You might think that gamers have combed through all the secret and available strategies Mike Tyson’s Punchout!! (also normal Punch!!) since its original release on the NES in 1987. You’d be wrong, though. This weekend, news first began to spread about a previously unnoticed background Easter Egg that can help players with the split second it takes for some crucial knockout punches.
YouTuber midwesternhousewives’ three-minute video explainer lays out the details, but in short, the newly discovered secret hinges on a man with a beard sitting in the bottom row of the audience onscreen, to the left of the screen. If you look closely at his face during the first fight with Piston Honda and the second fight with Bald Bull, this one audience member will duck a little just when you can deliver an instant, knockout punch.
While the general timing for those one-hit knockouts has been known for decades, this is the first time anyone has published the existence of this specific timing clue. The timing of the animation could theoretically be a coincidence, but since the man doesn’t seem to react at any other point in the game – and consistently ducks when the knockout opportunity presents itself – it seems highly unlikely.
The Punch!! creators at Nintendo have revealed and suggested similar Easter eggs with backgrounds in the past. In a 2009 Iwata Asks interview, Nintendo developers Makoto Wada and Kensuke Tanabe discussed the game’s secrets with the late Satoru Iwata.
Wada: This is a great opportunity, so I want to say something. In Punch!!, the game gives you lots of hints about the effective timing of punches. There is also a big boxer named Bald Bull in the NES version and a light flashes to the right of the audience when he attacks [in his first fight]. If you hit when it flashes, you will get a blow to the body.
Tanabe: What? Real?
Wada: No one has known that for about 22 years…
Wada: I wondered when I would get a chance to tell people that.
Iwata: You’ve kept that information for 22 years since its release. (laughs)
Wada: Now that I had the chance. (laughs) There are a lot of hidden elements in the NES version.
With this new discovery, and Wada’s evocative words from that old interview, many in the gaming community are looking for other possibilities. Punch!! secrets that have been lurking in plain sight for decades. Between this and the recently discovered debugging code in old Mortal Kombat arcade cabinets, we’re beginning to think there might be unfathomed depths in practically all of our favorite gaming classics. Hey, pass that on to me RC Pro Am cartridge… I have some research to do.