Tuesday, December 12

The Most Memorable Villains in Video Game History

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One of the wonderful aspects of video games is that a list of the most memorable villains in the video game world could be comprised of dozens of nefarious no-gooders, all of which would be provocative entries on the itemization. Video games have formed a rich, long-held culture that has by far grabbed a hold of mainstream consciousness and left only its most ardent and scrutinized factors up to the hardcore purists.

Perhaps a sampling of the most memorable villains in the video game world would not be included among those most brutalized of debates, there are certainly some video-game villains that are more permanently entrenched in the minds of millions than others. Readers should also be warned that a couple potential spoilers will be included in the examination of these furious figures.


Ever since his name was first titled “Gannon” in the original Legend of Zelda title on the 8-bit Nintendo EntertainmentSystem, Ganon has proven to be a formidable force, both in the Zelda canon and in the popular Super Smash Bros. series. He seeks to rule the beautiful kingdom of Hyrule, and is not afraid to get his hands dirty in doing so. Ganon originally appeared as a giant, menacing, pig-like beast of a boss, whereas his appearance would become somewhat more refined yet also more sinister in the landmark title Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64 console, where he undertook the name Ganondorf in his constant quest to attain the Triforce of Power; that is, until his grisly form was once again revealed at the end of the quest. His further appearances have only added to his legacy of evil, and he will likely only continue for years to come.


Capcom released several classic video games on the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, including successful license-based games adapted from Disney properties and the Mega Man series. Another of their hits was a slick little action platformer called Bionic Commando, a run-‘n’-gun shooter with a twist: Rather than being able to jump, the protagonist had a bionic arm used to grab, climb, and swing from various surfaces throughout the title. Beyond that brilliant gameplay mechanics and other well-polished features, another interesting ingredient of Bionic Commando was the enemy forces; originally, they were Nazis, but as usual with the censorship that NES games underwent went becoming Americanized, all Nazi references were removed and replaced with generic terms instead, such as black eagles on flags rather than swastikas. Throughout the game, the main soldier is trying to rescue Super Joe, and the whole time is battling a conniving enemy led by the scheming Master-D. When his face is eventually revealed, the despot looks just like Adolph Hitler; and, appropriately, dies in spectacularly gruesome fashion, leaving quite an impression as far as departed villains go.


This reptilian video game villain has long pestered the life of who is arguably the world’s most popular video game character of all time and representative of Nintendo’s flagship franchise, Mario the plucky Italian plumber whose exploits regularly regale the Mushroom Kingdom in his repeated rescues of the Princess. Between his horns, his tail, and his scaly demeanor, Bowser cuts quite a despicable figure as he keeps trying to take over the Kingdom and, for whatever obsessive reason, keeps rescuing whatever Princess is in power at the time. Marked by his bellowing voice, comically inept toadies, and the occasional turn to the side of the good guys against a greater evil than his own, Bowser has provided a perfect foil to Super Mario for decades.


The role-playing game Final Fantasy VII on the original Playstation console was a watershed event in gaming, representing what many considered to be the apex of developer Square-Enix’s genius. The grand storyline spanned across three disks, introduced players to innovative gameplay concepts, sports newfound trendy mechanics in the Final Fantasy world such as the Chocobo, and generally provided a high-quality experience. Part of the reason why many consider VII to be the premiere chapter in the Final Fantasy plotline is the presence of Sepheroth, a brooding, mysterious, white-haired figure that provided the powerful counterpart to the protagonist Cloud Strife. Perhaps the moment that solidifed his place on the list of the most memorable villains in the video game world was the death of Aeris, delivering in stunning heart-breaking fashion, and a point that would stick with gamers rather strongly.

Any list of the most memorable villains in the video game world is subject to disagreement and debate, but the very spirit of true video game enjoyment is the capacity of the medium to bring people together for collective experiences toward common enjoyment. The true villains in gaming are those who would, rather than steal an artifact or kidnap a princess, seek to reduce or remove the fun that gamers can have in their games.


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