One thing generally connects great games to all narrative genres: great villains. But a great villain isn’t just his demeanor or appearance, it’s also in his name. Is it a minor aspect? Sure. But a big name will help an already memorable villain stand out among his peers.
And what genre has better villains than RPGs? These titles thrive on providing excellent foils to their heroes. It’s also a genre that’s not afraid to get a little weird every once in a while. For some of the best villains, with some of the best names, this is where you should be looking.
8 Rasputin, Shadow Hearts
This one feels a bit like a cheat because it’s not just about paying homage to a notable personality; this is a notable character. Rasputin is a villain that Shadow Hearts pulled straight from the history books. Often ominously portrayed and described as nearly invincible, this very real historical figure bears a name that has become synonymous with powerful dark magic. We also believe that it is enough sounds infamous.
Now, we readily admit that’s probably because we’ve had a hundred years of people referencing it (and almost always in a mean context). Nevertheless, the association is there.
seven Kefka, Final Fantasy 6
It’s a name you can find people still talking about today, decades after the release of Final Fantasy 6. There are a number of theories about its origin. Some say it is related to the Hebrew word for laughter, others claim it has clown connotations. For us, when we hear the name “Kefka”, the immediate association we make is Kafka.
Which suits perfectly because Kafka’s stories are filled with both surreal horror and utter despair while being awash in absurdity. And doesn’t that sum up this classic villain perfectly? Kefka is a Kafka-esque character, there’s no doubt about it, and that association alone makes his name a household name.
6 Lancelot Tartaros, tactical ogre
Lancelot Tartaros is the main villain of Tactics Ogre. This name is great for a variety of reasons, but one of our favorites is how it draws a parallel between it and one of the cast’s heroes: Lancelot Hamilton.
You rarely see games (or any media for that matter) that feature two characters with the same names. It draws attention to their bond with each other and helps sell the idea that they are two sides of the same coin. It’s a great example of using a name to establish a narrative connection.
5 Luca Blight, Suikoden 2
For those who aren’t in the know, Luca Blight is Suikoden 2’s most intimidating villain. Canonically, he’s probably the most powerful fighter to ever live. He is like an almost unstoppable force of nature. You can probably see where we’re going with this one…
Listen, sometimes you just need a name to get to the point, and Luca is absolutely a blight on the world of Suikoden. And hey, it’s a touch more subtle than its counterpart: Neclord (not that we hate the vampire). Luca Blight is an excellent antagonist with a fantastic name that gets straight to the point.
4 Saren, Mass Effect
Saren is an absolute snake. It is indisputable. He’s also the best villain Mass Effect has ever had (sorry Kai Leng). Not only is Saren an interesting character, but he has a great name that suits him well.
First, there’s something about Saren that sounds vaguely meandering. Although it might just be his character that influences our reading of his name and draws that “s”. Its name is also pronounced the same as poison gas. Although it’s probably a coincidence, it’s still an easy pairing to make.
3 Sephiroth, Final Fantasy 7
Look, we get it: there’s a palpable Sephiroth fatigue. The internet has had to deal with two decades of people celebrating this Final Fantasy 7 villain. However, you have to admit, it’s a hell of a name. It has a certain fleeting elegance. It’s aesthetically pleasing, yet vaguely otherworldly.
This is probably because this name is immediately reminiscent of seraphim, which is, of course, a name attached to celestial and angelic beings. Its theme song being “One-Winged Angel” only reinforces this connection. We don’t want to overstate the importance of his name, he’s a villain with a lot going for him, but we feel like he might not have had so much traction if his name had been Jimbob.
2 Eve, Parasite Eve
Eve is a big baddie, but more than that, she’s a big baddie with a big name. For starters, her name has a biblical angle. One that is related to challenge, sin and creation as a whole. Then there is its full name: Mitochondria Eve.
Its full name is taken from a true scientific theory of the starting point of the modern strain of mitochondrial DNA that currently exists in humans. It’s a diverse name that has a number of touchpoints with a bunch of interesting intertexts.
1 Kaiser Oblivion, Bravely Second
Kaiser Oblivion is the type of name you’d get if you gave a ten-year-old kid carte blanche to name a villain. And you know what? We need more of this energy in the world. Laugh at the Kaiser Oblivion name all you want, but it’s a name that plants a smile firmly on our faces every time we read it.
Even better, it’s not the villain’s real name. It’s a nickname! His real name is Denys Geneolgia. This means that he, a grown man, chose this name for himself. This tells us everything we will need to know about this character. What a legend!
Nintendo Switch Sports finally lets me exercise as a trans woman