First appearance: Dragon Quest III (Enix, NES, 1989)
Second appearance: As a reanimated pile of flesh on Zoma’s doorstep
Third appearance: As a tortured bundle of bones longing to return to the blistering fires of hell

Profile by Nadia Oxford? | January 31, 2011

Dragon Quest III, called Dragon Warrior III when it came to North America in 1991, is lorded over by the unattractive archfiend named Baramos. Baramos is best described as a blubbery magic-slinging reptile who aims to conquer the world Just Because, and wants to engulf everything in darkness for reasons pertaining to Why Not.

Dragon Quest III is not blessed with a complex story, but ol’ Baramos doesn’t need words to make you feel like a pansy leading a party of dinner guests instead of a band of warriors. He has silent, effective ways of grinding you under his three-clawed foot like a used cigarette, even when you’re still thousands of miles away from a showdown.

In fact, Baramos’ slow exercise in intimidation begins on the morning of your 16th birthday, when he squirms into your life via a bombshell dropped by your own dear mother. “Happy birthday,” mom says. “I didn’t get you that pony you wanted, but here’s something better: Family baggage brimming with drama and uneasy ghosts. Take it and go kill the ugly lizard-man what done killed your father.”

So you find some friends on Craigslist, buy some sticks and some clothes, and beat up birds and bugs until you have enough experience and money to buy clothes made out of dead cows. When you graduate to a big-boy sword some hours later, you start feeling pretty confident. You begin believing that teamwork and love have a chance at denting the slimy hide of evil incarnate.

You find a ship (toot toot) and the world unfurls further. You start to learn a little more about this Baramos fellow, primarily through the landscape: As you near his stronghold, the terrain becomes a bit rockier, a bit more barren, a bit more pocked with the kinds of volcano craters your dad fell down when he was fighting with a dragon in Dragon Quest III’s really cool intro movie. Eventually you happen across Tedanki, the mudhole town closest to Baramos’ stronghold. Baramos doesn’t just command magic for his own vile ends, nor does he simply aim to plunge the world into chaos: His mere existence is capable of sending values plummeting. That mad bastard.

See, when you visit Tedanki during the day, the town is a windswept ruin that belongs to the roaches and mice. But when you visit at night, it’s bustling with citizens and merchants. If you shuffle your feet and mumble something to the residents of Tedanki that suggests they might be, y’know, ghosts, they become irritated with you. You can’t blame them; it’s obvious that Baramos struck them all dead so quickly that they’re still reeling between this life and the next.

Now that is villainy. Baramos didn’t think enough of his victims to terrify them or toy with them. He simply said, “You’re blocking my view of my poison pond,” and zapped the town to ashes as callously as a land developer would dry up thriving wetland.

But even if you manage to pick your way to Baramos’ fort and take down the Archfiend, you are allowed only a mere moment to puff yourself up with pride. You quickly discover that Baramos was a mere guardian, a steward over a hole in the ground. Deep within that hole lies the troubled realm of Alefgard, along with the true evil: Zoma.

The quest to meet Zoma isn’t as daunting as the path to Baramos, but Zoma still has his quiet ways of letting you know that he’s the alpha beast. Before you’re allowed to face off in the final battle, Zoma resurrects Baramos’ cold corpse for you to beat up on. When you manage to send him back into the ground, Zoma animates Baramos’ bones.

Let it not be said that Dragon Quest’s villains let perfectly good chunks of subservient meat go to waste. Hail, Baramos. Hail, Zoma, our 8-bit overlord.

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