What is a hero without their villain? In the case of Mario, just a plumber in a magical world. In the case of Squall from Final Fantasy VIII , just a mopey dude. Heroes need villains. Games need villains. We need villains. They terrify us, infuriate us, and sometimes even capture our hearts. Here’s a list of the ones who do that last bit. Let’s look back at the five most lovable villains in gaming.
Banjo-Kazooie is far from a scary game, although it does have some unsettling levels if you’re an easily frightened kid like I was. The villain, though, was never much of a threat. In a world of fools, two of whom are the game’s protagonists, Gruntilda, the unsightly witch, is no exception. After her defeat in one, her riled up return in the sequel somehow makes her even more lovable. Oh, and did I mention one fights against her takes the shape of a game show?
He is, perhaps, one of the most iconic villains in all of video games. As a child, I feared him, but that was because his personality hadn’t been well established yet. By the time I got around to playing Super Mario RPG , his bumbling dad persona was coming into view. The dude makes goofy noises, looks like a dork when he is thrown about, and undermines his whole villain role when he does things like play tennis, show up at parties, or plan a big wedding. He may be a giant, fierce, dino-thing, but he isn’t scaring anyone these days.
Depending on the game and iteration, Dr. Robotnik, sometimes called Eggman, is downright silly. He is supposed to be a sinister scientist, but he rarely comes across as wise. In fact, Sonic’s friend, Tails, comes across as an intellectual equal. I suppose that is fair, though, because there are times where Eggman can move his oddly shaped body with Sonic levels of speed. That may not be canon but, at the very least, it looks silly watching the blue blur struggle to keep up with him. Also, like Bowser, he is sometimes cast in the role of hero.
Final Fantasy games can have absolutely frightening villains. One of the game’s strengths is that it can usually depict their main bad guys in a sympathetic light. Rarely, though, are the game’s primary villains what I would call lovable. At the very least, they aren’t lovable in the same way that the other people in this list are lovable. The Turks from Final Fantasy VII , though, are downright adorable. One of them in particular, named Reno, is so lovable that he was basically remade in the form of Axel, a bad guy from Kingdom Hearts . There’s jaunt something about their antics and love for one another that makes them a pleasure to watch.
Dr. Neo Cortex
Crash Bandicoot needs an enemy who can match his energy, and he has certainly found that in the form of Dr. Neo Cortex. Who is sometimes simply called Dr. N. Cortex and rarely, but comically, called Dr. Neo Periwinkle Cortex. Like many villains, his plans are usually aimed towards world domination. Like many of the villains on this list, his plans are easily thwarted by characters who are much more heart than brains. He’s quick to anger, his voice is an absolute delight, and he is sometimes a playable protagonist. I’m also realizing that many of these lovable villains have been in kart racing games before. Why is that?