The FF series is far from short of ridiculous villains, but the most memorable by far is the long haired, sword wielding Sephiroth, a super-human consumed by rage and bent on destruction.
Engineered to be more powerful than any other human, he betrayed his cause to discover the truth about his genetic legacy and once he finds out that said legacy involved becoming all powerful and ruling the world, he decides to give it a go. From his ominous gaze to his epic theme music, Sephiroth exudes evil, particularly when he appears out of absolutely nowhere and kills off Aeris, one of the most prominent characters in the game. Many cried, many raged, all were utterly flabbergasted, especially if you’d been leveling her up.
4. SHODAN – System Shock 2
Another AI, this time availed of a rather unfortunate God complex, perhaps the most disconcerting thing about SHODAN is that you are led to think you can trust her. After you awaken from cryogenic sleep on a ship now crawling with horrid zombie things, you find yourself in an uneasy, tumultuous relationship with the bloodthirsty, cunning computer. You’re rarely sure of her true intentions but you are always excruciatingly aware that no matter where you go, she’ll be watching you intently. Thought the idea of being trapped on a drifting ship in space with an alien was scary? That’s a trip to Center Parcs compared to this.
3. Sovereign – Mass Effect
Many games pit you against difficult odds, but in Mass Effect it really is difficult to see any way you’ll ever be able to defeat the Reapers. A sentient race of machines that have existed for billions of years, repeatedly ridding the galaxy of all advanced life in order to prevent a decent into chaos.
How the hell do you beat that with a crew of misfits and a tank with awful steering? While Saren was ostensibly the key villain of the first game, it was Sovereign who was really pulling the strings, a single Reaper acting alone. Every other antagonistic character was being controlled by him and things certainly seem more dicey when you realise that far from being pitted against a maniacal warrior and an army of machines, you were actually squaring up against a 2 kilometer long robotic psychic death scorpion.
2. Kefka – Final Fantasy VI
It’s all very well having deep, complex motives or being disturbed and twisted by a traumatic past, but what if you’re just plain nasty? Moving beyond that, what if you’re just plain nasty and dress like a freakish jester of doom from the deepest circle of hell? Well, meet Kefka. Initially he appears to be little more than a significantly unpleasant courtesan of a cruel emperor, but through flashbacks and further events, you being to arrive at the startling realization that Kefka is not only completely devoid of remorse or morality, he’s something of an evil genius.
He doesn’t want money or status or control, he wants chaos, death and destruction. As the game progresses his death toll continues to increase, he later finds himself in control of Godlike powers. You aren’t worried that he’ll destroy any one particular place for some strategic reason like any other villain might, you know that in all likelihood he’ll destroy everything, just because he can. It’s also worth noting that he was the first gaming villain to have an audible evil laugh.
1. Giygas – Earthbound
How do you create the ultimate villain? You make them the very embodiment of evil, the essence of terror. That’s exactly what Giygas is. Earthbound was the second game in the Mother series, which initially only saw a Japanese release but has gained acclaim elsewhere now, thanks in no small part to the main character, Nes’s appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Starting out as an innocent alien boy, Giygas is granted immense power in order to travel to Earth and annihilate humanity to stem the spread of psychic power.
The depth and overwhelming strength of the evil power within Giygas ultimately consumes both his body and his mind, creating the thing you ultimately face at the end of the game, a freakish swirl of sheer malevolent energy that you can neither fight nor comprehend, wailing bizarre phrases at you as the tatters of a lost, terrified boy’s mind try to find their way out. Giygas is power with no rationality to guide it, an idiot God and the twisted, Munch-esque facade you face is a constant reminder of that. Supposedly the image is actually based on a traumatic event from the game creator’s past, when he accidentally walked in on a moment of sexual violence in a film at a very young age. That’s the really horrible thing about Giygas, he’s not only destructive, virtually unstoppable and incomprehensibly powerful, he’s lonely, frightened and confused.
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