Author's note: If there's one thing to take away from this blog entry, it's to please go vote in the All-Time Greatest Game Villain competition, and to get everyone you know to do the same! ...And vote for Giygas.
Somewhere, out there, there is a disturbance in the Force.
However, all is not lost, because voting goes until August 30 - plenty of time for people to become better acquainted with this character who graces the greatest game ever created.
So let's get started! (Note that this will contain spoilers for Earthbound and the original Mother.)
Just in hearing a description of Giygas as he appears in Earthbound, it's easy to arrive at the assumption that he's just another stock villain who is evil for the sake of being evil. He's evil incarnate, he controls evil, yadda yadda yadda. However, as is often the case, appearances can be very, very deceiving.
Let's start with the above picture. Most people, I would wager, have never even seen the depiction on the left; if anything at all, they've only seen Giygas as he appears on the right. But the story does indeed begin on the left, as Giygas was the final villain in the original Mother, too (known outside of Japan as Earthbound Zero), albeit in a much different form (and with a different name; his name was translated as "Giegue" in that game). In truth, Giygas is, in my view, one of the most interesting villains ever created, and the way in which players interact with him in both Mother and Earthbound is a truly unique experience among video games, and presents him in a way that only a video game can.
The beginning occurs a long time before either Mother or Earthbound, and involves three individuals: Giygas - an alien - and two humans, George and Maria. The humans are husband and wife, and care for Giygas as though he were their own son, and through their love he develops a deep emotional bond with them. This, however, makes George's betrayal all the more painful - the aliens possess psychic powers, and he steals their secrets and brings them back to Earth with him. Enraged, Giygas leads an alien force in an invasion of Earth to destroy humanity, and the only thing that stands between Earth and annihilation is George and Maria's grandson, Ninten.
When Ninten and his party come face-to-face with Giygas in the final battle of the game, however, they find that this game contains one of the most realistic depictions of an advanced alien race found in any video game to date: Giygas cannot be beaten, and his abilities defy comprehension. Literally. Any physical attack mounted on Giygas does not affect him in any way, and the game refuses to even attempt to describe his attacks.
However, within Giygas there remains one single weakness, and it's through the exploitation of this weakness that the true genius of this game shines through. And that weakness is... Giygas' own compassion. When Maria was caring for Giygas, she would always sing him a lullaby, and when Ninten and his party sing that song to him - he tries to stop it, but can't - he eventually breaks down and finds himself unable to kill the grandson of his "mother". And with that, he leaves, vowing to return.
As his emotional connections prevented him the last time from going through with his plans, they are, of course, the primary target for the removal of limitations on his power, and it's through this fact that the real tragedy of Giygas' character arrives. He seals himself within a device called the Devil's Machine, which augments and increases his power - but so much so that it quite literally destroys him, leaving behind no physical body of any kind, but rather nothing more than an ineffable mass of malevolance and terror. And, ironically, so too does he destroy his mind, and with it all semblance of logic and reason that he might have possessed, leaving him unable to even understand what goals he might have possessed. And, tragically, he also destroys in the process every last remnant of compassion within his being.
Here, too, however, the final battle with this being is as unorthodox as it was in Mother. You can't hurt Giygas at this point - not in a conventional manner of speaking. By this time, Giygas has become evil itself, and can manipulate the evil in anyone's heart. So how does one combat such a thing? Simple: by praying to their loved ones and their friends, thereby harnessing the good in their hearts. Giygas is defeated not by being shot, or stabbed, or anything else of such a standard form; rather, Giygas' form is rendered unstable and eventually collapses from the combined well wishes of everyone in the world whom Ness and his party touched along their journey.
In other words, it's not even a metaphorical sense of good triumphing over evil. It is quite literally good triumphing over evil. Every human being on the planet has both good and evil in their heart, and the party's ultimate victory in Earthbound comes simply in proving to evil itself that the good outweighs the evil.
All told, it's a cIassic story, but told and presented in such a way that I have literally never seen anything like it either before or since. And Giygas' role in it all is both pivotal and unique. He is literally unbeatable, except in reminding him first of the compassion in his own heart, and then of the goodness in all humans' hearts. He is a tragic character, loved and betrayed by those he loved, and ultimately the author of his own destruction. And that is why I support him as the greatest villain - and why I hope you can find it in the goodness of your heart to do the same.
But even if you can't, at least go out and vote.