Editor: Shane Smith
Game: Mortal Kombat
Villain(s): Shao Khan

This final boss of nearly every single installment of the Mortal Kombat series is outright pure evil! The Emperor of Outworld, Shao Kahn, is menacing and intimating at first awe, but also equally vicious and brutal by nature to match. Not only does he want to rule all of Earthrealm, but he wants to utterly destroy you as wickedly brutal as possible. Whenever I face him in any Mortal Kombat tournament, he is never a walk in a park – and I mean never!

The amount of times that I’ve rage quit because of this guy is beyond uncountable. He’s a beast that’s tough as nails to beat, and his humiliating taunting antics drives me crazy to no end. He unquestionably has no mercy for anyone who challenges him, and as such, from swinging his ridiculously massive hammer to his overpowering shoulder bashing, he is utterly malevolent, unremorseful, and subsequently, the greatest villain I have ever faced.

Editor: Patrick Waring
Game: Borderlands
Villain(s): Handsome Jack

Hey there, kids, fan of Handsome Jack here – you might think you know who the greatest villain ever is, but you’re forgetting that there’s no one greater than Handsome Jack. He single-handedly took down the beast that slumbered within the original fabled vault, he brought peace and justice to the unruly borderlands of Pandora, and he proved that money can change history, if you spend enough of it. But you know what else? He actually does what a villain is supposed to! There was this one time he kidnapped that moron Mordecai’s stupid pet bird Bloodwing, leaving Mordy and the Vault Hunter running around his Wildlife Exploitation Preserve, like the idiots they are, while performing all kinds of experiments on Bloodwing because that’s exactly what Jack is: an innovator.

Anyway, he turns that scraggly, weak, little bird into a triumph of Hyperion ingenuity, will, and their advances in eridium science, because Handsome Jack is leading humanity into the future! He also made Bloodwing into an example, by exploding it’s head right, haha, right in front of their face– haha! And they’re all “boo hoo hoo”, both the bandits and the players I mean, because any villain can just kill a loved one and piss the player off; An amazing hero, however, will make the player destroy their keyboard with their tears. I mean sure, sometimes he has to do terrible things to achieve his noble goals, but that’s just another classic villain trope. Ultimately, he was defeated, as every good villain should be. However, not even death can keep a tru(ly twisted)e hero (villain) down.

Hell, even after he’s dead, they’re still making games set during a time when he was alive. Why? Because who can resist Handsome Jack? I’d say this means I win. Oh, this article wasn’t supposed to be a competition? Well, that’s the kind of thinking that leads to having your leader shot in the back by the best villain. (Jack, Handsome Jack.)

Editor: Nick Ballantyne
Game: Resident Evil
Villain(s): Albert Wesker

With a name as pretentiously foreboding as Albert, you know this is a man who means business… And nothing else. Cold, calculating, and damn well near invincible, Wesker’s unseen contributions in the Resident Evil saga lie somewhere between the cunningly brilliant and profoundly cruel. Every action he takes (whether it be infiltrating an underground complex or infecting an entire city) is always part of a much grander plan that every agent involved can only begin to glimpse a fraction of as it inevitably falls down upon them like a well timed chandelier.

Preternatural strength, speed, wit, bowling skills, anything you can think of, he’s better than you at it. He’s certainly not averse to reminding us how much better than everyone else he is, it just makes it worse that he actually is. The injection of the Prototype Virus may have catalysed his delusions of godhood, but they weren’t exactly buried deep beneath the surface, and becoming a superhuman probably didn’t help much either. However, as I see it, the mark of any good villain is not how maniacal his delusions become, the magnitude of power he wields, or the absurd lengths he’ll go to achieve his goals, but rather the distressing legitimacy and coherence of his motivation.

In the end, Albert’s actions aren’t driven by some cliché notion of good versus evil, but rather the interests of humanity’s continued existence and evolution. Overpopulation, disease, and economic collapse are all problems Wesker sees himself as having the privileged position and obligation to solve, despite the empty debate those unenlightened souls below him may try to spurt back at him. While the methods are unpleasant, forward-thinking Wesky knows that the ends justify the means; It’s his duty as a human being to ensure that we don’t squander the potential that lies in our DNA. With that said, I really wish he could do the same for the newest RE instalments…

Editor: Mary Woo
Game: The Legend of Zelda
Villain(s): Gannondorf

Ganondorf is the ultimate personification of evil and hatred in the Legend of Zelda series, who also acts as a counter point to all the pure and righteous characteristics that both Link and Zelda stand for. When I saw the topic as one of the options in the Community Vote, Ganondorf was the first character that came to mind. While being present in almost every game in the series, Ganondorf tends to be portrayed slightly different with each appearance, as well as pursing altered motivations; even though his overarching goal is world domination. He is an all time classic villain in my eyes, and deserves to be mentioned in the Greatest Villains of Gaming History.

I’ve always loved the story of Ganondorf. He is the leader of the Gerudo, a tribe of women where one man is born every 100 years; who is automatically crowned king of the tribe. He has a never-ending quest to conquer the land of Hyrule, often kidnapping Princess Zelda in the process in order to seize her piece of the Triforce. He possesses great strength and incredible magic, having been gifted the Triforce of Power by the goddesses. In Ocarina of Time, he shows great cunning and manipulation as he gets close to the King by swearing his allegiance to the kingdom before later betraying him and conquering the castle. While in Wind Waker we see one of his most human versions in my opinion, wanting to gather the Triforce in order to rescue Hyrule from the bottom of the Great Ocean. Though, I ptobably should clarify that his original desire to conquer the kingdom is due to the richness and life he saw present there, compared to the desert wasteland of his own country, filled with despair.

I always enjoy seeing each new way he is imagined as defeating Gannondorf is something that never grows old!

Editor: Joseph Viola
Game: Final Fantasy VI
Villain(s): Kefka

Kefka is the most terrifying villain in the entire history of Final Fantasy, and in turn, the very definition of a psychopath. This is not because he is an all empowering sorcerer or a cold heartened ruler. It’s because he is a simple person with a singular vision; to exist in a universe where there is no life or hope. Basically, Kefka has no regard for human life, and no remorse for any of the atrocities that he commits. He finds joy in the suffering of others, he is very short-tempered, destructive, cruel and oddly flamboyant with his every action he performs.

The list of atrocities that Kefka performed is extensive and detailed, but there are several in particular that are worth mentioning. In one instance, He poisons a towns water supply, that was under attack by his army, even though he was about to win; all the while, enjoying the thought of the hundreds of screams that will soon follow. At the height of his power, he casually brought about the end of the world as a side effect of his grasp for ultimate power, and then spent the days after nihilistically torturing and killing off the survivors for his enjoyment.

Overall, there is no amounts of words that can describe the pure evil that Kefka emanates, but rest assured, if you were to meet him in real life, you would run very fast in the opposite direction; not that it would save you, anyway!

Editor: Lliam Ahearn
Game: Ratchet & Clank
Villain(s): Dr. Nefarious

It was astronomically difficult for me to decide to discuss someone other than Kessler from the first inFamous game when discussing great villains, but it just wouldn’t feel right to me if Dr. Nefarious wasn’t mentioned. The Ratchet & Clank series’ Dr. Nefarious is dastardly, ingenious, and a wicked shade of purple. Or blue: It depends. Bullied in school by the ‘super-hero’ Captain Qwark, Nefarious began his descent into madness, eventually becoming a super-villainous mad scientist seeking nothing but sweet revenge. When Qwark and Nefarious eventually meet again, Qwark decides a wedgie for “old times sake” is in order, but manages to accidentally drop the delicate doctor into spinning gears below. This marked the end of the squishy, human Nefarious. He would return though as an advanced mechanical robotic being, complete with a visible computer-brain, rocket boots, and weird wing-spikes on his back for some reason. Because of his new mechanical form (and because he had braces when he was young or something, I guess), Nefarious crafted a new plan; to exterminate all organic life.

Nefarious is full of evil schemes, whether it’s turning a whole planet of inhabitants into robots, or commandeering the great clock in the exact centre of the universe (give or take fifty feet) which controls all of time; he’s always up to something. Having played a major role in three Ratchet & Clank games and appearing in two others, he’s much less relenting than Ratchet and Clank’s other foes. Whether he’s yelling at his mechanical butler Lawrence, if he’s radio-brain-doowacky starts playing soap operas, or if he’s having a tantrum about another failed plot, it’s always a laugh with Nefarious. Except, I guess, when he’s exterminating entire civilizations, and things of this nature.

Editor: Brendan Holben
Game: Dark Souls
Villain(s): Sif

Sometimes villains are beings of unconscionable evil, such as Wolfenstein 3D’s “Robot Hitler”. However, very rarely, we might encounter an enemy whose intentions are quite possibly purer than that of the protagonist’s.

2011’s eternally punishing Dark Souls presents a lore-rich world for those who wish to dig through the flavour text. For the most-part, your unhollowed avatar cuts swathes through corrupted undead and monsters who exist to drag you down to their level. Then you enter the Darkroot Garden where you start to feel more like an invader, rather than a hero purifying the land. Eventually, you make your way to a pair of giant gates, behind which lies a giant shrine who you discover belongs to Knight Artorias the Abysswalker. As you approach the shrine, Artorias’s wolf companion Sif emerges to confront the player, wielding Artorias’s giant sword in his mouth to defend the shrine (and more importantly, Artorias’s ring). As the player chips away at his health, Sif begins to limp while his attacks become less effective – clearly he is determined to defend his companion to the very end. However, if the player completes the Artorias of the Abyss DLC before this encounter (and saves a smaller, younger Sif in the process), things play out a little differently. In brief, the pair’s storyline follows their attempts to save the Princess of Oolacile and stop the Abyss from corrupting all. The player soon discovers Artorias failed and was corrupted, but kept Sif safe in doing so. Through the time-bending nature of Dark Souls, it eventuates that the player is actually the one responsible for saving the Princess and halting the Abyss. When you encounter Sif following this, he recognises the player, and with a whimper he reluctantly takes up the sword to guard his former companion.

The fight with Sif is an unavoidable, and one that is necessary to progress, but damn does it hurt to accomplish.

Editor: Daniel Tyler
Game: Dragon Age: Origins
Villain(s): Teyrn Loghain

The problem with many video game villains is their cookie cutter reasoning for being evil. Countless times you’ll be introduced to a villain, and more often than not, their motivation will be based on one of three things: “I’m evil for the sake of being evil,” “I want to rule the world… Because,” and “The world is corrupt, so I must cleanse it.”

Introduced as the son of a farmer, with no noble blood to speak of; Teryn Loghain rose to become a respected and a brilliant military strategist, who is responsible for saving the free people of Fereldan during the Orlesian rebellion. Even The Order of the Wardens recognized great talent within him. In fact, his reasoning could have made him a hero if he hadn’t killed thousands in the process. That is why Teyrn was such a breath of fresh air.

When you meet him at the Landsmeet in order to take your vengeance, you inevitably come to understand and respect the sacrifices he’s made against you, since the entire time he was“trying” to do what he thought was best for the people. It doesn’t justify his actions, but sometimes the greatest villains are those who don’t even realise it.

Editor: Bernadette Russell
Game: Skyward Sword
Villain(s): Girahim

With its watercolour art style and kooky characters, Skyward Sword didn’t offer many “tough” bosses. I cruised through the game without a challenge or meeting anyone too memorable, when BAM! Demon lord Girahim in all his fabulousness appeared! Everything about him screamed “look at me”- from his sharp, revealing choice of nemesis wear to his boy-band bleached bob. Even the bold make-up and accessories begged for the spotlight. Being greeted by this caped, lanky “Ziggy Stardust” was enough to leave me chortling instead of cowering in fear; imagining his geometric tan lines alone made me smirk. I shouldn’t have judged, though. Girahim had a way with words that left you on edge; he was one part creepy stalker, two parts psycho killer with perfect enunciation.

The sheer confidence that Girahim gushes with each unnerving word made him appear oddly terrifying and unpredictable. It was like all of those crime scene shows where the killer politely describes how they skinned someone alive, and then proceeds to offer you tea and scones. I stopped picturing him as the goblin king in the Labyrinth as soon as we started our first battle; he came out of nowhere to grab my sword with two fingers! WHO DOES THAT?! Over the years, plenty of bosses and bad guys have been difficult. Some have been memorable, but Girahim was fabulous, oddly unnerving, and it took me more than a few well-placed shots to defeat him. He certainly stands out from the masses, for me personally, and I’m grateful that it was Skyward Sword I met him in, not some darker, grittier game where he probably would have skinned me as a new addition to his wardrobe.

Editor: K. Mulvena-Trinder
Game: Metroid
Villain(s): Mother Brain

The Mother Brain is an organic super-computer programmed with a female personality, created by the Chozo; a birdlike race of super beings, as a planetary defence system to protect their planet, Zebes, from Space Pirates.

As the story goes, Mother Brain let the pirates in so she could use them and their commander, Ridley; a giant purple dragon, to bring order to the universe by “resetting everything back to zero.” After defeating her in the first game; Metroid, she not only returns with a legion of monsters and roughly 5 other bosses including Ridley, you then have to beat her twice. Okay, finally killed her, time for celebrations, oh what the hell is that? Mother Brain is now attached to a giant metal robot bird structure, similar in design to the Chozo and is taking up half the screen. With no space to move and multiple beams, waves of energy, plus a few bombs she is attacking you with… you’re screwed. By this point in the game you’ve probably used all of your rockets, missiles, bombs etcetera just getting to her. If you’re lucky and have some left you may have a chance to take her down if not, I wish you good luck.

If by now you’ve managed to defeat her, I congratulate you, but also enjoy her sadistic humour of blowing up the planet with you plus all of the monsters, space pirates, creatures you didn’t kill. All in all, Mother Brain is an intelligent, heartless and cruel AI hell-bent on destroying the universe for what we know as no reason whatsoever.

Editor: Tim Sezar
Game: Team Fortress 2
Villain(s): The Administrator

Villains are often the prime motivation behind the games we play; the player is engaged in a moral crusade against the evil-doings of some nefarious bad guy, and it’s all down to you to right the wrongs in this universe. Sometimes, these villains are downright psychopathic, evil-doers with no morally justifiable reasons for their actions, and other times, they might have in fact been the heroes of somebody else’s narrative (Dhaos, in Namco’s 1994 Tales of Phantasia comes to mind here, as he sought to drain the world’s resources solely for the purpose of ensuring the survival of his own world, and the player-controlled heroes realise only too late that they have in fact doomed his world with his defeat), hence a degree of moral grounding for all his evil doings is certainly justifiable.

My choice for Greatest Gaming Villain is The Administrator from Team Fortress 2. Though she never makes a physical in-game appearance (only presented as a disembodied voice directing the RED and BLU teams to their goals), I chose her due to the fact that she is the one and same voice for BOTH teams, knowing full well her directives will lead to unavoidable armed conflict, leading countless mercenaries to die by each other’s hands for untold years. Whether it’s simply a convenience of present assets, or a clever piece of contemporary political commentary, The Administrator is by far the most insidious, scheming, and downright sinister villain of gaming.

Any villain can send forth evil cronies to do their dirty work, but it takes a special kind of villain to pit two teams against each other in a way that leads to no easy resolution; whose bloodshed advances their own murky agenda.

Editor: William Kirk
Game: Final Fantasy VII
Villain(s): Professor Hojo

Professor Hojo, for those of you who don’t know him, is an immoral scientist without any regard for human life—or any life, really. He is also the biological father to Sephiroth. Hojo works for the Shinra Corporation, who are obsessed with scientific advancement in the hopes of abusing their experiments for ultimate power. However, this endeavour escalated when a “calamity” referred to as Jenova fell from the sky (basically, an alien). Shinra became obsessed with extorting its powers, and begun experimenting on human subjects. They weren’t truly successful, however, until Hojo offered up his own unborn child to be injected with the alien’s cells—and straight into his girlfriend’s womb, no less.

Sephiroth was the incredible result of this experiment—a genuine super-soldier. However, his usefulness came to a murderous halt when he learned the truth about his origin. Sephiroth lost control and burned Nibelheim to the ground, before being thrown into the life stream in a battle with Cloud Strife. Hojo didn’t care that his own son was considered dead, though. He immediately kidnapped Cloud, as well as countless others, to begin his work again by injecting them all with Jenova cells in an attempt to create Sephiroth “clones”—all of which failed. It wasn’t just about power, though. Hojo wanted to experiment for the sake of it; because he enjoyed it. In fact, at one point you catch him trying to force Aerith, the last member of the Cetra (an ancient powerful race) to breed with Red XIII, the last member of a long-lived beast-like species. Just to create a test subject that he could study for longer.

Basically, we have a serial kidnapper who will inject alien cells into anyone he can get his hands on; just to see what happens. On paper, he’s trying to clone his dead son to create super-soldiers for the government, but in truth, he doesn’t do it for power or because he wants his son back. He does it simply because he enjoys it. So much that he has no reservation with forcing people and animals to consummate, just so he can extent his research.