Villains are generally a lot more interesting that the heroes they oppose. While those who stand on the side of righteousness have certain rules they must follow, villains are basically free to do whatever they want. Some of the villains on this list are motivated by greed or jealousy, while others are driven by anger and hatred. Some villains are the embodiment of pure evil while others are just misunderstood. Regardless of their motives, the villains on this list helped define the heroes who stood against them.
Street Fighter Series
As legendary as Street Fighter II was, M. Bison was a pretty lame final boss. Not only were his attacks cheap, but he looked like he shared fashion tips with Michael Jackson. Seriously, what was up with those ridiculous shin guards? In any case, Akuma was business from the get go. Within seconds of making his debut in Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Akuma jumped into the arena and effortlessly killed Bison. It's not often that a villain kills an established last boss for you. An expert in deadly martial arts, Akuma lives to fight and scours the globe looking for a challenge. He also has a tendency to lurk in the shadows until a worthy adversary emerges. Prior to killing Bison, Akuma not only killed his trainer, but he killed his own brother as well. It was clear from the very beginning that Akuma wasn't fooling around.
Final Fantasy VII
Known for his long black coat, belted black boots, bright green eyes, and flowing silver hair, Sephiroth may look like an effeminate emo boy, but he is actually an elite soldier who was injected with cells from the remains of an extraterrestrial being. The genetic engineering gave Sephiroth more strength and improved magic abilities, but also fractured his mind and contributed to his uncontrollable insanity. The list of despicable acts committed by Sephiroth is even longer than the ridiculous sword he wields. He burns Cloud's hometown, paralyzes his friend, and kills a certain church-going flower girl with no remorse. If that weren't enough, he also hatches a plan to rob the world of its energy by summoning a giant meteor to destroy the planet. I'm still not sure how that was supposed to work.
As a child, Luca and his parents were attacked by a group of ruffians. After his father fled, Luca was left defenseless as his mother was repeatedly raped in front of him. His traumatic childhood fueled his rage, and Luca himself became known for his unmatched cruelty and bloodlust. He personally kills hundreds of people – including members of his own family. In one memorable scene, Luca makes helpless villagers crawl around like animals and beg for their lives. When the villagers abide, Luca decides to kill them anyway! It's no wonder why Luca is referred to as the "Mad Prince." The nature of this list is biased toward recurring villains, but Luca left a huge impression despite only appearing in one game. Without question, Luca is one of the most twisted and vile characters to ever appear in a video game.
Metal Gear Series
In a series known for a telekinetic mind reader, a cyborg ninja, and an entire family of genetically engineered super soldiers, Revolver Ocelot seems out of place with his single action revolver and spaghetti western garb. It's not his weapon, but his sadistic personality that makes Ocelot so dangerous. When not shooting his rivals in theatrical fashion, Ocelot takes pleasure in interrogating them – often torturing them to their death. His unpredictable nature makes him even more dangerous, and he is revealed to be a triple agent working for both the Russian KGB and the American DCI. Ocelot also earns points for his incredible resilience. Although he loses his right hand in battle, he manages to survive and is the only villain to appear in all five Metal Gear Solid games. It should also be noted that his moustache looks pretty evil.
GLaDOS (an acronym for Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System) is a computer that monitors and directs individuals throughout an "Enrichment Center" that was created by a research corporation to test the Portal Gun. GLaDOS appears to be a helpful entity at first, but her motives become increasingly sinister as the game progresses. GLaDOS repeatedly gives misleading information, taunts people with juvenile insults, and demonstrates a complete disregard for the safety of her test subjects. While GLaDOS promises a cake as a reward for making it through all the test chambers, other information suggests that the cake is a lie. It's later revealed that GLaDOS has been corrupted and may have killed everyone else in the center, so there's little reason to believe her about the cake. Still, she's easily the funniest entry on this list.
Mega Man Series
The quintessential mad scientist of the video game world, Dr. Wily has been a thorn in Mega Man's side from day one. To carry out his goal of world domination, Wily frequently steals robots and reprograms them to do his bidding. The fact that many of these robots were initially designed to help humanity earns Wily several points on the villain scale. Dr. Wily also scores points for his resilience. No matter how many times Mega Man captures him, he always manages to escape. He's quite cocky too, and never passes up an opportunity to mock poor Mega Man with his trademark eyebrow waggle. But like any mad scientist, Dr. Wily is his own worst enemy. You'd figure the guy would eventually realize that it's probably not a good idea to steal ice robots and fire robots at the same time. But I digress.
Dracula is a tortured soul if ever there was one. It was only after the death of his wife that Dracula became the very embodiment of evil and vowed to make humanity pay. While he'll occasionally get off his ass and kidnap someone, Dracula seems to spend most of his time sitting around in his castle and waiting for the hero to show up and kill him. What makes Dracula such a compelling enemy, however, is his apparent invincibility. Regardless of how many times Dracula is defeated, he always seems to be resurrected in some form or another. Generations of vampire hunters have tried to stop him – and he often finds opposition from his own son – but it remains unclear if Dracula can ever really be defeated. Like clockwork, Dracula rises from the dead every century and brings his haunted castle with him.
One of the most persistent villains to ever appear in a video game, Bowser has kidnapped Princess Peach on several occasions. Shockingly, the abduction attempts date back to when they were both children. While it was initially assumed that the kidnappings were just part of a much larger plot to rule the Mushroom Kingdom, it would later be revealed that Bowser actually has a huge crush on the Princess. As such, eliminating Mario is always near the top of his agenda. Bowser is apparently so driven by competition that he is willing to take on his nemesis in nearly any environment – be it a go-kart track, a golf course, or a basketball court. While gamers can never be sure where Mario will show up next, they can always count on Bowser being right there with him. He easily ranks among the most recognizable villains ever.
Ganon has been described as the Prince of Darkness, the King of Evil, and the epitome of anger, hate, and envy. When the ugliness of his heart could no longer be hidden, Ganon took on his familiar boar-like form. In fact, Ganon's heart was so vile that he used the power of the Triforce to transform the Sacred Realm into the Dark World. Although he was eventually trapped in the corrupt world he created, Ganon continued to build his army and has frequently manipulated others into releasing him from the imprisonment. With an unquenchable thirst for power, Ganon is constantly trying to kidnap Princess Zelda. He technically kidnaps several different incarnations of the princess in a reign of terror that spans several generations. It doesn't matter how many times he is defeated, Ganon keeps coming back for more.
Final Fantasy VI
Colorful, sadistic, and altogether batshit crazy, Kefka's villainous acts are the stuff of legend. He beat the crap out of weakened Espers after he drained their powers. He poisoned the water at Doma, killing not only the citizens but many of his own soldiers as well. He killed the honorable General Leo without mercy. Of course, he also betrayed his own Emperor before unleashing powerful magic that literally ripped the continents apart. No matter how insane Kefka seemed, he would always manage to do something even more heinous than you could have possibly imagined. It's also worth noting that Kefka is one of the few villains that actually achieved his goals. After manipulating his way into a position of power, he left the world in ruin and became a god among men. He may look like a clown, but you can't argue with results.