d give myself the advantage in this fight. The thing that makes Flamenco dangerous is the speed with which he can throw an uppercut. I do think that if he connects I’m probably going down. When I was 23 I was doing what most young single people do post college: I was eating poorly. I am allergic to beer and I hadn’t learned how to drink whiskey yet so I wasn’t a big drinker. Despite the poor diet and lack of exercise, I had the natural energy and good health that 23 year olds possess. As I mentioned, I don’t have the best reaction time in the world. The good thing here is that I know what he throws and when he’s going to throw it. Provided I cheat into the dodge enough to get out of the way by the time the uppercut comes through I’m going to be okay. After that it’s just a matter of throwing punches continuously until he goes down, since he’ll remain stunned as long as I keep alternating. His uppercut does a lot of damage to Little Mac, but considering I outweighed Flamenco by 30 lbs at age 23 I think I could absorb a few of them if I needed to. For these reasons I think I’d prevail.
My Prediction: I KO Don Flamenco in the first round
King Hippo, age unknown (I’m guessing early 30s)
King Hippo is big, powerful, and slow. He throws two different punches, a jab and a big overhand club, plus his Hippo Rush where he hops around before raining overhand blows down. If you sock him in the mouth to stun him you can then punch him in the belly a bunch. One he falls he’s down for the count.
Could I have beaten King Hippo at age _?
Since there’s no way of knowing King Hippo’s actual age here I’m going to give myself the biggest advantage possible by choosing the age when I was in the best shape of my life, 17. When I was 17 I didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, and lifted weights every day. I was 170 lbs of mostly muscle.
This is the last character that I have much confidence I could beat. Hippo’s big issues are that he’s slow and he’s predictable. If Hippo were to catch me with one of his big, powerful overhand clubs I’d be done for, but at age 17, knowing what I know about Hippo’s tendencies, I’m fairly certain I could take him. I’d just wait for him to open his mouth and then pop him.
My prediction: I KO King Hippo in the first round
Great Tiger, 29 years old
If Don Flamenco is a beanpole, Great Tiger is the stalk of the plant that the beanpole is supporting. He’s 5’11 and only 132 lbs. Of course, what he lacks in size he’s makes up for in being able to perform fracking magic. He has a variety of punches he throws, including a jab, two different uppercuts, and oh yeah, did I mention a punch aided by MAGIC?!
Could I have beaten Great Tiger at Age 29?
Probably not. Everything I said about me at 28 in the Piston Honda entry applies here except that I stopped going to the gym. Beating Great Tiger depends entirely on avoiding him getting into the sequence where he can throw his Tiger Punch. If I could go on offense immediately and try to overwhelm him with my size I might have a shot. If he starts throwing uppercuts though he’s too quick for me to handle, and if he starts his Tiger Punch sequence he’s too disappearing and reappearing to punch me in the fracking head to handle.
My prediction: If I can overwhelm him I KO Great Tiger in the first round. More likely, he hurts me badly in the first round and Great Tiger wins in round two.
That’s going to be it for today. Check in on Friday when I discuss whether I could have beaten Soda Popinski, Bald Bull, The Sandman, Super Macho Man, or Mike Tyson when I was their ages (spoiler alert: probably not!).
What video game codes are seared into your brain for eternity? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.
If you want to buy something Punch-Out related there’s stuff all over the Internet to choose from. Here’s a decent looking sweatshirt though, if you’re interested. 80s Baby may receive a commission.