You know I was playing Dark Souls 3 and Devil May Cry 3 recently and I was having great fun with all these great epic boss battles and I was wondering to myself what makes a great boss battles in these slow to fast games from different genres and then I went off-track and thought of horrible design choices for bosses. With these thoughts I decided to write this blog to show how different kind of bosses that can work or fail using bosses as examples on how they did it.
Blog will contain spoilers so be warned.
I have not play every game of I may be missing some great boss battles.
Good: The epic showdown between your equal
One of the simplest but effective forms of a boss battle. After so much build up and your blood pumping you are about to have a one on one with your rival. To make this work you'll need some who rivals the player in terms of power and enough build up to get you pumped to beat this boss. The greatest evidence for this type of battle would be Vergil from DMC 3.
Vergil is great choice for this blog because they built to be this awesome and powerful rival to Dante in the game and he shows. Just like Dante his character and powers grows as the story goes on. 1st battle it is shown in the cutscene he defeated Dante and before the 2nd he goes so far to take a weapon from a boss you have just defeated before so now. Now he really crossed the line. You'll think fighting him 3 times would make his strategy predictable but no keeps thing fresh with new weapons/abilities. At the last battle you have keep on your toes as he'll teleport, unleash combos and use devil trigger to regenerate lost health. At the end you're given a ending that is honestly bittersweet but satisfying between Dante and Vergil.
Other great bosses that follow this:
Bad: Some much build up that ends up like a wet fart
Sometimes they can be a boss with so much build up and fail to live up to what the boss could be which happens a lot with modern games nowadays. The boss may be a massive pushover like an enemy with bigger health bar or some quick times events. The worst offender of this would be Sauron from Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor.
The designers somehow managed to turn the dark lord Sauron into a pushover. It take only 5 (I shit you not)quick-time events to bring him down. There really not much else to say, the boss (if you call it a boss) was shit and the ending was shitter. What also bother me is that the other bosses (despite easy) had some form of a boss battle so what's his excuse?
Other craptastic bosses:
Good: A boss that makes you dread every encounter:
A great villain can also be intimating, powerful and frighting and make you cautious throughout the game about when he/she could strike again. You could give him everything you got and he/she will be back for more. These kinds of villains are great for horror games and I'm showcasing two horror icons. Alien and Nemesis.
I might be a cheating a little but I say the whole of Alien Isolation and RE 3 is one massive boss battle and the spaceship/city is the battlefield. Throughout these games you are being chased by something near unstoppable. These two are faster than you and can't be killed by normal means so the game is one massive game of hide and seek or tag. The Alien is a very effective villain because one loud sound may mean life or death so you are under pressure throughout the game and fear each encounter you'll face. Nemesis is the same thing in a different style. He not every subtle and shouts stars or scream in every encounter and for a guy you face many times he take a shit ton of damage to knock down for a few secs. One thing different from the alien is that he knows where you are and be encountered running across corners and straight towards you giving you a small flight before you can do anything. These two also makes you judge if you should waste your supplies/ammo on them or save them for other enemies.
Other villains worth dreading over are:
Bad: Villains less intimating than Team Rocket:
These are the kind that makes you curious on why they even bother. You defeated them many times before and it makes you annoyed about each encounter of them you face hell you are pretty sure your sneeze will blow them away. One of these kinds of bosses would be Seifer from Final Fantasy 8.
This young SeeD mercenary is the most of the time the obstacle between Squall and the Sorceress. He and Squall trained together and should be a cool rival but he a complete push over (I get to that later). He joins the sorceress because she questions his manhood.(I'm dead fucking serious) You first fight him one on one as Squall he not very difficult to fight. He mostly use melee and fire damage and he has some good spells to draw. You fight him later on disk 2 twice and after losing to Squall one on one he thinks he can take on a party of three. He uses the same attacks just stronger making his strategy the same thing again and again. As long you set your stats to fire and physical reduction he won't do much damage. But here's the funny thing late game he has some powerful spells you can draw (like aura which gives you unlimited limit breaks) which mean Seifer helps you more than trying to stop you.
Other Annoying bosses:
Good: Bosses with meanings/symbolism:
Heavy spoilers for Silent Hill 2
Some bosses carry a message through their evil that may relate to the world or the main character. These villains can leave an impact in your mind for days/weeks. The finest proof of this would be the walking symbolism Pyramid Head in Silent Hill 2.
Pretty much everything in Silent hill counts for symbolism but the most iconic monster would be Pyramid Head. To say he looks wrong would be an understatement. He represent the guilt James has for murdering his wife. His huge headpiece shows James has alot in his mind, him dragging his massive knife represents James dragging his guilt and the fact that Pyramid Head was the town executioner shown in the museum tell that James made up this monster. At the final showdown James understands what he has done and begins to fight back at the two Pyramid Heads. Pyramid Heads leaves his knife for a spear showing that James's guilt is going. After some time Pyramid Head having no purpose now kill themselves. I think Pyramid Head is example of what kind of story telling a game can do that movies can't.
Other Bosses that showcase a story through their battles.
Bad: Bosses that throws everything out the window
Sometimes they can great a great villain and they throw everything they had for him down the drain because they had to have one more boss battle. These bosses can often feel pointless and was forced in because designers thought they need one more boss battle. One of these battles would be the Joker from Batman: Arkham Asylum.
The Joker boss battle goes against everything the Joker is. He is supposed to be more brains than brawn and would hatch some plan instead of fighting Batman head on. I would accept a huge wave of thugs rather than him. So much build up for his party and he injects himself with titan. Oh yeah the fight is piss easy anyways just dodge his attacks, beat up his goons and knock him down twice and repeat.
Other bosses that lost theirs purpose:
Good: A boss that pushes your limits:
A boss should always be a challenge. Every different boss should provide a new kind of challenge to keep you on your toes. Tough as nail but fair. For these topic I going to use whole games as an example and now we are going to talk about Monster Hunter.
Monster Hunter is a game entirely based on boss battles and when your not battling bosses you're preparing for a boss battle. Every boss has different attacks and openings to exploit making you change your strategy and/or your weapon time to time. None of these monsters are push over however. If you attack head on you are bound to lose. My strategyies mostly revolve hit and run with the great sword and use powerful attack when staggered. To create stronger weapons & armor you'll need to hunt these monsters again and you'll start you notice more and more weakness from a monster you had trouble fighting. I suppose the game has the same stronger variations of the same monsters in different colours but these monsters have new attacks spicing up the battles.
Games with awesome boss battles
Bad: A boss that pushes the limit so hard it shits itself:
These are the bosses that are too difficult to the point it's unfair and cheating. Fighting games are normally the worst offenders but they are some slip by to other genres. I'll be talking about pretty much every SNK boss battle.
These bosses are the bane of children who used to play games in the arcade. They are overly powerful, lighting fast reflexes small recovery frames. These bosses were just made to make the children to feed the money for a continue and SNK were the masters at this. Hell I still haven't beat Omega Rugal in Capcom vs SNK 2 yet. Maybe some people love these kinds of bosses but I hate them to no end.
Geese if you're reading this how much money and tears did you take from innocent children?
Bosses that pushes my buttons:
Thanks for reading this blog. If you want to I'll happily take some feedback so I can improve my blogs. And feel free to talk about any bosses you think missed in the comments
Weird Bonus pictures I found while looking for Seifer pics.