We kick off the list with Creator from the very first SaGa game. While SaGa 2 may have featured some more well developed villains in the new gods, none of them were as interesting a concept as Creator from the original. Creator painstakingly creates a living breathing game world filled with all sorts of inhabitants, from allies to enemies, all because of his own boredom and desire to find out how hard he can truly push the limits of humanity's ingenuity and bravery. Suffice to say the heroes are not happy when they learn the world and people they've met and overcame were not real and only existed for his amusement. After famously going down to a chainsaw, there is a final level of depth added to his character by a door placed behind him. Does Creator have a creator? We'll never know for the door is never taken.
Myria is an oddity on this list in that her goals are by far the most sympathetic. At least until you see the gigantic snake monster goddess in battle (which was probably not a good design idea if they were going for a very gray morality) her argument is equally as plausible as heroes'. Myria desires a world where she can nurture and protect her children, and in response, the children desire a world of independence and danger. It's all a matter of perspective, but seeing as the game is biased to make you side with the heroes, the choice is technically made for you and rather shoved down your throat. On a side note, this is still a much more difficult moral decision to make than the one presented in Breath of Fire 1, where the final boss lacks the same soul and empathy.
Zeikfried makes the list because he performs a unique role as a villain that is incredibly innovative as of the 1997 JRPG scene. He's not the main villain, that role goes to the Mother of Destruction that takes center stage for the first half of the game. Where Zeikfried shines is his ability to carry on the torch and continue the fight for the villains after the main villain has been defeated halfway through the game.
There is a lot of chaos involved in the ranks, as there should be when the head of the snake gets taken out long before the game's credits actually roll. Zeikfried steps up, and does an extremely competent job even though he doesn't have the same raw power as the Mother. There's a bit of a spat involved with Mother trying to take back control from Zeikfried, but in the end, when you enter that final fight, you know it's all Zeikfried and he has surpassed the Mother. It took him the whole game, but he did it.
For the purposes of this list, Kefka and Luca Blight share the same characteristics. I rank Luca a little higher then Kefka, but they both can be treated as roughly the same. I actually don't like this type of villain, but I included Kefka and Luca on the list because they are good at what they do.
While I don't consider Final Fantasy to have many strong villains, Kefka is probably their best. He's a complete lunatic, which is great if you want to cause some small time carnage, but really gets you nowhere in the grand scheme of things because, you know your followers won't respect or commit to you out of fear that you're a freaking lunatic.
That all changes when this clown stumbles upon an absurd amount of power. Suddenly, it doesn't matter that he's absolutely crazy. With enough power, he doesn't have to fear his mistreated subjects revolting against him, instead they will have to worship him, construct towers for him and walk in endless circles. And in the end that's why it works and it's plausible. Kefka may be insane, but he has the power to back it up.
Luca Blight. This guy's distinguishing characteristic to me is that he's a bad guy that is so bad that nobody wants to even keep him around until the end of the game. You gotta off this guy, and you gotta do it fairly early in the game. He's that insane.
He has more reason to be insane than Kefka, who as far as I know has one line of cryptic dialog explaining his past from a random npc, and that may be why he ranks a little bit higher. He doesn't have the extreme power that Kefka does, which could explain why he gets knocked off so early.
The original silver haired baddie (or is that blue haired) Ghaleon is similar to Myria in that he has goals that are not mired in evil. The difference between Myria and Ghaleon, and the reason Ghaleon is just a little bit better is that Ghaleon's rationale cannot be sided with. He's flat out wrong, where Myria can be seen as right.
It's very dangerous to get a villain as charismatic as Ghaleon, and what's worse is when they believe they are right and they are very clearly not. Ghaleon feels the ruler of the world has been irresponsible, so he seeks to dethrone her and rule as a despot in her stead. While the original intent of what he sought to do might not be that bad, the level to which he sinks to justify this goal puts no doubt in anyone's mind that this guy would not make a better ruler. He's a bad guy that is trying to be good, but we all know he's bad.
Odio's role in this list is that he's used as a tool to cohesively bring together a story about time travel. A very unrelated story with seven arcs in seven different time periods that seem to have absolutely nothing to do with each other.
That is, until you play the eighth arc.
Odio feels that he has been so wronged by humanity, that he has permeated every time period, every era, and he has in effect heckled everybody in a different incarnation. Eventually, seven of his incarnations are beaten by seven very powerful warriors. These top seven are personally invited by him to his own realm to get a crack at him in person for being true heroes, something Odio, as a former knight in his own time, never understood.
It kind of brings a cool philosophical spin to evil. What if all the evil figures in our own history have been the same guy, but in different incarnations constantly trolling us? Can anyone hate humanity so much that they'd be willing to do this?
Indalecio's classification as a villain is that he belongs to a villainous supergroup, composed of 10 unique bosses. As a unit, this group is known as God's Ten Wise Men, and they are the source of conflict throughout the rather long winded second half of Star Ocean 2.
Why Indalecio is so special is not because he is the leader of the group, but because he doesn't seem to need the group at all. Alone, Indalecio is far greater a threat mentally and physically than the other nine combined. The game builds you up to expect to take on a group of 10, but in the end, Indalecio himself is worth more than all of them put together. This is deceptive for the player both from a story and gameplay standpoint. I know I said I was not going to take into account how difficult the boss was, but Indalecio gets a special mention in that his supremacy over the other nine wise men in his group is absolutely tremendous. By taking his "limiter" off, you can increase his strength further if you want an even more insane challenge.
Imagine the political intrigue of Final Fantasy Tactics, but now imagine all of the strings in the plot are not being pulled by demons, but rather, one man.
That is Godard. This guy is good at what he does. He's probably the most charismatic villain on this list. He should be, because he leads a cult. Everything about him, from his physical appearance to his demeanor, is dangerously humble. He prefers to defer authority and make others believe they are the ones actively making decisions. Doing this, he can get everything he wants and take none of the blame, which explains how he gets so incredibly far in a game like Vandal Hearts 2 which is already filled with some incredibly smart characters.
Vandal Hearts 2 is filled with dark characters and many villains, but every time you think one of the "lesser" villains is going to come into their own, here comes Godard to manipulate them into doing his will and not their own.
Wilhelm is everything Krelian from Xenogears wishes he was. Similar to Godard, Wilhelm is from a game where many of the characters are well developed and smart. Xenosaga has some of the most well developed and colorful villains I've seen on the ps2, and the thing about it is, Wilhelm runs circles around them all.
You're only as good as the characters you're forced to interact with. Many villains fall flat because they're forced to deal with stupid characters. Wilhelm completely dominates in a game filled with some very incredibly smart and powerful villains, notably Albedo and Yuriev. And we're not talking Wilhelm is just a little bit above guys like Yuriev. Wilhelm is so good at what he does that he can completely marginalize someone as powerful as Albedo, who took such a prominent role in Xenosaga 1 when he is done with them.
To think for all of the rants and aspirations of villains like Yuriev and Krelian who want to go "higher than the gods", Wilhelm has already been there and done that. He eats people that want to become gods for breakfast, and spits them out when he's done with them. He's so completely in control of every last detail over the course of three games, that it's absolutely shocking to see something that finally doesn't go his way happen at the very, and I do mean very end of the long saga.
There are what I can consider to be my top ten JRPG villains. I'd have liked to include some Dragon Quest. Dragon Warrior IV, Dragon Warrior VII and Dragon Quest IX's demon lords did not make the cut, but they were probably closest of all the demon lords in that respective series.
As far as covering something else iconic like the Phantasy Star series, their eagerness to reuse the same final boss prohibits me from really finding a stand out villain among the series, though I admit I have not yet played Phantasy Star IV.
All in all, as with any Top 10 list, there are widely different interpretations. I decided to make this list because I thought my list of top 10 was rather unique looking. Villains are so integral in how they drive conflict, they are far and away my favorite part of the RPG experience. If the reader can take anything away from this list, as you go up and finish it I think it goes without saying good characters are smart characters, be they villain or hero.
List by Heed44utmost (06/21/2013)
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