One reason we like games is that the stakes are high. The good guys are really good, the bad guys are really bad, and the princesses are really doe-eyed. But sometimes, games manage to work in villains that operate in shades of gray… and other times, they accidentally make a villain out of the most sympathetic guy in the story. Here are 12 videogame bad guys who, all things considered, you could probably grab a beer with and have a fine time - and a few heroes who, on deeper reflection, are kind of dicks.
The Mushroom Kingdom is ruled by a non-democratic monarchy enforcing a strictly divided class system, favouring those Mushrooms who faithfully serve the Princess by giving them natty vests. As far as we can see, Bowser and his Koopa Clan are attempting to bring about a coup that would give equal power to the underprivileged Goombas – who are presently confined to dangerous, cramped ghetto areas.
Above: Ghettoes are the same all over the world: they stink
Admittedly, their methods are hardly the sort of thing Ghandi would advocate. But when a pair of goons are brought in to violently put down the rebellion – doubtless to keep Brooklyn’s mushroom resources healthy – Bowser seems less a villain and more the sole heroic holdout against a dodgy Cold War-esque power-bid.
Above: Viva La Revolucion!
2. M. Bison
There’s no end of sob-stories of all the horrors Bison’s Shadaloo Empire is apparently responsible for: killing Chun-Li’s dad, running some sort of drugs and/or weapons empire out of Thailand and harnessing forbidden psychic powers to enable the cheapest move in the damn game.
Above: Oh, eff off
But honestly: how many of these folks’ stories really check out? Guile, a psychologically scarred war vet, is clearly projecting his horrific wartime experiences onto Bison. Cammy, a longtime amnesiac, by definition cannot be relied on for accurate testimony as to Bison’s malfeasance. And look at the class of “evildoers” he surrounds himself with: blissed-out monks and smiling moms.
Those tourists look happy enough to be funding the death-by-psychic-annihilation business. We’d stay at Shadaloo.
(SPOILER ALERT: if you are either of the two people not yet aware of the plot of BioShock, we advise you read this instead of the next entry.)
When we say “Atlas”, we of course mean the guy he ends up being: cheery old faux-brogue-sporting old black-market-running old Frank Fontaine. But how bad a guy is Fontaine? Well, he did save your life repeatedly in the game’s first half, as well as making the hugely perfunctory tutorial sequence marginally less of a trial than it could have been.
Above: Would you kindly take the exposition machine?
Fontaine’s main shtick is soon revealed to be getting you to kill your dickhead dad, Andrew Ryan. Well, good: Ryan displays precious few positive traits in his scant screentime, and Rapture doesn’t look like it’s been a fun place to live for quite some time. Ryan’s empire is a waterlogged, dystopian wreck: at least Fontaine’s honest about it.