How to Beat Soda Popinski in "Punch-Out!!"
By James Holloway
Updated September 22, 2017
Russian boxer Soda Popinski appears in both the classic 1987 NES game "Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!" and in the 2009 Wii version of "Punch-Out!!", as well as 1985's "Super Punchout!!" under the less-PG name of Vodka Drunkenski. Soda Popinski is a tough opponent, but he's not impossible to beat if you learn to recognize what he's about to do and use the correct move to counter it.
Know Your Opponent
In his first appearance in the 1985 arcade game "Super Punch-Out!!", the Russian boxer was known as Vodka Drunkenski. His name was changed for the console release of the game, although he still refers to being drunk. For instance, in "Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!" he remarks "I can't drive, so I'm gonna walk all over you!" Because he drinks soda rather than vodka, many of these references become comically absurd. He represents the Soviet Union in the NES game and Russia in the Wii version.
Beating Soda Popinski in "Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!"
Soda Popinski is the eighth opponent in "Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!" To beat him, observe his movements carefully. Soda relies heavily on his left hook and uppercut. Dodge out of the way of the left hook, then throw jabs to the face. When he crouches to throw an uppercut, hold down on the D-pad. He will hesitate for a moment; with excellent timing, you can throw a body blow to get a star. Otherwise, sidestep the uppercut and jab him in the face. When Soda does his Drunken Dance combo -- a series of rapid jabs -- you can dodge the first punch and jab at his face to stun him.
Beating Soda Popinski in "Punch-Out!!" for the Wii
Soda Popinski is a tough gatekeeper in "Punch-Out!!" He combines high damage with speed, especially in his uppercut. When he drinks, you can punch the bottle out of his hand for a star, but he'll respond by launching a series of three or four rapid uppercuts. He's invulnerable until the last punch, so wait to throw your counterpunch. You'll see him hesitate for a moment on the last punch -- this is the moment to jab. If you've got a star handy, wait until Soda taunts you and throw a star punch for an instant knockdown. If you don't have a star, you can jab him during the taunt to gain one.
Beating Soda Popinski in Title Defense Mode
Once Little Mac has gained the title, Soda Popinski reappears as a challenger in Title Defense Mode. He is faster and stronger, with a new pattern to his attacks. You can still dodge or duck his hooks, or even jab to interrupt them, but your timing will have to be precise. Every time you stun Soda, the number of times you can hit him during stun increases by one. To do maximum damage, keep track of the number of possible punches. Throw a series of jabs, then use a hook as your final punch. You should be able to follow it with a delayed jab.
Dr James Holloway has been writing about games, geek culture and whisky since 1995. A former editor of "Archaeological Review from Cambridge," he has also written for Fortean Times, Fantasy Flight Games and The Unspeakable Oath. A graduate of Cambridge University, Holloway runs the blog Gonzo History Gaming.