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5 Famous Gaming ‘Villains’ You Didn’t Realise Were Heroes

Behind their devilish exteriors lies a kind heart… sort of.

The gaming industry is in a much different place to where it was a couple of decades ago. Where video games were once the realm of 2D platformers and twitchy shoot ’em ups, the industry is now dominated by ‘cinematic experiences’ and open world epics. As the scope of games has increased over the years, so too has the characterisation of the heroes within them. Video game heroes were once two-dimensional, happy-go-lucky types, while brooding anti-heroes and reluctant ragtags are now the popular thing.

Gaming villains have also had their characters fleshed out significantly, in comparison to the days of evil lizards and moustache-twirling scoundrels. Today, it can be hard to distinguish the heroes from the villains, with many turning out to be equally sympathetic from a certain viewpoint. This list takes a tongue-in-cheek look at famous gaming villains that could well have been the heroes of their games, given the chance. From misunderstood space Nazis to mighty warriors that just want to prove their worth, each of these villains deserve to be reconsidered.

1. Akuma

Game: Street Fighter II Turbo Akuma is one of the most iconic villains from the Street Fighter series. With a name that translates to “Great Demon,” his black clothing, and glowing red eyes, there’s no way anyone could argue that Akuma is an all-out villain in the most traditional sense. But, wait. Akuma never really does anything too villainous in the games, even in his canonical back story.

Everything Akuma does it in order to hone his skills to become the greatest fighter of all time, much like many of the other fighters in the series. In fact, Akuma could be seen as the most honourable of the bunch, as he only ever fights those he believes may have a chance of beating him. Sure, on a few occasions he wound up killing his opponents from going overboard with force. None were exactly weaklings though, and his own dream is to die in battle from someone stronger than himself.

2. Ryder White

Game: Dead Island Ryder White turns out to be the main villain of Dead Island, and the cause of the player’s many woes. He steals an antidote, tries to scupper your chances at survival, and even turns into a colossal, mutant zombie. As revealed by the Ryder White DLC, this ‘villain’ had actually been manipulated much in the same way the player has been. Many times in which the player assumes they’re been contacted by White, it’s actually been an impersonation by Charon.

Additionally, White is proven to not just be some homicidal maniac hell-bent on screwing over everyone else. His sole motivation is in finding a cure for his infected wife, who ends up dying anyway. The fact that he turned into a massive zombie creature can’t even be put forwards as evidence of his villainy either, as it’s something White had no idea would happen.

3. Magus

Game: Chrono Trigger Outside of the Final Fantasy series, Magus of Chrono Trigger is one of the most iconic villains out there. Set up as the main villain from the very beginning, Magus is clearly a dangerous, homicidal monster, who is the enemy of all humanity, right? As explained at the very end of the game, Magus was actually originally named Janus.

As a child, Janus was taken out of his own time due to his own mother messing about with forces way out of her control. It turns out that Magus’ plotting, army-building and seemingly nefarious deeds were all in order to defeat the real enemy, a planet-destroying alien named Lavos. Of course, only those who played through Chrono Trigger through to the very end will have discovered this, and Magus has gone down the annals of history as one of gaming’s most notorious villains.

4. N

Game: Pokémon Black and White N is one of the main antagonists of Pokémon Black and White, and the leader of Team Plasma. He cruelly want to steal everyone’s Pokémon, releasing them into the wild, free from humans. Wait a minute. Why is that a bad thing? N believes that the whole society in the Pokémon games is sick and twisted, as human force the creatures to battle one another.

Many of the Pokémon might have some form of Stockholm syndrome and think they’re friends with their trainers, but how exactly is being enslaved inside a tiny ball and fighting other Pokémon over and over a good thing? N can even hear Pokémon’s inner thoughts, so you’d think he would be something of an authority on what it is the creatures actually want in life. Anyway, it’s revealed that Ghetsis was the real villain behind-the-scenes in the end, making N a manipulated puppet.

5. Nathan Sheridan

Game: Fracture In the 2008 third-person shooter game Fracture, Nathan Sheridan is the general of the enemy army that the player fights against. Because of this, he’s the game’s main antagonist. Look a little closer though, and Sheridan really isn’t that bad a guy. Before the events of the game, Sheridan had two daughters suffering from an extremely rare genetic condition that could only be cured by gene therapy.

Unfortunately, genetic research is totally banned in the eastern half of Fracture’s depiction of a divided United States, so Sheridan moves over the western side in order to find a cure. He’s too late though, and his daughters both die from their conditions. Because of his experiences, Sheridan becomes a strong advocate of genetic research, rising through the military ranks to help the cause. The eastern side soon declares war against the west, and somehow Sheridan is painted as a cut-and-paste villain because of it.

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