I let loose on all the gaming villain’s that I hated for all the wrong reasons in last week’s column and invited you faithful readers to do the same. Now, here are some of the worst antagonists in gaming you had to offer.
“It wasn’t really foreshadowed, and wasn’t nearly as satisfying to beat. SA-X was always the monster I was looking forward to fighting. That was the boss that hunted me down throughout the game, and scared the crap out of me when it spotted me. Beating it was the logical conclusion. The Omega Metroid didn’t have the buildup, or the same emotional satisfaction after beating it. It was just there so we could fight a giant monster at the end. If SA-X transformed into it as a ditch effort to defeat us, I’d understand, but instead it felt sort of random.” -Evan Schuster
A final boss is the climax of a game and requires proper buildup to be satisfying. Just throwing any big monster at the player is only enough if expectations haven’t been raised for anything else. SA-X is the real threat in Metriod Fusion and anything beyond that looming threat is minor note. Linking the battle with the Omega Metriod to the struggle against SA-X as Schuster suggests could make it a more satisfying conflict, but as it stands it is only a final boss for the sake of having a final boss.
Spoilers Ahead “As great as Bioshock‘s story is, I really, really disliked Fontaine as an antagonist. They built him up to be an interesting character – a guy who was at odds with Andrew Ryan and a friendly voice to help guide you through Rapture. The twist at the end, the famous “Would you kindly” manipulation that he pulled made him a character the player could turn against. He was built up as such a great character and then you face him in…a several stage boss fight. I realize that Bioshock is an FPS and constrained by the limits inherent to that style of game, but the final boss fight against Fontaine was such a dissapointment. They took one of the smartest, most conniving villains in FPS history and squandered for an easy ending.” -Michael Jensen
Frank Fontaine has already been honored as one of gaming’s best antagonists in a previous column, but I certainly understand the argument against him. Fontaine was built up as a character of cunning and deception throughout Bioshock and was more suited to a final conflict based on wits rather than brawn. His monstrous final battle doesn’t come completely out of left field as it fits with the gameplay mechanics and theme of bodily augmentation, but the beast may have been better suited as a minion rather than the mastermind himself.
“All you have to do is throw barrels at him and hit him between 3-4 times, and the battle is won. It’s by far the most underwhelming boss battle ever, especially if you’re playing co-op with someone and can tag in and out. I thought it was a joke at first, or that the boss would evolve into another form, but it doesn’t. I think I completed the battle in about fifty seconds.” -Lindsey Wachs
Master Necky is only the second boss of Donkey Kong Country so expectations weren’t lavish. Still, he makes an impressive entrance as someone who only appears as a head at the edge of the screen, giving the impression that he is too grand for any more of him to fit onscreen at once. It implies an empty promise that the battle will escalate further as more of the flying battleship enters the fray. Instead, he both begins and ends with first impressions. To make matters worse, the battle is recycled later with Master Necky Snr. without any notable changes beyond an increased attack speed and amount of life.
“He started out as the main villain, instigating the plot, and showing up throughout the game, but never sticking around too long. He looked really cool, and was clearly capable of fighting for himself. Then comes the big event. The player prepares to face off against him (Spoiler alert!). Right before the fight begins, we find out that he was just a puppet to the main villain, Andross. Unlike Zant though, we don’t even get to FIGHT Scales. He just disappears from the story the minute Andross demands that he step aside. I don’t really mind that he turned out to be Andross’s pawn, but not being able to fight him is completely unforgivable. It’s a waste of an interesting character.” -Evan Schuster
For as disappointing as the payoff for Zant in Twilight Princess was, there at least was payoff. Building up a villain for the full length of a game only to pull him out of the story just before the climactic battle is an inexcusably cruel bait-and-switch. The mindset behind both Zant and Scales’ abrupt departures is that fans will be upset if the final confrontation is with anyone other than the main villain of the series and so these one-off foes are denied the final acts of their own stories. It’s true that there are some fans who have a dire allergy to change and will complain, but much worse is the waste of potential for these once-promising adversaries.
“Their plan? To use the legendary Kyogre to increase the oceans levels (which is physically impossible) to make more room for water Pokemon to live in…..Um, hey Archie can I ask you a question: “Where do you live?” Do you live in Atlantis? Are you Aquaman? Can You breath under water? No, I thought not.” -Dan Wanezek
There is a joking list of guidelines for villains on the web with such rules as “One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.” Archie from Pokemon Sapphire is the kind of villain that list was made for. I can buy that Team Aqua is a group of crazed eco-terrorists who value the lives of fish over themselves and all of humanity and would flood the world for that, but Archie seems to be under the impression that rain comes from some magical pocket dimension despite the fact that he is a grown man. Kyogre’s ability to summon rainclouds could temporarily flood a small area, but those clouds have to come from somewhere. Seeing a man fail to recognize the basic science behind the one subject he has dedicated his entire life to is just sad.
Thanks again for your submissions and I look forward to hearing more from you all next week.