Thursday, August 1, 2019

Bad Boss Battles in Gaming History - Part Nine


  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order (NSW)
  • Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PS1, PS4, XB1, NSW, PC)
  • Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled (PS4, XB1, NSW)
  • Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)
  • Killzone 2 (PS3)

Exactly one week ago, SuperPhillip Central took a look at some of the best boss battles in games. Now, the site takes a decidedly different approach with some truly terrible boss battles. After all, you've got to take the good with the bad, the yin with the yang, and any other cliche that you can come up with. These bosses can be frustrating, unfair, poorly designed, no challenge, or are otherwise--and most important of all--just not any fun for varying reasons.

Check out past installments of Bad Boss Battles in Gaming History with the following links, and then check after the jump for this edition's picks.

Bullseye - Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order (NSW)

The Marvel Ultimate Alliance series pits players and their ragtag group of Marvel superheroes and antiheroes against a wide roster of villains and bosses. The Nintendo Switch exclusive Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order continues this tradition, and for the most part, it succeeds in delivering exciting and thrilling boss battles interspersed between the standard beat 'em up room-clearing action that fans have come to expect of the franchise.

However, one thing that isn't so expected nor welcomed is the rather... chaotic local multiplayer co-op camera, which not only tethers players together in a somewhat close proximity, but it also flakes out, facing the entirely wrong direction, getting caught on level geometry and the like, to an offensive degree.

This is perhaps most infamous and most egregious in the Chapter 3 battle with Bullseye. You have a room filled with the Kingpin's collection of priceless antiquities, such as samurai swords and weapons placed in display cases, and the camera LOVES getting caught on these and blocking the view of the action. Good luck trying to get any kind of view on Bullseye himself, as he chucks explosives, calls in various HAND henchmen backup, and makes life generally miserable for you--but not as miserable as the horrid local co-op camera does!

Bullseye himself has the distinction of being on this list but only under the condition of playing in local couch co-op on the same Switch system with other players, where the camera is just inexcusably poor, more so than normal. He's actually a serviceable boss fight either in solo, playing locally via separate Switches, or online. Perhaps the true boss here is the co-op camera... and unfortunately, this is one foe that currently remains unbeatable.

Dr. Neo Cortex - Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PS1, PS4, XB1, NSW, PC)

As we've seen from plenty of past installments of Bad Boss Battles in Gaming History, Naughty Dog is not the greatest when it comes to creating worthwhile and engaging boss battles--for the most part, at least. The finale of Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back is another example of this, and Dr. Neo Cortex seems to strike back with a thud rather than any kind of significant strike.

The final battle is a laughable chase in space that has Crash Bandicoot donning a jet pack and pursuing his rival Cortex through a path of giant space rings all the while needing to dodge asteroids in the process. As Crash gets close to Cortex, he can perform a spin attack to deal some damage to the boss's health bar. Three hits before Cortex can reach the finish line, and it's a successful--if not completely unrewarding, unfulfilling--victory.

Perhaps Naughty Dog realized how asinine some of the platforming challenges in Crash Bandicoot 2 were (such as having to double-back just to break every box in one of the final levels--great design there, folks) that they decided to make the final battle the easiest, most effortless part of the game to be kind to players. Nah, that's giving Naughty Dog too much credit. They're just mostly bad at making good boss battles.

Pinstripe - Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled (PS4, XB1, NSW)

The original Crash Team Racing brought with it one of the finest kart racing games of its generation, and the remake, in turn, brought with it a fabulous return to the formula and one of the best kart racing games period. Taking clear inspiration from Rare's Diddy Kong Racing on the Nintendo 64, Naughty Dog smartly took on the Adventure Mode formula and made it its own, including the various boss races.

One of these in particular is rather obnoxious, but you won't notice it until you play on a harder Adventure Mode difficulty. That boss is none other than Pinstripe. Boss races in Crash Team Racing have you in one-on-one races with a character of a similar size, and these bosses love to spam a given item. For Pinstripe, it's Bowling Bombs, which roll behind him and cause one nasty explosion to whomever they hit. In this case, it's you.

The racetrack that the boss race takes place on is Hot Air Skyway, and as the name suggests, it's a track that floats above the clouds. There are many points where being on the receiving end of Bowling Bomb can result in being catapulted off the track. One particular narrow straightaway can result in getting hit by repeated Bowling Bombs in unfair, but in some ways, comical succession. Oh, you cheeky, cheating, little rodent! Combine this with the AI's penchant to remain on your tail or JUST enough ahead of you to take you down (at least for the average player's skill level), and you have one frustrating boss race on your hands.

Bowser (Final Phase) - Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)

Following Crash Bandicoot 2 and Dr. Neo Cortex's lead, not even one of the my favorite 3D platformers and games of all time, Super Mario Galaxy 2 can escape having a lackluster final boss battle. It, too, is plagued by a final encounter that ends so quickly that--oops. By the time I finished this first paragraph, the battle already ended.

In all seriousness, Bowser is more than capable and a great ton of fun in the first part of his final battle with Mario at the end of Super Mario Galaxy 2. It's the second part that is unfortunately anticlimactic to an extreme end. The goal here is that Mario is free-falling through space, and he must land on meteors while avoiding Bowser's offensive advances. To defeat Bowser, Mario needs to ground pound the meteors in the direction of Bowser to deal damage.

This is all fine and well, and with this epic battle theme playing in the background, it sets the stage for a fantastic finale. Except... it's not. It'll be over for most players before the action even intensifies and heats up, and before the music even gets to a fever pitch. I was left with a "that's it?" feeling that didn't ruin my overall experience with Super Mario Galaxy 2, but I was yearning for something more to come out of the finale. Sadly, I did not get that with the final form of Bowser in Super Mario Galaxy 2.

Colonel Radec - Killzone 2 (PS3)

We've been through plenty of poorly done and unfulfilling bosses on this edition of Bad Boss Battles, but there's one more to contend with, and it's infamous among Killzone 2 fans. Before you can even face Colonel Radec, you must make your way through a horde of Helghast soldiers in the Visari Palace. Once you finally do, it's time to deal with Radec himself, the cloaking, teleporting, machine gun-toting, knife-wielding jerk that he is.

Radec comes with a copious amount of health that makes this already arduous and tumultuous boss battle an agonizing test of endurance, one that many Killzone 2 players tapped out on. Between the aforementioned high amount of health Radec possesses and the stunning jump in difficulty this whole section of the game presents players, it's no wonder that Colonel Radec finally takes his well earned and deserved position among other bad, frustrating boss battles in gaming history.

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