A good villain goes a long way in the realm of video games, and let’s face it, sometimes they can make or break a game. The revenge and gore filled plight of Kratos in God of War is made much more forgivable when we see the cruelty and paranoia of Zeus, and the entirety of Bioshock’s plot hinges on the convincing menace of its dual antagonists, Andrew Ryan and Fontaine. Yet, it is not often that a villain gets their own games. Sometimes, the transition from villain to hero is kind of a difficult jump to make, and some villains do it more gracefully than others. Rogues such as Wario and Bowser have all scored their own spin-off titles that are quite good, yet many other villains have never had the opportunity to work the limelight for themselves. So for some fun, let’s imagine which of our famous villains should have their own game, and we will establish the possible pros and cons of each. As well, we will look at what sort of game would most benefit the villain, as it would have to have its own distinct flavor to separate it from their heroic counterpart’s original game. Who knows, maybe some errant game developer will wander across this and it will give them some ideas!
1. Dr Wily
Oh, Dr. Wily, why are you so evil? While every classic Mega Man may begin with Mega Man fighting eight Robot Masters who are controlled by some mysterious mastermind, it is always shown to be Dr. Wily who is behind everything. We really do not get much of an explanation for his evil ways beyond the fact that he really just wants to take over the world. We know he used to be a working partner to the good Dr. Light in the creation of robots, yet felt slighted when his contribution went unrecognized by the world. Other than this though, not much else is known aside from the fact that he is the actual creator of Zero and the Maverick Virus that sets in motion the plot of the Mega Man X series.
So, how would giving Dr. Wily his own game work? I would say that giving him some motivation for his evil ways might make for an interesting title. Perhaps show the events that led him to decide to reprogram the originally good Robot Masters and have them attack the world. It would also be an interesting prequel, as it would allow you to see how Mega Man was turned from a normal, child-like robot, Roll, into the battle robot that we know and love today.
Okay, cool, but what type of game would he be in?
I would think that Dr. Wily, since he is a simple scientist by profession and not much of a combatant himself, would fit perfectly into a Fire Emblem or Advance Wars style real-time strategy game. Imagine it starting with Dr. Wily hatching one of his nefarious schemes, building an army of different robots, each with their own capabilities, to do battle over various maps. It would start out with him fighting the forces of good, but of course, a greater evil will emerge and Dr. Wily will have to team up yada, yada, yada. The main fun, though, would be building an army of the favorite Mega Man bad guys, with little Metools as the grunts (the hard-hat robots that are in every Mega Man game), the Robot Masters as the advanced classes of robots that they evolve into, and a little Wily avatar in his flying saucer moving around the map himself. You would be able to have so much fan service, with all sorts of Mega Man type characters and villains making an appearance (think of having an army of Yellow Devils! It sells itself). Plus, the battle system would be deep and challenging, as the Mega Man weapons/weakness system would have to be present with each battle on the map; I mean, of course, you wouldn’t move your Pharoah Man unit right next to the enemy’s Dust Man unit, right? Of course, with Capcom basically ignoring all things Mega Man lately, who knows the chance of this one happening.
2. Evil Otto
Most of you are probably thinking that Otto is the Robot in that picture, but no, Otto is the eerie Smiley face that would chase you around in the old Atari game, Berzerk. Berzerk, for those of you who don’t know, was a game where you wandered around a maze while fighting robots (who were notoriously stupid) while trying to reach the exit with the highest score possible before Otto arrived. Evil Otto was the players “incentive” to move quickly, in that he would relentlessly chase the player until they either beat the level or died. He was impervious to harm, moved incredibly quickly, and could move through walls and his own robots (killing them as well; Otto has no mercy for anything in his path). And, eerily enough, he never stops smiling the entire time.
Okay, cool, but what sort of game would it be in?
Otto presents a bit of a challenge in that he is just a Smiley face and couldn’t really be adapted to a modern console or PC game, but I think he would be absolutely perfect for a portable iOS game or even a Flash game. Both of these have been a great venue for retro 8-bit remakes, so I think it could work in this game. Maybe like a great homage to Atari games where Otto is the star, sort of like how newgrounds.com made a flash game for Abobo (Abobo’s Big Adventure, which if you haven’t played then shame on you), that was an homage to the NES. You could load it with the old Atari sprite models, fill it with referential humor, and make Otto the silent, eerie, and merciless protagonist he was meant to be. It may not be much, but I think Otto needs to be brought back to remind modern gamers that sometimes the best villains are often the simplest in design (I would say make a game starring the Grue, but that would really be impossible).
I bet most of you figured Ganon would be on the list somewhere, and you were absolutely right! I guess the allure of a Ganondorf based video game is the fact that, when the player encounters Ganon in one of his many incarnations, he is already an incredibly powerful figure, but his background is shrouded in mystery. He is a master swordsman, wields the Triforce of Power, is a powerful warlock who controls a multitude of dark magics, and has the ability to turn into a giant pig demon (or is already a Giant Pig Demon). He is powerful enough that he is basically immortal and can exist outside of his physical form, and he is one of the only characters in Zelda who is thought to be the same character in each incarnation (i.e. the Link in each game is a different Link, but Ganon is supposed to be the same Ganon). Despite all of this, all we know is that he was the only male born to the female Desert bandits, the Gerudo, and that he was eventually cast into the World of Darkness, where he was turned into a Pig Demon. Thus, a game that explored his rise to such power and his attainment of the Triforce of Power would, in my opinion, be quite interesting.
Okay, cool, but what sort of game would he be in.
The most logical for Ganon would probably be a God of War hack and slash adventure, mixed with the classic Zelda dungeon crawling, inventory, and exploration motif (very similar to the original Darksiders). It definitely wouldn’t be a very original premise, but if handled with enough fan service, awesome action, and a good bit of interesting exposition, it might really be a great game. Players could help him assemble the Triforce of Power, uncover dark magics, and cover his transition from a benevolent Bandit King into the Prince of Darkness that he becomes.
4. The Cobra Unit, spec. The End/The Boss
I was going to originally put just The Boss here (the female main villain of Snake Eater), but I decided that the whole unit is too interesting to pass up. The Cobra Unit in MGS3 is described as an elite fighting force started during the Second World War, which is comprised of six members, all named after the primary emotion they felt when engaged in battle. They are all unique in their abilities and are led by the best super soldier of them all, The Boss (also known as The Joy). She is the original soldier who trained Big Boss (i.e. the mentor/genetic father/nemesis of Solid Snake), and was a decorated hero and super patriot. It would be amazing to have a game that showcased the beginning years of the Unit during World War II, because you know that if it is required for the U.S. to make a group this strange, some REALLY crazy stuff must have been happening during the war. I mean, the characters themselves are so interesting and diverse, the sheer gameplay options would be a strong selling point by itself.
Okay, cool, but what sort of game would it be
Well, sort of like how MGS3 was a Metal Gear/Hideo Kojima look at the Cold War, I think that this game would be a Kojima version of World War II. You would have your most Solid Snake-esque character with The Boss, who would, of course, be the protagonist, extreme stealth/hunting segments with The Fear (imagine taking someone out Predator-style), crazy, trippy Psycho Mantis style sections with The Sorrow, and whatever else you want to do with The Pain and The Fury (those two are kind of the weakest members, so do what you will). The best, in my opinion, would be whatever section you had with The End. Being the world’s oldest soldier, you could have awesome flashback segments back to the Civil War up through World War II (he could have fought in the Franco-Prussian War, for all we know), executing crazy sniper shots or doing survival/stealth missions from throughout history. It all adds up to a pretty cool dynamic. Overall, I think this group of crazies could make for a very interesting game.
5. Dr. Ivo Robotnik/Dr. Eggman
Okay, that picture is awful, but the point is clear. There have been games about Bowser, games for Wario, and games for other classic villains, but never one for the good Dr. Robotnik. He has been Sonic‘s longest and most powerful nemesis throughout his long gaming history and has appeared in many different incarnations. His history, as well, changes depending upon which game, TV show, or comic book you are engaging in. The bottom line is that he is a genius at robotics, but also at transmuting biological matter into metal, thus creating many different robots out of living creatures. Plus…look at his eyes…why are they black? While he has appeared as a playable character in one or two video games, (Sonic Adventure 2, I believe?), he has never been in a game himself. Golden opportunity, perhaps?
Okay, cool, but what sort of game would he be in?
He is definitely the most challenging villain to shoehorn into a genre, as he is not only just odd by himself, but his skill set doesn’t speak to many different gameplay types. I am thinking along the lines of a game similar to Misadventures of Tron Bonne (a Mega Man Legends spin off), where the game goes on combat missions in her automaton, but also regulates the base back home and orders the Servbots around. So basically, it would be a game where you design crazy machines for Robotnik to use, then proceed to go on crazy missions with them. At the same time, you can regulate his “lab”, manage your staff, etc. It would definitely have to be cartoony and light in style, but it could be a lot of fun, just like Tron Bonne.
So there you have it: five great villains who deserve to be in the lime-light once again. And who knows, maybe Nintendo, Sega, or one of the developers mentioned is cooking something up for one of these great characters (sorry Otto, I doubt one is going to happen for you), and a game similar to the ones postulated may one day be created. Let me know what you think; can you think of another villain who has never had their own video game, but definitely should get their own?