7 of the best secondary villains in Square Enix gamesEvery top villain needs a good henchperson and today we’re celebrating some of favorites from FINAL FANTASY XVI, Neo: The World Ends with You and more!
Behind almost every good villain is… another good villain.
Many of the greatest villains in gaming history are propped up by a support network of henchpeople, minions and underlings. These secondary antagonists are often just as big a threat as the big bad and add extra drama to the adventure.
And sometimes they’re Gilgamesh.
Today, we wanted to celebrate some of these sinister subordinates and promote them up to center of attention. After all, their games would be worse off without them.
Sleipnir Harbard - FINAL FANTASY XVI
As Lord Commander of the Kingdom of Waloed's armies, Sleipnir reports directly to King Barnabas… and the monarch couldn’t wish for a better right-hand man.
He’s known to many as the Constant Knight, by reason of his icy demeanor and unwavering loyalty to his liege. He appears to have Barnabas’s complete trust - having been gifted full command of the Royal Order of Knights, despite his apparent youth.
His origins and plans are shrouded in mystery, but it’s clear that he’s extremely effective at what he does. And should you be unfortunate enough to face him in combat… well, good luck.
This heady combination of strength, smarts and subtlety make him a near-perfect henchman. It’s like he was made for the job.
The Turks - FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE
When Shinra wants something done, they send in the Turks. Whether it’s scouting for recruits to their SOLDIER program, spying, assassination or… darker tasks, this impeccably dressed team gets the job done.
It’s an eclectic team of very different personalities, but each brings something unique to the table. Whether it’s the martial prowess of Rude, the chaotic style of Reno or the stoic leadership of Tseng, each one represents a clear threat to Cloud and his allies.
The team is expanding too! The upcoming FINAL FANTASY VII REBIRTH introduces a new member of the Turks that fans of the original RPG might remember - Elena. You can see her in action in this trailer:
It’s an impressive unit, and while some of the Turks may not always be happy with their orders, they’ll see them through all the same. After all, they’re consummate professionals.
Gilgamesh - FINAL FANTASY V Pixel Remaster
Not every villain is blessed with top-tier minions. Some get the likes of Greg… sorry, we mean Gilgamesh.
This barely talented try-hard shows up throughout FINAL FANTASY V to hassle the heroes, cause battles on big bridges and generally be a nuisance. The problem is that he’s not very good at it. While he’s capable of putting up a decent fight, he’s relatively easily defeated and has to scarper with his tail between his legs.
He always comes up with some half-baked excuse as to why he has to flee though - the guy has an impressive knack for self-delusion.
It’s amazing that the villain Exdeath tolerates this incompetence for as long as he does, but eventually even his patience runs out, and the useless underling is banished to an Interdimensional Rift.
It's an appropriately undignified end to his career as a henchman. Fortunately, however, it’s not the end of Gilgamesh's story by a long shot…
Susukichi - NEO: The World Ends with You
Kaichi Susuki - nicknamed Susukichi - first appears to Rindo and his allies as a rival player. His size, sharp teeth and aggressive sense of style make him quite an imposing figure - as does his condescending attitude. But there’s far more to him than meets the eye.
He’s surprisingly caring, particularly for his colleagues and is shown to be openly apprehensive about the Reapers’ current direction. He’s also got a sense of fair play that some of the others lack, even taking the time to show the game’s heroes the ropes early on for example.
Of course, he’s also a liar, a sneak and a bit of a brute, as you’ll find out when you’re forced to battle him directly. He’s not all bad, but he’s definitely not a friend either. But it does make him a hugely memorable character in a game full of them.
Seifer - FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered
Seifer’s main rival may be Squall, but his greatest enemy is himself.
It’s his own arrogance, impatience and ambition that makes him fall under the influence of the Sorceress Edea and betray everything and everyone he trained for.
Edea plays on his worst impulses and convinces the young warrior to stand beside her as her ‘knight’. This once proudly independent hothead willingly accepts a role of subservience and throws himself into it with full commitment.
Over the course of the story, Seifer gains increasing power and influence, even taking command of an army to further the Sorceress’s ends. But as his authority grows, he becomes ever more lost. Even his loyal friends Raijin and Fujin (excellent henchpeople in their own right) begin to doubt he’s in his right mind.
Seifer’s fate drives home just how dangerous the Sorceress truly is. It’s not just the world that needs to be saved.
Kain - FINAL FANTASY IV Pixel Remaster
Some characters are born to be henchmen, while others have henching thrust upon them. Kain sits somewhere in the middle.
Just like the game’s main hero Cecil, this high-jumping dragoon starts the game working for the King of Baron. However, when one of their missions reaches an unexpectedly explosive climax, his fate takes a much darker turn.
Kain finds himself serving the mysterious Golbez, and acts as his right-hand man, helping him carry out his sinister schemes. It’s not entirely through choice mind you - Golbez is controlling his mind.
Fortunately, Kain is eventually to escape from servitude and join the party as his own man once more, but while he’s under Golbez’s influence, he makes for an impressively effective number two. He’s a constant threat to the heroes and uses his intimate knowledge of Cecil and Rosa to attack and manipulate them in ways that a lesser henchman could only dream of.
Kefka - FINAL FANTASY VI Pixel Remaster
What happens when a henchman gets ideas above their station? In the case of Kefka in FINAL FANTASY VI, it’s nothing less than the destruction of the entire world.
This sadistic harlequin’s a cut above your typical underling. For the first half of the game, Kefka helps carry out the will of his boss, Emperor Gestahl, albeit somewhat… overzealously. But at the pivotal moment, just when Gestahl’s plans are about to come to fruition, he does the one thing no boss wants their minion to do. He takes control himself.
An act of betrayal and madness propels Kefka from immoral underling to main antagonist. Yes, it’s a shame that he ruins the world in the process, but you do have to admire the ambition.
No other henchperson on the list has achieved this level of career progression.
Those were just a few of our most awesome underlings, but we’re sure you have plenty of suggestions of your own. Let us know your picks on social media: