Gaming’s most satisfying uppercuts

Ask just about anyone what the best kind of punch is, and they’ll probably say “uppercut.” This is partly because “uppercut” is the only punch that anyone outside of boxing fandom can actually identify by name, but mostly because seeing one pulled off well can be breathtaking. A rising blow from the hip to the target’s chin, a good uppercut can floor an opponent, break a jaw and potentially even kill.

It can also look awesome.

Above: Yes, even in the context of corporate-looking stock photos

Unsurprisingly, nowhere are uppercuts more awesome than in videogames, which since the ‘80s have shaped our perception of them to the point where they’re no longer just power punches employed by extremely tough men. They’re finishing moves, ultra-powerful attacks and metaphorical middle fingers to the enemies we’re about to knock unconscious. At their best, they also feel great to pull off, as proved by the following examples:

Little Mac’s power punch

The original, and still one of the best. Uppercuts in Punch-Out!! Have always been more special than a normal punch, because you have to earn them – usually by stunning your rival boxer as he winds up for a big attack. And when you decide to cash them in, you’ll need to pick your moment carefully so that they’re not blocked.

When they connect, there are few things more gratifying than the quick wind-up…


… followed by the jumping fist-slam into your opponent’s face.


Uppercuts were kind of marginalized in the looser 16-bit Super Punch-Out!!, but came back with a renewed fury in 2009’s Punch-Out!! for Wii, in which the wind-ups were even more dramatic…

Above: Cowering of this magnitude would never have been possible on an 8-bit system

… and the payoff even more brutal.

Granted, these still never quite defeat our opponents as utterly as we always hope they will. But when your opponent wobbles to his feet, just try to see it as another opportunity to smash his face with more uppercuts.

Lee Brothers crouching upper

Double Dragon II: The Revenge, the NES sequel to the original trailblazing brawler, had two kinds of uppercuts: the lame kind that came at the end of a combo, and the badass kind that launched your enemies 15 feet into the air with the sound of an 8-bit cannon firing.

Above: Even if they were hulking Danny Trejo impersonators 

Again, this one was made all the more satisfying by the fact that it had to be earned, this time as much through luck as through skill and careful timing. While normal uppercuts could be performed anywhere, the super variety could only be pulled off from a crouch, which meant you either had to be knocked down, or time your hit carefully at the very end of a jump. It wasn’t easy, but when you could get them to connect, they felt amazing – especially when used to send an enemy screaming off a rooftop ledge.


Cody’s combo

Several years later, Final Fight featured a memorable combo-ending punch that, unlike Double Dragon II, was endlessly fun to bust out over and over again. And that was great, because protagonist Cody’s standard four-punch combo – which consisted of two jabs, a body blow and a devastating upper – was about the extent of his unarmed-attack repertoire throughout the entire game.

It may seem antiquated and repetitive now, but back in the early ‘90s that uppercut was half the fun of cleaning up the city’s streets. It was so fun, in fact, that Cody’s combo was copied almost exactly for the cruddy, Activision-published Alien vs Predator tie-in game on Super Nintendo.

Above: Not even creepy alien hunters are above a little intellectual-property theft, it seems


  • Devil93065 - October 12, 2010 5:24 a.m.

    They should have added Megaman X2's Shoryuken to the list to make it even better.
  • t3rry747 - October 6, 2010 11:01 p.m.

    I think the kurby fighter uppercut and the original mario jump uppercut should of been on this
  • Matedawg11 - October 1, 2010 2:17 a.m.

    I actually got chills when I watched the Shoryuken video at the end :D!!
  • Romination - September 30, 2010 9:54 p.m.

    I beg to differ on Punch-Out, it's possible on a few enemies to knock them completely out with a star punch.
  • RushLight - September 30, 2010 4 p.m.

    What about Spider-Man 2's uppercut? I always found it incredibly satisfying to punch and thug the chin, watch them go flying then hit the ground again with a thud. Good times.
  • Dondada - September 30, 2010 1:42 a.m.

    Great article, nice homage in the end to SF and all its clones. I see you Rock'em sock'em robots...I mean Tekken.
  • FauxFurry - September 30, 2010 1:39 a.m.

    You also overlooked Fatal Fury's Joe Higashi's Screw Upper. It should have been right beside Kazuya's Lightning Screw Upper. Of course, neither compare to BlazBlue: Continuum Shift's Makato Astral Finish that has her upper cut her opponent straight through the moon.
  • sniperscope - September 30, 2010 12:07 a.m. That's just plain cool! I love this article.
  • Clovin64 - September 29, 2010 11:43 p.m.

    Killer Instinct references make me happy. I remember that game came with a free watch when got it. Yay!
  • blam57 - September 29, 2010 9:34 p.m.

    its all about the mk uppercuts, cept for the remake versions...they dont look that effective
  • Boxer47 - September 29, 2010 7:04 p.m.

    Great feature those were some awesome uppercut ko it funny i got a boxing match two day in Chicago lets see if i can get an uppercut ko if i do it would be epic lol
  • AlaskaGrown - September 29, 2010 5:49 p.m.

    Bravo Miguel....bravo! I have to admit, the first thing popped into my mind when I read the headline was Mortal Kombat. Never been a huge fan of the games, but uppercuts are so fucking visceral. I think it's the combination of the screen shake and the sound. BLAM!
  • SonicX_89 - September 29, 2010 4 p.m.

  • philipshaw - September 29, 2010 2:53 p.m.

    Classic Mikel article,I think you hit everything I could think of when reading the headline. I think like most I associate the uppercut with SF and MK
  • gmknoble - September 29, 2010 2:26 p.m.

    Lovely article Mr. Reparaz
  • deathrebellion - September 29, 2010 12:35 p.m.

    BLOODY ROAR Yugo The Wolf has THE best uppercut watch this -->
  • FauxFurry - September 29, 2010 11:52 a.m.

    No Grand Upper in an article on Gaming's Greatest Upper Cuts? That's one thing that Streets of Rage did beyond a shadow of a doubt better than Final Fight! Is Mr. X behind this omission?! That's the only logical explanation!
  • d3v - September 29, 2010 10:01 a.m.

    Funny that Cody's uppercut is the one uppercut that you do not want to see because it means that you screwed up his infinite. Also, Balrog is bad ass, he's always one of the best characters in any Street Fighter game he appears in.
  • Ninjadmin - September 29, 2010 8:05 a.m.

    M-Bisons duck face FTW!!!
  • Xenos - September 29, 2010 3:55 a.m.

    Ahh how could you forget the game that is named after one of the main characters moves? "BARE KNUCKLE"!

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