Video: The Minimum Punches To Beat NES Punch-Out!!

Please forgive the two exclamation points in the title. We writers are only given a limited number of exclamation points to use every month by the shadowy Punctuation Cabal, but Punch-Out!!’s title has two of them in it, so to properly stylize it I have to use two each time. Wasteful! Oops, there’s another one. I’m just going to save them from here on out. But anyway.

YouTuber Pap is a TAS speedrunner, meaning, he deals with absolutes. He knows the state of the machine, and isn’t limited by any puny human reaction times, but works by recording button sequences that can be played back infallibly. He asked a question: what’s the minimum number of punches needed to play through the main game of Punch-Out? The answer is 120, but since the game has significant randomness, it’s really unlikely.

He presents what is probably the definitive answer, but that’s not really the interesting thing about it. His video is a master class on the game’s state, how it determines knockdowns and knock-outs, and how it awards stars. Some interesting things revealed:

  1. If a fighter ever gets up on a count of 1, connecting with a single star punch can knock them back down immediately.
  2. Many star punches are awarded based on successful punches where the opponent is not stunned or knocked down. You get them on a cycle based on a count that differs with each fighter. Special timing doesn’t have anything to do with it; it’s if the hit was successful of not. Late punches after stunning give star punches because the opponent is no longer stunned, not because they’re late.
  3. On top of that, there are random stars that are awarded sometimes. This randomness is significant for the minimum punch count challenge. But these stars can only occur if you already have at least one star! Keeping a star in reserve actually helps you earn more stars more easily.
  4. You having full health affects multiple boxers in significant ways, including sometimes turning knockdowns into knockouts.
  5. Soda Popinski has a trick where, if you hold down while he’s preparing to uppercut, he delays. He can then be gut-punched, and if you do, your next star punch will always knock him down.
  6. In the second fight with Bald Bull, I always wondered why it was difficult for me to counter his bull charge at first. Turns out, it wasn’t just me. The “long” version of his charge has a shorter success window, of just four frames! The “short” version, which happens if you dodge the long version, however, has a window of 13 frames. It’s so long it’s almost a gimmie. (I am resisting the urge to expend another exclamation point there.)
  7. The greatest minimum number of punches needed to beat any opponent is a tie between King Hippo (an atypical opponent in many ways) and Mr. Sandman (not surprising at all) at 20.
  8. The lowest minimum number is one, which can be gotten from Glass Joe (of course), the rematch against Piston Honda (huh) and the rematch against Bald Bull (what?).
  9. Mike Tyson/Mr. Dream can be defeated in six punches.

SGDQ 2022: The Mario Sunshine Run That Went Wrong

Fanbyte posted a short piece about a run of Super Mario Sunshine at SGDQ 2022 that went wrong. The world-record holder, about 45 minutes in, made three consecutive mistakes on one of it’s “secret” levels, which are unforgiving tests of 3D platforming skill, all done without FLUDD, making them substantially more difficult.

Speedrunners playing Super Mario Sunshine, seeking to avoid the incessant prompts to save progress, in total adding about about 336 times 3 seconds to the time, usually play without a memory card inserted. But this removes an important safety net: without saving, if the player runs out of lives, the whole game could be lost, and that’s what happened to SB_Runs. Super Mario Sunshine is not a game that gives you a lot of extra lives if you aren’t going away for them, and the coin-star portion of the game, which can earn some extra lives, is usually saved until later.

I watched this live as it happened, and let me tell you, the pathos was thick in the air. Here is the run, cued up to just before the fatal moment:

SB_Runs rallied well, gamely starting over. There wasn’t enough time scheduled to finish, but he did manage to build back up to nearly 100 of the game’s 120 Shines before time ran out, and the crowd, both in the room at at home, cheered him on, offering to match every Shine he could earn with a donation to Doctors Without Borders.

But it’s an important reminder. It’s easy to watch speedruns, especially in a marathon setting, and assume that they’re all as casual as the runners make them look. Every so often though, the mask falls off, and the immense difficulty of what they’re doing shows through.

SGDQ 2022: Silly Block Review

A highlight of the Games Done Quick speedrunning marathons at roughly six months apart each year is AGDQ’s “Awful Block,” of memorably bad games, and SGDQ’s “Silly Block,” of extremely weird, mostly-indie games. SGDQ has just wrapped up, so let’s take a look back at Silly Block this year.

DEEEER Simulator (video is 42 minutes long):

Of the Goat Simulator school of weirdness, “DEEEER Simulator: Your Average Everyday Deer Game” is mostly a delivery mechanism for ludicrous visuals.

Mi Scusi (29 minutes):

The plot hangs together slightly better than DEEEER Simulator, but it’s largely the same kind of thing, bizarre settings and happenings within a physics engine, only this time you’re a drunken Italian man instead of a “deer.”

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion (52 minutes):

A bit more of an actual game than the previous two polygonbombs, Turnip Boy has a somewhat drier sense of humor.

Jimmie Johnson’s Anything With An Engine (28 minutes):

This one is actually a race between two players, in a cart racing game made with silly carts, in a mode where half the racers are driving one way around the track, and the rest drive the other way. (The race isn’t directly between them on the same tracks; they’re both playing their own systems. They’re racing in more of a speedrun fashion.)

Gourmet Warriors (39 minutes):

A side-scrolling brawler where you beat up weird thugs and robots that drop food, which you then make meals with. The ingredients you choose determines which stat boosts you receive! It’s less zany than the previous games, if that’s the way your tastes (heh) lead.

Thunder in Paradise (55 minutes but starts about 5m in):

“Imagine a game in the Baywatch extended universe where there’s a talking boat and Hulk Hogan is deus ex machina.” Actually the last episode of the 1994 TV show Thunder in Paradise converted, kind of, into a game for the Phillips CD-i. Most of the run is just video footage, but it was a really goofy TV show.

Incredible Crisis (1 hour 10 minutes):

Ah, this one is, somehow, not an indie title! Published by Titus for the original PlayStation, and with music from the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, Incredible Crisis is a minigame collection where success at the games helps to avert ridiculous dangers to one of four members of a family.

SGDQ 2022: Zelda Beta Cartridge “Triforce% run,” explained

Friday night at SGDQ 2022 the TAS Block show demonstrated something special. After a recording of a Portal 2 run that predictably demolished that game, they moved on to a rather more esoteric show.

In past shows, TAS Bot has some off some pretty ridiculous sights, using something called Arbitrary Code Execution (ACE). Essentially, using certain well-understood exploits, the runner (usually, but not always, a set of scripted inputs) writes a sequence of instructions into the machine’s RAM, and then transfers the code execution to that sequence, allowing for “arbitrary behavior,” meaning, almost anything that can be written into that RAM. TAS Bot at AGDQ 2014 wrote Pong into memory during a run of Super Mario World and ran it (6 minutes):

This technique has also been used to run a variant of Flappy Bird, and even a bona fide hex editor into the save RAM of Super Mario World, without even needing scripts, entirely by a human player. But this is beside the point.

In 2017, TASbot demolished the NES Classic, NES games and pulled off other very weird shenanigans (59 minutes).

There’s several of these videos, which I leave it to you to search out. They’re pretty easy to find on YouTube with the search terms “games done quick” and “tasbot”.

The point of this post is to bring you news of how players finally “obtained” the Triforce in Ocarina of Time after 23 years. The video of the show has yet to be uploaded to YouTube (it has been since I wrote this! scroll to the end), but until it shows up, Retro Game Mechanics EX has a video explaining how it was done (34 minutes):

SwankyBox has his own explainer video that’s 22 minutes. Of course, it’s all an elaborate show, but it runs on the Ocarina of Time beta cartridge found back in January of last year.


EDIT: Here it is, the whole 1-hour 13-minute epic!