NOTE: Today we have a guest post from Cary (one of our best fans) about her favorite final bosses in video games. For my money, my least favorite final boss is Luther from Star Ocean 3 because your characters can die from running out of MP and he pretty much is a cheap bastard and — oh, sorry, I’m soapboxing on someone else’s article. How rude. Find more of Cary’s work at Recollections of Play and Link Dead Gaming.
Finally, after hours of hardship, and collecting, and hoarding, and saving, and further toil, you’ve made it! You’ve made it to the end of [insert game name here]! And then, suddenly, the music stops, and a cut scene shows you the one thing that stands between you an the credits. There’s one more outrageous person/creature/super-kinka-maya-maya-robo-monster-thing that you must defeat to save [the world, your lover, your family, the universe, etc.]
The. Final. Boss.
When I started brainstorming this post, the first the bosses that came to mind were the ones I hated….and I mean hated. The ones I cursed to the heavens; the ones that nearly made me break stuff; the ones that I would bitch slap when our souls met again in the angry depths of video game hell. And my list went on and on…and on a little bit more. When I was done, I looked at the list, picked my top three most-hated bosses, and pictured how my post would go: write short intro, add descriptions of said bosses, start to get really negative, let the continue anger well up, and then release it in a DAMNING SPAWN OF DEMON FIRE AND EXPLETIVES!! Or just write a conclusion. Either way, it wouldn’t have been a pretty site.
So I did a 180 and listed my favorite bosses. The ones I enjoyed meeting and didn’t mind defeating. No hard feelings here because in the end, they deserved and accepted their fates. And I was still gloriously triumphant. That list was shorter — a lot shorter. But by the end of it I felt much more positive, relaxed, and less in need of an exorcism. So here are my top three favorite bosses. If we were to ever meet again, I’d hope we could enjoy a nice chat over coffee and scones.
P.S. Spoilers ahead! Cause we’re talking about final bosses and all that.
(1) Bowser (multiple Mario games)
Is it clichéd to start with a cliché? Well too bad, because I don’t know if there’s any single character I’ve enjoyed beating up more than Bowser (and his occasional minions). You can blame this trend on Super Mario Bros. 3. It was the first game I ever completed on my own. Beating Bowser then was nothing short of spectacular! I saved the princess and she and Mario could live happily ever after…until she got kidnapped again. But that was fine by me because it meant that I’d have to meet Bowser again and again and again. He was, and still is, a worthy adversary. I recently faced him again in New Super Mario Bros. Wii and my victory over Bowser was just as awesome as it was some twenty plus years ago.
(2) Motherbrain (Super Metroid)
As far as I’m concerned, Super Metroid is as perfect as a video game can get. And creepy Motherbrain was the perfect boss. Seemingly “easy” at first — pffft, just a brain in a tank — her metamorphosis into a strange two-legged, drooling, screechy, reptilian-like creature was utterly bizarre. She was tall, powerful, and tough — only shots to her head did any sort of “damage.” And I gleefully shot away until….oops, no more missiles. That’s okay, I still have my charge bea…uh…what the eff…? What the hell is she doing? Powering up for some sort of….AAAAAAHHHHH! Oh yes, Motherbrain was not so easily defeated. Once you had depleted your missiles, she powered up for a devastating blast that took every last ounce of your energy. And just as things looked bleak….! Well, you got a little help from a big “friend.” It was a spectacular fight and one I truly enjoyed oh so many times.
(3) Saren (Mass Effect)
How many times did I face Saren in Mass Effect? Too many times; and each time turned out to be more enjoyable than the last. Like most bosses, you defeated him in stages, the final one being his somewhat terrifying (bunny shaped? Donny Darko?) Reaper-infested form. I liked this boss battle for a couple reasons. First, Saren was challenging without being repetitive. I don’t mind finding a rhythm in boss battles, it’s sometimes very necessary. But much of the fighting in Mass Effect became kinda rote — find cover, shoot, find cover, shoot, rinse and repeat. With Saren, and especially with his final form, there wasn’t much cover and shooting didn’t always help — you had to be quick, careful, and crafty. And second, though your teammates were there, it really felt like a one-on-one fight to the finish. In the end, it was just you and him. There weren’t any miscellaneous distractions (well, besides the burning building in which you were fighting) or other enemies in the mix. The battle felt like a true showdown, and coming out of it victorious felt like a real victory.
By the way, I do have to mention Galactus. Y’know, the one in that image up there from Marvel vs. Capcom 3. I’m okay at fighting games, but I usually cave once I get to the final boss. In the case of MvC3, the last guy you meet is Galactus. I haven’t beat him…yet; but, I’ve gotten really close. He’s one of the few bosses that straddles my gaming love/hate line. I hate the fact that I’ve had trouble beating him, yet I love the challenge that is him. My victory over him, when it comes, will be so very sweet. I think he’ll understand. And hopefully he likes scones.