Welcome to the seventh part of a brand new CelJaded list for Top 100 Best Video Game Bosses. This post features entries #40 to #31.
Spoiler alert: This post may contain spoilers for the video games it references.
#40 – Onslaught …For Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes
Developer: Capcom | Year: 1998
“NO ONE IS SAFE!”
#39 – Cyberdemon …For DOOM
Developer: id Software | Year: 1993
I wasn’t certain if the Cyberdemon could be considered a boss in the truest sense of the term, but the DOOM Wiki said it was and that word is most certainly proof enough for me!
What else can really be said about this thing that isn’t already obvious though? It’s cool, it’s terrifying, and it’s absolutely rock solid to bring down. Cyberdemon isn’t subtle, but it’s DOOM, so it doesn’t need to be.
#38 – Eldrith …For Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance
Developer: Snowblind Studios | Year: 2001
Eldrith is a female knight who acts as Dark Alliance’s ultimate antagonist.
Her revenge story isn’t handled all that well- if you ignore the instruction manual then you won’t know who she is until the very end of the game. But as a boss Eldrith is an imposing and appropriately-dressed opponent who can be pretty tough to defeat on the upper difficulty levels due to her shield-busting prowess and massive health pool.
“You may hold the field, dog, but the day is mine”.
#37 – Goro …For Mortal Kombat
Developer: Midway Games | Year: 1992
And then those same thoughts inevitably turn to Goro and I can’t stop cursing. Goro might seem a bit tame compared to the sort of fighting game bosses that we’ve seen since, though you wouldn’t have to look far in order to find fans who still revile this particular four-armed bastard.
Aside from Goro’s unique clay animation design and immensely cheap and powerful attacks, one thing that I’ve always really enjoyed about him is his shock reveal. After surviving through a 2-on-1 gauntlet match in the round prior, players aren’t sent back to the loading screen or given much time to prepare before Goro leaps down and immediately challenges them without so much as a “FIGHT!”.
The Mortal Kombat bosses that came after would all try to recapture the spirit of Goro, but it’s debatable as to whether all the Kintaros and Motaros could ever truly match the original ‘Ro himself.
#36 – Star Wolf …For Lylat Wars
Developer: Nintendo | Year: 1997
Lylat Wars is so absolutely full of quality boss battles that’s it hard to know where to begin in selecting one to talk about. After many hours of deliberation I finally decided on Star Wolf because I really enjoy the rival dogfights that your squadron has with his opposing team of evil mercs.
It’s during these scenarios that the game most resembles Star Wars; with lasers arcing through the sky, warnings filling your HUD, and Star Fox’s bone-headed pals yelling “I can’t shake him!” every other second!
#35 – Train Tank …for Rocket Knight Adventures
Developer: Konami | Year: 1993
If you read CelJaded’s previous Top 100 list then you might recall a reference to Rocket Knight’s dreaded “train boss”. This is a furious battle of endurance against an intimidating locomotive whose persistence in wanting to murder the player stretches over three exhausting phases of battle.
Like Monty Python’s famous Black Knight, this boss doesn’t know when to quit and continues to come back from the dead until Rocket can finally destroy its hidden power core and derail it for good!
#34 – Master …For Fallout
Developer: Black Isle Studios | Year: 1997
Richard Moreau AKA “Master” isn’t just Fallout’s strongest individual enemy, he’s also one of the franchise’s most memorable and recognisable villains.
Breeding an army of super mutants and manipulating world affairs from his secret underground bunker, Moreau has done it all. When he’s not forming his own religion or planning a takeover of what’s left of the post-apocalyptic world, he’s engaging Vault Dwellers in peppy conversations about the fate of humanity.
He appears as a fetid lump of cybernetically-enhanced flesh with four different voices – 2 male, 1 female, 1 digitized – that each contribute to his speech patterns. In fact, taking in this pre-fight discussion is the highlight of the entire encounter. Savvy players are even able to avoid combat entirely if their reasoning and conversational skills are high enough!
This one is merely serviceable if you treat it as a straight combat encounter. It’s the writing and role-playing potential that really elevates this boss to something much more special.
#33 – Gruntilda …For Banjo-Kazooie
Developer: Rare | Year: 1998
The only true boss in Banjo-Kazooie is actually their nemesis; the odious, and yet surprisingly melodic, Gruntilda. “Grunty” is a witch of some renown and she’s out to prove it in this exciting encounter that’s played over multiple phases.
This is a taxing boss fight for young players especially and amid all of Gruntilda’s lethal fireballs and swooping tackles, Banjo will surely need every last honeycomb of health if he and Kazooie are ever going to witness the explosive finale.
#32 – Chai …For Shenmue
Developer: Sega-AM2 | Year: 1999
A wannabe gang-banger with delusions far greater than his freakish stature would suggest, Chai is one of Shenmue’s most memorable bit part characters.
Labelling him as a mere boss doesn’t quite do service to Shenmue’s narrative qualities, but there’s no doubt that the scuffles with Chai are among the hardest fights in the entire game. The final harbour duel is exciting enough and yet it’s the earlier one in the arcade that’s more notable because of how the story can diverge depending on who wins.
Beating Chai in the arcade is an enormously difficult task due to his sheer quickness and aggression. It’s fully expected that most players will be defeated by him because the story will still continue as Ryo gets rescued and is forced to heal his wounds the next day.
The second fight (in which players must succeed in order to progress) is a chance for a stronger and wiser Ryo to get his win back. But players can beat Chai in the arcade if they are skilled enough and again the story will continue, only this time with the player looking like a total badass!
Shenmue makes many concessions to realism and yet this divergent path, one that the vast majority of players will never see, might just be one of its most genius.
#31 – Don Nui …For Shenmue II
Developer: Sega-AM2 | Year: 2001
Ryo Hazuki’s journey to avenge his father’s death takes him to many new places in Shenmue II and it’s near the end of the game proper in Kowloon City where he first runs into Don Nui.
This violent mob kingpin seeks to align himself with Iwo Hazuki’s killer and similar to Chai who was mentioned earlier, the first confrontation you have with Don Nui is actually one of the game’s few ‘supposed to lose’ fights. It kind of works in setting up Don Nui as a credible threat though, as without conviction and a clear mind, Ryo has no hope against this hulking brute and we as players know it!
Ultimately the two meet again, and in this final climactic brawl it’s up to Ryo to put what he’s learned on his journey to the ultimate test. Can players remember the teachings of all the martial arts masters they’ve met and achieve victory?
Sure, the answer might come down to a fairly innocuous quick time event, but you can’t fault the drama in Don Nui’s eventual and rather momentous fall.
Continue to Part 8