You just put some serious time in to your game. Whether it’s an RPG, platformer, fighting, or shooting game, chances are there’s an end boss keeping you from wherever the hell you want to go. He’s in charge of all the bad shit going on in the world, why everyone is trying to whoop your ass, and your sore thumbs. He’s probably going to be tough. You may have to restart the battle five or six times before you figure out his weakness, or it could be pure instinct, like the Pope shitting in the woods.
I can’t tell you how many easy bosses I’ve cut through that just made me wonder what the crap was going on in the boss-designer’s mind. The first example that comes to mind is the end bosses of Wolfenstein missions 1-3 (I never played 4-6). It’s a shooting game—the first one, and really, the most influential game, in my eyes. But damn if those bosses aren’t silly. The grounds you fight them on are completely littered with magazines for your guns. Hitler says, “Oh yeah, just in case you didn’t realize I don’t enjoy high-velocity lead being fired into my chest, here’s some extra since you may not have come prepared. Oh, and here’s 5,394 plates of turkey. My wife made too much to eat.” Now, I’m not saying that bosses in videogames are easy—you’d just think they’d hide their weakness a bit better.
Goon 1: Let’s litter the showdown room with med kits and turkeys!
Goon 2: Yeah, that’ll show him!
The Super Mario Bros. series started off with some pretty good bosses. Sure, you fight Bowser eight times in SMB1, but Bowser is pretty hardcore. He has hard-to-recognize jumping patterns, and eventually he’s able to toss hammers as well as spit fire. Now, if you had the skill to pull off a squat jump, you could probably evade most of his shit (see: WTC January ’06).
But now let’s move on to Super Mario Bros. 2, aka the Pakistani game Doki Doki Panic! that Nintendo bought or stole. The entire game involves you picking up mushroom blocks or turnips and tossing them at your foes. I thought they might mix it up a bit at the end boss and make it a jumping challenge or something. Wart fears vegetables. Never liked them. Okay, a legitimate weakness, but why does he have a vegetable machine in his throne room?! What the crap! It’s like a Jew having a pig pen in his backyard. It just doesn’t make any sense. And why the hell would he take over a world that is overly abundant in vegetables? It’s like Mr. Freeze going to live in a volcano. It doesn’t add up. At least that’s the last we’ve ever seen of Wart. I think the designers realized what a stupid character they had created. It also sends a bad message to the kids that vegetables kill you.
And what about SMB2‘s Birdo? If he just stopped spitting eggs, he’d be fine. You think that the first one who got defeated would have passed a message along to his brethren. And we do see a slight increase in intelligence since some of them start to spit fire and eggs, and then eventually just fire. But they just don’t quite get it.
Oh, and let’s not forget recent boss battles in great hits such as Super Mario Sunshine and Ocarina of Time. In Zelda, your fairy companion could be asked what the boss’ weakness was, just in case the golden rule of “use the tool from this dungeon” hasn’t stuck in your head enough. And in Sunshine, it’s pretty easy to figure out how to fight. Hmm, I have a water pack in this game—I know, I’ll shoot water at him! Brilliant!
RPG bosses are pretty stupid as well. Not so much with the end fight of the boss, but the midbosses that help guard the end boss. The fact that end bosses spread 50 components to the ultimate weapon to destroy him all around the world is really lame. Crystals in Final Fantasy, for example, are littered in various lands. Does the end boss store them for safe keeping in his palace? No! He gives them to his four henchman who just happen to be slightly less powerful than the hero and his party right when you face them.
What the crap?!