10 Villains That Barely Missed the Top-10
Making my Top-10 Game Villains list, I was scrutinizing my choices heavily and resultedly, rejected a large number of potential candidates for the Top-10. Here are the 10 most noteworthy of them.
Alright, so Skyward Sword might have been one of the biggest let downs from the Zelda franchise, but in its defense the game had some really nifty features (and no, the motion-plus stuff wasn’t it). One thing I have to give Nintendo credit for was actually trying to make a Zelda game without Ganon in it.
Ghirahim is Link’s immediate adversary, a creepy “demon lord” who challenges him to battle a couple of times through the game before the final showdown with him, which is the penultimate boss fight before the final guy. Ghirahim was a really creepy dude who made me genuinely uncomfortable, plus, he was easily one of the toughest bosses in the game. This at least made him very memorable.
However, Ghirahim’s creep-factor and the fact that Skyward Sword will doubtlessly be his single and only appearance in the series made him feel a little inconsequential. Also, I happen to actually like Ganondorf a lot which is why he ended up in the Top-10, but I’ll admit Ghirahim was at least close to an honourable mention.
The nefarious Australian land-developer stands out as one of the more notable one-of baddies from the Monkey Island series, along the likes of Largo LaGrande and Marquis De Singe, and I contemplated having him in the Top-10 as well. Of course, LeChuck tends to be the character I go to and his much more prominent presense in the series just made him a shoe-in. I also held firm to the “one character per franchise” rule which is why Ozzie missed the list.
Ozzie really could have been an easy fit for the Top-10. He’s ruthless, hates pirates and decides to put an end to pirate way of life by turning the Caribbean into a Tourist Trap. He’s also hilariously, stereotypically Australian, muttering non-sensical Aussie jargon and decorating his home with endangered Australian Fauna. He is also a master of insult sword fighting (everyone loses to him because they can’t understand his insults).
Ozzie is also the only character to have ever managed to get control of LeChuck in the game’s finale, although Ozzie meets his end at the hands of the Giant Living Statue LeChuck as well.
Well, when it comes to Mark Hamil, some might be surprised I didn’t try to put Joker from Batman: Arkham Asylum in the Top-10 Game Villains list, but Joker being a widely lauded comic book villain would have given him an unfair advantage. Also, there were already two LucasArts villains topping the list, so it was a bit of a stretch to include any more.
Adrian Ripburger from Full Throttle was however another close pick. Adrian is a power-hungry business man who wants to take over Corley Motors, the last motorcycle makers in the States. He murders the company head on their way to a share-holders’ meeting and frames Ben, the leader of the biker gang Polecats and the game’s protagonist, for the murder.
Ripburger is a conniving, evil bastard looking to grab power for himself. Also, for a guy who can’t walk around without a cane, he isn’t afraid to take Ben on (in a ten ton truck) in the game’s finale. Ripburger is just memorable slime ball and makes for a compelling bad guy in the futuristic biker adventure.
Bison is a villain I’m more than a little conflicted over, but I did seriously consider having him on the list. Similarly to how I wanted to avoid there being too many LucasArts villains on the list, I was also conscious to only include a couple of fighting game bosses. Bison ended up losing out to Gargos, whom I consider slightly more compelling as a villain and a final boss.
That’s not to say I don’t admire Bison. He’s the villain of my favourite fighting game of all time and I also liked how unconventional he was as a boss. Not a menacing muscle-house, but seemingly an old man, but one with incredible powers. I also have to say, I have always loved Raul Julia’s performance as Bison in the live action Street Fighter movie (his final role). Therefore, Bison always has a bit of an iconic quality to him.
Sadly, Bison’s role has seriously diminished in later instalments, where he’s just become one of the standard roster. And I have to be honest by saying that I’ve always hated the ‘roided-up re-design he was given in Super Street Fighter 2. Bison’s had some highlights, but I could find several aspects of him I don’t really care for, which is why he missed the list.
The villain of my favourite GameCube game was also someone who I seriously considered for the list. Pious is already interesting since you get to play as him before chosing one of the ancient artifacts which turns him evil and a servant to the Evil Ancient which the artifact represents. Pious also makes numerous appearances in-game, often in disguise, so he also manages to avoid a common problem I found with my Villain picks, which is that the final guy usually stays very elusive until the end-game.
Pious might have suffered a little bit from this, since he seems very detached from the events a lot of the time, even though he does face the protagonists several times. He is staunch and frightening (even for a rotting, zombie centurion) but his character was perhaps a little bland which is one major thing weighing against him.
Pious would have been an easy fit when I was still missing one or two entries to the Top-10, but I think in the intimidating and elusive villain category – he lost out, just barely, to Karzak.
One thing I definitely feel bad about is that I missed an opportunity to have more female villains on the list. It is a shame, but additionally, it seems that I haven’t actually encountered that many villainesses in games and this was also part of the problem. The other problem is that most of them aren’t very notable.
Captain Syrup could have had the potential to make the Top-10, being the very first villainess I ever encountered in a video-game, Wario Land on the original Game Boy (a.k.a. Super Mario Land 3). I was surprised to find out that the final boss and the leader of the Pirates of Kitchen Island (why does that suddenly sound very chauvinistic all of a sudden) was actually a lady. I was equally surprised when all of a sudden I ended up fighting a genie at her service as the final boss fight.
Syrup was also the lead baddy in Wario Land 2 (which I’ve sadly never played) and finally returned in Wario Land: The Shake Dimension, this time as an ally to Wario. Syrup would have been a pretty interesting choice, but sadly, I’ve only played the two games where her role was probably the least substantial. It’s interesting that Nintendo actually has a stand-alone villainess in one of their series and if I had actually played Wario Land 2 back in the day, she may have had a shot at the top-10.
The Grand Master from the first and third Broken Sword games, The Shadow of the Templars and The Sleeping Dragon, was also in the running to make the list. This nefarious leader of the Neo-Templars certainly had enough charisma to make the list, but I reconsidered after remembering how much more memorable Karzak had been, especially considering his very few appearances in Broken Sword 2.
Never the less, the showdown between George, Nico and the Templars at the end of the first game was truly hair-raising and nerve-wrecking, not the least because of the many ways you could die in the last act of the game (in the original, not the Director’s Cut version). Also, the Grand Master also made a surprise reappearance in the third game, now endowed with Dragon Power and shooting lightning from his hands like Emperor Palpatine. And who can forget that final battle? Wow!
So yeah, the Grand Master really only missed out just barely because, frankly, his most memorable moment from the first game was the finale and unfortunately his role was minimal and his voice-actor a little less intimidating in The Sleeping Dragon. As memorable final encounters go, The Grand Master had two, but he’s otherwise a little badly defined as a villain.
Another near-miss and a villainess I considered for the Top-10 was your treacherous girlfriend from Grand Theft Auto 3. At the start of the game, she leaves the protagonist, Claude, to bleed in the gutter after a bank robbery. Claude survives, escapes police custody and while rising the criminal ranks of Liberty City, gets his chance at revenge against Catalina.
The treacherous and rude Catalina really only re-enters the picture in the final act of the game and, unfortunately, she didn’t get to play a huge role over-all: running away from Claude, kidnapping Maria and then trying to kill him from a helicopter. In fact, Catalina was much more interesting as the temperamental and border-line psychotic girlfriend of C.J. in San Andreas, who also kept harassing him with phone calls after the two go their separate ways, after their crime spree across the San Andreas country side.
Catalina is definitely hateful and spiteful character. I could have seen her, at the very least, making the bottom-end of the list – but I decided against this since her most memorable escapades was when she was the player’s running partner, rather than as the final boss of GTA3. Also, her hilarious, foul-mouthed dialogue from San Andreas was also a lot more memorable than her empty threats in GTA3.
2. Shao Kahn & Shang Tsung (Mortal Kombat)
I don’t really feel bad about the inclusion of Quan Chi on the list, but it was a close call between him, Tsung and Kahn. Over-all, I’ve always just found Quan Chi to be a bit more fascinating as a villain because of his stealth and cunning.
Tsung is a bit of ham, someone who just goes in waltzing up to the heroes to try to take them down. I did like Gary Hiroyuki-Tagawa’s portrayal of him in the live action movie, but as a villain he’s always come off a little generic. Apart from his ability to steal souls. Tsung was definitely at his finest in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe and Mortal Kombat 9, but still, Quan Chi was just more interesting.
Shao Kahn though very nearly did make it and it was only my one character per franchise rule that stopped him. Kahn is frightening adversary and consistently the toughest guy to beat from game to game. Again, it’s only his overt confidence and his continued meat-headed approach of holding tournaments that really gets under my skin, but as a villain he’s certainly one of the most intimidating I know. He would have easily gotten at least an honourable mention.
Probably the most glaring absence from the list was by the villain of one of my favourite game series. The tenacious, power-hungry, world-domination craving, robot building evil scientist is one of the many iconic arch-enemies that were ignored. And who bumped him off? Bowser. Yes, because sadly Wily doesn’t really have much of a personality and the same is true for Bowser. Both Wily and Bowser are inherently comical villains who only becoming menacing and powerful during their encounter with the main hero, Mario or Mega Man. Once defeated, they often suffer some kind of humiliation.
Now Wily could nearly make it to the Top-10. He’s certainly had enough memorable moments in the franchise – from faking his own death, to planting a traitor in Dr. Light’s lab, to catching Roboenza (or maybe just the flu) and needing to be saved by Mega Man.
Wily lost out just barely to Bowser and Bowser Jr.’s somewhat moving exchange at the finale of Super Mario Sunshine. And also, I think Wily just shows a lot more character in the Mega Man media outside of the games, so it would have come down to me giving him a bit too much emphasis on the back of that. Still, I could easily see Wily still making the list…