Greatest hits! The 19 most satisfying punches in games

A version of this article posted in March 2014.

Feeling punchy

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.

Ben Griffin
In 2012 Ben began his perilous journey in the games industry as a mostly competent writer, later backflipping into the hallowed halls of GamesRadar+ where his purple prose and beige prose combine to form a new type of prose he likes to call ‘brown prose’.