Game developers love a good dose of madness to spice up the villainy of their baddest baddies. After all, with insanity comes unpredictability--should you expect a deranged attack or bizarre psychological warfare? (Incidentally this is a debate Ive had with myself countless times after accidentally leaving the toilet seat up).
Some of the following characters are laughing, hooting maniacs, some are delusional fantasists, and some are subtle and sinister psychopaths. Whatever their type, you can pretty much guarantee that none of these bad guys and gals have a firm grip on reality. Much like most members of the GamesRadar team. But thats a different story, Susan.
Pagan Min (Far Cry 4)
I knew as soon as I saw Pagan Min step out of a chopper in the Far Cry 4 E3 trailer there was something not quite right about him. Maybe it was the outlandish haircut. Perhaps it was the inappropriately snappy outfit for gallivanting around a warzone. Could have been the frenzied way he stabbed his own soldier to death with what looked like an oversized tent peg. Whatever it was, there was something... amiss.
It only got weirder. His face now splattered with the blood of his comrade, Pagan insists on grabbing a cheeky selfie with you as his remaining soldiers casually set fire to your bus. His mood goes up and down faster than a bipolar yo-yo as he excitedly tells you how the pair of you will tear shit up, before dashing off to presumably gnash at the grass. And thats just the trailer. Fuck.
Kefka (Final Fantasy VI)
Kefka is full of hatred. That doesnt make him insane by itself. Im full of burning rage towards chocolate pastries and Im still perfectly sane. Right? Perhaps dont answer that.
But with Kefka its different. His anger is bundled up with a vicious sense of humour: hes the type to watch the world burn while laughing at the deaths of a thousand YouTube trolls... actually, that sounds quite reasonable. Then again, he loathes all the things (you, emperors, hope, dreams, sand, etc) and wants them to die as his extroverted madness sees him hopping around (complete with comedy springing sounds) flourishing colourful insults and spouting maniacal laughter. Itd almost be funny if he didnt call me a little brat. That hurt.
Sander Cohen (BioShock)
Bearing a striking resemblance to Salvador Dali, Sander Cohen is an artist. Got to be pretty mental to make a living out of that, right? (Boom boom). But wait, Im not done. He makes sculptures with a special ingredient: human bodies. Talk about a (*puts on sunglasses*)... body of work! Hey, where are you going?
Once a celebrated figure in Rapture famed for his music, plays and poems, Cohen grew steadily more insane as the civil war tore the city apart. But despite that, hes never quite so mad as to be completely unhinged like Kefka, reminding us that were all just a few steps away from insanity Actually were not, but that sounded pretty dramatic, didnt it?
Ripper Roo (Crash Bandicoot)
Originally just your friendly neighbourhood kangaroo, Ripper Roo was driven mad in the original Crash Bandicoot after being the unfortunate subject of one of Dr. Cortexs Evolvo Ray experiments. Now locked in a straitjacket and possessed of the most disturbing set of eyes since Steve Buscemi, Roo leaves a wake of dangerous explosives and marsupial tears wherever he goes.
But what really makes this guy stand out from the crowd is his appearance in Crash Bandicoot 2. Having undergone years of intensive therapy and higher education, Roo is now a trained psychologist and successful author who sports a top hat, cane and surprisingly blond moustache. However, just one explosion is enough to set off his latent insanity, reminding us that were all just a few steps away from what? No? Im not giving up on this, you know.
Looking like Gollum but with less self-respect, Chai is something of a mystery. Little is known about his backstory or what sent him insane, but what is certain is that he is completely off his rocker. Probably all those Hobbits trying to steal his Precious. Wait, wait... hes definitely not Gollum.
Complete with stooped posture, frenzied movement and certified madman cackle, Chai is the archetypal livewire maniac. Thats all well and good, and he can be proud to put that on his CV, but youve got to wonder how chewing up a boat ticket and screaming YOU ARE NOT GOING TO HONG KONG! will go down when visiting the laundrette. Because dammit, weve all got to wash our ragged garments, crippling madness or no.
If Chai is the epitome of extroverted insane buffoonery, GLaDOS is his complete opposite. She accepts her madness with a calmness that makes her seem innocuous at first (reminding us that were all OK, Ill stop now). Its almost admirable, were it not so unnerving. And were she not trying to murder you and feed your limbs to the hamsters, of course.
You see, GLaDOS has a special place in her cyborg heart for killing, right up there with fiendish puzzles and delicious cake. Her brain is so messed up that murder is its default setting. She once tried to massacre a troupe of Aperture scientists one sixteenth of a picosecond after being activated. Thats like, twice as fast as I stopped playing Killzone Shadow Fall.
Adam the Clown (Dead Rising)
Ah, the clown, that go-to remedy for any film director looking for a character who has lost several of their marbles. But they pop up in video games too! (opens in new tab) And one of the more memorable of the insane clown posse (not that one) is Adam in Dead Rising.
His story is actually rather tragic. Having witnessed the death and eventual zombification of his child audience, Adam tries to stop you from shutting down the Space Rider rollercoaster because its noise keeps the zombies at bay, thereby preventing further brain eating. So you have to feel kind of sad for him. Shame about the insane laughter, insane remarks, insane chainsaw wielding and general all-round insanity. I almost didnt notice that from behind my tears.
The Joker (Batman: Arkham Asylum)
Like the Xbox One last summer, The Joker is the twisted poster boy of gaming insanity. And what list of mad villains would be complete without him? Certainly not this one, the voices told me so. But then they also told me The Last Guardian would be at E3 (*sobs*).
This guy is happy to call Arkham his home, and with good reason. His party tricks range from human experimentation to psychological assaults, raising an army of goons sourced from the Asylums finest. Hes a deranged maniac hell-bent on corrupting an already morally destitute world and bringing it to the edge of madness. Much like My Little Pony, actually.
Vaas (Far Cry 3)
Like The Joker, Vaas is a perilously unpredictable psychopath. A bubbling pot of rage ready to fly off the handle because you looked at him the wrong way, he thinks nothing of killing people for the slightest indiscretion. Lets just be thankful he wasnt supporting England this summer
His speech on insanity is an astounding gaming moment, not least because it is painfully obvious how well he himself fits the bill. Unstable, vicious and with a deranged fervour in his eyes, he rules his island domain with a gun in one hand and his medication in the other.
The Great Mighty Poo (Conker's Bad Fur Day)
Ever met someone who was convinced they were a creative genius, an artiste adored by legions of fans, when in fact they were just pure crap? I know its not often said that the Great Mighty Poo is insane, but hear me out--the signs are all there.
Think about it. The GMP is seemingly convinced he is an opera singer and that sweetcorn is a suitable replacement for lost teeth, but in truth he lives in Poo Mountain and sweetcorn makes for terrible dentures. Tried it myself. Hes the perfect storm we were all warned about--a delusional fantasist and suspiciously anthropomorphic turd. Like watching a David Lynch marathon but with none of the complex symbolism, battling The Great Mighty Poo is a bizarre and terrifying experience.
Albedo Piazzolla (Xenosaga)
Much like Adam the Clown, there is a degree of tragedy at the heart of Albedos insanity. Desperate for the affection of his twin brother Rubedo, he realised his pesky immortality meant he would witness his friends and family slowly grow old and die, leaving him all alone. It sucks to be the only immortal in the village, believe me.
So it seems fairly safe to say that when youre trying to help an overly sensitive, clingy individual like Albedo out of their shell, immortality is the last thing you need them to achieve. It must have been a cruel and spiteful god that made him this way, as it eventually led to his mental breakdown and murderous predisposition. On the plus side, this means his clinginess becomes the least of your problems. On the other hand, thats probably because youre dead.
Needles Kane (Twisted Metal)
Marcus Kane has a problem. Thats OK, everyones got their own issues. I compulsively hoard lint. But for Marcus, things are a little more serious (like that's possible). He has a split personality, with his other half being Needles, a psychotic, murderous clown whose main ambition in life is to be the worlds most prolific serial killer. Whats wrong with wanting to be a policeman these days?
Staking a strong claim for historys buffest evil clown with eternal fire on his head, he enters the Twisted Metal contest for a noble reason: to be reunited with his best friend. A best friend who happens to be a paper bag. A paper bag named Crazy Harold the Wacky Lunch Sack. Did I mention he drives a demented ice cream truck named Sweet Tooth? Of course he does.
We made it!
Thank God thats over. We got out of the madhouse with our sanity intact. Perfectly intact. Perfectly intact, Susan. But the thing about insane villains is there are just so damn many, so I couldnt possibly include all of them. So if you have a favourite mad baddie who didnt make it in, let us know in the comments!