It's safe to say that the end goal of 95 percent of all video games is to take out the bad guy. But what happens when a villain is so entertaining, so well-written and so fleshed-out that you kind of don't want to.
Here are video game baddies that we can't help but admire and maybe even root for.
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There will also be massive spoilers ahead for Banjo-Kazooie, Five Nights at Freddy's, Pokémon Black/White, Bioshock and Portal. So, let's get right into it, starting with...
1. Gruntilda Winkybunion (Banjo-Kazooie)
This green-skinned witch is a walking, talking, rhyming, scheming, spell-casting Halloween stereotype and we LOVE her for it. Grunty's plan in the first game was to kidnap Banjo's younger sister Totty and use a scientific machine to steal Totty's youth and beauty for herself. Gruntilda then spends the entire game endearing us to her.
If you took the Wicked Witch of the West and tossed her into a blender with a poetry book and a tub of lard, Gruntilda would be the result. She's incredibly vain in spite of her own repulsiveness. She wants to become young and beautiful just so she can upstage her nicer sister. She speaks in rhyme, flies around on a broomstick and constantly taunts the player from off-screen with her witchy wit.
One thing worthy of note is that Rare (at the time) liked to throw in a cutscene whenever you got a game over to show you the consequences of your failure. If you don't make to Gruntilda, she'll succeed in stealing Totty's beauty. Then you'll see the new and improved Grunty, and you'll have trouble remembering why you were trying to prevent this.
2. The Animatronics (Five Nights At Freddy's)
These scream machines make the list for writing alone. At face value, #FNAF appears to be little more than a jump scare game. However, if you look a little deeper, you will find a rich lore that STILL has game theorists discussing and debating. FNAF puts you in the role of a security guard at a Chuck E. Cheese's-style joint.
Here's the catch: you've got the night shift, and that's when things get spooooky. Over the course of five nights, you have to utilize your very limited resources to keep you safe from the malfunctioning animatronics. If you're familiar with the story of FNAF, you'll know that these bad bots are not just a bit quirky at night, as the phone guy will have you believe; they're possessed.
Some time before you came to work at Freddy Fazbear's Pizza, five children were lured there by an employee and murdered. The ghosts of those children then came to inhabit the four Animatronics and the hollow Golden Freddy, resulting in the ghoulish creatures that now stalk the halls at night.
The facts that those robots are inhabited by the ghosts of children adds a sense of pity. On one hand, they want you dead. On the other hand, they were just kids, once. If only there were a way to free them...
3. N (Pokémon 5th Gen)
N is a first among rivals in the #Pokemon world. He's not insufferable like Gary, he's not an emo like Silver, and he is not just there to help that region’s Pokémon professor. N's presence in the 5th generation of Pokémon brings a dilemma that has not been given much thought beforehand: Are captured Pokémon happy with their lives? When you capture a Pokémon, train it to fight, and use it to battle other trainers, is that Pokémon enjoying its life?
Couple the ideals of N's Team Plasma with the fact that N can communicate directly with his Pokémon (an ability that is apparently unique to him) and you have a pretty strong argument for letting your Pokémon run free.
Think about it for a moment. N can talk to Pokémon and befriend them. This implies that every Pokémon in N's party is his friend. His Pokémon don't fight for him because he's their trainer; they fight for him because of the bond they forged. Deep stuff, I know.
Of course, N's campaign to free Pokémon from their trainers is really just a front for N's adoptive father Ghetsis to take of the world. But N's intentions are true and the way he is upfront and honest with you about who he is makes him look more honorable as a character. It kind of makes you want to see what the world of Pokémon would look like if N were victorious.
4. Frank Fontaine...? (Bioshock)
Andrew Ryan may have the spotlight for most of the game, but when the curtain is pulled, you have to stand back in awe of the lengths Fontaine went to make the underwater city of Rapture his.
First of all, he's not even the real Frank Fontaine (hence the header for this bit). Yeah, according to the Bioshock: Rapture novel, he deceived and killed the original Fontaine in order to take control of Fontaine Fisheries. From there, he wormed his way into Rapture, and the rest is gaming history.
Much of #Bioshock's key elements came from Fontaine's machinations. He founded Fontaine Futuristics when Dr. Tenenbaum approached him to fund her budding research on ADAM. He also founded the Little Sister Orphanage to create Little Sisters to produce ADAM, as well as Fontaine's Home for the Poor to appeal to the less fortunate percentage of Rapture's population.
His increasing criminal activity provoked Andrew Ryan into fighting back, which led to further unrest in the people of Rapture. In order to push the city off the edge, Fontaine faked his own death and reemerged as the revolutionary Atlas. As Atlas, Fontaine used terroristic tactics to push Ryan into an all-out civil war that reduced Rapture into the leaky ruin you see in the game. When his campaign hits a wall, Fontaine activates his trump card: YOU.
When you shoot your way through Rapture and make your way to Ryan, you discover that Jack is Ryan's son, artificially aged and brainwashed into complete obedience when the phrase “would you kindly?” is used. After Ryan is killed, you further discover the Fontaine was behind Jack's programming as a final gambit to get Rapture under his control.
From there, Fontaine steals the show as the main villain. This guy makes the list because of his willpower and his intricate scheming and planning to reach his end goal, and he does reach it in the end.
5. GlaDOS (Portal)
As if #Valve's manacle, homicidal and wonderfully entertaining computer was going to escape this list. Heck no.
#GlaDOS (Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System ) has become a worldwide meme machine ever since her debut in 2007. “But who is GlaDOS?” you might ask if you've been living under a rock for almost a decade. GlaDOS is the AI in charge of the Aperture Science Computer-aided Enrichment Center, where test subjects are to complete a series of tests in an environment that is completely under her control.
Unfortunately for Aperture, GlaDOS' tendency to murder humans was apparent from day one. Upon activation, GlaDOS flooded the entire facility with neurotoxin, killing almost everyone in the building (as a side note, you can't tell me she didn't know it was Bring Your Daughter to Work Day).
So, what does GlaDOS bring to the table? She doesn't appear to be hatching any schemes to take over the world. All she wants to do is test and test and test until her test subjects are dead. This is where you come in. You play as Chell, GlaDOS's latest plaything. At first, GlaDOS seems like a simple AI with the task of guiding you from puzzle to puzzle. However, as time goes on, things get more dangerous, from a test chamber full of toxic waste to "accidentally" sending you to a training simulation for military androids.
But that's not why we like GlaDOS, is it? Oh no no no, not even close. We love her for her attitude. Throughout #Portal 1 and 2, GlaDOS takes the time to throw passive-aggressive jabs and other dry, witty remarks at the player. Her semi-monotone mechanical voice delivers her dialogue perfectly. Just remember to run the other way if she promises cake!
What other villains in games did you find compelling? Let me know in the comments below!