The Boss Fight Heart Race
Boss fights in games have been around since, well, the start of videogames. Ever since fighting that serial kidnapper turtle thing Bowser in Super Mario Bros, boss fights have become a gaming tradition that still resonates to this day. There have been countless lists made along the lines of “the best boss fights ever” or “you probably never experienced these boss battles and they might change your life” if you want to go full clickbait. But not a lot of articles have pointed out that rush you get when you fight a boss.
I’ve recently earned my platinum trophy for Infamous Second Son and in order to do that I had to fight the final boss battle on Expert difficulty and it was fairly challenging. It only took me three tries, but during the successful attempt, my heart was racing like a racist white woman in the Bronx. I also got this laser focus out of nowhere and did exactly what I had to do in order to beat the bloody boss. And that was one of the tame ones.
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I’ve done some pretty amazing things when it comes to boss battles. I’ve done a lot of high difficulty games that pit you against monstrous opponents that take every fiber of your being to beat. I distinctly remember the final boss battle in DmC on Hell and Hell difficulty that pushed my patience to the limit. It was relentlessly difficult with a multi-layered boss fight where I could only get hit three times or die. I was in a partychat with Cavie when I finally beat the bastard and I just let out a victory scream that nearly deafened the poor man. My heart was shot and my hands were shaking. That’s basically the feeling I got with all the higher difficulty boss fights.
Some games even base the entire concept around boss fights. Shadow of the Colossus is the prime example of this. The whole game is just a bunch of boss fights and nothing else significant, but those boss battles are absolutely epic. Each fight is a journey on its own and the way they played out left you in awe. That rewarding feeling you get when you finally beat down those towering behemoths is second to none.
Then you get the big one. Dark Souls. Each and every Dark Souls fan I’ve come across all give me the same reason for why the games are so great and that’s the rewarding feeling you get when you defeat a boss. I fully understand that because I’ve experienced it in the brief (well, 30 hours is what a Dark Souls player calls a coffee break) time I played the game. That rush is addictive. When you defeat a boss that you previously thought was impossible and died numerous times trying to beat, you get that feeling of satisfaction. That feeling in your gut that says “I actually pulled it off”. It’s magical. Although I often wonder how entertaining Dark Souls would have been if it had no boss fights and just the gaggle of random enemies. I don’t think it would have been so popular, in my opinion.
Sometimes boss fights can be annoying, especially the ones that just drag on forever. JRPGs easily fall prey to this. I’ve had fights in JRPGs that lasted close to an hour and then the boss does a super ultimate death move and just obliterates your party completely, forcing you to do it all over again. Those boss fights can be rather intense, but they often turn into mindless “heal party, attack, revive, heal party, attack” affairs. There’s a fairly unknown JRPG-esque game called Resonance of Fate that threw you in the deep end with sharks with lasers on their head in one particular boss battle. I must have restarted that fight about eighty times. Dark Souls players, try and beat that shit, I dare you. That fight broke me and when I finally beat it I didn’t feel happy or rewarded, but just glad that the goddamn thing was done with.
Boss fights have their positives and their negatives, but one thing is for certain, they will be here to stay. As long as the gaming industry still draws breath, we will still see towering motherfuckers with huge health bars ruining our day. We can only hope we get more of that sweet rush. So what was your favourite boss fight?