Written by Ryan Johnson, Josh Hurley, Colby Sorensen, Craig Will Monday, 05 March 2012 06:00
So the GN team had fun writing parts for the “Best. Console. Ever.” article, and it appeared to go over well without inciting a flame war over our personal preferences. We’ve come up with a list of topics that you sit around with your gamer friends to discuss, and we’re going to pump out a few group articles to stir up some conversation with readers.
The first of these topics that the GN team was excited to write on was on villainy; which gaming icon is the most dastardly of all. We’ll do heroes soon, I’m sure, but today, you get to see who we feel are some of the most vile souls ever to grace our home consoles. This list is made from a group talking about their personal experiences on which villain brought the most dastardly hate to their hearts in their entire gaming experience.
Sure, a lot of people would go with Sephiroth, Kefka, or any of the Final Fantasy rogue’s gallery. If I’m looking at personal villains hated through the years, my mind instantly jumps to one: 13th Racing: The Devil Car from Ridge Racer Revolution. His lackey, the Yellow Solvalou, was the bane of my existence through the entire main game, but when 13th Racing arrived to mock me by perfectly running every corner in the game, I knew what hate was. I remember getting up and yelling at the screen over and over as my perfect race was thwarted by one little nudge in the wrong direction. I still remember finally beating the Devil through a lucky clip in the last few feet of the final track after a few hundred attempts to take him down. The later unlocked White Angel car was more manageable because by that time I had the Devil and Devil Kid cars to attempt overcoming him. I remember bragging and showing him off in my garage to all of my friends. He was one of the most ruthless villains I have ever faced in gaming, and one I won’t soon forget.
My favorite villain has to be Gary from Bully. Okay, stop laughing. Now hear me out on this: What constitutes a good villain? A good storyline? Motive? Wacky hair and lots of zippers? Not to me. To me, a good villain should really only have two qualifications. First, whatever they do, the villain must always think they’re right. Secondly, at some point throughout the game, the player should feel actual hatred towards the character. Not “I don’t like that guy because he irks me” hate. I’m talking full-on “If I get the opportunity, I’m going to punch you in the face as hard as I can” hate.
Gary had both of those things. The antagonizing challenges I had to face because of him, the amount of curse words I invented due to things involving him, all of that culminated to one of the most memorable villains in my video game history.
What if I told you that my favorite villain wasn’t even the main villain in the game he’s in? Well Andrew Ryan is exactly that. What makes a great villain is one that is not totally insane and wants to kill everything or enslave everyone, but rather a great villain is someone who is actually intelligent, but who’s philosophy is just misguided enough to be worth fighting against. (Magneto is a great example. He wants to stand up for mutants, but chooses to go to war with them instead of trying to cooperate with them.) At the end of the first chapter of Bioshock you receive a stern lecture from Ryan about how every man has a right to the fruits of his own labor and that neither government nor religion have any place in his perfect society. The great part about Bioshock is that you actually get to see what happens once the villain has created his society and what the results of that society are. What defines Ryan as a villain is actually information you are being fed by Atlas, which is an amazingly interesting dynamic. I also love this story-telling mechanic because it’s a perfect analog for so many things in life, most of all video games. We villainize those whom people tell us we should villainize. When we have lost our ability to make these decisions on our own, we are essentially being mind controlled by those that are feeding us the information. The places Bioshock takes this idea makes for my favorite story twist in any media. The conclusion to Andrew Ryan’s story is what makes him a sort of tragic villain and gives him some redeeming quality.
Because of Ryan’s opening sentence I feel like choosing Sephiroth is a bit cliche now... but I’ve got to stick with my gut on this one. Final Fantasy VII was a masterpiece, nearly everything about it was exactly what my 9 year-old self wanted in a video game. There were (for the time) gorgeous FMVs thrown into a gripping story and every character was dripping with personality. I remember actually feeling betrayed by Sephiroth, it hurt when he killed Aeris -whom I named after the girl I liked in grade school - and I really wanted to go hunt him down and exact my revenge. I loved watching his descent into homicidal madness, got the chills following the blood trails in the Shinra Corp building, and felt such a sense of satisfaction after besting him in his final form. But more than anything I remember is how BA Squaresoft made him. He was a bit girly looking (what JRPG character isn’t?) but that iconic scene where he’s walking through the flames? Oh man, I’m jealous that Josh will soon(ish) be reliving this gem for his Final Fantasy Challenge. Why don’t I go play it? Maybe I will...
(Hey, Craig: I agree with you on the awesomeness of Sephiroth, and he would be in my top villainy. That being said, he got top billing in pictures, so I had to give you this one of him inspecting an ice cream cone I found at your frame. Hope you're not mad. By the way, it could have been much worse....I'm beginning to fear Googling for pictures anymore....Ryan)