Welcome back to our countdown of the all-time top 25 villains. Below we have a nice combination of villains from both classic games and exciting newer ones, along with one of my personal favorites coming in at number six!
#10: Space Invaders Aliens: “Just…one…more…quarter…”
Space Invaders from CafePress
Space Invaders’ place in video game history is solid and unquestioned. As one of the first shooting games, Space Invaders is credited with making video games more attractive to the general public. In addition, the game play is simple—shoot the white alien ships before they reach Earth. If even one reaches your base at the bottom of the screen, it’s game over. Of course, the more aliens you kill, the faster they move and the more difficult it becomes to shoot them down. But surely you’ll win next time, right? The game prompts you to insert coin after coin for a rematch, making it highly addictive in nature. In addition, Space Invaders was the first arcade game to keep track of high scores, and the desire to continuously improve kept you coming back for more. Though tiny and heavily pixilated, the white Space Invader ships are so prevalent in today’s culture that they often stand as an icon for video games as a whole. My hands start to twitch every time I see an image of one of these aliens.
Dr. Wily from Wikipedia
#9: Dr. Wily: “I’ve decided I’d like to take over the world!”
The primary villain of the Mega Man series is a perfect example of what happens to evil geniuses who don’t have enough toys to play with as children and end up ignored as adults. Dr. Wily had an illustrious academic career culminating with a PhD in robotics. Originally he partnered with Dr. Light to build a group of robots that would help save humanity. When he failed to receive any credit for this joint endeavor, Wily decided to steal the robots and re-program them to assist in his personal take-over of the world. His alleged genius is called into question, because in each game he continuously produces eight robots that are always destroyed by Mega Man. However, his persistence cannot be questioned. He rises from each defeat and forges ahead, determined that this time he will succeed. And let’s face it, anyone who looks like Albert Einstein has to be awesome!
#8: GlaDOS: Let them eat cake!
GlaDOS from Wikipedia
Eerily reminiscent of our earlier-featured villain SHODAN is Portal’s villain, GlaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System). She is also the only other being you interact with during the entire game, which makes her even more sinister. At first you think, sure, her voice is a little strange, almost musical in a nefarious sort of way, and she sometimes has static bursts or mangles words during the most important parts of her speeches, but she is your trainer and helpful teacher, so she can’t be all bad—you think. She even promises to give you cake when you successfully complete your training missions! But when she eventually tries to incinerate you, the writing on the wall becomes clear—literally. A former “test subject” scribbles “The cake is a lie!” several times on a wall, warning you that GlaDOS is not to be trusted. By the end of the game, it becomes evident not only that is GlaDOS untrustworthy, but that she also has definite programming issues. While GlaDOS is trying to kill you with neurotoxins, she even attempts to convince you that you’re the evil murderer. You’ll never forget that surgery sweet voice stating “killing you and giving you good advice aren’t mutually exclusive.”
Psycho Mantis from IGN
#7: Psycho Mantis: “Now let me read your mind.”
Metal Gear Solid’s Psycho Mantis is a truly unique villain. He possesses excellent telepathic and telekinetic powers, which he uses in a way that allows him to interact with you as the game player and not just your game character. In the final battle, Psycho Mantis proves the extent of his powers by reading your mind. He will comment on how often you’ve saved the video game, and he will also mention other games you’ve played, most notably Castlevania and Suikoden. In actuality, the game program reads your memory card and then determines how many saves you’ve made and what other games you’ve played on the system. Psycho Mantis also demonstrates his telekinetic abilities when you place your video game controller on the floor and he uses his “will power” to move it. The game uses the Dual Shock rumble built into the controller, causing it to move across the floor! During battle, Psycho Mantis easily prevents all your attacks by “reading your thoughts.” Only by physically unplugging your controller from the Player One slot and inserting it into Player Two can you block his psychic powers and win the game. No other villain interacts with you and forces you to take actions in real life to defeat him, and for that, Psycho Mantis earns a high spot on this list.
Kefka from PC Games Hardware
#6: Kefka: Dancing Mad
We all know there’s a fine line between genius and madness, and many of the villains previously listed walk that line beautifully. Kefka Palazzo of Final Fantasy VI, court-mage-turned-megalomaniac-psychopath, is a different story entirely. He doesn’t walk the line at all—he dances over it, twisting and twirling, sometimes jumping back and forth across, even moving the line from one spot to another, and finally erasing it all together. Kefka has no tragic past, no revenge motives, and no humanity. He is purely evil. He poisons an entire village because its members aren’t surrendering fast enough and he eventually comes to power by throwing his emperor off a floating continent. His ultimate goal is to destroy all sentient life and create a monument to nothingness . . . and he comes dangerously close to succeeding. In fact, the first half of the game ends with Kefka becoming imbued with the power of a god, and he smites anyone who refuses to worship him. By the end of the game, what little is left of his mind snaps, and you can save the world from total destruction only by killing him. Kefka’s insanity and total lack of any moral code—even one specific only to himself—makes him one of the greatest villains of all time. Oh, and by the way, don’t ever let sand get on his boots. Just sayin’.
Who do you think will make the final five? Do you have predictions for the very top spot? Comment here and let me know your thoughts, and then be sure to check back for the results!