The Most Memorable Video Game Rivalries
What, you thought you were the best? Not when this guy shows up. He's your foil, and your equal - or better - in every way. No matter what you do, no matter where you go, he'll eventually show up for the express purpose of barring your path. It's not always entirely clear what he wants - all you know for certain is that, in many ways, he's eerily similar to you. Truth be told, he could even be you, if circumstances were different.
Maybe he's the right hand man of the villain - or eventually he allies himself with the villain to give him that extra "kick" needed to take you down. Or maybe he's completely unaffiliated with your enemies, and he's just there to give you trouble. Either way, he's your rival, and he's not going anywhere any time soon.
As with any archetype, there are good examples of rivalries, and bad ones too. There are memorable rivals and forgettable ones. Here, for your entertainment, is a list of some of the best, most legendary rivalries in video game history.
Warning: Minor spoilers for some of the older titles on the list follow.
10. Red vs. Blue (Pokémon):
You shouldn't be surprised to see this make the list - even though Pokémon has been around for well over a decade now, there still hasn't been a character quite as memorable as Blue. He's capable. He's competent. No matter where you've been, he's been there first. No matter where you go, he's gone there already. He's better than you in every way - which makes his final defeat in the Pokémon League all the more satisfying.
None of the other games in the series have quite matched the feel of the rivalry between Red (Ash) and Blue (Gary Oak) - the closest they ever came was with the juvenile delinquent Silver, or perhaps Black and White's N - but they just weren't Gary Oak. Just as Red will always be the original champion, Blue will forever remain in our minds and hearts as the original rival.
9. Cecil and Kain (Final Fantasy IV):
It all started with a girl… Kain and Cecil, once elite soldiers in the service of the kingdom of Baron, were the best of friends. Both powerful combatants in their own right; each trusted the other with his life. All was not well in Baron, however. Cecil had himself a lady-friend, a beautiful woman named Rosa. And Kain wanted her. She didn't want him.
Eventually, his jealousy festered into hatred, which allowed Golbez - who was Cecil's older brother - to manipulate the man into nearly killing his former best friend. Though Kain would eventually rejoin the group, it was clear that he never quite recovered from the affair, and at the end of the game, he's seen training by himself, hoping to overcome his jealousy for good.
8. Mario's "Frienemies" (Super Mario)
Truth be told, Mario has so many rivals that it's easier to just mash them all into one entry. He's an old dog in the gaming industry, and he's had more than one antagonist butt heads with him. First, we saw Donkey Kong kidnap Pauline and hurl barrels at the intrepid plumber. Next, Bowser came along, and kidnapped Peach. Then he kidnapped her again. And again and again. And again. And again…
Bowser lives for his conflicts with Mario, and it's obvious that if he were to actually do away with the plumber, well…he'd honestly have no idea what to do with himself anymore. He'd be lost. At the end of the day, Peach is a means to an end - she's a way to get to Mario, and any obsessions Bowser might have over her are very likely a result of her relationship with our hero in red. Even when given infinite power which could have written Mario out of existence… he just chose to power himself up.
Oh, there's also Wario - Mario's dark counterpart. There's the beginnings of a brilliant rivalry there, but we've not seen enough of their battles with one another to actually have anything develop.
7. Link and Ganondorf (The Legend of Zelda):
Here's another one you're not surprised to see - though it was a toss-up between Ganondorf and Dark Link. In the end, I opted to go with the Prince of Thieves, given that Dark Link doesn't really have much of a role in most of the newer titles. Ganondorf, on the other hand…
He, Zelda, and Link, are part of a trinity, representing power, wisdom, and courage, respectively. What this seems to mean is that Ganondorf is night-invincible, save for Link's intervention, and Zelda… well, she's a powerful sorceress, but can't really seem to do much against Ganondorf. Although Link and Zelda appear in new incarnations in every game, it's strongly implied that Ganondorf is the same man every time.
So basically, he gets to be taken down by some punk kid who happens to be a descendent of the punk kid who took him down the last time. You can't help but feel a little sorry for the guy. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword casts the whole rivalry in a new light, and it gives us a bit of insight on why Link and Zelda keep coming back to fight - and why Ganondorf simply won't die - but I won't speak too much about that - spoilers, and all.
6. Sonic and Eggman (Sonic the Hedgehog):
SEGA's answer to Mario and Bowser, Sonic and the Doctor have been at it for decades now and show no signs of letting up. Over this time-span, we've seen a subtle shift in Eggman's goals. Though he still wants to take over the world, that seems to come secondary to taking down Sonic - he's even constructed a line of robots that resemble the hedgehog, and he also unleashed a genetically-engineered creature that stands as Sonic's equal (Shadow).
Basically, Eggman has got a bit of an obsession with the color blue, and his rivalry with Sonic has coloured his actions throughout the whole series. No word on what he'd do if he actually managed to beat Sonic - I don't think he even knows.
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A gamer at heart, Nick started writing when he was a child. He holds a BA in English, works as a freelancer, and loves every minute of it. One day, he hopes to net himself a career in game design - but that's something for the future.
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