Stupid Villains! It’s not like I like you or anything!
You’ve heard of villains that you love to hate, but what about those ones you hate to love? We at the Hey Poor Player team have compiled a list of malevolent nasties who we had a soft spot for in spite of their shameful misdeeds. Were there any vicious villains you couldn’t help but adore? Let us know in the comments section!
Kane – Command and Conquer
Not to be mistaken with his WWE namesake, Kane is something of an enigma. Nobody knows who he is, what he is or how old he is, or even what his true goal is. He shifts between antagonist and protagonist depending on what Command and Conquer game you’re playing, or whether you’re playing as GDI or Nod.
What we do know about Kane is that he isn’t human. Indeed, it’s strongly indicated that Kane is an extra-terrestrial being, that sought to elevate humanity to the point where it can harvest the series signature energy source Tiberium, as a way of advancing its technology. He’s been on the Earth for possibly thousands of years, which explains why he never ages and always seem to escape death.
Kane’s story takes an interesting turn in Command and Conquer 4: Tiberium Twilight, where he finally achieves his goal of ‘ascending’ – successfully activating an alien device to leave Earth. Simultaneously, all the Tiberium on the planet begins to dissipate, just as it threatened to destroy the Earth’s ecosystems.
What makes Kane so fascinating is that we still don’t know why he was on the Earth in the first place. Nor do we know why he was so adamant on leaving and why his followers disappeared too. We’re left to speculate and coupled with some good acting from Joseph David Kucan, even now, in 2019, we’re still scratching our heads.
– Jon Davis
Albert Wesker – Resident Evil
You knew from the moment you saw that greasy hair and those cheap shades this guy was going to be trouble. Resident Evil’s resident baddie and jerk-ass with a god complex, Albert Wesker has been a long running threat to the heroes of the series. Not only does this guy achieve biological godhood, he also somehow gains an accent (or a better paid voice actor).
The former S.T.A.R.S Alpha team leader was pretty much responsible for everything that lead up to the events in Spencer Manor and more. From sabotaging the helicopter – forcing the team to retreat to the mansion – to forcing poor Barry Burton to be a part of his low down dirty schemes, Wesker was always the very archetype of deception and evil. Wesker eventually does get what’s coming to him when he’s seemingly killed by a Tyrant, but that was just a ruse as this guy had already injected himself with a virus to enhance his strength and stamina. Wesker has had his hands in just about every dirty, shady event that’s happened in the Resident Evil storyline – including infecting a poor African country – and his impact is felt even long after his actual death in the 5th installment.
Whether it’s the slick black jacket, those shades, or just his narcissistic personality, it’s pretty hard not to like Wesker. He isn’t some sympathetic villain with a tragic backstory or hell-bent on revenge. He’s just a man who knows he’s better than you and not afraid to kick your ass to prove it. I mean come on, the guy slapped Jill & Chris around like they owed him money and a lot of it.
– Greg Peterson
Vaas – Far Cry 3
While Far Cry 2 was celebrated for its sandbox, Far Cry 3 is beloved for its antagonist Vaas Montenegro. The Rook Islands native, while completely unhinged, oozed the charisma Far Cry games have struggled to recreate ever since. Penchant for diatribes? Check. Proclivity for spontaneous violence? Check.
From the get-go Vaas turns out to be a right piece of shit. He murders the protagonist’s older brother as they both try to escape in the opening sequence. He taunts and tortures Jason and his friends throughout the course of the game.
Vaas’ impact is all down to the voice acting of Michael Mando, who put in auditions, put in such a stellar performance, Ubisoft tailored Vaas around his interpretation of the character. Mando delivers Vaas in a way that straddles the line between terrifying and downright cartoon levels of hilarious.
While Hoyt or Citra are probably identified as the primary baddies of Far Cry 3, Vaas wins all the plaudits because relatively speaking, he’s on screen much more. And despite Vass’ appalling behaviour, the way he’s depicted drew me and millions of others into the franchise.
– Jon Davis
Adachi – Persona 4
If “unassuming criminal mastermind” had a face, it would be Persona 4’s Tohru Adachi. Serving as a partner to the protagonist’s detective uncle Ryotarou Dojima, Adachi is for all intents and purposes, a loser. He can’t stomach bodies at a crime scene, he kills time at the local Junes department store both on and off duty, and he’s terrible at keeping his mouth shut about police investigation related details (though that can be argued whether it’s on accident or on purpose). Underneath it all though, Adachi is a twisted misanthrope fueled by bitter jealousy and boredom with the podunk town of Inaba.
Living a life where he feels he deserves success and admiration for his hard work, Adachi unleashes his inner sociopath when he mysteriously gains the ability to interact with the Midnight Channel world. He pushes his first victim (as well as the next) to their demise after they reject his romantic advances. Once he’s aware of just what his power can do, Adachi starts his grand game of cat-and-mouse. Trying to have his fun in his otherwise boring life while evading capture by the police and the soon-after formed Investigation Team made up of Persona 4’s protagonist and his friends. Much like an episode of Scooby Doo, he would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those darned kids.
Adachi is an interesting character because, while he is through and through a selfish and twisted individual, you just can’t help but relate to him at least in some regards. Being tired of your dead end job, being jealous of lacking talents that others inherently have, failing despite hard work; those are all matters I’m sure most of us have encountered at least once in our lives. I’m sure deep down we all wish we could have some fiendish fun at someone else’s expense at least once in our lives. Hopefully not the kind that involves sending people to their doom in a hellish monster world though!
Though he is an abject loser, Adachi does have some great moments such as helping your cousin Nanako cheat on her homework and the addition of his Social Link interactions with the protagonist in Persona 4 Golden. He does have a bit of a redemption story, though he still remains the loveable bastard you spent loving upon his return in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax. Not only is he a well written and rounded character, he’s nicely voiced as well. Adachi is voiced (in English, at least) by the extremely talented Johnny Young Bosch. Much like I associate Batman with Kevin Conroy, I associate Johnny Young Bosch with Adachi. Having that extra layer on top of an already excellent villain really helps bring him around to being one of the most memorable bad guys in my gaming experiences.
– Kevin Chapman
Kerrigan – Starcraft
Sarah Kerrigan started off in Starcraft way back in 1998 as a “Ghost”; a sort of psychic commando, trained by the wicked stellar redneck empire known as the “Confederacy”. After defecting to the rebellious Sons of Korhal, she’s subsequently abandoned by the group’s leader Arcturus Mengsk to be captured by a swarm of the rampaging alien Zerg. After being captured by the Zerg, she’s remade into a “Corrupted Terran”, assimilated into the Zerg’s hive mind, and used as a lieutenant in their war against humanity and the Protoss. However, during the events of Starcraft: Brood War, she cunningly ascends to become the Queen of Blades: leader of the Zerg, allying with and betraying with both Arcturus Mengsk and her old love interest Jim Raynor. She ultimately defeats Raynor, Mengsk, the Protoss and the entire fleet of the United Earth Directorate to secure her place as the dominant power in the Kropulu sector. Along the way, she kills countless millions of people.
What made the zergified villainess so popular was that for many people, losing her humanity seemed to bring out a whole new devious competency in Kerrigan. As the Queen of Blades she outplayed and outmaneuvered all the men in her life who’d ever used her or let her down. Not to mention she’s developed some pretty cool bionic high heels. Even though her xenomorphified body is no mean feat to recreate, countless ambitious women cosplayed as her and recreated her in all her carapaced, purplish glory.
Of course, at the end of Starcraft II’s first campiagn: Wings of Liberty, she gets magically made back into a human again so she can be Raynor’s girlfriend, with the millions of people she’s killed cheerfully forgotten. Her murderousness is explained away as being the taint of Amon, an otherworldly “big bad” who was using her and the Zerg as a pawn in his wider plans. Though I did enjoy Kerrigan struggling between her human self and her “Queen of Blades” persona, for many fans, her brilliantly evil and ruthlessly calculating incarnation in Brood War is her best one. Despite her being a genocidal mass murderer, people couldn’t help but love her, and since he was willing to risk everything (and kill his best friend) to try and redeem her, it’s clear Jim Raynor couldn’t help but love her either!
– Jonathan Trussler
Heihachi Mishima – Greg
When some of your earliest acts are the murder of your wife and attempted murder of your son, it’s kind of hard to not be painted as a villain, yet it’s hard not to love the former leader of the Mishima Zaibatsu: Heihachi Mishima. This overpowered martial arts master has some pretty screwed up family issues and that’s just the beginning of this bad dude’s long list of problems.
After usurping ownership of the company from his father Jinpachi, Heihachi went on to make the Zaibatsu one of the most – if not the most – powerful military company in the entire world. During those years, Heihachi not only kills his wife in a fight to the death, years later he decides to toss his son off a mountain because he was weak – or so we were led to believe. His son survives the fall and it was at this moment the young Kazuya Mishima started his quest for revenge against his father. Heihachi even attempts to murder his own grandson just due to sheer selfishness and fear (he’s definitely not invited to family barbeques). Eventually meeting his demise in Tekken 7 by the hands of his own son, Heihachi was a villain who definitely brought his own demise into fruition.
Being a huge fighting game fan, Heihachi holds a special place in my heart. The guy at first just seemed like a paranoid, selfish bastard with no thought for anyone but himself. After playing through Tekken 7’s story you almost feel sorry for the guy. He didn’t start off evil: he genuinely loved his wife, but when she realized he was a threat to the world she tried to stop him. Out of fear of his wife’s “Devil Gene” being passed down to their son, Heihachi made a hard choice to eliminate that threat. One thing’s for certain: he’s one of the best characters in the game for a reason.
– Greg Peterson
Vergil – Devil May Cry
One of the twin sons of the Legendary demon Sparda, Vergil is a badass among badassess. With spiked hair, awesome sword skills and incredible power, Dante’s twin bro is definitely in a league of his own. Vergil and his brother Dante were pretty much like any other brothers when they were young. Constantly trying to outdo one another, fighting, bickering, dueling with swords: you know, the usual stuff. That all changed when their home was attacked by demons. After the death of their mother, the two boys were separated and that began Vergil’s quest for absolute power.
Unlike Dante, Verg is always serious, never joking around, and always on the pursuit to be the strongest. This was made pretty apparent during the events of Devil May Cry 3 when Vergil made short work of his brother and continued to embarrass him until he’s finally defeated. Vergil makes his return in Devil May Cry, this time as Nero-Angelo. Though for awhile you have no clue that he’s Vergil for sometime, and after his apparent demise you’d think this guy is finally dead, but he manages to resurrect himself through sheer will for his appearance in Devil May Cry 5.
Vergil is, honestly, outright overpowered, and if there’s one thing I enjoy, it’s a villain who is actually just as powerful, if not more-so than the protagonist. Vergil isn’t necessarily a villain – he’s a man embracing his heritage. Although you wonder how different things would be his mother wasn’t killed, you can’t help but love his attitude and might.
– Greg Peterson
Crow – Trails of Cold Steel
Sometimes your worst enemies can be your friends hiding in plain sight. Enter Crow Armbrust, one of your fellow upperclassmen from Thors Military Academy in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel. Your first interactions with Crow introduces him as the stereotypical “aloof laidback cool guy” you’d expect to find in your average anime series. He doesn’t exactly adhere to the academy’s dress code, he likes gambling and women, he likes to skip classes and he likes to play sleight-of-hand tricks to swindle you out of your hard earned Mira. He’s also compassionate and cares dearly about his friends, especially his fellow 2nd year classmates Towa, George, and Angelica.
However, Crow holds a dark secret that flies under your nose most of the game. While most of his time is spent as a slacker on the academy grounds, he is actually the frontman of the Imperial Liberation Front, only going by the code name “C”. Employed by Duke Cayenne with the sole intent of assassinating the chancellor of Erebonia and cementing the nobles as the country’s ruling class, Crow is a master tactician and brilliant strategist. He’s also not half bad at fighting either – whether it’s hand to hand combat or piloting his Divine Knight Ordine.
Crow is fascinating as a character because while he does technically classify as a villain, he never really is QUITE what one would consider a villain. His ultimate goal is to assassinate Chancellor Osborne and incite civil war, yes, but he only wishes to do so to avenge his grandfather and hometown who were both devastated by the chancellor’s political machinations. The real genius in Crow’s character shines in how he’s portrayed as a character through the vast majority of the first Trails of Cold Steel. Crow isn’t a villain or an enemy first. He’s a mentor (and later archrival) to protagonist Rean Schwarzer, he’s a comrade and a fellow classmate. You also enlist his help in your party both before and after he’s been established as a villain as well. The constant shifting dynamic with Crow and all the members of Class VII, as well as the other Thors Military Academy students and faculty, make him both a fascinating character with a lot of depth, and a very formidable opponent.
– Kevin Chapman
Lynx – Crono Cross
This arrogant, conniving, cruel demi-human is one kitty you don’t want to mess with. Enter Chrono Cross’ resident bad cat Lynx. I’ve got to give him credit: the guy wears his outfit pretty damn well. When making his first appearance in the game Lynx makes its pretty apparent he isn’t here for belly rubs or anything cute like that.
The sadistic feline had done some outright messed up stuff placing himself pretty high on my list of people who need to seek therapy. From killing the main protagonist in the otherworld by drowning him, burning down an orphanage, taking over your body, the list goes on. To make matters worse you find out this furry chump is Serge’s father who set out to save his son in homeworld after he was bitten by a panther demon, only to be screwed over and transformed into the beast we now know as Lynx. Adding to the fact that Lynx necessarily isn’t the main villain but a body being driven by a supercomputer to get what it wants, and that adds a bit of depth to an otherwise pretty straightforward bad guy.
Lynx is a visually appealing villain: his pirate-esque outfit along with his feline looks gives him he aura of someone you don’t want to take lightly. His sadistic and arrogant nature and his successful track record kind of reminds me of Kefka in a sense: A villain who is pretty much out for themselves with not a care in the world.
– Greg Peterson
Bison – Street Fighter
When you think of men hell-bent on world domination, it’s hard not to think of the one man who is pretty damn good at making the world a terrible place. M.Bison not only has the best damn dental plan in the world, he just happens to be the leader of one of the most notorious crime syndicates in the world known as Shadaloo. Known to have his grimy fingers in just about everything illegal, Bison is a man who takes what he wants and kills anyone in his way.
Not much is actually known about Bison’s past other than the many murders he commits on his ascension to criminal overlord and mastermind. He was once a simple martial artists with overwhelming ambition – so much that he eventually murders his own master to be the only successor and user of psycho-power (although his master had two other students). He eventually founds Shadaloo and begins his conquest for world domination. A man hated by a majority of the Street Fighter cast, Bison shows little to no concern or remorse for his actions and that is one hell of a list. The murder of Chun-li’s father, the murder of Guile’s best friend Charlie Nash, the death of Juri’s parents, the brainwashing of Cammy and the other dolls, the list goes on. Bison’s ego only grew more as he defeated every warrior thrown his way, save for Rose, Gouken, Akuma, and his eventual demise at the hands of Ryu.
M.Bison is one of my favorite villains of all time, while he’s pretty much the stereotypical megalomaniac he’s got the cleanest set of chompers in the business. Raul Julia’s portrayal of Bison (alongside Kylie Minogue and Jean Claude Van Damme in the Street Fighter movie) was a sight to behold. Bison’s impact on the entirety of the Street Fighter universe is the main reason I feel as though he’s hard not to love. Yeah its pretty bad the things he’s done but those events paved the way for some of the most badass super martial artist in the world. Not to mention I’m pretty sure he’s the man behind Crest Whitening Strips.
– Greg Peterson
Sigma – Megaman X
This is one virus you definitely don’t want in or around any technology you have. Enter the leader or the Mavericks, Sigma. If there’s one thing this villain shares with his Capcom cohort M.Bison, it’s that amazing dental plan. Sigma didn’t start off as a bad guy, but his descent into villainy was one of the best and most memorable in gaming in my eyes.
The original leader of the Maverick Hunters, Commander Sigma was hailed as the most advanced and most powerful of Dr.Cain’s creations at that time. Vigilant, strong and well liked by his subordinates, Sigma was a leader unlike any other. That was until the fateful day he encountered future series protagonist Zero, a robot who was liberally laying the smackdown on everyone and everything that came his way. Sigma, being the leader he is, decided to take on this problem on his own and it was there the change began. During their grueling battle, Zero’s chamber was damaged, releasing a virus that would change Sigma to his very core, even though he’s supposed to be immune to any virus that attacked his systems, Sigma was forever changed after becoming infected by the Maverick Virus. After the battle, the mighty robot vanished only to return as humanity’s greatest threat.
Sigma and his maverick army became a constant thorn in the side for series Hero X for the course of 8 games and each time he comes back nastier than ever. The big man just doesn’t know when to stay down. Honestly, Sigma’s boss fights are always the ones to look forward to and typically they’re the ones that make you throw your controller across the room in a frustrated rage. What makes me enjoy Sigma is his story kind of tugs at that great hero falls from grace trope. With this big time robo baddie his tenacity as a hero shines through even when he’s a villain, that willingness to come back and do whatever it takes to win makes Sigma a rather enjoyable villain.
– Greg Peterson
Kefka – Final Fantasy VI
Reason? Purpose? Neither mean anything to the Gesthal Empire’s dastardly court magician. The embodiment of unrestrained chaos, Kefka Polazzo isn’t above murder to get what he wants, with his efforts against The Returners leaving behind no shortage of war crimes. Rumors whisper his lunacy was the product of a failed Magitek experiment, but whatever upstanding knight he may’ve been has long since been lost to the stands of time. From his atrocities as general to his ascent as an all-powerful god, only one vice guides him: destruction.
Undeniably Final Fantasy VI’s showstopper, Kefka’s flamboyant demeanor, cacophonous theme, haunting laugh, and heinous deeds rendered him unforgettable among series fans. Without ruining anything, the character tresspasses where no gaming baddie had dared gone before, with his reign of nihilistic fatalism presenting what it truly means to overcome adversity. He is *Final Fantasy’s finest villain, challenging not merely RPG conventions but the very medium of gaming itself.
*In the words of Kefka, anyone who cites Sephiroth is a no-good son of a submariner.
Deputy Editor’s note: I’ve actually argued at length for the greatness of Sephiroth on another list we did, Anthony, so I guess I’m one of those cursed submariner-sons! – Jonathan
– Anthony Pelone
Terror Mask – Splatterhouse
There is so much I adore about the concept of Terror Mask. One would think a horror game where the main villain – the one with the ulterior motives, the one manipulating the other characters to their will – is the mask worn by whoever is doing all the destruction would end up being rather silly. But it makes for a more interesting game knowing that there are so many layers to what’s going on here.
There is always this underlying thought in Splatterhouse that Terror Mask isn’t real. They’re just a product of a deranged mind. After all, when someone discovers all the murder and mutilation that went on in that house, even in self-defence, Rick’s “it was the mask’s fault” argument isn’t going to get him very far. Especially since they look more like a Jason Vorhees hockey mask in the first game than an Aztec relic. But then, if they are real, this makes them all the more genius. They adapt themselves to the host they are trying to inhabit, as a way of gaining their trust. To make matters worse, they insist on making sassy and making sarcastic comments along the way!
The best villains in my mind are also the ones who just love what they do. Terror Mask doesn’t necessarily have to make their host suffer to achieve their goal, they don’t have to relish in the blood that’s being spilt, but they do because why not? I mean if your lot in life is to spend eternity as a spirit stuck inside a mask, hoping that someone will come along for you to take over then I’m sure I’d develop an annoying, sarcastic personality too.
– Dougie Powell
Dracula – Castlevania Series
You’ve got to love a villain who can take a beating and keep on coming back for more. And when it comes to evildoers who’ve taken their lumps time and time again, few big baddies are as resilient as Dracula in Konami’s vampire-slaying Castlevania series.
Since the franchise’s inception in 1986 on the Famicom Disk System, Dracula has been meted out a grisly end at the hands of the Belmont clan and its descendents dozens of times as they’ve whipped, burned, impaled, and shoved axes through his Transylvanian noggin ad infinitum. If that isn’t bad enough, they even went so far as to bring him back to life once just to kill him all over again in 1987’s Simon’s Quest on the Famicom and NES – no wonder the Master of Darkness thinks so little of mankind and the secrets they harbor!
Real talk: if an entire bloodline felt the need to turn me into a holy water-logged pincushion brimming with stakes and enchanted daggers, I’d probably be a little bitter, too. To add insult to injury, Dracula’s own son went so far as to kick down his door and perform an act of fratricide so spectacular that it’d turn Tyrion Lannister green with envy. When all is said and done, this is one villain you can’t help but feel a little sorry for.
Don’t let the afterlife get you too down, Vlad. You’re alright in my book. After all, your interior decorator is nothing short of brilliant, crafting you over-the-top castle designs that are somehow just as functional when flipped upside down. And your taste in music is absolutely killer. If we’re ever chilling at the keep and the Belmonts show up in force, I’ll gladly go full Kevin Costner and take a stake to the heart to protect you, you brilliant, bloodsucking bastard, you.
– Francis DiPersio
Geese Howard – Fatal Fury Series
The main antagonist of the Fatal Fury series, Geese Howard was a ruthless crime lord who reigned over the fictional american city of South Town. More than just your average street thug, Geese is a criminal mastermind and disciplined master of Kobojutsu, which he used to brutally murder Terry and Andy Bogard’s father ten years before hosting the first King of Fighters tournament.
When he’s not sporting finely tailored suits, Geese’s appearance is rather striking with his blonde, slicked back hair and crimson hakama pants. This fusion of American gangster grooming mixed with traditional Japanese attire makes him stand out from the crowded field of fighting game villains, and his lethal control of powerful strikes, counters, grapples and devastating projectile attacks make it abundantly clear why he’s the one who’s running the city.
Following the events of Real Bout: Fatal Fury, Geese got his comeuppance when Terry Bogard sent him sailing over the edge of Geese Tower, killing him instantly. However, while Geese’s body may have died, his spirit has lived on in the form of the menacing Nightmare Geese, who’s made cameos in numerous SNK fighting games over the years, as well as in Dream Matches such as Neo Geo Battle Coliseum and The King of Fighters series where he makes up one third of the terrible trio, the Boss Team.
While Geese is as ruthless and cutthroat as they come, his respectable legacy makes him a timeless villain we can’t help but love.
– Francis DiPersio