Fun with stereotypes: starring Punch-Out!!

Any game that features combatants from around the world tends to play up the differences between cultures. The Mexican dude will probably have a luchador mask and love maracas, the Aussie wears a boomerang for a belt, stuff like that. It’s understandable to a certain degree, but we have to admit, Punch-Out!!, as a series, has a lot more (good natured) fun with stereotypes than any other game we can think of.

They say laughter is the best medicine, so what better way is there to sooth racial tensions than with friendly jabs at everyone’s equal expense?

Glass Joe

The French: Are wimpy cowards who love expensive coffee, fancy baguettes and apparently must live within 100 feet of the Eiffel Tower at all times.

Glass Joe has forever been the lamest boxer in the series. He can barely throw a punch, let alone win an actual fight (cowardly), and in his opening scene we see him sipping an elite-brewed cup of fancy coffee (probably way better than the swill we Americans are forced to drink).

In between rounds most of Joe’s comments are simply counting to 10 in French, likely because that’s all we learned about France in high school.

Above: You actually beat the croissants out of him 

Tasteful French trivia: The world-famous Louvre museum (that houses works like the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo) has a cutoff date for its permanent collection. Nothing produced after 1848 will make it into this prestigious area. Modern exhibitions are still welcome, though temporarily.

Von Kaiser

Germans: Are militaristic, goose-stepping nationals obsessed with victory to a fault. And c’mon… his name’s Von Kaiser, of all names they could have given him. Might as well be Wolfgang von Sauerkraut.

Kaiser has always been just above Glass Joe in the Punch-Out!! hall of infamy, usually succumbing to well-timed body blows. He has a very proper march to his step, and his opening movie plays “Ride of the Valkyries,” a piece of German classical music often paired with one-sided military excursions (see The Simpsons, Apocalypse Now or the Vietnam scene in Watchmen). Basically, they’re trying to imply he’s a goofy Nazi without actually saying he’s a Nazi.

Above: Might have been photoshopped 

Tasteful German trivia: Baseball may be America’s pastime, but German-blooded Honus Wagner aka “The Flying Dutchman” is on the world’s most valuable baseball card. How much is it worth? A cool $2.8 million.

Disco Kid

Black Americans: Love tricked-out cars with huge rims and insane bass, and also spend a lot of time in the club scene.

Disco Kid is the only new Punch-Out!! boxer found in the main modes (which is why there are no sprites to show here), and as far as stereotypes go, this is pretty mild. The French had their clothes, cuisine and personality mocked, whereas Kid merely gets a jab for lovin’ the clubbin’.

He’s balanced by Mr. Sandman, the Punch-Out!! champ with no eccentric behavior at all.

Above: Mr. Sandman says NO to stereotypes 

Tasteful Black American trivia: We all know Barack Obama is the first black US president, but did you know Shirley Chisholm was the first black AND first woman presidential candidate way back in 1972? She lost the nomination to George McGovern, who then lost to Nixon, who ended up resigning the office in 1974. Whatta country!

Piston Honda

The Japanese: Only eat piles of sushi, can intercept swords with their bare hands and always, always bow to their opponents.

The first Punch-Out!! was developed in Japan, a country notorious for laughing off harsh national stereotypes. This one’s from Next Level games though, a Canadian outfit (they’ll get their comeuppance in a sec). Hondo here engages in all sorts of poke-poke wink-wink Japanese moments, each best described by images:

Above: Asians are exceptional martial artists 

Above: Traditional byobu screens divide Japanese homes, and apparently boxing rings too 

Above: Never lower your eyes to an enemy! 

Above: Effing sushi flies out of his head 

Tasteful Japanese trivia: The above sushi dish is called tamago nigiri, which is a delicious concoction of sumeshi (rice), tamago (egg omelet) and nori (dried seaweed). We’ll include a wonderfully disgusting sumeshi story on this week’s filthy, stupid podcast (TalkRadar 52!).

Next page – How Punch-Out!! handles Russians, Canadians and wealthy American celebrities.

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  • Vulneratus - December 20, 2010 4:52 p.m.

    Pretty sure the polar bear is the biggest land predator dude
  • linkganon - January 8, 2010 9:54 p.m.

    i noticed a few things like they may stereotype male teenagers as being confused (probabally) because little mac (age 17) is wearing pink sweats and hoodie whenever he is running. then they say retired boxers/coaches love chocolate bars and obsess about them. yes, i think the joke about bald bull is that he looks like a giant dick (the coach keeps implying that by saying something about he should have brought his sunglasses because the light shining from his head is hurting them. next they possibly stereotype steroid users as always being ticked off at everything. shows when the sandman rises after being knocked down. also when you press minus on the controller watch the coach, he eats his chocolate bar and for some reason you regain health.
  • gatornation1254 - May 24, 2009 5:32 p.m.

    Wow wat a great article. I think von Kaiser is the best of the best of the best sir though. reCaptha: mimicked award
  • zerolegends - May 23, 2009 3:06 a.m.

    oops stereotypes
  • Schuultz - May 22, 2009 8:26 p.m.

    It's interesting to see that the Japanese developer preferred to portray the militaristic German from the period when Japan fought Germany (WW1) instead of the period when they were allied... PS: Seriously reCAPTCHA? Klansman?
  • FierceDeity - May 21, 2009 8:31 p.m.

    wow suprised there isnt an english stereotype in there somewhere lol and also YOUR WRONG! polar bears are the largest land based carnivore not bengal tigers. plus siberian tigers are way bigger than bengals.
  • FistfulofPelican - May 21, 2009 7:46 a.m.

    I'm pretty sure Disco Kid was meant to be a gay stereotype. And what was Bald Bull anyway?
  • Rasy2kG - May 21, 2009 3:29 a.m.

    lol, I dig the Super Macho Man gif
  • Peefree - May 21, 2009 3:13 a.m.

    The Canadian one is pretty damn accurate.
  • NipplesTheSuperHippo - May 21, 2009 2:37 a.m.

    No joke, this was one of the funniest thing I have ever come across. Just enough inside jokes to Tdar with a lot of originality thrown in + Stereotypical Nintendo come together quite nicely for this. I lolz at you sir, I lolz.
  • Turbobison - May 20, 2009 10:40 p.m.

    I heard that Donkey Kong is a fighter in this game. PLEASE tell me that's true.
  • Koouunn - May 20, 2009 10:17 p.m.

    nice article
  • GamesRadarHankMotherFuckingGilbert - May 20, 2009 10:03 p.m.

    Is it just me, or does the pic of Glass Joe in front of the Eiffel Tower look kinda like Brett? I mean the jaw line and hair look kinda similar, at least in comparison with Brett's little pic at the top of the page.
  • Cyberninja - May 20, 2009 8:55 p.m.

    keep making good stuff like this love punch out first i think
  • lukel127 - June 30, 2009 6:05 p.m.

    Super Macho Man is 27. LIES!
  • Hakusato - May 26, 2009 10:38 a.m.

    For some reason I want a Scottish or Swedish stereotype in there, y'know, just to cover all the bases. Also, BORK BORK BORK I love the Irish guy.
  • zerolegends - May 23, 2009 3:04 a.m.

    Yay for steriotypes
  • NEzraF - May 22, 2009 11:34 a.m.

    I spat out my maple syrup when I read the Canadian one.
  • Japanaman - May 22, 2009 2:17 a.m.

    Man, I love these stories. You don't find articles like these in magazines. I'd love to join a site like GamesRader someday and really discuss gaming pop culture, not just write previews and reviews.
  • NorwegianKingOfNames - May 21, 2009 6:20 p.m.

    Why, when I first read the title of this article, did I think Chris Antista was behind this... Though, Brett's right; sterotypes will never get old and I hope to see GR uncover the hidden racism behind seemingly innocent games for years to come.