Review: Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream (3DS eShop / NES)


With ten NES titles originally released on the 3DS for Ambassadors only, it wasn't much of a stretch to expect the first ten put up for sale to be the same games. But we've already received a title that actually wasn't part of the Ambassador batch, and Nintendo has picked one of the best possible games.

Originally released in 1987, Punch-Out!! was one of two games developed by Nintendo to cater exclusively to western audiences, despite being made by one of their Japanese teams (the other is a little game you might know called StarTropics). In Japan, Punch-Out!! could initially only be obtained as reward for participating in a gaming tournament; it was only after its western success that Nintendo released it for sale in its home country, but it seems like its initial assumption was right, as it never really became popular there.

The unique thing about the Punch-Out!! series as a whole is that although the games are about boxing, none of them can really be called fighting games — they're probably closer to being puzzle games. Every opponent has a specific pattern of attacks, so early on it's as simple as figuring out the pattern and securing an easy victory. If you want to be the very best though, it's not as simple as just dodging attacks and then attacking while the opponents can't defend themselves; you can also interrupt attacks completely, sometimes earning you stars to use for extra powerful uppercuts.

Some opponents can even be knocked down instantly by hitting them in a specific way during a specific moment. But of course, the further you get, the harder it gets, as enemy attacks will come out much faster giving you less time to react, there will be fewer opportunities to attack back and there are fewer stars to earn. Mr. Dream, the final opponent, fittingly takes the cake for one of the toughest ever opponents in a Nintendo game — his attacks are lightning quick and most of them will knock you down in one hit.

Another memorable thing about the game is its colourful lineup of enemy opponents, all of whom have various amusing lines of dialogue between rounds, from the glass-jawed Frenchman Glass Joe to the Russian Soda Popinski, who was originally literally drunk (and called Vodka Drunkenski) but had his beer changed to soda pop for the NES game, making all his lines even more hilarious.

The game also features some very catchy music, most of it in the form of intro themes for opponents, and although you'll be hearing the main fighting theme a ton, it never seems to get annoying and will likely be stuck in your head for days after playing the game.


Beating 14 opponents in the main game will take a while — even with the 3DS Virtual Console's restore points — and after you've managed to best Mr. Dream you'll receive a password that allows you to play an extra-hard hidden circuit. Overall, it's a fairly simple to understand game, but it's actually surprisingly complex, difficult and above all, very entertaining.

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