VGC Day 21: Bad to the Bone

Welcome back to our 30 day video game challenge! If you’d like to catch up with the other days, click here.


Today we’re covering:

Day 21: Who is your favorite antagonist?

Man oh man. There are so many fantastically-written villains, but this guy is just fabulously awful.

ghirahim.jpg

Ghirahim from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Yes, I just wrote all about how I was overall disappointed in this game, but that’s excluding this guy. And Ganon/Demise. But I digress. I was talking about Ghirahim.

…I both want him to be in another Zelda game and punch him in the face all at the same time. Come to think of it, that seems to really sum up what a favorite antagonist should be, right? You hate ’em and love ’em… and perhaps love to hate ’em.

hated fighting this guy as Link, because his fights required such precision that my poor not-Master-Sword didn’t have (i.e., that my 1:1 controller didn’t have), but I looked forward to each fight because they were interesting and really tested Link’s abilities. As a player I loved when he showed up, because he was so arrogant and entitled. He made me so angry and I love when characters elicit strong emotions.

Image result for ghirahim
I hate this guy.

Possibly one of my favorite things about Ghirahim is that Link isn’t frightened of him, but rather disturbed by him. Ghirahim’s narcissism almost makes him more dangerous than his cruelty, because his guiding principle is his arrogance, and the way he conducts himself can be unnerving or jarring. And an unpredictable enemy is a threatening one.

Image result for ghirahim and link gif
That little frown that says, “WTF? Ew!”

He switches between polite conversation and awful threats to beat Link, from lamentations of his miscalculations to well-manicured temper-tantrums, and all the while taunting our favorite elf-boy about how he’s going to fail in his mission.

Interestingly, he could be seen as the “shadow Link” of this game, representing all the characteristics the Hero can’t have: arrogance, cruelty, instability… And the fact that his mental state seems to suffer as the game progresses could perhaps be a nod to the increasing mental stress Link is experiencing and must overcome in order to be successful in his quest. So not only does Ghirahim represent an antagonist opposite the protagonist, but also represents the antagonist within the hero.

What do you think? Is Ghirahim as fabulous as I made him out to be? Who is your favorite antagonist in a video game (or other medium, if you’re so inclined)? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you soon,
~ Athena


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27 comments

  1. When it comes to Zelda antagonists, I find Majora was more interesting than Ghirahim; I think the latter is a tad overrated, to be honest. I do like how difficult he was for a first boss, however.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can understand that. Majora was definitely an original villain with a great backstory. Personally, though, I never *hated* Majora on a “personal” level the way I absolutely loathed Ghirahim, so that was really the driving force behind my choice. In regards to overall uniqueness or who was just a more interesting villain/had a more interesting backstory, I can definitely get behind Majora, though!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ghirahim was awesome. I enjoyed the challenge of his fights, but he was such an oddball. You’re right, seeing link being so disturbed by him really made me feel the same way, but also intrigued. He was unlike any villain we’ve seen in a Zelda game.

    I think staying with the series, Ganon or any form of Ganon are my favourite. I’ve always enjoyed the final encounter with him in any game. I’m throwing Demise in there to, he was just too cool

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He was certainly unique!! haha I think that’s what made me “like” him so much – he made my blood boil, but he was just so fascinating… And yeah, Ganon is pretty much a shoo-in. I really loved that final fight with Demise, too. I love when games make you apply everything you learned in a final boss fight. It’s like you really have to “become” the character and have, you know, learned and grown through the course of the game 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A few that popped in to my head as antagonist I really enjoyed were Sephiroth (FFVII), Saren (Mass Effect), Vaas (Far Cry 3), The Joker (Arkham series as played by Mark Hamill), and Wesker (Resident Evil series). But my favorite is probably Dr. Nefarious (Ratchet & Clank series).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dr. Nefarious! That’s great! Those are all cool picks. I really liked Saren, as well, and wish we had been able to explore his backstory a little more. I especially like him because he wasn’t really a “bad” guy. I think, at the start, he really thought he was doing what was best, and then he became indoctrinated and that was the end of that.

      I haven’t played Far Cry 3, but I’ve heard Vaas is a really interesting character, as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not sure if you’ve ever explored the Mass Effect novels but the first one (Revelation, I think), teams a young Anderson up with Saren and is a pretty fun pulpy read.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The Legend of Zelda being my all-time favorite series, it was interesting to see a villain from that series in this article. I’m glad Ghiriham struck such a cord with you! Now that I think about it, he was probably my favorite thing in Skyward Sword (a game I forced myself to admit hating a year ago). He was sick and unpredictable, kind of reminds me of the Joker, one of my favorite villains ever.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting! He’s definitely a unique and memorable villain, even among the rather iconic characters that fans are so familiar with. I think his unpredictability is really his defining characteristic, and is what makes him such a *bad* guy.

      While my opinion of Skyward Sword has softened (or maybe I’ve mellowed with age haha), it’s definitely my least favorite Zelda game. But, as was commented elsewhere, a “bad” Zelda game is still better than some developers’ “best” games, so that’s good.

      Now that you mention it, I can see the similarities between Ghirahim and the Joker. How interesting!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I just read the part with Ghiriham in they Hyrule Historia, and he’s such a creeper! Though I have to agree with you in that regard, because Link is more disturbed than frightened, and that’s a different dynamic from the more beastlike Ganon. That creep factor could very well be due to Link seeing the opposite of himself in him. Personally, he’s not my favorite, but there’s no doubt he fulfills the role of a good antagonist. You really do want to punch him or run as fast as you can away from him.

    My favorite antagonist is Sephiroth from FFVII (shock to everyone!) whom I don’t really think is the true villain of the game (I want to write a comparative about indoctrination at some point), but because that’s so obvious I’m trying to think of another antagonist not from Final Fantasy whom I really liked. Magus/Janus from Chrono Trigger is pretty awesome, but he’s not really a villain either, his mom Queen Zeal is though (uhh similar to VII *smacks forehead*) I’m failing hard at this hehe. I’m blanking or thinking about the Reapers who are more eldritch abomination villains, but they’re something everyone should be lined up to fight against, yet the petty squabbles among sentient species STILL exist despite them. I find that fascinating, and I’m sure Lovecraft would have something to say about it, too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah… the true villain is found within. I love it 🙂 I definitely think that influences Link’s reaction, and is a fascinating aspect of the Reaper War…

      Magus is great, as well! There’s nothing wrong with a villain being sympathetic (makes note to revisit this at a later time). I think those are often the most compelling, because we can still relate to them even as they do such terrible things. Hm……

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So I saw your post about the three types of villains, read it this morning, and I’m so in love with it I’m talking about it on another post lol. I’m so behind with my blog subs, but that’s one I want to bookmark for reference later. I can’t wait to delve into the discussion of it ♥

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Ghiriham creeped me the hell out! Which is a really great bad guy quality. You can play as him in Hyrule Warriors and I actually enjoyed using some of his attacks.

    My favourite is Bowser. I’ve always loved how he looks since I was a child, and I admire his determination (morality aside). No matter how badly he fails at life, he always picks himself up and goes right back after that princess!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like I need to pick up Hyrule Warriors at some point so I can explore all these characters… even if I have to fight the Imprisoned again…

      There is a certain charm to Bowser, isn’t there? I’d actually put him in the “flawed character” category, since he’s not an “evil” guy. I mean, he tries to be a good dad to little Bowser Jr.!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ghirahim is SUCH a good villain! Honestly, I feel like the Zelda series delivers some of their best villains when they take a break from Ganondorf. Ghirahim, Skull Kid/Majora’s Mask, Zant – all incredibly compelling. Conversely, when I see Ganondorf again, I just kind of roll my eyes and move on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, they love their Triforce trifecta!

      I agree; the villains who aren’t Ganondorf add such refreshing nuance to the protagonist/antagonist conflict and add such potent character stories that really enrich the world. Ganondorf is familiar, like Link and Zelda, so it’s nice to see some new faces join, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow. Fantastic answer. I was going to say Kefka, but I like your answer better. I love villains that make you want to punch them in the face more than anything. And man, did I want to punch that fabulous jerk Ghirahim…

    Liked by 1 person

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