Punch Out Arcade Glass JoeIt’s 1984 and Nintendo releases the innovative dual-screen arcade boxing game “Punch-Out!!” The great Genyo Takeda was nice enough to involve me in its iterative design process. I look back on that fondly because he extended the proverbial “olive branch” in a time when it wasn’t common to do so.

In early development, there were a couple issues that would affect playability. One was the players character. If he was a solid form, he would visually impair the view of the opponent. Important because an opponents appearance and behavior were cues to their fighting style. This was important, as players could anticipate an opponents patterns.

Mr. Takeda sent printed images of wireframe fighters, depicting a variety of options. I recall them being blue and green and varying degrees of wireframe complexity. Too much and it was hard to see the opponent. Too little and you couldn’t see muscle definition of your own fighter.

Punch-Out adThe camera angle also would affect playability. A straight-on view better engaged players, because they felt like they were in the fight. But positioning the players fighter more left or right allowed a better view of the opponent. The straight-on view encouraged players to use more side-to-side dodging. Mr. Arakawa was an agreeable man, providing you could provide good reason for your decisions.

The voice-over was recorded in Japan, and I did a little script editing. Punch-Out was an early pioneer in the use of synthesized speech in video games. I believe it was the first video game to use a voice-over announcer in a sporting event.

PunchOutPhotoshoot1LOFrom humble beginnings, we had a start-up mentality and we all pitched in wherever we could. Our advertising manager Debra liked my cover concept for what became the two-sided sell sheet (see above). We staged it at a Seattle boxing ring with a real boxer and referee. Everyone else in the photo were NOA employees. We all dressed up and had a blast that day.

With the Champ

At the 1984 ASI Show Nintendo debuted Punch-Out!! Even back then gaming companies looked to celebrities to help promote products. We had the great pleasure of working with boxing’s then heavyweight champion, Larry Holmes.

PunchOut ASI 1984_Lo

The 1984 ASI Show was the launch of Punch-Out! Here Nintendo staff poses with The Champ Larry Holmes, Hall of Fame trainer Eddie Futch, business manager Dick Lovell and security man Clifford Ramson. Good times!

What a memorable experience it was! After the show the Champ and his entourage took time to relax in our suite. Below is a photo of him hamming it up with Howard Lincoln, then Senior VP. Howard later became Chairman of Nintendo of America and is currently the Chairman and CEO of the Seattle Mariners baseball team. Howard’s career is an amazing story. That’s me in the middle photo and the right photo is Larry, Genyo Takeda and key team members.

Larry Holmes, Genyo Takeda and Punch Out team members

Larry Holmes, Genyo Takeda and Punch Out team members

Howard and Larry LO

Howard Lincoln and Larry Holmes

Larry and Jerry LO

Jerry and The Champ

6 Responses to Spotlight: Punch-Out!! Arcade Game

  1. ZaneDev says:

    Awesome piece of history great stuff Jerry!

  2. Mark Hoff says:

    Hello,
    I was at the 1984 “ASI” show in Chicago where Punchout was debuted with Larry Holmes on hand. He was handing out trophies if you could go a few rounds in the game. Are you sure it was the AMOA show? I have the ID badge from the ASI show to confirm the history.
    It was awesome to meet him, none the less
    thank you.

  3. MaximRecoil says:

    Do you know the guy’s name who recorded the announcer lines for Punch-Out? The same voice is in Super Punch-Out. Did they bring him back for another recording session, or did they do it all at once? Speaking of Super Punch-Out, the one I played as a kid in the late ’80s said that Super Macho Man was from Venice Beach, California. The machine I have now, and all other machines I’ve seen or asked the owners about, as well as the ROM dumps in MAME, all just say he’s from “U.S.A”. There were a few gameplay differences too. Do you know anything about the “Venice Beach” version of Super Punch-Out?

    • Jerry Momoda says:

      First of all, I apologize for the delay in answering you. The voice of the announcer in Punch-Out is Don James. Back then he was the production manager, now a Executive VP Operations at Nintendo. I moved on in ’85, before Super Punch-Out. That said, I’m certain Super Punch-Out required another recording session. No one knew how successful the original would be. BTW, Genyo Takeda received a Lifetime Achievement at the 2018 Dice Awards. He’s had an amazing career at Nintendo and is responsible for many more successes than the Punch-Out series. You can watch the presentation at: https://bit.ly/2GHlaQX

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