Top 10 Lackluster Villains in Gaming | Column from the Editor

In a previous article, the subject of well written villains came up. Fortunately, I found no shortage of villains to list. That said, there’s more to being a big baddie than an evil smile and a cool laugh or terrifying glare; today’s article will go over villains who were bad, but not in a ‘good’ way. Per the usual, the list will be in order of ‘least worst’ to the absolute worst.

10. Galacta Knight (various Kirby games)

Galacta Knight is pretty cool looking and sure is powerful, but any praise of him ends there. He has been in Kirby games for the better part of the last 30 years. Unfortunately, we still find ourselves asking: who the hell is he? The most we can say about him is that he must be really strong, because he’s the one who showed up when Meta Knight wished upon Galactic Nova to fight the strongest warrior in the galaxy. Kirby games aren’t pornos or brainless shoot-em-ups, they actually have stories with decently fleshed out characters. The unfortunate exception is Galacta Knight, who appears on this list as a result.

9. Team Galactic (Fourth generation Pokémon games)

As a preface: yes, most Pokemon evil organizations tend to suck. Out of all the opposing factions, not all of them are actually evil; Teams Skull and Yell are far cringier and generally abhorrent than Galactic or the team which will accompany them on this list, but they’re arguably more Neutral than actually Evil. Plus, wouldn’t be good writing to just flood this list full of these teams, even if they’d otherwise belong.

Anyway, Team Galactic’s goals in whatever game they appear on are very cliched, a bit confusing and not in the slightest bit fleshed out. To sum it up, they basically want to destroy the world using one of the cover legendary Pokémon, then anoint the leader, Cyrus, as a deity of a new world they’d create. They never do clarify at any point how creating a new world or installing Cyrus as a deity of some kind is actually possible. In the end, their plan to restrain the cover legendary with an item they craft essentially straight up fails. Oh, and, of course per the usual, it gets heavily interrupted by a rogue ten year old acting on their own anyway. Pokémon teams in general are poorly written, but Galactic’s was quite the negative standout.

8. Bowser (Various Mario games)

Wandering within the realm of “what are you doing??” Is Bowser. Seriously, somebody get this Koopa King some kind of strategy team and perhaps an architect or two. In earlier 8-bit Mario games, Bowser could be slain by simply jumping over him and onto a button that collapses the floor underneath Bowser and plunged him to his doom. In the Nintendo 64 Mario game, he is defeated on three totally separate occasions by being thrown into pillars with large bombs atop them, that seem to have no purpose other than exist for Bowser to be thrown atop them. He also straight up tells Mario that this is the only way he can be beaten. Over the years, Princess Peach has been accused of having Stockholm Syndrome — seemingly enjoying being continuously captured by Bowser over and over and over again. But what about our turtle shelled pal here? 

Bowser doesn’t have to be the next Dark Souls boss, but he could at least not go out of his way to create ways for him to lose.

7. Sabine Brandt (Watch Dogs Legion)

Brandt was the unfortunate victim of being written into the script as a seriously forced plot twist that added no meaning of any sort to the game. Yeah, ha ha ha, Sabine’s the big baddie and has been toying with the protagonists all along! When she never actually gets any meaningful screen time, is just a voice in the player’s head most of the time, and ends up being the least memorable villain out of a batch of otherwise fairly decently made villains the game had to offer. Seriously, it would’ve been a better idea to just build on the game’s other villains, make them harder to overcome and give them more limelight to compensate, than it would have been to cast Sabine as the big bad in the end.

6. Waluigi (various Wario and Mario games)

This beloved fan favorite is a total joke, and isn’t actually taken seriously as the villain he was cast to be. Where Wario is Mario’s doppelganger, so too does Waluigi portray a more sinister variant of Mario’s brother, Luigi. Yet, Waluigi’s design and overall demeanor are just pathetic. Waluigi has also been quite underused throughout his fifteen years in the business; his most prominent appearance was in a tennis game nobody’s ever played. Wario having a W on his cap makes sense, as it’s an upside down M that opposes Mario nicely. Waluigi’s cap is a backwards L and looks like a child drew it. 
Why do people want this man as a playable character in Smash, again?

5. William Carver (The Walking Dead: Season 2)

The only thing well done about William Carver is the wonderful voice acting job that Michael Madsen consistently provides whenever his beautiful voice graces a microphone. 

Apart from that, we have a wickedly cliched villain with a couple of incredibly overdone tropes that make no real sense in the context of an apocalyptic setting.

“Survival of the fittest” makes sense in such a setting. But what’s the point of getting together a group, becoming the leader of such a group, then getting angry all the time, beating or having everyone beaten on, and enslaving people who don’t want to live under his rule? In this context, there is nothing to really be gained other than power. And what good is power in the apocalypse? There was potentially room for a redemption arc somewhere along the lines, but like other antagonists throughout the series, Carver is ultimately just dispatched and thrown away like the trash his character was. Such a shame that this amazing voice acting performance went to waste on such a forgettable character.

4. Galeem and Dharkon (Super Smash Bros Ultimate)

SSBU’s World of Light campaign was a festering mess, and it unfortunately hung these two out to dry big time. Simply put, it’s okay to leave things up to interpretation when done in moderation. However, in order to see these two as anything other than an elaborate game of beating on a piñata, the player basically has to do all of the script writing and acting. If I really wanted to do that, I’d write a book and save the $60 the game cost. These two are essentially carbon copies of one another in practice, even though they’re meant to represent the forces of light and dark, respectively. They both do the exact same thing, the game’s “True Ending” involves slaying both of them, and only killing just one or the other brings about a negative ending. Seriously, the whole idea that “you cannot have light without dark” is fun and compelling for a Smash game. So why is there no actual story to back up why they’re here?

3. Team Magma (Third generation Pokémon games and their remakes)

Another Pokémon team that managed to succeed in planning out the “how do we get from A to B?” while completely disregarding the “okay, we got from A to B… what now?” Team Magma’s goal is to essentially bring about a drought to the world and welcome Groudon. Yet, Groudon is the mover of continents, a legendary Ground type Pokémon who has the innate capability to live without drinking a single drop of water, ever. Throwing on a set of poorly matching burgundy clothes doesn’t suddenly make a human being less human, and humans can easily die of thirst. So what was the plan after drying up the planet? Did they ever bother to consider that they were essentially threatening extreme genocide against the human race?

At least Team Aqua can argue that they might have the means to survive in a world that they mostly flood. They could conceivably have crafted boats, submarines, etc that could serve as hubs for them to live out an existence in.

2. Kunikazu Okumura (Persona 5 Royal)

Believe it or not, there’s actually something worse on this list than Okumura! Well, I’ll go ahead and spare the usual dribble about why Okumura sucks, as you could easily go ahead and view any of my “list of terrible…” posts over the last year and read the same old song and dance about why Okumura sucks. 

It is worth noting that Okumura sucking is a complete package of sucking; his boss fight is bad, his palace is really bad, and Okumura himself is a poorly written character. This isn’t news though, so I encourage you to go read one of the aforementioned posts to get the third degree on why he sucks.

1. Scott Shelby (Heavy Rain)

Scott Shelby’s motivations are just bizarre, and the way the game presents him as the actual surprise main antagonist is pathetic and an insult to gaming. One of the earliest signs that Shelby himself, posing as a private detective, is actually the main villain he is pretending to hunt down, is the poorly designed scene in question. While visiting the shop of somebody who “may have a lead”, his partner becomes enamored in a product the shop is selling, the shop owner is mysteriously killed while the player is controlling Shelby, and somehow tries to wedge in that Shelby himself did the killing during the nanosecond or so between cuts as the player controlled him. That isn’t the real dagger in why Shelby is such a poorly written villain though; his motivations are pretty bizarre. He kidnaps Ethan Mars’ kid, puts Ethan through a series of brutally torturous “trials” with the threat of killing his kid should Ethan refuse or fail at achieving any of them. The reason for this isn’t because Shelby is the next Jigsaw (which would have actually been significantly more appealing from a villain) but rather, Shelby himself was abused by his father as a kid and wanted to witness another man go to hell and back to do right by his own kid, hence why his niche is only kidnapping children. This was a total swing for the fences that struck out hard, and left Shelby as one of the worst villains ever created.

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