I worked through IGN’s list of the Top 100 video game villains of all time. Some I recognized, some I defeated, some I didn’t recognize even though I finished the game in which they appeared. Like Red Falcon of Contra. Maybe he just didn’t appear in the 8-bit Nintendo version of that game or something.
Anyway, the Top 10 are as follows:
10: ANDREW RYAN of the BioShock series
No idea. Never played BioShock. Turns out, this dude is one of two villains in the Top 10 that I’ve never heard of.
9: MOTHER BRAIN of the Metroid series
Now we’re talking. Mother Brain is a real villain. She is the first of four Top 10 villains that got their own TV show in the 80s, and she was voiced by Levi Stubbs of the 4 Tops (he also voiced the plant in Little Shop of Horrors).
I don’t think that Mother Brain was intended to be the leader of the Space Pirates in the original Metroid, just the supercomputer that ran the base. Yet, in subsequent incarnations of the game, she is revealed to be the leader. In the original video game, it takes 30 hits with missiles to defeat her, and it isn’t easy because she fires these semi-intelligent fireballs at you, and you can get knocked into an acid bath that deals constant damage until you climb out.
Difficult boss battle, to be sure.
8: PSYCHO MANTIS from Metal Gear Solid
I agree with IGN; this guy messes with your head big time. Not your character’s head; he messes with your head. If you have other Konami games saved on your PS Memory Card, he makes comments about them. He complains about the number of times you’ve saved the game, calling you foolish if you don’t save often, prudent if you save frequently, or overly-cautious if you save a lot.
He hurls invisible balls of psychic energy at you, he flings objects in the room at you, he possess your love interest and has her insult your sexual performance. And, he makes the screen go black suddenly in a way that mimics an accidental bump of the remote control to change the input. He’s the only video game villain that’s at least open about responding directly to input from the controller; as long as you’re plugged into socket 1, he will read the controller input and respond before the CPU executes your command. In other words, he acts before you do and that means you can’t hit him until you change controller sockets.
Seriously nasty villain.
7: THE GHOSTS from Pac-Man
I remembered their names without having to read the article. Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde. What I didn’t realize is that they have individual personalities, all utilizing different strategies during the game. I just thought they floated randomly.
Nope. Blinky is highly aggressive, going right for you. Pinky shadows Blinky, trying to trap Pac-Man around corners as he runs from Pinky. Inky is shy, staying away from the action as much as he can. Clyde tries to predict the player’s pattern and show up where it would be least convenient at critical moments. And he usually succeeds–many players have been wiped out by Clyde with only a couple of pellets left to eat!
6: THE NAZIS in every single WWII game ever made
I remember them from Wolfenstein 3D. Nazis make excellent villains because no one really likes them. Their ideology puts them at odds with most people, since they consider themselves the master race and must purify humanity of others.
So it’s kind of no-brainer for them to be video game villains. The designers don’t have to do much story to get the players to want to wipe out Nazis.
5: DONKEY KONG from Donkey Kong
Now here’s an underrated villain. One of the very first video game villains; those of us who gamed in the 80s remember charging up that tower to rescue Pauline from the clutches of that giant ape.
There was a cartoon about him, too, with Mario and Pauline trying to return the critter to the zoo.
I remember all three levels: the first was a maze of beams, the second had those stupid jacks falling everywhere, and the third required Mario to topple Donkey Kong by unscrewing all of the bolts. Then, in typical 80s fashion, before video games had plots, you started at the beginning and the enemies moved faster.
4: SEPHIROTH from Final Fantasy VII
I’ve heard of this guy, and I own Final Fantasy VII, but I only played a very little bit of it. There are over 30 games in the Final Fantasy series; the only one I finished was the much-derided and simplistic one, Mystic Quest. Sephiroth, according to gamers, isn’t the baddest or most devious villain, but he’s the most iconic.
I thought there was a band named Sephiroth. It wouldn’t be the first time a band named themselves after a character from a game (Kyuss, anyone?). But I might be mistaken.
3: GANON from the Legend of Zelda series
Of course Ganon has to be included. That’s a big DUH. Ganon possess the Triforce of Power, and seeks to obtain the Triforce of Wisdom and Triforce of Courage to complete his power. Thanks to having the Triforce that he does, the only living being more powerful than him is Chuck Norris.
According to most continuities, Ganon was a human thief named Ganondorf. When he entered the Dark World and became trapped there, he was transformed into a shape that reflected what was within: a demonic half-pig, half-boar creature. Then, he shortened his name to Ganon.
Ganon’s plots usually include kidnapping Princess Zelda, which is what generally puts him at odds with Link.
Aside from Ganon, the other regular baddie at the end of a Zelda game is Shadow Link. Neither Ganon nor Shadow Link are easy enemies to beat, and both are extremely memorable foes.
2: BOWSER from the Super Mario series
I thought Bowser would be number one.
The TV series named him King Koopa, and IGN mistakenly says that this was his name in the original video game. Nope. He’s always been Bowser, or King Bowser the Great, or something similar. Only the ultra-cheesy Super Mario Bros. Super Show called him anything different.
Bowser has an army of Koopa Troopas and Goombas at his command, and he uses all of these resources to conquer the Mushroom Kingdom. He has eight kids; seven are revealed in Super Mario Bros. 3, and Bowser, Jr. debuts in Super Mario Sunshine.
Like most video game villains, Bowser keeps coming back for more no matter how many times you kill him. He has been the main villain of nearly every Mario game except for Super Mario Bros. 2, where Wart stepped in. That actually made sense; since Mario 2 was revealed to be Mario’s dream in the end.
1: GLADOS from Portal
Never heard of GlaDOS or Portal, but based on the description on IGN’s website, she sounds rather creepy. Maybe it’s best that I didn’t play her; after all, Psycho Mantis is creepy enough and this computer sounds worse than he was.