What’s up Horizoneers (sorry?)! It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for another edition of The Top 5! Ted is sitting out this week’s edition of The Top 5 since he’s been bedridden and sick, but that hasn’t stopped the rest of the crew from answering the call! This week, we decided to talk about the characters in video games whose actions set off events in the game they’re in and make our in-game avatar jump through hoops and give them cause to rise up and save the day. Or are just a general pain in the A. That’s right, it’s The Top 5: Video game villains!
5. Dr. Wily – I’m adding Dr. Wily here as a way to honor his insane genius. We haven’t had a good Mega Man game in a while, which is for shame, and Capcom doesn’t seem like they’re interested in retreading this series for a while, but Dr. Wily will forever go down in gaming history as one of the more persistent, if not clever, bad guys to ever have blipped. You can’t tell me that using Bubble Man’s bubble blasts on his alien suit in Mega Man 2 wasn’t as satisfying for you as it was for me!
4. The Joker – Batman: Arkham Asylum is probably going in my favorite games this generation because of its focus and engaging atmosphere, but all of that would be for naught without The Joker, played by Mark Hamill. The various things that he’s done to orchestrate the events of Batman: Arkham Asylum, as well as the awesome dialogue provided by Paul Dini, make him an opponent you’d want to love hating over and over again.
3. Zakhaev – There’s many things to remember about Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, but the most memorable for me was its main villain. Chasing after Zakhaev throughout the entirety of Call of Duty 4 was probably one of the most engaging and, dare I say, fun moments I’ve had with the Call of Duty series. Sure, Call of Duty: Black Ops probably had my favorite story out of the whole series, but Zakhaev makes Call of Duty 4 work.
2. Serial killer – I was going to put “time” as my number 3 villain for Persona 3 and Persona 4, but I know that Sean would bite my head off for it [Editor’s note: Don’t you forget it!]. Truthfully, I was having a difficult time trying to identify Persona 4’s main villain, so I’m opting to call them “serial killer” for this part. While most JRPG fare typically have predictable storylines, never has there been a character that’s thrown me for a loop than the serial killer in Persona 4. And the ways that Persona 4 slowly reveal clues to you about who this person is is so subtle, that you’ll easily dismiss them as parts of the overall mundanity of living a student life.
1. Kefka – Seeing that he’s the only villain that was able to destroy the hopes and dreams of Final Fantasy VI’s heroes and ultimately destroy the world, plunging it into a World of Ruin, I’d say Kefka easily ranks high up in this list! To this day, I’ve no clue as to how the game’s heroes, after vanquishing Kefka, would be able to return the world to a World of Balance.
5. Lavos from Chrono Trigger – Lavos gets a place on this list simply for being that thing that’s going to destroy the world, no matter where or when it shows up. Throughout Chrono Trigger we learn about this alien parasite and that it has been slumbering for millions of years, draining the planet’s power and preparing to unleash the apocalypse. Though Lavos isn’t a typical villain, it is a powerful antagonist. With the time travel mechanic in Chrono Trigger, the player gets to visit the world 300 years after Lavos has destroyed it, and the harsh reality of those living in that time imparts the greatest sense of urgency. Lavos must be stopped at all costs.
4. Psycho Mantis from Metal Gear Solid – I don’t remember who Psycho Mantis was or why I was fighting him. All I know is he looked into my mind and saw that I had been playing Azure Dreams. It was one of the biggest wtf moments of my life as a gamer, and yet it was one of several that occurred during the fight against him (including how he could dodge pretty much everything and that I had to change the control port my controller was plugged into in order to beat him). He may not be the most memorable character in terms of storyline and development, but he is without a doubt the most memorable for the unique mechanics of the fight against him.
3. Luca Blight from Suikoden II – Some villains are evil, wicked or twisted. Luca Blight is just cruel. The classic example of this cruelty takes place during a scene set in a village that he had just razed. Looking around he laughs hysterically, enjoying the destruction and death all around him. Moments later he forces a woman to beg for her life, and the woman says that she will do anything to be spared. He demands that she act like a pig. She does so by crawling around and oinking for a moment. He laughs again, seemingly appeased. The woman wonders out loud if that means she might be freed. Luca responds by shouting, “Die pig!!!!” before cutting her down.
2. Kefka from Final Fantasy VI – I have to admit that the first time I met Kefka at the beginning of Final Fantasy VI, I was not impressed. “Who’s this clown?” Well, I learned the answer to that question in one of the greatest RPG experiences of my life. Final Fantasy VI is without a doubt one of the best 16-bit RPGs of all time, and to many, it is the best one of all. It may not have been so great were it not for the demented villainy of Kefka, who is the very definition of someone you “love to hate.” He is sick, twisted and quite literally the harbinger of the end of the world. And his laugh… his laugh! I’ll never forget the sound of his laugh…
1. Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII – I’m not going to argue about the quality of the writing or the depth of the character. Final Fantasy VII was not a perfect game by any means. All I know is that Sephiroth did a great job of making me hate him so that when the time came to face off with him at the end of my sixty hour playthrough, I was pumped. That final boss fight was incredible. I mean seriously, he destroys the whole solar system several times in a single fight. Who does that? Sephiroth was a worthy final boss, and the last battle was made even better by the music. I consider One-Winged Angel to be one of the most effective battle themes in the history of gaming, and it is partially responsible for Sephiroth getting the number one spot on my list.
5. Dr. Nefarious from Ratchet & Clank is the quintessential incompetent villain who comes up with the most grandest of schemes only to see them fail. Dr. Nefarious’ plans for turning all organic life into robots and controlling time both failed miserably. He only manages to escape with the help of his robot butler Lawrence.
4. Piston from Borderlands 2: Mr. Torgue’s Campaign of Carnage DLC turned out to be the ultimate coward. He also turned out to be one of the toughest enemies you would have to take on in the game. That was mainly because of the giant dragon headed tank he rolls around in. Piston is not unstoppable but he is tough and spilling his blood becomes even sweeter once the vault is open.
3. Handsome Jack from Borderlands 2 is a dangerous individual. He’s clever and will do anything to get what he wants, including putting his own family in danger. He’s untrustworthy and is also quick to anger. Handsome Jack is not the type of enemy you want to go after on a whim. He has contingency plans for every situation and is always prepared for anything.
2. Vaas Montenegro from Far Cry 3 turned out to be one of the best and well written villains in video games as of late. He is very cunning, entertaining and sociopathic. Vaas is the type of person you don’t want to turn your back on in church or on a tropical island.
1. David from The Last of Us is by far one of the creepiest villains in a video game. His calm demeanor hides the sociopathic tendencies he is capable of. David is not the type of person you would want to meet under any circumstance.
5. Sephiroth – Final Fantasy VII – Dude killed Aerith man. Do I really need to say more?
4. The End – Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater – The End is easily one of the most memorable villains in any Metal Gear Solid game for me. Having an hour long sniper battle where the only tell was that somewhere in the distance and the wilderness I would need to see the light reflect off his scope. It was tense and satisfying. Thanks, Kojima!
3. The Illusive Man – Mass Effect 2 – Even though Shepard works with the Illusive Man through out the campaign of Mass Effect 2, you just know he couldn’t be trusted. Like some space version of an Aryan, the Illusive Man was all about humanity over all alien species and would stop at nothing to make humans the dominant species in the galaxy. Charismatic and enigmatic with equal measure. And what’s up with those eyes, man?
2. Vladimir Makarov - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 – I could put this man on this list for “No Russian” alone. In fact, I’m going to.
1. GLaDOS – Portal – What starts off as seemingly and humorously dry mocking turns to straight up malevolence as GLaDOS goes from taunting observation AI to full blown psychopath with a strong desire to kill you. GLaDOS is remarkably well-written and performed even better by Ellen McLain with dead pan wit, and full-blown menace. Great, great stuff.
So there it is, the crew’s respective Top 5 video game villains! Like always, we would love to hear your choices and what you think of our choices in the comments below!