So, yeah, I’m doing another intermission. Yeah, yeah, I know I’m losing track of what I said I was going to do. It’s my fault, but to be honest, there’s only so many food-related platformers you can hear about before you kind of want to take a break from the whole idea. I dunno when I’ll get back onto my ‘main’ topic, just… eventually.
Anyway. We’re here today to discuss something very important to any retro gamer who knows anything about ANYTHING. Bosses.
In the best years of gaming, bosses were always a thing you worked up to. Something to look forward to. Sometimes, they ended up being one of the better, if not best, parts of a less than great game. Very rarely, they were what a game was all about. The best ones tended to have a ton of moves, huge health bars, and just a general refusal to lay down and die no matter how much punishment they recieved.
Sadly, as gaming started to mutate into this whole weird, semi-realistic, brown and gray mess we have nowadays, bosses started to slowly die out. For the most part now, they feel more like glorified minibosses. It’d used to be once you’d reach the end of a game, you’d meet the evil mastermind in… I dunno, a spaceship shaped like his own flaming skull or something. Nowadays? Well…
Maybe I’m bitter. Maybe I’m just a cranky old man when it comes to gaming. But missing a really big, climactic final fight just doesn’t scream ‘THIS IS THE END’ anymore like your average fight against Sigma or such would. But I guess having something exciting would get in the way of the ‘realism’, wouldn’t it?
…Yeah, I’m rambling. So, anyway, what I feel like doing now is picking all the best final bosses I can think of. They might not be the hardest or the longest, but they are the most impressive, most climactic, and most generally impressive I can think of. I should say that there willprobably be spoilers involved if you haven’t played the games these are from, just as a warning.
These come in no real order, just whichever ones come into my head at the time. I should also point out that you may not agree with me on my choices, or think I’m missing something, which is totally cool. I’m just going by the games that I myself have seen the end to, and haven’t just seen a video or something.
Best Final Boss #1: Sonic & Knuckles
Dr. Robotnik was never really a credible villian, as much as Sega’s American marketing department would have had you believe. He was just a fat, balding little man whose plans and boss machines would make Wile E. Coyote facepalm himself. So when he decides to pull out his ‘A game’, it’s a pretty big deal. The entire Sonic series has been shaping up to this point with four games, a metric ton of boss encounters, and more evil robot clones than you can shake a stick at. The anticipation was even higher, if you were one of the kids who got Sonic 3 by itself, because then you’d need to pay for the extra Sonic & Knuckles cartridge to even see this guy.
So, you’ve made it through the final act. You dispatch one more of Robotnik’s silly contraptions, leaving him running off in a huff like usual.
This is what three entire games have been building up to. Just you and one very, very pissed off egg-shaped man. No silly robot animals. No see-saws that send his own bombs flying back into him. Just murder.
And even after you manage to dismantle his giant robot, he still tries to escape. The early Sonic games were great for being able to imply so much without using a single word of dialogue, and you can almost feel just how desperate Robotnik is to get away as you send him spiralling into the cold, hard vaccum of space.
Unless you happened to find the Chaos Emeralds, in which case you get to go to the Doomsday Zone. There’s a lot of ways you could interpret this, but I like to think it’s the last futile attempts of a increasingly desperate man to hold off his demise from the literal GOD seeking his death. Oh, sure, he TRIES to fight back, but all he can really do is stall you.
And the scariest part of all? After you finally take down the jolly fat man who was just trying to escape (with, to be fair, an artifact of unlimited power) a spikey, glowy death, there is pretty much NOTHING that tells you he ended up all right. Nothing to tell you “Robotnik is just fine, kids, see you on the 32X!” Sure, he was obviously fine, considering this was hardly the last Sonic game, but it’s not like the game told you that.
So what makes it the best? The sheer length of the fight, along with how the whole series had been building up to this point. It had been three games, and the designers made sure you KNEW this, especially with the music, which made you know for SURE that one of you wasn’t getting off of that lawsuit worthy space station alive. And as often as Sega’s reused the whole ‘Super Sonic slowly flies towards a big thing’ boss fight, nothing’s come quite as close to Doomsday Zone.
Best Final Boss #2: Bayonetta
Bayonetta is, to understate slightly, a pretty crazy game. Pretty much every boss encounter ends up topping itself in the sheer crazy, from suplexing a dragon to throwing missiles into your evil sister. Also, the boss just BEFORE the final boss is basically the pope. You headbutt a building at him.
So, after shooting the pope in the face with a tube of lipstick, (and helpfully informing that you should, in fact, not fuck with a witch), you end up in space to fight GOD.
So now you’re fighting what’s basically God. Who is a woman, now, apparently, because Japan. She’s so big the screen can’t even FIT all of her at once, and here’s you, this tiny woman with concering amounts of body hair trying to kill her. As you’d expect, she has an insane amount of life, and a ton of powerful attacks, including one that’ll suck you out of the relative safety of the arena into deep space. This isn’t really good for Bayonetta, so try to avoid it.
Eventually, Bayonetta just gets sick of fighting the thing and ties it up with her hair (don’t ask, it’s Japan), leaving you free to climb up to her face and give her a front row viewing of her own beating. And this is all while you’ve got a J-Pop remix of ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ playing. This. Game.
And so, after beating the stuffing out of the creator with whatever weapons you have handy, she falls to the ground, defeated. What do you do from here? I suppose you could punch her until she blows up. That’s what you’ve been doing the rest of the game so far, right?
So now you’ve just become a giant hair version of yourself. You have now just become the size of God back when she was still putting some effort into trying to kill you.
Let me repeat that for emphasis. You punched God’s soul out. You punched. God’s. Soul. Out. Well, it has to go somewhere now, right? Maybe it’ll just flee back to wherever it came from, like the Pac-Man ghosts.
So now you have God’s soul spiralling through the galaxy, quickly hurtling towards the Sun. The best part? YOU are in control her soul as it speeds towards certain oblivion, and if she ends up hitting one of the planets, it’s (somehow) Game Over. Also, God is screaming in horror the whole time as Bayonetta’s peppy theme song plays in the background.
And even after you get done PUNCHING GOD’S SOUL INTO THE SUN, you still have to actually blow up her body so it doesn’t hit Earth. This. Game. I’m not ever sure if they’ll ever make a Bayonetta 2, but if they are, I’d LOVE to hear the ideas they’re having for the new final boss right about now.
So what makes it the best? In an age of gaming where you were lucky to get a dude with a gun as your final boss, if you even GOT one at all, a nice, long fight against a terrifingly big religious metaphor felt like returning to the days of the SNES. Jubielus is a pretty tough fight, as a final boss should be, and her sheer SIZE is still impressive for the hardware. Plus, you punch her soul into the sun. Did I already say that? Because that really needs to be emphazised.
Best Final Boss #3: Marvel Vs. Capcom
Ah, the VS series. The fighting game series that pretty much anybody who’s ever played a fighting game knows something or other about. The Marvel series most of all, especially with how Capcom made everybody buy a $40 patch for it only a few months ago! …Sorry, I’m a little bitter towards Capcom. Ask me all about it sometime!
But the Marvel I’m referring to is Marvel Vs. Capcom, possibly the craziest of them all. Partly because of the new move where you can call in your teammate into the battle, controlling them both at once, and partly because it has Jin Saotome, the craziest son of a bitch to ever grace an arcade screen.
The first couple of Marvel VS games gave you Apocolypse, some guy from the comics, which I’m afraid I know little to nothing about, other then he would inform you that game, was, in fact, over. Also, Akuma was a cyborg, for some reason.
So where could they go from there? Well, Marvel VS Capcom gives you Onslaught. Apparently, he’s supposed to be Professor X powered by Magneto’s brain waves and who cares Mega Man just turned into a giant death mech
So, after seven stages of beating up a bunch of other people who should technically be on YOUR side, you come across this guy:
Capcom, although not quite up to par with their rivals SNK, had a reputation of making cheap bosses. Including Street Fighter Alpha 3, where if Bison ended up beating you, you ended up getting a fancy Game Over before the machine stole your money. Thankfully, Onslaught isn’t QUITE that mean, because if he was, there probavly wouldn’t BE a Capcom to crossover with Marvel anymore.
Onslaught will NOT hesistate to plaster you with as many projectiles as he possibly can, from mini-sentinels dropping bombs onto your face, to a good old fashioned giant laser beam. It may take a while, but eventually, with luck, you’ll wear his health down. And now what? You’ve beaten him, right? You’ll probably get a fight against Cyber-Akuma, and then a Thank You For Play–
Surprise! Onslaught gets an entirely new second form that’ll murder you even harder, especially since neither of your characters get any health back from the first round. This time, Onslaught’s strategy basically boils down to ‘MORE LASERS’, especially with the way he can fire beams out of the ground that take up about a third of the screen. As hard as this fight gets, it’s actually pretty interesting for the way you’re constantly dodging and avoiding his attacks, turning the game from a fighting game to some sort of platformer.
So what makes this fight the best? Well, compared to 99% percent of fighting game bosses, which are basically just regular characters with more damage and cheap tricks, Onslaught’s pretty cool. Cheap, sure, but he’s definately a fun boss to fight, especially dashing JUST out of the way of one of his beams. Probably only to get whacked by his claws, but still. And he’s much cooler looking than that poser Abyss, that’s for sure.
And so, that’s all. Of course, these are hardly only the best final bosses EVER, but they’re all that comes to mind right now. Still, there’s plenty of other games to play and experience, and maybe I’ll come back to this once I try a few of those. And you’re welcome to send me your ideas for good final bosses yourself, if you ever want me to give them a shot.
– SaidM1976 for the Gears of War screenshot.
– HyperSakura2009 for the Bayonetta screenshots.
– AznKei1 for the Marvel VS Capcom screenshots.