Thursday, March 12, 2020

Bad Boss Battles in Gaming History - Part Ten

  • Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield (NSW)
  • Luigi's Mansion 3 (NSW)
  • Spyro Reignited Trilogy (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC)
  • Sonic Mania (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC)
  • Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC, Wii)

SPC just can't seem to get away from the number ten this week. Earlier the site celebrated Mario Day on March 10th, which saw a top ten list of the ten best Mario games of the past ten years, and now the tenth installment of Bad Boss Battles in Gaming History arrives in style on the site.

A good boss battle sticks with you for all the right reasons, and soon after beating it, you want to go back and do it all over again. The bosses on this list, however, are the absolute opposite of that, for the most part. These are annoying, broken, unfair, poorly designed, or just plain old disappointing. Whatever the case may be, the following boss battles lean more towards bad than fun, and as we'll see, even the greatest of games can have lulls in excitement and entertainment when it comes to their bosses while some shouldn't have included them to begin with.

Before we begin, though, check out all nine previous parts of this ongoing series of articles, and then check after the break for the latest boss entries:

Eternatus - Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield (NSW)

We begin with a recent game from late last year, and the latest in the mainline Pokemon games, Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield. We're entering final encounter territory here for the main game, but to be fair, there was already the article's trademark introductory spoiler warning ahead of time.

The initial battle against the powerhouse Poison/Dragon-type hybrid known as Eternatus is your standard Pokemon encounter where your party of Pokemon battle. When its HP has been exhausted, Eternatus enters into its Gigantamax form, ultra powerful and seemingly impervious to the combined efforts of yours and your rival Hop's Pokemon's attacks. That is until Hop remembers a pair of relics the two stumbled across during their adventures. Upon holding up both ancient relics, they summon the help of two other legendary Pokemon--and the cover Pokemon of both Sword and Shield respectively, Zacian and Zamazenta--to defeat Eternatus.

The biggest issue I have with this Pokemon battle is that while the scope is tremendous, truly it is, the encounter itself relies so much on Zacian and Zamazenta to deal damage that you're basically on the sidelines in an extended and rather boring battle. Obviously this is for story purposes to show off just how powerful and impressive the duo of canine Pokemon legendaries are, but for gameplay purposes, it's rather shallow and uninteresting. A nail-biting battle like back in the Pokemon Blue and Red days against Mewtwo this is not, but then again, story and spectacle took the front seat this time around. It just wasn't as fun nor engaging to play as it could have been, despite being relatively fun to watch.

Clem - Luigi's Mansion 3 (NSW)

I already went on a bit of a bashing of the B2 Boilerworks floor in the most recent edition of Bad Levels in Gaming History, this article series' sister series of sorts. I went into depth about how poorly the tube controls were introduced and implemented, not giving players enough time to practice with them in safe areas before throwing them into the proverbial deep end with truly tricky and highly frustrating challenges. However, I encourage you to check out that level description to better understand how aggravating the raft can be as it will make understanding how difficult the boss can be much easier.

Well, the second basement of the Last Resort hotel's final challenges continues with the "tube-ular" trials found throughout the floor, and it unfortunately culminates in a rather large roadblock for a sizable portion of players. It's the boss battle against Clem, the ghost causing havoc and mischief beneath the hotel. Heck, the reason B2 became flooded in the first place, requiring Luigi to transport around via the tube raft, was because Clem opened up a pipe.

The battle against Clem is an exercise in frustration, as the battlefield itself is a pool of water surrounded by a wall of spikes. Careful maneuvering is mandatory to avoid smacking into the wall or into one of Clem's mines that he places around the arena. Easier said than done when you're working with a raft that doesn't control the most intuitively. Through causing Clem to make himself dizzy, only then can Luigi "grab" him with his Poltergust and shoot him into the surrounding spikes, thus quickly exiting the pool of water to try to suck him up for good.

Gulp - Spyro Reignited Trilogy (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC)

The majority of bosses in the Spyro trilogy, both the original and the remade trilogy, aren't much to make note of, in general. They're pretty much serviceable, if not forgettable encounters. However, one encounter of which I dread... well... encountering each time I play through Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage is none other than the battle with *gulps* Gulp.

Gulp is a large, heavy set dragon whose name isn't just for show--it's also what the boss does as he consumes various power-ups in the arena, using them to either attack our purple dragon protagonist or heal himself. What makes Gulp so annoying is that many of his attacks seem to track Spyro easily to the point of utter frustration. Between the homing missile-like mini-rockets to the vexing energy balls that somehow always find their way atop Spyro's intended position, evading attacks and much more surviving is easier said than done. If you're going for the skill point from not taking any damage whatsoever in the battle, then this fight will test your patience even more so than it would otherwise.

Mega Octus - Sonic Mania (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC)

Water and Sonic go together like oil and water. And the Oil Ocean Zone's Act 2 boss and many players went together even worse, serving as a major jump in difficulty for plenty of players. Dr. Eggman's Mega Octus was the final challenge standing (or wading) between players and their trip to the Lava Reef Zone. This submarine managed to be a thorn in a many a player's side, as it could easily wipe away their supply of rings, leaving them completely defenseless to the hard-to-evade lasers that fired from one of the sub's cannons.

The sub itself emerges from the titular oil ocean but not before hiding away, bring down two out of the three platforms present in the battle, leaving but one for the player to stand on. (Just don't be underneath one of these platforms when they fall, or else you'll get crushed immediately.) Then, a metallic snake-esque machine leaps out of the oil to attempt to deal damage and a cannon fires a series of laser beams forward at you.

There's a lot to take in during this particular boss battle--almost too much so, and while it's not by any means a wholly awful encounter, it by virtue of being such a jump in difficulty compared to much of what came before it makes it a less than stellar boss battle in an otherwise overall stellar game.

Every Boss - Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz (PS4, XB1, NSW, PC, Wii)

No, SPC has saved the "wholly awful encounter" part to the entirety of Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, either its original Wii version or its recently released (and SPC panned) HD iteration. Perhaps "wholly awful" isn't fair because at least with the Wii original, SEGA tried something new with the Super Monkey Ball series by introducing and implementing boss battles at the end of each of the first eight worlds of the game.

However, both the introduction and implementation were awful, due to the fact that: 1) They weren't needed for a game like this, and 2) They were terribly frustrating. The camera is scatterbrained during these encounters, where your monkey of choice must somehow reach and target the boss's weak point to deal damage while the camera twists and turns with tremendous ineptitude. Falling off the level means an instant failure, resulting in restarting the battle and having to slowly and steadily deplete the foe's health bar once again.

This is deemed even more enraging if you're trying to complete whole worlds without using any continues. You can masterfully meander and maneuver through the base courses of a world with ease (or at least with some degree of skill) and find yourself just sinking countless lives into the last level due to failing constantly at an obnoxious boss battle. They simply don't work well, and it's telling they haven't been a feature in a Monkey Ball game since. Sure, there haven't been too many totally new Monkey Ball games since, but the point still stands.

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