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What gaming fan doesn't enjoy battling a great antagonist? There have been many great video game villains throughout RPG history, and it is difficult to decide which ones were the most intimidating, the most diabolical, and the most ruthlessly evil. Finally, though, after some serious discussion and debate, we've whittled the list down to the five best (or is that worst?) roleplaying game villains of all time. Here then, in no specific order, are our selections for the best video game villans throughout RPG history. Be warned, this section may contain spoilers for Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VII, Suikoden III, Eternal Sonata and Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, so read on at your own risk!
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Sephiroth - Final Fantasy VII
We have to start with the main antagonist of the classic RPG Final Fantasy VII. A ruthless being who winds up being responsible for countless murders during the course of the game, including someone very close to protagonist Cloud Strife, Sephiroth is attempting to become a god-like being by manipulating the lifestream of the planet. His popularity amongst gamers was so great that he has made numerous appearances in other Square Enix movies and games, including the Final Fantasy VII sequels and spinoffs, Kingdom Hearts I & II, and the lesser known PlayStation fighting game Ehrgeiz. Some critics point out that Sephiroth was overrated because his motives were unclear, but as soon as gamers saw the right of him standing amidst the flames of a burning town, with eerie music playing, that this was one video game villain who wasn't playing around.
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Kefka - Final Fantasy VI
There's no doubt that Sephiroth was helped out by the cinematic nature of his showcase title, as well as the improved graphics of the era. His immediate predecessor, Kefka, didn't have those benefits, but his evil deeds more than speak for themselves. Kefka was the driving force behind the restoration of Magitek, which is what ultimately brought about the catastrophes in Final Fantasy VI. He was the one responsible for placing the mind control device on one of the main characters, Terra, and poisons an entire village, including the family of another featured hero, Cyan. He begins as the court mage for an Emperor but it isn't long before he begins to have tyrannical ambitions of his own, and many attempts to engage him in combat wind up with him either fleeing or summoning other soldiers to do his dirty work. With such dastardly and cowardly acts, not to mention his flamboyant attire and his trademarked diabolical laugh, Kefka has certainly earned his place on this list.
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Luc - Suikoden III
What makes Luc such an interesting villain is not just his motivation, but his history. In the first two Suikoden games, Luc was a close ally of the heroes and the keeper of the tablet on which the names of the 108 Stars of Destiny are written. Later on, however, he received a premonition of the damage that could be caused by one of the True Runes so integral to the Suikoden universe. Thus, he vows to destroy the Rune, and his actions put him on the opposing side of the three main heroes of the third game in the series. In the end, Luc is defeated and is able to make amends for his deeds before passing on. His actions in Suikoden III can be seen in a special scenario, provided they are able to recruit all 108 Stars of Destiny early enough, giving the player a final look into his motives.
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Frederic Chopin - Eternal Sonata
For much the same reason that Luc is included on this list, so is Frederic Chopin of Eternal Sonata fame. As most folks realize, Eternal Sonata is set during the final hours of the famous composer's life, as he travels through a dream world during while on his deathbed. While Chopin is actually a playable character for 99% of this game, he also has the unique distinction of being the final boss, confronting the other members of his group at the eleventh hour. Why? The main reason is because the lines between fantasy and reality were all but completely blurred for Chopin at this point, and he was trying to reconcile between real and fake, life and death. When the party defeats their ally, you can almost see the relief on his face, as he is now free to pass from the real world and find eternal rest.
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Ghaleon - Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete
Rounding out our list of the five best RPG villains of all time is Ghaleon, who was once a famed hero now leading a dual life as the tyrannical Magic Emperor. He kidnaps Luna, the love interest of main character Alex, and begins imprisoning the dragons who serve as the guardians of the world. His goal is seemingly world domination, but as the player later learns, appearances are not always what they seem. In reality, Ghaleon witnessed the world's goddess, Althena, give up her powers in order to be reborn as a human child (Luna). Ghaleon, believing that the world needed a divine being to lead and guide them, was simply trying to fill that perceived void. In the end, he is defeated but not destroyed, and actually goes on to play an important role in the game's sequel, Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete.
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Obviously, this is by no means all of the great antagonists that it has been our pleasure, as RPG history fans, to battle throughout the years. Other epic series, including the Phantasy Star, Arc the Lad, Mana, Dragon Quest series, are among the other roleplaying titles that have provided us with legendary final boss fights worth remembering. Which ones are your favorites? Why not stop by The Bright Hub Forums and tell us who you think are the greatest video game villains of RPG history are?