Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bad Boss Battles in Gaming History - Part Five


  • Batman: Arkham Knight
  • Batman: Arkham Origins - Blackgate
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
  • Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando
  • Various Super Mario games

Welcome to some more boss bashing! It's part five of Bad Boss Battles in Gaming History, where we take a look together at some of the poorer fights, confrontations, and encounters within video games. These fights can be boring, annoying, anticlimactic, or just plain not fun. Since there are spoilers in these articles, you can check out part five after the break.

Deathstroke - Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4, XONE, PC)

We start off this list of five poor enemy encounters with a fight that isn't mechanically awful by any stretch of the imagination. What Deathstroke's battle entails is more of just a letdown and waste of possible potential instead.

In Batman: Arkham Origins, the prequel to Rocksteady's Arkham trilogy, a younger Batman went face-to-face (or is it mask-to-mask?) to Deathstroke in a no-holds barred, fists-a-flying, pugilistic duel. The two were on even ground, using the best of their combat arsenal to try to overcome, outwit, and defeat the other.

In Akrham Knight, however, Deathstroke's fight completely misses the point of who the member of Batman's Rogues gallery is and how he would typically do battle with the bat. Instead of an equal-footed rematch of their Arkham Origins encounter, we're left with a very anticlimactic bat-and-mouse battle featuring multiple tanks, including the one Deathstroke controls. Batman needs to drive his vehicle stealthily through the streets and alleyways of Gotham, picking off other tanks that if they see him, will unleash a powerful laser onto Batman's ride.

When all of the goons have been taken care of, it's time for Batman to put Deathstroke's tank out of commission with the same stealthy strategy as the other tanks. Only this one has more health to it and won't be taken out with one hit like the others. When Deathstroke's tank is made to be as useful as a tin can, Batman slams him to the ground, setting him in his vehicles holding compartment before dropping him off in holding at the Gotham City P.D. The potential for what could have been an evenly matched battle got wasted on an unambitious tank battle. A definitely disappointing scenario in Rocksteady's final Arkham game.

The Penguin - Batman: Arkham Origins - Blackgate (3DS, Vita)

While Deathstroke's battle was one that missed the mark, the confrontation with The Penguin in Batman: Arkham Origins - Blackgate is one that is the most frustrating of battles within the game. When it goes well and everything falls into place, this strategic encounter is enjoyable, but most of the time you'll be cursing at your handheld's screen.

The premise of the fight is that The Penguin stands at the bottom of the level with a gun-toting henchman on each side. Attacking Penguin head-on is a fool's errand, as his henchmen's guns will take Batman out in less than two seconds. Thus, what needs to be done is to lure them away from their boss by making noise. In this case, it's throwing Batarangs at fire alarms, bells, and other objects to lure them away. Batman then needs to crouch on a ledge above Penguin, drop, and beat him up while the henchmen are away.

The main problem with this fight is how random it feels. Sometimes-- make that MANY times-- the AI can see through solid objects, thus given your position away, and then killing you within seconds. Yes, random is the best word to describe this highly aggravating and nigh unfair encounter. It's a problematic point in an otherwise (mostly) enjoyable, if not imperfect, game.

Ice Titan - Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (PS3, 360, PC)

I think it's safe to say that the developers at MercurySteam definitely got some inspiration from the PlayStation 2 classic, Shadow of the Colossus. It's just a shame that the developers didn't actually get what made the behemoth encounters of that game so great. What the Ice Titan battle in Castlevania: Lords of Shadow shows is a lack of understanding on why the colossi were so engaging to do fight.

Most of the time when you're trying to climb the Ice Titan (since it's inspired by Shadow, of course you have to climb the frigid bastard), all you're doing is holding the analog stick in one direction and occasionally pressing a button to tighten your grip when needed. The biggest issue with this encounter is that it's a long journey to get to the point that you need to reach on the Ice Titan. What makes matters worse is how easy it is to mess up, making it so you fall off the titan. This then requires you to restart the slow and painstaking climb from the very beginning. In a game that has a host of other problems to it, the Ice Titan battle is just another box to check on how not to design a game.

Mutated Protopet - Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando (PS2)

Going from a poor Castlevania to a great platformer, Ratchet & Clank: Going Command was the second game in the series, and it remains one of my favorite games in the franchise. Perhaps one of my favorite games in general. At least it was back in 2013 when I did my list of 100 favorite games. However, one of the only blights to this otherwise fantastic game is the lackluster final boss battle within it. It is a confrontation against a protopet, a vicious specie of creature that has been causing the galaxy nothing but havoc. This particular protopet has been mutated, forcing Ratchet and Clank into battle with it. Too bad that this battle is far too easy and over far too quickly to put an exclamation point at the end of an otherwise awesome adventure.

The Mutated Protopet rolls around the arena occasionally, opens its large gaping mouth and spews forth smaller protopet enemies to deal with, launches targeted missiles at Ratchet, and when it takes enough damage, leaps upward and slams into the arena floor, destroying it, making Ratchet, Clank, and the boss fall onto a lower platform. It all makes for a boss that has attacks that are easy to avoid, and a battle that is less than satisfying for when you finally achieve victory.

Boom Boom - Various Super Mario games

When you have a boss that has a name that can be used as a synonym for doo-doo, you probably shouldn't expect the greatest. With the Super Mario Bros. series' Boom Boom, you shouldn't expect too much difficulty at all. In fact, Boom Boom's debut in Super Mario Bros. 3 showed him at his most difficult. Ever since, however, this King Bowser henchman has been less than challenging.

In fact, from New Super Mario Bros. U to Super Mario 3D World, Boom Boom's defeat can be cheesed so easily. All one needs to do is jump on his head the initial time, wait for him to exit his shell after taking damage, and then leaping on his noggin again. Do this three times total in one battle and the confrontation is won. Even when you allow Boom Boom to survive for a while, the pattern is pretty easy to make note of and avoid his movements.

Perhaps the biggest reason why Boom Boom is less than a special boss is because of how many freaking times you face him throughout the entire Mario series. Even in one game you can face him way too many times. If my estimates are correct, you face Boom Boom over 40 different times throughout the Super Mario games. It makes it when you see Boom Boom's female counterpart Pom Pom, introduced in Super Mario 3D Land, all the more special, I guess.

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