Thursday, October 30, 2014

Top 20 Video Game Villains: 10-1

And here we are. The top 10 video game villains of all time. I just want to remind everyone that this is my own personal list for what I believe the best video game villains are and you are completely entitled to your own opinion. This is just what I think and what I believe are the best antagonists that gaming has ever offered. If you haven't read the first part of this list, you can check it out here. So... here we go.

#10 - Junko Enoshima from Danganronoa: Trigger Happy Havoc
  • The Ultimate Despair
  • Fetish for torture and misery
  • Destroyed civilization(?)
  • Multiple personality disorder
What's this? Junko's on the list? That can't be. In Danganronpa she was one of the first few people killed by Monokuma! She was gruesomely impaled by a dozen spears!

And with that, you fell for Junko's trap. She was able to fake her death by having her twin sister, Mukuro Ikusaba, impersonate her in the beginning, then had her killed so that she would have a solid alibi as to why she wasn't the mastermind behind Hope's Peak Academy. In truth, Junko was responsible for the whole thing and is completely psychotic beyond all comparison.

Junko is the self proclaimed Ultimate Fashionista, but that's really a cover for her actually ultimate skill. Junko is the Ultimate Despair, a person who wants nothing more than to watch people suffer and die at her hands. To say that she's a sadist and a monster is doing a disservice to her. She loves to when people kill each other and watches as the other students kill each other one by one. Everyone claims that they're going to stop her, but their attempts are pointless. Junko would only die when she wants to die. Until then, she'll gleefully watch everyone murder each other and watch the world burn.

If that wasn't terrifying enough, Junko frequently splits between multiple personalities, each one embodying a specific trait of hers. Each personality hides from the fact that she's really a cold, emotionless monster. The foresight she has to break people's wills is truly frightening, going so far as to break Byakuya Togami's spirit, the Seto Kaiba of the game. Even when you do eventually beat her, she dies on her own terms. She commits suicide in a giant, sexual explosion, loving all of the despair and torture that she inflicts on herself. And guess what? Even after being burned alive, pummeled, electrified, shot through a rocket, and crushed in a trash compactor, she still manages to stay alive in the sequel! She digitizes herself and attempts to resurrect herself by, you guessed, putting people through ultimate despair and forcing them to submit to her will. Even though she may be one of the youngest villains on this list as well as one of the few female villains, Junko is one girl that you want to avoid at all costs.

#9 - Andrew Ryan from Bioshock
  • Leader of Rapture
  • Objectivist to the core
  • Would die for his ideals
  • "A man chooses, a slave obeys"
Andrew Ryan was born Андрей Риянофский in Soviet Russia. After the Russian Revolution, he fled to America. Once he got to America, he loved everything about his adopted country and believed that everything about ti was superior to America. However, Ryan began to develop an ideology where people needed to support themselves and programs like FDR's New Deal policies allowed people to leech off other's successes like parasites. Fed up with the modern world, he decided to create his own world under the ocean; Rapture. A world where a man can succeed on their own merits and become powerful on their own terms. 

Ryan is a man that is defined by his ideals and what he represents. Unlike every other villain on this list, Ryan may not be completely villainous, but it's what he represents that makes him such a threat. Without going into political machinations, Andrew Ryan is a representation of Ayn Rand, the founder of objectivism, an economic philosophy that I myself barely know much about. What I do know is that regardless of what Ryan represents, he's still a man that wants to try and kill you by any means necessary to make sure that his utopia is maintained. 

Rapture is completely falling apart around him, with its former citizens becoming insane and addicted to ADAM, yet Ryan still goes about running Rapture. There's just something unsettling about the fact that a man who casually play golf as the world he created falls apart around him. Since you arrive in Rapture, Ryan makes it very well known that he wants you dead and will do whatever he can to make sure that he wins and you lose. And... he does... kinda. When you eventually do encounter Ryan, he taunts you and makes you realize that you've been maniuplated the whole game and have no free will of your own. In his eyes, the thing that is going to kill him and destroy his utopia is the ultimate definition of a parasite. And so, he has you kill him. You kill him against your will, but as you pummel him to death, he constantly uters the phrase "A man chooses, a slave obeys". You are a slave to Ryan, to Atlas, and everyone else that you meet in Rapture, and Ryan just proved that. 

Congratulations, you accomplished your goal of killing Ryan. Hooray for you?

#8 - Hojo from Final Fantasy VII
  • Head of Shinra's Science Division
  • Father of Sephiroth
  • Willing to use live humans for testing
  • Smarmy bastard

Now hold on and let me explain myself. Yes, Sephiroth is an incredible villain and is one of the best villains that the series has ever produced, but Hojo is really the true monster of Final Fantasy VII all of the worst events in the game happen because of this man and he has no remorse for any of his actions. The list of abhorrent actions he has done over the course of one game is staggering. 

He captures Red XIII with the intent of killing and testing him, he allows Sephiroth to summon the Weapons, provides Sephiroth enough energy to assume become even more powerful, the creator of the JENOVA Project which make shim the father of Sephiroth, murders Professor Gast and Aerith's mother Ifalna, and conducts Mako experiments of Cloud and Zack, resulting in at leat Cloud becoming a Sephiroth clone.

All of this is done by one man. Gotta admit, Hojo really does have a pedigree going for him. He's done a ton of villainous actions to merit his place on this list, and he is 100% an evil and sadistic human being. He doesn't care about human life. He only cares about getting results for his research and proving to everyone that he is the greatest scientific mind in the world. He despises most other scientists in Shinra and often distances himself from everyone, indicating that he wouldn't want to waste his time on inferior people. So he wants to prove to everyone that he's brilliant, but he hates everyone. He wants to gain results from his research and be the greatest scientist in the world, but most of his actions lead towards the end of the world. Sephiroth himself put it best when he says that Hojo is "a walking mass of complexes". 

Worst of all, Hojo has no regard for human life. His experiments cause destruction to anyone involved and will mutate and destroy any of his subject's sanity. If you're involved in one of Hojo's experiments, then you're as good as dead. There's nothing worse than a scientist with a superiority complex and an inferiority complex at the same time. Just run whenever Hojo asks you to be a part of his experiments. 

#7 - Joshua from The World Ends With You
  • The Composer
  • Casual, yet deadly
  • God(?)
  • Another smarmy kid!
Trying to explain what Joshua is, let alone if he's a villain, is a nearly impossible to fully answer. He could be a villain, or maybe he's not. Maybe he's benevolent, or maybe he's egotistical. Joshua is nearly impossible to place strictly as a villain and may very well could be an anti-hero or maybe even a hero. However, he's still responsible for creating the Reaper's Game and nearly destroying all of Shibuya so... yeah, villain in my book!

Joshua is a young boy that appears to Neku in Shibuya. However, both him and Neku are players in the Reaper's Game, a game designed to kill its players after 7 days unless they accomplish a specific goal and defeat the game master. Joshua at first appears to be very mysterious and obviously has ulterior motives. He's looking for something called the Shibuya River and acts nonchalant to the prospect of dying in 7 days. However, once you beat the Reaper's Game, you eventually make your way to the end of the game where his true nature is revealed. 

See, Joshua killed Neku. Neku has been dead the whole time and has no memories of his life up until the Reaper's Game. However, Joshua killed him so that Neku could serve as his avatar in the game. Joshua had Neku play for him to prove a point to the Conductor, the man running the game, about the validity of human life and their ability to change. 

Now you would think that Joshua would represent the idea that humanity could change and become better through compassion and action, but Joshua is actually the polar opposite. He believes that humanity cannot change and that they should be wiped out, starting with Shibuya, which he perceives as the source of the world's depravity. So you've been fighting against a man that believes that humanity deserves to live while being an unwilling servant for a divine being that thinks that humanity should be wiped out. Hell, even when all of this is revealed to you, Joshua gives you the choice of either letting Neku shoot him, or have him shoot Neku. He makes it abundantly clear that he will kill Neku if he doesn't have the willpower to kill Joshua. The results of said confrontation are iffy, but Neku gets his life back as well as his memories, but its still left up in the air whether Joshua shot you or not. So is he a villain? Is Joshua really that evil? Well, that's for you to decide, but to me, wanting to wipe out humanity for not conforming to your ideals is pretty devilish. 

#6 - Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII

  • Descendant of Jenova
  • One Winged Angel
  • Best SOLDIER in the world
  • Motherf*!#@ng Sephirtoh
And you thought I wouldn't put Sephiroth on this list. 

When it comes to inconic video game villains, Sephiroth is one of the first villains to come to people's minds. He's powerful, iconic, fearsome, murderous, and just plain cool. He killed Aerith. He burned Nibelheim. He summoned Meteor. All of these actions are so villainous and each moment is an iconic moment in video game history. All I really need to post are three videos. You know what? Here you go. 

Do I really need to say more about Sephiroth? 

There only real interesting point to talk about is why Sephiroth is only number six? If he's so iconic, then why doesn't he make the Top 5? Well, it all came down to semantics, but in my opinion, Sephiroth really didn't do much in the actual game. Most of the time he was just imprisoned in the Northern Crater and had most of his actions down through Jenova. When he did appear, it was frightening and awe inspiring, but technically he only appeared three times in the game; in the flashback to Nibelheim, when you give him the Black Materia in the Northern Crater, and actually fighting him at the Northern Crater. Yes it really does come down to nitpicking, but if I have to nitpick Sephiroth of all people, then that means the Top 5 must be full of some real power hitters. 

#5 - Hades from Kid Icarus: Uprising

  • True lord of the Underworld
  • Can survive his heart being destroyed
  • Commander of the Underworld Army
  • British and witty!
Kid Icarus: Uprising is a game that everyone should play at least once in their life. It made me by a 3DS and I still play it on a frequent basis. Plus it has one of the greatest plot twists I've experienced in years. After going through 11 stages fighting Medusa's evil forces, you finally confront her and fight her with all your might. Some questions still linger in your head, like how Medusa came back to life, but all that matters is stopping her once and for all. And you do! And the credits begin to roll!

...Then a giant hand rips the credits down, laughs at your face, and summons a giant tower of fire. Through the fire stands Hades, Medusa's master and the strongest being in existence. Hades has existed for thousands of eons and either feasts on the souls of the dead for nourishment, or turns them into soldiers for his army. He murders people for the fun of it and wants to kill all of humanity so that he can have a good time and make himself the ruler of all life. After all, he is the ruler of he dead, so why not kill everyone to make himself the true ruler?

Hades' goal makes sense, but its the way he goes about it that makes him so endearing as a villain. After he appears, he sticks around for the rest of the game, providing witty commentary and getting in some good snide remarks at Pit. He's always present in the game and is always looking just to thrive off of other people's misery. Hades is just looking for a good time by making everyone else miserable, which is admirable in a way. 

When you do fight him though, the fight literally takes a half hour and has you destroying his body twice, killing his heart, and eviscerating his soul with a giant laser formed by the Gods themselves. It's one of the greatest final battles in all of gaming. The fight with him destroys mountains, cities, has literally everyone you've allied with fight against him, and destroying him with every last ounce of your strength. Just writing about the fight itself makes me want to play it right now. Hades is the epitome of humor and has the scale that a villain should have, and if you have a 3DS, you should make it a point to play the game just to experience the glory that is Hades. 

#4 - Giygas from Earthbound

  • Alien from another world
  • Incomprehensible
  • True terror
  • Dead fetus (?)
No name in gaming is as terrifying as Giygas. Just saying his name stirs dark, terrifying thoughs in gamers heads. He is truly one of the most terrifying and scary villains in video games, let alone fiction. 

Earthbound is an incredibly quirky and fun game with a silly sense of humor and goofy plot. To say its the epitome of childish wonder is a complete understatement. It's so much fun! It's funny! You fight against hippies and eat burgers! And then you get to... this. This... thing. A being of pure terror. Pure, undiluted, fearsome, terror. When you fight Giygas, the music becomes ungodly dark and moody, to the point that just being in the presence of Giygas is enough to make people fear pressing a button. 

A little fun fact is that the director of the game, Shigesato Itoi, based Giygas off of a film he saw as a child, "The Military Policeman and the Dismembered Beauty". He never actually saw the movie, but he accidentally snuck into the movie theatre showing it and viewed what he believed was a rape scene. In actuality it was a murder scene, but young Itoi was so scared by what he saw from the movie that it haunted him for years. The damage was done. And from that damage, Giygas was born. Giygas is based off that fear and incomprehensibility of that scene.

Giygas did appear as a villain in the original Mother, the prequel to Earthbound, and his presence there was much more human and emotional. He was alien that grew to love Earth and was raised on Earth, but was forced to leave Earth when his species came for him. He presence wasn't too interesting in all honesty, which is the main reason why he didn't rank higher. In comparison from the first game and his new, darker form in Earthbound, there's no comparison. 

The real clincher though is the theory that Giygas himself is a representation of an abortion. During the fight with Giygas, he'll utter phrases like "It hurts so good" that are meant to freak the player out, but then you add on this image of a baby fetus that he assumes as you fight him. The fight can be interpreted as a giant analogy for an abortion, which is a theory that many people don't like to discuss for some reason. Personally, I love an idea like that being presented and lines up with the main message and theme of the game, but that's neither here nor there. What's here is Giygas, the world's biggest idiot and the world's greatest monster. He is incomprehensible. He is darkness. He is fear. He is Giygas. 

#3 - Pyramid Head from Silent Hill 2

  • Embodiment of Jame Sunderland's guilt
  • Invulnerable
  • Defining Silent Hill monster
  • Reaaaaaaally likes mannequins
Pyramid Head was the hardest villain for me to put on this list. If you've ever played Silent Hill 2, then you'd find it puzzling why Pyramid Head would be on this type of list. He's not an outright villain, but a representation of James' psyche. He's not plotting against you, nor does he have the intelligence of wanting to see you die. In actuality, all Pyramid Head is is the immense guilt that James feels for murdering his wife. Would you really call him a villain when he classifies more so as an unbiased force of nature?

In my opinion, he isn't a villain. He doesn't have a mustache to twirl at you nor does he actively want to see you die. That being said, he is what James fears most. The reason he is invulnerable is that he is the most powerful force in James' psyche. He is what James fears the most and knows that he can never overcome Pyramid Head. If the main protagonist fears Pyramid Head and is terrified of him, then that's good enough for me. 

Pyramid Head is the most prevalent and popular character in the entire Silent Hill franchise, but its Silent Hill 2 that made him a household name. Trying to analyze the significance of Pyramid Head in the game is near impossible and requires a ton of research, psychology, understanding of the human condition, and narrative significance that I don't have the full capabilities to discuss. But just think about that for a moment. In order for me to explain to you why Pyramid Head is such a great villain, it would require a dissertation on him that would go for dozens upon dozens of pages. Sephiroth you can understand by watching a few scene, but Pyramid Head takes effort to understand. And yet, they both have the same level of impact on the player. The player understands why they're terrifying villains, but for different reasons. Sephiroth is a great narrative villain and gives you reasons to believe he is a great villain. Pyramid Head has that same impact, but there aren't any moments that can concretely indicate why he's so evil. You see him and you just... know. That feeling of fear by just seeing him is enough merit to place him on this list. 

The only reason that Pyramid Head did not place higher was because not only were the Top 2 so incredible as villains, but because Pyramid Head's presence did diminish the more he appeared. He didn't need to appear in the films, he didn't need to appear in Silent Hill: Homecoming, an it was painfully obvious that The Butcher was a Pyramid Head clone in Silent Hill: 0rigins. Still, when you see Pyramid Head, you know. 

#2 - Ganondorf from The Legend of Zelda series

  • King of Thieves
  • Ruler of Darkness
  • Wielder of the Triforce of Power
  • Human form of Ganon
Would you expect any less? Is there any doubt that Ganondorf wouldn't rank in the Top 2? Ganondorf is the epitome of video game villains. He's the granddaddy that all villains aspire to be like. He's everything a villain should be. Egotistical, powerful, pragmatic, intelligent. Ganondorf is the perfect villain for any video game.

Out of the 20 villains to appear on this list, Ganondorf has had the most successes. He was able to steal the Triforce of power several times and plunge Hyrule into darkness just as many times. Whether its conquering the world through his own darkness, using peons to do the work for him, or raising an army to attack anyone that stands in his way, Ganondorf is by far the most competent villain to appear on this list. His wins equal his losses, and that is something very hard for a video game villain to do. 

Every game that he's appeared in, Ganondorf's presence was formidable. In Ocarina of Time he conquers Hyrule and turns it into a dark shadow of its former self. In Wind Waker he forces the king of Hyrule to flood the world just to stop his villainous rampage. Twilight Princess him defeat Zelda and gain enough power to forcibly free himself from the prison he was placed into. Hell, even in Hyrule Warriors he conquers Hyrule again, turns it into a field of darkness, and uses forces other villains, including Ghirahim to work for him or else face death. THAT is how you be a villain. You have enough power to demand respect from others because you are just that strong. Ganondorf. Is. 

Even when he's defeated, he's never really killed. He can be imprisoned, but he never can truly die. The only time he was legitimately killed was in Twilight Princess after a long, arduous fight against him. He technically didn't even die in Wind Waker, even though he was impaled through the head with the Master Sword. All that did was turn him to stone, not outright kill him. Ganondorf can never really be killed. He can be delayed, but he will return. 

Then you have the fact that he can turn into Ganon once he has enough power. Ganon is a giant pig monster that is always difficult to fight again, but it just goes to show how powerful Ganondorf is. You can fight him in his human form, but he has a second form raring to go. It says a lot that it usually takes the combined efforts of Link and Zelda to defeat him. It takes two pieces of the Triforce to beat him. Link can never do it on his own. He always needs help to win. Without the power of light provided by Zelda, Ganondorf would be nearly unstoppable. Any mere mortal would be crushed under Ganondorf's foot. Beware the King of Darkness...

But he isn't number 1. That spot can only go to one villain. One man that is, in my mind, not only the best villain in video game history, but one of the best villains in any medium. 

#1 - Kefka Palazzo from Final Fantasy VI

  • Prototype Magitek Soldier
  • High Ranking Gestahlian Empire Officer
  • God of Chaos
  • Bringer of the World of Ruin
"Life...Dreams...Hope...Where do they come from? And where do they go? None of that junk is enough to fulfill your hearts! Destruction...Destruction is what makes life worth living! Destroy! Destroy! Destroy! Let's destroy everything!"

Kefka Palazzo was once a normal young man working in the Gesthalian Empire. He was the first volunteer for a new program to create Magitek Soldiers, a process that would grant him the ability to use magic at will. However, once the experiment was over, something very, very wrong happened. Kafka got his powers... but his sanity was completely destroyed. He had no more humanity inside of him anymore. The Magitek Soldier program was shortly shut down after Kefka was deemed a failure and put on the back-burner, never to be tested on humans again. But Kefka remained, and Kefka became twisted. Kefka became powerful. Kefka became God. 

Kefka is pure hatred. I don't feel like there's any simpler way to say that. Kefka is hatred personified. He hates everything he comes across and views life as worthless, insignificant, and utterly pointless. However, instead of preaching his philosophy and ideals to others expecting them to follow him, Kefka doesn't care. He wants to become God so that he can prove to the world that life has no meaning when he takes it all away from everyone. 

Kefka is a remorseless human being, if you could even call him that. He poisons a city's water supply and kills the entire town's population, women, children, and his own soldiers included. He mercilessly kills an honorable military official by stabbing him repeatedly while yelling "HATE! HATE! HATE" as he does so. He laughs at everyone's misery and suffering. That being said, he never mocks people or belittles them. He never laughs at them for disagreeing with him, rather, he laughs at them for simply being. 

Kefka's goal is to build a monument to nonexistence and wishes nothing more than to take everything valuable about life and crush it. He is the darkest, most depraved human being ever put into a video game, if you could call him human. Just thinking about him doesn't send fear into my mind, but disgust. Kefka Palazzo is a disgusting person, and to get that level of bile out of a player is proof enough that he is one of the greatest villains in existence. When he does eventually reach Godhood, he takes pleasure in slowly killing humanity just to prove that he can. He knows that he can kill everyone, but by doing that, it removes his point. In his own words, "What fun is destruction if no "precious" lives are lost?"

Kefka is everything that a villain should be. He's as fearsome as Ganondorf, as depraved as Junko, as gleeful as Hades, as powerful as Jubileus, as well written as Kessler, and as remorseless as Hojo. He has no soul. He has no honor. He is everything a villain should be. He is the villain that makes you hate him more passionately every passing second. Kefka Palazzo is true villainy. Kefka is the antithesis of humanity, and that's what makes him so compelling. Kefka Palazzo: the greatest video game villain. Period. 

I hope that you all enjoyed this gigantic Top 20 list! I would like to wish you all a happy Halloween, and watch out for things that go bump in the night...

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