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Corporation Games - A Tribute to Starship

Rich Cerow

The 1980s were simpler times. They were times when every hooker had a heart of gold, every Wall Street broker a noseful of cocaine (and possibly a briefcase full of cold, hard cash), and every CEO had a personal army of street thugs whom he communicated with directly at his command to sell their made-up drugs with silly names like NUKE. You know, cause that's were the real money's at, not in running a multi-billion dollar conglomerate (which the Japanese is looking to buy, of course). Not only that, but these CEOs were so ruthless, that whenever the overmuscled, mohawked punks they hired to do their dirty work couldn't get the job done and stop the hero from rescuing his girl, they'd take matters into their own hands and actually murder people in front of hundreds of witnesses and full TV news crews. Because CEOs never needed to worry about things like jailtime or criminal prosecution - they invariably had some judge, or the Mayor, or a senator in their pocket, waiting to spring them if the police got uppity and tried to haul them in on charges. Basically, CEOs were bad dudes, and not in the good way, like they'd just beat up Karnov.

Video games of the time strived for the utmost in realism and to expose these societal ills, and hence, there were an awful lot of games that featured evil CEOs as their end bosses. Looking at all these nefarious businessmen, I couldn't help but wonder, which of these CEOs is the most evil? Which one was the most likely to cancel a pension plan, poison a reservoir and buy out an orphanage that's about to be foreclosed on only to bulldoze to make way for a parking lot (I've said it before and I'll say it again - in the 1980s you could never have enough parking. Or condominiums), all in the same day? To answer this question, and more, I decided to pit three of the evilest video game bosses in history against one another in an all-out brawl to detemine who is THE VILEST VILLAIN IN ALL OF CORPORATE AMERICA (excluding Dick from Robocop - nobody can touch him in the evil sweepstakes).
He posed, unperturbed, for this surveillance photo.

First up, we start with Mr. Big from NARC. Besides having a conveniently decsriptive name, which shows the kind of hubris you need to be a truly ruthless businessman and which he also shares with the band of "To Be With You" fame, Mr. Big shows a number of the positive characteristics we look for in an evil CEO: the fedora, the sunglasses, the massive novelty cigar, and that rakish grin all come together to say, "Look, I can dress like a 1940s pimp and flaunt my untouchable status, and there's nothing you can do to stop me, Max Force and Hit Man!" This, of course, raises the issue of his enemies names; I can maybe buy that somebody's name is coincidentally Max Force and he's a total badass who goes around cleaning up these crime-ridden streets (his name may have influenced which profession he chose), but nobody's first name is "Hit." Also, a Hit Man is somebody generally working for the Mafia, not the future of law enforcement as the NARC unit appears to be. Still, Mr. Big must be particularly evil for so brashly laughing in the face of such intimidating names. Not to mention the fact that he controls an army of clowns in his employ
Mr. Big fighting as a big head.
to throw heroin-filled needles at cops and schoolchildren. He's so sinister that he employs the joyful visage of a clown in order to peddle his sinister wares to unexpecting youths.

But things fall apart when you pass the mission info screen and actually get down to fighting Mr. Big. See, it turns out that that cool look can't be completed with a pimp cane because Mr. Big has no legs; he is just a giant head that you have to shoot about a million times. Not only that, but he's got massive turkey neck. Being overweight is defintely not really evil (unless you live in a third-world country) - in the 1980s everyone was really into jogging. So, an evil CEO would be on the treadmill talking on a massive cellular telephone about how a shipment was coming into the docks that night. Plus, cocaine makes you skinny. So, while Mr. Big is very evil, what with the clowns and the massive teeth the better to eat you with, he fails in the getting his own hands dirty department given his lack of hands.
You've got ninety-nine seconds to pitch your idea or kick some butt.

Mr. X from Streets of Rage, right off the bat, scores major points for the fact that, as you can see, he has a giant, empty office with nothing in it but a large longue chair. This is not because he doesn't get any real work done here and it's just a front for his illegal street trade, but rather because this is just an extra office in which he makes you battle to the death for his amusement. Of course, once he has deemed you worthy, and his flunkies have failed him, Mr. X will rise up and put you down himself. So, he's already got Mr. Big beat, what with the working appendages and all. This makes me wonder, though, what his real office looks like. I bet he has what you think is a replica katana blade resting on his desk, but once whatever deal you are working on goes sour, or if an underling displeases him, hi-ya! he's quick as lightning and you slowly feel your body slide apart. Overall, Mr. X seems like a reaosnably ruthless CEO, casually sitting by while you slaughter his minions, until it is time for him to strike. The only part where Mr. X is found lacking is in his chosen monicker; while the "Mr." part is important, as being an evil corporate raider commands the respect of being constantly referred to by title, the "X" is shameful. No evil CEO should ever feel the need to hide his identity. He should brazenly taunt our hero with his Steven Seagal-like above-the-law status, branding his company name on the robots he's created solely to exterminate people who would attempt to get their kidnapped girlfriends back from his vile clutches and allowing drug-addled urchins to wander the halls of his company's head office to protect him from the attacks of lone men who could not take it anymore. Mr. X, come out of the Evil Businessman closet.

Belger from Final Fight, on the other hand, doesn't care who knows that he runs the City; he's willing to kidnap the Mayor, Hagar's, daughter. And he's not just the mayor, he's a former pro wrestler. That's spitting in the face of not just governmental watchdogs, but the physically intimidating as well. That would be like if Hulk Hogan were the captain of your high school Math Olympiad team and you just smoked him on fractals. That ain't even playin'. Belger must have all kinds of senators, beaurecrats, and presidents on his payroll to be messing with a mayor like that. And you have to respect that he forces Hagar to take the law into his own hands; after all, who in his administration can he trust? One of the level bosses is a corrupt cop in this game - he doesn't care if the Mayor knows. Belger's got the corruption running deep in this town. And it appears that he's so evil that he was merely kidnapping this girl for fun - he just wanted a hot babe to roll with. Belger also scores all kinds of bonuses points on the evil-o-meter for his use of the crossbow as his primary means of defense, too. Lots of bosses back in the NES/SNES days distinguished themselves from their lesser henchmen by using a machine gun to cut you up, but Belger knows he's so bad that he can use an antiquated weapon and still take care of business. Besides, look at that well developed upper-body from pushing that chair around. He could win some arm-wrestling competetitions a la Stallone in Over the Top. His lair is also perfect - a massive office building with hundreds of palette-swapped punks you need to wade through just to reach Belger and finally free the City from his iron grasp...
But after the fight starts, you bust Belger's wheelchair and he starts hopping around! He wasn't even handicapped! Belger is such an evil businessman that he's been faking being a parapalegic just for sympathy. He was probably underhandedly cultivating a "kindly grandfather" reputation with the easily duped masses so he could put his plan into effect to usurp the mayorship and take over the City's power supply to charge up his mega-laser with which he would hold the world hostage and be supreme ruler of all. It also provides a great opportunity for him to rise up dramatically from that chair when you least expect him to. And then the shotgun that's been resting under his blanket is aimed perilously close to your family jewels. Just when you think you've got him beat he cunningly surprises you again. He may be evil; you at least have gotta respect him.

This is all so terrible that you have no choice but to defenestrate him, and watch his seemingly interminable plummet to a gruesome death. That's what you get, I suppose, for having a penthouse apartment / corporate office / drug den and faking a disability.

So, who is the evilest of the evil in the boardroom? Well, in case you couldn't tell from my incredibly biased and pre-judged descriptions of the three contestants, clearly I think Belger from Final Fight is the most despciable of the three, as well as the best representative of the 1980s corporate lifestyle: street thugs, drug-dealing, controlling significant portions of the government for your own nefarious purposes, inexplicably kidnapping the girlfriend of the one man who can take you down, Belger's got it all. That's not to take anything away from Mr. X and Mr. Big (my numbers 2 and 3, respectively, who should get their own game together called...Mister Mister! Zing!). They are both fine examples of business gone bad, in the freewheelin', regulation rollbackin' Reagan years, where a captain of industry could have a coke trade on the side and shoot people in the middle of the street in broad daylight and walk away scott free.

Of course, if you feel Mr. Big's oversized, disembodied head was robbed even solely because of his role as the main villain on the The Power Team cartoon, be like Spidey and zip a line to and state your case. I'll make sure the judge is a "friend" of mine and you wind up in contempt of court...for life! Then I'll laugh maniacally while
"Stay out of trouble."
my basement lab cranks out tons and tons of TURBO, my new designer drug that is destined to let me rule the streets of this City once and for all!

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