The greatness of a video game can be defined by the caliber of it’s antagonist. The more vile and horrible the villain, the more heroic and great the heroes deeds appear in retrospect. Video games, console role playing games in particular, have given us some of the most memorable villains in history. The deeds of many video game bad guys rival both the scope and enduring legacy of anything from film or literature.
Donkey Kong – Donkey Kong
Many people fail to remember (or realize) that the bandana-wearing California-cool DK of Donkey Kong Country fame began his existence as a broad stealing, barrel throwing sonafabitch. When the Donkey Kong arcade was released in the early 80’s DK became famous for driving throngs of quarter popping zombies insane with his persistent habit of throwing barrels that inexplicably change patterns, speeds, and crashed into oil drums creating fireballs. Nearly thirty years and piles of video games later, Donkey Kong has transformed from a mindless monster to a big teddy bear who has traded his obsession with female flesh for a more appropriate love for bananas. At least we’ll always have MAME…
Bowser /King Koopa – Mario series
Bowser / King Koopa has the dubious distinction of appearing on both the greatest villains list and the most persistent villains list. No other video game baddie in history has had more cracks at a hero than poor old bowser. He has been Mario’s nemesis at every activity from tennis to cart racing, and he just can’t seem to get ahead. Making his first appearance in Super Mario Bros. at the end of world 8-4, he has developed and fairly unhealthy obsession with Princess Toodstool (or as you kids that know Mario with an Italian accent call her, Princess Peach). Nearly every single Mario outing begins with Bowser kidnapping the Princess for one reason or another. But where a normal lizagator dragon-king would just call it a day and retire, Bowser keeps getting right back on that horse. And for that reason, plus the fact that he has become some-what of a cultural icon, Bowser deserves a spot on the list.
Psycho Mantis – Metal Gear Solid
Another thing that makes a villain truly legendary is a great back story. Psycho Mantis has such a back story. Born with the gifts of telekinesis and telepathy, as a child he used these gifts to ascertain that his father blamed him for the death of his mother, who died during childbirth. He also believed that his father was going to kill him, so in a preemptive strike he murdered his father and burned down his entire village. You can see now that ‘Psycho Mantis’ is no just a cool sounding name, but also has a certain ring of truth to it. Clad in Marilyn Manson-esque body suit and totally bad ass gas mask, when you encounter him in Metal Gear Solid he demonstrates his psychic and telekinetic abilities by telling you what Konami games are on your memory card and messing with the screen and your the dual shock’s rumble feature. This neat little mechanic blew my, and pretty much everybody who played the game’s, minds and forever engraved Psycho Mantis in to our collective memory.
Kefka – Final Fantasy VI (III)
The Final Fantasy series has garnered an impressive list of villains, many of which can be argued onto this list. From Chaos, Sin, Sephiroth, Warmech, to Omege, Ruby, and Emerald Weapon, the series is a fountain of villainous debauchery. But one enemy truly stands out among Final Fantasy’s vast gallery of rogues, and that villain of villains is Kefka. A misanthropic psychopath, Kefka is revealed to be Emperor Gestahl’s court mage who was patient zero in Cid’s line of Magitek infusion experiements. These experiments result in Kefka developing powerful magic skills, but as is a common effect in stories of this nature, he also ends up hopelessly insane. He begins a quest to search out all of the Espers, ancheint magical beings who’s powers can be transfered to humans in the form of magicite. Using his ‘Light of Judgement’ he lays towns to waste, killing millions of people. Many of the worlds remaining inhabitants form the Cult of Kefka, who worship the deranged demigod that Kefka has become. Fueled only by his hatred of life itself, he reveals himself to be a nihilist out to destroy the human species, his only motive his burning hatred and unparelled disgust for everything that exists.