Previously: Stian’s Top 12 Worst Consoles
Villains are oftentimes the highlight of any story. A hero must often be selfless and virtuous, whereas the bad guys can be anything they want. Cruel, conniving, imposing, or… fabulous? Stian challenged me to create a list of villains that stood out thanks to their wardrobes. Because even the most deplorable of people can be champions of fashion.
I approached this list as seriously as I could, but as anybody who knows me will tell you: I am a fashion disaster. My loved ones are essential in directing me whenever I buy new clothes, so this was a major challenge for me. I’ll get you for this Stian. Just you wait…
Let’s get the biggest edge case out of the way first. Zhang He is possibly an ally or even the player character for those playing the Wei campaign throughout the Dynasty Warriors games, but he is a fearsome foe for Shu players like myself.
Flamboyant and utterly unpredictable, Zhang He has a unrivaled presence on any battlefield that is only amplified by his illustrious clothing. The design has evolved a lot over the years, but his blue-purple color scheme mixed with bits of golden armor has remained a constant. Other elements have been swapped around over the years, such as feathers on his sleeves, flower motifs, or the ever-popular addition of capes. Heck, in some games you can play him shirtless and that makes Dynasty Warriors exciting in a wholly different way than usual.
Again, a character that could turn out to be your BFF depending on how you played through A Hat in Time. Whether he is a friend or foe, this ice-cool movie director has an undeniable sense of style to him.
DJ Grooves dresses like he is single-handedly keeping disco culture alive. The red & gold coat and afro would already have been plenty to make this point, but the enormous shoes (for extra height) and star-shaped sunglasses (for extra cool) are great additions. I also like how his MASSIVE eyebrows tie into this look.DJ Grooves dresses like he is single-handedly keeping disco culture alive. The red & gold coat and afro would already have been plenty to make this point, but the enormous shoes (for extra height) and star-shaped sunglasses (for extra cool) are great additions. I also like how his MASSIVE eyebrows tie into this look.
Penguins are already perfect creatures—too divine for this sinful world—and DJ Grooves may well be the perfect penguin.
Sticking with the animal theme, let’s take a look back at an oft-forgotten villain in the Sly Cooper trilogy. Neyla, initially posing as a fellow Interpol officer to back up Sly Cooper’s rival Carmelita, soon reveals herself to be a major antagonist throughout Sly 2: Band of Thieves.
Though styled after a Bengal tiger, I am fairly sure that purple is not a typical color for that animal. Nevertheless, her unique fur forms an interesting contrasts against her dark-red & gold hijab, which is certainly an unusual fashion item for video games. This creates a duality in Neyla’s design, as this Hijab and her jewelry give off a refined appearance, whereas the rest of her clothes and whip suggest the personality of a hardened, practical adventurer.
She is a confusing and mysterious character, and her design contributes to making her a memorable part of the Sly Cooper saga for me. For others, she was a gateway into the furry community. Not my cup of tea personally, but different folks can appreciate a good design for different reasons.
It’s a well-documented fact that villains always get the best military uniforms and, in that regard, Radi Jaeger may be one of the best villains ever. A high-ranking officer of the autocratic Empire looking to conquer Europa, Radi came to conquer your lands, but may well walk away with your heart.
Handsome, chivalric, and tall, Radi already has a lot going for him despite being at the ripe age of 38. His uniform is a brown military garb with gold & red mixed in with it, transitioning into blackish trousers and the most fascist-looking boots imaginable. He looks dignified and proud, but the animal skull he wears as a shoulderpad breaks up the symmetry and implies a wild, unpredictable nature.
Hostile, autocratic nations are bad and all that, but Mr. Jaeger is welcome to invade me anytime.
Does Magus count as a villain? I know he’s supposed to be more of an anti-hero type, but his redemption arc is questionable and he’s just… kind of an ass. He’s a villain in my book and I sure as heck never use the grumpy prick whenever I play Chrono Trigger.
Still, gotta admit that Magus is Akira Toriyama at his best. His outfit is colorful and distinct, but favors dark and faded colors, which mixes with his lifeless skin tone and white hair to create an unsettling look. Even his 16-bit sprite art looks menacing and his tough-as-nails bossfight does little to endear him as a future companion. The cape completes the outfit wonderfully, while also giving him a vaguely heroic look if you squint a little.
Speaking of characters who got to shine in spite of the limited graphical power of retro consoles… Kefka sure was a thing wasn’t he.
Both he and Magus are daunting in spite of their colorful looks, though both in entirely different ways. While Magus is dark and faded, Kefka embraces vibrancy. His mind tormented since undergoing experiments that granted him magic, Kefka transformed from a respected soldier into a deranged clown. His penchant for cruelty and random acts of violence stands in stark contrast to his festive clothing, resulting in a character that is comedic in spite of how despicable he is.
Kefka would of course go through quite the evolution, even outside of his original story in Final Fantasy VI. He’d return as a playable character in the Dissidia spin-off titles and once again resumed the role of boss in the MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV. Both would bring Kefka into the third-dimension, with great success.
Not gonna lie. Bowser in Super Mario Odyssey is the best incarnation of Mario’s nemesis that we have seen to date. He may be a towering turtle monster, but that doesn’t stop him from looking fine as heck for his wedding day.
The clean white suit represents Bowser’s dignity and the purity of his romantic ambitions, the hints of purple (mostly in the bow tie) reflect his place in the esteemed Koopa royalty, and the steel bracers imply his willingness to fight for his place at Princess Peach’s side. It’s imposing and romantic at the same time! This outfit is just amazing and full of nifty details, like the steel ring around the top hat to match with the bracers.
It’s so good, in fact, that Mario can only muster a pathetic imitation of Bowser’s brilliant image. A nice try, but a suit fit for a king ill fits a plumber with delusions of heroism!
Dead By Daylight featured an interesting cast of horrific villains for gamers to play as or against, ranging from classic monster archetypes to cross-over movie stars. However, few of the playable killers were as unique as The Plague.
Known in life as Adiris, The Plague was Babylonian servant girl who worked in a church. She assisted the priests in healing rituals alongside many other tasks, but when a plague fell upon Babylon, it didn’t take long for the priests to fall ill themselves. Adiris stepped up to the challenge and plundered the church crypts for jewels, fine cloth, and her iconic helmet. She wouldn’t survive the plague herself, but her outfit remained in tact.
Now a killer serving The Entity, The Plague still wears her priestly garbs and is adorned with gold and luxury. It makes her look like an undead saint, which is certainly unique when compared with the more brutish killers. A shame that the priceless nature of her regalia doesn’t stop her smashing survivors over the head with her antique thurible.
Master Big Star
The Disgaea franchise has always had a strong sense of comedy, especially when it comes to parody. This was most obvious in Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice, which took place in a hellish version of high school.
Master Big Star is the leader of the school’s sophomores, one of many factions vying for power in this particular Netherworld. He’s a flamboyant, overconfident rival to the game’s protagonist Mao, and serves as a play on the pretty-boy, high school prince archetype seen in various anime. His self-important personality is matched perfectly by his ridiculously fancy uniform. Everything is yellow & gold, everything sparkles, the man has the audacity to wear shoulderpads, and then also has not one, but TWO CAPES.
They also included some interesting details to make his outfit even weirder and more memorable. That the capes are shaped like wings is a good example, but I was also particularly charmed by the cowboy boots. There is nothing else western-themed about his outfit, but it still comes together nicely and fits his namesake if you stretch the definition a bit.
I don’t think I need to elaborate too much on this entry, right? The Lich King is one of gaming’s most iconic villains and his armor, though very much inspired by a certain other dark lord, far surpassed any of its inspirations or imitators.
Watching Arthas transform over the course of Warcraft 3‘s storyline was an amazing journey and it wasn’t until the MMO’s second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, that we got to see his tragic tale concluded. To this day I can’t get back into World of Warcraft, because it just feels done now with the Lich King out of the way. The major villains that followed could never capture the same gravitas as Arthas and they certainly couldn’t compare in visual presentation either. Blizzard tried to mend this and we got something of a replacement… but it’s not the same anymore.
Talk about saving the best for last! Bloodborne is an amazing game with a setting that was right up my alley. I loved the game’s visual style and the aesthetics of its various human characters. There’s something to be said about a game where you already look like a badass while you’re still just a level 1 newbie trying to not get eaten in the tutorial.
There are a lot of great-looking characters in this game, but none can live up to Lady Maria in the game’s DLC “The Old Hunters”. While probably the least-monstrous entity you face throughout this expansion, Lady Maria has an imposing aura to her that outclasses the likes of Ludwig and the monsters populating its second half. The moment you walk into her domain and her opening cutscene starts, it already feels like you’re losing.
Her design is outstanding. Her unique hunter garb is befitting of a noble character, which matches well with her refined features and pale, white hair. She is such a cool-looking character with such a relentlessly difficult battle attached, that I was honestly surprised when there was still more content to the DLC afterwards. It felt so intense and conclusive that the second half of The Old Hunters ended up feeling like a bit of letdown by comparison.
This was the toughest challenge for me yet, but what else was to be expected from an evil mastermind like Stian. Since we are both fantasy fans and quite a few fantasy characters featured in today’s list, my challenge to Stian is thus: A Top X Worst Fantasy Worlds.
You’re an optimistic guy Stian, so I want you to delve the depths of your mind and recall all the unoriginal, poorly-written, boring, and hideously-designed fantasy realms that you have visited over the years. Good luck!