There’s no denying it, I LOVE game villians. Wether they are insane brutes slaughtering everyone in their path or cold masterminds, carefully pulling strings to get a desired outcome, I think they’re awesome. That’s why I’m making this article. I want to get down to the essence of a villian and explain what I think makes a good villian a good villian and not simply generic baddie #345983.

I’ve divided the crucial parts of a villian into three categories: Prescence, Power and Personality. The three P’s of villainy, if you’d like. Now then, let me go into more detail about them:

PRESCENCE

This is what makes the player connect to the villian. A baddie that shows up in the last few hours of the game (Like Necron from FF IX) is hard to make a connection with, but a villian that appears throughout most of the game grows on the player. It doesn’t matter if the prescence is established through physical interaction (villian shows up and occasionally fights the player) or through showing cutscenes of the partially obscured villian issuing orders. The important part is to make the villian known to the player and to show that he or she IS doing something.  After all, a villian with no prescence is just a random asshat that comes out of nowhere.

My example of a villian with great prescence is the Illusive man from Mass Effect 2. He is shown only occasionally, but those moments are always thick with athmosphere. You get the impression that you’re just another string in his web, and that he’s just trying to tug you the way he finds most productive to his plans.. The fact that he’s only shown on occassion just adds to his mystery.

Illusive

The Illusive man. He'll pull strings not even invented yet.

POWER

This is another important aspect of villans: they need to be able to make stuff happen. Sometimes it’s because they are powerful enough to smash planets, sometimes because they have an entire army at their fingertips. A villian without power is a villian without threat and a villian without threat won’t feel like something the player actually needs to concern themselves with. After all, why try to stop a person who is completely impotent? That’s why a villian needs power, to show the player that they are up against something that could cause dire consequences.

My example of a great powerful villian is Arthas, the Lich king. He slaughters an entire village, then aquires the powerful sword Frostmourne and grows even more powerful.  He eventually manages to raise an entire army of undead to fight for him, an army which he subsequently uses to slaughter everyone in his path, good or bad, with no remorse.

Arthas

Arthas, the Lich king. Wielder of Frostmourne and commander of an undead army.

PERSONALITY

This is what truly makes villians memorable. This is the cornerstone of every good villian. The personality is what really tells the story of the villian, explaining their motivations, behaviour and plans. Nothing is more bland than a villian whose sole motivation and character trait is “I’m so evil because I’m EVIL! MUHAHAHAHA!”. No, good villians need motivations, even though these motivations might not make sense to a reasonably sane person.

My example of a villian with a great personality is Albedo from Xenosaga. He’s basically a man who’s been driven insane by the collective intelligence U-DO acting upon a latent insanity caused by his own immortality. This caused him to grow increasingly more sadomasochistic, with emphasis on the masochism. Albedo entertains himself by mutilating his body. Decapitating himself is just a fun party trick to him, and he his shown tearing his own body to pieces effortlessly. Deep down, Albedo fears to be alone, but since he’s immortal, his brothers will eventually die, leaving him all by himself.

Albedo

Albedo Piazzolla. A man who desperately seeks mortality.

So,  now that I’ve gone through these three aspects it’s time to present the villian who embodies all three of these perfectly. A villian that constantly shows up to cause trouble, a villian that has tremendous power, a villian than has an unforgettable personality.

I’m of course talking about Kefka Palazzo, undoubtedly one of the best villians in video game history. The player will repedeatly witness Kefka kill countless of people, wether it’s through brute force or something more insidious, like poison. Kefka eventually manages to cause armageddon, almost destroying the entire world.  Finally, he manages to amass enough power to become a god. And he’s doing it all because he can’t see the point of existance itself, something that is in fact causing him great pain. That’s Kefka, ladies and gentlemen. The mad, nihilstic clown that we’ve all come to love and hate.

Kefka

Kefka Palazzo. The man who'd destroy the world for his own amusement.

That’s it for this week folks! DDdreamer will be back next week, hopefully with my opinion of the 1.8 Minecraft update. Until then, toodles!

D3