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I've got two words for this week's mailbag: WOW-EE. After having to scrape together embellishments from the little response I got to the last two mailbags, I was completely overwhelmed by no less than 20 (!) responses to this one's... to the point where I just can't print all of them. My deepest apologies to those who didn't get printed, but definitely try again next week! Write in! I think it's way better this way; you get a bigger variety of answers this way. And there was definitely a huge variety. A warning: there are many spoilers to a huge variety of games featured here (I've snipped out spoilers from recent games, though). Let's start with the obligatory one I knew I'd get, from Steve Smith (no relation to Red Green):


And for that, I award you with this award:

And a special bonus!

Let stay simple....*simply blow his head off with a Mini-Rocket Laucher*...or not.

Thank you. Let's get cracking then. Our first real response will be given from kramerrn.

Greetings, Cidoflas! ... *Waits expectantly for the big green smiley award* ...

I'm not giving that to you. You haven't deserved it. Yet.

I have decided, once again, to bring my wondrously wondrous presence into the mailbag. Or at least try to anyway.. *Ahem* Rejoice! .. Or run, screaming in fear for your lives. Either one works for me. Anyway, in response to your poll/question thing, I must say.. Ozzie. Ozzie is my favorite villain. ... *Expectant pause* ...

Why expectant? What're you expecting? It's the truth!

Well, actually, that's a lie.


My favorite villain tends to change at random intervals near daily. But he's definatly up there in the top five.... I just don't know where..
Now, as to the other parts of your question, of course a game needs a villain! Every game MUST have a villain. Why, if there were no villains, who would hop around the world doing dastardly deeds, all the while looking cooler than the hero could ever hope to be?! Do games need a villain, indeed.. Hmmph. As for the qualities and role of a villain..
The role of the villain is basically to be a force that does its best to foil the heroes work, either by confrontation of the hero, or destruction of the serenity the hero attempts to create. A villain must, of course, have at least a moderate amount of evilness about them, as it just wouldn't do to have someone running around blowing up towns, while singing little tunes about the sparkle of the sunshiny sun.

Perhaps that's why people didn't like Kuja. It's unnerving to be attacked by someone who's doing it because of his "extreme love" for everyone as he purports.

It is preferred if the villain has some skill that the hero & friends are unable to do, such as teleportation or something of the like, and is made out to be stronger than the entire protagonist party combined.
Most of all, a villain must have style. Instead of fighting a giant tree in armor that randomly tosses energy bolts at people to show its power, wouldn't it be MUCH more fun to be after the brooding swordsman that can demolish entire teams of soldiers with a few mere twists of his blade? Although it might be more difficult to defeat a giant godly leech-like porcupine ready to suck the life out of the planet itself, wouldn't it be more FUN to fight the scythe-wielding caped wizard who was trying to summon the thing in the first place? You know it would. Don't even try an' kid yourself.
Finally, despite how many times you might be screaming "Fight me, you COWARD!!" at the screen, most villains are basically, more or less required to show up at least once or twice, then run away before a fight can even start.
... Hmm.. Well, anyway, that's my take on the ideal villain.. Of course, opinions may vary, and many villains are well liked who have NONE of the above qualities, but those seem to be some of the most popular traits. ( Loosely translated, the last sentence means: I basically looked at a bunch of villains who are considered cool by many people, listed the similarities, and then sent it in, despite the fact that I happen to like several villains who are the total opposite. Please, don't yell at me. )
Well, that's about it. I can't think of anything else, except perhaps 'Ozzie is not a pig, he's a lizard.. thing. He even has a tail like one. So there.'

A lizard?! Come ON! I'm a Mystic! It's a demi-human type of species based on common mythology and wacky anime designers! I ain't a damn lizard!

Pig-Lizard Mystic then? Happy?


So we have our first opinion. Necessity: Style, being a foil to the heroes, and being more powerful and cooler than the heroes could ever be. Nice. Let's see another side of the coin, this time by Paul G. Miller.



In response to you're question on RPG Villains I feel that a good villain can vastly improve the fun factor of a game. With so many new RPGs coming out for Playstation I only stick to the ones with a compelling story and characters I want to learn about. This includes the villain. I'll do my best to keep Kefka and Sephiroth references to a minimum.

Ingredients for a cool villain:
Memorable Dialogue and/or Cool Cut Scenes: Not just mindless "I want to take over the world Bwah-Hah-Hah" but a sense of personality. Comic villains like Ultros (FF6) or Ozzie/Flea/Slash (Crono Trigger) had quirky and memorable one-liners. Serious villains like Edea (FF8) or Ghaleon (Lunar) have often had cool cut scenes and a sense of mystery. Nice theme music helps too; Golbez, Edea (FF8).

Make it Personal : Conquering the world is one thing, but if the heros have a personal bone to pick with the villain it raises the stakes. Members of you're party who betrayed you like Kain (FF4) & Julius (Final Fantasy Legend) or peer rivals like Seiffer (FF8) kept reappearing throughout the game to taunt you. I wanted to finally destroy them. Zorn & Thorn in FF9 kept reapearring but had next to nothing to do with the story. They were just relatively wimpy henchmen. The faceless emporers of FF2 and FF3 reappeared only to be killed off by their far more interesting henchmen FF6 and FF7.

A Backstory and a Motive: I'm ussually annoyed when the last battle is with some random monster that comes out of nowhere to destroy the world because it can. The Creator (Final Fantasy Legend) was the funniest example of this. Zemorus (FF4) got away with it by looking cool and having impressive battle music. Dark Cloud (FF3), Ultemicia (FF8), Xagor (Final Fantasy Legend 3), & Necron (FF9) are annoying because you never got to know them before the fight. Exdeath is present through most of FF5 but his motives never get much deeper. I prefer the villain that you learn has a reason for fighting and a backstory; Magus (Crono Trigger), Ghaleon (Lunar).

Sephiroth worked so well because he had all these things. His introductory scene, lines like "I'm going to see mother now", his relationship with Cloud, Aeris' murder, and the surprise about his birth made him one of the most complex and popular villains in the Final Fantasy series.

Kuja fails because he has next to none of these. His cut scenes are cool but his dialouge is bland, his theme music unmemorable, and his backstory and motive seem like rehashes of Kefka and Sephiroth. The realization that he's *spoiler snipped* isn't really explored till the ending and then it's too little too late.

Notable Comic Villains (other than Kefka)-
Grandia: Nina,Saki& Mio - love that dialogue!
Final Fantasy Legend 2 : Venus - love that bit of classism in a game boy game.
Secret of Evermore : Queen Camillia - she was much funnier than Queen Brahne.

Notable Serious Villains (other than Sephiroth) -
Lunar: Ghaleon - "Not Ghaleon! Magic Emporer Ghaleon!"
Final Fantasy 4 : had the best looking incarnations of the 4 element fiends.
Final Fantasy 7 : an creepy variation on Kefka who turned out to be crucial to the plot.
Final Fantasy 8 : Edea was cool before she turned back into Matron.

Secret of Evermore : wins the prize for having the most major villains as each of the characters you could choose at the start of the game had their own rival.

Least Favorite Villains -
Final Fantasy 1 : Garland - I never did figure out what the point of warping back in time just so he could be killed by the light warriors again in the future was.
Final Fantasy Legend 2 : Arsenal - Having to fight the security system was bad enough, but losing Isis before the battle was worse.
Secret of Mana: Vandole, Thanatos, and the other three generals whose names I forget. They were practically interchangeable.
Final Fantasy 9 : Zorn - "We're annoying little bastards!" Thorn - "Annoying bastards are we!"

Well thats probably more information than you ever wanted, but I've enjoyed thinking about the subject.

Thank you,

OK, I never played half of those games, but there's some interesting things in there. He puts "memorable scenes and dialogue" on the same level as "motive and backstory", which is an original touch. There's certainly something to be said for aesthetics as well as personality and backstory. Well, let's see what a dissenter has to say about that, said dissenter being Donald Marco III.

Hey'ya Cid! Donald Marco here! Allow me to belatedly welcome you to the Mailbag. Wait, you've been here for 2 eps now. Well, anyway... Hm... Villians, eh? Well, the role of a villian is to oppose the hero of course, no matter whether the heros are good or evil. Or the villians either. Of course a villian who's evil to the core is always preferable to a villian who's just a fanatical extremist, an alien, an insane maniac who likes to destroy humanity, or someone who thinks his mother is an angel while said supposed mother is really an alien being and wasn't his mother at all... Especially if said villians were once normal or Good... Anyway, NONE can compare to the PURE HATRED that is ZEROMUS! Well, maybe Ultimecia and Adel can compare, but they can not beat him. Ever. So there.

My responses seemed to be only slightly tilted to the side of "better having a motive, backstory, and personality" over the side of "evil bastards rule, bwhahaha". Having represented both sides, let's go to someone who thinks something WAAYYY different. Space Guy, you have the floor. But give it back when you're done.

Ummm, hi there... mister Cidolfas...
Now listen up, and listen closely!
And if you try to interupt me, I'll leave!

Nope, I just interrupted you. And you're still here. Wimp.

That goes for you too, Ozzie and Lunaris......

What?! I wasn't doin' nothing!

Same thing thing here, lord of lard.


Now, of course you need villains in a game, who else would there be to laugh at? But you see, I've found the perfect villain, it's you! You're evil. You're mad, I'm sure you've even got some secret laugh that you use every time you leave someplace! You could make thousands of money becoming the master of evil in all the games there is... You're an evil man, that's what you are... And I don't think that contract you've got with Ozzie is even legal...

Ohh no, the men in the white suits are here, I dont wan't to go back to that place, please help me... No, no, no! Please... gwrgglajfoihj...

White suits? We never wore white suits...

Hah! ME? I could never be a villain. Villains can't be nerdy. It's just not in the job description.

Hah! Says you!

Huh? Who're you?

I'm your evil alterego! Evil Cidolfas! HAHAHAHA!

You gotta be kidding.

It had to happen sometime.

Well, un-happen! I've got a mailbag to run!

Ooh. Well, don't let me detain you then. I'll just come back later.

Sure. You do that. Bye! *whispers to Lunaris* Lock the door, take him into a back room, and do something bad to him.

Yessirbob!*take out a Turbo-Plasma Rifle from virtualy nowhere and follow the gust outsite.*

Me neither. OK, back to the mailbag. This is the only non-newcomer I've printed, because he makes such an interesting argument. Captain Jackass?

I assume this is pertaining to the main villain, or final bosses only... not little specks of feces like Ozzie, Ultros, or Gilgamesh.

I object to that remark very strongly.

Webster's New World Dictionary [Third College Edition] says that villain comes from the Vulgar Latin villanus, which means farm servant.
What does this mean? Well for one, farmhands are evil bastards who are only there to get to the farmer's daughter. There's a somewhat original RPG idea... a farmhand steals the farmer's daughter, then the farmer and his buddies follow them to NYC and have to fight the various bums and thugs. No saving the world, just good old family values and getting rid of the scourge of the earth.

Now THERE'S something they could have put in Harvest Moon! Could have made the game way more fun!

An important thing is that the villain needs character development. Should appear throughout the story and not be obviously the villain at first. None of the "behind the curtain" villains who don't show up until the end. Also, the villain needs motive, not just "I want to destroy the world cuz I can". Has to want power or have some horrible thing happened to him (i.e. a dog peeing on Exdeath while in tree form).
Then again, it doesn't make much difference, since most people don't purchase RPGs because of the villain. Most RPG buyers know very little about the characters involved when they purchase.
A great RPG doesn't even need a great villain.

There's something I agree with. First off, there's the motive. A lot of people (see Chris Beaton's huge entry) agree with that, too. The second thing is that last line. Take games like Breath of Fire 3, FF Tactics, or Xenogears. Neither game had any real villain for the end. But the games were fun (mostly) and managed to gain huge followings, each and every one of them. Cool/interesting/deep villains certainly add to the fun, but they're not essential. Believe it or not, Mister Jackass (sorry, *Captain*) is the only one who agreed with me on that. Here's another short and sweet entry by I Abibde .

It is best to begin with a technical definition: "A hero(ine) begins her / his career ignorant, small, and weak, and ends it wise, great, and strong. A villain(ess) begins her / his career wise, great, and strong, and ends it ignorant, small, and weak." Heroes do not have to be Good, and villains do not have to be Evil. The role of the villain, to focus upon the topic, exists to oppose the role of the hero, and it is best filled by a character who is as complex and three-dimensional as the hero(es) against whom she / he is matched. For example, when I played Final Fantasy VIII (mild spoiler warning), I found Edea intriguing, because she had a motivation that was difficult to figure out, and a history that was delightful to unravel, but I did not like Ultimecia at all, because she wanted to do nothing more than control time so that she could be immortal. Thus, Edea was three-dimensional, and Ultimecia was two-dimensional. In any game featuring a dynamic cast of characters, a villain is essential, though heroes can become villains, and vice versa, as quite a few games have proven to us. One force must, of necessity, have another force to oppose it, or nothing can happen. In that frame of mind, some of my favorite villains are Emperor Barbarossa (Suikoden), Golbez (Final Fantasy IV), Janus / Magus (Chrono Trigger), and especially the underrated Floyd (Traysia). As for Kuja, thus far (I am in the middle of Disc Two of Final Fantasy IX at the present time), he seems pleasantly psychopathic, though his taste in personal fashion is decidedly odd.

Le soldat bleu en exil,
I Abibde
(The Mad Dwarf)

Wait, I know a bit of French, I'm Canadian... er... "the blue soldier in exile"? Close, anyway. He has two excellent points. One is that heroes don't have to be *good* and villains don't have to be *evil*. The earlier games had things like that, but the more recent ones (some of them) have started to make the two archetypes come closer together. Xenogears and FF9 are excellent examples of this. I had this epiphany a while ago; when I decided to put together my own RPG (I failed miserably) my idea was to let you play as the villain for a while (much longer than in FF7 or 8) to kind of blur the distinction between the hero and villain. Perhaps you'd actually end up fighting the "hero" yourself. Not to mention that later heroes have been more and more flawed in their personalities (more Shakespearean, you might say) and villains have been more "human". How about listening to Drakkar Hellclaw on the matter?

That the first time i post to the mailbag.
I know nobody cares but need to mention it.

Sure we care! We all care! Right, guys? *Ahem.* RIGHT?


The role of the little perfect villain is: must of the time, to be in the way of the hero. Example : conquer/destroy the world, destroy/gain and item or something else or attack the hero. The way to have a good villain is to have a good personality that fit with the character. I've never see a good rpg that doesn't have a villain so they roles are very important in a game. My favorite villain is......
!!! ULTROS !!!
Ultros rules because he have contact with the characters, he humorous and we have some surprises with him.

I got four different people saying Ultros is their favorite villain, with Ozzie a second choice. Go figure.

P.S. to the lord of typos (lunaris)
How many food-custom-weapons do you have? Just wondering

Ahhh! Finnaly a question for me! I've got a damned bunch, starting for Pizzachus Bazookas, passing by Magama-Tomatos Flamers to Fries MiniCannons, wich you already know! Is that awsner your question?

And now our (mostly) final offering, from Chris Casey.

Ahhh, the role of villains in RPGs. I think that a lot of RPG villains are, for the most part, REALLY lame. All they ever do is pop up at incredibly annoying places and make a big speech about taking over the world, killing the good guys, etc, and I think a lot of people will agree with me that they're tired of seeing the same old crap in a bad guy. That being said, what do I think a villain should be? How about more of a character. Someone with a bit of complexity to them. Something a LOT more than "I'm going to take over the world and kill everything." Someone like...Ghaleon, from Lunar. There was a bad guy for you. Sure, he wanted to take over the world and he tried to steal Luna's powers as a goddess for himself, but at least he was a cool bad guy (not to mention a tad bit insane as well). He always popped up at places, taunted you for a bit, rarely ever threatened to kill you, just pretty much told you you'd never defeat him. Plus, he was such an ARROGANT l! ittle bastard. Made it kind of fun to kick his ass at the end of the game.

Another thing about RPG bad guys. Too damned many of them, and there's always at least ONE villain who has the capacity to just annoy the hell out of you. Songi from Legend of Legaia, for instance. He always kept turning up to taunt you, you had to fight him endless times, and he just made a complete nuisance out of himself! Same thing with Zed from Wild Arms and various other RPG baddies.

Now, the ones I REALLY like are the comic relief guys *cough*Ultros*cough*fart*. You know, the ones who are so absolutely pathetic and said and they try so damned hard to be evil and you just can't help but laugh your ass off at them. And they're such gluttons for punishment too. :)

By the way, why the hell does everyone think that Sephiroth is an awesome bad guy? Am I the only one here who thinks that Sephiroth sucked? He was too easy, he didn't do ANYTHING that made you really hate him, and you spent more time running around and kicking the shit out of the Shinra executives than you did Sephiroth! How lame is that?

Well, I've run out of villains to bitch about, so until the next mailbag, adios!

Hmmm, another Ghaleon fan, and another Ultros fan. Wow. I think this is a nice touch, too - a villain having to keep popping up, that is. In that sense Sephiroth and Kefka were both pretty good - but then Kuja popped up even more than they did. And I think it's important to either really hate the villain or sort of like him - but not apathy towards him, as I've felt in games like FF4. And yes, we've finally gotten a "Sephiroth sucks" post. 8-)

What, you think in 18 posts we wouldn't have gotten one?

You never know. Anyway, next week's question is once again "serious". In fact, until I can think up a decent "funny" question, which I can't yet, it'll be serious straight through. To avoid being REALLY lame and asking about the hero's role (but don't worry, I'll get to it), next week's question is about recent events. We've seen the beginnings of new consoles. Square's signed up for PlayStation 2, but it's eyed X-Box as well. Dreamcast is starting to get some hot new titles like Grandia 2 and Shenmue. And Game Cube... well, it'll have Zelda and Metroid. Who thinks what about the new consoles? Send in your opinions, your hopes, your aspirations, your poor, your tired, your hungry... no, wait, not those...

You can be TOO cultured, you know.

Not like you'd know about that, of course. Before we end, I wanted to post, in full, the e-mail I was sent by Chris Beaton. This thing was set up like a high-school essay, and probably could have gotten a decent mark as well. It'd be a sin not to print it. Some very interesting points, as well, most of which I agree with. Well, enjoy!


Hi. Sorry, but sadly enough this kind of stuff actually interests me. I get extremely infuriated when yet another crap villain reappears. The cliche people must be stopped.

I've taken examples from Film, T.V. and computer games because I feel that especially with RPG's, the medias are becoming closer and closer all the time. A villain's a villain wherever you find him. No?

I wrote quite a lot. Too much one might say. Just feel lucky that I didn't write more - because I could have. Easily. I took role of the villain to mean what a villain should be like - what he represents and why he should behave, rather than what he should do. Oh, and here's the answer to the easy questions: a villain can make or break a game. A villain is absolutely necessary - the point of a game is to win and no matter who or what they are (they need not conform to classic standards - for example, in my view the other colonists in alpha centauri do play the role of villain, just under different rules), if you have to beat them then either they or you are the villain. The best villains I've come across in games are: Ms Jackleen Natla (she made me laugh), all the members of Fox Hound, the Shinra and Sephiroth.

What do I think the role of the villain is?

The best way to illustrate this is to look at, and analyse, the most popular and effective villains. It is also to study how the character of "the villain" has evolved through time, and thus to attempt to predict how our future nemisis's shall behave.

Firstly, I shall look towards one of the oldest villains in our culture: Count Dracula. The dreaded Count is an enemy who embodies the idea of pure unholy evil. His modern representation is rich (nowadays Dracula is invariably dressed in snazzy evening wear, a long smooth flowing cloak and owns a modest castle full of minions who do his bidding), pale with dark clothes (the colour black is very important for Dracula because it confirms his status as a creature of the night, and he appears swathed in darkness, a primeval fear for human kind), powerful (economically and physically) and also, I feel most importantly, seductive. Throughout this statement I shall come back to this facet many times. Dracula is truly dangerous because he is compelling: he holds his victims in awe, he can exert some malign power over people and it is very easy for someone to sacrifice themselves to the idea of hedonistic murder and carnage. However, this is ultimately effective because not only is he attractive to characters in fiction, but he also holds the audience in thrall. We need only look at the numerous Anne Rice, Brian Lumley and Stephen King novels, endless films such as Nosferatu and the many imaginatively named "Dracula"'s, and popular T.V. series' like Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel for proof of his magnetism. And to be more specific by what I mean when I say seductive, perhaps it would be clearer to write: Dracula *corrupts*. In this aspect he is quite similar to the Devil himself. For a true villain, we must be afraid of the survival of the very nature of our heroes: will Luke turn to the dark side? Why does Cloud give Sephiroth the Dark Materia? For a villain to be evil it is absolutely necessary for them to have an exceptionally strong emotional hold over the main character. In my opinion.

Randomly selecting another more modern villain, let's look at Darth Vader. I know little about him, so sorry for any mistakes, but I think the basics of his character will do. Once again we have a villain dressed in a boring-yet-kind-of-effective black: primeval fear of the night returns. He has a black cloak. Clap for the originality. More interestingly, his sword glows a mysterious red, which is something I haven't covered yet: red is another colour that can cause fear. Obviously, in the modern day it is used to indicate danger and most cultures have a connection between red and anger. Looking towards instinctual roots, red is the shocking colour of blood and the searing heat of fire. Therefore red is sensible for evil and there is a nice contrast between it and the green life-giving sword of Luke. Getting back to Darth, another aspect of interest is his horrible disfigurement. While this is a tangent, because monstrosity doesn't really make anyone villainous, it should be mentioned. This is where horror and the villain overlap again: people want to be scared by the image of the evildoer because there is satisfaction in the idea of deeds of the soul reflecting the body. There is also opportunity for spooky effects, like Darth's deep breathing, which can do wonders for atmosphere. And, such as in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, a nice motive is created for being nasty. Did anyone hear that?!? Yes, I said it, the beautiful word!!! MOTIVE!!!! Does that mean what I think it means? Yes! There *is* an escape from the embarrassingly *shit* explanation of, "He does nasty stuff cos...duh...he's evil. Yeeeeeah... dat's it, huh huh huh. 'E Does it for... uh... the sake of beink bad. Shucks, ain't I a brainyack!" People across the world who have brain cells (and know how to use them) REJOICE!!!!!!!

Okay, perhaps a slight over reaction, but can't you feel all the doors of possibility opening up? Can't you feel the wondrous idea of a villain being anyone, from anywhere? Someone *can* now be Luke's father because he isn't sucky old irreligious evil, but a person (albeit a bad one). Please note, that I'm not saying a bad guy needs to be ugly to have a motive: infuriatingly dense movie writers merely limit the motives to the gross of face. Oh, I'm so happy! We have motives! La la la la la! I feel like singing!


La la la!

I'm stopping now.

So, to backtrack, it is my utmost belief that bad guys MUST HAVE MOTIVE. This doesn't necessarily stop them from being evil (although I also believe that an completely Evil villian is a cop out - they're much more interesting if they care, feel, and get pissed off as well) as we can see from the plainly bad Sephiroth. Is he just bad? Um, no - the whole plot of FFVII revolves around what actually happened at Nibelheim. Did Sephiroth just suddenly get mean? I think not. He had reasons (which I won't go into) for his attempt to summon Meteor.

Going *way* back to Darth Vader, I think most people will have seen by now the seductive, corruptive properties which I mentioned earlier. He gets people to turn to the dark side. I think (although I'm not too sure) that he can use the force to weaken people's will. And he has one of the most personal relationships possible with the heroic Luke. My oh my, will you look at that? Everything I said previously has been *reaffirmed*. I wonder if that means I am *absolutely right*?

Okay, that's Dracula and Darth done, who shall I turn to next? Not wanting to talk anymore about Sephiroth, I'll stick with FFVII and go for Rufus, who for the sake of my argument is a much more interesting character. For those of you who haven't played FFVII, a) play it and b) Rufus is the president of the Shinra , a nasty corporate body who act as sub villains thought the game. He marks a change in the way bad guys work, but is still effective and perhaps ultimately more chilling than any of the other evil people in the game. Note that I didn't say most memorable - that's Sephiroth - but *chilling*. Rufus is the villain we can all identify with, unless of course we're enlightened buddhists who have foresaken the material world but why would *they* play computer games anyway, unless of course Nirvana is some kind of electronic haven... Back to the point, we can all identify with Rufus because he is Rich with an extremely capital R and he will do anything to stay that way, fate of the world be damned. So we still have the vestiges of Dracula hiding in there somewhere: Rufus is stylish-ish, owns a gargantuan technologically state-of-the-art sky scraper instead of a castle, and has millions of minions to do his bidding. Therefore we have a powerful young man. However, rather than exerting some psychic hold over anyone, the premise has become much neater and a lot easier to understand: Rufus has money. He can pay or bribe people to do what he says. While he does have a personal magnetism it is merely that of a leader - a boss who needs to inspire his employees to do what he tells them to, how he tells them to. And, why does Rufus want to dust Cloud and co.? To protect his interests, raise the profits, crush resistance to his rule. Does anyone know what we call this? Correct! Rufus has a motive. Therefore, with one fell swoop, we've dumped a whole facet of Dracula - the psychic, blood sucking, "I'm evil for fun!" side - and just compensated by making a more human character, one who can reason, and more importantly one that everyone recognises. Rufus is effective because everyone is afraid of him in real life: look at the paranaoic (and so repetitive it's getting really boring) conversation from the average American film concerning politics.

"I think Bush's kind of a good president."

"Ah, yes but I'm sure he's corrupt. There is obviously a secret government plot shrouded in mystery."

"Aha. Yes, you are right my friend. But we cannot vote for Gore, because the election recounts were obviously another government plot to make us change our minds."

"Oh no. That is also right."

"We should be careful we are not being watched now."

"Yes. Quickly, let us buy guns to protect us from the evil CIA agents who shall try and take our identities and replace people to live with our families and alter all our medical records."

"Yes. It is such a shame that power corrupts everyone. Sigh. Power corrupts. Conspiracy, conspiracy, sigh. Let us go."

This is the image that sells in T.V. programs like the X-files and films like Primary Colours. Now that religion is losing it's hold on the western world, unholy demons like Dracula and the Devil don't have a chance as villains. Instead of souls, the new bad guy is out to take something that really matters: our money. Oh, yeah, and I guess our freedom counts too.

Bloody hell this is long. I've been writing for ages now so you'd better still be reading this crap or I'll be pissed. The final villain I'm going to take stock of is a personal favourite and one that most of you probably don't know. However, since he so perfectly encapsulates what I believe the "modern villain" to be, I *have* to examine the Mayor from series three of Buffy The Vampire Slayer. This is the man who, after casting a spell, ticks off "Become Invincible" from his things to do list. This is a villain who is so heinous as to summon an unholy magician of hell to do a little dirty work, and while they're discussing terms to offer him a mint. This is a dude who plays miniature golf. What I'm talking about here is Pure Evil.

But he's also fun. What the Mayor adds to the Rufus mix is a little bit of humour. And POW the villain as we know him is transformed. It's sounds small, but let me tell you it isn't. A sense of humour, in my taste, rounds the character of the bad guy absolutely, unquestionably, immeasurably, perfectly. It can be morbid, which makes for upsetting, emotionally manipulative actions, such as a lover slain in a particularly apt and gruesome fashion. It can be quirky, like the Mayor in Buffy, but quirky must be done carefully to avoid feeling tacky. It can be pathetic - rather like the puns of Doctor Evil - although this must also be done carefully because the villain, while humorous, *must* be taken seriously. And the Mayor conforms to almost all the other previous bad guy essentials: he's rich, powerful, charming, charismatic and will you look at that - he also has a motive. However, he happily avoids the colour black. Hooray! (If I ever try to take over the world I will dress myself in a multicolour dreamcoat to throw everyone off their guard.) I think that the Mayor is the best villain I've ever encountered, but be warned! - I don't think that he should be in a computer game.

Instead, it is my firmest belief that every villain, every computer game, every writer should always be striving for change. Because if they don't, then what's the point? They're reiterating previous work. Sure it's intelligent to be able to create a computer game with Dracula as the bad guy. But it's *brilliant* to create a game with something completely new to fight against. I've randomly made my way through some famous villains, and some not so famous villains to prove this point. Sure, at the moment Dracula is a cliche, but my God when he was just created he was terrifying. The role of the villain is always changing, and must always be changing to be effective. At one time the role of the villain was to wear black and be nasty because... well, just because. At another it was to wear black, wave a humming sword and try and corrupt his son. Yesterday, it was to rake in the cash, and have a laugh at the same time. Tomorrow? Who knows. But whoever he is, he's going to need emotional relevance and impact on the main characters, a motive (I will scream if I play another game with a guy who's just nasty, or has a motive so pathetic it might have been dredged from an episode of Neighbours) and surprises. He has to be different, he has to shock and we shouldn't be able to see him coming. *That* is the role of the villain, and that is sadly becoming rarer and rarer as sequels multiply and imagination doesn't.

There you go. That's my opinion. Of course all of my example villains do fulfil the role of the villain. They just do it badly. They should be left alone like the classics they are.

Most, if not all, that I've written about it nice and easy to disagree with. I'd be interested in responses at:

I just reread this and I'm not sure if it makes much sense. If anything is spelt badly, grammar makes no sense, ideas are a little confused etc., then I'm sorry but I've just got home after an 18 hour air flight and I've been awake for about two days. Having read this you're probably as tired as I am. Yawn. Night night.

Chris Beaton.




...zzzz....*wake up*Huh?!...Hey!..Where everybody!?*big door locking sound is heard*Arg..crap....