After defeating the mighty Gears of War 2 this weekend, I was hit with a startling realization that I had heard repeated a few times before in its reviews- the ending boss was majorly lame. It was truly baffling. In this day and age, many of the blockbuster titles that we seem to play don’t have those uber boss battles that we used to know and love from when we were younger.
Have we gotten softer as gamers? Are developers less inventive? Is there just not room for as many bosses in the first person shooters that have flooded the market? In the end, who knows, but I do know that we gamers are missing out on one aspect of gaming that was a staple when I was growing up- epic boss battles. The dudes that you grinded against for days, rattled your brain trying to fight, and that required every ounce of skill and timing you could muster.
In honor of great foes long slayed, I thought I’d take a look back at some of my all time favorite boss battles.
Final Fantasy VII: The Emerald Weapon
Talk about a freaking juggernaut. The emerald weapon still stands as maybe the hardest boss I’ve ever fought against in my entirety as a gamer. Sporting over 1 million HP and multiple points of attack, the guy could take you out in a heartbeat. Really, the only strategy to use against him was a series of “Knights of the Round” summons, some Mime commands, Omnislash and luck. I remember rejoicing the first time I conquered this green beast.
Shadow of the Colossus: Gaius
While you could name almost every single boss in this fantastic game , it is the battle with Gaius, the third Colossus, that really gave me that sense of awe and scale that I experienced for the entirety of the game. When he swings the ginormous rock sword and it sinks into the ground, you just know what you have to do, even though it’s intimidating as all hell. Great boss battle.
Super Mario 64: Final Bowser
I almost put up Super Mario World in place of this one, but what I love about Mario 64 (and old school Mario games in general) is that the last dungeon and the last boss are kind of one in the same. I still haven’t played a platformer like Mario 64 that gives you that total sense of control over your character, and navigating through the last stage is an ordeal in and of itself.
Climbing, dodging, triple jumping- it totally empowers you. And that’s not even mentioning the Bowser fight, which has you hurling the lizard into wicked explosive spikey ball things. Talk about badass.
Metal Gear Solid 3: The End
For anyone that’s played Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, you know exactly what I’m talking about. While I almost put “The Boss” down here simply because of how stunningly gorgeous the battle is, I just couldn’t resist putting down maybe one of the most epic and trying ordeals ever in gaming. Until you figure out exactly what you need to do, that is.
The thing about fighting The End is that he’s a legendary sniper. The battle takes place over three different areas, and you have to crawl, listen and sneak your way around trying to find him before he finds you. The best trick is to use your directional mic (pulling out your sniper lets him see your lens when it reflects) and listen for his ragged breathing. After that, sneak around behind him.
Trick is, you’ve got to do it 3 times. This took me about 45 minutes of playing it perfectly to beat him the first time. A couple of hours including when I failed.
Ocarina of Time: Ganon
Ocarina of Time is one of the greatest games of all time to many, and for good reason. Like Mario 64, it ushered us into the 3D realm with total fanboy service and great gameplay. It was truly remarkable to play as Link in a 3D setting, with a huge world to explore- and a horse!
So it was to much fanboy delight when everyone got to engage in an epic sword duel with Ganon at the end of the game. After magical attacks and some swordplay, you vanquish him. Just when you think it’s over, the castle collapses, and you’ve got to haul ass. And even after that, Ganon re-emerges in his super sweet demon form, and it’s time for one of the coolest boss battles ever.
Prince of Persia: Tower of Dawn
For anybody that’s played this game, you might be saying, “huh?”, but hear me out. Even though the last boss in Prince of Persia is lame, that’s because he’s not actually the last boss. The last boss of Sands of Time is really the final stage, The Tower of Dawn.
Just before you scale the tower, the Prince is relieved of all of his nifty time rewinding abilities. This takes out any room for error as you traverse the most treacherous part of the entire game, taking risks, leaps of faith and the like. It’s incredibly terrifying after you’ve had the safety net of being able to rewind the entire game, and it really pushes you to your limits. Truth told, it’s maybe the most exhilarating platforming I’ve yet played.
While this is certainly not a comprehensive list as there are tons of games I haven’t played, I feel it’s representative of some memorable occasions. Some other notables I didn’t get to were Mike Tyson from punch out, plenty of great MGS boss battles, and some dudes from Contra: Hard Corps as well as Sephiroth in FFVII and Kingdom Hearts.
What about you guys? What are some of your favorite boss battles, and do you agree that we don’t get as many awesome ones these days as we should?