Sometimes, there really is no better cure for what ails you than slipping a fighting game into your console of choice and kicking some virtual butt. Whether you received a dressing-down at the office or just found yourself stuck in traffic for hours on end, a few rounds of a Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter can help to relieve some tension and give you a much-needed cathartic release.
And what makes this even better? When the character you’re teaching a lesson is a no-good scumbag. Luckily, over the years, from the halcyon 1990’s days of the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis (or Mega Drive in some regions) to the recent likes of Mortal Kombat X, fighting games have given us plenty of bad guys to unleash some fury upon.
A good villain can help to make a great fighting game even more memorable: as the big boss is typically the final fight in the beloved ‘arcade’ mode, having a larger-than-life, rich, visually-awesome villain to pound on helps to make brawling through small-fry characters even more rewarding. Not all bad guys are big bosses, either – they may feature as playable contenders, but aren’t quite villainous enough to count as the climactic hurdle.
Any fan of fighting games also knows that the villains can be more fun to play as than the good guys too – there’s a definite appeal in being bad (in the virtual world only though, kids).
So, to celebrate the greatest bad guys developers have churned out over the years, let’s take a look at our top 10 fighting game villains of all time!
- 1 10: Dark Kahn (Mortal Kombat VS DC Universe)
- 2 9: Seth (Street Fighter IV)
- 3 8: Kintaro (Mortal Kombat 2)
- 4 7: Galactus (Marvel VS Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds)
- 5 6: True Ogre (Tekken 3)
- 6 5: Goro (Mortal Kombat)
- 7 4: Vega (Street Fighter II: Championship Edition)
- 8 3: Shang Tsung (Mortal Kombat)
- 9 2: Shao Kahn (Mortal Kombat 2)
- 10 1: M. Bison (Street Fighter II: Championship Edition)
10: Dark Kahn (Mortal Kombat VS DC Universe)
This may seem like an unusual choice to make the list, but Dark Kahn is a combination of two powerful characters, and hard to ignore.
The decent-but-limited Mortal Kombat VS DC Universe featured both Shao Kahn and Darkseid as villains – so, of course, merging them into one monstrous, fiendishly-difficult final boss was a given!
As Shao Kahn is one of the toughest villains from the Mortal Kombat series, and Darkseid is a demented god from DC’s comic-book universe, slapping the two bad guys together results in an absolute monster who doesn’t go down without a fight – to say the least!
9: Seth (Street Fighter IV)
While he might not have the most intimidating name of all time, Seth made for one hell of a climactic struggle at the finale of the uber-hard Street Fighter IV. As a synthetic being, Seth is all gleaming silver skin and muscles – but it’s not just his looks that make him so imposing.
Nope! Seth, you see, is able to perform multiple moves copied from other characters in the game: sonic booms, spinning piledrivers, Shoryuken, Hadokens, yoga teleports, and more – his unpredictability & diversity makes him a real struggle, even on the easiest difficulty level (for this gamer, at least!).
8: Kintaro (Mortal Kombat 2)
After Liu Kang defeated Goro in the first Mortal Kombat game, the head honchos of Outworld felt the need to draft in another four-armed beast to torment players with.
Kintaro is a tall, humanoid tiger, able to teleport and uppercut his way around the screen, making him a real challenge, no matter which character you chose.
7: Galactus (Marvel VS Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds)
As with DC’s Darkseid in Mortal Kombat VS DC Universe, Marvel comics’ planet-eating monster Galactus appears as the final boss in Marvel VS Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds.
Considering only his top half appears on the screen (with the player’s character reduced in size), Galactus is as tough as his size suggests – in fact, his moves are often tauntingly strong, including a powerful flick that sends characters off the screen completely.
6: True Ogre (Tekken 3)
After taking down Ogre in his easier form, players were rewarded (or punished) for reaching the end of Tekken 3 by a fight against True Ogre, after the screen-filling beast merges with weirdly-buff oldster Heihachi.
Able to breathe fire and launch enemies with his horns, True Ogre is a great visual, and helped players enjoy an epic conclusion to one of the PlayStation’s best fighting games.
5: Goro (Mortal Kombat)
While Goro has gone on to appear in other Mortal Kombat games since, his appearance in the first instalment is perhaps the most memorable – mainly because of his high difficulty.
Given the unfair advantage of four huge arms, Goro can lift enemies off the ground with two hands whilst beating them in the face with the other two. After fighting him, reaching big-boss Shang Tsung (with his reassuring two-armed normality) is almost a relief.
4: Vega (Street Fighter II: Championship Edition)
Without doubt, Vega is one of the most iconic villains in the entire Street Fighter franchise. Armed with a natty set of claws (which should never have been allowed in the tournament in the first place, but who’d argue with him?) and hidden behind that unsettling mask, Vega is all sass and agility, leaping across the screen like the show-off he is.
This makes him hard to land a hit on, but no matter how many continues you have to use in beating him, his awesome design always makes fighting Vega interesting (at the least).
3: Shang Tsung (Mortal Kombat)
Shapeshifters are lucky when it comes to fighting games: not only do they have a wide range of looks to suit all moods, they also get to take on the abilities and skills of other characters.
As the final boss in the original Mortal Kombat, Shang Tsung would constantly take on one form after another, bombarding players with an unpredictable array of moves: one second, it’s Liu Kang’s bicycle kick, the next, it’s Johnny Cage’s groin-crunching split punch. Even today, his original incarnation is tough to beat.
2: Shao Kahn (Mortal Kombat 2)
Even for a seasoned gamer like this writer, Mortal Kombat II remains a challenging game – and just reaching Shao Kahn at all can be a struggle. Even if the will to fight on remains after countless defeats as you work towards him, actually beating Shao Kahn takes real perseverance and skill, given his size, strength, and powerful range of moves.
Shao Kahn is instantly recognisable, thanks to his distinctive costume: a helmet with a menacing skull design, spiked shoulder pads, and red eyes all blend to make him one intimidating monster even the most skilled player will dread facing.
1: M. Bison (Street Fighter II: Championship Edition)
Head of the crime syndicate Shadaloo, master of Psycho Power, and Fan of bright red hats & knee-high boots: M. Bison is one of the Street Fighter series’ most iconic characters, and his first appearance in Street Fighter II is still fondly remembered by fans.
With his flaming torpedo spins and slides, M. Bison is a formidable opponent, and makes players work to claim the title of champion. He went on to become a playable character in Street Fighter II: Championship Edition, along with his three sub-bosses (Vega, Sagat, and Balrog), giving players the chance to have fun being bad.
Well, that’s our top 10 fighting game villains of all time named and shamed – what do you think of our choices? Who would you pick for the top spot? Let us know below!