Vlad | GTA IV
Liberty City’s most loathsome loan shark is good at many things. Intimidating fat taxi owners. Repulsing women. Being a sadistic ass. Making vodka-endorsed escapes from amoral Balkan assassins in anticlimactic car chases? Not so much. And, after spending the game’s first few hours knocking back PissWassers and Comrade’s cheapest spirits, it’s no surprise to see him crash his car then drunkenly beg for his life.
It says volumes for the abilities of alcohol to make a person feel massively self-important when you’ve got Vlad calling Niko a peasant, even though he himself drinks at the cheapest bar in the city, drives unreliable motors and wears the kind of flea-ridden suit and sweater combos that went out of fashion with Tubbs and Crockett. Also, how drunk do you have to be to employ a man who blows up cop cars and has an unhealthy obsession with capping pigeons, and then act surprised when he sinks a slug in your colon?
Soda Popinski | Super Punch-Out!!
It’s a certain type of alcoholic that’s so free from the stigma of their disease they’re quite happy to down some premium Russian vodka in front of a crowd of thousands. Soda Popinski, or Vodka Drunkinski - his original racial slur of a moniker – is that type of alcoholic. As happy at lubricating his larynx with booze as smashing skulls in the boxing ring, Popinski was a true pioneer of 8-bit drunks. During a time when the biggest problems most games characters faced were 7ft jumps, megalomaniacal doctors or collecting precariously placed 1ups; Soda was facing the demons of vodka dependency.
Not that we had much sympathy, mind. His ‘how the hell is that legal?’ low hook, which was more like a shoulder ram, floored us more times than we care to admit. Far from impeding his motor functions or hand-eye coordination, the pre and post-bout booze didn’t stop him from performing one of the most lethal moves in the game. There’s a lesson for all aspiring boxers. Forget sports psychology, rigorous training and a healthy diet. All you need is 8-bit vodka sprites.
Conker | Conker’s Bad Fur Day
What’s more endearing than an intoxicated cartoon squirrel? An intoxicated cartoon squirrel who’s thrust into a series of misadventures involving more swearing than a Tarantino movie marathon, parodies of every 90s action film you can think of and fights with massive piles of shit. Thank God for the rodent’s love for lager, because, without it, we’d have ended up with Twelve Tales: Conker 64. As much as we love insipidly cheerful soundtracks and frolicking around with nuts, we think we prefer seeing squirrels getting tanked, dropping villagers into giant mincers and shooting teddy bears in the face.
Conker’s Bad Fur Day was bravely pioneering drunken gameplay long before Mr. Bellic ever kissed the kerb outside Comrades. The fact that the drunken tutorial and the bit where you relieve yourself on some diminutive devils got approved, particularly on the family-friendly N64, was also a censor-baiting miracle. Now, if only Rare could get cracking on a sequel that lets you swirl gin while throwing grenades. Then we’d be happy.