Villains. Can't live with 'em, can't have a good story without 'em. Seriously, without a villain, a game is either about solving puzzles or playing sports, and even those games sometimes have bad guys at the end.
|Your evil mileage may vary.|
Putting together a villain is complex. There are varying degrees of villainy and each one is right or wrong depending on the situation. You wouldn't pit Murky and Lurky up against The Punisher any more than you would let Hannibal Lecter loose on Sesame Street.
|Five! Five fava beans! Ah-ha ha!|
Having a villain suited to the hero is the foundation of a well-crafted tale. Superman, the god struggling to become a human, needs Lex Luthor, the human desperate to be a god. The pro and an versions of a story's tagonist naturally need to be at odds over some aspect of the story, but their reasons for being so are the stuff separating the boring stories from epic tales.
Of course, what's most important to creating some real drama is driving home the point of exactly how the hero and villain of a story match up. Some like to see evenly matched opposites, like Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty, or Captain Picard and that evil clone of Captain Picard from Star Trek: Nemesis.
|The only way to beat Picard is with more Picard.|
Others prefer it when the hero is hopelessly outmatched and has overwhelming odds to fight through. Then there are those stories where either side could be right, it's all a matter of perspective as to who the bad guy is. Villains run the gamut from hideously evil to morally ambiguous and every stop in-between. That's why what matters in establishing this is how the villain is portrayed in relation to others. Now, I'm only a few hours in to my new playthrough of Xenogears, having finally grabbed a moment to beat Suikoden III for good and all a few weeks ago, and I can tell you already that this game has done its antagonists up better than most of the games of the last decade even tried to.
Let's spend a little time discussing some of the bad guys of the Xenogears world, and how with a few select scenes the writers made them come to life.