Strategy Guide
Punch-Out! Major Circuit Guide

Last week we took a look at how to tackle the cream puffs of Punch-Out’s Minor Circuit. This week we crank up the difficulty level and examine how to beat each one of the Major Circuit opponents. But if you are still having trouble with anyone on the Minor Circuit, be warned: You may want to perfect your moves before stepping up to the next level.

Piston Hondo

Hondo is the fastest opponent you will have faced thus far, so be prepared to be perfect on your dodge/counter timing. Hondo, like King Hippo, falls into the category of a character that is able to inflict and take more damage per punch compared to previous opponents. Hondo will truly test every skill you have learned so far, so you will need to be quick with your reflexes if you want to avoid an early KO or TKO.

Hondo has three main attacks, a left jab, a right hook and a right uppercut that he will use frequently in an attempt to knock you out. The only evasive move that works against all of these initial attacks is a quick dodge to your left. Concentrate on getting your dodge timing down on each punch, and make sure to counter Hondo’s misses with hooks to his gut to earn stars. You can also score an easy star by jabbing Hondo with perfect timing immediately after you see him flutter his eyebrows at you.

Once Hondo has had enough of your punishment, he will get ready to employ his "Hondo Rush" special move. When Hondo backs away from you to begin this move, be ready to block three incoming jabs in quick succession, before dodging left to avoid his right hook. If you do not time the Hondo Rush correctly, Little Mac will inevitably be looking up at the heavens.

For you skilled players out there, you can score a one-hit knockdown on Hondo if you hit him with a quick jab the second you see him move in for the Hondo Rush. If you are playing the career mode, I would stick to the standard method of wearing Hondo out for the KO. However, if you hope to complete all of Hondo’s exhibition challenges, you will need to learn the timing of the one-hit knockdown.

Bear Hugger

This burly Canuck is no pushover, especially if you allow his multiple taunts to lure you into thinking you can score an early knockout. At first glance, getting a punch through Hugger’s formidable defense may seem like a daunting task. Hugger will block seemingly everything you throw at his body, so make sure to only throw head jabs during this fight.

But once you learn Hugger’s predictable punch pattern, you will realize that he is a cupcake opponent. Hugger only has two main attacks and a very easily evadable special attack. When Hugger throws either one of his main punches, all you have to do to be successful is dodge left and then counter with high jabs. When Hugger tips his special move by asking if you would like a hug, all you need to do is time a duck perfectly, and you will be safe from his extremely powerful double-handed punch. Repeat this process three or four times, and you will score yourself a KO by round 2.

The best way to score stars on Hugger is to wait for him to begin taunting you. When he taunts you, quickly hit him with a jab. When he circles his torso towards you, hit him with a quick body blow. If Hugger taunts you with his gloves over his ears, you can score an instant knockdown if you are able to connect with a star punch.

Great Tiger

Great Tiger is one of the toughest opponents you will face in the entire game, and unless you are able to get your evade and hook timing down, you will be stuck replaying this match for hours on end. I suggest logging some serious time against the holographic exhibition version of Tiger before stepping into the ring against him. Once you master the timing of Tiger’s main attacks, you should be quick enough to defeat him.

Tiger has three exceptionally quick and powerful standard attacks, and it is important to note that the best strategy for quickly dispatching him is to dodge and NOT counter any of these attacks. Make sure to duck his straight punches -- tipped off when his turban flashes either yellow or red -- and be ready to immediately dodge the opposite way of the uppercut he will throw at you next.

If you manage to survive that onslaught, Tiger will teleport himself to the back of the ring and split into two (one real Tiger and one transparent fake Tiger). At this point the Tigers will come at you one at a time -- this is the point in the match when you need to go for the win. When Tiger splits into two, one of Tigers will have a turban that flashes. That's important because the flashing turban signals which Tiger will attack you first. Once you have determined when the real Great Tiger is going to rush towards you for an attack, you must time a body hook perfectly to score an instant knockdown.

In my multiple playthroughs against Great Tiger, this was the only way I was able to win the match. If you attempt to defeat him the old-fashioned way, chances are Tiger will win via decision at the end of round 3. It is near impossible to beat Great Tiger without learning the instant knockdown trick.

The best way to score a star on Tiger is to hit him with a quick jab whenever his turban flashes yellow -- tends to flash yellow whenever he is preparing to throw a quick jab. But stars in this fight are useless, so my personal advice would be to not waste your time.

Don Flamenco

The years have been good to Don Flamenco, as he has gone from a complete pushover in the 1987 NES original to the Major Circuit Champion in the Wii remake. Flamenco can be a pain because he varies the speed of his initial uppercuts.

It is important to pay close attention to Flamenco’s attacks, and not just react, as you will not know the speed of the uppercut until right before he throws it. Once you begin to stay patient against the uppercuts, you will be able to dodge to the right to avoid them. To avoid straight punches, You will also dodge to the right.

After dodging his attacks, make sure to counter with strong body hooks or jabs to the head. You will have to repeat this process until Don decides to unleash his special attack, the "Uno, Dos, Tres" super punch. To avoid his special attack, you must quickly duck under the three hooks that he throws, and then dodge to the left when he decides to throw his uppercut. Keep pounding away at the crafty Spaniard, and you should be able to score a moderately easy KO by round 2.

When battling against Don Flamenco, the star-earning possibilities are plentiful. If you want to earn stars, simply look to counter Don just before he throws any of his punches. The timing can be pretty tough at times, but make sure to experiment if you hope to complete the "Find 6 Different Ways to Earn Stars" exhibition challenge.

With two circuits down, and only one to go, Little Mac is well on his way to becoming crowned the W.V.B.A. Champion once again. With only the World Circuit left to conquer, the difficulty level for gamer and Mac alike is about to increase exponentially. Check back next week for tips and tricks to defeat the world's best.

Have you discovered any KO or star strategies not mentioned in this guide? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section below.

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