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The Ultimate Antagonists – Part I

By Tom Peden, Gamer News Daily Contributing Author

Some video games are renown for having interesting and challenging boss fights. These battles of skill and wits have given gamers a sense of purpose and story to tell for decades. Some games do this better than others, managing to capture the delicate balance of a challenging, but fun. Whether it’s the sense of rivalry or it’s the brilliantly wrote character, the foes we take on in video games can stay with us for a lifetime.

I’ve had something of a soul search and looked back at all the classic, current and most memorable boss fights I’ve had in my time. You might have a different idea or a different list in mind. But to me, something was special about these games and the boss fights within them. This list focuses on the games that those nasty antagonists inhibit and to make it onto my list, there must be more than just one memorable boss in the game.

I decided to include a couple of rules to help me slim down the list and prevent duplication. There can only be one game included from any one series. That means I can’t include every super Mario bros title, for example. Games must have more than one memorable boss fight and last but not least, they must truly be the best boss fights. In this list, I’m focussing on the older games, but part 2 will include more recent titles.

Now that we have the ‘rules’ in place, let’s dive right in:

Metal Gear Solid

Metal Gear Solid is known for it’s interesting and unique boss fights. In the first game to be released on the Playstation, the new technology at Konami’s fingertips was utilised to perfection.

Players would encounter bosses that not only had some depth to them but also scared the hell out of you. Some notable names, and hopefully ones that ring a bell are Revolver Ocelot or Psycho Mantis. The latter was the one that truly freaked players out. Psycho Mantis not only looked creepy, but he also read your mind. Accessing the data in your memory card and telling players the games they had saved on there. He basically knew what you were playing! I was shocked and maybe a little concerned. Not only could he read your mind, he would make the controller rumble (if you were lucky enough to own and DualShock back then). This wasn’t quite as concerning as the mind reading, but it certainly added to it.

Psycho Mantis was surreal and haunting and it was my earliest memory of a video game character acknowledging the player. This stuck with me.

Revolver Ocelot gave you that sense of rivalry. He and Solid Snake had the back-story and in your head, you filled in the rest. He might have been one of the easier bosses, but it was one of the most satisfying to beat.

I would be remiss if I forgot to mention some of the other iconic bosses and antagonists that made up Metal Gear Solid. Sniper Wolf, the Cyborg Ninja and Metal Gear Rex, all were formidable and pushed the boundaries of video games.

Metal Gear still has the habit of creating memorable antagonists today, but to me, none compare to the ones in this title.

Perhaps I’m slightly blinded by the nostalgia, but I think most of you will agree that they don’t make them like the used too.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the past

When doing my research for this article I thought a good way to relive some of the feelings would be to watch some gameplay of said games. When I watched A Link to the past gameplay I found myself once again absorbed in its boss fights. Looking past the early 90s graphics is easy when the quality of your opponent brings the real challenge.

In A Link to the past, the trick was to learn your opponent’s strategy. Each boss not only felt different, and it required you to play differently. Dodging the evil Ganon’s lightning bolts, impaling arrows into the Armos Knights or attacking the tail of the Moldorm, each boss was beaten by doing something different.

Games of this era had a particular way of creating lots of unique and challenging bosses, and A Link to the past was no different. This game seemed to stand above the rest.

When the showdown between player and boss began, the music surged adding a sense of dread and panic. It was then a matter of quickly figuring out how to beat the thing in front of you, or perish. Only to be revived by a fairy you kept in a bottle perhaps.

A Link to the past did a great job at creating these dungeons and adding a purpose, and end point so to speak. You’d slog your way through the level, picking up a few items along the way and then face the lord of the manner. You defeated him, the music changed triumphantly and that’s when that total sense of accomplishment filled you. When beating a boss in A Link to the past you felt like the man, the boss, the King of Hyrule and god help anyone who stood in the way of you and the Princess.

Diablo

Diablo was a total game changer for me. It was my gateway into what is now one of my favourite genres now – Isometric RPGs. Diablo is a brutal and terrifying world filled with just as equally brutal and terrifying bosses. To this day the line “Ahh… Fresh meat” pops in my head from time to time. The first time I heard The Butcher utter those words, I knew I was in for a rough ride.

I first played Diablo on the Playstation and although I played the entire game with a friend, it didn’t help to comfort the fears. The bosses in Diablo are truly terrifying monsters.

After slaying hordes upon hordes of enemies, you could be forgiven for thinking your job might be a little easier when slaying their masters, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Difficult and challenging would be cutting it short when describing the bosses in Diablo. They are not quite Dark Souls level, but they can certainly provide some controller throwing moments.

Diablo is another game that got dungeons right. Procedurally generated and often sprawling multiple levels, you could have a different experience every time. End game in Diablo culminated in an epic battle with Diablo himself. I mean, come on, what other game can you fight the Devil in?

Part of Diablo’s charm was its world you inhabited. This gothic, medieval world filled with demons and monsters sure sounds like the place to have epic boss battles, and it certainly was. Your foes could be huge monsters, which chased you relentlessly as you tried to escape and give yourself just enough time to use your last health potion. This ultimately ended up in you being slaughtered, but hey, you had a fun time trying.

This was the first in a series of articles, which showcase the games with the best bosses. You have some time until the second one, so why not revisit some of these classics and try your hand at some real bosses. Now that you’re a more experienced gamer you might find the challenge easier. On the other hand, it’s probably going to take you a few tries.

Do you agree with the list, what other games can you think of that have epic boss battles? Let us know in the comments section below.

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