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Top 10 RPG Villains #10-6

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I am not a panderer, I do not make lists to drum up views, I look to get fans by trying to write strong content and support my opinions with better reasons than “Its popular.” I do not like generic ‘evil-to-be-evil’ villains, they are overdone, tired, and rarely executed competently, let alone excellently. So, expect my list to be quite different from others that you have run across over the years.

10. The Turks (Final Fantasy VII)

Calling this group ‘villains’ is a bit of a stretch. Not all of them have truly villainous acts and blood on their hands, but they are also not the ones in power. The Turks are just a special forces type of group whose job is to take orders and execute them. This doesn’t excuse any action but it does provide context, which is all important in narrative.

What I like about them is that they are the most human of the antagonists of FF7. You don’t always fight them when you run into them, hell you can even run into them in a bar and pretend to drink with them if that’s how you like it, and go on a side quest within a side quest. You even start off sharing the same goal, chase down the generic genocidal maniac and get in each other’s way.

That means a lot Reno.

9. Joker (Persona 2)

Persona 2 is an odd game, it is separated into two distinct parts. The first part, Persona 2: Innocent Sin was only released outside of Japan for the very first time on the PSP, its original release being on PS1. The second part of the game, Eternal Punishment, was released in North America (sorry Europe) back on the PS1 days.

Innocent Sin Joker

Persona has always dealt with some supernatural phenomenon taking hold in some city in Japan, and in this tale rumors become true. Joker is also the only villain here who has two distinct personalities and methods. Innocent Sin has Joker being a clown of sorts who listens to people’s inner most desires over the phone, if they tell him something they get it, no matter what it is. If they do not have a true desire, their energy is sucked out from them and they become invisible to all but the party members.

Eternal Punishment Joker

Eternal Punishment is a different beast though, it takes place in a parallel world where only Tatsuya, the main character from Innocent Sin, remembers the events of IS. Like I said, this game is strange and confusing. EP’s version of JOKER has him as a more straightforward serial killer who does a sort of body jumping, consciousness stealing maneuvers with those afflicted by the JOKER Curse.

If only rumors really did come true we’d have all men with footlongs in their pants, incredibly super rich, huge collection of kick ass cars, and a mansion filled with a beautiful harem.

8. Kefka (Final Fantasy VI)

Speaking of clowns here’s Kefka. Now, I’m not the biggest Kefka fan, unlike Joker above Kefka is probably video gaming’s closest version of Batman’s Joker (outside of Batman games of course) and is one of the few villains I can enjoy despite being ‘evil-because-evil’. There is a lot of underlying insanity and even some dark comedy in some of his acts. The reason for his insanity though is never once brought up, ever. Kefka is the definition of the super evil nihilistic destroyer, but he’s the best at it.

Batshit crazy is not analogous to literary potency.

Despite that, Kefka is not original, at least, some of the obviously evil actions that he is lauded for performing were in fact mostly based on a villain from an even older FF game…

7. Emperor of Palamecia (Final Fantasy II)

I dislike playing FFII quite a bit. I hate the leveling system, combat is pre-ATB turn based combat and not bad, the keywords system is fairly nice and gives deeper conversations and is obviously based on the keyword systems of contemporary Western PC RPGs. But, leveling is so atrocious that it completely ruins the experience for me and many potential fans. This is the definitive NES Final Fantasy story though, I put it up there with Dragon Quest IV for the best RPG story of the system.

The Epic of Gilgamesh is painted on those huge nails.

Most of this is the result of the Emperor of Palamecia. This Emperor is one of the main reasons we see the overdone Evil Empire story in RPGs. Well, him and the Sith Empire. You remember when Kefka poisoned an entire town’s water supply? Emperor did it first. Cyclones destroying towns, entire nations slaughtered, princesses kidnapped, and Leon, a close ally is converted to his evil cause *cough* Kain *cough*. The reason why this guy ranks higher than Kefka is because some reason is given behind his sudden insanity, he is basically an avatar of Diablo, Beelzebub, Angra Mainyu, Satan, Astaroth, Hades, whoever your Lord of the Underworld happens to be.

Know now the wrath of the fallen!

6. Mother Brain (Phantasy Star II)

How is it possible that a villain with no personality, no motive, no life, no emotion, happens to be better than most who try and do all of that? Well, the idea of a rogue AI as a great villain is hardly new. Rogue AI’s have been prevelent in science fiction in general since the early 20th century. Just go search for ‘System Shock’ and try to find any mention of the games without somebody mentioning how amazing SHODAN is as a villain. The first System Shock came out 5 years after Phantasy Star II for a bit of context.

The lifegiver, and lifestealer.

Mother Brain is on the flipside of the coin though, it is a system that exists to provide a comfortable ecology to the residents of the Algo star system with green, lush, thriving, easy to live on land, along with fresh, clean, sparkling water. However, the AI had been planning to destroy the people of the Algo system from the onset of her programming once the population is completely dependent on the ecological systems and infrastructure control of Mother Brain, she even halts all space traffic.

At last, the final stage of her plan comes to fruition!

What’s strange about Mother Brain is that, in destroying her, the main party of Phantasy Star II kind of fulfilled Mother Brain’s wish for destruction, as the Great Collapse that followed killed most of the population, rendered most of the once fertile land useless, and ended the high tech societies of the Algo system.

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PSP Farewell Part 1 of 2

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With the recent release of Sony’s new Vita there are many out there who are ditching their PSP and the many games and UMDs available for the once lukewarm selling system. So while many are saying farewell to their PSP and personal library I am saying ‘Hello!’ to the world of Sony handhelds. Why is that? I only recently picked up a PSP and a handful of cheap games the same night, only about a month ago. So here are some reasons why another collector should be saying ‘Hello’ to this system as well!

First point: Timing

There is no better time to set your sights on a new system than shortly after it is deemed obsolete and the general public has a shiny new toy that is trending to talk about. Because everybody is offloading their PSP and games in lieu of the Vita’s ability to download some games then it means the market is being flooded with fresh, new titles that will hopefully soon make it to everybody’s favorite haunts. This means prices are dropping for all but the most coveted and sought after titles. From here on out, we will be talking about some of the big marks for a collector of physical media and why the PSP should not be ignored.

Second Point: Imports

The PSP is region free, just like its brothers the PS3 and Vita, so there are many reasons an importer will find this system friendly. I am just entering the realm of importing, and I am also a fan of the Suikoden series, so the system already offers me at least one personal title to pursue as I fill in the rest of the small holes in my own personal collection of that series.

Genso Suikoden I & II

Genso Suikoden: Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki

There are a few other reasons for the import friendly RPG fan to be excited about the PSP library. For example a remake of Breath of Fire III was released in Japan and the EU, so it is perfectly friendly for any BoF fan that only speaks English to go after the EU version of the game. Other options include Sega’s Shining Hearts, Valkyria Chronicles III, Falcom’s Zwei!, Namco’s Tales of Eternia and the quirky Nendoroid Generation. If you know what a Nendoroid is then you should have an idea of what to expect. There are also quite a few options for the fan of the good old Shoot ’em Up, with Taito’s Dariusburst topping my list of desires. A remake of R-Type is available from Japan and Europe’s PSN to add to the list,

A vast majority of import options are based on the most popular anime in the Land of the Rising Sun, and as such can be just what you expect, or maybe even worse than that.

Valkyria Chronicles 3

 

Third Point: Remakes/Re-releases

Right here is where the PSP library will shine for any fan of Japanese developed, console RPGs, and where I will have a hard time even starting the list!

Atlus starts with an A so I might as well mention that Personas 1-2 were completely remade, graphics and sound were upgraded to make use of the PSP’s superior capabilities. Persona 2: Innocent Sin was also released for the very first time in English on this system! I’m proud to say the collector’s edition of that game was one of the first ones I grabbed. Eternal Punishment is currently in the works from Atlus, no word yet on if it will come across the Pacific. Both 1 and Innocent Sin had soundtrack’s released in a collector’s edition for North America. Persona 3 was also ported, however it is more recent and the upgrades were given to the combat system to make it function like Persona 4’s, but story was cut out that was in the PS2’s FES edition. Where’s Persona 4 you ask? Well its being re-released on the Vita, so this trend looks like it will continue, at least from Atlus. Outside of Persona the great Atlus also re-released the cult-favorite Game Boy Advance title Riviera: The Promised Land.

Capcom has the aforementioned Breath of Fire III re-release to check out if you wish to import a copy from Europe.

Falcom remade and re-released Ys 1 and 2 in a collection called Ys I and II Chronicles. I can say with experience that these are some fun games to play if you just want to run around and grind mindlessly. Button free combat, Peter Molyneux must be completely jealous that Falcom did that in 1987! The collector’s edition came with a soundtrack and this is one series that certainly deserves it! More Falcom re-releases include entries in The Legend of Heroes series. I personally have not grabbed any of these yet, but Trails in the Sky has been tempting me.

Game Arts also threw their hat into the RPG remake ring by releasing Lunar: Silver Star Harmony. If you have been wanting to experience the first Lunar but do not want to shell out a pretty penny for either the Sega CD or PS1 release then I would go for this one!

And last but not least (maybe for their newer games) for the RPG side Square Enix. As you can expect I am going to be mentioning a series that has Final and/or Fantasy in its title. Sure enough Square re-released Final Fantasy 1, 2, and 4! Their release of 4 for PSP also includes the various spin offs that have been increasing in number for the past few years.

Before I lose all of your attention I will mention some re-released arcade games that came to the system. SNK’s Metal Slug Anthology piles 7 classic run and gun games onto a single UMD. And Konami’s Gradius Collection crams 5 classic shmups onto one UMD as well. Natsume brought Harvest Moon to the system with a re-release of the PS1 classic Back to Nature. On this system it is known as Harvest Moon: Boy & Girl.

Next Week I will return with a focus on titles built specifically for the PSP. No remakes, imports, or remade imports in Part 2!

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