Piston Hondo

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Piston Hondo

Piston Hondo, as depicted in Punch-Out!! for Wii. Designed by Eddie Viser.
Series Punch-Out!!
First game Punch-Out!! (NES)
Designed by Makoto Wada (Punch-Out!!, 1987
Eddie Viser (Punch-Out!!, 2009)
Voiced by Kenji Takahashi

Piston Hondo (ピストン・ホンドー?), originally known as Piston Honda (ピストン本田?) in the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Punch-Out!! video game, is a Japanese boxer from Tokyo, Japan. He was originally designed by Makoto Wada for the NES Punch-Out!!, and then later by Eddie Viser in the Wii Punch-Out!!. He is portrayed by Kenji Takahashi in the latter game. He has been noted as being similar to Piston Hurricane, with IGN describing him as the NES version's answer to him. He is depicted as a traditional Japanese person, and features several stereotypes of Japanese people, including a high sense of honour and an affinity for sushi. In the Wii version of Punch-Out!!, his name was changed from Honda to Hondo by Nintendo. This was as part of a preventive measure due to the fact that there is a car company named Honda. While Kotaku editor Michael McWhertor stated that this was wise, GameSpy editor felt it unnecessary due to the fact that Honda is a common Japanese name.

Since appearing in Punch-Out!! for the NES, Piston Hondo has received positive reception. He has been included as part of multiple pieces of merchandise, including Topps trading cards and action figures. PC World listed him as one of the familiar characters in the Punch-Out!! series, while IGN listed him as one of the top fighters in the series. One of the producers of the Wii Punch-Out!! chose him as his favourite character. However, he has been noted as a racial stereotype of Japanese people. Sumantra Lahiri of The Escapist commented that while stereotypes such as referencing sushi and kamikaze felt nostalgic, these stereotypes have aged poorly since the 1980s. GamesRadar editor Brett Elston cited several things, including his skills with blocking a sword with his bare hands, eating nothing but sushi, and bowing frequently. Though he added that Punch-Out!! was developed in Japan, and the Japanese are notorious for laughing off stereotypes.

Concept and appearances[edit | edit source]

Piston Hondo is a Japanese boxer from Tokyo, Japan.He was originally designed by Makoto Wada in the NES Punch-Out!!, where he was known as Piston Honda. He was later designed by Eddie Viser in the Wii Punch-Out!!. In the Wii Punch-Out!!, he was voiced by Kenji Takahashi. To date, he has only appeared in these two games. He has several Japanese stereotypes, including a high sense of honour and an affinity for sushi. Honda has similar fighting styles to Piston Hurricane, who appeared in the original arcade version. [1] Piston appears again in the Wii remake, though his surname was changed to Hondo.[2] When asked by GamesRadar the reason for this name change, editor Brett Elston commented that their response indicated that car company Honda may have factored into the altercation, though noting that it was a preventative measure and not a response from Honda.[3]

Reception[edit | edit source]

Since appearing in Punch-Out!!, Piston Hondo has received mostly positive reception. He has been featured as part of merchandise by Nintendo, including being a part of a series of Topps trading cards and action figures.[4][5] He has been described as a notable character to the series by media outlets including the Official Nintendo Magazine and the New York Daily News.[6][7] One of the producers of Punch-Out!! for the Wii chose Piston Hondo as his favourite character in the game.[8] IGN editor Jesse Schedeen listed him as one of Punch-Out!!'s top fighters. In the article, he calls him Japan's "resident superstar boxer". He adds that while Hondo was the answer to Piston Hurricane for the NES version, he doesn't see much resemblance outside of the fighting style.[1] Bit Mob editor Andrew Fitch commented that as a child, he viewed Piston Hondo as being "seemingly invincible."[9] In discussing the improvements to the character design in the Wii Punch-Out!!, citing how he would "bow bow and utter trite Japanese while you fight."[10] MeriStation commented that Hondo was not a dangerous opponent.[11]

In discussing the visual presentation of Punch-Out!!, Operation Sports editor Christian McLeod cited how sushi would float around his head when he becomes dizzy as one of the things that gave Punch-Out!! for The Wii its graphical charm.[12] PC Magazine editor Daniel S. Evans stated that while the game is much smoother, it retains much of the old school flavour, citing Piston Hondo's eyebrow movements as an example.[13] In response to Nintendo changing his name from Piston Honda to Piston Hondo, GameSpy editor Ryan Scott commented that someone should tell Nintendo that Honda is a common family name in Japan.[2] Kotaku editor Michael McWhertor, however, commented that this was the wisest thing to do.[14] Humour web site The Onion wrote an article about a series of interviews with Mike Tyson and other Punch-Out!! characters. The author suggests that a part of this documentary included a clip of Mike Tyson landing a knockout blow on Hondo's "Bonzai Attack."[15] In a humour article, ESPN created several parodies of Punch-Out!! characters based on real-life "punch-worthy palookas", including one of Piston Hondo called "Piston Hank".[16]

Racial stereotyping[edit | edit source]

File:Piston Hondo bow.png
Piston Hondo, bowing to player-character Little Mac. An example of one of the Japanese stereotypes utilized in Hondo's character, that Japanese people are particularly honourable.

Piston Hondo has been viewed as a racial stereotype of Japanese people. In discussing stereotyping in the Punch-Out!! series, GamesRadar editor Brett Elston commented that Piston Hondo utilizes several Japanese stereotypes, including a love for sushi, the ability to intercept swords with one's bare hands, and always bowing to one's opponent. He added that the game came from Japan, a country notorious for laughing off stereotypes. However, in the Canadian-developed Punch-Out!! for Wii, Elston states that Hondo engages in several "wink-wink-poke-poke Japanese moments", citing the appearance of byobu screens in his corner of the ring and him having sushi fly around his head when he becomes dizzy.[17] Kotaku editor Michael McWhertor stated that the characters of Punch-Out!! border on the edge of stereotype, and that it was great. He added that the Wii version improved upon this, citing how sushi floats around Piston Hondo's head.[18] Bit Mob editor Brian Shirk commented that some of Hondo's phrases were offensive.[19]

In commenting on the 2009 Wii remake, Sumantra Lahiri of The Escapist pointed out the stereotypes exhibited by Piston (such as randomly referencing sushi or kamikaze between matches); and suggested that while it did hold some nostalgic value, what seemed harmless in the 1980s version did not age well when early 21st century attitudes towards cultural and racial sensitivity were taken into account.[20] IGN editor Mark Bozon discussed the various "nuggets of personality" that characters have in the series, specifically mentioning Piston Hondo as a borderline racist, citing his lines "I'll give you a TKO from Tokyo" and "Sushi, Kamikaze, Fujiyama, Nipponichi".[21] Guardian.co.uk stated that the genius of Punch-Out!! lies in its "shamelessly politically incorrect" characters, citing Piston Hondo as one of these characters. He made reference to the line "Sushi, Kamikaze, Fujiyama, Nipponichi" in demonstrating Hondo's political incorrectness.[22]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Schedeen, Jesse (2009-03-24). Punch-Out!!'s Top Fighters - Stars Feature at IGN. Stars.ign.com. Retrieved on 2010-08-26
  2. 2.0 2.1 GameSpy: Punch-Out!! Review - Page 2. Wii.gamespy.com. Retrieved on 2010-08-26
  3. Punch-Out!! – exclusive boxer reveals!, Punch-Out!! Wii Features. GamesRadar. Retrieved on 2010-08-26
  4. Topps' Nintendo Game Packs - Scratch-offs. Trsrockin.com. Retrieved on 2010-08-26
  5. Nintendo Player :: Database. Nesplayer.com. Retrieved on 2010-08-26
  6. http://www.officialnintendomagazine.co.uk/article.php?id=8598
  7. Sheridan, Michael (2009-06-04). "Nintendo's refurbished 'Punch-Out' is a contender". New York: Nydailynews.com. http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/2009/06/04/2009-06-04_nintendos_refurbished_punchout_is_a_contender.html. Retrieved 2010-08-26. 
  8. Harris, Craig. Punch-Out!! Hands-on - Wii Preview at IGN. Wii.ign.com. Retrieved on 2010-08-26
  9. http://www.bitmob.com/articles/how-glass-joe-knocked-out-my-gaming-apathy
  10. http://www.n-sider.com/gameview.php?gameid=6354&view=review
  11. http://www.meristation.com/v3/des_trucos_guias.php?pic=WII&id=cw4a1a5e8b13094&idj=cw48ec89bb8ed35&idp=&tipo=G&c=1&pos=6
  12. Punch-Out!! Wii Review (Wii). Operation Sports. Retrieved on 2010-08-26
  13. Evans, Daniel S.. Punch-Out!! Review & Rating. PCMag.com. Retrieved on 2010-08-26
  14. Piston Honda Returns To Punch-Out!!, Mostly Intact. Kotaku.com (2009-05-06). Retrieved on 2010-08-26
  15. New Mike Tyson Documentary Features Exclusive Interviews With Super Macho Man, King Hippo | The Onion - America's Finest News Source. The Onion. Retrieved on 2010-08-28
  16. Patrick Hruby and Kurt Snibbe: Updating "Punch-Out!!" - ESPN. Sports.espn.go.com (2009-05-20). Retrieved on 2010-08-26
  17. Fun with stereotypes: starring Punch-Out!!, Punch-Out!! Wii Features. GamesRadar. Retrieved on 2010-08-26
  18. Punch-Out!! Review: Call It A Comeback. Kotaku.com (2009-05-19). Retrieved on 2010-08-26
  19. http://www.bitmob.com/articles/racial-stereotypes-in-video-games-how-do-we-change-them
  20. Huling, Ray (2009-01-13). The Escapist : Punch-Out!!'s Black Eye. Escapistmagazine.com. Retrieved on 2010-08-26
  21. Bozon, Mark (2008-12-16). The Top 10 Punch-Out!! Essentials - Wii Feature at IGN. Wii.ign.com. Retrieved on 2010-08-26
  22. "Joy of Six: Retro Sports Games | Sport | guardian.co.uk". London: Guardian. 2007-11-02. http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2007/nov/02/1. Retrieved 2010-08-26. 

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