@EverydayPatrick#1527 To this day, Eggman has stayed as my favorite gaming villain. I collect all of his plushies.

This is adorable.

My favorite big bad in a video game, concept-wise, is probably Bilan from Dark Savior.

[upl-image-preview url=//]

First, his name is Bilan ビラン, and that is probably meant to be a phonetic adaptation of the French word « vilain » which means... The bad guy! Or the _villain_, you dirty word-stealers with no proper idea or care how you’re supposed to pronounce them. So that’s pretty cool and straightforward. Unfortunately « Bilan » means balance sheet instead so uh that did not work out so well.

Now, I am sure many of you here know the premise of Dark Savior already, but the reason Bilan is remarkable is not its design or backstory or even its fight, but rather how differently Bilan impacts the story and player experience depending on what happens in the first few minutes of the game.

The beginning acts both as a tutorial and a time trial, spent on a boat on its way to a remote penitentiary island. Bilan, which storywise the hero has already captured (which is a rather uncommon *in media res* plot device in a video game) escapes from their cell and, depending on your actions, you will either:
• Arrive too late to save the captain and let Bilan escape to the nearby island.
• Arrive just in the nick of time and kill Bilan as it was about to murder the captain of the ship, hence leading to a different story with a different bad guy.
• Arrive just in the nick of time and... Get killed by Bilan, leading to a joke parallel scenario.
• Arrive before Bilan, save the captain and some of the crew, shut yourselves in and let it escape, leading to yet another parallel scenario.

I find it both so clever and so elegant to transform the opening tutorial into a completely different level once you approach it from the perspective of a speedrun because you have learnt to master the game, and to make your accrued skill determine a different story that will still re-use many locations and characters but change whether they become your enemies or your friends depending on how Bilan derailed their own plans or impacted their lives (and deaths).

Bilan can either be your worst nightmare or a mere afterthought, or a balance sheet I guess, but rather than making it an ominous presence lurking over your shoulder until the very end and the culmination of a grueling odyssey with a memorable final boss fight, it is most impactful as your very first challenge and enemy encounter, based on how differently you approach it from your accumulated experience with the game.

I‘ve always been fascinated by Dark savior and never dedicated enough to play through it because of the tough camera angle and how if you fall into a swamp (for example) you’re put back at the start of the area. I really want to experience this for myself!!

Bilan is very opening the novel The Gunslinger with “The man in Black fled across the Desert, and the Gunslinger followed.” Like right away you know who the villain is and the whole game can be a chase where you‘re always one step behind. Most games put the main antagonist all the way at the other end of the world map (Castlevania / Ghost ’n Goblins) so that you have a goal, but I am hard pressed to think of another one where you're both in motion the whole story. Maybe the Shellcoof in Panzer Dragoon Zwei? Have there ever been any games like Fury Road where you spend the majority of the game being chased?

The only antagonist I own a figurine of is “Ibara's” Teresa, though she actually becomes a protagonist in “Pink Sweets”. Every other figurine is a kind girl. If I wanted a second antagonist figurine, I‘d probably want one of "Senran Kagura’s" Murasaki, but at this point, I‘m trying to give certain figurines to my nephews and nieces. (Would’ve typed Yomi's name, but she has changed over the years.)


@robinhoodie#1680 Bilan is very opening the novel The Gunslinger with “The man in Black fled across the Desert, and the Gunslinger followed.” Like right away you know who the villain is and the whole game can be a chase where you’re always one step behind.

That’s an interesting and quite literate comparison! I always saw Dark Savior as being inspired by Carpenter movies. Bilan is able to hide away because it can transform into anyone it assimilates, a bit like The Thing, and a few scenes involving Bilan have an old horror B-movie vibe. But instead of an isolated South Pole base, Bilan is hiding on a far off island turned into a gigantic prison, in which the inmates have developed their own parallel society, in what seems like a nod to Escape from New York.

@chazumaru#1686 See now I NEED to go back and play Dark Savior for the first time in what 25ish years. I wouldn‘ watch The Thing until the mid 2000’s so there's no way I would have caught the reference. I could also see the monster in a prison colony thing being a nod to Alien 3. All of these are movies I love. Climax is such an underrated studio.

@exodus#1679 a few of the areas have pretty heartless platforming and a serious drought of save points. I have no shame in admitting I had to use an emulator for this one so I could save state my way through some of the most cruel areas.

@robinhoodie in terms of games where you spend the majority of it being chased, the clock tower series is definitely that, also haunting ground. basically any of those “you‘re a lady who’s trapped in a mansion and there's a killer loose” games. It's probably not really what you meant, but it fulfills the condition!

@exodus#1705 I getcha. And yeah, Scissorman is up there as a great antagonist. Nemesis / Mr. X also falls into this category. These I feel are more akin to the movie Duel. Constantly being harried by an overwhelming force.

I know there are great chase sequences in games going back to the Mecha Dragon in _Mega Man 2_. But yeah, nothing that is completely about outrunning an antagonist from point A to point B. Insert joke about _Outrun_...

btw @JJSignal I wonder if you'd include Reala from Nights in your “enemy with same powers as you, but cooler” ?? I think Reala really just has the same exact stuff, except with a scowl while wearing red, thus feeling cooler to all of us in the 90s.

@exodus#1708 How could I forget about Reala? I would replay that fight so much, and it has the same vibe as the Veil fight in that, it‘s not at all hard in any sense, but it’s just cool and fun to play, and also had a really good rival song. Their introduction before the fight is great, too.

Another cool antagonist that, while not a rival-that's-the-same-but-cooler, has the same cool 'tude as Reala, Veil, and Axle Gear, is Zohar from Silhouette Mirage.

Like Shyna, they can switch between Silhouette or Mirage form at will. Unlike Shyna, however, is their Silhouette Mirage switching also gives them different attack modes. They look really cool, are overly confident to a fault, super spiky, have a great battle theme, and every encounter with them is flashy. A perfect recipe.

Ah yeah, that's a good one! Big fan of that game, and of the days when being spiky meant something was cool

I‘m not sure this counts exactly, because I haven’t finished it or had it spoiled for me, but I‘m playing through the Yakuza games for the first time and I’m through quite a bit of Kiwami and Majima is such a striking foil. It‘s played for laughs, but the way he appears out of nowhere to fight you constantly keeps me completely on edge while I play. The few times I’ve relaxed assuming he wouldn't appear, boom, there he is.

Maybe an obvious answer, but Ganon/dorf and his incarnations are also almost always super menacing and occasionally really interesting and cool.

Majima is great! I dunno if I‘d call him a baddie, since he’s one of the friendliest antagonists I‘ve encountered, but I think it fits the discussion. It feels a bit more muddled for folks like me who played Yakuza 0 first. That’s a completely different Majma, there.

@exodus#1767 yeah maybe I should have played 0 first, whoops.

Hmm, I feel like maybe you shouldn‘t have? 0 was sort of meant to flesh out everyone’s backstory, but if it‘s your first intro to Majima he’s like a totally different dude, and it feels super jarring to go from that to Kiwami. So this might be a good order!?

It’s a strange conundrum because I think Zero is the best game to start playing the series, but both Kiryu and Majima in that game are not really the best representation of and introduction to their characters. Their personality was purposefully altered significantly in Zero to enhance long time fans’ impression that this story happened a very long time ago. I agree Kiwami is a good starting point overall.

Yeah, Majima took a lot of getting used to from Zero… Kiryu was an understandable evolution, but Majima was a huge jump.

I agree Yakzua 0 is the best one to start with as it‘s the one they 100% nailed the structure so it’s easy to get a taste of everything that makes the series work real fast, plus the 80s aesthetic is enough to push people over into the “getting it” side of the fence. I was thinking about this before because when I was searching up some of Y0's more confusing plot points I found a bunch of threads from people who had started with 0 then went into Kiwami treating it as direct sequel and were bewildered by how that game plays out. Y0 had to strain real hard to pretend the Y1 cast were like…real characters.

Also I don't like Kiwami at all tbh, but getting back onto baddies the one positive I can give that game is the added backstory of 0 and the brand new cutscenes did help flesh out Nishikiyama a lot so the final boss hits a lot harder for DRAMA now.