Super Smash Bros. is any Nintendo fan’s dream game. From characters to stages, to music, to everything else, Smash is the ultimate celebration of Nintendo’s past and present. But what about Smash‘s future? That’s what Challenger Approaching is all about.
Every weekend, Chris London and I will present our thoughts on new characters, stages, items, and anything else for the next installment in the Super Smash Bros. series. Here at Gamnesia, we assemble in-depth profile for every character. For the second entry in this ambitious series, we’ve assembled a profile for Little Mac, the tiny boxer and poster boy for Punch-Out!! But don’t think our analysis stops at just the character—there’s plenty more to be seen. Keep reading to see why Little Mac has earned a spot among Nintendo’s finest in the next game’s roster and what his inclusion would do for Super Smash Bros.
Little Mac is the shining star of Nintendo’s acclaimed Punch-Out!! series, first released to huge success in 1984. While the original title from the golden age of the American arcade featured a nameless green-haired boxer fighting several quirky characters for the championship, the NES edition of the game introduced a new, non-generic protagonist named Little Mac. Little Mac has since become the primary star of the Punch-Out!! series, even appearing as an Assist Trophy in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, called upon by fighters for help in times of need.
Measuring only 4’8” and 107 lb., this dinky Bronx boxer was introduced as a true underdog. Pitted against hulking opponents like
Vodka Drunkenski Soda Popinski, Super Macho Man, and even real-life champion Mike Tyson, players could not help but cheer Little Mac on in his dream to become New York’s most venerated WVBA fighter. Training endlessly with retired all-star Doc Louis, Little Mac punches his way past a cast of outlandish and memorable characters—many more so than Mac himself.
Punch-Out!! was originally released in arcades at the onset of sports games, giving it a much wider and notably different audience than today’s Nintendo franchises embrace. This success led to its home release on the NES, boasting Mike Tyson’s endorsement, which converted the series into an astounding and lasting commercial success. Punch-Out!! saw little expansion after its two arcade booths and subsequent home console releases, but that didn’t stop it from being consistently hailed as one of the best titles of the decade. The series saw its latest release on Wii in 2009, after a fifteen-year hiatus. This modern reboot was met with nearly universal praise for its nostalgic yet modern gameplay and the homage it pays to its predecessors. Given the nature of the industry, another new entry in the now-reinvented franchise is almost guaranteed.
Because of the diverse audience of its original titles, Punch-Out!! has become one of the most well-known Nintendo franchises in western popular culture. Punch-Out!! as a series has been referenced in The Simpsons, Family Guy, and more, evidencing its secure place not only in the minds of Nintendo fans, but in the minds of even non-gaming Americans. While earlier Super Smash Bros. titles glorified eastern markets with characters from Japan-only games, it would make sense for Nintendo to acknowledge such a significant portion of their western presence both past and present. Little Mac’s inclusion would be symbolic representation of the West due to his archetypical New York persona and the series’ success in American markets, but don’t let this emphasis deter you from an even more dominant point—Punch-Out!! is arguably the most successful of Nintendo’s C-list franchises worldwide. Considering these factors in conjunction with the fact that fighting is the entire premise of his existence, Little Mac’s inclusion in the next Super Smash Bros. seems almost imminent.
Little Mac has proven time and again that he’s capable of both taking and doling out a good punch. In Super Smash Bros., his fighting style would reflect the quick dodges and fleet-footedness that let such a small fellow win the championship bout. Though he would be quick and light, Little Mac would also pack a wallop, relying heavily on his trusty green boxing gloves and signature uppercut for primarily short-range attacks. After grabbing a Smash Ball, Little Mac would have the ability to transform into Giga Mac, his juiced-up counterpart from Punch-Out!! for the Wii. Assuming the next Smash handles story mode boss fights like The Subspace Emissary did in Brawl, this would also be a wonderful opportunity to take on King Hippo, who is often seen as the primary antagonist—or at least as close to one as you can get—in the Punch-Out!! series.
With most new franchises represented in Smash comes a new stage. For a series like Punch-Out!!, by far the most sensible choice of a ring would be none other than the iconic American boxing ring. This stage would feature a simple flat platform with elastic ropes on either side which players can use strategically in striking their opponents with greater force, or for knocking their adversaries against, only to rebound right back into another powerful blow. The stage would also be a wonderful opportunity to sneak various races from Nintendo’s history into the audience, such as Nokis, Moblins, and Waddle Dees, cheering on their favorite Nintendo all-stars. Similarly to Totokeke in Brawl’s Smashville stage, various characters from the Punch-Out!! cast could meander into the ring or the audience at various times and either flaunt their respective personalities in the background, or come into the fray and perform their own signature moves to manipulate the course of battle.
Alternatively, a scenic, slowly-moving stage based on the famous training scene before the New York City skyline would be warmly welcomed.
Seeing a new stage without a slew of new songs would make the “My Music” feature feel disappointingly empty. Punch-Out!! is not famous for its soundtrack, but thanks to the recent reboot, there are enough new songs and variations on the original score to fill a Smash stage with exciting music.
- “Main Theme”
- “Training Theme”
- “Title Theme (Wii),” with a nod to the original Title Screen music
- “Exhibition Mode”
- “Glass Joe’s Theme”
- “Bear Hugger’s Theme”
- “Soda Popinski’s Theme”
- “King Hippo’s Theme”
What do you think? Is it time for Little Mac to step into a new kind of fighting ring? With Nintendo’s heaviest-hitting franchises out of the way, is it time for smaller names like these to take a turn in the limelight, or should they focus on expanding other aspects of the Smash series? Who are you hoping to see in the next Super Smash Bros.? Perhaps we’ll profile them next.
Little Mac’s character profile for Challenger Approaching