There's something infinitely appealing about the foulest and most insane of blackguards. We guess it's simply good to be bad and over the years, games have provided some of the nastiest, weirdest, ugliest and freakiest baddies in history.
Here are some of our personal maddest favourites in strictly alphabetical order, but please feel free to nominate your own in the comments below.
Mario's biggest adversary may be the most lovable in gaming, but like his peers, he never rests from creating havoc. His plan invariably takes the form of kidnapping poor old Princess Peach and attempting to subjugate the Mushroom Kingdom. A turtle-like Koopa, Bowser a giant and has a fierce fire-breathing attack. But luckily, he also has a tail, with which Mario can swing him around and chuck him into lava, which never seems to be in short supply in the vicinity of his rather cool castle.
If you like your villains positively bursting with character, BioShock's Sander Cohen should do the trick. Resembling a warped Charlie Chaplin, his back-story evokes echoes of Adolf Hitler - he was an artist, not noted for his talent, who overindulged on plasmids and descended into a completely unhinged state of mind. In BioShock, he lords it over the splicers in his domain of Fort Frolic, and proves to be a fearsomely powerful adversary. Indeed, the open-ended nature of BioShock means that it's possible for him to survive completion of the game. Raving mad, but one of the more articulate and compelling villains you'll encounter.
This villain from No More Heroes provides perhaps the best window onto the warped mind of creator Suda51. He's a barrel of laughs, from his ridiculous spandex outfit to an addiction to pranks (he shakes Travis's hand and gives him an electric shock). But he's best known for having some of the most hilarious attacks ever. In addition to machine-guns situated above his nipples, he has a massive particle-beam attack called Destroy Buster that emanates from, ahem, his man parts. Travis bisected him, but he returned in No More Heroes 2 as a pair of cyborgs known as New Destroyman. Proof you can't keep a good villain down.
At the beginning of Portal, GlaDOS appears to be a reassuring voice helping you through the game. But appearances can be deceptive. You soon realise she's out to kill you, having already dispatched the workers in Aperture Science's lab, where she's supposed to be the AI system in charge of testing and maintenance. A gloriously characterised study in machine intelligence gone bad and mad, you develop an incredible relationship with her through Portal and Portal 2 - in which, at one point, she suffers the indignity of being embedded in a potato.
Reappearing in several games is the sign of a great villain and Mother Brain is all over the Metroid series of games. She looks great - a wired-up brain complete with an eyeball, and she grew a mouth for Super Metroid - and is responsible for all manner of havoc in the Metroid universe. But mostly, she's an absolute bugger of a boss, able to unleash countless energy beam, bomb and, especially laser attacks. The moral of the story is that, if you encounter a brain in a jar, be very afraid.
You may not yet be familiar with Far Cry 3's antihero but, trust us, you're gonna love him. He's a bona fide, scenery-chewing, homicidal, certifiable nutjob. He even has a catchphrase: "Did I ever tell you the definition of insanity?" Which, of course, triggers the sort of rant the local crackhead would normally subject you too. Plus, he killed your character's best friend Doug, and even his sister wants him dead. A deliciously nasty piece of work.