Thursday, March 18, 2010

Top Ten Video Game Bosses

We all love a good hero; the way they rush in to save the day, their immaculate good looks, their ability to romance the opposite gendered lead five minutes after meeting them, the way they develop improbable abilities out of nowhere in order to combat evil, the way their IQ yo-yos as the plot demands, their shocking ability to overcome all obstacles in order to beat the odds and save mankind, their impeccable fashion sense, their iron hard abs, their love of all nature's children, their tendllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll

Wow. Bored myself to sleep with that cliched set up for a reversal opening. Hell with it. Bosses. Video Games. Favorites. And why.

So, in no particular order:

#1 Guardian Gaist, from Breath of Fire 3

If you're not familiar with the Breath of Fire series, it's an RPG series in which the gimmick is the main character gains the ability to turn into a variety of dragons. You meet a mess of other characters of varying species and walks of life, go around, save the world, you get the idea. In the third game, the second half of the plot involves your plucky group of heroes trying to talk to "God." Of course, arranging a meeting with the alleged almighty isn't exactly easy: there are all sorts of hoops to jump through, plot coupons to exchange (including, I shit you not, a part of the game in which you're required to make sushi for someone to find out where to go next).

So, in one of these steps to find find religion and beat an answer out of it, your Gigantic Ancient Bruiser of Doom and Destruction, Guardian Garr, has you track down a contemporary of his, and proceeds to mention how incredibly badass this guy was waaaaaaaay back when.

Gee, this clearly isn't going to lead into a boss fight of some sort.

So, you travel around, go to this out of the way little cave town, expecting to find Garr the sequel and run into...a geriatric shriveled version of Garr. Gee, maybe this won't be so bad. I mean, how badass could he OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT?

While far from the hardest or most important fight in the game, it's always been a favorite of mine simply because, the first time I played, I was impressed by the transformation, and by the characterization of Gaist. He's not evil by any means: he was a guy who didn't like what he was doing, and unlike Garr, rather than keep on doing it, he decided to pack his things and wait for justice to track him down. Every time I play through since that first time, I can't help thinking, "Screw Garr, I want GAIST in my party!"

#2 Blaine from the Pokemon Franchise

Okay, so in the games he's not really a villain by any means. In fact, aside from the Gym Battles, we don't really see him do much, especially compared to Gym Leaders in the later Pokemon games. Heck, Fire isn't even my favorite type in the games. Still, there was something I always loved about this trainer that few trainers, even in the later games, even come close to. Maybe it's the fact that he locks his gym and keeps the key in a torched, monster filled mansion. Maybe it's the locked doors with easy quiz questions. Maybe it's the simple fact that he's a mad scientist, maybe it's just the sunglasses. But even with all the other games, and all the other trainers you meet who are higher than him, with all their disparate personalities, he remains a favorite of mine.

#3 Lemmy Koopa from Super Mario Bros. 3
Okay, so most of you probably at least vaguely remember this game from your youth. It was always a favorite in my cousin's household, and we'd play it all the damn time when we went up to visit him. And if you were anything like me, you would heroically play through the first world, besting Goomba, Koopa, Hammer Bro, and Piranha Plant, to make it to the first ship...only to get your ass handed to you by the first one of those goddamn Koopa Kids, so you never got to see if any of the other ones fought any differently.

In my defense, I didn't have a console gaming system until well into the Playstation's Life Span, so I didn't know what the Hell I was doing. I can totally play Mario n-GODDAMN BOTTOMLESS PITS!

Anyway, as you play through the game, most of the Koopa Kids battle the same way, jumping around, shooting magic laser rings of lasery laserness.

Not this guy.

Rather than jump around, he rides around on a big rubber ball. And why shoot laser rings when you can magically shoot rubber bouncy balls that somehow kill? Why does he do this? HE'S BATSHIT CRAZY, and we love him for it!

#4 Dalton from Chrono Trigger
Everyone is familiar with that sort of fantasy villain that's especially badass. They summon the legions of Hell to do their bidding, they crack open space and let the void try to take you, they drink the blood of virgin schoolmarms who go to church every Sunday and are currently teaching some blind boy how to play an instrument. They're cool, they're calculating, they get shit done, and you damn well better give them respect or they might reach through the screen and get you! If they aren't already a king, they're in a position where they're about to take over.

Dalton thinks he's one of these. He isn't. Not even a little. Every time you meet him in game, you beat him pretty easily. At least once he tries to summon a monster that not only did you defeat earlier, it didn't even put up a fight because it was afraid of heights. Hell, not even the GAME respects him. At one point, when he's actually somehow succeeding at being evil, the main hero's theme starts playing. He has to yell at the game to get it to play the right music.

Let me repeat that.

HE HAS TO YELL AT THE GAME TO GET IT TO PLAY THE RIGHT MUSIC. THAT is how pathetic he is. And you can't help but laugh at how sad he is. And that gets him a spot on the list.

#5 Ripper Roo from Crash Bandicoot 2
Originally, this was going to be a different boss from the Crash Bandicoot series, but then I remembered this one. He's the first boss of the game, and fairly simple. He makes turns the floor into a variety of explosive blocks, you wait for him to blow himself up, you hit him, wash, rinse, repeat.

Oh, did I mention he's jumping around and cackling madly, and is also a college professor?

People who have been around me enough and have heard me laugh will probably be able to tell JUST how much I like this boss.

#6 Dark Matter from Kirby's Dream Land 2

So you get through Kirby's Dream Land 2, you kick Dedede's Fat Penguin Ass, he falls over, and the game ends. Except you didn't get all the Rainbow Drops, so you get one of those "The End?" type sequences.

Well, it took us forever to get all the damn things (SCREW YOU WORLD 4 RAINBOW DROP FOR APPARENTLY HAVING AN EASIER WAY OF GOING ABOUT IT!), but I was the first one to do it. Kick Dedede's ass again after a harrowing fight and...hey, what are the Rainbow drops doing? Why do I have a sword?

What's coming out of Dedede!?!

The two Kirby's Dreamland games for Gameboy, and this boss fight in particular, always stick with me because I was the first one in my family to beat the damn things, despite the fact that they aren't hugely hard.

#7 Booster from Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

I'm not sure how many of you have played this game, since it came at the end of the SNES lifespan (I was only able to play through the whole thing via emulator), but it is one of my favorites. It's plot is simple, but memorable, with some old favorite baddies, some new heroes, and memorable locations across the Mushroom Kingdom.

Then there's Booster's Tower. A giant madhouse filled with Thwomps, Bullet Shooting Monsters, and Evil Clowns. And if that weren't enough, every now and then Booster, who has by cosmic accident ended up with Princess Peach as a captive, rides through on a train every now and then and pelts you with bombs. His plan? Marry the Princess. Why? He's never had a wedding before, and it sounds like fun.

Wait, what?

You heard me. He's no villainous conqueror. He's a psychopathic man child who takes you on a giant roller coaster ride of WTF that ends with you going to a chapel and fighting a giant cake, which he then proceeds to eat.

Even within the context of the game, it only barely makes sense. And my GOD it's hilarious!

#8 Giant Fire Breathing Mike Tyson from I Want to Be The Guy: The Movie: The Game

I'm a decent player of platformer games. Not phenomenal, but I can play through most just fine once I figure out what's going on. More than once a girl in my freshman hall had me come down and beat levels of Mario and Kirby for her.

That said, I SUCK at I Want to Be the Guy. I have died SO many times on the FIRST SCREEN. In fact, I could almost put the game itself down as a favorite boss, as everything in that game is trying to kill you. The Moon comes down from the sky and tries to crush you repeatedly. At one point, a spike pit gets up and chases you down. Delicious fruit falls in every direction, gibbing your unstoppably optimistic character. And while all the bosses are memorable and hilarious (and slightly easier than the rest of the game), Mike Tyson gets the nod here for virtue of being GIANT MIKE TYSON who BREATHES FIRE, and being the only boss I've actually gotten to.

#9 Dozle Zabi in the Big Zam from Gundam Battle Assault
If you've hung out with me enough, you probably have at least a vague notion that I'm fond of Giant Robots. The Two Gundam Battle Assault games for the Original Playstation were particular favorites of mine, in fact being the first two fighting games I owned for the system. So why is the Big Zam notable? In the first game, it's the first boss character you come across. It is the biggest character in the game. It is more than twice the size of ANY robot you've come across at that point. So naturally, you're a little frightened. Then you learn it can do damage to you buy walking into you. And it shoots lasers instead of punching. And it's mega special is probably the most damaging you've seen. But as you fight it, you come to another realization.

It can't block. Or turn around. Suddenly, the fight is a HELL of a lot easier.

While the other bosses are much harder, this one was always a favorite of mine and my brother's when we played. Once we unlocked it, at least one round of our playing would include the Big Zam, as we tried to crush each other.

#10 Facade from Legend of Zelda Link's Awakening

So you get through the Sixth Dungeon on Koholint Island, the Face Shrine, and you're about to open the door to the Nightmare in there. You enter the room's empty. Okay, something will break out of the floor shortly, right? Right?

No. A pair of eyes open up. And you realize it.

The boss isn't in the room. The boss IS the room. Holy shit.

And while it's not a particularly hard boss fight (with Facade simply throwing objects from around the room at you and opening the occasional pit), I always thought that it was a clever boss, and always enjoyed it.

So there you go, my top ten video game baddies. Are they the most villainous, the most evil? No. Hell, only one of them is a final boss. But they've all done something to stick out in this Nincompoop's memory.

This is J. K. Lantern, signing off for now!


  1. That guy from Chrono always makes me think of Timothy Dalton, but I guess that's because I'm such a James Bond fanatic

  2. I'd say the speeder bike sequence in Battletoads counts as a rather vicious boss. And while it's not technically an end boss in the game, the fact that no one on earth has beaten that #$%# sequence without cheating makes it a de facto one.

    Stupid speeder bike sequence.

  3. I remember watching my sister and cousin play that section when I was a kid. Even WITH cheating they couldn't beat it.