Glass Joe

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Glass Joe
Glass Joe, as depicted in Punch-Out!! for Wii. Designed by Eddie Viser.
Series Punch-Out!!
First game Punch-Out!! (arcades)
Designed by Shigeru Miyamoto (Punch-Out!!, 1984)
M. Wada (Punch-Out!!, 1987)
Eddie Viser (Punch-Out!!, 2009)
Voiced by Christian Bernard (Punch-Out!!, 2009)

Glass Joe (グラス・ジョー?) is a fictional character from Nintendo's Punch-Out!! series of video games. He is a French boxer, hailing from Paris, France. He first appeared in the arcade game Punch-Out!! in 1984 as the first opponent and a decidedly weak one. He made another appearance in Punch-Out!! for the NES, where he once again served as the first as well as the weakest opponent. His most recent appearance was in Punch-Out!! for the Wii; while he is still both the first and the weakest opponent, his more difficult incarnation becomes noticeably more powerful than previous incarnations, with publications such as Official Nintendo Magazine commenting that while Glass Joe could not "fight sleep", this incarnation of him was surprisingly competent. He was originally designed by Shigeru Miyamoto in the arcade game, by Makoto Wada in the NES game, and by Eddie Viser in the Wii game. He is also portrayed by Christian Bernard in the Wii game. He has brown hair, and is Caucasian.

Glass Joe is considered a stereotype of French people, due to his ineffectual nature and cowardice, including by freelance writer Sumantra Lahiri. The stereotype was expanded when the developers of the Wii game, Next Level Games introduced Glass Joe's love for luxurious things, such as gourmet coffee by means of a series of cut scenes before the match with him. GamesRadar editor Brett Elston commented that Glass Joe utilized the stereotype that French people "are wimpy cowards who love expensive coffee, fancy baguettes and apparently must live within 100 feet of the Eiffel Tower at all times." A member of the Retronauts podcast stated that he was not initially aware that Glass Joe was a stereotype of French people in the original NES Punch-Out!!, assuming him to just be a weak person. However, upon learning more about racial stereotypes, he began to see Glass Joe as a stereotype, describing the gist of the character as "Oh, he's French, so he's a weakling."

Since appearing in Punch-Out!! for the arcades, Glass Joe has become well-known character. He has been featured in several pieces of Punch-Out!!-themed merchandise, including a series of Topps trading cards and a series of action figures. He has been described as a symbol for weakness by several media outlets, including Wired. UGO Networks and TeamXbox both used him as an example of weakness; the former questioned whether Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2 would "prevail like Mike Tyson or fall to the mat like Glass Joe," while TeamXbox compared one of the boxers from Fight Night 2004 was the "Glass Joe of that game." He is regarded as a character that people like to beat up by many, including Nintendo Power, who listed him as one of the greatest punching bags in Nintendo history. His more difficult appearance in the Title Defense mode was seen as a surprise by several critics; Official Nintendo Magazine found that it proved their worries about the game's overall difficulty wrong. However, Game Informer dissented from this opinion, stating that he was still very easy.

Appearances[edit | edit source]

File:Punch out (arcade).png
Glass Joe in his first appearance in the Punch-Out!! series.

Glass Joe originally appeared in the arcade game Punch-Out!!, and again in the Nintendo Entertainment System title of the same name. He was featured on the promotional flyer of the arcade Punch-Out!! along with Bald Bull and Mr. Sandman, and on the Wii box art, along with Little Mac, Von Kaiser, Disco Kid, and King Hippo.[1][citation needed] While making no appearance in Super Punch-Out!! for the Super NES, he is mentioned as having trained Gabby Jay, the weakest opponent in that game. His most recent appearance is in the Wii Punch-Out!!. This is the first game in the series where he speaks French. When Punch-Out!! was revealed, he was one of the four boxers shown, alongside Von Kaiser, Disco Kid, and King Hippo. In every video game he has appeared in, he has fulfilled the role of the first opponent for the player's character. He makes minor appearances in other media, including the Nintendo Comics System comic book and Captain N: The Game Master. With the former, one comic depicts Glass Joe being knocked out by Little Mac.

Development and characteristics[edit | edit source]

Glass Joe is a French boxer, hailing from Paris, France. Glass Joe was originally designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, and was later designed by Makoto Wada. Most recently, he was designed by Eddie Viser. He is portrayed by Christian Bernard in the Wii Punch-Out!!. He has brown hair, and is Caucasian. He has characteristics of racial stereotypes of the French people, due to his cowardice. For example, in the Nintendo Entertainment System Punch-Out!!, he is seen hoping for the match to be over so that he may retire. He also is seen as weak, due to the ease for players to defeat him. However, in the Wii video game Punch-Out!!, he is given head gear to avoid this, making him more difficult of an opponent. His name was conceived by Genyo Takeda as a play on the fact that he has a "glass jaw", signifying his inability to take a head blow. Next Level Games introduced the element of Glass Joe being fashionable, showing him drinking coffee in front of the Arc de Triomphe, as well as him standing in front of the Eiffel Tower holding a baguette.[1] In discussing the gradation of difficulty in Punch-Out!!, senior product specialist Nate Williams stated that "Glass Joe is very easy and the last character is very difficult."

Cultural impact[edit | edit source]

Since appearing in the arcade game Punch-Out!!, he has become an icon of Nintendo, and one of the more identifiable boxers in Punch-Out!!.[2][3][4] He has had several pieces of merchandise featuring him, including a series of Topps trading cards and a series of figurines, both based on the Punch-Out!!.[5][6] G4TV staff member "jmanalang" cited knocking out Glass Joe for the first time as a part of how his hardcore nature grew.[7] Operation Sports editor Matt Gagnon commented that it was still fun to "beat the snot out of Glass Joe."[8] In his review of Super Punch-Out!!, Allgame editor Skyler Miller commented several times on Glass Joe being missing from the game. He commented that it "doesn't seem right to have a Punch-Out!! game without him," adding that "ever since the original Arcade version, that sorry loser has been there, beckoning you to punch him in the face."[9] Humour web site The Onion wrote an article about a series of interviews with Mike Tyson and other Punch-Out!! characters. In the article, the author notes that he was unable to be interviewed because the "thousands of devastating blows he took to his head and body over the course of his career rendered him incapacitated in 1993."[10] In a humour article, ESPN created several parodies of Punch-Out!! characters based on real-life "punch-worthy palookas", including one of Glass Joe called "Glass Pratt".[11]

Racial stereotyping[edit | edit source]

File:Glass Joe cutscene.jpg
Glass Joe as he appears in the Punch-Out!! cut scenes. In this picture, he is seen at a French café near the Eiffel Tower holding a baguette.

Glass Joe is also regarded as a stereotype of French people, due to his poor boxing abilities in comparison to other fighters, as well as his affinity for luxury.[1] In discussing the stereotyping in the Punch-Out!! series, GamesRadar editor Brett Elston stated that Glass Joe utilizes several French stereotype that the French "are wimpy cowards who love expensive coffee, fancy baguettes and apparently must live within 100 feet of the Eiffel Tower at all times."[12] IGN editor Craig Harris stated that Glass Joe went from being a generic, weak white guy to a "baguette-loving Frenchman who speaks in fluent Pepe le Pew dialect."[13] Freelance writer Sumantra Lahiri cited Glass Joe's cowardice as a common stereotype of the French.[14] One member of the Retronauts, in discussing racial stereotypes in Punch-Out, stated that he did not originally identify Glass Joe as being a racial stereotype of the French, but rather, a weakling; however, after familiarizing himself with racial stereotypes, he realized that the gist of the character was "Oh, he's French, so he's a weakling."[15] Eurogamer editor Oli Welsh described Glass Joe as a "feeble Frenchie."[16]

In discussing the various stereotypes of Punch-Out!!, IGN editor Craig Harris uses Glass Joe as an example, stating that he "crumples to the floor if a housefly lands on his chin."[17] In discussing Aran Ryan's Irish stereotypes, GamesRadar editor Michael Grimm commented that he got off easy compared to Glass Joe, citing the fact that he "explodes with croissants when hit."[18] Giant Bomb editor Ryan Davis, however, commented that someone would have to have a sour disposition to take offense to seeing croissants coming from Glass Joe.[19] Wired editor Chris Kohler cited the croissants coming from Glass Joe as an example of how the game enhanced the ethnic stereotypes found in previous games.[20] Editor Scott Jones commented on Glass Joe's stereotypes, stating that "Glass Joe is from France, so of course he sips espressos before his fights, and when he gets knocked out, baguettes literally fly out of his head."[21]

Usage to describe failure[edit | edit source]

Glass Joe's name has been used to describe failure or ineffectual characters; GamesRadar used it to describe the character Winston Payne from the Ace Attorney series, whose name comes from the phrase "winced in pain".[22] editor Bill Simmons, in an article discussing that the idea of a "heavyweight boxer" had gone extinct, stated that the fight between Wladimir and Chris Byrd was like watching "Glass Joe become the champ in Mike Tyson's Punch-Out."[23] In their article on "closeted badasses", Cracked commented that if the readers were to get in a fight with Michael Flatley, they would be Glass Joe in comparison.[24] In their review of Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2, questioned whether it would "prevail like Tyson, or fall to the mat like Glass Joe".[25] Similarly, in discussing whether the Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest series was superior to the other, Brian Shirk questioned whether the subsequent Dragon Quest titles would "fall faster than Glass Joe" or not.[26] TeamXbox editor Dale Nardozzi described one of the boxers from Fight Night 2004, "Luscious Lucious Brown", as the Glass Joe of that game.[27] UGO Networks editor Scott Harris commented that the cancellation of Aliens in America amongst other television shows felt like "Glass Joe after three rounds with Piston Hurricane".[28] Editor John Teti described Glass Joe as "comically fragile", also calling him the boxer that everyone loves to hate.[29]

Difficulty[edit | edit source]

His low level of difficulty has contributed to Glass Joe's iconic status. Cracked, in discussing difficult games, mentioned the satisfaction of pummeling Glass Joe as one of the reasons why Punch-Out!! was worth playing.[30] Nintendo Power listed Glass Joe as one of their favourite punching bags, commenting that while he isn't literally a punching bag for Little Mac, he comes very close.[31] Computer and Video Games editor Matthew Castle noted that the encounter with Glass Joe went against the standard, where Glass Joe normally has to be on the defensive.[32] IGN editor Bill Barnwell wrote a humour article detailing how Glass Joe achieved his only victory in boxing against fellow Punch-Out!! character Von Kaiser.[33] Operation Sports editor Christian McLeod described Glass Joe as a "never was", as opposed to the other boxers in the Minor Circuit who were "washed up has beens". He added that it was almost impossible to lose to him.[34] GamesRadar described him as the lamest boxer in the world, stating that he can barely throw a punch.[12] GamesRadar also listed him as one of the "13 unluckiest videogame bastards". However, they state that there is something poignant about someone who has lost so many times, yet keeps fighting.[35] In discussing the 10 "video game punks" of video games, ScrewAttack commentator "Stutterin' Craig" referenced Punch-Out!!, commenting that none of them were, even Glass Joe, citing the fact that he had one victory under his belt. He adds that this means that in spite of the fact that Glass Joe "stands there and takes punches", somebody still lost to him.[36] described Glass Joe's weak fighting ability as a good tactic by Nintendo to encourage players to spend their quarters on the arcade Punch-Out!!, by instilling a sense of accomplishment in players.[37] In another article, UGO listed him as the 15th greatest NES moment, stating that while most people remember beating Mike Tyson, Glass Joe shows that pummeling someone into the ground will be entertaining for decades.[38] Glass Joe has been used as a litmus test for the usability of NES controllers; Boys' Life, in discussing an NES controller called the U-Force, commented that a person named Josh, who was using the controller, did poorly against Glass Joe.[39] Game, Set, Watch, in discussing the U-Force, commented that "gamers who purchased the peripheral quickly learned that it didn't work as well as advertised, usually after Punch-Out!!'s Glass Joe wiped the floor with them for the third time in a row."[40] Similarly, Radford Castro, author of Let me play: stories of gaming and emulation, stated that he could not beat Glass Joe with the Power Glove, another controller for the NES.[41]

GamePro editor Sean Mirkovich stated that Glass Joe was a character that fans of the series grew up with, describing him as "criminally fragile".[42] GameSpy described him as newbie fodder, stating that he brought players into a false sense of security for when tougher opponents showed up.[43] GameDaily listed Glass Joe as one of the most under-appreciated Nintendo characters, stating that they want to see him appear in a game again, but with a fighting chance.[44] GamePro listed him as the 11th skinniest video game character, stating that his physical appearance speaks more about his ineptitude than his inability to fight does.[45] Game Informer writes that he is undoubtedly "the worst boxer of all time" and that "it was possible to knock out this fraidy cat with a single punch using the right strategy. Patient players held off attacking until joe backed up, told you he was going to punch, and then socked him with a star punch right in the face."[46] They also described the fight with him as being a "total joke".[47] Nintendo World Report editor Neal Ronaghan called him a series staple, adding that he barely poses a threat to players.[48] Wired editor Earnest Cavalli described Glass Joe as a "living metaphor for physical weakness."[49]

While he is known for the low difficulty involved in defeating him, his appearance in the Title Defense mode of the Wii Punch-Out!! game was noted as being far more difficult than any other incarnation of the character. The Daily Telegraph editor Tom Hoggins described Glass Joe as a "deliriously entertaining creation", describing him as a wimpy French man. However, he noted that he becomes more difficult in the Title Defense mode, describing him as being a pushover otherwise.[50] Kotaku editor Michael McWhertor, while describing him as a "frail French fighter" and "perennial punching bag", later commented that it was surprising to see him being this difficult in his second incarnation.[51] GamePro listed the Title Defense mode as the fifth best "second quest" in video games, citing Glass Joe's new form as a demonstration of how difficult it can be.[52] Official Nintendo Magazine commented that in spite of the fact that Glass Joe couldn't "fight sleep", they lost to him in Title Defense. They cited this loss as them losing their worries and annoyances with the game's difficulty and Next Level Games.[53]

N-Sider editor Brandon Daiker commented that this incarnation of Glass Joe will "beat the shit out of you."[54] Wired editor Chris Baker found that while Glass Joe was a pushover normally, this incarnation defeated him several times.[55] Bit Mob editor Andrew Fitch, in the article "How Glass Joe Knocked Out My Gaming Apathy," stated that while he would not spoil anything about the Title Defense mode, "Glass Joe is kicking my ass. Badly." He cited the mode as the hidden gem of Punch-Out!!.[56] GameSpot stated that "the sad fact is, you will lose to Glass Joe, for maybe the first time in your life".[57] editor Scott Sharkey described the difficulty of Glass Joe as being a shock after beating Mr. Sandman.[58] However, in spite of Glass Joe's enhancements, Game Informer editor Bryan Vore described him as still being "tremendously easy".[59]

References[edit | edit source]

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