Welcome to the third part of a brand new CelJaded list for Top 100 Best Video Game Bosses. This post features entries #80 to #71.
Spoiler alert: This post may contain spoilers for the video games it references.
#80 – Shadow Master …For Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
Developer: Sega | Year: 1993
The final boss to Shinobi III is a ninja just like you and after levels worth of twisted mutants and giant robots shaped like Godzilla, it comes as a bit of a surprise!
With this sequel’s increase in pace though, Shadow Master is every bit your equal and you’ll need to work hard to beat the cheap bastard at his own game. I’m not exactly sure what’s going on in the trippy vortex background full of anguished faces, but I’m sure it’s all suitably sinister.
It’s a boss thing, I guess.
#79 – Leader Whitney …for Pokémon Gold and Silver
Developer: Game Freak | Year: 1999
As a gaming experience primarily aimed at younger gamers, the Pokémon series has rarely been notable for its challenge. Many of the earlier titles can be finished with a basic team of monsters only and there are umpteen battle items and mechanical concessions that will allow players of any skill level to wreak havoc before too long.
However, it’s fair to assume that players both young and old were unprepared to deal with Gym Leader Whitney the first time around. The battle for her Plain Badge starts off innocently enough, but then out comes Whitney’s level 20 Miltank and this pink bovine just brings the pain.
Miltank’s natural bulk, healing, and lack of available checks, affords players little chance of a quick victory and its crushingly-powerful Rollout move can be a nightmare to deal with too.
If you catch any of the prominent Bug or Flying type Pokémon on the short road up then you can fully expect them to be dismantled by Miltank’s Stomps and Rollouts, not to mention her aggravating tendency to Attract male Pokemon into not fighting back.
It’s just not cricket!
#78 – George & Darkness …For Rakuga Kids
Developer: Konami | Year: 1998
Despite being a ghost dog made entirely of crayon, Darkness has more personality than many fighters from the same era as Rakuga Kids.
Darkness is one of those uncommonly fair beat ’em up bosses who is not cheap or overly difficult to counter. His owner (or is that artist?) George doesn’t factor into much except the odd cutscene, but Darkness himself is a fun character with plenty of weird and wonderful special moves to gawp at.
#77 – Undeep …For Lost Planet: Extreme Condition
Developer: Capcom | Year: 2006
This colossal snow worm is Lost Planet’s first optional boss battle and is easily the biggest and most intimidating enemy you’ll have met at this point in the game.
It’s a Capcom boss so of course the gameplay is awkward, but the sheer spectacle here makes the extra effort worth it.
#76 – The Starkesturm …For Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge
Developer: Microsoft Studios, FASA Studio | Year: 2003
This gigantic final boss to Crimson Skies on the Xbox is just too huge to ignore. If massive robot spider drones attacking steampunk Chicago weren’t enough, try taking down the shield generators on this thing!
#75 – Pieter Burke …For Deus Ex: Human Revolution: The Missing Link
Developer: Eidos Montreal | Year: 2011
Deus Ex Human Revolution had several bad boss battles and so Eidos Montreal decided to keep the development of such encounters in-house for their DLC follow-up called The Missing Link.
Burke becomes our central villain for the duration of this story, but rather than some claustrophobic shoot out that certain players will be totally unprepared for, this boss is “merely” your typical augmented soldier with no special powers or immunities. The real challenge players face here is actually reaching Burke in the first place as there are traps such as bipedal robot guards, alarms, and snipers to thwart your progress in the large hanger that makes up his base of operations.
This scenario is really good as it plays up to the things that Deus Ex is loved for, not least of which being the opportunity to tackle problems in multiple ways. Upon reaching Burke’s office a player might decide to hack the door lock and talk the villain down or go through the ceiling vent in order to knock Burke unconscious or slit the bastard’s throat.
#74 – Viktor Marchenko …For Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Developer: Eidos Montreal | Year: 2016
As we see from the entry above, Eidos Montreal learned a lot from Deus Ex: Human Revolution when it came to boss battles. For Deus Ex: Mankind Divided the team again kept boss development in-house and much like The Missing Link, they also decided to only feature one such encounter in the entire story. Enter Viktor Marchenko.
Marchenko’s encounter with Jensen is a perfect example of how boss battles can add to the excitement and drama of a video game’s closing moments. Unlike Burke, Marchenko is a more traditional boss with aggressive AI routines and a massive laser cannon with which to torment players looking to fight at range.
The number of approaches you can take in this fight is quite impressive and there are bonus points awarded to committed players who can neutralize Marchenko without killing him; something that finally allows players to undertake a proper “pacifist run” from beginning to end.
What really makes Marchenko a great boss is the fact that he is built up as a credible villain from the moment you first meet him. His character model and voice acting are both superbly realized and even though he doesn’t feature as an antagonist for too long, the sense of him and Jensen eventually crossing paths is what really makes the final encounter feel meaningful.
#73 – Migen and Son …For Mischief Makers
Developer: Treasure | Year: 1997
You can expect to see a lot more of Treasure as this list develops, but for now let’s revisit this rather wonderful boss battle from Mischief Makers.
Some bosses can be beaten in a matter of minutes, but rarely is the case with Migen’s giant reptile son who fancies himself a bit of a brawler. The range of attack animations and movement patterns on this boss are really cool and what plays out kind of resembles a boxing match as the player counters punches (and fireballs!) from all directions before redirecting them back at the boss himself.
The gameplay is quick, the music is fun, and overall this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Treasure’s catalogue of superb showdowns.
#72 – Dmitry …For Ironclad Tactics
Developer: Zachtronics | Year: 2013
There are only two proper boss battles in the entirety of Zachtronics’ real-time card game because, according to the developer, another planned encounter based around a giant robot Scorpion proved too taxing to get right.
Dmitry is the second and final boss of Ironclad Tactics and the bastard earns that prestigious honour with every passing second of his tense and insanely difficult fight. This evil leader commands his own personally-customized ironclad that’s faster and stronger than anything you’ll have access to in your own deck. If that wasn’t bad enough, you also need to occupy the two shield generators on the battlefield at all times or you can’t even damage him!
Taking down Dmitry involves a lot of trial and error as players fail, re-tweak cards, rethink strategies, and then finally put the winning solution into practice with an extra pinch of luck hopefully thrown in!
#71 – The Keeper …For Convoy
Developer: Convoy Games | Year: 2015
One of the most recent additions to the list is this final boss from Convoy Games’ roguelike, quite obviously inspired by FTL: Faster Than Light. I was not particularly impressed with Convoy as a complete experience, but I will certainly concede that the final boss (referred to as “The Keeper” by the game’s soundtrack) is a really enjoyable foe to match wits against.
The running time, music, and moment-by-moment gameplay all feel perfectly pitched and your escort vehicles will need to be fully kitted out if you want to stand any hope against this hovering “battlemachine” and its many intercepting minions.
Continue to Part 4