Video games most always focus on their heroic protagonists, but just as with other forms of media, the villains are often the more interesting of characters. There have been some stellar antagonists throughout gaming history–from the princess stealing lizard King Bowser, to the homicidal artificial intelligence GLaDOS–yet, for each one of these praised representations of pure evil, there are dozens more that fly under the radar. Perhaps they didn’t get the screen time that they deserved, or maybe the game they starred in has too gone underappreciated. Whatever the reason, countless bad guys aren’t notable in the gaming community, and it’s high time we change that.
JRPGs are known for their unforgettable stories, and one of the best examples of these is 1998’s Suikoden II. While the majority of its cast is phenomenal, I am surprised that one of the game’s primary villains, Luca Blight, isn’t brought up more when discussing gaming’s greatest foes. The Mad Prince is responsible for immeasurable death as he callously wages war against the entire world in his quest for ultimate dominance. Early in the adventure, we see this blood thirsty villain slay not only the soldiers of opposing armies, but also slaughter innocent civilians in the streets of their burning towns. It also helps that the game depicts Luca as being one of the mightiest warriors to have ever lived, which raises the tension skyward once you finally confront him in battle.
Villains are perhaps one of the most important aspects of horror games, as terror is often channeled by what may spell your demise. Some of the greatest foes in gaming come from horror titles—Pyramid Head, Shodan, Albert Wesker, and Alma just to name a few—but there are still plenty that don’t get the recognition that they deserve. Walter Sullivan in Silent Hill 4 stands out to me, as his initial innocent (albeit odd) behavior leads the player to write him off as just another loony before he reveals his hidden twisted intentions. Scissorman from the classic horror series Clock Tower is responsible for some of the most terrifying moments in the genre’s early history, yet he seems to have been overshadowed by more modern freaks in recent years.
Most of gaming’s most iconic franchises have staple villains that routinely make an appearance—I’ve already mentioned Bowser above—yet when developers decide to change things up, it usually leads to an amazing result. It’s unfortunate then when these one-off badguys are overlooked for their more popular counterparts. One example is Tatanga from Super Mario Land; Tatanga was a unique alien conqueror that forced Mario to commandeer a spacecraft in order to do battle amongst the stars. Demise from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is not nearly as popular as Ganon (or Majora for that matter) but this vile creature is perhaps the most important force of evil in the entire Zelda mythos.
I could go on forever about video game villains, but I want to hear from you: who do you think is among gaming’s most underappreciated villains? Is it one that I mentioned above, or do you have another you’d love to gush about? Let me know in the comments down below!