What good is an RPG without a solid villain? And the FF series has provided many over the years. So, which ones are my favorites?
Ten – Kefka Palazzo (Final Fantasy VI)
Kefka is one of the most well-known villains of the series. And in order to be a good villain AND dress like a clown at the same time, you’ve gotta pull off some hardcore asshole type behavior. Kefka pretends to be working for Gestahl, only to use his position to secretly build power behind his back. The hostile take over brings out Kefka’s true psychotic nature. The more power he gets, the more his anti-everything sociopathic nature shines. He’s loud, violent, and loves every minute of suffering he inflicts. He’s a true nutcase who’s only real purpose is to fuck shit up. Sometimes, you don’t need a complicated plan. Sometimes you just need to be crazy.
Nine – Ultros (Final Fantasy VI)
And sometimes you need to just be ridiculous. Ultros is a comic-relief villain who is actually funny. Terrible one-liners, womanizing personality, and outlandishly hilarious battles make Ultros a blast to fight every time he pops up. His random appearance during the opera scene is one of the most absurd moments I’ve ever seen in a FF game, and it’s damn funny. Poor Ultros, all he wants to do is eat you…
Eight – Seymour Guado (Final Fantasy X)
Seymour’s got a strange way of helping. How do you get the people of Spira out of an endless cycle of misery? Kill them all. Seems like a reasonable solution to me. Seymour shouldn’t be as good of a villain as he is. When you first see him, you get set to write him off as another androgynous wimp set on world domination. But somewhere along the line, you almost end up sympathizing with him. Not to mention, he has the ability early on to summon the all-might Anima into battle, which makes him somewhat bad ass. Perhaps it’s his calm demeanor that makes him the most interesting. He’s a bit of a nutcase, but he does it all while maintaining his dignified composure. Not to mention, he provides a few of the toughest fights in not only FFX, but the whole series as far as main story bosses are concerned. When you see you have to fight Seymour again, you better be set for a fight.
Seven – Gilgamesh (Final Fantasy V)
Gilgamesh brings the fight every time you fight him. He’s one of the most fun recurring bosses in the series and his design is just awesome. However, it seems at first that he’s more of a annoyance than a threat. Until he reveals his true form. The mysterious soldier housing ancient Genji armor, Gilgamesh eventually falls out of favor with the main villain and is cast into the Rift. Upon finding him near the end of the game, he seems to have given up all hope of his life being saved. The climax of his story comes when he sacrifices himself to save the heroes. A villain looking for salvation is what turns him into a surprisingly likable character. Which is amplified even more by his strange world-hoping plotline that follows him through various other games, making him even more interesting and a bit mysterious even still.
Six – Sin (Final Fantasy X)
Sin’s complex history make it a bit hard to say for sure if it’s really a bad guy. Sure, it’s causing death and destruction wherever it goes, but it was originally crafted for good. Regardless of it’s motives or meaning, Sin is a spectacle to behold. He’s easily the most intimidating of the main enemies in a FF game, capable of leveling entire cities simply by swimming by. But it’s his deep connections to the characters that make this silent beast a surprisingly deep and complex enemy. The consistent belief of the people that Sin can never be destroyed, simply stalled, makes the battle against him seem almost bleak. And that’s why when you go head to head with him, it makes you feel a bit small and insignificant.
Five – Vayne Carudas Solidor
You have to appreciate a man who’s willing to kill his two older brothers simply because his paranoid father told him to. Vayne’s a cold-hearted man hell-bent on giving the “reigns of history back in the hands of man”. Vayne is a master of political power-play and manipulation. Killing a king at the beginning of the game and tricking Vaan’s brother Reks into thinking it’s Basch who did it. This is just the beginning of his devious plan to become a supreme political ruler. This of course leads to him even killing his own father to take over his place as ruler. The sad thing is, Vayne makes a bit of sense for most of the speeches he makes, he just chooses very aggressive ways of getting his plan across. Vayne’s a intelligent foe who prefers to work behind the scenes more than just run around and do everything himself, which makes him feel like a harder enemy to get to.
Four – Seifer Almasy (Final Fantasy VIII)
Seifer’s another one that’s a bit hard to peg down. At first he seems more like just an annoying school bully with a violent streak, but he ends up almost sympathetic. Despite his blood-thirsty actions and his desire to generally just piss Squall off, he seems to just want a place to belong. His “romantic dream” of becoming the knight of the Sorceress only seems more sad when Squall ends up stealing away Rinoa. So, what does Seifer do? Sides himself with a time-loop causing Sorceress who’s been manipulating time and space. Seems reasonable. However, Seifer is never accepted, only used, and it kind of makes it sad. He’s not such a bad guy, just a bit lonely. And a bit of a violent prick. But mostly lonely. It’s hard to say if he’s truly a bad guy, only a misguided youth with a bit too much testosterone. It makes him more compelling than other “rival” type characters in RPGs though. Plus, his gunblade is totally cooler than Squall’s!
Three – Ultimecia (Final Fantasy VIII)
Speaking of Ultimecia. How can I not put a bad guy who completely manipulates time and space on a list? Some enemies want to rule the world, others want to destroy it. Ultimecia? She doesn’t just want to destroy the world, she wants to compress time itself. And the means she uses are beyond insane. The complex web of multiple time-lines worth of scheming Ultimecia pulls off would require a fuckin’ flow chart to figure out. She loves to possess other Sorceresses (Adel, Edea, Rinoa…) and use them in whatever way she sees fit. One of my favorite scenes of her’s is when she possesses Edea early in the game, and upon being named the President’s new partner, gives a speech basically just mocking all the people and calling them weak for even accepting her as a leader in the first place. She’s just that kind of psycho. Ultamecia’s plan is fairly hard to understand, but it’s damn crazy. Plus, she’s probably more powerful than any other villain on this list.
Two – Barthandelus aka Galenth Dysley (Final Fantasy XIII)
The big surprise on the list. I love Barthandelus and his insane plot. Basically, he wants to hit the reset button on the entire world. How do you do that? You bring back “The Maker” by sacrificing… well… everyone. The levels of manipulation he uses to achieve this are short of staggering. Abusing his fal’Cie powers, he sets up a plan to destroy Cocoon and kill everyone as a sacrifice. However, being a fal’Cie, he is unable to destroy it himself. Instead, he manipulates l’Cie and uses them to do his bidding unwillingly and even unknowingly. The plan is to destroy Orphan, the fal’Cie in charge of keeping Cocoon floating. He uses the party by giving them no choice but to do it, or not survive. He strikes fear into all the citizens of Cocoon by using Gran Pulse as a boogeyman to keep them all trapped in Cocoon like sheep. Using the Purge, he makes it seem like the Sanctum are protectors of the people, and everyone blindly accepts him as a benevolent leader. Meanwhile, he continues to basically set them all up to be slaughtered for his own misguided attempts at rebirthing the world. There are so many moments where he plays another twisted card in his game to continue to coerce the l’Cie to do his bidding despite them knowing they shouldn’t.
One – Kuja (Final Fantasy IX)
Kuja is the under-dog on this list. But something about him has stuck with me for this many years. He’s a tragic character who leaves you almost feeling bad for him. Kuja is basically afraid of not existing anymore. Learning that he is indeed mortal sends him on an insane voyage to rid the world of life so that the world doesn’t have to exist without him. It’s selfish madness caused by deep confusion and fear. Kuja manipulates Queen Brahne to cause mass war over the land to eventually bring forth the power of the Eidolons and over-throw his creator, Garland. Basically, he’s just playing everyone to help power himself up for his selfish crazed destruction of everything. It seems cliche, but his fear leaks through in the end and you see someone that shares the same confusion of his Genome brother Zidane. He’s a tragic character that you can’t help but feel for, wondering what you’d do in his place. That’s a sign of a true great villain.