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I’ve been playing video games for a pretty long time.  In the twenty or so years since I gained enough hand-eye coordination to pick up a controller, a lot of villains have come and gone.  Insane clowns, large, spiky-shelled dinosaur creatures, and evil wizards abounded, and I liked nothing more than seeing them get theirs.

Female villains have always had a special place in my heart though.  Maybe it’s because they’re so rare.  Video game villainy seems to be—for better or worse—a male-dominated workforce.  These diabolical women may be outnumbered, but each has a special chaotic touch that simultaneously disrupts and drives the narratives she comes from.

There are just a few criteria characters needed to meet in order to be considered for this list.  First, they needed to have a decisive presence during the rising action and primary conflict in their respective games.  Second, they needed to instill some elemental feeling of anger or fear in the player.  Third, they had to be women or monstrosities who identified as female.

[10] Sarah, Suikoden III

I lost count of the number of times this witch whisked the demonic Yuber and the Masked Bishop out of my reach, but I never stopped growling in impotent rage when she did it.  Not content to be one of the most powerful magicians in the Suikoden universe, Sarah is also a master of disguise and a walking Sindar dictionary. 

I’d love to place Sarah higher up on this list, but despite her frightening magical prowess and ability to manipulate people, she still plays second fiddle to the Masked Bishop.

[9] Carmen Sandiego, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Aside from being the only video game character since Red Mage to pull off that sweet scarlet pimp hat, Carmen Sandiego is the most elusive villain on this list.  You usually have to climb over a dogpile of lesser thieving minions with punny names to even have a chance at nabbing the boss, and even then you have to pick her out of a crowd of statuesque, red-coat-wearing beauties.  

Still, there’s nothing like finally lining up your set of clues and realizing you’re issuing the warrant for Big Red herself.  There’s also nothing quite as frustrating as letting her slip the net when you think you've got her, but of course that’s never happened to any of us, right?

Plus, while I hate to give her credit for something outside of her games, Sandiego does have an amazing theme song by Rockapella:

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[8] Mother Brain, Metroid

I admit, Metroid isn’t my favorite game ever.  When I first tried playing it, I was about eight years old, and the platforming just seemed too difficult.  It took me about a month of playing every day just to complete Final Fantasy, and I felt like Metroid was demanding too much of my skinny little hands and young, impressionable mind.  I persevered though, and while it hasn’t aged well, the final fight against Mother Brain remains one of my favorites from the 8-bit era.

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Unique among all the contenders on this list in that she isn’t even vaguely humanoid, Mother Brain’s maternal relationship with all of the horrific creations Samus Aran fights over the course of her journey still creeps me out to this day.

[7] Edea, Final Fantasy VIII

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Most children feel relatively safe in assuming that their mothers won’t trick them into making pacts with mind-altering spirits that slowly erode their memories over time.  Unfortunately for Squall and his crew of SeeD hopefuls, Edea isn’t most kids’ moms.  She may spend much of the game under the control of space-time witch Ultimecia, but there’s no denying that Edea’s got a disturbing devil-mom thing going on. 

Edea, your wickedly strange, over-the-top fashion sense and clever machinations scared the pants off of me even before I knew you were the foster mom from hell.

[6] Dahlia Hawthorne, Phoenix Wright:  Justice for All

Why is a character you’ve probably never heard of sitting pretty in the number six slot you say?  Take another look at that picture.  Seems cute and defenseless, right?  Now observe the first few seconds of the following clip:

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That's right; mere proximity to Dahlia’s rage incinerates butterflies.  Evil doesn’t even begin to describe this girl.  Able to wrap an entire courtroom around her finger with just a few careless words, Dahlia worms her cruel way into the hearts of everyone who meets her.  Then she poisons your future boss’s boyfriend and tries to blame it on you. 

Small wonder poor Phoenix is horribly alone by the time of the events in Ace Attorney!

That's all for this week!  If you don't see your favorite villain here, by all means, check back next Wednesday for the top five.  You might find her lurking somewhere closer to number one, plotting your imminent demise.