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


  • Robx - September 28, 2010 10:13 p.m.

    A nut-punch followed by an upper cut? That's just brilliant... ...and cheap...
  • ventanger - September 28, 2010 10:14 p.m.

    Hahah! Cody's uppercut is the wallpaper on my phone. Great article Mikel, when I read the title I knew it was probably you.
  • SeattleSound - September 28, 2010 10:19 p.m.

    Mortal Kombat takes the cake.
  • Drawed - September 28, 2010 10:20 p.m.

    There's an Assassination in Reach that is an uppercut with a knife. It's pretty damn satisfying to spin somebody around and uppercut them upside the head with a knife/Energy Sword.
  • paganpoet - September 28, 2010 10:22 p.m.

    Ryu's Metsu Shoryuken and Cammy's Quick Combo are the two SSFIV ultra combos that make me wince a little.
  • Valcrist - September 28, 2010 10:25 p.m.

    Mmm, isnt the uppercut in the last part of Dan´s super/ultra actually a Koryuuken?
  • Redeater - September 28, 2010 10:25 p.m.

    I'm waiting for the article gaming's most satisfying dongs.
  • FNG - September 28, 2010 10:28 p.m.

  • mEgAzD - September 28, 2010 10:38 p.m.

    You forgot the Ume Shoryu, the Daigo variation of the Shoryuken lol.
  • TheWebSwinger - September 28, 2010 10:39 p.m.

    GamesRadar never finds ceases to find silly gaming minutiae for Mikel to turn into an article. Thank god for that. Awesome, awesome article. @RedEater: #1 - Brett's.
  • sutrebla15 - September 28, 2010 10:41 p.m.

    You forgot Gouken's! Which is basically Ryu's, but still!
  • 510BrotherPanda - September 28, 2010 10:42 p.m.

    Hooray, another concise, informative article by Basque-paraz about punching stuff!
  • Nin10DOH - September 28, 2010 11:01 p.m.

    Allright! Dan is awesome!
  • Tenfey - September 28, 2010 11:02 p.m.

    All great uppercuts involve Jungle cats.
  • 8bitBaby - September 28, 2010 11:16 p.m.

    nothing beats a good kidney punch. NOTHING.
  • ShittlesMcDuckstain - September 28, 2010 11:17 p.m.

    Breakdown on the original xbox had some pretty satisfying uppercuts. First-person-lightning-flowing-through-your-fists satisfying.
  • batman5273 - September 28, 2010 11:22 p.m.

    This article is totally biased against the Roundhouse Kick. The upper cut must have paid Mikel a ton of money. That must how they afforded Vegas on their meager editor salaries!
  • Kouin - September 28, 2010 11:41 p.m.

    Kazuya is actually doing the Electric Wind God Fist in the Street Figter x Tekken screen shot. I think that's more satisfying that landing the Lightning Screw Uppercut. Especially when you connect 4 or 5 in a row in one juggle!
  • MrSuitMan - September 28, 2010 11:57 p.m.

    You guys actually put in Lightning Screw Uppercut? Sweet. I thought the majority of Gamesradar HATED Tekken.
  • belthasar - September 29, 2010 12:05 a.m.

    What about Donkey Kong's awesome uppercut in Donkey Kong Country 2?! That one was EPIC! 03:40 - 03:50 in this vid:

Showing 1-20 of 45 comments

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