hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

The best boss fights involve getting picked on by someone your own size

5:00 PM on 05.03.2014 // Nic Rowen
  @wrenchfarm

Promoted from our Community Blogs!

[Dtoid community blogger Wrenchfarm shares some of his favorite battles with bosses who can kick your ass without being the size of a building.Want to see your own blog appear on our front page? Go write something! --Mr Andy Dixon]

Bosses are cheap. They tower above your itty-bitty character, just as likely to kill you with a fatal boot stomping as they are likely to erase you with the BFG-GodMode2000 hanging off their arm. They use insane attacks, crazy bullet-hell stuff, turning the screen into a latticework of nasty-nasty-death-murder. They have a legion of flunkies at their disposal, ready and willing to throw their lives away in a human wave attack just to dull your sword or waste your ammo. They've got the dungeon all rigged up with traps, hazards, and bondage straps -- just for you of course. Bosses are cheap as hell.

Except when they're not.

You don't see them too often, but there are some bosses out there who don't need all the pageantry and special gimmicks to make you squeal. There are are few pure badasses out there who can take you on at your own level and beat you. These guys aren't huge, they don't have an arsenal of overpowered fusion cannons, they have abilities and attacks comparable to you. Basically they play by the same rules -- they're just better.

Who doesn't love a good clean fight? These bosses are almost always the most memorable and special. I've come across a few, but here are some of my favorites.

Gwyn

Dark Souls does boss fights right. They're practically the highlight of the game. Epic face-offs against insanely imaginative beasts, demons, and fallen Gods. Blatantly unfair pitched battles that will see you standing against everything from an insane dragon suffering a birth defect, to the infamous duo of Executioner Smough and Dragon Slayer Ornstien -- a pair of gold-plated knobs who will doubleteam you until you rip the disk out of the system and bite it clean in half out of frustration.

Wait, what do you mean nobody else did that?

And because From Software is really good at what they do, they don't try to outdo themselves. Instead of going over the top for the final confrontation, they go under. They practically limbo into the final showdown with Gwyn.

The ultimate challenge you face in Dark Souls isn't some massive dragon or raging demon. He's a vaguely sad old man. Granted, he's a burly goddamn old man with a fuck-huge flaming sword who will wreck you in the beat of a hummingbird's wings, but still, a sad old man. You fight him in the sandy ashes of his once great hall while haunting piano music plinks away in the background. It's understated, refined, classy.

Gywn doesn't exactly mirror the player character's abilities, but it's close. He's approximately the same size as the player, fights with a conventional -- if impressive -- weapon, and has kind of exaggerated versions of the player's core attacks. More interestingly though are his weaknesses, those are what truly define him and make him unique. Gywn is the only true boss character who can be parried and stabbed with a devastating riposte, an automatic critical hit that will bring him do his knees. It's a fascinating design choice that I can't help but suspect was done intentionally.

More than just an interesting quirk for the final boss fight of the game, Gwyn's similarities to the player character are also thematically appropriate. I won't get into spoilers, but it makes sense for Gwyn to fight and behave much closer to an idealized version of the player than any other boss. It's an amazing example of using game mechanics to subtlety weave a narrative thread.

Those From Software folks, mighty damn clever.

Vergil

Dante spends most of Devil May Cry 3 getting noogied by his much cooler older brother.

Dude, I can relate.

In my mind, Vergil is the Ur-example of getting picked on by someone you're own size. While DMC3 is infamously difficult and features some of the most bowel clenchingly nasty bosses this side of the river Styx, Vergil manages to outgun them all -- and he does it by meeting you at your own level.

Vergil and Dante are brothers so it's only fitting they fight with similar, but individually distinct, styles. They have quite a few overlapping talents (the quick teleport "trick step", double jumping, a dive kick while using the Beowulf boots, etc) that make fights between the two really look like a pair of bickering brothers trying to one-up each other.

"Nuh-huh, I can do it better!" *impales brother with a 7 foot katana blade while blowing a raspberry*

But they also do things different. While both share a love of sharp pointy things, Vergil is just too classy to use something as crude as the over the top handcannons Dante adores. Instead, he has a few ghostly summoning swords to stab at people from a distance. Gameplay wise they are functionally identical -- an annoying but low damage long range attack -- but people are defined by their differences, and it's the little touches that really sell the sibling rivalry.

Vergil behaves so much like Dante that you can actually play as him in a New Game Plus mode in DMC3. It's pretty crazy at first, but eventually it feels as natural as playing as Dante. In the DmC reboot, there's an entire DLC pack where you play as Vergil. Granted, he wears a silly bowler hat in that game that makes him look like an MRA, but for the most part he's actually pretty alright.

At least when he's not being a genocidal butt-muncher.

Brothers, geez.

Yellow 13

Ace Combat 4 ends with this crazy assault against an elaborate underground fortress. You have to fly perilously inside of the massive facility to strike at it's very heart. It's protected by an anti-air superiority laser array, and the crazed remnants of Eurasia's most hardline military personnel. Zealots who rejected their orders to stand-down, instead, seizing control of the doomsday weapon their country secretly built, hoping to destroy a world they couldn't conqueror.

What played out, over-embellished, videogame tripe.

The real climax of Ace Combat 4 is when you finally splash Yellow 13.

AC4 is a beautifully made game. While all the action takes place in the burning skies of the modern battlefield, the story is told through the perspective of a child in your occupied homeland. You see the real cost of war as far removed from your high flying glory as could be. You also meet Yellow 13, the famed ace pilot of the Eurasian forces, and your narrator's unlikely friend.

In between missions, you see how your direct actions wear upon Yellow squad and the country you're trying to liberate. You see their hesitation, their discomfort with their mission but conflicting commitment to duty. You see the pain you inflict when you blow members of Yellow squad out of the sky. The story framing all leads to an inevitable showdown with your rival ace, Yellow 13.

Unlike other games, Yellow 13 doesn't fly some kind of anime super jet. He doesn't have any special ability, no Macross-style missile barrages, or physics defying jets. He's simply an extremely talented pilot in a standard issue Su-37. When you meet him (especially on the higher difficulties) it becomes a wonderful, if deadly, dance in the sky. Ace against ace. By far the most satisfying encounter of the game (maybe even the series)

And because of the way the story is framed, by the time you shoot down Yellow 13, you'll know and care more about him than your own player character.

It's actually kind of a huge bummer.

Ok, forget that. Let's talk about a different rival ace pilots we can actually feel GOOD about sending to a fiery, high-altitude grave.

Star Wolf.

You have no idea how hard it was to find a picture of these dudes that wasn't weird porn

Man, fuck Star Wolf.

What a fine collection of airborne pricks. Star Wolf is the rival squad to the Star Fox team in the classic N64 title. A group of jerkwards led by the perpetually cocky Wolf O'Donnell, you end up fighting them a bunch of times, pitting Arwing fighter against Wolfen attack-ship.

Wolf is always on your back. He laughs at your inferior piloting skills, constantly makes below-the-belt jokes about Fox's dead dad, and mocks the team for keeping Slippy on the roster.

(Well, he may have a point about hanging out with Slippy...)

Anyway, these guys are knobs. Defeating Andross is supposed to be the highlight of the game, but there is just no way that beating a giant, floating, space-chimp is going to be as satisfying as turning Wolf and his buddies into fucked up piles of burning wreckage.

You're a douche Wolf, and you can't hang with Yellow 13 in dogfight Valhalla.

The Boss

After sneaking past the entire Soviet army, eating two of every animal on God's green earth, and somehow killing a dude made of bees, it's understandable that you might get a healthy heaping of haughty big-headedness by the end of Metal Gear Solid 3.

The Boss is more than happy to lance that swollen ego and watch it ooze out in puss and sadness.

Straight up, the Boss is a badass. She can do everything Snake can do. Camouflaged concealment? Check. Stealth assassination? Check? Close quarter combat techniques that will shatter your humerus like you dropped grandma's tea set? You better believe that's a check. And just try to get cute and smack her with the butt of your AK-47, she'll rip it out of your hands, break it down into little pieces, and then do the same to your jaw.

The Boss is by far the most dangerous opponent you meet in the game. Considering you also manage to destroy a 152 ton screw-propelled nuclear tank from the back of a motorcycle, that's saying something.

She's Snake's mentor, mother-figure, and kind of creepy crush. The headmistress of Murder School who only took a break from slaughtering Nazis in WWII to give birth in the middle of a battlefield. It's no wonder she can cuff Snake (Mr. Big Boss himself) around the ears like a disobedient puppy.

More than just the standard "end of a Metal Gear fistfight", The Boss flips the script. Her word is law in the jungle, and Snake goes from apex-predator to bottom-feeding prey at her whim. After playing the part of the sneaky assassin the whole game, it's incredibly alarming the first time The Boss gets the drop on you. When you lose sight of her in the bushes and try to poke around with that doofy directional microphone to find her, only to have The Boss yank you out of first person view, knock your head around like a soccer ball, and tell you just how disappointed she is with you. You're totally outclassed by this woman and you know it.

I would love to see a side-game in the series where you play as The Boss. Maybe a prequel that shows her and her Cobra unit's exploits during WWII. Tell me the title Metal Gear: Joy doesn't send a shiver up your spine.

It's a weird thing to say, but I love getting picked on by someone my own size. As much as I enjoy tackling huge monsters and blatantly unfair mis-matches, there is something so uniquely satisfying about fighting someone on the same level. It elevates the battle from yet another mere boss fight to a duel.

A duel where I might still get my arm broken in 17 places, but a duel nonetheless.

Honorable Mentions

Protoman: Another Cain and Able story, this time with a sweet ass whistle theme.

Shadow Link: The real monster is YOU.

Jeanne: Rival Witch to Bayonetta, probably the only other person alive who could pull off those heels.

Fake Trevor, Sypha, and Grant: Castlevania SOTN has you face off against three former Castlevania characters in the coliseum. It's not fun being on the other end of the whip.



Nic Rowen, Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure wrenchfarm Tips
Nic (formerly known as Wrenchfarm) has been an active member of the Dtoid community since 2010. After toiling away in the Cblog mines and Recap Team workhouse for years, he made the jump and bec... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

kolten2 avatarkolten2
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJCiF5dBSpweeStTjOqu-uA/videos
TheAngriestCarp avatarTheAngriestCarp
I'm pretty sure you guys know what game I'll be playing tomorrow. One of THE hottest games of the season. That's right, I'm talking about Lunch Truck Tychoon. Kojima ain't got shit on me, mukkas!
Flegma avatarFlegma
Playing Project Zero 2 on Wii. One should hope PZ5 got more sensible controls - twisting the Wiimote left/right to turn the camera does not make sense.
Barry Kelly avatarBarry Kelly
"When you are not playing the game or choose not to join the defense, your FOB will be defended automatically by your Security Team and security devices." Yeah, I think I'll just avoid the FOB functionality in MGS V
Snaveage avatarSnaveage
PSA: If you're picking up Phantom Pain tomorrow, put the kids down for a nap, turn off your phone and tell your partner to pipe down - the opening hour deserves your undivided attention. Enjoy!
extatix avatarextatix
If you like your hentai VNs [url="https://groupees.com/vn3"]cheap.[/url] Or even [url="https://www.indiegala.com/manga"]cheaper[/url].
VeryImportantQuestion avatarVeryImportantQuestion
Just read that SquareEnix have applied some weird mutation of crowdfunding mechanics to the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided preorder. I know the last blog I wrote mentioned how big publishers try to pervert these systems, but to think it's already this far gone.
Cosmonstropolis avatarCosmonstropolis
First in line to grab MGS V tomorrow. Close to my house, so it looks like I can eat and sleep comfortably. No one else seems to be waiting at my mailbox. Neighbors are getting suspicious.
The Travisionist avatarThe Travisionist
[img]https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CNwHpCTVAAA0jLp.png[/img] Sometimes, life is good as a ghost.
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
You know what, I'm just gonna come out and say it. I hope MGSV fails. It won't train wreck by any means, but I hope it's a huge financial failure. Nothing against Kojima, but #fuckonami
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
MGS V unlocks for me tomorrow at noon.
LinkSlayer64 avatarLinkSlayer64
Since my blog using this is basically useless, I still wanted to share it. [img]http://i.imgur.com/a33WM5Q.png[/img] CAN YOU DIG IT!?
Manchild avatarManchild
I don't think you should be able to say #Fuckonami if you are deciding to support their product anyways. I don't often agree with boycotting and am not condoning that, but get your story straight and show a little consistency.
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
When the band began to play the stars were shining bright. Now the milkman's on his way and it's too late to say good night. So, Good Morning! Good Morning!
IDrawOnTape avatarIDrawOnTape
I'm guessing all rock bands in the world must have stopped making music videos this year, since I read fall out boy's "Uma Thurman" won for rock video of the year. I can only assume there were no other nominees.that's the only rational explanation.
RatCasket avatarRatCasket
dtoid discussion has been awfully bitchy these past couple of days. knock it off. its just video games.
StripyTrousers avatarStripyTrousers
Just posted my first Dtoid Community blog. Hello all!
ChillyBilly avatarChillyBilly
Good Morning Good Morning We've talked the whole night through Good Morning Good Morning to you Good Morning Good Morning It's great to stay up late Good Morning Good Morning to you
Daniel Lingen avatarDaniel Lingen
#PAX2015
Agent9 avatarAgent9
gonna help my mom move and pack some things. what it means is I'm gonna sit and get yelled at whether I do or do not do something. I can't be the only one with a picky parent that expects nothing less than clairvoyance (-_-)
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -