Hear ye, hear ye! The meeting of monarchs has officially commenced, bringing together the disparate crowns of all our favorite digital realms. But to which king or queen should you pledge your allegiance? Not all of these so-called majesties are half as majestic as they think. Fewer still are worthy of their thrones. So allow us to sift out the superior sovereigns from the rubbish rulers by breaking down the best and worst kings and queens in gaming.
Superior sovereign: Onion King
No, not that sailing fellow from Game of Thrones. We’re talking about Overcooked’s benevolent allium-in-chief of course! Here’s a king that makes his country the main course by hiring the best chefs in the business to defend it. Any land that prizes the culinary arts above martial ones is likely to be a good place to live. Better yet, the Onion King’s canine companion Kevin is: A, a cute dog you can stroke; and B, capable of piloting a helicopter to save the day. Corgis can’t really compete with that, can they?
Rubbish ruler: Arthas Menethil (aka the Lich King)
If history is anything to go by, killing your dad to take the throne is pretty much the go-to move of princes in waiting. That doesn’t mean we have to like you for doing it, though. Despite the warnings of every single mentor and friend around him, Warcraft 3’s Arthas Menethil decides that picking up a cursed sword is the smart way to save his country from the ravages of a plague.
Shockingly, this doesn’t pan out well, and Arthas soon starts purging entire cities, murdering his family, raising undead, and becoming an all around Bad Guy. Only in World of Warcraft’s Wrath of the Lich King expansion did players finally get the chance to give him the thumping he so deserved.
Superior sovereign: King Dedede
King Dedede is a ruler who knows how to play his part. When a Kirby game needs a villain, he steps up to slap his belly menacingly and swing a rocket-powered hammer around. When bigger threats emerge, he’s there to help save the day. During Super Smash Bros. Brawl’s story, Dedede’s magical badges were the only things to save Nintendo’s entire roster of champions from being transformed into figurines. He even selflessly gives up his own protection to shield another. If that wasn’t enough, he’s an adorable giant penguin with great fashion sense and a love of food. Seriously, just imagine how good getting a hug from this guy would feel.
Rubbish ruler: King K. Rool
He may share Dedede’s characteristic of being an oversized animal ruler, but in all other aspects, Donkey Kong villain King K. Rool falls far short. This cruel crowned croc steals bananas, yes, but not because he wants to eat them. K. Rool’s only interest is in creating an artificial scarcity to starve the primates and steal their land. He may own a pretty rad pirate ship and have a quality theme tune, but that doesn’t excuse colonialism, kids.
Superior sovereign: Savathûn, the Witch Queen
You know that bit in a fantasy tale where a character is introduced by a whole host of names to make them seem cool and storied? Destiny 2’s Hive god-queen takes the concept a bit further than most. We won’t dive into the tangled lore here, but just know that – according to the game’s fan wiki – old Savvy has a whopping 20 titles to her name.
The Mighty Witch Queen’s other monikers include such gems as Emancipator of Worms, Archentrope, Subjugant to None, The Whisper Queen, and The Scheme Mother. That’s an entire catalog of FromSoftware boss titles in one package. As an added bonus, she’s also an absolutely enormous 21-foot-tall alien. We’re reliably informed that’s something the internet is rather fond of.
Rubbish ruler: Morgott the Omen King
Despite being a child of gods, Elden Ring's Morgott doesn’t exactly get the best start to life. Shackled and imprisoned underground, he struggles with being born as a loathed Omen yet feeling tied to the Erdtree and throne that shuns him. It’s a pitiable fate, really. But here’s the thing. We just can’t get behind someone who thinks that the pseudonym Margit is clever. Not only did we have no idea who you were to begin with, your second name is almost identical to the first! Still, he’s far and away the better sibling than his child-stealing, blood-obsessed brother Mohg, so that’s something.
Superior sovereign: Bowser
Bowser probably isn’t a great head of state. Not when his only major decrees seem to be the exclusion of plumbers, hoarding power stars, and installation of as many lava pits and swinging fire traps as possible. But something must have won over the hearts of all the Goombas, Koopas, Spinies, and more who follow him. Our guess? It’s because he’s a good dad. From game to game, Bowser shifts between antagonist, ally, and sometimes rival sports star. But at the end of the day, he’s always there for his kid. King Koopa understands the real priorities in life.
Rubbish ruler: Rat King
A lot of leaders out there want to be known as a man of the people. The Last of Us Part 2’s Rat King clearly misheard this concept – probably a result of all the fungus covering its ears – and aimed instead to be a man made of the people. Abby encounters this hideous monstrosity while exploring the lower levels of a hospital, and it’s a boss fight few players are likely to forget.
Stitched together from multiple infected bodies, the Rat King is by far the toughest infected in the game and capable of killing the player in a single hit. Worse still, damaging it enough only splits it in two, forcing you to face multiple nightmares at once. The only tithe befitting this king is a shotgun blast to the face(s).
Superior sovereign: Midna
Though technically labeled a princess, Midna is the clear ruler of the Twili people. That puts the star of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on even footing with any gaming monarchs in our books. Usurped from the throne by Zant, she’s relegated to the body of a gremlin and forced to partner with Link’s cursed wolf form to free them both from his magic. What makes Midna special is that – unlike most video game rulers – she actually gets a character arc.
Initially dismissive of the light world from which her people were banished, she’s eventually willing to sacrifice herself to save Hyrule and its inhabitants. Midna returns to her own land at the end of the game, shattering the link between them (not that Link, don’t worry). Sadly, we haven’t seen this absolute queen in any mainline Zelda game since.
Rubbish ruler: You
If video games (and history) have taught us anything, it’s that being a medieval head of state is liable to leave you in a headless state. Whether you’re fending off aged suitors in Long Live the Queen, being nuked into oblivion in Civilization, or contracting dysentery in Crusader Kings 3, taking up the mantle of monarch is liable to leave you despised, diseased, and ultimately dead. We’ll be fine with a pitchfork in a field, thanks.
You might not want to wear the crown, but you can still deck out your game space with gear fit for a king or queen! Head to the HyperX store for a royal selection of the best headsets, microphones, monitors, and more.