I'm not going to lie. The only reason I really wrote about heroes last week so that I would have an excuse to write about the bad guys. They clearly have more fun than the heroes. I am fairly sure that causing a huge city engulfing explosion is a lot more satisfying than seeing a child's face contract its cheek muscles when rescuing a puppy from a tree. Lets face it, if being a hero was really that amazing and impressive in films, they would stop the big crowd drawing, award winning explosions before the villains made them happen. Its the same in games. If Solid Snake could take out Liquid with a headshot from a sniper rifle (if he can get within 15 metres of him, surely 300 isn't a problem) it would do the job nicely and your game would be crap. Lets take a look at the villains that really make the cut shall we?
Bowser is the easy one to start with. He's the misunderstood dinosaur who can not go five minutes without kidnapping the princess of a fungal kingdom. Seriously, if you want to kidnap a fictional princess, why go after the one protecting mushrooms? Is it a matter of principle? He failed once and so he just needs to keep going back to the place, like a masochistic golden retriever, to take the bimbo and just hang on to her. He never seems to do anything once she is captured apart from taunt a fat plumber who could probably earn a decent wage instead of chasing after mushroom royalty. I know that the Mario games are aimed at a younger audience, but some more plot for the 85% of us who buy the games that can tie our own shoe laces would be nice. Maybe there is a played down sexual angle that the crafty dinosaur is trying to move in on. He certainly doesn't hold her to ransom!
It is that tenacity and determination though which keeps him as a good villain. No matter how many times he is defeated in easily avoidable ways (seriously, why are there anti-dinosaur bombs around the arenas in Super Mario 64!?) he just dreams up another situation he can put himself in with a high risk of defeat. At the end of the day, he is by far the coolest character in the Mario galaxy, and he has my support in his next crazy scheme to kidnap and possibly introduce princess peach to things that she is too naive to know about.
The next villain that I will talk about places an opposite role to one of the heroes I have already mentioned. Revolver Ocelot from the Metal Gear solid series is quite frankly an awesome character. He's a crazy gunslinger who, instead of being practical, and pointing his guns at his enemies, he takes the opportunity to spin them on his fingers. This over confidence has and probably will cost him the fight on quite a few occasions, but it is damn cool to watch. The interesting thing about this character though has been how he has changed over the course of the games. In MGS3 you get to see him when he is 19 years old or so, and it is here when he develops his disturbing fetish for revolvers. Move on 50 years, and he is now some insane hippy look a like who has an alternative persona trapped in his left arm.
The last villain in a game that I will mention here has scared me on many, many, many occasions. Sorry, that was meant to be 'scarred'. The random brutality of this beast is incredible. It can go from a caring father like figure to a charging ball of concentrated rage in half a second. Big Daddies from Bioshock are the stuff that Darth Vader has nightmares about. For a massive clambering abomination, they can move very fast when the little child that they are assigned to guard faces danger. The lights on their helmet go from a calming green to an angry red quicker than a traffic light with tourettes. The first encounter with one of theses nasties shows him absolutely thrashing an unfortunate NPC to pieces as if he were a teddy bear with a £10 note inside. Something that violent, but only when provoked, is a smart villain in the world of lawsuits. If a Big Daddy could apply himself to rob a bank in self defence just think of all the things he could do with the cash. You can never have a drill that is too big for mauling people.
Bad guys are destined to fail. Its a sad truth, but in this Hollywood style world where everything has to work out for the best, there is just no place for evil to prosper. Instead, we tend to get these grey characters who are not good, but not that evil either, and in the end they accomplish things for the greater good. If Grand Theft Auto teaches us anything though, it shows us that it is fun to go on a rampage and be a complete bastard.