Punchy – ZX Spectrum Review

Sinclair ZX Spectrum

Punchy, developed by Issi and released originally in 1983 by Mr Micro Ltd, gathered more attention from the 1986 re-release as part of the Spectrum +2 bundle, the Soft 888 pack.

It is actually a reworked version of a game called Hunchy, also developed by Issi earlier that year. Following potential legal issues over similarities with Century Electronics Ltd arcade game, Hunchback, the game needed to be changed.

The games are virtually identical except for a slight redesign, sprite replacement and modifications to some of the game sound.

Punchy ZX Spectrum
The Box Artwork For Punchy

Punchy was the first game I ever played on my brand new Spectrum +2 back in 1987. As mentioned above, the +2 back then came with a bundle of 6 games called the Soft 888 pack.

The games in this pack were Oh Mummy, Disco Dan, Crazy Golf, Treasure Island, Alien Destroyer and of course Punchy.

We purchased Out Run that day too. Since being 6 years old and had limited experience with arcade games, I opted to play Punchy first. Probably the bright orange cassette inlay looked the most exciting!

I then experienced two shocks. The first. being able to plug our new computer into the big downstairs TV. But the second surprise shook me to the core.


It spoke! The game spoke to us! Or at least that’s what it kind of sounded like! I cannot explain how amazing this was at the time. At least I thought it spoke to us, but it was enough. The excitement generated by crackly digitised speech, good times!

It sounds a tad excessive in retrospect, but at that age and time, anything seemed possible!

Punchy is a single-player game where you play across 16 levels as Bobby, a policeman whose goal is to rescue Judy, who has been locked away by Punch. The gameplay is simple but fun at the time. Bobby starts on the left side of each stage, you need to make it to the cradle to proceed.

Bobby faces numerous obstacles including, rotten tomatoes, custard pies and falling into a pit of deadly alligators if a jump onto a magic carpet is mistimed! Fortunately for Bobby, Judy sends sausages across the levels to him.

When Bobby collects 3 sausages, he can then skip to the next level. Be ready for the really intense laughing that comes from the square face in the sky should Bobby die! Absolutely terrifying!

That is pretty much the game, not bad for a freebie, but was well worth the load time to experience digitised speech for the first time on a home computer.

The game received favourable reviews at the time though, Crash magazine gave it 88% saying that it’s amusing but can get repetitive, but the graphics and speed make it almost worth the money alone – High praise indeed!

Punchy is usually very cheap to buy, so is definitely worth a purchase to add to your collection.

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