Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! remains a perennial classic for many of reasons: Its Rocky-inspired underdog story, the huge, expressive, and slightly insensitive cast of boxers, and, of course, the eccentric real-world fighter who received top billing. But the true factor behind Punch-Out's undying popularity can be chalked up to just how well it plays.
True, the antics of Punch-Out!! have very little to do with actual boxing, but Nintendo's attempt to turn the sport into a kind of rhythm game resulted in an experience like no other. And recently, Reddit user midwesternhousewives discovered a secret squirreled away in the game for nearly 30 years.
While it's common knowledge amongst Punch-Out!! veterans that both Bald Bull and Piston Honda can be felled in a specific window of time with a single punch, midwesternhousewives managed to find an incredibly small detail in the background that signals players when to launch this important attack. During the World Circuit, when you fight souped-up rematches against Bull and Honda, a tiny bearded man in the audience will duck just as you're supposed to land that critical blow. And it's not just a simple, cycling animation that happens to align with Bald Bull and Piston Honda's charge attacks—the bearded mystery man only reacts like this to serve as an almost indescribably subtle hint for players. Seriously, the dude is made up of a handful of pixels at best.
This isn't the first time someone unearthed an decades-old Easter Egg from Punch-Out!! During a 2009 Punch-Out!! edition of Iwata Asks, Nintendo EAD's Makoto Wada (who designed Punch-Out's cast of characters) revealed a similar secret he'd been hiding for 22 years: "There is a big boxer called Bald Bull in the NES version... and a light flashes to the right in the audience when he charges. If you punch when it flashes you will land a body blow." Later in the interview, he added, "There are a lot of hidden elements in the NES version."
Whether or not you ever spotted this bearded stranger, it's certainly impressive the developers at Nintendo decided to add such a small detail that would go overlooked by the vast majority of its players. And seeing as it took nearly 30 years to spot it, only time will tell what other secrets those tiny clusters of pixels known as the Punch-Out!! audience hold. Personally, my money's on the shifty-looking dude in the sunglasses.