Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Pixelated Pornstaches and the Outer Limits of the Nintendoverse

It may not surprise you that I have a thing for lesser-known Nintendo characters. I blame Smash Bros., I guess, for reminding us with every edition of bygone franchises and protagonists that never saw a proper sequel.

Maybe one of the lesser less-known Nintendo titles ever would be Arm Wrestling, a spin-off to the Punch-Out!! franchise released only in arcades and, even then, only in those located in North America. As far as I know, this might be the first Nintendo-developed title never to see the light of day in the company’s homeland. I don’t know why it showed up here and not there, but I think it’s too bad. I remember playing this long, long ago and enjoying it. I even tried to find a port of it to the NES but couldn’t: Arm Wrestling never saw a second life on a home console.

Also working in the game’s favor is its appealingly oddball mix of characters. They wouldn’t be out of place in a Nintendo game today. Nintendo has, after all, stayed weird. I tried to see if any site featured large-ish sprites of Arm Wrestling’s opponents and couldn’t, so I’m just going to post them here.

First up: Texas Mac, a ripped, bare-chested cowboy with a Falcon Studios mustache.


By the way, like Punch-Out!!, Arm Wrestling featured two screens — one with the action and one showing the score as well as who you’re fighting. This second screen included a descriptor for each opponent, and Texas Mac’s was, strangely enough, “Stud-Horse.”


I think I know why he likes holding hands with other strong men.

Second: a sumo named Kabuki.


Before you accuse him of being a rip-off of Street Fighter’s E. Honda, know that Arm Wrestling came out six years before Street Fighter II. If anything, E. Honda ripped off this guy, but I’m not sure how common it is in Japan to see a sumo wrestler wearing face paint. Every town has one, I’d like to think.

Third: Mask X.


Billed simply as “Who?” he’s actually just Bald Bull from Punch-Out!!, wearing a mask for no discernible reason. You can even unmask him.

Fourth and by far the best of the group: Alice and Ape III.


Yes, you have to best one of the more tragically awkward little girls in video game history in the form of her hulking arm-wrestling robot. They’re billed as “Best Friends,” and I can’t tell if that makes me sad for Alice or jealous of her. And yes, if you squint right, she does look just a little bit like a later-generation Nintendo science whiz, Penny Crygor.

Finally, you must fight Frank Jr.


Frank Jr. gets no nifty intro text, because if you can’t tell who he’s supposed to be, you are culturally illiterate.

And so there you have it: classic but forgotten Nintendo characters who have zero chance of being playable in the next Smash Bros. game. But wouldn’t you want to play as Texas Mac if you could? Or as Alice, so you can take revenge on the society that has shunned you? (I’m just assuming but come on.)

All character images taken from this YouTube video save for “Stud-Horse,” which came from Wikipedia.

Obscure Nintendo, previously:

8 comments:

  1. Anonymous3:51 PM

    Tetris & Dr. Mario, Dr. Mario 64, and the both StarTropics never saw releases in Japan!

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    1. Anonymous3:52 PM

      Derp, I didn't catch "first" there!

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  2. Beathsy10:21 PM

    Having one Japanese character and naming him Kabuki is like having a Hawaiian character and naming him Hula.

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    1. I'm not sure that hasn't been done... maybe not by Nintendo, but man, that sounds familiar.

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    2. There was once a Plastic Man cartoon show in which he had a stereotypically sidekick named Hula-Hula.

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  3. I'm not sure about fighters, but I could see a nifty stage coming out of this. Giant arm wrestlers, their matches going back and forth, and if someone "wins" by pressing the other guy's arm down on your character, big damage.

    But which way will they go?

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    Replies
    1. Wholeheartedly supported! Nintendo, are you reading this?

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  4. Anonymous3:34 PM

    Texas Mac for Smash. (Or anything.) Colt Studios needs a bigger video game presence.

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