Video Games & Drinking

I have a major case of writer's block. I spent the best part of an hour last night staring at my computer screen trying to think of a topic for this post and bang out something semi-coherent. I have very little to show for my effort, as I found myself surfing the net with little purpose and ended up buying Killzone 3 and Final Fantasy IV: Complete Collection instead. Still without a topic and minus £30 I decided to settle upon the first two subjects which popped into my head; video games and drinking. Count yourself lucky, as this post could've just as easily been about sex and tuna-bake.

Drinking has long been a complement to, and a feature of video games. From Shun Di and his drunken kung-fu to Sheppard necking shots at Afterlife and hitting the dance floor, there is no shortage of video game lushes. Moving into the real world, some games lend themselves to drunken sessions, whilst others are best avoided after a night out on the lash, and as I touched upon last week, video game bars are the perfect marriage between games and alcohol, with their huge game libraries and over-priced novelty drinks.

Here are some musings on the relationship between drinks and video games.

Remember to drink responsibly.

1. The Chaser - Video Game Drinking Games

Although you may not know it by looking out your window, summer is almost upon us. Tis the season for beer/pub gardens - an excellent excuse to get outdoors, spend time with friends and remain inebriated throughout the summer months.

However, you don’t always need to venture outside for fun, as video games have long been an integral part of drinking games. Here are some excellent ways to pair two of my favourite guilty pleasures.

Densha De Go - Last Train Home
That’s right; train driving simulators are fun when mixed with alcohol. Get a couple of friends, the train controller peripheral (see above) and some beers and enjoy. The aim is to stop your train within a predetermined distance of the upcoming platform, with losers drinking appropriately. It’s much harder than it sounds, as you will spend your first few attempts hurtling past platforms, breaking sharply and sending your passengers flying.

Heavy Rain - Munted at the Mall
Taken from the infamous mall scene, each participant must take a sip every time our panic stricken protagonist calls out for his missing son. "Jason. Jason? Jason!". What better way to start a party than with one of the most annoying scenes in recent memory.

La Noire - Tears of Vodka
Each time your heavy-handed interrogation techniques cause a widow or a newly-minted orphan to cry, take a shot. Also drink each time you trip over a corpse, lose your hat or forget what case you are supposed to be investigating.

FIFA – Piss-up Penalties
Any football game will do for this, the oldest and simplest VG drinking game. Its a penalty shoot-out, swapping players in and out, where if you score everyone else drinks. If it’s a save, you drink and if you miss the target entirely, down it. The beautiful game.

Wii Sports – Families that drink together, stay together
The Wii still has its uses. Great for a small drinking party, Wii sports is a game that anyone can play, no matter how many beers they've had. Once the obligatory character creation is over with, why not try some beer fuelled tennis or boxing, making the rules up as you go. Though be careful, with arms flailing a couple of drinks are probably going to end up on the floor.

Little Big Planet 1 & 2 - Creamy Baileys
Every time you spot something, be it a character, dialogue or even a whole level that seems to be, for a lack of a better word, borrowed from The Mighty Boosh, have a gulp of creamy Baileys. Served from a shoe. In a club where people wee on each other.

Burnout Paradise Ultimate Box – DUI
The party mode is perfect for drinking. Short challenges for up to 8 players, drinking depending on your ranking. If you crave a real challenge, each competitor should down a beer before each round. Lets see you power-park now!

2. The Pint - Drinking in Video Games

Video game drunks are usually little more than comic relief. Whether its Virtua Fighter's Shun Di collapsing after victory and having a swig of his sake or the booze-fuelled exploits in Conker's Bad Fur Day, games tend to treat drinking rather lightly. Getting John Marston all liquored-up and falling down a set of stairs is great fun, as you know that at the end of it he will stand-up and get on with the rest of his day, free from hang-over or serious spinal injury.

That isn't to say that games haven't tried to include at least some semblance of reality with heavy drinking, highlighting some of the consequences of going on a super bender. Grand Theft Auto IV took the unusual step of having your level of in-game drunkenness effect your speech, vision and reactions, encouraging you to take a taxi home rather than drive yourself. Getting behind the wheel after a few rounds in GTAIV is not advisable as your view is blurred, the screen seems to spin and the usual controls become unreliable. Driving drunk you run the risk of crashing and attracting the attention of the police, who would love nothing more than to put you in a cell for the night. Still, no matter how many pedestrians you mow-down, you will be back on the streets the next day.

There are many bars and off-license stores in Yakuza 4, which allow you to enjoy both the benefits and drawbacks of a liquid breakfast. Alcohol can provide a temporary boost to stats, though sauntering around Kamurocho stinking drunk is likely to attract unwanted attention. One street thug claims to be serving the community in wanting to beat the shit out of you, hoping to spare the children the sight of a shameful middle-aged drunk. Drinking is followed by a hang-over of sorts, remedied with over-the-counter medicine. The whole process of drunkenness is present in Yakuza 4, though comically sped-up, causing you to pause before downing an alcoholic beverage, aware that having a drink is not without consequence.

3. The Night-Cap - Drunken Gaming

Every once in a while I will find myself half-cut and wanting to game. I'm always with it enough to know that there are certain games that I can and can’t play in an inebriated state. Some games lend themselves to shit-faced sessions, whereas others are better left until the next day.

Here are some perfect titles for those Saturday nights when you are sober enough to do something constructive, but drunk enough not to realise that you should probably just go to bed.

Singstar and Def Jam Rapstar
The Singstar games are made for drunken gaming sessions. In fact, I don't think I have ever played it sober. I once tried Karaoke with friends without the usual alcoholic lubricant, and quickly realised that, for me at least, drink is a pre-requisite for singing. Whilst my rapping is somewhat more agreeable than my crooning (I automatically put on an accent that sounds like a mix between Mike Skinner and Roots Manuva which, no matter how hard I try, I cannot avoid doing), its still best enjoyed with a beer.

DJ Hero 2
Much like Singstar, it lends itself to drinking parties, though the cost of the turntables will likely limit the size of any gathering. To crank up the difficulty, and fun, try both DJ-ing and singing at the same time on one of the many tracks which support both modes.

It’s just like clubbing, only on your own and with a trance vibrator. It also makes me far less angry than being in a real club, so its definitely a winner.

I have written about this PSN gem many times (most recently here). With its excellent electronic soundtrack, colourful visuals and simple, addictive gameplay its a real winner and a great way to wind-down after a night out. Two years on, and its still the best game on PSN, played drunk or sober.

Virtua Cop 2
Having played this game so many times over the years, it got to the point where I knew exactly when and where the next bad guy was coming from, able to dispatch him with ease. I considered it a bit of a party trick, and even started practicing using two guns at the same time. Unfortunately, the advent of HD TVs brought an end to my exploits, as they are incompatible with the Saturn light gun. Still, if you have a SD TV then it’s as playable as it was all those years ago and is a blast with a couple of drinks.  


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