Top-10 Video-Game Villains
Once again, I’m following T-McBee’s footsteps and listing my favourite villains in video-games. In order to be up here, the villain really only needs to be memorable enough in my book, although I also appreciate comedic value and some twisted elements to them as well.
The list of honourable mentions would run really long, because I tried to scrutinize my choices really hard on this one. So I’ll forego them now, but maybe I’ll make a follow-up list of all the villains who just barely missed out on the Top-10.
Let’s start off with a fighting game villain. I tried hard not to include too many since the list could have easily been filled up with them. To start off, let’s go with a slightly less well-known choice, Gargos from the second Killer Instinct game.
Gargos is often ignored in light of KI: Gold being a lot less prominent than the first game. However, Gargos is in fact an integral player in the series’ mythos, using the heroic Jago to free himself by impersonating the tiger spirit whose bidding Jago follows. This way he escapes from the Void and starts his rampage in KI2.
Gargos is a fucking badass. He is a powerful demon who can kick the asses of anyone who comes near him. I really dig his design and really considered him a massive step up from Eyedol in the first game, who always looked a bit doinky to me. Gargos also has one of my favourite background themes from the game.
However, Gargos did get up here simply on his visual appeal and charisma. He’s not actually that interesting as a villain which is why I put him on the lowest spot of the list.
Senor Susarro and the Grandmaster would have seemed like real shoe-ins for the Top-10 from the first and third Broken Sword games, but I decided to go with Colonel Karzak instead. While the second Broke Sword’s villains galore was a bit more on the comical side, Karzak did stand out in my book as a truly ruthless and malevolent character.
Karzak plans to free the Aztec God of Death, Tezcatlipoca, from his captivity within the Smoking Mirror. In order to do so, he needs the three spirit stones that were used to trap him and Karzak is not above murder, kidnapping or even making an otherwise harmless archaeologist become addicted to drugs in order to get his way. Karzak is a heartless bastard and next to his henchman, Pablo, the single most imposing villain in the game.
So why did such an obviously sinister character not make it any higher on the list? Karzak’s only weakness is that he only appears three times throughout the whole game. And while admittedly, in one of those confrontations he kills another central character and nearly one of the two playable characters, Karzak just isn’t prominent enough to warrant a higher spot. Even his evil scheme doesn’t turn out quite the way he intended and he instead staked by Tezcatlipoca immediately as he steps out of the mirror.
What would a Mario game be without Bowser? It’s tough to imagine. The turtle/dragon crossbreed, King of the Koopas, is one of the most iconic villains in video-games and for good reason. Bowser not only has armies of lackeys at his command, he can also change his size and breathe fire.
He also tenaciously pursues his conquest of the Mushroom Kingdom, although his plots are always foiled by the heroic Mario Brothers. Bowser is a cool mix of a character. While he can be gigantic and, at times, positively frightening – he’s actually a bit of a goof-ball. The various Mario spin-offs (particularly the RPG variants) play up Bowser’s comedic side even more, but I think it’s really nice having a villain you can also laugh to as well.
Having said that, Bowser definitely is about as stock as video-game villains go. He has a singular goal which he pursues continuously no matter how many times he fails. He’s a bit of a one-trick pony as many platformer villains tend to be. However, he’s simply so iconic that I couldn’t leave him out of the list.
I’ve previously been very critical of the characters in the Resident Evil series. And whereas the main protagonists are all pretty two-dimensional, uninteresting and, at worst, pretty f***ing annoying (I’m looking at you Claire) the villains at least show a little bit more character and depth. Albert Wesker in one perfect example, both in the games and the films based on them.
Wesker starts off as the STARS traitor in the first game and receives super powers which allow him to operate from behind the scenes and even against Umbrella. What I like about Wesker is that he’s a total renegade. He doesn’t care who he has to betray or step on to get what he wants. He also seems nigh-indestructible, a regular human terminator who refuses to die – especially in the movies.
That’s another reason I like Wesker. Out of all the series characters, I think he was translated the best into live action. That’s also the main reason he’s not higher. While I like the character both in the games and the films, I perhaps like the character more specifically because of the movie adaptions, so it would be a little unfair to have him any higher.
I lean heavy on the retro in most of my lists and it’s really nothing personal – modern games are just a little dull to be honest. However, I had to make an exception to GLaDOS from Portal, because she’s easily one of the most memorable villains and certainly the best villainess I’ve seen in a video-game.
GLaDOS appears as an innitially supportive if a little snarky head computer of Aperture Science leading the main character along exercises to test out the Portal gun. However, it then turns out that GLaDOS is running sadistic experiments and killing test-subjects after they outlive their usefulness – leading them on with false promises of cakes. What I love is the turn in GLaDOS, after her true nature is revealed, where she begins to openly insult the player and making petty comments to demoralize you.
GLaDOS was also a lot of fun in the sequel Portal 2, but I think her finest moments were definitely in the humble but well-crafted original.
Mortal Kombat is a fighting game franchise with a rich pantheon of characters to choose from. And while Shang Tsung and Shao Kahn might have appeared as the easy picks for the Top-10, I decided to give Quan Chi the recognition he deserves.
The pasty sorcerer first debuted in the franchise’s first 3D outing, Mortal Kombat 4, but in actuality, Quan Chi has been working in the shadows of the series for a long time. It is revealed in MK4 that he was responsible for the grudge between Scorpion and the new Sub-Zero, and he’s also taken part in numerous other schemes as the series goes on. That’s what I like about Quan Chi. He’s clever and stealthy and doesn’t just rush into fight the heroes, although he can hold his own in a fight.
A funny element which I think often gets ignored is that Quan Chi also seems to employ exclusively female henchmen. So on top of being a scheming bastard, he’s apparently a bit of a slime ball (why else would he have them dress so sexy). Quan Chi, if it weren’t for Tsung’s creepy obsession with Sonya Blade and Bo Rai Cho… being himself, I’d consider you a disgusting creep. Now you win the number-5 spot on the Villains Top-5. Congratulations! Fatality!
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is all around an awesome game. It doesn’t just have great gameplay, a cool world, fun characters, great music and a strong story – it also has an awesome bad guy. A hero is only as mighty as his adversary, in this case: a bent cop. Officer Tenpenny keeps his eyes on the criminal gangs of Los Santos and ends up manipulating Carl “C.J.” Johnson to his own nefarious ends.
Tenpenny has C.J.’s brother Sweet locked up in jail and threatens to make life difficult for him, unless C.J. does whatever he tells. What makes Tenpenny so scary is that he has the power of the law on his side and he doesn’t hesitate to abuse it. He runs drugs, sets criminals on other criminals and tries to keep his operations a secret with murder and extortion.
Sam Jackson just adds life to the character with his voice and made the twisted character come alive. You also have what is possibly one of the most epic chases in video-game history trying to put an end to Tenpenny’s reign of terror. This is a villain who goes out with a bang.
Here is a villain to be reckoned with. Ganondorf or Ganon is the near-immortal, perpetually returning antagonist of Nintendo’s fantasy action-adventure series, The Legend of Zelda. A power-hungry sorcerer who seeks the Power of the Gods, the Triforce, in order to make his dark desires come true.
Ganon appears in practically all major instalments of the series, always out to fulfill his dark desires and taking on the descendants of Link and Zelda who must fight and or trap him to keep his evil at bay. Ganondorf truly is a timeless villain, as he technically outlives all the major characters of the franchise. I especially liked him in Ocarina of Time, which showed how he came to be in possession of the Triforce of Power. He also made for a sinister villain in Wind Waker, where he tricks the heroes to practically give him the Triforce, but his designs still don’t come together quite the way he expected.
Of course, Ganon’s had his goofy moments, such as his pig days in the very start of the franchise, but he’s such an icon and I think easily the best villain Nintendo has ever created. Ganon definitely does tend to over-shadow some of the other interesting villains of the franchise – but I think his spot in the top-5 is definitely warranted.
Alright, probably didn’t surprise anyone with this pick considering he also topped my Top-10 Monkey Island Characters (Recurring) list. Sometimes a villain that can make you laugh is worth a lot and especially if he can be badass while doing it. LeChuck is an undead pirate driven by a lust for power, his obsession of marrying Governor Elaine Marley and his hatred of the happy-go-lucky pirate wanna-be and hero of the series, Guybrush Threepwood.
There’s not much more I can say about LeChuck without repeating myself, but I’ll reiterate. Some of the things I love about LeChuck are his versatility. He’s been a ghost, a zombie, a flaming demon and a giant statue. No matter how many times he’s defeated, he always comes back. And no matter how meticulously he plots his destruction of Guybrush, there is always some fatal flaw in his plans.
Plus, he’s a bit of a goof. Sure, he’s angry and boasts a lot – but he hasn’t even been clever enough to figure out the secret of Monkey Island, despite holding a base there in at least three of the five games in the series. And of course, what completes LeChuck is the brilliant voice performance from Earl Boen.
Topping the villains list is another LucasArts adventure game villain. Hector Lemans truly tops the evil meter on this list in one aspect. He’s not just greedy and self-serving. He’s not out to conquer the world or get a damsel’s hand against their will. Hector’s goal is something far more sinister: he steals people’s salvations.
Hector runs a racket in the afterlife. He has his hands in the pockets of the Department of Death, who are supposed to help recently deceased souls make their four-year journey through the afterlife. Particularly saintly individuals are eligible for a ticket on the Number-9 train that takes them straight to the Land of Eternal Rest. Lemans, obviously not a guy who lived a saintly life, is stuck in the Land of the Dead and decides he’ll steal his way into heaven by robbing souls of their Number-9 tickets. And he’s not above killing people for a second time (by sprouting) if it helps keep his activities a secret.
Lemans is a truly disgusting figure and though he operates largely in the shadows for much of the game, he is memorable for his sheer ego and ruthlessness. Hector is truly a despicable character. This is a guy you’re happy to see get blown up into green goo by the end, when you sprout the water supply of his green house.