Games of the Year

RPGFan Games of the Year 2023: Best Antagonist

GOTY 2023 Best Antagonist Ganondorf The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Winner: Ganondorf (The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom)

For being one of gaming’s most infamous villains, it’s surprising how often Ganondorf has lurked in the shadows of Zelda games only to lurch out during their final moments. So, we all knew we were in for something special when his reign of terror was put on full display within minutes of starting The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. His omnipresent evil tangibly threatens every community and character we came to love in Breath of the Wild with swarms of monstrous creatures, climate crises, and the noxious Gloom (a substance that destroys the freakin’ Master Sword!). But what really solidified the category win for this version of the Demon King were the flashback sequences that fleshed out his unlikely Gerudian ancestry and spiral into madness. We’ve never seen him this evil or personable; an impressive balance to strike. Pair this with an intimidating, cinematic, and challenging final encounter, and it’s hard to deny that Nintendo finally perfected Ganondorf.

by Tim Rattray

Runner-Up: Hugo Kupka (Final Fantasy XVI)

Hugo Kupka’s malice and cunning are obvious from the first moments he arrives on screen. He’s big, he’s brawny, and he controls every room he’s in. But Kupka is more than just an imposing figure. He’s clever and cunning, having the most important voice in Dhalmekia and leading its economy. But his rage and desire for revenge ultimately define Kupka’s personality, and he’s a figure who looms, quite literally, over a considerable portion of the narrative. Oh, and his boss fight is my favorite amongst a list of strong contenders in Final Fantasy XVI, which is a nice bonus. In a game where the villains sometimes underwhelm or are underutilized, Kupka stands tall amongst them.

by Zach Wilkerson

Readers’ Choice: Best Antagonist of 2023

Winner: Ganondorf (The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom) (21.2% of votes)

Runner-Up: Father (Octopath Traveler II) (18.9% of votes)

Tim Rattray

Tim Rattray

Tim has written about games, anime, and beyond since 2009. His love of JRPGs traces back to late-90s get-togethers with cul-de-sac kids to battle and trade Pokémon via link cables. In the early 2000s, this passion was solidified when Chrono Trigger changed his conception of what a game could be. A core focus of Tim’s work is mental health advocacy with a focus on how interactivity can be used to depict and teach about mental illness. He’s excited to share that insight with RPGFan’s readers, alongside a log full of side quests to explore the mutual passion we all share.