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LONG BLOG

Boss Fight Appreciation Zone - ROUND 4

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You're struggling.

The battlefield has not shown you mercy, and you find yourself getting increasingly exhausted, as fierce enemies overwhelm you and grand obstacles stand before you. At times, it may look like you're attempting the impossible, that you are so weak and insignificant that it takes nothing to bring you down. At times, the challenge is almost scary to you, and the solutions seem out of the realm of possibility. You're running out of options, and you're running out of health.

But you do not give up.

You don't work that way. 'Life's as worth living as ass is worth kicking', is the code you live by. So you press on. For every step back, you take two steps forward. With every failure comes a little bit of wisdom. As the difficulty rises, your fear lowers, and you accept it. You get comfortable with it. As you polish up your strategy, you eventually reach perfection. Before you know it, you see your goal. There is your destination, right in front of you. What once felt like a distant dream has come true, and you finally get to advance on your journey. But that's when you see it.

That's when you face the boss.

Thinking you were at the end of your struggles, it now turns out that they have only started. Every enemy you've faced, every obstacled you've passed, everything you've fought for so far, has led to this. You now face the ultimate test of skill. Your fear returns.

It's not easy. The strategies that were flawless against everything else are not enough here, and once again, you're forced to think out of the box. After a good while being a chew toy, you start to consider your surrender, as the difficulty seems to be too much for you to handle. But then, you discover a weakness. Something unexpectedly starts working, the pieces start coming together, and it's just enough to turn the battle around. With this weakness exploited, your strategy suddenly has an effect. Your confidence is renewed. The battle lasts a while, but in the end, the boss turns out to no longer be a match for you. You strike the final blow, and emerge victorious.

You stand as a lone champion in the middle of what was once a battlefield, look upon your defeated, and walk off to seek a new challenge.

Welcome back!

 

Yes, it is once again time for gifs and gushing. As usual, commenters from previous rounds throw their own personal favourites into the mix, ensuring that even games that I haven't played myself (or haven't considered) get a chance to make it onto the list.

Spoilers are obviously going to be all over the place, so tread lightly.

(NOTE: Every gif is clickable, and links to each boss' soundtrack. Open it in another tab while reading for the ultimate BFAZ experience!)


"One of my favorite bosses ever is the Huge Hermit from Metal Slug 3. It's a giant hermit crab that chose a huge military tank as a shell, and it chases you down while shooting projectiles from the tank and attacking you with its claws, and also destroying the bridge you're running on. It's a cool idea for a boss to begin with, not to mention it looks freaking beautiful in motion, since the Metal Slug team's pixel work was just phenomenal!"

- bbain

First one on the list and we're already tits-deep in crazy!

By itself, the tank is already strange, with an impractical number of cannons pointing in different, random directions. Makes me wonder what cross-eyed maniac developed this thing. The hermit crab thing only perfects the piece, and it is a really cool idea.

The Metal Slug games are where I think people really started to see the potential in pixel art and animation, and the games have had a very clear influence on modern pixel artists and game developers. It's the kind of influence that has led to stuff like Rain World, which I really appreciate, so I have a lot to thank these games for. I wanted to pick up MS3 on PSN, but it wasn't available, so I got the first one as well, and it's been plenty of fun so far. I should probably return to it soon, even if I may not beat it.

 


"As for a boss I love, the final confrontation with Radec from Killzone 2 is easily the best boss in any FPS I've played. A highly strategic, punishing but fair fight. Doing it on Elite was one of the most amazing things I've ever done."

- GajKnight

Dude, this game looks Radecal! HAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!

No but seriously, I think GajKnight might have sold me on the Killzone series, or at least this one installment. This is considered the best one, right? In any case, this teleportation stuff, combined with Gaj's description, makes me really intrigued. It looks tactical, raw and tense, which is something that I really value in a shooter.

The franchise's name has always sounded cool to me too. It's so punchy, simple and straight to the point, while still being fairly original. That's the best kind of product name in my opinion, especially for entertainment.

Killzone may never be a Halo killer, but it's definitely welcome in my zone, hahahaHAHAHAHA!!!

 

"I'd like to nominate the "Liquid Ocelot" encounter from MGS4. Not so much because of the fighting itself but for everything that this battle encapsulates:
Two old men. Both have been pushed far beyond their limits and at this point in the game, it's all basically over. The GOP-Servers are destroyed and a virus is destroying what's left of the other Patriots.

Yet here we are and there is no turning back for the two. There are no flashy special moves this time. There aren't even weapons. They brawl it out on top of a secret submarine with their life-bars and the background music changing over time to resemble the respective ones from the previous games.
...Damn, I'm getting goosebumps while typing this."

- Zer0t0nin

I've talked so much about Metal Gear Rising on here that I've almost forgotten about the other MG's. The entire series has always been well known for its bosses, despite being based around stealth (although it has gotten more and more action focused).

Here we see two old men punching the arse out of each other, despite the main conflict seemingly being solved. They are just really tired of each other's shit, I guess.

Solid Snake really seems to be at a disadvantage here, though. It looks really warm, yet he's still wearing his entire suit. I know it protects him, but that hardly matters if both are going straight for the face, which certainly seems to be the case here. Ocelot gets all the fresh air, and Snake's old ass is cooking. No wonder he's losing in the gif.

 

"...For me, one would be ... in Final Fantasy VIII. The first time you face Ultimecia at the end of the first disc, because (Spoilers for a half a million years old game here) when you "beat" the boss, she doesn't actually die, because Ultimecia ends up being the final bossof the game. You "willow" down (Is that a real expression, or am I hearing it wrong?) her hitpoints enough to progress with the story, but it shows you kinda giving her an attack, and she just kinda waves it off, and then she summons this giant icicle that's like the size of this massive spear, and then she just sends it into Squall (the main protagonist of the game) and kinda pierces his heart, so it looks like you die, and you see your team has been defeated. You have a second splinter team that failed in their mission as well. They've all been captured. And then it kinda fades to black and says: "alright, go to disc 2", so you're left with that cliffhanger of a boss..."

- djnealb (PStoid)

That is a very rough quote, yes, but it's the best I could do. You can't copy-paste audio, after all.

With JRPGs being alien territory to me, I don't know much about Final Fantasy. I know there's a guy named Cloud, and he has spiky hair and a huge sword that he couldn't possibly lift. The games are also extremely long, so you always need like ten discs to play them. There's a wizard. There's a cactus thing. That's about it...

Predictably, I can't comment much on the boss fight either, but I do love a good cliffhanger, especially one that you know will be resolved. That's actually a pretty clever use of having more than one disc, since there will inevitably be a break in the story anyway, and being part of the same game means that the player won't be frustrated by it. Instead, frustration is replaced by anticipation and excitement, like when you finish a season of a show on Netflix, knowing the next one is on there too.

So yeah, good on you Final Fantasy VIII. That's a cool thing that you did.

 

"I ended up picking Majora's Mask and Majora's Mask from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask"

- Nanashi (PStoid)

The thing about Majora's Mask from Majora's Mask is that Majora's Mask always Majora's Masks when Majora's Mask, but not when Majora's Mask Majora's Masks in another Majora's Mask. It might be because Majora's Mask isn't really Majora's Mask without Majora's Mask and Majora's Mask from The Legend of Majora's Mask: Majora's Mask.

I want there to be a Minora's Mask, which is just a really shitty, poorly made version of Majora's Mask. Like, the eyes aren't fully circular, some of the paint is peeling off, stuff like that.

FUN FACT: Did you know? Majora's Mask was originally going to be named Major Ass Mask, explaining why the titular mask vaguely resembles a firm pair of buttocks.

(NOTE: Nanashi actually did go further into detail during the podcast, but I felt like making fun of the game's name instead, like an asshole. If you want to know the rest, and a couple of other cool boss opinions, go listen to the full podcast. It's only three hours, you have the time!) 

 

This time around, I have a few choices on here that are probably a bit unexpected. There are also a couple that I have been dying to talk about ever since I begun making these. Let's have a look!

Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc is a strange game. It's kind of the black sheep in the series, but not to the same degree as something like Zelda II. In fact, if you might find that a lot of people actually consider it the best in the series, likely preferring the more simplistic, combat focused gameplay over the other, more collection based games in the series. But it's generally either the first one, the second one or Origins/Legends that gets the most praise. I personally consider it the "worst" one, as little as that means, but there is one thing that I find it did better than any of the other games: the bosses. The bosses of Rayman 3 are just the coolest! They are creative, varied, fun, challenging and memorable. While the game's combat can get a bit repetitive at times, the bosses alone makes the entire game worth playing, and I strongly recommend it to any boss lover out there for that reason alone. It's actually a bit difficult for me to choose between them (especially from the first half), but I think Reflux will always be my favourite.

Reflux is a Knaaren (with a hard 'k'), a powerful species of creatures that you, usually, can't do anything against, meaning you have to run from them. But this guy, the strongest of them all, you will have to face. That's a very effective way of immediately making him scary. He's no pushover either, and he fully deserves his reputation. With many different attack phases, and with no real safe spot anywhere, this is a fight that forces you to constantly move and adapt to your opponent, which in this case often requires some quick reflexes. Once he's been through a number of attacks, he rests his staff, allowing you to do damage. But he never stops attacking you, as you still have to dodge fireballs while moving close to him.

The fight is on a high note the whole way through, and never lets up for a second. With a foe that spends most of the fight being invincible, never gives you a break, has a ton of health and gets more dangerous the more you hurt him, this makes for one of the game's hardest battles by far, and the game treats it that way. It takes place in an underground arena surrounded by smoke and lava, watched by an audience of your enemies. The music is weird, yet fittingly intense, and the whole thing is like a little climax in itself, ending off the first half of the game with a bang.

 

Has there ever been a movie that had an evil training montage? Like, it's just a montage of the bad guy getting stronger, and instead of feeling motivated, you're supposed to be scared? Because, for some reason, that's what the music of the Wardens makes me think about.

As for the Wardens themselves, they don't get a mention here for their difficulty (they are kinda easy), but for the system that they represent. In most open world crime games, once you get the highest possible wanted rating, it stays like that until you either die or somehow manage to run and hide for long enough for it go down. In Saints Row IV, getting the highest rating triggers this boss, and beating it takes the rating down to zero. That is goddamn revolutionary, and the real reason I put this one on here. It is at once a punishment and a reward for the chaos you've caused, and it's kicked off by such a sweet intro, with the Warden falling from the sky and roaring at you, and the music kicking off.

I once fought one at the top of a skyscraper, and managed to have both of us fall off during the final blow. Killed the bastard before I landed among the clueless, virtual citizens. Instant mood change. Suddenly, the fight felt like a distant memory, despite having happened seconds ago. Looking back, I think that was the moment that I really started to appreciate the Wardens.

They may not present that much of a challenge, but they are memorable for many other reasons.

 

Oh yea, catching up on those Zelda bosses!

I believe the excited fellows at ScrewAttack described this one fairly well in that one video. Originally I wanted the first Darknut to take its place during this round, but that one will have to wait. Priorities!

Strangely, it seems like Zelda bosses tend to be either extremely cute or demonic abominations, and while the Dead Hand will probably always be the scariest thing in the entire series, Stallord is by far the most metal! A huge, skeletal torso with long arms and a demon-like head. Or dragon-like. Is... is this Spyro!? Is this what's happened to him!?

Spyro or not, the boss is amazing. You fight him using the most ridiculous item ever, a huge spinning top, which you use to surf around and hit him in the spine while he tries to grab you. He also raises a bunch of warriors from the dead to essentially act as goalies, as they try to prevent you from reaching his spine by standing in your way. There's even a second phase, in which you use the top to grind on the walls and basically chase his floating head around while avoiding his attacks. The entire thing is absolutely balls crazy.

What's even crazier is that Nintendo had Lamb of God do the music for this boss, as they felt it was the only appropriate way to do it. It's so weird that they would do that, but hey, I agree with them. It was a good decision overall, and I'm glad that it's a thing that they actually did, and not some bullshit that I made up because I thought the actual music was kinda dull compared to Stallord's design. Yup, glad that wasn't the very specific case.

Moving on!

 

In the first blog, I already had a gif of a Darksiders boss prepared for a proper mention, but I hadn't gotten very far in the game at that point, so I decided to hold off any mention of a boss from that game until I had completed it. It's a good thing that I did so, because this game has far better bosses later in the game. Many of them were a challenge, but Silitha gave me the most trouble by far, as she forced me to master a pattern rather than just learn it.

Silitha's attacks do tons of damage to you. Makes enough sense, as she pretty much uses her entire body weight against you, by teleporting over you and letting gravity do the work, when she isn't attacking you directly. Both attacks have to be avoided by dodging, which sounds simple enough. Dodging is a big part of the game's combat, so naturally, you should be pretty good at it by this point in the game.

But no. It is not nearly as easy as it may sound. See, simply pressing the dodge button isn't enough to escape an attack. You have to learn to use directions to your advantage, and in this case, do so by looking at Silitha's shape (and shadow), which lets you know where the closest safe spot is. Even then, you aren't given a long time to look, so you have to think quickly, and time your moves right, which is then made harder once she starts teleporting all over the place in an attempt to throw you off. When you actually get a chance to do damage while she rests, you will rarely make it over without using the grappling hook, which still doesn't reach all that far.

In short, there is a lot of things going on with this boss, and Silitha did kill me a lot of times. While most bosses in the game were mostly challenging because I didn't know how to hurt them, I knew how to hurt Silitha from the beginning of the fight, yet she still beat me multiple times. For that, she is definitely worth a mention here.

 

So far I've been avoiding fighting game bosses. Not because I dislike them, but because it's such a vague definition. They are almost always playable characters that you can unlock for yourself, and this is usually what most people remember them as. But I don't want to exclude them either, so I guess it's time to introduce them to the zone, and I'm starting with the one that's closest to my heart: Heihachi Mishima from Tekken.

I chose his Tekken 3 incarnation specifically, because that's the first one I played, and because of the remarkable achievement of being far harder than the actual final boss, Ogre. Ogre has a cool design and theme and everything, but he's child's play after dealing with Heihachi, who never fails to put up a fight. His style is a very heavy version of (classic) Jin's, and he's got some mean, hard hitting combos, as well as some brutal throws. He also has that one counter move that you never see coming, in which he pretty much kicks you across the room. This guy is no joke.

Jinpachi from Tekken 5 would also be worthy for a spot here, but he has a lot of weird, supernatural moves that are a bit too flashy for my taste (when it comes to fighting games). What I like about Heihachi his old fashioned toughness. He kicks your ass with nothing but his martial art skills, and has no need to breathe fire, shoot lasers, teleport or fly around in order to do so, which all the supernatural bosses rely on. He's just a buff old man who won't take anyone's shit, and that's a big reason why I like him so much.

I have become very familiar with his moveset ever since he became my main, so the fight against him has naturally gotten a bit easier over time, but the memories of him kicking the ass of my ass will stay with me forever.

Oh, and his music rocks!

 

"Oh, but those aren't real bosses you idiot, you never have to fight them."

Well, you know what you are? An anti-dragonite! Well, that and a non-existant strawman.

I know that these probably aren't technically considered to be bosses in a traditional sense, as they are avoidable obstacles, but the Blood Dragons have a lot in common with most bosses. They do a lot of damage, take a lot of hits to kill, and always require your full attention whenever they are close. Because of this, I still consider them bosses, and them being optional to fight doesn't change that.

Aside from being huge and fast, Blood Dragons have the ability to fire lasers out of their mouths. This makes a fight against these creatures much more intense, considering the increased range of their attacks. Add to that a very smart and organic AI, and you have an endless possibility of exciting combat scenarios, as a Blood Dragon can appear anywhere on the map (except in water).

Interestingly, you also have the option of using them to your advantage, and turn them against regular enemies. This is very helpful for taking over enemy territory, even though it might leave you and the Blood Dragon alone by the end, depending on how efficiently the enemy soldiers fought.

When you get a certain super weapon by the end of the game, these creatures unfortunately become way easier to fight, and it's a shame that they don't get to stay threatening. But during most of the game, they are still rulers of the jungle, and the've made for some very memorable fights.

So happy I chose the Blood Dragon in the round that uses red.

 

Are you a HUGE Member? If yes, you probably know about all the perks you have access to, such as increased site customization. Every HUGE Member gets to upload their own, very special background, and I have been so kind as to make one themed after Boss Fight Appreciation Zone, featuring bosses of all different shapes and sizes, for all of you out there who love to put up a good fight!

Here you go!

Unfortunately, it only really works on a widescreen monitor, and making a resized version is tricky, because the amount of space available on each side changes, meaning a complete redesign. I hope you widescreeners like it though.

Furthermore, for all the Steam users who are reading, feel free to follow my curator, Boss Lovers, to find some of the games with the best boss fight that the service has to offer. Most of them have already made an appearance here, so now you have a nice, comfortable list of the BFAZ games that are available on Steam. It's not all of them, sadly, but there are more than you might think.

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!

I'd like to do something special for the distant Round 5, by having a fun little exercise that happens to be relevant to the theme:

Are there any characters you would like to see as game bosses?

From any media, really. It doesn't have to be restricted to movies or TV, it can be anything from books to music to sports to cereal boxes. Anything you can think of.

Some examples:

O-Ren Ishii from Kill Bill

Skilled at swordfighting, and one of my favourite characters from the movie.

Mike Ehrmantraut from Breaking Bad

Has proven himself to be a very clever, tactical guy, who comes up with a lot of ways to mess with you on the spot.

René Dif from Aqua

His voice is a deadly weapon in itself.

As you can see, I'm not necessarily looking for detailed descriptions here. I'd just like to see some fun suggestions. Excited to see what you peeps can think of! :)

 

What a bunch of craziness! Well, we're about to wrap this round up, but before we do so, I'd like you folks to participate in a little community vote thingy. See, there's a bunch of game related subjects I'd like to blog about, all of which are somewhat related, but I need to find out where to put my focus. As such, I've come up with three blog titles, each covering a theme, and I'd like to know what people are the most interested in.

a)

In which I talk about 3D platformers, and do my best to explain their appeal, while highlighting influential examples.

b)

In which I talk about how tricky it is to turn a desert into an interesting level, and take a look at how different games pull it off.

c)

In which I talk about game environments in general, and what makes some of them more interesting than others.

All of these subjects are fun to me, but some of you might like one more than the other. Just write which one you'd like to see in a comment, and it counts as a vote. :)

As always, all of you are encouraged to share your favourite boss fights in the comments below, (or anywhere else), and any of them might have a chance of making it to the next round.

This is it for now. I'm out!

 

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About Dangoone of us since 10:28 AM on 11.09.2011


Art by the fantastic Roberto Plankton


Phalanxification by the bombastic ZombZ



The cream of my video game crop (no longer in alphabetical order):