Hometown: Moscow, USSR
Born: 1952
Weight: 237 lbs.
Real Name: Vodka Drunkenski
Type of Laugh: Guffaw
Favorite Non-Vodka Spirit: Casper
Favorite Drink: "Pride of Brezhnev"
Pride of Brezhnev: Diet Squirt and Ethanol
Favorite Gulag: Murmansk

Armed with his burlap boxing gloves and the gayest Speedo in his collection, Soda Popinski first appeared in the original Punch-Out!! Tour after the rematch with Piston Honda. His belly laugh actually frightened me as a child, but not as much as his weird "rubbing his knees together thing" does as an adult. In the arcade tours he went under his real name of "Vodka Drunkenski" but this name was amended for the home version in an empowering display of international diplomacy. The Soviet emissary to the Nintendo Capitol obviously was more persuasive than his counterparts from elsewhere in the world, since the game depicts among other stereotypes, Glass Joe's French timidity, Von Kaiser's German aggression, and Mr. Sandman's eight-foot schlong.

When an albino buffalo is born in the United States, it strikes chords of both jubilation and reverance in every American Indian because as true as the mighty waters flow, this has been known for generations to portend extra loose nickel slots until the next cash tornado giveaway. Similarly, the Soviet people were worked into a state-controlled frenzy whenever a red-skinned child was birthed in the motherland. To celebrate, the Kremlin would add one smile to each household's annual allotment of 13. Those families that enjoyed two touchdowns worth of smiles in 1952 had an infant Popinski to thank for this, although almost all of them certainly didn't, since their "thank you" quota was only one per year to all non-embalmed Bolshevik revolutionaries.

What to do with these chosen children cloaked in the color of the party was a point of huge contention within the empire. From the Duma to the KGB, everyone had their ideas of what they should be trained to do. While the most level-headed responses suggested destinies of "cosmonaut" and "naval commander," the notoriously corrupt government usually ended up screwing things up and pumped out an embarassing amount of Olympic cross country skiiers and Black Sea fortune tellers instead. Not surprisingly, Popinski, who originally was supposed to captain the actual spacecraft to be used in the planned bombing of the Apollo 11 astronauts on the moon, was instead relegated to video game boxer.


Every character in Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! was an individual freak show within the much larger and more elaborate farce. This section could be pretty much the same for each boxer: Talk about how bizarre he was, highlight his most obvious idionsyncrasy, and then vigorously attempt to conceal my thorough speculation on his sexual prowess, or lack thereof in the case of Flamenco, Joe, and Tyson.

Forsaking the too-obvious route just described, it's probably more pertinent just to talk about the manner in which he fought and all the godless whores he routinely banged in Yekaterinburg. Shit. Popinski, who also happens to be the body twin of the Super Macho Man, was unlike anybody you had seen in the game to that point. He had this strange "punch" that was shoddily programmed by Nintendo so that instead of looking like a low hook as they intended, Soda instead turned his head and rammed his fucking shoulder into your chin. Most of the time I would stand up and yell at the TV that the Soviet was cheating was again, but before the words could come out of my mouth, Soda would unload with his huge uppercut and Little Mac's teeth would fly out of his.

Unless you were distracted by Bald Bull's hideous face or slipped into a coma while fighting Von Kaiser, it's pretty likely you hadn't been knocked down before this point in the game. It probably scared the hell out of you when the crowd started blinking like Las Vegas, Mario and the words on the screen were imploring you to get up, and the haunting music let you know that some bad shit was going down, similar to when they start playing Lamb of God songs on the Price is Right when Plinko losers are fed to alligators. On top of this sensory cacophony, Soda Popinski stood in the middle of the ring and laughed at you like he just fucking stole the Empire State Building from Carmen Sandiego. It's at this point that most novices threw the control and fled the premises with good reason: When a seven-foot communist is laughing uncontrollably next to an Italian plumber counting down to your death, all within the confines of a ring surrounded by hundreds of people having a mass seizure, your thoughts probably should shift towards self-preservation and away from tapping the A button really fast.

After some struggles, everyone eventually got through Soda Popinski, either through intense perseverance or by getting one of their friends who was good at the game to come over and knock his state property ass out in the first round. Soda did do a good job of taking a lot of the fun out of the game though, for the countless fat kids whose one shot at athletic glory was winning Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! The original plans for Soda to start slapping a random fat kid's gut in celebration of a win were mercifully scrapped, but I don't think that his "Now you lose, Little Debbie-fueled barn animal!" laugh was that much less hurtful.


Pazhitnov's Passion.
I wrote about Tetris quite awhile ago on this site. If you had to decide which was the more memorable Russian Nintendo character, Popinski or the long skinny Tetris piece, I could see admirable arguments on both sides. Popinski certainly had more character and more distinguishing traits, but the Tetris piece could be used for some semi-funny sexual innuendos in 3 AM drunken Tetris games. The problem of course, is that over 100% of all 3 AM drunken Tetris games are played in parties of one.
This one is a little harder to put a finger on. On the one hand, Soda Popinski was the first World Champion of the reformed WVBA. On the more obvious other hand, he had to go through the painstaking process of getting his name drawn out of a hat to achieve this honor. It is true that Soda did succesfully defend it once before losing it, but it's hard to give legitimate credence to a man whose claim to the belt equalled that of a grandmother's claim to a plate of sugar cookies at a bake sale.

Soda, apparently saddened by his menacing image in the first go-round, has softened up his persona here. Trying to be a good example for the children and recovering communists worldwide, Popinski has vowed only to laugh at people getting hit in the groin (possibly by his fists) and at zingers fired by Martin Short when he's a guest on the David Letterman Show.

Doc Louis

"Nintendo's push to pimp the commie in the 80's was obvious, since the only way to scare the white man more than sending him to the hood was to tell him the Soviets were coming. My push to employ him is similarly obvious: He offered to bring rubels, which I confused with "strudels," and now I'm under contract to employ the son-of-a-bitch."


"I am still a little unnerved by Soda Popinski, kind of like how I don't trust that former Soviet iron worker who emigrated to my block this year. Both of them claim to be capitalism-loving peers of the American people, but I don't have any other neighbors that throw molotav cocktails into my car when the Wilson kids try to sell their Dixie cups of flat lemonade for an admittedly unreasonable twenty-five cents."

WVBA II Match History

Popinski's RankingOpponentOpponent RankingOutcome
WC ChampionMike TysonWC #13rd Round KO (W)
WC ChampionMike TysonWC #1Decision (L)
WC #2Great TigerWC #4Decision (L)
WC #4Bald BullMC #21st Round KO (W)
            <-- Also playing the role of Mac, it's you!!