RPG Villains -- which ones are the best?
January 09, 2008

Last night, while still recovering from the mass amounts of booze I put in me while watching my Ohio State Buckeyes get raped of their dignity by LSU on Monday, I was fiddling around with my "when I don't feel up to anything else" replay of Dragon Quest VIII and a thought went into my head.

Remember a couple of months ago when I put up a blog entry or two ripping on the quality of RPG heroes (or something like that). Well, that made me think about who the best villains are. It's a pretty complicated thing, as hardly any of the final boss enemies really can count, as they tend to be huge demon creatures that don't have much of a presence throughout the game as anything more than a behind-the-scenes presence.

Like, for example, in DQ VIII, count how many hours it takes before Rhapthorne does anything more than mind control other characters into doing his bidding. Or, for a really extreme example, count how many references you get to Necron or whatever his name is throughout FF IX before he appears as the final boss (hint: the answer is zero).

No, the best villains tend to be those subordinate types that pop up time and time again, actually are given some sort of personality and rarely are still standing by game's end. But while they're there, they do a lot to carry the game -- sometimes to the point where it just seem to be missing "something" after their demise.

Off the top of my head, here's a brief list of ones I liked (oh, and if you haven't figured it out, there will be spoilers up the ass probably). In no specific order....

Marcello -- DQ VIII: The perfect example of how great set-up and delivery can make a window-dressing character for much of the game one of the most memorable aspects of it by the end. For much of the game, you just gradually get to see bits and pieces of Marcello -- how he was born out of an affair had by PC Angelo's father and resented Angelo's presence because it constantly reminded him of the privileged life he should have had and his frustration at how his rank in the church was pretty much frozen because of his commoner status. And then, by fate, he gets his hands on Rhapthorne's staff, fights off the demon's attempt to control him and, for just a moment, shatters the glass ceiling imposed on him by his position to take over as the head of the church, giving an impassioned speech (blows Vayne's early-game FF XII one out of the water) about how kings and whatnot are empty titles "earned" by the amount of money one has and how he clawed his way up from nothing -- before letting everyone know they have no choice in whether they follow him or not, which leads to you fighting him, which winds up setting the endgame in motion. Awesome stuff.

Ziekfried -- Wild Arms: Loyal metal demon follower of Mother, until she announces that her plan is to destroy Filgaia and everything on it, including Ziek and his fellow demons. So, he sets up a plan where he disguises himself and helps your party defeat Mother, so he can resume his plan to take over the world. Which comes to an end when you eventually defeat him and he gets taken over by a fragment of Mother.

Dalton -- Chrono Trigger: Just something that amuses me about this somewhat comic relief figure. He's like the ultimate low-level lackey, but when Zeal falls, he tries to take over during the chaos, which hilariously fails. Both when his greatest success is followed by the "Crono victory" theme to his frustration and when his demise is set up by attempting to summon a monster who's afraid of heights.....while on an airship.

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pup pup - January 10, 2008 (12:02 AM)
"...don't have much of a presence throughout the game..."

I never really thought about this, but it's true. I've been replaying RPGs from over the years in my head and I can only remember a few of the final bosses. Suikoden II and Chrono Trigger are two of my favorite games, but even those escape me now.

I started a thread in the Game Discussion forum about Best/Worst boss-fights and I listed Red Faction II as a favorite. It's not an RPG, but that fight was especially memorable because of the build-up. You quite literally spend the entire game chasing the villain, so by the time you finally get him, you just want to give him a boot to the teeth for dragging you around like that.
darkstarripclaw darkstarripclaw - January 10, 2008 (06:49 AM)
Luca Blight definitely deserves mention here.

Necron WAS referenced, but it was extremely obscure (the boss that you fought at the tree gave a vague mention of him that you would probably understand only if you knew that Necron existed).

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