[Villain's Week is where we celebrate the evils of the world...And Tyler Humphrey's birthday.]
A challenger approaches. The lights dim, or perhaps the music speeds up. You’re finally face to face with the enemy you’ve been playing the entire game to get to. These bad guys are the ones that set up the story, the obstacles in the way of you and your goal. The villains we’re talking about are generally known to be much more epic encounters, they’re memorable to us because of how unique they are compared to the rest of the enemies we run through. Hit the jump to find out which gaming villains really resound with us.
[Sephiroth - Final Fantasy VII]
Okay, okay, I know. I can hear you sighing and rolling your eyes. I get it. However when we were asked to come up with our favorite villain, Sephykins was immediately in my mind. He’s an insane superhuman all roided out on alien cells with a big-time God complex. He’s an interesting character if you pay attention to the nuances and don’t boil it down to “lol he walked thru fire.”
He’s very disturbed and unstable in Final Fantasy VII, but if you play some of the prequel games, you learn that he was fairly human. Cold and arrogant, sure, but he was human. His descent into madness blew my mind when I first played it. I had never experienced a character like him before.
Most people cite the death of Aerith to be his shining moment. For me, it was watching him break down mentally. Watching his reactions to the journal entries. Watching him tear up Jenova’s life support-statue-thing and seeing his “mother” for the first time. Watching his interactions with Cloud.
I’ve loved Final Fantasy VII ever since I was a kid. It made an impact on me and affected who I am today. Sephiroth is definitely a huge part of that.
[LeChuck - Monkey Island]
Ghosts, pirates, zombies, and demons are all popular forms of villainy, but LeChuck is one of the few characters who has embraced them all. In his never-ending quest to marry the lovely Elaine Marley, LeChuck has spanned just about every corporeal form imaginable.
He enjoys torturing the souls of his dead crew, cheesy undead theme parks, and the forced company of his favorite Governor. Weaknesses include root beer, voodoo dolls, cursed cutlasses, and never having enough slaw.
Whether you’re playing the original voice-less games or the newer games with Earl Boen playing the role, LeChuck remains an always menacing, sometimes hilarious antagonist.
You think you have what it takes to bring down this vicious, undead pirate? Big Whoop.
[Grue - Zork]
It would be impossible to deny the appeal of GLaDOS’ pathological entrapments, and finally seeing Dracula after a particularly difficult slog through Castlevania will fill you with equal parts exhilaration and dread. But personally I prefer psychological terror, and few enemies have enraptured my imagination quite like the grue from Zork. That’s right, Zork – the text adventure game. There were, of course, no graphics to speak of, and that’s exactly what made the grue so scary.
Here is the text that ostensibly deterred you from heading into darkness in the game: “It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.” That was it. As soon as you read that, your mind raced with the possibilities – it was something big enough to eat you, but that was all you had to go on; your imagination filled in the rest. And that’s exactly what made the grue so terrifying.
[Random Bad Guy - Max Payne]
You know, there are a lot of interesting enemies in video games that everyone knows and talks about: Sephiroth, Ocelot, and Dr. Salvador to name a few. There is one enemy in particular that kind of rocked my world when I first encountered him 13 years ago, and he’s always been at the forefront of my mind. I’m talking about this guy from Max Payne:
He’s not a boss, he doesn’t even have a name. He is however one of the most unforgettable villains I’ve ever faced in a game for the simple reason that, after plowing through HUNDREDS of enemies in this game without even batting an eye, he is the only one to make me hesitate for a moment. One of my favorite things about the first two Max Payne games were the conversations the thugs would be having as you turned the corner. I wish I knew Portuguese so I could understand what they’re saying in Max Payne 3…
[GLaDOS - Portal Series]
Very few villains accompany you on your entire journey, putting you down and making you feel as useless as GLaDOS. Her commentary is constantly lingering throughout every test chamber, and all she hopes for is your demise. Her welcoming tone brings you right in, but as soon as you start, it’s obvious that she’s out for blood. She uses her sarcastic sass and progressively becomes more and more aggressive. She may not be as evil as the Joker or other dark villains, but she is certainly more than a joy to be up against. She’s comical, she’s sadistic, and that is why she is the greatest villain.
[Master Hand - Super Smash Brothers]
Master Hand is the one thing that makes Super Smash Brothers such a brilliant game. He represents the game’s setting perfectly. A young child has gathered his favorite stuffed toys together and instead of playing nicely with them, pits them together in a duel to the death.
Finally when the toys have had enough of this shameful exhibition, they rise up in rebellion. They seek to hurt their overlord in the brief hope that they will get some reprieve for that day. It is sick childish fun that this person is having, and that’s what makes Master Hand a great villain.
Master Hand takes joy in these duels. Many villains are strung behind motivations, yet there is none here. All Master Hand wants is to have fun. He’ll smash Mario, Pikachu and Donkey Kong together just to achieve this.
[Maze - Fable]
Sometimes the worst kind of villain is the one that you least expect. In Fable, you are saved from the destruction of your village by the Hero, Maze, who takes you to the Heroes Guild where you are taught by the Guildmaster and other to harness your strength, skill, and will. Throughout your childhood and adolescence, Maze is there as a reminder to go seek vengeance on the bandits who slaughtered your village. When you finally go out into the world and unravel the mystery of who the bandits were and who sent them, you discover that Maze is a traitor and has been working for Jack of Blades, the main bad guy, since before he saved you.
This betrayal hurts more than anything villains can do to you physically. This is a man who saved you, trained you, and was like a father/older brother figure to you. To find out he is with the enemy you have spent your entire life trying to find is painful. His reasons aren’t much better either. Betraying you and helping to slaughter your family and friends for such a petty reason is the worst villainy.
[Yomiel - Ghost Trick]
Placing Ghost Trick’s Yomiel, also known as “The Manipulator,” as my top villain may be counted as cheating in some circles, because (unlike blue-skinned Sith and his cronies) he turns to the side of good in the end. During The Manipulator’s tenure as the game’s most threatening and mysterious antagonist, the player slowly learns of his tragic backstory, the circumstances which place Yomiel far above any other villain I have encountered.
More than anything, Yomiel is a victim. On the night that set in motion the events of the game, he was under questioning for a crime that he did not commit, but due to mistakes made by Inspectors Jowd and Cabanela, he lost his composure and dignity, soon finding himself in a park, holding a hostage. As a result, he lost his life to an asteroid fragment, and for a few months, his memories. His fiancee soon committed suicide at the news of his death, even though, through a cruel twist of fate, his spirit and body lived on independently of each other. Just imagine the sorrow, the despair caused by spending so many years in such a suspended animation, dead but alive, yet with nothing remaining to live for. Through his ghost powers and the offer of a foreign government, he was able to devise a plan to extract revenge upon all who he believed had wronged him, yet in a cruel twist of fate, he found himself once again screwed over in the final minutes before dawn.
Yomiel is far from the most peasant character, and commits a decent number of acts of cruelty throughout Ghost Trick. However, he is, in a game full of men and woman tossed together into the abyss by fate, one of the most sympathetic characters to be found. The Manipulator has scared me to death, and Yomiel has made me cry. Unlike our dear Tyler Humphrey, his evil has reason and, misguided as it is, justification. For that, he is my favorite villain.
[Adachi Tooru - Persona 4]
What is it about nihilists that are just so fun to be around? Always spouting philosophical nonsense about the meaning of life, or lack thereof. Take Adachi Tooru for instance. He enjoys placing people into a dangerous world full of nightmares and enjoys watching his victims squirm. His entire reasoning? He’s bored.
I’d like to think Adachi is the perfect villain to represent the 21st century. The generation born of cable TV, Instant messaging, and the internet. Immediate gratification and connectivity to the global database. Take those things away and he reacts like any child of the modern age, becoming angry, apathetic to the real world, and in his case willing to throw people into a living hell.
In Adachi we have modern nihilism.
It’s not that there is a lack of meaning in life; only that there is a lack of meaning in the real world. The people in our lives are fake, living up to a standard set up by an improper society. An identity built off of a lie and this is the life we’re supposed to call reality. Adachi is the crusader against the fake reality, or so he says.
In the end he’s just a spoiled child. A child who lost what he once had and had deluded himself into thinking of himself as something he isn’t. But it’s fascinating all the more to see this perfectly realized image of the 21st century’s version of the nihilist. To see him chosen to represent that particular aspect of society in a game devised by god just makes it all the more poignant. As both a villain and a character, Adachi Tooru is representative of ideas much larger than the small individual he is in reality.
[Yeti - SkiFree]
We all remember him. The haunting moment where he ruins everything. SkiFree’s Yeti monster is probably my earliest memory of being scared out of my mind. You’re skiing down a snowy slope, you’re rocking ass as you weave around every obstacle. Enjoying the sights, jumping the ramps at full speed. Suddenly, out of nowhere, this Yeti comes at you doing The Creep in fast forward. I don’t think I’ve ever defeated him. For that matter, I don’t even think he’s beatable. I’ve heard stories of narrow escapes but those all seem like tall tales.
The Yeti is inescapable. Don’t let the videos of proof you may find fool you. The truth is when you play SkiFree, this villain chases you forever. Always the one that chewed you up. Always the villain that you could never really defeat.