For too long, political correctness has choked expression much like smoking might choke someone’s lungs. Back in the good old days, it was common for prominent pillars of society to be seen smoking: baseball players, gangsters, Popeye. Now it’s incredibly frowned upon, because “smoking may slowly kill you,” if you believe “proven medical facts.” But there are a proud few in gaming who celebrate their freedom to poison themselves, even if it means a T-rating and a lower life expectancy. Plus they offer helpful hints on the lesser known positives of tobacco.
Cid Highwind in Final Fantasy VII
One of a long line of Cids who make flying machines in Final Fantasy games, this Cid appeared in FFVII and its never-ending supply of spinoffs. Perhaps based on suicidal, hard-working game designers, Cid is committed to being a pilot and chain smokes while working to help him focus. In fact, this daring Dragoon is rarely seen without a pack in his headband and a cig on his lips.
Not only was Cid seen smoking during the story, but after winning a battle he would light a fresh one. And while it looked like he quit in the Advent Children film, the unlucky few who played Dirge of Cerberus know he's already lapsed one year later. He also has the nasty habit of swearing too much, which you kids shouldn't do.
But Cid does clean it up for the kids when appearing in the Kingdom Hearts games, as Disney is known to abhor smoking. Well, the company currently does; Walt Disney loved to smoke most of his life and eventually died from lung cancer complications because it was so much fun. Despite this censorship, Cid keeps his oral fixation alive with a toothpick as he fixes Gummi Ships.
Above: Walt enjoying tobacco decades before Disney took away Cid's
Repede in Tales of Vesperia
In Tales of Vesperia, the protagonist's loyal pup Repede continually carries around his trusty pipe. That old-man accessory and his collection of scars give the adorable doggie an air of experience. Sadly, he only carries the pipe, which belonged to his former master, never smoking it. Perhaps it's because he can't light it, but that's hard to believe since he handles swords and healing items well enough.
Few people are more uncool these days than Duke Nukem. His game that was delayed forever got the bullet in the brain it deserved, he's completely unknown to any gamers under 13 other than as a joke and he's a total failure. Nobody wants to be like him, no matter what he shoves in his mouth. But as uselessly inconsequential as he is today, the cigar-loving misogynist was amazing if you were between the ages of 11 and 16 in the mid-‘90s, and also were a sexually frustrated male.
Above: "What do you mean 'overcompensating?'"
Back then, Duke had it all. He was funny, he was edgy, he molested women and he murdered authority figures. And part of his appeal was his cigar-smoking, which gave him that one last affectation the put him over the top. He didn't take no for an answer, and would light up in the face of those in charge with their no-smoking signs. An actual Duke quote: "I like a good cigar... and a bad woman."
Then you grow up, and the magic is gone. You see more movies and realize the "original" Duke steals quotes and characteristics from every action film from the '80s and early '90s. You realize he long ago crossed the line between badass and idiotic, and that as cool as smoking is, it isn't enough to make Duke palatable. Now Marcus Fenix, there's a timeless character!
Above: We've come so far
You in BioShock
Fitting with the Objectivist and Libertarian ideals Rapture was built on, it's no surprise that you can smoke if you choose to in this submerged utopia. Among much of the detritus in the waterlogged world are packs of cigarettes. Much like they are for Metal Gear’s Solid Snake, here they're a double-edged sword: smoking brings up your Eve for more plasmid fun, but hurts you at the same time. Though perhaps that's because, as one audiolog puts it, they're made out of seashells and fish eggs.
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