If you hadn’t noticed, this week was kind of the unofficially “Final Fantasy week” on The Koalition. We had something new up about the franchise every single day, sometimes even two things on some days, as well as our review of the series’ latest – Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. While very few people would argue that the series is anywhere near the heights that it reached in the 90s and early 2000s, it is still just as popular today as it ever was. For the grand finale on our week of Final Fantasy coverage, we wanted to top things off with a final climactic list. Below, you can check out the top 6 best Final Fantasy villains of all-time! [alert type=”red”]This article contains several spoilers for the characters and games mentioned. If you have not played the game that a character appears in, consider yourself warned.[/alert]
Sephiroth – Final Fantasy VII
How can you have a top Final Fantasy villains list without the man himself? Love the Final Fantasy franchise, or hate it, everyone has heard of Sephiroth. From his cool, yet calculating demeanour to his unfathomably long katana, Sephiroth was, and still one of the best video games characters of all time.
Once a great warrior of the Shinra Electric Power Company’s SOLDIER program, Sephiroth dominated the battlefield, yet learning of his origins, things took a sharp turn. Believing he was the last of the Ancients, Sephie turned on Shinra and careered towards the path of vengeance over the corruption of humankind. His goal became that of the lifestream, believing that with its power and knowledge, he could become a god-like figure of his new world.
Sephiroth is just one of those characters that you have to admire. His unrivalled strength and the general presence of his character makes anyone playing Final Fantasy VII enjoys it that much more. Of course, no character is complete without a terrific back story. Even though VII is not one my top Final Fantasy games, I must admit, the Sephiroth back-story and his involvement in the VII main quest line is amazing. Oh and to top it all off, he has probably the best theme song in the history of theme songs. “All hail Sephiroth, right?”
Genesis Rhapsodos – Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
Even though Crisis Core is a prequel to one of the most popularised Final Fantasy games, it contained probably one of the most likeable and definitely most enjoyable casts of characters in a video game.
Born from the JENOVA project, Genesis begins to suffer from genetic degradation from the experiment and leads a rebellion against Shinra in hopes of finding a cure for his illness. Genesis’s fondness of LOVELESS, a series of poem bases upon a story which is focused around 3 men, something which Genesis associates himself and his comrades Angeal and Sephiroth with. Albeit a childish, arrogant man, Genesis’s story sheds some light as to his actions against his friends, his feelings of abandonment from his adoptive parents and that his lifeforce is being slowly sapped away by the illness. However, similar to Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII, Genesis’s main source of turmoil stems from the Shinra Electric Power Company.
Alongside SOLDIER members Angeal Hewley and the almighty Sephiroth, Genesis had a lot to live up to, and naturally, he did. One of my favourite video game scenes of all times is the scene where Genesis, Angeal and Sephiroth all fight atop the Mako cannon. It was here that Genesis proved that he could keep up with SOLIDER’s finest and cemented his place as one of my favourite Final Fantasy characters. He has a really cool red jacket too!
Seymour Guado – Final Fantasy X
Damn do I despise Seymour. He just will not go away! Part Human, part Guado, Seymour was tasks with linking the Guado and the Human race together. Under this pretence, Seymour gained the trust of the masses, hiding his true intentions – becoming Sin and “saving”Spira by destroying it and granting the denizens eternal sleep.
Seymour crops up at numerous points throughout the game and once you reach a certain point, you’ll be shouting angrily at your TV each time you have to fight him. Not only is it annoying each and every single time, but Seymour is probably one of the most difficult story related bosses I’ve ever had to fight. Even aside from the sheer number of fights you have with him, Seymour Flux (3rd battle) is annoying as hell, even to the point of rage quitting. You think you’re on top, then bam! Game Over.
It’s this annoyance, as well as a general hatred towards Seymour is what makes him one of the best villains in a Final Fantasy game to date. There is nothing more satisfying than defeating a tough enemy that you also have an emotional connection towards – even if it is a hate filled emotional connection. Also, Seymour has gravity-defying hair! What is that about?
Kefka Palazzo – Final Fantasy VI
I don’t care what Tom says, Kefka Palazzo is the definitive Final Fantasy villain. He is, quite literally, Final Fantasy’s Joker and in my opinion, tops even that Oscar-winning, makeup wearing madman. Unlike most villains that I fall in love with in a game, Kefka doesn’t really have an intricately detailed backstory. He doesn’t have this grand plan to be the ruler of the world due to his lust for power. He doesn’t want to rid the love of his life from her sorrows by ending the pain and suffering of the universe. Kefka, quite simply, just wants to watch the world burn…and he does.
Unlike 99% of all villains ever written, Kefka wins. At the start of the game, he poses next to no threat to the player whatsoever. So much so, he is left stranded on an island because no one even cares about him enough to finish him off. Eventually, he commits multiple genocides, murders thousand of people and then finally, he obliterates the entire planet. He gets the last laugh (literally) and gets exactly what he wanted. Somewhere around the midpoint of the game in Final Fantasy VI, he actually achieves his goal. Of course, there are probably many examples of this happening in some areas of popular culture, but this is pretty heavy stuff regardless.
Obviously, his actions lack some of the emotional connection of the things that Sephiroth does that are more personal, or the betray caused by those closest to you. Kefak, in all honesty, is just pure, unadulterated, evil. It’s simple, it’s clean and it works. There is no ambiguity, he doesn’t hide behind a shroud of darkness, instead he is just evil. In the end, the party ends up killing him once he attains what amounts to godhood by usurping all of the worlds magic – but who’s to say that doesn’t play directly into his plans? “Why do people cling to life when they know they can’t live forever?”
Caius Ballad – Final Fantasy XIII-2
A lot of people slept on this game because of the bad word-of-mouth its predecessor got and it’s a damn shame. Caius Ballad not only looks the part of devilishly intimadting villain, but he acts it too. Typically, except for the case of Kefka, I appreciate a villain not because of their acts, but because of their motives. To me, the best villains, have well-thought-out backstories and are typically more interesting than the heroes that they oppose. This is definitely the case with Caius Ballad.
Throughout Final Fantasy XIII-2 you control Serah Farron as she jumps around between different times, places, dimensions, and all other kinds of crazy things in an effort to not only save her sister Lightning Farron, but to put an end to all of the destruction caused by Caius Ballad. In the XIII universe, there is a goddess of time named Etro. At the start of the game, Lightning is trapped in Valhalla, a place where time does not flow and there is no life or death. In order for Serah to save her sister, she has solve paradoxes around the space-time continuum and, as a result, track down Caius. However, Caius wants to destroy the universe and essentially turn everything into a perpetual Valhalla – nothingness.
Up until near the end of the game, he seems like nothing more than a crazy purple lunatic with vicious plans for the universe, but there is a lot more to it than that. Yeul, one of the servants of the goddess, is very dear to his heart – he quite literally loves her more than anything else. Unfortunately, as she is tied to the goddess, she receives visions of the future and every time a piece of the timeline is altered, her life is shortened. Eventually, she ends up dying at a very young age, only to be reborn again in a different (but identical body). In order for Caius to save her, he must put an end to the passage of time, put an end to all life and as a result, all death – he must turn the universe into a perpetual Valhalla. Not only are his intentions noble and deep, but they actually make sense in a game that is full of utter nonsense.
Kain Highwind – Final Fantasy IV
Interesting choice, right? Some people may consider him more of a protagonist, seeing as how he is in your party at different points in the game, but that doesn’t change his role in certain key moments, nor does it alter the clear motive that existed. In their youth, Kain and Cecil grew up together, raised by the King, due to both of their fathers dying while they were very young. Both young boys ended up in a love triangle with Rosa, another girl in the kingdom, and the King often treated Cecil as more of a son than Kain. As such, it brewed animosity and they quickly became rivals – Cecil, the Dark Knight pet of the King, and Kain, the Dragoon defender of the kingdom.
Fast forward to one of the pivotal moments in the game – the unintentional destruction of Mist village and killing of Rydia’s mother – and not only are Cecil and Kain at odds and distraught with what they caused, but they are ultimately separated. Eventually, you come back into contact with Kain, but this time he is different. He attacks you and defeats you in combat, on the verge of killing you, were it not for Rosa. Ultimately, Golbez was the one to blame for this as Kain was under mind control, but this plays into a more important issue. The powerful Kain would not have been so susceptible to the effects of mind control had those latent feelings and desires not existed in the first place. Clearly, it was not all his fault, but motive clearly existed.
Kain makes the list not necessarily because of terrible atrocities, or for being purely evil, but rather for the complexity of his character and the exquisite story that is Final Fantay IV. The story of a best friend turning on you isn’t new, but it’s rare to find something with so much intricate character development. In Final Fantasy IV, the narrative truly makes you hate Kain for what he does – turning on you – and makes you question where everyone’s loyalties may lie.
Jecht (Final Fantasy X) – More of an anti-hero rather than a villain, yet I would have found it difficult to mention him at least once. Tidus’s much cooler Dad who can still pull of the Magnificently Sublime Jecht Shot Mark III to perfection. Turns into a whale which makes him infinitely cooler (like that was possible).
Golbez (Final Fantasy IV) – He uses his powers of magical mind control to cause one of your closest allies and childhood friends to turn on you and nearly kill you. That’s pretty messed up. Additionally, he just looks awesome, especially for a 16-bit style sprite character. I would not mess with that guy, at all.
Kuja (Final Fantasy IX) – He has a Mist Dragon that he uses to fly around Gaia and beat things up with. Sure we have a Bahamut (eventually), but he actually uses it to fly around on. Why has no-one used their summons like that yet? The primary antagonist of IX and is hell-bent on multi-global domination – like all good villains should. He actually makes you dislike him throughout the game, which is always a good characteristic of your enemy.
Chaos (Final Fantasy I) – The ultimate bait and switch that set the tone for all future bait-and-switch staple bosses of the entire JRPG genre. Chaos is essentially a time-warped combination of evil that sort of lives forever and can time travel. He also looks like Goldar on steroids. It’s truly awesome that an enemy so dynamic and interesting was created way back in the original game!
Seifer Almasy (Final Fantasy VIII) – Also has a gunblade, like Squall, but is a bit of a dick about it. Seifer’s character is the age old “I want more power” villain and definitely does anything and everything in his power to achieve this. All while Squall mopes around the Garden. Seifer should have been protagonist of VIII; he actually had a personality…
Vayne Solidor (Final Fantasy XII) – Usually I get really annoyed by villains that aren’t actively antagonizing you throughout the game. Typically, I prefer villains that get in your face and cause you direct harm and discomfort – it’s more personal that way. However, I was still impressed with the resolve and continual evolution of Vayne as a villain.
Did We Get it Right?
Obviously this is an incredibly divisive subject and we probably left out one of your favorite villains, so feel free to leave an angry (or preferably civil) comment down below and let us know your thoughts! Who is your favorite Final Fantasy villain of all-time?