Soda Popinski as depicted in promotional artwork.
|First game||Super Punch-Out!! (arcades)|
|Designed by||Makoto Wada (Punch-Out!!, 1987)|
Eddie Viser (Punch-Out!!, 2009)
|Voiced by||Ihor Mota (Punch-Out!!, 2009)|
Soda Popinski (Japanese: ソーダ・ポピンスキー Hepburn: Sōda Popinsukī) is a fictional Russian boxer from Nintendo's Punch-Out!! series. He first appeared in the 1984 arcade game Super Punch-Out!!, where he was known as Vodka Drunkenski (ウォッカ・ドランケンスキー Wokka Dorankensukī). He was permanently renamed to Soda Popinski in 1987's Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! to avoid controversy. His country of origin was originally the USSR, but this was changed to Russia in the 2009 Punch-Out!! for the Wii due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Concept and appearances
The character debuted with the name Vodka Drunkinski in the 1984 arcade game Super Punch-Out!!. To revise the stereotype of the alcoholic Russian, Nintendo of America permanently changed the character's name to the more family oriented Soda Popinski in 1987's NES home console game Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!. An unlicensed version of the game titled Frank Bruno's Boxing was released for home computers, where he is unofficially named "Andra Puncharedov". His most recent appearance is in the 2009 Wii game Punch-Out!!, with designer Eddie Viser and voice actor Ihor Mota. He lives in Moscow, Russia, which was renamed from the USSR upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Soda Popinski is characterized by his baldness, height, muscular frame, mustache, and his clothing. In the NES game, he makes regular references to soda and is seen drinking it in between fights. In the Wii game, he is dressed for severe blizzard conditions and drinks many bottles of soda. During matches, he will attempt to take a drink from a bottle in order to recover from being knocked down, or sometimes in the middle of the fight to regain health. If players prevent him from doing the latter, he goes into a rage.
Since debuting in 1984's Super Punch-Out!!, Soda Popinski has received mostly positive reception. He has been referred to by many sources as both a notable character to the series and a fan favorite. He is the favorite character of the producers of Punch-Out!! for the Wii. Complex ranked him as the eighteenth most annoying character in video games and called him an "unholy collection of racial stereotypes". MTV's Shaheem Reid suggested that rapper Papoose may be a cross between Clubber Lang, Ivan Drago, and Soda Popinski.
He has been a component of racial discussion in video games since his 1984 debut in Super Punch-Out!!. The Guardian called his name change one of Nintendo's "most dramatic" alterations. and a "shamelessly politically incorrect character". The Escapist suggested that although now nostalgic, the cast is offensive relative to racial sensitivity today, and that it becomes more offensive once players learn of his original name. 1UP.com listed Punch-Out!! as the fourth most racist video game due in part to Soda's "Soviet roughneck" stereotype. GamesRadar called him one of the "top seven biggest drunks in games", specifically calling him the "drink to feel invincible" type and a "true pioneer of 8-bit drunks". GamesRadar later discussed the vodka consumption, said that the resistance to cold weather seemed intentional due to the conflicts between the United States and the USSR in 1984, and noted that Russians were considered "anti-American villains". GamesRadar later listed an example of Nintendo's censorship of alcohol in video games but noted that the character's mid-fight quotes still reference drinking.
A bar located in San Francisco, California was named after him. The name was chosen so it would "feel like a USSR-era Siberian hunting lodge". A drink described as a "double shot of Russian vodka served neat" was named after his original name.
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- Goszkowski, Rob (February 7, 2013). "Soda Popinski's enters the San Francisco bar ring". The San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved May 30, 2014.