When we play a video game, we might like and respect the protagonist because they're usually pretty likable and they always want to do the right thing, but it's really the villain of the game that gets our attention. They can be funny, they can be ruthless, they can be creepy and sometimes they can be all of the above. Today, I am honoring the top 10 video game big bad guys and girls that managed to leave an impression on us from childhood all the way into our sad adult lives. Let's start this list off with:
10. Gruntilda – 'Banjo–Kazooie' Series
This is a fun antagonist who’s only crime was to become beautiful. Grunty made her first appearance in the N64 classic Banjo–Kazooie when she kidnapped Banjo’s younger sister, Tootie, to steal her looks. After she fell off her tower and landed under a rock for two years, she came back as a witch zombie, after that she came back as a mecha–witch and then she came back with nothing but a skull and some science nonsense and tried to defeat the bear and bird duo again… give her credit, because she does not give up easily.
Another reason I love this antagonist is because just how evil she really is and just how much I notice it now that I’m older and slightly wiser. Every single one of her henchmen and followers either hate her or turn against her to help Banjo and Kazooie defeat her. She’s abusive to her cauldron, her broomstick and even Klungo, who spent two long years trying remove the boulder crushing Grunty. She even axes off her her two evil sisters who saved Grunty’s life and supplied her a giant laser to bring her back to her normal non–zombie body. Gruntilda, we may love her as a antagonist but she hates all of us.
9. Gary Oak – 'Pokemon' Series
I love this guy because he constantly goes on about how awesome he is, how talented he is and how he will become the greatest Pokemon trainer in the world, and yet he just sucks at everything. This is the antagonist that we love making fun of and humiliating because of what a self indulged loser he is. Let’s face it, when we were younger we may have called him Gary or even Blue, but we then soon started calling him dirty or inappropriate names because we just wanted to knock this little bugger down a notch. However, the guy still manages to make us feel absolutely awful.
No matter how fast you are getting to a gym to challenge a gym leader, no matter how fast you make it to the next town, Gary will always be one step ahead of you. Whenever you look at the winners of the gym battles at each town, Gary is always the first one. This is a real insult to you because you kick this guy’s butt every single time you meet him… it actually kinda hurts you deeply. Oh well, his name is Butthole anyway, who cares what he does.
8. LeChuck – 'Monkey Island' Series
Shoot him, slash him, melt him; it doesn’t matter because he will always find a way to strike again. Even though he’s the meanest, dirtiest, merciless and most bloodthirsty pirate of all the seas… that doesn’t stop him from having a heart full of love. LeChuck was smitten with Governor Elaine Marley and asked for her hand in marriage but she refused and he later died of a broken heart. Although that doesn’t stop him from going all Bowser on her and kidnapping her. When we first hear about LeChuck we find out that he has scared the citizens of Melee Island into submission and is plotting to rule the seas with Elaine by his side.
He is, however, always thwarted by the light–hearted but naive wannabe pirate, Guybrush Threepwood. LeChuck never gives up though and always comes back as a ghost, zombie, demon and even an actual human man. He's hilarious, he's relentless and he's a no-good pirate and that more than qualifies him to be a part of this list.
7. Alma – 'F.E.A.R' Series
No matter where you are, where you run or where you hide, Alma can see you and she is watching you. When we start playing the game, we have no idea why Alma is stalking us or if she wants to help us or hurt us. As we progress through the game, she puts disturbing dream sequences in the Pointman’s head to give him clues as to who he is, who she is and what the heck is going. That’s what really makes this antagonist so interesting because we literally have no idea if she’s truly evil or trying to get the Pointman to see a much bigger picture.
But where Alma really shines is the dreams she puts into the Pointman’s head that involve pools of blood, terrifying screams and things popping out at you while you’re defenseless and it can really get under you’re skin. According to the developers of F.E.A.R, Alma was made to really get under the player’s skin but also keep the player coming back for more due to the uncertainty of her character. They really succeeded on that and delivered us one great antagonist that will always have us wondering if something or someone is watching us.
6. Handsome Jack - 'Borderlands 2/Tales from the Borderlands'
Handsome Jack is a special kind of video game villain. Handsome Jack is the head of the Hyperion corporation and has pretty much taken over the majority of the planet of Pandora. He also just happens to be a sadistic and incredibly charming murderer who constantly taunts and insults you over your radio. However, as Borderlands 2 progresses, Handsome Jack slowly turns from a simple cocky jerk to more of a three-dimensional character who you really get to understand the motives of. At the end of Tales from the Borderlands, there is an amazing conversation between main character Rhys and Handsome Jack that goes through Jack's entire motive of what he did in Borderlands 2 and why he did it.
The scene is both intriguing and kind of depressing as we still despise Handsome Jack for everything awful thing he did but you can understand how he got to where he was and that it could really happen to anyone. Handsome Jack is what the Borderlands franchise needed in order to stay on top as one of the best FPSs and RPGs of the past few years. He has the charm, he has the power and he will take you down a peg throughout your entire journey.
5. Frank Fontaine – 'Bioshock'
When this guy revealed himself in Bioshock, many gamers' jaws hit the ground because this character delivered the one of the greatest twists in a video game ever. I don’t want to give anything away but… would you kindly play this game and witness its great story and incredible environments? Frank is a great bad guy because while you know what he did in his past, you do feel for what he has been through in the nightmarish environment of the underwater city of Rapture. If you haven’t played this game yet, then you owe it to yourself to check it out.
4. SHODAN - 'System Shock 2'
Now in Bioshock, they tried to recreate this character in with a few new tricks, and while they still did a pretty good job, SHODAN is still the antagonist that can mess with your mind and wonder if she’s here to help you, hurt you or maybe even both. SHODAN has this great gift of making the player feel so insignificant while she praises herself as some untouchable God. She did this by intimidating and just down right creeping you out. It’s pretty obvious the developers and writers drew influence from 2001: A Space Odyssey and the HAL 9000 from the movie but they did so well that SHODAN still left a big impression with gamers with an unpredictable attitude, creepy dialogue and just a great appearance. When you’re alone in space, no one can hear you scream… except SHODAN.
3. Saren – 'Mass Effect'
Now, to be honest, I was a little hasty about putting Saren on this list because at the beginning of the game, he’s not that terribly interesting. We are introduced to him as he shoots his best friend in the back of the head and tries to blow up a whole colony of innocent people. However, he is a Spectre and very trusted man to the council… so yes, an already pretty powerful guy let’s the power go to his head and abuses it… haven’t heard that story arc before. Although, as the game continued and introduced more of Saren’s character, we learn that he is working for the an higher authority and he pilots a Reaper that could destroy every life-form.
Then we learn that the Reaper’s power has been controlling Saren’s mind, so there is a possibility that he was not always a bad guy. Even to this day, people don’t know if he was an actual bad guy or a lost soul and that what makes a great character and antagonist. There is even a scene where if you go Paragon and talk him down at the final confrontation, he’ll actually shoot himself as if he knows what he has become and wants to stop himself. A lost soul or an evil mastermind… We will never know.
2. Joker – 'Batman Arkham' Series
Okay, I’m actually kind of cheating on this one because The Joker is actually more of a comic book villain than a video game antagonist but hear me out. Throughout both Batman games, The Joker has you guessing the whole time, which keeps in true with his character. He makes you feel like more of pawn in his plan than an actual superhero and every time he reveals a part of his plan, it is a genuine shock. This is more so in Arkham City because The Joker is dying from a disease and yet you still feel weaker than him because he is still able to control and use you.
And on top of everything, we know this character and we know what he is like and we know what he is capable of. Even though we have seen this character in hundreds of comic books, TV shows, movies and even other games; he still manages to keep us guessing what the hell he is up to. It has been said that The Joker is the most iconic villain in all of media and you know what, I believe it. The Joker will, most certainly, have you die laughing and going out with a bang.
1. GLaDOS - 'Portal'
If there was an award for the antagonist that was friendly, funny, terrifying and above all, kept you intrigued for the duration of the game… GLaDOS would go home with the gold. GLaDOS has left an impression with gamers like no other antagonist has and still continues to be talked about today. GLaDOS starts out in the game as a seemingly helpful A.I. guide to complete a series of routine tests with an odd new weapon but soon evolves into a something more sinister. What makes this antagonist so creepy and intimidating is that GLaDOS is the only other character in this game. Other than you, she is only other thing in this empty lab that communicates with you.
I want to avoid all spoilers because even if you are the one person on the Internet who has not played this game I don't want to spoil it for you. All you have to know is that you shouldn't trust anyone and the cake is a lie. The combination of her passion, vengeance, and light-hearted moments are what really make her stand out. GLaDOS… because it’s only logical.