Release: September 18, 1987 | Developer: Nintendo R&D3 | Publisher: Nintendo
Released in 1987 and given away exclusively for winners in Nintendo’s US Golf Tournament contest, this golden version of Punch-Out is an interesting game. US Golf was a Famicom Disk System game developed and published by Nintendo and in 1987 Nintendo held a large tournament competition, wherein players could have their US Golf high scores electronically transmitted to Nintendo via special kiosks at certain retailers. The top winners got a chance at a gold copy of Punch-Out!! as a prize, of which there were 10,000 carts produced. The carts were distributed to the tournament winners and also through various raffles and contests across Japan. This original console version of Punch-Out!!, also referred to as Punch-Out!! Special, was the first home port of Nintendo’s original arcade classic.
Meanwhile, in order to better market the game overseas, Mike Tyson’s name and likeness were secured for the North America release a month later. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out was released in North America October 18th, 1987 and was commercially released in Japan with Mike Tyson’s likeness on November 21st, 1987.
Punch-Out!! Special, in all of its golden glory, is somewhat a prototype of the commercially released Mike Tyson version. It’s essentially the same game, with several color differences and some alternate music when the phrase “TITLE BOUT!” flashes on the screen.
The most notable difference is the lack of a final ‘super’ opponent. Punch-Out!! Special ends after the Super Macho Man fight. Even the NES version of Punch-Out!! that was released after the Mike Tyson license expired added a sprite swap of Tyson named Mr.Dream.
Punch-Out!! Special is also the only known Famicom release that uses Nintendo Entertainment System chips on its board. Although the game looks similar to an NES cart in appearance, it is in reality much smaller in size.
An oddity, the Gold Punch Out Special cart’s low release numbers coupled with the popularity of the Punch-Out franchise as a whole means this cartridge commands a high price, and double that for a complete copy. It is among the most sought-after games in the Famicom library.