Mario’s moustache would be given a run for it’s money, and then get battered and have it’s money swiftly stolen, by the one worn between the nose and upper lip of another classic gaming bad guy- Dr. Robotnik. This evil scientist is kinda like the oppisite of the 1990’s cartoon superhero Captain Planet. Instead of saving the o-zone layer from destruction, Robotnik was more the kind of guy who’d empty an entire can of Lynx under each armpit just to further escalate the planet’s pollution level. Capturing cuddly animals and mechanising them to do his bidding was the order of the day here. Of course, Sonic The Hedgehog (played by you) would always put a stop to his wicked ways. So, when Sonic wasn’t looking, what did Sega do? That’s right, they gave old Botters his own videogame called Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. It was a simple little colour arranging puzzle game where you had to outplay the bad doctor’s underlings and then personally challenge him to a old fashioned bean off.
Truth be told, the reason that Bowser turns up every time the infamous Italian organises a Mario Party or why Robotnik got his name in the title of a bean flipping game is because we fucking love bad guys! That’s right. Somewhere deep inside us, we absolutely love the idea of playing the villain and siding with the forces of evil. If you want proof, just look at the popularity of these characters, along with the likes of GLaDOS from Portal, Nemesis from Resident Evil, Scorpion from Mortal Kombat, Sweet Tooth from Twisted Metal, or even Neo Cortex from the Crash Bandicoot series. These guys are of infinetely more memerable than their good counterparts. Justice is completely overshadowed by just how cool the evil in these games is. Perhaps it’s all down to the character design. For example an evil clown with fire for hair seems a lot more creative than, say, a race car driver. Then again, Portal’s GLaDOS wasn’t exactly eye catching. Visually she was nothing more than a mess of random mechanic pieces. However, anything she lacked in style, she more than made up for in personality with her robotic auto-tuned voice and barrage of funny one-liners. That’s what made her the character that we know and love today. On the other hand, King Bohan from Heavenly Sword didn’t have a cool design, or any charm whatsoever. He still managed to be the single greatest thing about the game though. Why? Because he was raw, unadulterated evil. Bohan was horrible and rage-filled. He’d beat his own son and kill his own men to achieve his goals. A wretched cunt, to say the least, but he stole the show in that game because he felt dangerous. He felt like the kind of guy that would have you killed in an instant, just because he wasn’t really in the mood.
These are all classic enemies from throughout the years, and they’ve all earned the players’ repect through a multitude of different means. Things start to get weird though, when the bad guys are not the enemy. Sometimes, games give you the chance to experience the darker side of human nature first hand by putting you in the shoes of the game’s villain from the get-go. This isn’t a new concept. There have been a handful of different games througout the years where you’d play on the side of evil. The earliest one that I know of, not including throwaway bullshit like Custer’s Revenge, is Rampage. This 1980’s classic arcade title saw it’s players take control of a giant ape, lizard, or wolf and then destroy buildings. It was a silly little game where you punched buildings to dust and devoured the residents as they screamed for help. You could also swat helicopters out of the sky like flies and eat all manner of delicious army men. With it’s cartoony exterior and over-the-top gameplay, Rampage was a game that didn’t take itself seriously, and would appeal to fans of the old Godzilla flicks.
In the following games you played as various other gansters in various other cities. Some of these guys, even though they were up to no good, were lovable rogues. Tommy Vercetti was a lot of fun to play as during his rise to power in Vice City, where he found himself running with biker gangs and doing odd jobs around town for a porno director. He was serious when he had to be, but was always a bit of a wise-ass, and that added some real charm to his character. Over in San Andreas, CJ almost seemed like a good guy trapped in a bad guy’s body. He was always looking out for his family and friends, even though this included ransacking houses, holding up fast fun joints and murdering a shit-ton of people.
The strange thing here is just how much we loved these characters. They’re seen as legends in gaming circles today, and hailed as heroes in their own rights. When GTA IV came out and introduced the series’ latest potaginist, Nico, the fanchise’s fans turned on him. He was a stone cold killer. No smiles, no fake bullshit, just a straight up dirt bag. People hated Nico, yet, in essence he was the same as all of the previous GTA crew that came before him. We can sugarcoat it all day long, but these guys are all the same. They’re all scum who are just looking out for number one, and more than happy to put bullet holes in numbers two, three, four and five along the way. We controlled these guys, and made their decisions. We were the ones pulling their strings, and indeed their triggers time and time again. Ultimately, we were the bad guys that were loathed and feared by the general populace and the police forces of these cities. Yet, we only conplained when the guy we played as came across as a little bit scumbaggary? In reality though, none of these lads were ever desibrable creatures. Not even CJ!
We went hand in hand with the cast of GTA and fought back against society, not giving a fuck about the consquences. As Kratos in God of War, we laid waste to everything in our paths, slaying human and monster alike for our own selfish ends. He brought a plague of pain to everyone who had the misfortune of meeting him. Hell, at one stage a woman even committed suicide to escape Kratos’ wrath. Yet, we just kept pushing foward regardless. The Suffering games saw us taking control of a man who murdered his own family. The Legacy of Kain games allowed us to become not just one, but two vicious vampires and granted us the ability to drain the blood or devour the souls of human foot-soldiers whose only crimes were protecting their innocents from us. Gamers love taking the role of the bad guy sometimes. Breaking the norm of saving the earth, rescuing the girl and fighting for justice. Sometimes, I guess, it’s just fun to be a little bit of a bollocks.
It’s a strange state of affairs, and one which I don’t think I truely understand. Deep within the human psyche there must be something that draws us towards the evil in video games. Perhaps it’s the primal side of us wanting it’s piece of the pie, or perhaps it’s just a little naughty kick that we get from it. Baddies never have it easy, so there’s a chance that our love for them is triggered by seeing our own personal flaws in their characters. Then again, maybe is a more simplistic scenario. Maybe these evil entities are just more interesting than the plain faced, one demensional, one trick heroes that we see time after time. Either way, there’s no denying that the iconic forms of the impending alien army is so much more attractive than the piece of shit cannon you’re manning in the Space Invaders. Not to mention that Sinistar’s voice will chill your bones, yet you probably can’t even remember what your own ship looked like in his game. Bad guys are not only necessary for gaming, but they’re also classic characters and deserve to be seen as such. And so, to the pixellated tyrants of the gaming world, we salute you... out of fear that you might eat our heads.