The Eight Most Creative Video Game Boss Battles
Great boss battles can define a game. Creative fights can completely revolutionize games. Sometimes, the most innovative battles aren’t the most grand or even the most difficult. They’re the ones that most effectively put the game mechanics to the test and then tear the boundaries open, inspiring an ‘ah-ha’ moment and a sense of wonder that completely immerse the player into the experience. Here’s my list of the eight most creative gaming boss battles. To make sure I don’t just list all the bosses from one franchise, I’ve limited myself to one boss per series.
8. Conker’s Bad Fur Day (N64 and Xbox): The Great Mighty Poo Guy
I never thought I’d see the day where I was throwing toilet paper into a massive mountain of crap that sang catchy opera. Good catchy opera that even had Conker chime in -- fecal gameplay had never been so rhythmic. Conker’s objective was to get Mighty Poo to sing so loud that the sound waves would shatter the glass door. Conker would then flush the Poo down the biggest toilet in the universe. It’s not over until the fat Poo sings... and he did.
7. No More Heroes 2 (Wii): Margaret Moonlight
Starting with Killer 7, Suda51 has embodied ‘cool weirdness.’ Taking on assassins with a lightsaber in a real-world setting was a fantasy for many gamers. Combating the oddest assortment of badass mercenaries was bizarrely gratifying. Margaret Moonlight, the fourth top assassin in No More Heroes 2, attacked with two scythes that had sniper rifles at their end, called, “Le Croissant du Ange.” She was dressed as a maid, had a Goth vibe about her, and wanted to teach Travis her song, “Philistine.” With the moon the size of a sun and night having overtaken the rooftop, it’s a tense, moody battle that climaxes in ‘sublimation.’
6. Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3, Xbox 360): Scarecrow
Commissioner Jim Gordon is dead. Roaches are infesting the floors. The walls are rotating askew. Batman has entered the morgue. He leaves only to find himself in the morgue once again. His father is one of the corpses and accuses little Bruce of failure. The world collapses and a vortex opens up underneath. A horrifying personage of the Scarecrow towers like a behemoth above Batman as he leaps from platform to platform. This sequence was the most creative, and yet terrifying, boss of Arkham Asylum. That’s saying a lot when the gallery of villains includes the likes of Bane and The Joker.
5. Katamari Damacy (PS2) and Beautiful Katamari (Xbox 360): The World
Technically, this wasn’t a boss per se, but it was the final level in the first Katamari Damacy. The Prince’s objective was to “Make the moon,” by rolling up the entire world. This meant you had to absorb everything including clouds, islands, skyscrapers, Jumboman, tankers, giant squids, and Godzilla. It was the apex of accumulation and destroying, and the world had never been so fun. This also appeared in the Xbox 360 game called Beautiful Katamari. The J-pop music just made it hip.
4. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3): Metal Gear Ray
This was a toss-up because the Psycho Mantis boss battle on the PS1 was one of the most innovative, mind-bending experiences ever. The idea of putting the controller in the second port to elude Mantis’ telepathy was pure genius. At the same time, the most unbelievably creative experience in the Metal Gear series was, for me, actually playing as Metal Gear. Normally, Snake had to destroy Metal Gear from the ground, exploiting some weakness he’d discovered. In Act 4 of Metal Gear Solid 4, Snake jumped in the cockpit of Metal Gear Rex and took on Metal Gear Ray head-on. It wasn’t just a symbol of old vs. new (a theme which pervaded throughout the game), but a taut, thrilling experience that switched roles and put Snake in the titular vehicle he’d spent most of the series destroying. I know Raiden faced off against multiple Rays in MGS2, so this choice was all about the fact that you got to play as Rex rather than fighting against Ray itself. Utilizing AT missiles, the FE laser, and the Gatling gun, this fight made me understand why Big Boss and Liquid Snake risked everything in their hopes of establishing Outer Heaven through Metal Gear.
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He has been working in film and games for over a decade. On his off time, he likes to travel the world. His short story collection, Watering Heaven, was just published by Signal 8 Press.
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