Welcome to the second part of a brand new CelJaded list featuring the best bosses in video games. This post features entries #90 to #81.
Spoiler alert: This post may contain spoilers for the video games it references.
#90 – Iron Sentinel …For Metal Slug 6
Developer: SNK Playmore | Year: 2006
Metal Slug 6 saw development duties return to SNK and their old touch with regards to visual spectacle did not go unnoticed. Truth be told, I was not enamoured with this sequel’s increasingly tired formula, but the second level boss (which is based on a real WWII tank) shows off some awe-inspiring scaling techniques.
The camera frequently zooms out to show huge missiles being launched into the air, only to zoom back in when they come crashing back down to Earth. It really does look amazing and it adds plenty of explosive appeal to the headlong dash that characterizes the battle in question.
#89 – Ouroboros …For Strider
Developer: Capcom | Year: 1989
Known for its superb Mega Drive port as much as its arcade-quality action, Strider has amassed a dedicated following over the years. You’ll find your fair share of Strider lore-divers out there and thanks to the wonders of fan-made wikis, I can tell you that this unique miniboss is a “mechanical centipede-like creature born from the merging of the 24 [Kazakh Federation] Officers”. Capcom always did enjoy a bit of Soviet flavour!
There’s not much challenge to speak of here, which at least makes sense for such an early boss, but I love how the brutish General Mikiel and his cronies all leap into the screen to form this hammer & sickle-wielding horror.
It’s just too weird and quirky not to love!
#88 – Mandragora Heart …For Sword of the Berserk: Guts’ Rage
Developer: Yuke’s | Year: 1999
Guts’ Rage is one of the rare video game adaptations of the popular Berserk manga. Although this Dreamcast exclusive is graphically impressive for its time, the repetitive action, bland level design, and overly long and abundant cutscenes really drag the pacing down.
The tone is dark and there are many vicious enemies and hideous creatures on display. Later into the game things start to get quite trippy too and it all culminates in a string of underwhelming boss battles that nevertheless look incredibly scary design-wise. The penultimate confrontation sees Guts battle a gigantic anthropomorphic plant whose parasitic spores have turned people into possessed slaves. Okay then…
The gameplay is very basic; Guts simply hacks and slashes as he always does, but just try to forget the sight of those haunting red eyes and malevolent petals. Eew!
#87 – Golden Ogre …For Darius Gaiden
Developer: Taito | Year: 1994
Every video game series needs a motif to call its own and it just so happens that Darius chose fish! In fact, the Darius shoot ’em ups are inspired by all sorts of marine life with the opening boss to Darius Gaiden here being based on the real-life Ogrefish; a deadly hunter of the seas.
Golden Ogre doesn’t pose much of a challenge in his natural state (a palette-swapped grey version might give you more trouble later in the game), but the impressive multi-segmented sprite work on this boss is just too damn good to ignore.
#86 – Altair …For Bomberman 64
Developer: Hudson Soft | Year: 1997
Whilst I have no desire to return to the game anytime soon, I’ve always thought that the critical hammering Bomberman 64 received was a bit unfair. Bomberman’s solo outings have never been essential, I get that, but I’d probably rank this Nintendo 64 effort as the best of the bunch, at least from a narrative standpoint. The twee cast of supporting characters (who are all named after stars) are actually quite memorable with the cool-looking Altair acting as Bomberman 64’s ‘big bad’.
Altair’s fast-paced showdown with Bomberman is the final challenge that players have to overcome. This evil emperor attacks with conventional bombs whist enlisting the help of his pet droid called Vega in order to zone Bomberman into submission. When Altair is defeated in phase 1, he and Vega go all Power Rangers and merge to form Super Altair; a hyped-up form that Bomberman must defeat in order to secure victory.
Vega can detonate bombs prematurely with its laser beam and turning this ability against Altair is just one of the many little flourishes that makes the battle so fun. Similarly, special tokens are awarded for attacking the boss in varied ways which encourages players to experiment with different methods such as kicking bombs, throwing them, and intercepting those deployed by Altair himself.
#85 – Mothership …For Gun Metal
Developer: Rage Software | Year: 2002
Gun Metal’s Mothership is one of those bosses who quickly becomes a regular enemy in subsequent levels. It’s a good thing though, as the appearance of this laser-spewing troop transport is always likely to prompt a few gasps of amazement from players of this underrated Xbox shooter.
#84 – HAG1 …For Banjo-Tooie
Developer: Rare | Year: 2000
Banjo-Tooie has some worthless boss battles, it has to be said. Most of them are pathetically easy and forgettable, but the same can’t be said for the final boss, at least in terms of difficulty.
Indeed, half of the challenge in battling Gruntilda’s “Monstrous Mechanical Mud-Muncher” comes from wrestling with the awkward controls as you hurriedly try to shoot the vehicle’s pilot without getting blasted yourself.
This is a tough battle full of diverse attack patterns and inventive moments- like when Gruntilda pops out of the operator’s hatch to deliver a quick-fire quiz complete with multiple choice answers! If only the rest of Banjo-Tooie felt so inspired!
#83 – Galactus …For Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds
Developer: Capcom | Year: 2011
Capcom’s crossover brawlers are known for their over-the-top boss battles, but Galactus easily trumps them all in terms of sheer scale. After the likes of Juggernaut and Apocalypse in previous X-Men vs. Street Fighter games, you’d be forgiven for thinking that your foes couldn’t get any larger and yet Galactus is so big he barely fits on the screen.
The trade-off here (more so than usual) is that the fight isn’t particularly dynamic. Galactus spends the first half of the battle in the background whilst spawning cosmic palette swaps of regular characters, which is hardly that thrilling, and players always have to adopt an all or nothing assault because the fight is also timed.
Nevertheless, you can’t argue with the giddy spectacle that the developers have created here. You’d never expect such a huge character from Marvel Comics to ever appear in a game like this and yet Capcom pulled it off with style once again.
#82 – The Great Mighty Poo …For Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Developer: Rare | Year: 2001
It may be juvenile and showing its age a bit now, but the humour in this incomparable adventure is certainly what helps make it stand apart. And one moment that stands apart more than most in this regard is the operatic battle that Conker has with a gigantic mound of sentient poo.
Not content with simply battering you with lumps of the brown stuff, this irritable boss indulges in a full-on soprano routine! The pace of the music increases as Conker scores hits of his own with the oversized rolls of toiler paper that he keeps in his “context-sensitive” pockets.
Fittingly, the gameplay involved here is rather shit. Conker needs only to run in a circle for half of the fight and the awkward aiming controls are frustrating too, as tends to be the way when using the N64 pad for, well, anything really.
This is a boss battle that’s made by its music though. The accompanying “Sloprano” number is wonderfully silly and offensive and it’s actually one of Rare’s software directors (Chris Marlow) at the mic. All fairness to the guy; he has quite the set of pipes!…
#81 – Perfect Chaos …For Sonic Adventure
Developer: Sonic Team | Year: 1998
In most narrative-driven video games, I’m a big of fan of end bosses who are suitably built up from the beginning of the story. Such is the case with Perfect Chaos; a force of nature whose primal anger destroyed one ancient world before being unleashed on the present one.
Again, the gameplay in this scenario is a bit awkward and nothing to write home about, but the spectacle of fighting Chaos in its final form is backed up beautifully by the appearance of Super Sonic; a real treat for fans and a climactic finish to go out on.
Continue to Part 3