Remaking Punch-Out on iPhone with Mike Tyson – Main Event

Even Mike Tyson is making his way into mobile gaming, as his branded app, Mike Tyson – Main Event, has risen rapidly up the Apple free iPhone app charts into the top ten places.

Developed by a small outfit called RockLive, the game is going to seem awfully familiar. That’s because the app is essentially Punch-Out, and even the controls are strikingly similar.

It’s still fun though, and has about the same difficulty as the original. For those unfamiliar with the Punch-Out franchise, players take on the role of a no-name boxer and slowly work their way up to the championship match by defeating one bizarre opponent after another. Each boxer one faces comes with their own unique visual style, abilities, and telegraphs that users must adapt to in order to beat.

In Main Event, players take on the role of Sammy, a boxer that looks a little too similar to original Punch-Out’s avatar. Players box against opponents using Nintendo-like controls with a pair of virtual buttons to punch left or right. There’s also a virtual directional pad to dodge, block, or uppercut. As players attack, stamina is consumed, and can only be regenerated by actively dodging an opponent’s punch.

This is the primary gimmick in the game. Each enemy will throw different attacks or combinations. However, each opponent has a “tell” like in poker. They telegraph their upcoming move somehow, giving the user a second to react.

Frustratingly, some of the same flaws of the original Punch-Out games find there way here as well. And that is that the time between a telegraph and the actual punch will often not be enough for many players to react in time. This means a lot of losing. What adds to the challenge even more is that many opponents will also require the user to dodge an entire attack sequence before they can be hit even once (otherwise they will block everything).

To compensate for difficulty, players are granted two types of special punches to help even the playing field, players will occasional receive a “special punch” should they be doing well in the fight that will do significant damage. However, if they’re looking to spend some extra money, they can buy an in-game currency called RockCash and use it to buy “power punches” that can be activated at any time. It can be purchased in quantities for $150,000 or $500,000 for $0.99 or $2.99 respectively. This currency is also earned in-game by winning bouts.

In-app purchases aren’t the only monetization route for the game. The game also has advertising.

Aside from the originality issue, one of the biggest flaws with Main Event is that the game doesn’t actually tell the user the game mechanics from the start. It explains a lot of them, but not how to get back up after being knocked down. Players win by knocking down the opponent for a ten count, or knocking them down multiple times for a TKO. The same applies for the user. Players are supposed to tap the stars that circle the user’s avatar’s head when knocked down, but the app is a bit tight lipped about this particular rule. Beyond this, the dialogue between characters is a bit cheesy and scrolls onto the screen letter by letter.

Main Event is integrated to Game Center with leaderboards and achievements. Users can also log into their Facebook or Twitter account and post or tweet their victories. It’s also worth noting that RockLive has plans to evolve the game using crowdsourcing, allowing fants to suggest what celebrities, beyond Tyson, enter the ring.

Overall, Mike Tyson – Main Event is a decently fun game that’s doing pretty well. Since the game is, for all intents and purposes, an iOS version of Punch-Out, the nostalgia factor almost certainly plays a role. Filled with quirky characters and simple game play, we have minimal complaints about the title. If nothing else, the game makes for a good time killer for older Punch-Out fans.