And the Top VideoGame Villain of 2011 is...

By Crob

Best Game Villain 2011
There have been many great games in 2011. And with many-a great game, comes a great villain. My top villain for the year comes from a very interesting place and I never saw it coming.After completing the game, I was shocked by how much hatred and spite I could have for a character. A true villain that should go down in history. On top of that this character's villainy revolves around a game design idea I never thought could be used this effectively...

Let me digress for a moment to talk about an interesting or rather frustrating element of game design. These are the bugs (not coding, like insects) in games like Resident Evil 4, the Flood in Halo, Medusa Heads in Castlevania, and basically any flying enemy ever. These are the Annoying elements.

As a game designer I have heard many people say things like, "You should put something in there to annoy people!" And every time I cringe and think "Why would I want to do that?" I don't want my players to feel annoyed, that seems like the exact opposite of enjoyment.

There is one exception that I found where an annoying element can actually elevate a game's design..

Comedy. The best way that I can wholeheartedly accept an annoying element is if its purposeful and hilarious. Easily the best example of this I’ve seen recently is in GIRP and some other games on foddy.net.

If you haven't played, play now. http://www.foddy.net/GIRP.html

In GIRP you’re making a perilous and slow climb to the top of a cliff. This game is really slow and every handhold takes a lot of effort to get to. It's slow, arduous, and takes the utmost patience and concentration. Hardcore NPS for sure. But part way up the cliff though, there’s this damn bird that starts standing in all your hand holds. You have to pull up and swat him out just to be able to use that handhold again. But even after you smack him out he comes back and stands in the same one. It adds insult to injury to a game that is already very difficult both physically and mentally (play it and you’ll know what I mean). On top of that, you’ve probably already spent at least 10 minutes trying to get to the spot on the cliff you’re at before this bird starts pecking at you. And if you fall, you have to start all over again. Eventually you start yelling at the screen, “Get out of here you %#$!ing bird!” in a mix between anger and laughing.

The first time I got through GIRP, getting to the top of the cliff took me about 30 minutes. This is 30 minutes of slow, difficult gameplay with no continues and no rest. All the while this mega-jerk-of-a-bird is slamming in to you and taking a seat on the only lifelines you have. And now finally at the top of this cliff, I see a little present in a pink box with a red bow that is clearly the final goal to grab. After making a few heart stopping leaps through the final handholds and finally within reach of the box, I see the bird coming over towards me. I say, “No bird, get the hell away from my present.” I make one final leap, the present only a few inches away, the bird swoops down again and the screen fades to this:

Best Game Villain 2011

What the fuck. I laughed so hard. Brilliant design.

One of the most ingenious parts of this design is that it’s only one bird and the same bird the entire time. Any other game designer would have said, “Yeah and maybe we can put some birds in some of the handholds that get in your way so you have to take a different path, and then you climb higher and maybe some other kinds of birds will swoop in.” Not here. Here it’s the same bird just being a total dick to you the whole time while you’re making this really long, difficult climb. Amazing. It’s quite astounding but you actually form a kind of relationship with Bird because he is just one bird and has character. However much he annoys me the entire way up the cliff, I think I would be truly sad if he ever were killed off.

Because of the extent of the emotions I felt and the true forming of a multifaceted relationship with a digital foe, I vote for Bird as best villain of 2011.

Some of the other games on foddy.net are also annoying and difficult, but in every one of them, it’s by design. And in every one of them it’s hilarious. Play QWOP or play Winner vs Loser with a friend and try not to laugh.
http://www.foddy.net/2010/10/winner-vs-loser/
http://www.foddy.net/2010/10/qwop/

WINNER: BIRD!

So who was your favorite villain of 2011? Let me know in the comments below...





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8 comments

Blufalc30's picture
By Blufalc30
2 years 25 weeks ago

My Favorite Villain of 2011

I have to vote for Demise, from Skyward Sword, if only on visual design alone.

He's kind of a cross of Akuma and Ganandorph from Ocarina of Time.

as seen here:

http://i404.photobucket.com/albums/pp124/SirOshi/Demise.png

Also, spoiler alert, his only weapon is a giant ass sword which he rips from his right-hand man's chest. So that's pretty bad ass.

Finally, his "hair" is on fire. And he's so bad ass and confidant, that he invites you to come find him at a location so he can kick your ass.

YourPalAllen's picture
By YourPalAllen
2 years 25 weeks ago

My Favorite Villain

Here comes the comic book nerd in me but I have to go for Joker from Arkham City.

First off, he is a constantly evolving character who changes his sociopathic tendencies in order to fit the crime. He is essentially the cartoonish representation of everything that is evil about Gotham. His logic is flawless which makes Batman's skin crawl and gives the player a general understanding from where he is coming from. He look, albeit maniacally funny/insane, is a perfect representation of his soul. His make-up is all screwed up, he is blotched from being sick from the TITAN experiment, and guess what? Instead of fighting Batman on terms where Batman has the high ground so to speak, he manipulates the environment to ALWAYS have the advantage. You want a villain who can beat you at level 1 just because he is infinitely more powerful? Not the game for you. He is a fallible character who uses everything from his wits to his insanity to beat you. You know you could take him in a one-on-one fight. But you don't really ever do so. He manipulated you the ENTIRE time. So screw any villain who has the biggest sword or the most powerful magic. The Joker is the unstoppable force that meets and challenges your morals the entire time.

What makes Joker great is he is humanity's weakness, a desperate maniac who wants to live and see others suffer. Fear reared its ugly head and the Joker reacted accordingly. None of the brooding/misunderstood crap that is plaguing games lately. Is he a hero/anti-hero/villain? Who cares, he is creating evil just by existing. And the best part? He is laughing the whole way to the bitter end, no other way would be acceptable. He is the voice in the back of everyone's mind that wants to do the wrong thing, to get revenge, to manipulate, to steal, cheat, whatever. He is Batman's anti-conscience. To kill him is the easy way out; To admit morality is wrong and that there is something so awful it is worth destroying. In that world Batman is no longer a hero so you aren't fighting a person, you are fighting an idea. A "symbol" to quote Batman Begins.

So my vote goes for the Joker, as there has not been a villain created since who can possibly be considered more horrifying and justifiable. Every awful thing done and said is for chaos' sake. A true anarchist and force against anything representing good, he will do his best to corrupt or kill with his insanity.

Crob's picture
By Crob
2 years 25 weeks ago

They have many similarities

Excellent contribution. I think the Joker and Bird have many things in common. First and foremost, they play on the minds of their victims...

-Rob

YourPalAllen's picture
By YourPalAllen
2 years 24 weeks ago

I almost forgot...

He is voiced by Mark Hamill who is also a driving force behind making a third part in the trilogy in order to voice the Joker one last time. How much more dedication could you ask from a voice actor? Mark Hamill no less who, when I was a kid watching the cartoon, made a G cartoon show terrifying. He did not fail to disappoint.

Mike's picture
By Mike
2 years 24 weeks ago

I'm playing now!

GIIIIIIIRP! and im in class. I'm learning more from GIRP than my professor.

By Megazell
2 years 24 weeks ago

I would say MOM from 'Binding

I would say MOM from 'Binding of Issac'. But in reality it's the procedural nature of the game itself that is the real villain because if you get the right items then MOM and all the other bosses are not that big of a deal but if your roll was not with you then you got hosed and the bosses would beat you down.

Though this game did not come out in 2011 I would also say HUNTER from 'Shoot First.' Like 'Binding Of Issac' this is a procedural rouge-like arena/top down shooter...but the HUNTER can not be destroyed and the noise it makes as it comes for you is heart pounding.

By Entropy
2 years 24 weeks ago

Dark Souls

Sounds pretty awesome, interesting view on annoyance = awesomeness. Makes me think of Dark Souls. Since I only really played Dark Souls this past year, I'd have to say my favorite boss was either Great Grey Wolf Sif or Nito. Both very hard bosses.

I think I like Bird as a villain though lol... I guess this year, we are getting pwned by animals lol

Steffen's picture
By Steffen
2 years 24 weeks ago

lol

“No bird, get the hell away from my present.” Hahaha. Awesome review. GIRP rocks.