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16 Hard-Hitting Facts About Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!

Nintendo
Nintendo

If you wanted to knock out Iron Mike in the late '80s, you only had one choice: Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Here’s everything you need to know about the addictive console version of the classic arcade game.

1. IT HAD MORE FEATURES THAN THE ARCADE VERSION 

While NES consoles didn’t have the technical capabilities of arcade units and required some game redesigns, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! picked up some bonuses on its trip into players’ homes, including animated cut scenes, background music for fights, and a new system for saving your progress (or jumping ahead) with passwords. 

2. BEFORE THE GAME’S OFFICIAL RELEASE, 10,000 JAPANESE FANS GOT A GOLD VERSION

Nintendoficionados who submitted high scores from 1987’s Golf U.S. Course Famicom Tournament received gold-colored Famicom (the Japanese equivalent of the NES) cartridges containing the game’s near-identical precursor, with Super Macho Man as its final foe. 

3. THE NES VERSION GAVE THE PUNCH-OUT!! PROTAGONIST A BACKSTORY 

The game’s manual establishes that Little Mac—a 17-year-old, 107-pound kid from the Bronx, and the game’s hero—came under Doc Louis’ wing from a chance meeting, after which the coach entered him into the World Video Boxing Association. 

The instructions also establish that Super Macho Man, who serves as the ‘end boss’ in the Super Punch-Out!! arcade game and the NES Gold version, is a 27-year-old from Hollywood, Calif. His glitzy background explains trash talk like "I work on my tan harder than I'll have to work on you," "I don't smoke... But tonight I'm gonna smoke you," and "My body is just so totally cool!" 

4. IT ALSO TONED DOWN ONE OF THE ARCADE VERSION’S STEREOTYPES 

For Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, the name of Russian pugilist Vodka Drunkenski was changed to Soda Popinski for the sake of young American players. However, Soda’s catchphrases still recalled his earlier identity, with quips like “I'm going to make you feel punch drunk” and “I can't drive, so I'm gonna walk all over you.” 

5. MARIO’S CAMEO AS A REFEREE WASN’T PLANNED 

Game creator Genyo Takeda has said that he didn’t intend for the Nintendo poster boy to be in the final version of the game and that he added Mario as referee during development without permission from the company. When nobody noticed Mario’s presence during the final proofing phase, the plumber added “boxing referee” to his resume.  

6. IT WAS THOUGHT TO CAUSE THE GAMING-RELATED INJURY “NINTENDO NECK”

For a spell, parents and medical professionals suspected games like Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! and Super Mario Bros. were the cause of “Nintendo Neck,” or acute non-traumatic torticollis, because they kept youngsters craning their necks in a fixed position for long periods while sitting or lying down. In 1989 chiropractor Neil Cohen told the Philadelphia Daily News that this prolonged strain “can cause permanent damage.” 

The paper reported that Nintendo spokeswoman Karen Peck “said company officials laughed when she asked them about the affliction.” Peck added, “They have no comment. They haven’t heard about it.” 

7. TYSON’S LICENSING DEAL BEGAN BEFORE HE WON THE WORLD TITLE

While Tyson went on to become an iconic champ, he hadn’t won his first world belt when Nintendo licensed his name and likeness for the game. Nintendo of America president Minoru Arakawa attended one of Tyson's bouts prior to his 1986 victory over Trevor Berbick that claimed the World Boxing Council belt. Arakawa was impressed and signed Tyson for Nintendo at a pre-world champ price. Nintendo let the contract lapse before his subsequent legal troubles. 

8. EXCEPT FOR KING HIPPO, THE CHARACTERS ARE MOSTLY BODY DOUBLES 

Many of the game’s character sprites are used for two characters each, with changes made to the colors, head, and special moves only. Mike Tyson’s sprite was used for Mr. Dream, who replaced him as the series’ final Dream Fight opponent after Tyson’s contract expired. 

9. THE GAME DEFINED THE WORLD VIDEO BOXING ASSOCIATION’S RULES 

As a parody of boxing’s real-world governing bodies, the WVBA invoked a number of rules tailored to console fights during its reign in the late ‘80s. WVBA boxers were subject to final judgment by referees, a loss-inducing time limit (if they were Little Mac), and the three knockdown rule. In 2009, it began allowing boxers who pass the 100-loss mark to wear headgear during fights. 

10. THERE WAS A HIDDEN FOURTH CIRCUIT WITH NO SECOND CHANCES 

The wallops didn’t end with the Minor, Major, and World Circuits. By entering the code 135 792 4680, holding SELECT, and pressing A and B together, players could open a “Another World Circuit,” a ‘secret’ mode of play in which the order of fighters is different and all bets are off. 

After starting with King Hippo, Little Mac works his way through Great Tiger, Bald Bull, Piston Honda, Soda Popinski, Don Flamenco, Mr. Sandman, Super Macho Man, and finally Tyson himself, but is forced to retire automatically upon any loss. 

11. DOC LOUIS REPS FOR LITTLE MAC BUT GIVES NINTENDO LIP SERVICE, TOO 

Keeping it classy, Doc Louis contributes to the game’s ringside banter with "Dancing like a fly, bite like a mosquito!" and less strategic counsel like “Join the Nintendo Fun Club today, Mac!” 

12. THE COMPANY INSERTED OTHER SELF-PROMOS AND FAN NODS 

Entering the code 800 422 2602—Nintendo’s customer service phone number at the time—in the main menu of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! would set off a busy signal. Two Genie Codes for the game were similarly self-referential: the code SAYZEY would trigger Mario Bros. mode and give him a white hat, while PTTZZZ would render gameplay in classic Game Boy black-and-grey. 

13. DESPITE BEING AVAILABLE FOR JUST 3 YEARS, IT WAS STILL A TOP SELLER FOR NES 

Although it was only marketed between 1987 and 1990, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! has still clocked roughly 2 million game units sold, making it the 11th-most popular NES game in the console’s U.S. history. It also claimed the ninth spot on GamesRadar’s “Best NES Games of All Time” list, which praised the game’s developers for “disguising a brilliant puzzle game as a sports game.” 

"The holy grail of a video game is easy to play, hard to master," said Cashmere Productions game developer Jeremy Pope to ESPN in a retrospective on the game. "Punch-Out!! nailed it by utilizing a set of mechanics that never changed, having a set of characters with cool backstories and making the gameplay challenging. In grade school, I set up a camcorder and videotaped myself beating Tyson so I could prove it to my buddies." 

14. THIS YEAR, SOMEONE BEAT IT BLINDFOLDED 

In February of 2015, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! fan Jack Wedge released a video of himself beating the game 14-0 while blindfolded, making him the first person on record to do so. 

15. Tyson Claims He Never Played the Game Until 2013

In 2013, Tyson took a beating from Glass Joe in front of Fox Sports 1's cameras.

16. THE CHARACTERS LIVE ON IN OTHER GAMES (ESPECIALLY KING HIPPO)

After receiving added depth in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, Little Mac, Doc Louis, and other members of the gang were ready to make appearances in games outside the franchise and throughout pop culture. King Hippo has become a legend in his own right. In addition to being featured in the animated series Captain N: The Game Master, comics based on the series, and various other games, he was ranked the 64th-greatest villain ever by IGN and helped define “unforgettable” bosses for Destructoid because of his unassuming appearance—specifically, the “shame” of being beaten by him “drove [the writer] to drink.”

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6 Surprising Facts About Nintendo's Animal Crossing

by Ryan Lambie

Animal Crossing is one of the most unusual series of games Nintendo has ever produced. Casting you as a newcomer in a woodland town populated by garrulous and sometimes eccentric creatures, Animal Crossing is about conversation, friendship, and collecting things rather than competition or shooting enemies. It’s a formula that has grown over successive generations, with the 3DS version now one of the most popular games available for that system—which is all the more impressive, given the game’s obscure origins almost 15 years ago. Here are a few things you might not have known about the video game.

1. ITS INSPIRATION CAME FROM AN UNLIKELY PLACE.

By the late 1990s, Katsuya Eguchi had already worked on some of Nintendo’s greatest games. He’d designed the levels for the classic Super Mario Bros 3. He was the director of Star Fox (or Star Wing, as it was known in the UK), and the designer behind the adorable Yoshi’s Story. But Animal Crossing was inspired by Eguchi’s experiences from his earlier days, when he was a 21-year-old graduate who’d taken the decisive step of moving from Chiba Prefecture, Japan, where he’d grown up and studied, to Nintendo’s headquarters in Kyoto.

Eguchi wanted to recreate the feeling of being alone in a new town, away from friends and family. “I wondered for a long time if there would be a way to recreate that feeling, and that was the impetus behind Animal Crossing,” Eguchi told Edge magazine in 2008. Receiving letters from your mother, getting a job (from the game’s resident raccoon capitalist, Tom Nook), and gradually filling your empty house with furniture and collectibles all sprang from Eguchi’s memories of first moving to Kyoto.

2. IT WAS ORIGINALLY DEVELOPED FOR THE N64.

Although Animal Crossing would eventually become best known as a GameCube title—to the point where many assume that this is where the series began—the game actually appeared first on the N64. First developed for the ill-fated 64DD add-on, Animal Crossing (or Doubutsu no Mori, which translates to Animal Forest) was ultimately released as a standard cartridge. But by the time Animal Crossing emerged in Japan in 2001, the N64 was already nearing the end of its lifespan, and was never localized for a worldwide release.

3. TRANSLATING THE GAME FOR AN INTERNATIONAL AUDIENCE WAS A DIFFICULT TASK.

The GameCube version of Animal Crossing was released in Japan in December 2001, about eight months after the N64 edition. Thanks to the added capacity of the console’s discs, they could include characters like Tortimer or Blathers that weren’t in the N64 iteration, and Animal Crossing soon became a hit with Japanese critics and players alike.

Porting Animal Crossing for an international audience would prove to be a considerable task, however, with the game’s reams of dialogue and cultural references all requiring careful translation. But the effort that writers Nate Bihldorff and Rich Amtower put into the English-language version would soon pay off; Nintendo’s bosses in Japan were so impressed with the additional festivals and sheer personality present in the western version of Animal Crossing that they decided to have that version of the game translated back into Japanese. This new version of the game, called Doubutsu no Mori e+, was released in 2003.

4. K.K. SLIDER IS BASED ON ON THE GAME'S COMPOSER.

One of Animal Crossing’s most recognizable and popular characters is K.K. Slider, the laidback canine musician. He’s said to be based, both in looks and name, on Kazumi Totaka, the prolific composer and voice actor who co-wrote Animal Crossing’s music. In the Japanese version of Animal Crossing, K.K. Slider is called Totakeke—a play on the real musician’s name. K.K. Slider’s almost as prolific as Totaka, too: Animal Crossing: New Leaf on the Nintendo 3DS contains a total of 91 tracks performed by the character.

5. ONE CHARACTER HAS BEEN KNOWN TO MAKE PLAYERS CRY.

A more controversial character than K.K. Slider, Mr. Resetti is an angry mole created to remind players to save the game before switching off their console. And the more often players forget to save their game, the angrier Mr. Resetti gets. Mr. Resetti’s anger apparently disturbed some younger players, though, as Animal Crossing: New Leaf’s project leader Aya Kyogoku revealed in an interview with Nintendo's former president, the late Satoru Iwata.

“We really weren't sure about Mr. Resetti, as he really divides people," Kyogoku said. “Some people love him, of course, but there are others who don't like being shouted at in his rough accent.”

“It seems like younger female players, in particular, are scared,” Iwata agreed. “I've heard that some of them have even cried.”

To avoid the tears, Mr. Resetti plays a less prominent role in Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and only appears if the player first builds a Reset Surveillance Centre. Divisive though he is, Mr. Resetti’s been designed and written with as much care as any of the other characters in Animal Crossing; his first name’s Sonny, he has a brother called Don and a cousin called Vinnie, and he prefers his coffee black with no sugar.

6. THE SERIES IS STILL EVOLVING.

Since its first appearance in 2001, the quirky and disarming Animal Crossing has grown to encompass toys, a movie, and no fewer than four main games (or five if you count the version released for the N64 as a separate entry). All told, the Animal Crossing games have sold more than 30 million copies, and the series is still growing. In late 2017, the mobile title Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp was released for iOS and Android. It's a big step for the franchise, as Nintendo is famously selective about which of its series get a mobile makeover. A game once inspired by the loneliness of moving to a new town has now become one of Nintendo’s most successful and beloved franchises.

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Pop Culture
The Strange Hidden Link Between Silent Hill and Kindergarten Cop
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

by Ryan Lambie

At first glance, Kindergarten Cop and Silent Hill don't seem to have much in common—aside from both being products of the 1990s. At the beginning of the decade came Kindergarten Cop, the hit comedy directed by Ivan Reitman and starring larger-than-life action star Arnold Schwarzenegger. At the decade’s end came Silent Hill, Konami’s best-selling survival horror game that sent shivers down PlayStation owners’ spines.

As pop culture artifacts go, they’re as different as oil and water. Yet eagle-eyed players may have noticed a strange hidden link between the video game and the goofy family comedy.

In Silent Hill, you control Harry Mason, a father hunting for his daughter Cheryl in the eerily deserted town of the title. Needless to say, the things Mason uncovers are strange and very, very gruesome. Early on in the game, Harry stumbles on a school—Midwich Elementary School, to be precise—which might spark a hint of déjà vu as soon as you approach its stone steps. The building’s double doors and distinctive archway appear to have been taken directly from Kindergarten Cop’s Astoria Elementary School.

Could it be a coincidence?

Well, further clues can be found as you venture inside. As well as encountering creepy gray children and other horrors, you’ll notice that its walls are decorated with numerous posters. Some of those posters—including a particularly distinctive one with a dog on it—also decorated the halls of the school in Kindergarten Cop.

Do a bit more hunting, and you’ll eventually find a medicine cabinet clearly modeled on one glimpsed in the movie. Most creepily of all, you’ll even encounter a yellow school bus that looks remarkably similar to the one in the film (though this one has clearly seen better days).

Silent Hill's references to the movie are subtle—certainly subtle enough for them to pass the majority of players by—but far too numerous to be a coincidence. When word of the link between game and film began to emerge in 2012, some even joked that Konami’s Silent Hill was a sequel to Kindergarten Cop. So what’s really going on?

When Silent Hill was in early development back in 1996, director Keiichiro Toyama set out to make a game that was infused with influences from some of his favorite American films and TV shows. “What I am a fan of is occult stuff and UFO stories and so on; that and I had watched a lot of David Lynch films," he told Polygon in 2013. "So it was really a matter of me taking what was on my shelves and taking the more horror-oriented aspects of what I found.”

A scene from 'Silent Hill'
Divine Tokyoska, Flickr

In an interview with IGN much further back, in 2001, a member of Silent Hill’s staff also stated, “We draw our influences from all over—fiction, movies, manga, new and old.”

So while Kindergarten Cop is perhaps the most outlandish movie reference in Silent Hill, it’s by no means the only one. Cafe5to2, another prominent location in the game, is taken straight from Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers.

Elsewhere, you might spot a newspaper headline which references The Silence Of The Lambs (“Bill Skins Fifth”). Look carefully, and you'll also find nods to such films as The Shining, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, and 12 Monkeys.

Similarly, the town’s streets are all named after respected sci-fi and horror novelists, with Robert Bloch, Dean Koontz, Ray Bradbury, and Richard Matheson among the most obvious. Oh, and Midwich, the name of the school? That’s taken from the classic 1957 novel The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, twice adapted for the screen as The Village Of The Damned in 1960 and 1995.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in 'Kindergarten Cop'
Universal Pictures

The reference to Kindergarten Cop could, therefore, have been a sly joke on the part of Silent Hill’s creators—because what could be stranger than modeling something in a horror game on a family-friendly comedy? But there could be an even more innocent explanation: that Kindergarten Cop spends so long inside an ordinary American school simply gave Toyama and his team plenty of material to reference when building their game.

Whatever the reasons, the Kindergarten Cop reference ranks highly among the most strange and unexpected film connections in the history of the video game medium. Incidentally, the original movie's exteriors used a real school, John Jacob Astor Elementary in Astoria, Oregon. According to a 1991 article in People Magazine, the school's 400 fourth grade students were paid $35 per day to appear in Kindergarten Cop as extras.

It’s worth pointing out that the school is far less scary a place than the video game location it unwittingly inspired, and to the best of our knowledge, doesn't have an undercover cop named John Kimble serving as a teacher there, either.

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