Most videogame antagonists are pretty one-dimensional: they're content to twirl their mustaches, tie the hero's girlfriend to the tracks and drink milk straight from the carton. But every now and then a villain comes along whose motives run a little bit deeper. Maybe these "evil" characters are just misunderstood heroes with bad PR. Or even a true-blue villain who repents and hitches his wagon to the good guy caravan late in the game. We love these guys especially, because villain-turned-heroes are awesome: They dress better, they don't take any crap, and they still have that aura of lingering badassery that a Mario or a Crono is never going to achieve. In honor of our one-time enemies that fought alongside us, here are our candidates for the prestigious Vegeta Award For Excellence In Being Less Evil Than You Used To Be.
The jury's still out on what exactly an echidna is, but if they're at all like Knuckles in Sonic 3, we can assume they're a race of pointy-fisted animals that occasionally flip switches that make you fall off waterfalls. Then laugh about it. A lot.
As it turns out, Knuckles isn't actually that much of a dick. He had been tricked by Robotnik into thinking that Sonic was trying to steal the Master Emerald. And as the last surviving Echidna on Angel Island (thank you, Wikipedia), it was his sworn duty to protect it. Eventually he grew wise to Robotnik's evil ways (the army of robot slaves didn't tip him off initially) and joined up with Sonic. Nowadays, Knuckles is one of Sonic's greatest allies, even earning a title credit in the follow-up game, "Sonic & Knuckles," after only one appearance. See, this is why Tails drinks.
5) Miles Edgeworth
Anyone who read To Kill A Mockingbird knows that prosecutors are bad news, and Miles Edgeworth is no exception: he's a ruthless lawyer who'll stop at nothing to get a guilty verdict. He even wears a ruffled shirt, the most sinister item of clothing known to man. Over the course of Ace Attorney, however, hero Phoenix Wright hands him a string of court defeats, enough to make Miles think that, hey, maybe there's something to this whole "innocent before proven guilty" thing.
Phoenix also proves that Edgeworth's idol and mentor, an old man named Manfred Von Karma who dresses in sinister Victorian garb, is, surprise surprise, so evil. Four games later and a reformed Miles is kicking ass and taking names as the hero of his own jurisprudence-themed title, proving that you can wear a pirate shirt and star in an adventure game without being Guybrush Threepwood.
4) Donkey Kong
No one is a bigger jerk than the original Donkey Kong. It's one thing to kidnap a damsel and put the hero through a series of frustratingly difficult situations, but most villains at least have the decency to fight you one on one. Despite being a giant gorilla nearly six times Mario's size, Donkey would rather hurl barrels from a safe distance. I guess monkeys never evolved a sense of honor.
Then came Donkey Kong Country, and suddenly, DK is inexplicably a good guy, just like Mario before him. He's even got his own reptile-king nemesis! Following that, his appearances in various Mario Party and Mario Sports games portray him as a generally OK guy. No one knows for sure why Donkey Kong made the alignment shift, but I speculate it had something to do with his change of wardrobe. A good necktie can really bring out the best in an ape.