Sunday, July 10, 2011

Five Forgotten Game Villains That Kicked Ass

In the long, long history of video games with half of a plot, there have been hundreds among larger numbered hundreds of video game bad guys. Some of these scoundrels have risen to fame in both the nerd circles, and the public as a whole, even spinning off into their own mistold tales. Many, however, fall into the brink of obscurity, waiting for a developer with his job on the rocks to pull out all the stops and revive them. This list is a nod to these villains, for who they were, who they should be, and the franchises that would be a whole lot better if they were to return.

1. Majora's Mask

Majora's Mask was the main antagonist of the Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask for the Nintendo 64, the only game before Twilight Princess that stood against Ocarina of Time in the bloody battles between Zelda fans for the best game ever made (I stand firmly in the Majora's Mask camp, but that's irrelevant to this post.) Majora's Mask is an ancient artifact of manifest evil that seems to be both home and captor of a tormented soul, seemingly forming its own demonic persona (the intent of which is to resurrect its dark creator.)

To do this, it molested a kid's face.
Some could convincingly argue that Majora's Mask isn't a "forgotten" villain, but remakes aside, its been missing in action for over a decade. Which is a shame, because the last time I checked, Ganon hadn't managed to crash the Moon into the planet. That's how much power this mask has. This mask has the power to bestow a nightmarish, grinning face onto an enormous hunk of space rock, seal four all-powerful deities inside tiny little masks, and send the space rock hurtling towards the planet. It can also create a breathable atmosphere on the Moon, so there's that.

What I'm saying is, this Mask is a powerful bastard. It's like the One Ring if the Ring could talk and fly around on its own. The mask can generate illusions, possess individuals from a distance, and even the most strong willed warriors can't help but succumb to the mask's desires once they happen to touch it. Which makes destroying it a bitch. Not only that, but as the Mask's power increases, it has the ability to begin manifesting itself in numerous physical bodies.

Oh fuck...
This mask is so powerful that Link, who has been saving the world from all sorts of demonic shit for centuries, had to pull a Goku if he even wanted to stand a chance. And this wasn't just any run of the mill Oracles of Ages Link. Oh no. This was the Link that had already defeated Ganon as the beast ripped down a castle and terrorized the country. Just imagine what would happen if Majora's Mask managed to latch itself onto the Holder of Power himself.

My sentiments exactly.

2. Giovanni

Giovanni should be a well known character to Pokefans of the 90's, but outside of remakes and a small cameo in HeartGold and SoulSilver, the true leader of Team Rocket hasn't been heard from in quite a while. And that's a little interesting considering the enigma this man was back when the Pokemon anime was the hottest shit on television. He was like a new, decidedly darker version of Inspector Gadget's Claw. Only a portion of his face was shown at any one time, while the rest was hidden by darkness, which created an overwhelming and still not understood feeling of dread, and left millions of hapless seven-year-olds wondering what this man looked like.

Maybe he should have stayed hidden...
While not a wholly original character, one cannot deny that Giovanni demands presence, and of all the suit-wearing mafia characters you've seen, his nearly cross-eyed and crumpled expression is going to be the one that sticks with you. Everything about him that at first glance screams "lame" or "poor design" becomes another fold in the quilt that is this man's well deserved legacy.

"What legacy?" I hear you ask. Well, even though Giovanni himself hasn't shown his face in anything new, his influence lives on. Let's start with the obvious fact that he was the financial backbone of the Mewtwo genetic experiments, and essentially the father to the most powerful, most deadly monster known to the Pokemon interpretation of Earth. This is a landmark in Pokescience. While the other professors are merely reviving dinosaurs and building Lego block ducks, Giovanni was birthing a superior species.

Not unlike this guy.
Giovanni's reach extends well beyond the scope of the first Generation, however. His cold, Persian-covered fingers wrap tightly around Generation II's throat. The most obvious evidence of this is the band of struggling Team Rocket grunts that hope to revive the organization by calling out to their fallen leader. Unfortunately their ambitions are crushed beneath the feet of yet another ten-year-old boy. Three years later and these guys still haven't evolved their Rattatas.

Also found in Generation II is one of the most despicable rivals featured in the Pokemon franchise: Silver. While Blue is pretty obnoxious and hard on his Pokemon, Silver is downright abusive, and most of his team has been stolen from other trainers. Oh, and he's Giovanni's son. That's right. The douchiest of all douche characters turns out to be the son of Pokemon's Al Capone.

How's dem apples?
Oh yeah.
I ate them.

3. Wizpig

Now this guy I bet you've genuinely never heard of. Not unless you're a hardcore Nintendonut, a racingnut, or, again, a child of the 90's. The 90's really was a good time for villains. Wizpig was the antagonist of Nintendo and Rareware's lovechild, Diddy Kong Racing for the N64. Though the game titles Diddy Kong, it actually has nothing to do with the Donkey Kong franchise outside of product placement (the same is to be said for Banjo the bear and Conker the squirrel, and also Timber the tiger, though that one never came to fruition.) The game actually revolves around Wizpig, an alien wizard who invades Timber's Island and places a gigantic statue of himself in the central "lobby" area, just to remind the players that he's watching their asses run around his playground, and they're only alive because they make him laugh.

Big Brother is watching... and breathing fire.
What's so bad about a giant talking pig? Well, to name one thing, he's already conquered his home world and turned it into some kind of twisted amusement park. So while Bowser struggles time and again to kidnap one measly kingdom, Wizpig has already crushed the fighting spirit of an entire planet. So, that's pretty bad.

He's also unimaginably powerful. This pig just descended from the heavens in his indestructible warship and stripped an all-powerful genie of most of his powers without breaking a sweat. This just shows that Wizpig has mastery of both science and magic, and he is effective at using both. He also brainwashes four gigantic beasts, and when the island's great champion arrives to challenge him, he laughs and turns him into a frog.

Still don't think I'm scary, bitch?
Really none of the heroes have an actual hope of defeating this guy. If it weren't for what can only be explained as him getting bored, Diddy and friends would have never even been able to defeat the first boss, let alone reach Wizpig's home world. Even after you leave his slow ass behind in a first race, he shows up at the party just to remind everyone that he's miles out of their league. And unlike in most cartoons where this happens, he doesn't end up humiliating himself and getting a face full of pie. Oh no. Because everyone there knows that he can disintegrate their ass in two seconds flat, and they book it like librarians.

4. Fang the Sniper

Ah, yes. Fang the Sniper, better known as Nack the Weasel in places that speak in English dialects, is one of the few Sonic the Hedgehog antagonists with no relation to Dr. Eggman (also known as Dr. Robotnik to those of you who... just reread it.) Fang, so called because of his enormous canine, is a vicious bounty and treasure hunter who actually hails from the Special Zone, being the first and only character to natively exist in that acid trip.

"Get outta my house!"
That's not the only first Fang brought to the table. Eleven years before Shadow the Hedgehog ran off pretending to be the Punisher, Fang was popping caps in Sonic's furry, blue ass. He was also riding motorcycles, so really "Shadow the Hedgehog" should have been called "the Return of Fang the Sniper"... but then it sucked, so we're all happy it wasn't.

Fang had a short history of only three games, none of which were popular or mainstream, but the impression he's made on the franchise has managed to transcend time and age. This is probably due in large part to Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog monthly comic series, which has managed to keep the character fresh and relevant despite Sega having practically disowned him.

However, Fang's continued popularity might stem from a few other facts more directly related to the video game universe. For starters, he's a major antagonist who had absolutely no relation to Eggman. He was not built by Eggman, hired by Eggman, released by Eggman, tricked by Eggman, or summoned by Eggman. Fang has his own solid identity as a Sonic villain, and as we've seen, Sega just cannot make new villains.

While Fang was created in the days when Sonic ran over checkered squares of grass, his character would be rather simple to adapt to the recent settings of the franchise, particular the areas present in the Adventures titles. Unlike the Chaotix, who had to become a trio of bumbling morons to fit the bill, casting Fang as an outlaw criminal who picks off his prey from the rooftops of Station Square would make him, and the franchise, a whole lot cooler.

"C'mon, guys... Eggman Nega instead of me? Really?"
5. Wart

Topping our list of the five villains who need to get their asses back to kidnapping princesses is... WART! Mario fans will know who I'm talking about, and the occasional friend-of-a-gamer will also recognize the name. Wart is the boss of the amazingly different Doki Doki Panic, known here in the states as Super Mario Bros. 2. This was the only main console Super Mario game where Bowser wasn't waiting for the plumber at the end of the final castle. Instead you found this guy perched high atop his throne.

This guy, and he was totally nude.
What sets Wart apart from Mario's other scaly nemesis is that while Bowser has tried to capture the Mushroom Kingdom at least ten times and failed at each one, Wart had already imprisoned the royal family, enslaved the inhabitants, and established a new government order before Mario even arrived on the scene. Also unlike Bowser, Mario and Luigi weren't enough to stop Wart. It took the additional help of Peach and Toad, and even then they had to rely on forcing the amphibian to choke down something he was allergic to before he would cough up the key and make his exit.

Wart hasn't been seen since except for a small cameo in a Zelda title, but a large portion of his troops have defected into the Koopa Pack, and some have even mellowed out and decided to become renowned professional tennis players. Others have formed a new hierarchy to fill the power void and bring order to their ranks.

Wart and his soldiers are solely responsible for building more than half of what the common person can identify as the Marioverse, and that's why he earns his spot at the top of the list of unjustly forgotten villains.

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