Thursday, November 24, 2016

Bad Boss Battles in Gaming History - Part Seven


  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
  • Hyrule Warriors (Wii U, 3DS)
  • Bloodborne (PS4)
  • Final Fantasy Tactics (PS1, PSP)
  • Mega Man 2 (NES)

Thanksgiving was celebrated for a lot of folks in the States, and while you may have had your fill on turkey, dressing, and all the fixings, I would like to talk about a different kind of turkey. No, it has nothing to do with the feathered creature at all. I'm talking about boss battles that are turkeys-- fights that are annoying, badly designed, or just plain "ICK!" Check out past parts of Bad Boss Battles in Gaming History with these links:

The Imprisoned - The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a pretty polarizing entry in the franchise. That's the case either because of the motion controls or the game's need to hand-hold for a significant duration of the adventure. I'm on the side that really enjoyed the game, finding the motion controls to be an extension of my own movements, really feeling like Link doing away with enemies and solving puzzles either in the overworld or in dungeons.

By and large, Skyward Sword features some of the most entertaining boss battles in the series. That's why it's so disappointing that one of the worst bosses in Zelda's history doesn't just show up in the game once but three times!

This boss is the Imprisoned, a big black beast that either marches slowly or slides and slithers around on its belly. While each encounter with the Imprisoned has some variations, the fact that you have to face it three times turns a game I can go back to easily into one that makes me think twice about doing so. Everything from how annoying it is to deal damage to the time constraints you have to beat the boss in time creates one Zelda boss that I hope I never have to fight again.

The Imprisoned - Hyrule Warriors (Wii U, 3DS)

...DAMMIT! Here's a first for Bad Boss Battles in Gaming History-- the same boss appearing two times in one volume! While the Imprisoned was indeed a tedious pain in Skyward Sword, it managed to be just as obnoxious and maybe even more so with its various appearances in Hyrule Warriors for the Wii U and Hyrule Warriors: Legends for the Nintendo 3DS.

In Hyrule Warriors, whenever the Imprisoned appears on the map, you know you're in for a fight. It's a battle of attrition as you slash, slice, or slam away at the standing beast's toes. Once those have been eliminated, the Imprisoned falls onto its chest. It's here where the boss's health gauge is vulnerable. The fact that even with a relatively strong character you're still slowly chipping away at this foe's health is one to be aware of and dread. Then, when it rises back up to its two feet, it starts sending out utterly painful shockwaves with each step, making getting in to take out its respawning toes all the more annoying. The Imprisoned is a creature that had a lot of promise in Skyward Sword, whiffed at that (thrice), and then whiffed at it again with its appearance in Hyrule Warriors.

Micolash, Host of the Nightmare - Bloodborne (PS4)

Generally the bosses in FROM Software's highly acclaimed series of Souls games feature fun, frenetic action with a challenging-but-never-unfair difficulty. I say "generally" because one of the bosses in the much beloved PlayStation 4 exclusive Bloodborne does not meet these qualifications.

Micolash, Host of the Nightmare-- I'll just call him Micolash for short, as he isn't really deserving of such an extravagant moniker-- is a boss that has you slowly pushing through enemy after enemy while trying to navigate a labyrinth. The enemies are annoying to contend with, and the maze itself is a confusing mess.

Upon catching up to Micolash, the "fun" continues, except this time it's in the form of an attack that can kill with one strike. May I also add that this boss absolutely loves to use this one-hit kill move over and over and over again? Micolash from Bloodborne is a rare miss from the developers as an entertaining boss battle, as he is anything but.

Wiegraf / Velius - Final Fantasy Tactics (PS1, PSP)

Final Fantasy Tactics is an often loved spin-off in the famed RPG franchise. Its ability to craft an engaging narrative while giving players a robust turn-based tactical RPG is something that many developers still try hard to beat, and often fail at doing. While the majority of the game makes it my favorite tactical RPG around, there is one sticking point for many a-beginner that if you don't have prior information to, you're probably going to find yourself cussing like a sailor.

Riovanes Castle is a three-part area in Final Fantasy Tactics. The second part is the most challenging, having Ramza face off against villain Wiegraf in a one-on-one confrontation before moving back to his starting spot. Then, he pulls out the Aries stone and transforms into the hell demon Velius. While it may be comforting that Ramza's party enters into the fray, it's short-lived, as Velius summons three Lesser Demons to settle the score.

Velius and the Lesser Demons are extraordinarily tough customers, but that would be fine and would make for a challenging boss battle. What makes this battle bad is how Final Fantasy Tactics' save system works. You are able to save your data between each of the three parts of Riovanes Castle. The problem is that you can become stuck in an unwinnable fight by being under-leveled with no way to return to the world map, because when you lose the fight, you get a game over, forcing you to reload your save. If you saved in between the first part and the second part of Riovanes Castle, you're stuck doing the second fight. Many promising save files were put to an abrupt end by not only not having a second save before entering Riovanes Castle, but also the largest jump in difficulty seen in the game yet. Some really weird oversight must have slipped by the developers, because for many, the many hours it takes to get to this point of the game meant that some just gave up and didn't get to enjoy the rest of this otherwise fantastic game.

Boobeam Trap - Mega Man 2 (NES)

Ending on a game that is a part of the recently released NES Classic Mini from Nintendo, Mega Man 2 is one of the greatest adventures the Blue Bomber has ever had. (Though I do prefer 3, but that's an article for another day.) However, there is one boss in the game that makes the game less than perfect: the Boobeam Trap, found at the conclusion of Dr. Wily Stage 4.

The boss is like a puzzle. Sounds cool so far, right? There are several Boobeams that are positioned out in the open and behind walls. These enemies require Mega Man to use Crash Bombs to destroy them, all the while they occasionally launch projectiles at our hero. The problem comes from the limited amount of weapon energy for the Crash Bomb that Mega Man has. He can only shoot seven bombs before his weapon energy is empty. The puzzle comes from being required to destroy all Boobeam targets before Mega's weapon and life energy runs out.

The problem here is that many Boobeams are placed beyond walls that also require the Crash Bomb to destroy them. So, in essence, you have to use all seven of Mega Man's Crash Bombs smartly and perfectly to solve the puzzle, or else you'll not only be unable to beat the boss, but when you are put back outside the boss room, you'll have to tediously round up enough weapon energy capsules from fallen foes to have a full supply of Crash Bombs to try the boss fight again. Sorry, but puzzles like these not only have no place in a Mega Man boss fight, but it makes for a really sizable sore spot in an otherwise excellent game.

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