Underrated Retro – Power Punch II – The Lost Punch Out Sequel

Power Punch II is a boxing video game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1992, and it has an incredibly interesting back-story.

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After the release of their hit, “Punch-Out!!”, Krome Studios Melbourne began developing an official sequel starring Mike Tyson with manager Don King. Originally titled, “Mike Tyson’s Intergalactic Power Punch”, the game was supposed to take the series into outer space where Tyson would participate in an intergalactic boxing tournament against various space aliens.

The game’s production ran into immediate trouble, however, following Tyson’s 1991 incarceration for the rape of Desiree Washington. Beam changed the Tyson character’s name to Mark Tyler and modified King but did little to change Tyson’s in-game character sprite.

Nintendo saw the game and disliked it, refusing to publish it due to lack of quality. Eventually, American Softworks Corp. published the title, and the game was released on the NES as, “Power Punch II”, despite the fact that it was the first Power Punch title.

The story-line of the game is something like this:  Mark “Tough Guy” Tyler (*ahem* NOT Mike Tyson) is the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world, with an Olympic gold medal and a 33-0 (30 KO) record to his claim. After knocking out another opponent with ease, Tyler and his manager taunt the world by saying that no one can stop him. However, the broadcast is picked up far from Earth in the outer reaches of the universe by an alien boxing promoter for the Intergalactic Boxing Federation. The promoter decides to accept Tyler’s challenge that he can beat “anyone”. Thus Tyler is brought into the throes of the universe to compete against the best boxers in the universe and defend his earthly title.

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The game-play in Power Punch II is extremely shoddy.  Let’s start with the controls:

Fans of the early Punch Out games will feel at home with the controls.  However, that feeling doesn’t last long.  The game has the same basic scheme, face buttons to punch, and you have the ability to dodge left and right and cover up.  However, the uppercut button is now mapped to “select” instead of “start”.  Not a big deal, but the uppercut seems extremely gimped this time around.  Not only that, but the dodging is squishy and just doesn’t feel right.  The first Punch Out game was snappy and quick to react, Power Punch is too slow to really feel good.

The presentation and level design in this game is almost non-existent.  It starts off with a rough cut-scene explaining the story, then a bland tale-of-the-tape screen before you go into the level.  The boxing ring/arena in this game is really odd, in the sense that it doesn’t resemble one.  In every level, you look to be inside a different colored bar with a few bartenders and patrons yelling at you.  There is no referee or crowd.  I’m not sure why this wasn’t included, as I feel in the first Punch Out! game the presentation was top notch.

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Along with the great presentation of Punch Out!, also came a really memorable musical score and sounds effects.  Every character in Punch Out had a few sounds and cries of their own.  I still hum the theme to the “pink-jumpsuit-jogging” theme every so often.  Power Punch II had nothing of the sort.  The music is boring and doesn’t have many tracks, and the sound is extremely generic.

The one quality of Power Punch II that excels is the challenge.  It is an extremely tough boxing game with unpredictable patterns at first.  Once you can figure out the characters, it can be as predictable as the first Punch Out! However, it is an extremely steep learning curve.  The final boss is unforgiving and you can die in seconds if you aren’t prepared.  Overall, an extremely hard game.

Even though Power Punch II is one tough beast, that still doesn’t make up for it’s extreme lack of overall quality.  I have to agree with Nintendo on this one!  Would Mike Tyson have been better off with this game attached to his name?  You decide!

Thanks for watching.

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