I remain fascinated to this day by the video games of yore, especially the hallowed 8- and 16-bit eras, where programmers designed experiences to be brutal and random and never held your hand through an opening tutorial. You were instead catapulted immediately into the deep end of the pool, and only by your own intelligence, memory, twitchy response reflexes, and sheer luck and repetition did you survive or progress. But what a reward it was, to battle to the end of your quest and thrown down with the barrell-wielding monkey, fire-breathing dragon, or heavyweight champion of the world professional boxer and emerge victorious.
To that point, I must have spent countless hours playing and mastering the NES classic Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! Part sports simulation, part racist cartoon stereotype that could never exist today, and part puzzle/strategy challenge, the key to facing each boxer as you climbed the ladder and rankings was to determine his secret “tell,” that moment when he would be particularly vulnerable to a surprise left-hook or well-timed counterpunch. Then, it was then a matter of rhythm. Look for the winking eye or blinking sprite and hit the correct button strokes in combination to exert maximum damage, while ducking or blocking to defend against your opponent’s other, less-important attacks. Over time, I had most guys down to a science, and could make it all the way through the game, on a good day, without even taking so much as a single hit. Yes, Punch-Out!! was definitely my game of choice when I wanted to display my mad gaming skillz to friends and family.
And apparently, I was not the only one. A whole cottage industry of speed runs and world-record chases exists in the video game industry today. It’s not enough to merely complete a quest, now a game must be so thoroughly mastered (or “hacked,” as the case might be), that it’s also finished in the least amount of time possible, down to the very millisecond. People spend days, weeks, years mastering this art, and when the perfect play-though comes around, it’s quite the thrill to witness.
Which brings us to this recent accomplishment, perhaps the greatest run-through of Punch-Out!! possible. Watch as the player establishes world record after world record on each individual boxer, while also going for the overall “beat everyone combined by X” time record as well. By the time he squares off against the formidable Mike Tyson, the dude has nearly a minute to spare in his back pocket, all but guaranteeing he can take his time with the World Champion and still come out on top.
Damn, and I thought I was good at this silly game. Massive kudos to “Summoning Salt” for one of the most impressive feats I’ve ever seen.