Yesterday we played goody two shoes and honored the most effective and selfless Final Fantasy heroes in the series’s history. Today, we’re treading the Sith-tinged “fast and easy” path and cuddling up to the franchise’s worst (as in best) villains. Like it or not, they make the story what it is – without their sociopathic antics, we wouldn’t even have a game to play.
As before, we’re only considering the main numbered games. No spin-offs, no sidequels, just the primary series. So, who caused the most pain, killed the most people or ruined the most lives?
Includes contributions from Brett Elston and Christian Nutt
Vayne (Final Fantasy XII)
Most Final Fantasy antagonists are in your face - personally insulting you, killing your friends and generally being a huge pain in the ass. Vayne isn't like that. He manipulates governments and ruthlessly kills his family to achieve political power. He then flexes this dubiously acquired power over armies, over researchers finding new magical technologies, over anything that will bolster the claims of his Archadian Empire.
Above: Doesn’t get any more exciting than this shot of Vayne talking
Caught up in the sweep of his ambitions, you'll constantly find yourself fighting indirectly against Vayne and his loyal servants. As you cut down these minions one by one, even his younger brother comes to your aid – before long, all of his well-laid plans fall through, and his desire to save mankind from the grip of the gods is brought to a close. Not before this weird-ass final fight, though:
Above: One of the strangest final battles the series has coughed up
Despite this “I’m going to turn myself into an airship cloud dragon!” finale, we loved Vayne as an against-type, almost down to earth antagonist. A welcome departure from the highly stylized and mass-murdering villains of similar games.
Golbez (Final Fantasy IV)
Even though this towering knight is upstaged at the end of the game, you'll hate Golbez's guts from the moment he sets foot on the screen. He plays with everyone’s emotions and secretly rules the throne of Baron Castle, and as such is directly responsible for hero Cecil’s defection, setting the whole game into motion. Golbez affects almost every member of your party on a personal level, either by taking something precious or killing characters in cold blood. Few bosses are routinely in your face throughout the whole adventure – Golbez delights in these hands-on moments like no other.
Above: Why, here he is paralyzing the team so he can feed you to his pet dragon
The final third of the game unleashes astounding revelations about Golbez and his otherworldly origin. This twist makes him, his reasoning and his actions more interesting, and even tragic as the final lines of dialog are spoken. Golbez may not destroy the world, but in 20 short hours he manages to wreck the personal lives of your entire group, order dozens of innocents to their death and nearly usher in a new age of eternal destruction. Damn.
Sin (Final Fantasy X)
It's hard to give such prominent placement to a giant whale… monster… thing, but by the end of the game you'll understand exactly why the mysterious, destructive monster known as Sin ranks so high. What initially seems like a mindless monster with no purpose other than to randomly terrorize the world (and kill thousands of people) becomes a mind-ripping plot twist. Without getting into too much detail, Sin is actually Jecht (the dude up there) and is stuck in a never ending cycle of violence. Yeah, that’s pretty vague. We’ll stick with that.
Above: It’s hard to summarize Sin in a screen, so here’s a collection of clips where it’s mopping the floor with everyone.
The creature is an indestructible enigma throughout the entire quest, and only when you brace for the final stretch do you realize the terrible truth about Sin and the world of Spira. It’s seriously heavy stuff, which is why it ranked so high in our Top 7 Final Fantasy games. In the end, Sin is a total mindjob, from creepy introduction to blazing finale. And the ending... that must be the most satisfying high five in the history of games.