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.
Above: OH GOD IT’S BETTER THAN (8-BIT) SEX
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.
Above: HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
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