It’s all about politics this month. With the snap election turning the UK in on itself, Brexit itching the back of the public’s minds, and Trump’s gap year travels causing mayhem, we’re all a bit on edge. So why not celebrate some horrible bosses. This month we have a brilliant selection of boss-related insights from across the web. We pitched in with our own story running the best video game boss battles we’ve seen so far, but what does everyone else have to say? From a game’s tenterhooks ending in the middle of an explosive battle to a dubious piece on the relevance of such monsters in today’s gaming landscape, we’ve got the opinions and celebrations of several industry commentators for your reading glory. So if you’re in the UK, or anywhere else for that matter, put the kettle on, settle back and wait for all this to blow over with some good reads.
“Persona 5’s ‘Rivers In The Desert’ Might Be The Best Boss Theme of 2017” – Light Gun Galaxy, Mandi Odoerfer
Odoerfer writes a short but sweet love letter to one of the boss themes from the critically acclaimed Persona 5. ‘Rivers In The Desert’ accompanies such a fight with:
“everything a boss theme needs: variety, blood-pumping beats, and emotionally resonant lyrics”
Light Gun Galaxy urges fans to at least check out the soundtrack even if they’re not planning on devoting 90 hours to actual gameplay.
Gaming Reinvented has detailed a lot of hidden content found in classic games in the past, however writer CM30 laments the fact that Wario Land Super Mario Land 3 has largely had its depths un-plundered. Detailing some new boss features that have recently been unearthed, then, CM30 delves into what these new sprite images suggest about the original complexity of the game’s final enemies.
Jason reminded us of the fateful ending of Square’s Saga Frontier this month. While the classic game was praised in Schreier’s piece for its diverse stories and multitude of adventures to be had, it was the final battle between a young wizard and the forces of evil that raised a few eyebrows back in the day. The wizard in question, Blue, was left stranded in a battle to keep all the demons of hell from spilling out into the real world when the game abruptly stopped. Perhaps he didn’t succeed after all…
Screier’s look back at one of the most confusing endings in video game history makes for a nostalgic and fun little read however.
Fear not, this isn’t another video game boss list ready to clog your inbox. In fact, MegaLucario58 has compiled a list of the scariest bosses, as suggested by players’ reactions to them. It’s rare we see a list not indebted to the writer’s own nostalgic history, so being guided by the actual players here is both illuminating and hilarious.
Strap in folks, this is a long one.
It’s rare that I include a post that I generally disagree with in these monthly round ups. However, if we’re presenting the internet’s opinion, then everyone’s must be included. That being said, I have a few comments on Ziebart’s arguments here. This is in no way intended to be argumentative, in fact Ziebart actually led me to reconsider the way I perceive the traditional boss battle in today’s gaming landscape. There are a few issues you may want to consider here as a reader, though.
Ziebart argues that because games are stepping into human-centric narratives, bosses and their superior makeup cannot make sense in gameplay. We’re thinking of the huge ugly, multi-limbed creatures of the deep dark here, with their command over sci-fi and fantasy game worlds and supernatural strengths and intuitions. And yet Ziebart fails to consider the way games have developed and adapted to these core game structures, enveloping them in their own discourses to reconsider their traditional presentation. Reformulations of the boss battle are present everywhere. Not, as Ziebart suggests, shoehorned into irrelevant game spaces.
“What if your villainous faction is primarily just people? How do you explain the one guy who has more health than the rest of his species combined?”
Boss battles are changing to fit the demands of the ever-growing landscape of gaming, adapting to fit such new contexts. Your Life Is Strange boss battle is a morally complex decision that will have lasting impact on the lives of your characters at the end of every episode. Your puzzler boss battle will be a particularly tricky mind-endeavour before you unlock the next stage. These features still retain all the necessities of the boss battle. They require you to draw on everything you’ve learned in the game so far, assess your own strengths and weaknesses against the situation you have found yourself in, and block access to future areas of the game.
It’s perhaps most telling that Ziebart places so much emphasis on these new gaming landscapes that have emerged aside from the sci-fi and fantasy hallmarks and yet in describing the boss battles that have somehow failed him, he only uses such bosses to demonstrate his point. It’s an interesting article, that poses some questions some may have difficulty swallowing. While I find it difficult to reconcile my own views with those of Ziebart, it was certainly insightful as it forced me to consider the way game structures of such canonical mechanics have grown with the industry and adapted to its new contexts. I can see where he’s going, and he starts going in the right direction with his discussion of the brutish Joker in Arkham Aslyum, but not taking these shifting approaches to new contexts into account is still putting me off somewhat.
What did you think of our round up this month? Spotted any horrible bosses out on the horizon, or have your own take on the way boss battles function in today’s gaming landscape? Give us a shout downstairs in the comment box and we’ll hash it out.