Boxing is super fracking hard. I went into it thinking "Oh, this is going to be so fun and go by so quickly," and while it did go by pretty fast, by the end of it I was left feeling like I was going to barf—and I hadn't even sparred again anyone! I liken it mostly to the cut screens in this game where you have Lil Mac (your PC) running behind his trainer in a pink jump suit along what I take to be the Hudson. This was a pretty unnecessary take up of space, when considered from an actual game design point of view, but one that made this so much more realistic to me now that I've tried boxing. They didn't need to add it, but ultimately boxing is basically only that kind of training—the ratio of fighting to training is skewed on the side of circuit training and other less fun things than hitting another person or a bag.
Anyway, that is what got me thinking about it—so let's get into actual game play for those of you that haven't played before. You control Lil Mac, a tiny shrimp of a boxer as he moves along through the professional circuit of boxers to fight again the ultimate, Mike Tyson. All of the other boxers that Mac fights besides Tyson against are fictional. Mac is pretty limited in terms of punches and moves—he has an uppercut which he can only use after earning points in the form of stars (you can earn up to three), as well as left and right jabs and body blows. These add up to approximately nothing when fighting against the other NPCs.
Along with stars, and the expected health meter, Mac is also equipped with a heart meter. The heart meter essentially tracks how much stamina Mac has left and, if dropped to zero, the character will turn bright pink, and be unable to make any moves—presumably from exhaustion. The hearts will drop by three if he is hit by another player, or by one every time he uses a move. You can regain hearts by avoiding attacks from your opponents in the ring.
Rounds can end by knock out, technical knock out, by decision, or by getting knocked down three times in a match. For each loss, you basically always have a way to get back up to the top to try to beat Tyson. You will either be allotted a free "retry," or you will have to fight your way back up the ranks of NPCs in order to regain your position as reigning champ. In the event that you lose to Mike Tyson, though, you get an automatic game over. Womp womp.
Never played this game? Interested in boxing, but not in having your ass kicked by a trainer? You can play Punch-out here. Happy gaming!