After gorging ourselves on Thanksgiving feasts, only 3 of us have recovered in time to present our latest top 5. This week we decided to honor the main obstacles in our path to video game victory. Some required, some merely optional – to be felled for bragging rights, and some are just plain old memorable after decades of gaming. This week we discuss The Top 5: Bosses of all time.
5. The Devil from Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock – This might seem like an odd inclusion, especially considering music games don’t usually have bosses, but hear me out. At the end of Guitar Hero III you have to duel against the Devil, with both of you taking turns playing parts of The Devil Went Down to Georgia. This, in and of itself, was awesome. But what makes this battle brutally difficult (even on lower difficulty settings) is not only the absurd note charts, but also how the Devil constantly messes with you. He can break your strings, blind you, and double the notes on the lane and more. The only way to beat him is to give him a taste of his own medicine, but to do that, you have to successfully play large sections of the track perfectly… not an easy task considering the difficulty of the song and the Devil’s tendency to interrupt you. Though I thought this type of gameplay was far too “gamey” for a music game, it was nonetheless an awesome boss battle.
4. The Spider from Limbo – One of the things I love about Limbo is forcing non-gamers to play it. It’s a simple enough game to control that anyone can try it, but what’s fascinating is when they inevitably encounter the Spider. For more squeamish players, that’s the moment the control is resolutely dropped. But with a little prodding, even novice gamers can successfully survive this encounter. They get to experience first-hand the intensity that Limbo manages to convey with only a few colors, a lot of shadow and an incredibly effective use of sound, music and atmosphere. But what makes the battle so great is how the Spider poses a constant menace throughout several scenes, and each time it reappears, the player can’t help but to react emotionally as they try to solve the associated puzzle. This is video game design at its finest, and the moment the Spider is finally killed is as satisfying as any moment in gaming.
3. Dark Link from Zelda II: The Adventure of Link – The fight against Dark Link at the end of Zelda II was awesome for a few reasons… first of all, you were fighting your freakin’ shadow. Second, it was a battle that felt both unique and yet also familiar. On one hand, you had to fight Dark Link with the tricks you learned while battling the Iron Knuckles throughout the game, but on the other hand, the physics were all wonky because you didn’t get that immediate feedback from striking Dark Link that you got from the Iron Knuckles. Finally, it was very, very difficult, and if you failed, you had to go through the entire dungeon again. Of course, that made it all the more rewarding when you finally won.
2. Kefka from Final Fantasy VI – In terms of RPG boss fights, the battle against Kefka at the end of Final Fantasy VI was particularly epic. It was a multiphase battle, and each phase featured a unique piece of music that was among the best of Uematsu’s compositions. That, on top of the screen filling artwork and general difficulty of the fight (assuming you didn’t have an army of overpowered Ultima casters) made for an appropriate challenge for the end of the game, and helped it to leave a lasting impression.
1. Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII – Sephiroth destroys the entire solar system just to attack you and has a background choir singing his name. This was not a difficult decision. Sephiroth and Kefka both made my Top 5 Villains list as well, so you can read a bit more about Sephiroth there.
5. Miguel from Chrono Cross – You’ve just gone through an area of the game that is supposed to be what is left of the world of Chrono Trigger, and you end it at Leene’s bell. For anyone who has memories of this fantastic game, the boss battle that comes right afterward is bittersweet and memorable. This boss fight isn’t on this list for the boss fight itself, but for what it represents for nostalgia.
4. Onyxia from World of Warcraft – For many gamers, Onyxia was the first raid boss they ever fought. For these gamers, the forum comments came in unison: “This is impossible.” They didn’t realize that 40 people had to work together and execute a very specific plan in order to succeed. It only took one bad egg to ruin 39 other people’s experience. This level of personal responsibility taught gamers the “right” way to fight MMO raid battles.
3. Ruby Weapon from Final Fantasy 7 – Optional bosses might make the best bosses. They can be tuned to be made as hard as possible with no regard for the normal progression of difficulty. Besides, nothing screams “Come fight me” like a sign that says “You don’t have to.” Ruby Weapon is the reward you get from beating another, optional boss called Emerald Weapon. One of the hardest RPG bosses in the history of gaming, Ruby Weapon requires a bit of luck to defeat. Go look at GameFAQs to see the years and years of people trying to beat him.
2. Bowser from Super Mario 64 – Not necessarily a difficult boss, honestly. This boss was really one of the first major bosses to be fought in 3D. Any of us who played remember spinning the analog stick to get a good head of steam going, in order to launch the big bad brute into one of the bombs hanging around the arena. It felt really different at the time, compared to anything else that was available at the time.
1. Akuma from Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo – For 4 years, you fought M. Bison at the end of Street Fighter 2. But if you were good enough, and you fulfilled certain conditions, Bison was left by the wayside just before the final battle began, and you had to fight one of the most difficult fighting game bosses of all time: Akuma. He played by different rules, could shoot air fireballs all day, and was invulnerable when we went for a sweep attack. It took me approximately 100 tries to defeat him in the home console HD re-release. Imagine dropping 100 quarters on one boss.
5. Gigantuar – Final Fantasy VIII – Final Fantasy has always had its fair share of absurd but this giant Cactaur might actually take the cake. Especially in a game as series in tone as Final Fantasy VIII. Simply approaching it’s spouting head triggers this fight and Gigantuar could take you out in one hit of his “10000 Needles” attack, making just as dangerous as he is ridiculous.
4. Bowser – Super Mario Bros. – I would be remiss if I didn’t include Bowser for one simple reason: he is the first true boss I had ever encountered in a video game. He was the evil to be defeated and “win” the game, though his evil is kind of nothing more than being indecisive as to where he wanted to leave Princess Peach, but I digress. His castles were more difficult to triumph over than him, but Bowser is the prototype boss character than has been iterated and expanded upon for the better part of 3 plus decades.
3. Mike Tyson – Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out! – Never beat him. No matter how hard I tried, I could never do it. The final fighter in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out! was fast and brutally devastating. Easily knocking you out in one punch, coupled with my searing hatred for repetition, I just never had the patience to tough it out again and again.
2. Psycho Mantis – Metal Gear Solid – How can Psycho Mantis not be on everyone’s list. Insanely creative, fourth wall breaking and down right creepy, Kojima’s outside the box thinking made Psycho Mantis easily one of the most memorable boss encounters of all-time. Even if you don’t remember the actual fight, you will always remember having to put your memory card into the second slot in order to prevent Psycho Mantis from reading your mind and anticipating your every move. Great stuff.
1. GLaDOS – Portal – Sentient, manipulative and wholly evil, GLaDOS spends most of her time in Portal giving back handed compliments and then trying to kill you with traps. Sure the boss fight isn’t particularly difficult, using portals to redirect rockets at her then dropping her bits into a fire pit, GLaDOS is still one of the most fun antagonist (she literally antagonizes you throughout the game) I’ve ever encountered thus making our inevitable confrontation all the more satisfying.
5. Mike Tyson – Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out! – I still remember the code to instantly get to Mike Tyson 007 373 5963. He was one of the toughest bosses in any game. That one punch knockout was devastating. It was crazy, you had to dodge all of his punches in the first round just to have a chance of winning by technical knockout. Mike Tyson was also the first celebrity to star in a video game.
4. Seth – Super Street Fighter IV – I don’t know anything about this guy. I haven’t played Street Fighter since Street Fighter 2 and someone forced me to play the new one. I didn’t know the new move sets but I played anyway. I put the game on easy and made my way through the combatants until I got to Seth. This bastard was so hard. Each match, his fight moves would change and that’s ok; but I could never beat him. I didn’t want to play the game in the first place but I was determined to beat this game. Seth changed all that. I don’t know how many times I fought him, switching characters every so often to try something new, but it didn’t work. I was never able to beat him and I just game up. I hate Super Street Fighter IV and it’s all Seth’s fault.
3. Sehpiroth – Final Fantasy VII – When it comes to dangerous bosses, Sephiroth is right up there with Darth Vader. Sephiroth is one of the strongest and most evil enemies out there. He tries to destroy the world in Final Fantasy VII by dropping meteor on the planet. I’m surprised he didn’t try to cut it in half with that long sword of his. His ambitions know no bounds as even in death, Sepiroth will always return and try to destroy everything. As hard as it is to create a recognizable villain that audiences will grow to love and hate at the same time, Square Soft did a good job creating one that’s lasted this long.
2. Joker – Arkham Asylum – The Joker is by far one of the most iconic villains today. He is Batman’s most dangerous adversary and is loved more than he is hated. He has numerous toys to choose from when killing someone. There’s his iconic Joker gas, electric shock joy buzzer, mallet, and switch blade. Everybody loves the Joker. He is the only sociopath in the media that gets a pass on the sheer number of lives he has taken. No matter how many people the Joker kills, he will always have a loyal following. No matter how much time the Joker spends in Arkham Asylum, he will always escape and kill with a joke.
1. The Boss – Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater – In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, The Boss is the individual who trained the man originally called Snake who would later become Big Boss. The Boss is one of the more formidable characters around. She is an expert in Close Quarters Combat (CQC) and is one of the most dangerous women in gaming. She strikes fear in friends and foes alike. She was one of the toughest enemies I ever fought and is also one the best boss battles in the Metal Gear franchise.
So what do you think? Is your favourite or most memorable boss present and accounted for? Let us know in the comments below!