Gamers often debate what makes their most memorable gaming experiences so impactful. Was it the epic soundtrack? The revolutionary graphics? The pulse-pounding plot? Or maybe the steadfast hero? You could make a case for any of these, but for many here at EGM, it’s difficult to argue against the almighty boss battle.
These level-ending evildoers are so significant because they frequently serve as a turning point—the culmination of a change in the main character or a revelation in the narrative so startling that it forever cements an experience in our collective canon. As such, the crew’s decided to take a look at some of their historical favorites. Enjoy!
The Great Mighty Poo
Conker’s Bad Fur Day – N64
Why It’s a Favorite: This boss isn’t epic in the more traditional sense of the word. He isn’t very difficult and falls into stereotypical boss battle patterns, but he’s easily one of the most unforgettable characters you’ll ever see. And why’s that?
It’s because the Great Mighty Poo is a giant piece of fecal matter that sings opera while throwing, well, literally, s***! And how do you defeat him? Clog him up with toilet paper and flush him into oblivion, of course. In a game that’s just one big pop-culture spoof, the Great Mighty Poo takes the cake as one of the most humorous boss battles I’ve ever played. From his blatant use of potty humor to his mockery of the Wicked Witch of the West’s “What a World!” speech after his defeat, the Great Mighty Poo just squeezes by South Park’s Mr. Hankey as my all-time favorite singing fecal-matter character.
Samurai Shodown II – NeoGeo
Why It’s a Favorite: The demonic priestess of Ambrosia, Mizuki served as the final boss for Samurai Shodown II, where she tormented arcade and home players alike with her mystical abilities and hell-spawned pet, Maju.
Rarely did I, or many others, see the end boss of arcade fighting games, due to lack of skill, lack of quarters, or lack of ability to play without challengers stepping in and taking over the arcade machine. Thus, my first encounter with Mizuki came once I finally purchased my own NeoGeo AES console and copy of Samurai Shodown II; this was also the point where I got my first real taste of an SNK fighting-game boss. So legendarily difficult are they (Miss Rashojin included) that fans have coined the phrase “SNK Boss Syndrome”—which includes, among other things, “arbitrary advantages over playable characters in the game” and “disregard for established gameplay rules.”
-Eric L. Patterson
Metal Gear Solid – PS1
Why It’s a Favorite: Let’s forget for a second that Metal Gear Solid’s Psycho Mantis rocked the prerequisite “multiple appearance” clause of the Bossing 101 Handbook. We’ll also look past the fact that he was one of the cheapest bastards in gaming history, complete with the ability to “read the future” and predict your moves.
When you finally gave up after numerous attempts and countless taunts from the master of minds, looking to some random Internet FAQ for his true Achilles’ heel, the solution spoke volumes to Team Solid’s undeniable creativity. As much as they loved to get you to sneak around in one, this was definitely one boss battle that required you to think outside the box. And for that, I can’t help but look back on ol’ Mantis with a certain degree of fondness. That, and a beefy helping of controller-smashing rage.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – Nintendo Wii
Why It’s a Favorite: There are many great battles with Ganondorf over the years, but taking on one of the most iconic villains in videogame history in four different forms makes this easily the longest—and probably most difficult—final battle in Legend of Zelda history.
This particular incarnation begins with Ganondorf possessing Zelda and using her powers against Link. Similarly to Ocarina of Time, Link needs to deflect the light balls back at her with his sword. Once Zelda comes to her senses, Ganondorf transforms into his Ganon warthog form. After Link tames that beast, Ganon reverts back to Ganondorf and attempts to flee, at which point Link hast to chase him down on horseback. Once Link forces him to dismount, he and Ganondorf face off in a ring of fire in a sword battle to the death. Ganondorf will use every cheap trick in the book—including kicks to the groin—in an effort to take Link down. Just describing all this is getting my blood pumping!
Yellow Devil (a.k.a. Rock Monster)
Mega Man – NES
Why It’s a Favorite: Mega Man titles are known for their difficulty, but the original game was always a cut above the rest. Nowhere was this better illustrated than in its final series of levels. Bruised, beaten down, and battered—but nearly to Dr. Wily—players found one last seemingly impossible task just before taking on the sneering, mustachioed mad scientist himself: a gargantuan yellow monster that appeared, piece by piece, to form one of the largest 8-bit enemies seen up until that point.
Eventually, playground gossip revealed a cheat code that allowed a near-instant kill if players paused the game while the Elec Beam passed through the enemy—making the nearly invincible Rock Monster crumble in no time. But the truly hardcore could best this baddie even without exploiting this glitch—and I’m proud to call myself among them.
So what do you folks think of our choices? When dealing with only five, clearly some greats weren’t going to make the cut. What other bosses would you have liked to have seen? Let us know with comments below!