Throwing real life punches can be dangerous to both your health and criminal record, which is why video games can be such a great outlet. The many virtual worlds of gaming give you a chance to punch, punch, punch to your heart's content without doing any real harm. To some, a truly epic, well-animated punch can be even more fulfilling than any Achievement or Trophy out there.
That's why this feature exists. This is a list of all the wonderfully badass moments of fists flying in-game, where players pummeled pugilists with aplomb. So get your dukes up, because this list is about to begin...
FALCON...PAWNCH!!ing in Super Smash Bros.
If one FALCON PAWNCH!! ever meets another, so the prophecy says, the universe will explode. Don't believe us? Check out this video. The FALCON PAWNCH!! as its colloquially known is the signature attack of Captain Falcon, aka that guy in figure-hugging blue lycra from F-Zero. He's been FALCON PAWNCHING!! (and yes, I will continue to write the name like that because I take jokes too far) since the first Super Smash Bros., but the move comes into its own in Melee where improved lighting, particles and sound combine into a glorious marriage of fist and face.
Brawl improves it further by adding the ability to REVERSE FALCON PAWNCH!! While it has the highest knockback of all Falcons attacks, and proves extra effective in the home-run minigame, the fact he has to announce it by shouting FALCON PAWNCH!! means its quite predictable against human opponents.
Superman's uppercut into space from Injustice
Superman gets a bad reputation as this goody-goody that would rather find a lost kitten than rough up some bad guy. Perhaps DC Comics is attempting to dispel that idea by having the All-American hero get so hardcore in 2013's Injustice: Gods Among Us. The game begins with an alternate-reality version of Supes punching a hole through The Joker's chest, but his fists get their real chance to shine during the Kryptonian's special attack.
Superman's non-lethal version of a Mortal Kombat-style Fatality sends opponents flying into outer space. Then the Man of Steel flies above the unlucky enemies, and then punches them so hard they plummet back down to Earth. It's an incredibly awesome feeling to pull off this super attack, particularly when it's against that smug jerk Batman. Runner-up for Injustice's best punch: Flash running around the world in two seconds to hit you in the face.
Finally beating Mike in Punch-Out!!
Standing at 5 ft 11, weighing 220lbs and hailing from Catskill, New York, its Iron Miiiiiike Ty-son! Hes a real shit (in Punch-Out!!, Mr Lawyer). For the first 90 seconds of the bout, in-his-prime Tyson (who, interestingly, is a sprite-swap of Piston Honda) throws nothing but one-hit knockdown uppercuts. His lightning fast jabs and unpredictable timing has thrown even the greatest contenders. All apart from Little Mac.
With enough practice, you can learn his tells. When he blinks both eyes, for instance, throw a head punch to get a star. And when you finally land that knockout blow, Tyson is gracious in defeat. Great Fighting!! he lisps, probably. You were tough, Mac! I've never seen such finger speed before." Damn right--if weve learned anything at the gym, its to never skip finger day. Pro tip: if you want to face Iron Mike straight away, the password is Nintendos contact us telephone number. A little late, perhaps, but a pro tip nonetheless.
God Hand's divine smash makes punching a religious event
Don't feel bad if you don't remember God Hand, because the over-the-top action game got a quiet release in the west mere weeks before developer Clover Studios was shut down. But as you can likely assume from the title and by its inclusion on this list, God Hand is home to some of gaming's most epic punches. It's isn't easy to narrow the choices down to just one, but I'd have to say the Divine Smash attacks are the most fulfilling.
One of God Hand's key components for laying the smackdown are the Roulette Techniques, and Divine Smash is the most fist-focused combo of the bunch. Gene is the martial artist star of the game that puts the titular God Hand to use by burning the flesh off of faces with this clobbering combo. And the aptly named Divine Smash 2 is even better at pummeling foes to your satisfaction. It's too bad so few players got to see how smashingly good this action could get.
Bludgeoning tramps in Condemned
This melee-geared FPS was a great early incentive to buy an Xbox 360 at launch, one of precious few exclusives. Kameo was another, but there was a disturbing lack of full face punches. See, Condemned is different from most first-person games. Here, scrapping with whatever you have to hand--metal pipes, crowbars, ten bloody knuckles--is the focus.
While you can scavenge rusty firearms, most contain only a few bullets. And besides, it's not exactly fair. Your main enemies are hobos, bums and vagabonds, and anything other than a strike to their broken yellow teeth feels like overkill. And that meaty noise you hear when fist connects with face? Nightmarish. There's a reason it's called Condemned: Psycho Crime in Japan.
Donkey Kong punches a home run in Mario Superstar Baseball
Mario has been known to take a swing at a Goomba or two in games like Super Mario Galaxy, but his punching prowess is nothing compared to his old nemesis, Donkey Kong. The massive ape delivers devastating blows in Donkey Kong Country and Super Smash Bros., and is so good at boxing that he's even the final boss in the Punch-Out!! sequel for the Wii. Yet, in spite of all those appearances, the gorilla's greatest punches are thrown in the sports game Mario Superstar Baseball.
While the rest of the Mushroom Kingdom take standard baseball equipment to play, Donkey Kong finds bats unnecessary for hitting home runs. The gorilla would much rather lace up his boxing glove and take a swing at the ball with his hammer fists, which makes even a ground rule double feel awesome to pull off. It's a natural fit for his character, and even if the umpires have a problem with it, I'm betting none of them have the guts to tell DK to pick up a bat.
Ryus Metsu Shoryuken in Super Street Fighter IV
Ryus Metsu Shoryuken, or Destroying Rising Dragon Fist as its translated, is so powerful it has its own backstory. How many punches can say that? When Sagat defeated Ryu during the the First World Warrior Tournament, Ryu was so consumed by rage he rose to his feet and unleashed the Metsu Shoryuken, giving Sagat his trademark scar.
When Street Fighter IV introduced ultra-attacks to the franchise, each prefaced by a short animation during which time play was suspended, I admittedly had my reservations. Surely Ill get bored of watching this after the 100th time, I thought in my head, stupidly. Clearly Im an ultra idiot, because witnessing a man taste his own chin in an involuntary super gurn never, ever gets old.
Vi's Vault Breaker wins the day in League of Legends
This list needs some more female representation, and League of Legend's Vi is just the lady for the job. Raised by criminals, she eventually became a law enforcer herself, reinforcing the rules with her ginormous robotic Hulk Hands. Those gloves are used in most of her attacks, and it can be especially satisfying to see her ultimate, the Vault Breaker, rocket punch her targets into the air before slamming them back into the ground.
Personality also goes a long way in earning Vi her fans, and that's because she has some of the funniest line in all of LoL. Including: "It's a shame. I've got two fists, but you've only got one face."; Welcome to the party. Try the punch."; and "Punch first. Ask questions while punching." How can you not love Vi and her fists? You don't hear Ryu throwing out those kinds of witticisms.
Feeling Asuras wrath in Asura's Wrath
So much punching here. If GamesRadar was to score games out of punches, Capcoms 'hold on a minute, guys, don't you think you went a little overboard?' answer to God of War would score 99 punches out of 100 (it falls short of a perfect score because there are rare moments where Asura isnt punching someone). He punches people with one hand. He punches people with two hands. He grows extra hands just to punch people. In the games punch de rsistance, Asura punches /a planet/.
Asura, you see, is an elite demigod warrior whose power is directly proportionate to his anger. And dude is angry. Dude is so angry that he needs whats called a Mantra Reactor implanted into his body to regulate the flow of rage. Dude: chill.
Johnny Cage's crotch punching in Mortal Kombat
Hitting below the belt is illegal in basically every real life contact sport, but so is decapitation. Mortal Kombat seems to be cool with both those things. There are no rules in MK (save for breaks between rounds, which the fighters are oddly respectful of), and Johnny Cage uses the lack of rules to his advantage for one of his signature signature strikes: the nut punch. Johnny is a charismatic S.O.B, so he does his trademark groin punch with panache, dropping into the splits before leaving his opponent bent over in incredible pain.
Like much of Johnny's character, the move is a straight rip-off from Jean-Claude Van Damme's film Bloodsport, but that doesn't lessen how great it feels to pull off the comedic jab. It's as fun as today as it was in the early '90s. And the Mortal Kombat X roster demonstrates this painfully funny attack has been passed on to the next generation, as new fighter Cassie Cage seems to be even more adept at this move than her old man was. Seriously, the x-ray version of her attack literally makes the testicles of her unfortunate victim explode. And you get to see it all happen in slow motion. Have fun with that.
Commander Shepard has had enough of your disingenuous assertions in Mass Effect
Im Commander Shepard, and this is my fist! is what Commander Shepard seems to say to an obnoxious reporter. With his fist. Thanks to Mass Effects signature branching dialogue, this sequence with Westerlund News Khalisah Bint Sinan al-Jilani can play out several ways. You can dismiss her agenda-pushing jabs as she tries to paint Shepard as a shill for the council. You can charm her audience by recounting tales of heroics. Or you can choose the ultimate dialogue option--punching.
All three games in the series feature this most excellent example of space-hero-on-nosey-reporter violence (the next time you see her shell even sport a black eye), but the third one does it best. Now wise to your right hook, Khalisah ducks, but you can catch her with a vicious headbutt. Miss the button prompt, though, and shell knock you on your ass with an uppercut of her own. Revenge!
Punching a shark in the face in Batman: Arkham City
In Batman: Arkham City, Batman punches a great white shark in the face. Let me repeat that. The Dark Knight punches a great white shark /in the face/. It lurks beneath ice (widely known to be its favourite habitat), and walking too gingerly across it causes the doll-eyed sea beast to burst through and gulp you.
"One of the ideas we originally had is the shark comes out and grabs the raft," says Sefton Hill, game designer at Rocksteady. "And then Batman pulls out shark repellent and he opens it up, and inside the shark repellent was a massive knuckle duster. And he just smashes the shark on the nose. And then we thought: maybe the tone is going a bit wrong then we thought we'd slip it in for New Game Plus. We decided not to." Whatever--Arkham City is a better game thanks to all the shark punching.
XCOM: Enemy Within's Kinetic Module sends aliens flying
In the original release of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, it appeared that nothing could be more satisfying than pulling off a brain-exploding critical headshot on an alien from half a map away. That all changed with the expansion Enemy Within, where battles got a lot more up close and personal. Enemy Within added the Kinetic Strike Module to your armory, allowing operatives from around the world to hit extraterrestrials into next week.
Enemy Within adds a cybersuit to your strike team's armory, and the mech can be enhanced with the Kinetic Strike Module--or, as I like to call it, a ridiculously huge fist. Its rocket-powered strikes can hit any adjacent target for ruinous damage, knocking opponents through any environmental items in the way. Bashing aliens with this robo-punch always feels badass, but it's especially great against Berserkers. You spend much of the game watching those aliens bash in your head, so it feels incredible to finally return the favor.
Giving Eric Sparrow lasting brain damage in Tony Hawk Underground
Eric Sparrow (note the whimsical wordplay) is your hated rival in Tony Hawks Underground. Hes a right dick. When you film yourself jumping from a hotel roof in Hawaii over a freaking helicopter, he not only fails to give your sick skills some mad props, but steals the tape along with the limelight. Only by bossing him in a skate-off around your home town of New Jersey can you get the tape back (ahh, physical media--remember that?).
In your first playthrough Eric reluctantly hands it over. In the alternate ending, however, unlocked during your second run through the game, your custom skater skips the contest and instead opts to smash Eric in the jaw. Sure, youve probably killed him, but the story ends before we know that for sure. Death dont matter if you dont see it happen: FACT. The moral of the story? Punches settle everything.
Alis cheek-ripplers in Fight Night Champion
Lets get our feet back on solid ground. Or more accurately, canvas. You wont find sound-barrier breaking punches or multi-armed attacks in Fight Night Champion, but you will find the ripple-ridden effects of a balled-up fist to the face, rendered in gratuitous detail. Theres nothing better than winding up Muhammad Alis cocky signature punch, catching your opponent square on the chin, and watching spit and blood spew from his jiggling, off-centre mouth in glorious slow motion. For bloodier effects, try Champions bare-knuckle prison brawls in the oddball campaign mode.
Full Spectrum Punch Control (trademarked by EA Sports) replaces the convoluted Total Punch Control and enables players to unleash awesome punches with simple flicks of the right stick. Dynamic bruising, swelling and scarring are par for the course (wait, thats golf), and if the damage mounts up the ref will even step in. Booooo!
Mega Man 3's Hard Knuckle bashes robot masters
From 1950s comic book to last year's underrated film Pacific Rim, rocket-assisted punches have been around as long as humans have imagined really cool robots. You've no doubt seen dozens of bosses use this same move, but one of the first memorable times gamers got to feel the thrill of a rocket punch was in Mega Man 3. After beating the robot master Hard Man (don't be immature, gentle reader), Mega takes on the boss's mighty punching power with the Hard Knuckle ability.
The flying fist is a slow but powerful force in-game, particularly useful against the boss Top Man, though I don't really see the logic in its increased effectiveness in that encounter. It's also quite good against Wood Man and Metal Man, and Mega Man's Hard Knuckle has made a surprising number of appearances in other media. The mighty fist has beaten up baddies in the Mega's own short lived 1990s cartoon, as well as in the god awful Captain N show, where it was used to take out Top Man in one of the few accurate moments the misinformed series ever saw.
Laying the Smackdown in WWF: No Mercy
It figures that the theatrical and flamboyant world of professional wrestling is home to all manner of glorious punches. 1998's WWF War Zone was the first wrestling game to render these moves in glorious (read: shit) 3D, but it was WWF: No Mercy two years later that gave them bespoke animations.
There's the Kane uppercut, the Stone Cold beat down (the Lou Thesz Press, fact fans), the whatever Mr. Ass does. All delightfully unpractical and liable to get you laughed out of an actual street confrontation. But there's nothing more ridiculous than laying the smacketh down as The Rock. After two punches, The Great One holds his hand up the light as if to gaze upon its majesty before bringing it to bear on his opponent's brow.
Infinite punches in Gunpoint
In indie stealth hacking game Gunpoint, after grappling a guard and going full mount, you have three choices. 1) You can get off them. 2) You can punch them once to knock them out. Or, 3) you can keep punching. And punching. 'Alright, have one! Just stop!' pleads the game when the achievement pops.
"I wanted you to be able to manipulate the environment in more interesting ways than just shooting the occasional exploding barrel," says the game's creator Tom Francis. "I also hacked in a quick and dirty way to record people's actions when they play--if they're up for it When I watched the replays back, almost every single tester punched the first enemy in the face over 100 times. The game keeps count, and gives you increasingly distressed tutorial messages every 20 punches or so."
Boxing a bosss ballbag in Duke Nukem Forever
In one of the only half-good bits in this 12-years-in-the-making shooter (besides the rubbish jabs at Halo and the whole using something fished out of a toilet to write on a whiteboard bits), Duke dispatches a boss in the most humiliating way possible. No, not by thrashing him in a debate on abortion at Cambridge University or writing a biting column about him in The Guardian, but by punching him in the balls!
Watch as ballbag becomes speedbag, marvel as Duke batters it like an unhealthy boxer. Just the sort of excitement we waited 12 years for not! (Wow, that's a modern, nuanced bit of satire--someone should put that in the next Duke game.) While its only funny if youre a moron, its definitely memorable, like being mauled by a fox as a child. This is one boss who clearly doesnt have balls of steel.
It's a knock-out!
Boff! There you have them--the greatest hits in all of games. Has our list left you dazed and confused? Or are you spoiling for a fight because your favourite punch isn't in there? Well, hit me with your best comment shots below, and let me know which ones I fist. Sorry, 'missed'.
Still reading, worm? Want more features, do you? So, if pugilism isn't your thang, here are the 100 Best Weapons In video games. Yeah! Still not satisfied? Here are 11 Blunt, Common-Sense Solutions To Contrived Video Game Problems.