Final Fantasy’s Best Worst Villains

by Maya Lynch 

Here, the young author ruminates upon the “best worst villains” of the legendary Final Fantasy series. This story was originally Ms. Lynch’s high school senior project.      

Final Fantasy is one of the most famous and longest-running video game series, having been around since 1987. One of the reasons the series is so famous is because of its villains (and their fangirls). Over the years, they’ve ranged from warlords, wizards, entities, pretty boys, clowns, and trees. However, some of the villains have been better and/or made bigger impressions than others. The following are some of the best (school-appropriate) villains from the franchise, in my opinion, and why I think they are.

1) Emperor Mateus (usually just known as “The Emperor,” most likely because his name is the Portuguese variant of the name “Matthew,” which isn’t very intimidating) is the villain of Final Fantasy II, which wasn’t released in America at first. Anyway, the game literally opens with him sending his forces to raze the main protagonist’s hometown, and it just gets worse from there, ultimately culminating with him taking over hell after you kill him, and in the remakes, it turns out a part of him was somehow good enough to get into heaven, and he conquered that, too! Overall, in case you couldn’t tell, Mateus wound up setting the standard for Final Fantasy villains: A smug pretty boy who wants to obtain godlike powers.        2) Now, for the exceptionally dark Golbez. Let’s say you’ve been loyal to your boss for years, but you can’t help but notice that there’s something wrong with his latest assignment, which is/was to burn a defenseless village. You point this out to him, and he boots you from your position; replacing you with a cool-looking wizard who dresses like a knight. That’s the plot of the first part of Final Fantasy IV, and Golbez is that wizard. In addition to looking awesome and knowing powerful black magic, Golbez mind-controls Cecil’s (the main protagonist) best friend/rival into trying to kill him and kidnaps the woman they have a crush on. By the end of the game he…turns out to have been brainwashed all this time by a guy that lived on the moon and wanted to summon a giant robot. Yeah. That aside, Golbez is a lot like Darth Vader. He shows what Cecil could’ve become if he hadn’t realized that burning down that defenseless village was wrong, in addition to being related to him, as they turn out to be brothers. Golbez is also notable because he’s played by none other than Chairman Kaga of Japanese “Iron Chef” fame!       

3) What would you get if you combined the desires of The Joker and The Chief Blue Meanie with the power level of Beetlejuice? THIS GUY. Kefka Palazzo is the second most famous Final Fantasy VI villain, and it’s not hard to see why. When you’re introduced to him angrily telling his henchmen to wipe sand off his boots while he’s standing in the middle of a desert, you know he has a few screws loose. When you see him poison an entire kingdom because “Nothing beats the music of hundreds of voices screaming in unison!” you know he’s irredeemable. When he actually succeeds with his plans halfway through the game and destroys the world, you know you’ll be seeing him in your nightmares. If that’s not enough, it still gets worse; when you finally confront him in the final boss fight, he decides to destroy everything, as in EVERYTHING, which includes existence. On a lighter note, he has an awesome leitmotif, which can be described as a combination of happy circus music, a military march, and despair in musical form. His final boss theme, “Dancing Mad,” is also notable for having multiple movements.       

4) Do I really need to talk about Silkyhair McMomma’sbo—I mean Final Fantasy VII’s Sephiroth? I mean, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 17 years, you should know who he is. He was once the best soldier from SOLDIER, but he went insane after he found out that he was born through gene-splicing with a semi-Lovecraftian lifeform, burned down Cloud’s hometown, and decided to gather energy to summon a giant meteor to wipe out all life and absorb all that life energy to become a god. Oh, and (oh, man!) HE KILLS AERITH. While Sephiroth’s plan might not make much sense, he proved to be very creepy, what with his ten foot sword, obsession with his “mother,” never blinking, and the fact that his awesome theme song, “One-Winged Angel,” starts of sounding similar to that of Psycho, then becomes ominous Latin chanting. The Fangirls love him!       

5) Next up is Kuja…who is a guy. Really. The skirt and codpiece have explanations, but not the crop top or lack of pants. Anyway, Kuja first appears to be an overdramatic, long-winded, opera and theater-loving arms dealer selling black mages made from the energy of human souls. But he’s gradually revealed to be a narcissistic sociopath who will magically nuke cities and backstab anyone the moment they’re no longer of use to him. In fact, Kuja is so narcissistic, when he’s told that no, he is not god’s gift to the universe, and will eventually die like everyone else, he blows up the planet. By which I mean the planet that he was currently standing on, which wasn’t the one humans live on. Luckily, he redeems himself shortly after that, and it turns out that most of his motivations chalked up to the fact that he would lose his soul if he didn’t kill enough people, harvest their souls, and use those souls to create a race that would replace humanity. Kuja is/was a great villain from a very underrated game in the Final Fantasy IX series. Like the villains before him, he has a great theme song, which starts out with a beautiful yet haunting pipe organ, and descends into something resembling “We will Rock You,” but by the end of the game, you hear a synthesizer picking up, which is/was a GREAT way of showing how much the opera lover has snapped.

The New York Videogame Critics Circle is committed to showcasing new writers. Maya Lynch will attend Pace University in the fall as a freshman.

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