Mirror, mirror, on the wall
Hey there, super villain. Annoying hero got you down? Are the forces of good messing up your nefarious plans for world domination? Are your special moves and powerful attacks mere putty in their heroic hands? Don't worry, because I have the solution for you! The best way to beat your eternal foe isn't to meet them with different force, but instead to beat them at their own game. And the best way to do that is by cloning them!
That's right: a mirror image of your hero nemesis is the way to go. Think about it, a villainous clone that has all the same items and knows every single technique is the perfect way to foil that do-gooder. Or, at the very least, you'll get them caught in a stalemate long enough for you to finish whatever evil deed you're working on. So put on your evilest mustache (opens in new tab) and join us for a look at the most notorious mirror villains and evil clones in video games.
Cosmic Mario Clones (Super Mario Galaxy 2)
Called "manekku" (or imitation) in Japanese, these Cosmic Clones are a real pain in the mushroom. First appearing in Super Mario Galaxy 2, these little buggers appear throughout several of its levels, ready to give Mario or Luigi a hard time by overwhelming them with their sheer numbers.
See, these aren't mere clones of our favorite mustachioed hero. They also copy every single jump, spin, and punch he pulls off, albeit with a slight delay. It's not so bad when there's only one or two of these buggers on screen, but they just keep coming. If you're not careful, you'll be up to your elbows in evil plumbers, and no one wants that.
Evil Lara (Tomb Raider/Tomb Raider: Underworld)
If you can believe it, there were not one, but two evil versions of the posh tomb raiding heroine, and both are as contrived as you'd think. In the first Tomb Raider, when Lara Croft isn't fighting off dinosaurs, she's spelunking through pyramids in search of lost treasures. While in the pyramid, she stumbles across an exact replica of herself; except this version is missing all of its skin (ewwww). Shooting it actually hurts you (which makes total sense), and the only way to kill it is to force it into a nearby pit of lava (which, again, makes total sense).
And if that weren't enough, Lara faces off against yet another evilized version of herself in Tomb Raider: Underworld. This one looks a bit more like her (except with a bit more goth eyeliner), and she's way stronger and totally evil. This villainous doppelganger blows up Croft Manor, kills off your friend Alister, and is a general nuisance every step of the way. She'd seem a lot more threatening if the whole thing weren't completely ludicrous; though this is a game where you end up in the Norse land of the dead, so I guess anything is possible.
Lord Starkiller (Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2)
LucasArts follow-up to The Force Unleashed was sort of crap, but the actual premise wasnt all that bad. Vader, in an attempt to revive his former apprentice, clones Starkiller (Galen Marek) in the cloning facility on Kamino (you know, that one cool part from Episode II). But cloning a Jedi isnt as easy as cloning a Mandalorian, and Starkiller, again, goes AWOL, killing the other clones and breaking free. This, for the record, is supposed to be the good one.
Once Starkiller finally reaches the end of the horrible Vader boss battle, hes given a choice between the light and dark side of the Force. If he chooses the dark option, hes killed on the spot by a lightsaber to the back. Vader chortles and a dark, evil version of Starkiller emerges. A loud DUN DUN DUN plays and the two evil Sith go and tie maidens to train tracks or whatever.
Dark Samus (Metroid Prime series)
Samus has a history of dealing with evil clones throughout her life, but not one is more dogged in their pursuit in taking down the galaxy-hopping bounty hunter than Dark Samus in Metroid Prime. As Samus explores the harsh world of Aether, she stumbles across the reanimated corpses of the Marines she's supposed to find. She also finds Dark Samus, an evil being created out of phazon energy.
At the end of the first Metroid Prime, Samus finally defeats the titular beast, but her suit and DNA were absorbed in the resulting blast, thus giving birth to this evil version. It hounds her every move through Metroid Prime 2, featuring similar, but more powerful versions of each of her abilities. It's not until Metroid Prime 3 that Samus finally puts a stop to this diabolical being once and for all.
Dark Prince (Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones)
In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, the main protagonist was a nice, if slightly sarcastic, do-gooder. So of course, when the sequel Warrior Within rolled around, that wasn't going to fly, and Ubisoft ratcheted up the baditude, taking the soft, Britishy voice of the Prince and giving him a gruff, hard rock makeover. Luckily, when The Two Thrones rolled around, Ubisoft successfully brought the two together, creating the Dark Prince as a much needed compromise.
After carrying the Dagger of Time through the harrowing events of the first two games, the Prince is a changed man. He begins hearing voices, which manifest themselves in physical form as the Dark Prince: a chain-wielding, Godsmack-listening, flame encrusted badass who wants nothing more than to be freed from this wimpy meat-sack and take over the world. Once he gets his wish, the two princes finally duel to the gritty death. The lack of a Spin Doctors reference in this game is a hugely wasted opportunity, in my opinion.
Liquid Snake (Metal Gear Solid)
Solid Snake may have been shaped into the ultimate soldier over the course of multiple games prior to the PlayStation classic, but there is no one more cunning than his twin brother Liquid. For one, the entire events of the game were orchestrated by him just to trick you into activating the nukes on Shadow Moses island. And the bastard simply won't die, continually coming back for beat-down after beat-down in Metal Gear Solid's final chapters.
In fact, Naomi's little Fox-Die virus is the only reason he gets taken out at the game's finale. But even then, that's not the end of Liquid Snake, as his right-hand man Revolver Ocelot replaces his own right hand with Liquid's. Thanks to nanomachines (the Metal Gear series' version of midichlorians), Liquid's personality takes over, and you get to fight him again through his surrogate. The guy just will not die.
Dark Link (The Legend of Zelda series)
First appearing as the final boss in Zelda II, Dark Link (or Shadow Link, as he was originally introduced) is the quintessential dark clone distilled to its purest form. We tend to take for granted that Link has the ability to eventually subdue the ever reappearing evildoer Ganon--the hero always wins, after all--but Dark Link is a different kind of enemy. He's undeniably Link's true equal, perfectly matched and mirrored in every way.
Even with a ridiculously exploitable weakness in Zelda II (he's totally vulnerable while jumping), Dark Link has gone on to appear multiple times within the Zelda series and has become a huge fan-favorite as a recurring enemy. Most famously, his appearance as miniboss in the Water Temple of Ocarina of Time is memorable as a particularly tough fight within a notoriously difficult dungeon. Dark Link serves as a reminder to all videogame lovers that even the most noble and courageous among us still has a shadow lurking somewhere within.
Doppelganger (Castlevania series)
The Belmonts have had a rough go of it, as they can't seem to go a generation without having to deal with the resurrection of Dracula (or, at least some form of his evil spawning into the world). Of course, with Dracula comes a whole menagerie of monsters and demons to fight, and one of the most notoriously difficult ones to defeat is, well, yourself.
The Doppelganger first appeared in Castlevania 3: Dracula's Curse, and has popped up throughout the series ever since. Usually carrying the same weapons as whichever Belmont it comes across, the Doppelganger matches you in both ability and strength (sometimes having powers you haven't earned yet!). Most of the time, it's just a straight up fight, but this can be exploited in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin. Before you face the Doppelganger there, simply remove all your weapons and clothes. Once you reach it, re-equip everything, and your mirror image will still be wearing the crappy stuff you had on when you entered the room. In your face, clone!
Nelo Angelo, aka Vergil (Devil May Cry)
What is it with demons and mirrored enemies? You can't seem to go a game featuring the spawn of Satan without fighting at least some version of yourself. At least in Devil May Cry, Dante's brother Nelo Angelo (also known as Vergil) takes it to its literal conclusion as he steps out of a mirror to fight the brooding hero.
Vergil has many of the same moves as our white-haired demonic hero but they're all far more powerful than Dante's; he wouldn't want things to be easy for you. Luckily, the first time you fight him, he catches sight of your amulet, causing many of his memories about you to return, forcing him to flee. When you fight this dude again later, you're a bit more ready to withstand his copycat onslaught.
Jimmy Lee (Double Dragon)
The Black Warriors gang has absconded with your lady-friend, and you've gotta be a bad enough dude to rescue her. After waging war with your fisticuffs and whatever else isn't nailed to the ground, you finally reach the end of the game, ready to rescue your girlfriend from your evil twin brother???
Yep, in the NES version of Double Dragon, the hero Billy Lee has to defeat his brother Jimmy, and they both have the same attacks, strength, and the same amount of health. That's if you're playing single-player, though. If you're playing with a buddy, Jimmy is your partner through 99% of the game. Once you get to the end, you face off in a battle to the death. What a twist!
Want to take away any semblance of an edge your opposing Pokmon Master might have against you? Throw out a Ditto, and watch 'em squirm. The Ditto transforms and takes on the shape and abilities of the Pokmon currently on the battlefield, though it maintains its current level stats. It's not a guaranteed success, but it's enough to make your opponent mumble a swear word or two under their breath.
And if you want to see what despair truly looks like, try matching up a Ditto against a Ditto. When they "transform" into the other Ditto, they only have 5 PP to spend on abilities and the only ability they have is Transform. So unless you've got another Pokmon to switch out, you're caught in an endless feedback loop with no escape.
Dople (The Binding of Isaac)
It's annoying when your mirror image has your full moveset; it's something else entirely when they copy your every single move. That's the case with Dople, just one of the weird and bizarre monsters you'll fight in the equally bizarre The Binding of Isaac.
For one, Dople looks exactly like the hero character Isaac, except for the fact that Dople is missing his skin (*shudder*). But what makes Dople truly annoying is that he matches every move you make or every shot you take but as a mirror image. Move to the bottom right corner, and he moves to the top left. Fire one of your tears (yes, you cry at your enemies to kill them), and he fires one back. The only reliable way to beat him is to coax him into a set of spikes or some other obstacle. Twisted indeed.
The worst enemy you can meet will always be yourself
Nietzsche knew of the fears that lurks in all of us, but I doubt he had to fight a shadow version of himself at any point during his life. Are there any other mirror images, clones, or other doppelgangers I missed? Let me know in the comments below!