The Top Ten Best Video Game Villains Ever

You know, the problem with top ten lists is that you only have a selection of ten to choose from. Sure, I could make my lists into top 20 lists, but it's just not as cool as ten. It’s either go top ten, or go top 100, and I just don’t think I can name that many games on my own to make a list of that stature. So here are my top ten favorite video game villains of all time. Some of them may seem like cheeky afterthoughts to you, but hear them out. I think you’ll agree that I have a valid point with most of them. Or not.

Warning: Some spoilers ahead.

Ah, so the tables have turned, I see. Who ever knew that Mario was a spiteful little man who would actually kidnap a baby monkey’s father and put him in a cage because of a previous girlfriend-stealing incident? Well, in the bizarre sequel to the hit game, Donkey Kong, Mario did just that. This would get much higher on the list if it came out much later in the Mario canon, because as it stands now, our favorite portly plumber was still simply known as “Jumpman” back then. He was nowhere NEAR as three-dimensional (Pun SO intended) as he is today, so let’s cut the guy some slack, okay?

Man, Dr. Robotnik is an idiot. He knows how to make all these strange looking egg-shaped contraptions (hence why he later became known as Eggman), but to control them, he hypnotizes woodland animals and puts them into machines to do his bidding. Uhhhh…what? Well, be that as it may, Dr. Robotnik is a pretty bad dude if you take into account that he’s trying to harvest those omnipotent chaos emeralds to take over the world. Really, if you wanted to be a pedant about it, you could make the claim that Sonic the Hedgehog is actually an allegory for man vs. nature. But who would make a claim like that? Well, besides me, of course.

In any given story, the most interesting character is always the bad guy, and in the genre-bending Portal, GLaDOS steals the show from the stoic protagonist, Chell, who never says a word the entire game. Cracking jokes about pretty much everything that has to do with your demise, that monotone robot voice of hers is the perfect, icy communiqué to set you off at all the key times you’re trying to concentrate. Murder by humor, now THAT’S a new one.

If you’ve never played Marble Madness, then you have a right to sneer at this entry. But if you have played the game, then you already know the grimace you have on your face when you see that damned dark nuisance roll onto your screen. It’s hard enough to negotiate those tight turns and sharp grooves (ESPECIALLY on an NES controller when you should really be using a rollerball) without falling off, but the added black ball becomes a real menace. I mean, when I was younger, I actually FEARED the black marble. I’m not even lying to you, that’s how serious it was to me.

That evil laugh (mwa ha ha ha ha ha ha, mwa ha ha ha ha ha ha!) and those garish clothes are enough to hate Kefka already, but there’s so much more to his sinister appearance than meets the eye. First, he’s the kind of bastard who would poison a village's whole water supply. Second, he’s a complete nihilist who wants to obliterate the human race just because he doesn’t really feel like a part of it. And third, and this might be the most heinous of all, he runs away from fights, avoiding any real conflict that might possibly endanger him. As far as RPG villains go, I’d put Kefka way above Sephiroth anyday of the week.

Talk about a bodyguard. Goro, the four-armed goon that gets nailed in the nuts by Johnny Cage in the movie, is so much tougher than the final boss, Shang Tsung, that their roles should have been reversed. Goro, large, intimidating, and two arms up on you, was such a monster that I actually spent eight whole dollars in quarters on him when I was a youth, trying out every character against him and failing miserably. Kano eventually took him down, but I’ll tell you: Goro’s no joke.

This alien parasite has only one real intention in life—to suck the Earth bone dry of everything and everyone, and that alone makes him pretty badass. But this sleeping beauty, who awoke to attempt to decimate the Earth on 1999 AD is not just diabolically evil, but, if the story serves me correctly, is also responsible for ascendance of the human races to begin with, making him mankind’s father, so to speak. This makes patricide the only option to prevent Lavos from destroying the world. But, what I remember MOST about fighting Lavos was that final boss battle which went on FOR-EV-ER, especially in the Magus phase. He also returns in the sequel Chrono Cross, but in a different form. But all Chrono fans will undoubtedly remember him most from this adventure.

One of the greatest turn of events ever in the history of video games is in the finale of Shadow of the Colossus, where you realize that YOU were the enemy the entire time. The colossi you killed were totally innocent in their existence, and actually acting as a shield against a satanic type creature that talks backwards. I don’t want to spoil everything for you if you haven’t beaten the game (Oh, wait, I already did), but let’s just say that you’re going to have to atone for killing all those colossi just for the love of your life to be revived. Some people hate the ending, while others absolutely adore it. But finding out that it was you the entire time that was the problem is a pretty big slap in the face to all your effort. Some people say the big reveal in BioShock was a bigger surprise, but I’m still sticking with this one myself.

How typical, right? Wrong! Bowser, if you look at him through the chronology, is actually pretty tame when you see the big picture. Whether he was played by Dennis Hopper in the movie, or was flipping over in a pool of magma in the original SMB as King Koopa, the only REAL crime Bowser is guilty of is kidnapping a princess, and quite frankly, sometimes, I think she allowed herself to be kidnapped because she just liked the attention. So why is he so high on this list then? Because he’s so damn iconic, that’s why. Some might say the capturing of the princess is actually just a MacGuffin for the awesome gameplay that follows, but I think Bowser plays a much larger role in the saga than that.

Just check out the oddball darkhorse of the series, Super Mario Bros. 2, to see if the spiked back one isn’t missed in the series. In that game, the final boss is some fat toad named Wart, because the story was too damn weird for Bowser to fit into it. And why was it so damn weird, you ask? Because it was based off of another game called Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic, and characters from the Mario universe were just switched in to make it work because the Japanese thought the real Super Mario Bros. sequel was too tough for us Westerners. I mean, why else would the Princess be an actual playable character in the game if something wasn’t up? And get this, if the Princess is free, then what would be the purpose of Bowser then? And if there’s no purpose for Bowser, then what the hell is Mario banging his head against bricks and going down drain pipes for in the first place then? The scenario without Bowser works in SMB2, because it’s just a dream, but how would it possibly work in the other games when the key focus is to rescue the princess? So, really, Bowser, evil or not so evil, IS the reason the Mario series even exists today. Try to wrap your head around that one for a little bit, why dontcha?

Okay, let me just start off by saying that Goro doesn’t hold a candle to M. Bison. His psycho crusher and flying head stomps put me at the "Game Over" screen more times than I can count. But besides his insane difficulty, M. Bison makes the number one spot for several reasons. One, he’s genuinely evil. Unlike many of the other characters on this list, Bison is a total asshole. He wants to take over the world and doesn’t care who he has to trample to get there. Two, he’s the ultimate terrorist. Sure, many of the scenarios that intertwine with his story, are outright silly (Zangeif dances at the end of his story for some reason), but that still doesn’t keep him from being the ultimate tough guy who would bomb your city without thinking twice. And three, even his name is bad-ass. The M. in M. Bison can be substituted for anything you want it to be (M for Mr.? Naw, too tame. M for Master? That’s a bit better. M for Militant? Perfect!). And to think, his name in Japan is actually Vega. Vega! Could you imagine that? With that red hat, those sinister eyes, and that maniacal psycho-powered smile of his, M. Bison couldn’t be any other name, ESPECIALLY not Vega. All hail the sire of Shadaloo!

Rich Knight
Content Producer

Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.