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Thursday, 24 March 2016

Editorial: 5 Great Villains (From Video Games)

Editorial: 5 Great Villains
(From Video Games)

So about a week ago, we looked at five great villains in television, but, as it turns out, other forms of entertainment have villains too! 

Like video games.

I was shocked as well.

Majora's Mask, Legend of Zelda.

Majora's Mask (who may also be Majora, who knows) of the Legend of Zelda game of the same name stands out for really having no discernable end goal or motivation. He wants to bring the Moon crashing down onto Termina, sure, and he seems to have some connection with the Moon and the mysterious creatures on it, but we have no idea how any of this actually serves his purpose.

(Nor, for that matter, do we have any idea how this helps its host, the Skull Kid, actually.)

Majora's Mask inspires a lot of fan speculation and theorising for a whole heap of reasons, not least being who Majora is, what his or her mask is, and what it actually wants. We don't even know how much of what the Skull Kid does is his own idea and how much is the mask. For all we're shown in the game, Majora's Mask seems like an unknowable force of chaos who might not even know its own goals itself (and if it does, it's definitely not sharing).

Darth Nihilus, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

Probably the most underused villain on this list, given that he pretty much dies like a punk when you do meet him, Nihilus is, for most of the game, and truly terrifying villain. 

An eldritch abomination in a mask and a nice cloak, you spend most of the game being told about his terrible hunger, about how he destroyed all life on the Miraluka planet of Katarr, about how he's 'more presence than flesh.' He talks in a weird language that's actually just regular speech played backwards, he roams the galaxy in a fleet of shipwrecks, and he's just generally quite scary.

While all of that never really amounts to much in the game itself, Nihilus obviously made an impression on people, as he's continued to be referenced in the expanded universe since. On the bright side, though, the game now has a full restoration mod available, meaning that you too can play the game as it was meant to be, where hopefully Nihilus isn't such a let-down.

Flowey, Undertale.

Flowey has a special place in the part of my heart which is reserved for hating flowers.

Like a few other examples on the list, Flowey is absent for most of the game, although characters will reference him from time to time, usually unknowingly (such as with Sans remarking that Papyrus has been talking to a flower) - unlike most of the examples on this list, however, before his long absence, Flowey takes the time to be the first character you meet in the game, introducing you to its bullet hell mechanics by cheerfully tricking you, and then showing up again a little later to taunt you over your choices.

In an interesting turn, Flowey combines being deeply sinister with being insufferable, making him exceptionally easy to hate while also being more than a little bit creepy. He's like a Saturday morning cartoon character gone horribly wrong.

Blue, Pokemon.

"But Blue's not really a villain!" I hear you cry. "He's a perfectly pleasant young man who just happens to be your rival, that doesn't make him a villain."

Well, I mean, he kind of is, in the same way that the stereotypical locker-slamming jerk dude is a villain in those 80s films where the main villain is some evil sorcerer or something - he might not be the biggest villain, but he represents the more mundane conflicts that the protagonist must overcome.

I say 'mundane', but Blue is seemingly defined by his ability to do everything quicker and better than you, almost to a supernatural degree. He'll always beat the gym leaders before you. If you hack the game somehow and go to Saffron City's gym first, he'll still have beaten you there despite going the wrong way around. He's first to beat all the gym leaders, first to beat the Elite Four, first to become champion, and until the very end, you're always one step behind him.

The Mad Hatter, American McGee's Alice.

The Mad Hatter isn't the final villain of American McGee's Alice, not anywhere close: While he's the Queen's right hand man and court scientist, after him you end up fighting the Queen's sentinel, the Jabberwock, twice, and then the Queen herself.

He is, however, the most terrifying. His levels comprise one of the largest and most varied areas of the game, as he stalks you through a hall of mirrors, a strange mirrored asylum, and finally (after fighting his own underlings, the Tweedles) his laboratory, a strange clockwork affair where you are periodically treated to views of him wandering around places where you'd either just been or were just about to go.

What makes the Hatter really terrifying, though, is finding the nauseating experiments he's inflicted on the Dormouse and March Hare. The two are drugged, practically vivisected, and as they talk to you in an eerily relaxed fashion, machines regular do things like randomly dump them in water, adding an edge of the totally absurd to the grotesquery of it all. The experiments don't even seem to have any clear purpose, as the Hatter's goal is nebulous and strange at best, with everyone's best guess being that it has to do with rewinding time to before the fire at the Liddell household.

Also, he's terrifying when you actually do fight him.

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