Honourable Mentions: Boss battles are a staple in almost any game. It is a chance for the developers to leave a lasting impression on the players and an opportunity to take the game mechanics and mix it up a bit. Some games get boss battles horribly wrong, leaving a bad taste (*cough*Deus Ex: Human Revolution*cough*). They can either be boring or go completely against everything the game has tried to do so far (we’re looking at you Uncharted 2). Other games get it just right. The following list is comprised of some of the best boss battles to date. Obviously there isn’t space for everything. Ninja Gaiden, Final Fantasy, Resident Evil and many others all have some great battles, but didn’t quite cut it. These ten did:
10. Galactus – Marvel vs Capcom 3
Starting off the list is Galactus from Marvel Vs Capcom 3 (and UMvC3). This title saw the return of many of our heroes, but also gave us an epic final battle against the World Eater, Galactus. If it was just the massive God alone that would be one thing, but before you even get to face him you will need to take out two of his ‘guards’. Galactus is difficult to best and has some insane attacks which, if you don’t block at the right time, will take you out in an instant. It is not advisable to attempt the fight on Super Hard… unless you like tearing your hair out at the roots.
9. Hitler – Wolfenstein 3D
After going through castles killing Nazis, ghosts and anything else that moves you finally come up against Hitler himself in Wolfenstein 3D. It gives players the chance to take out the most reviled man of all time. The battle isn’t a simple ‘kick him in the nuts and smash his head in’ event either. Hitler (rather, bits of him) has been placed into an armour suit which you will need to take apart piece by piece before you can finally execute him. You get to kill Hitler okay, that is more than enough reason to have it in the list.
8. General Ramm – Gears of War
The first Gears of War game introduced us to Marcus Fenix and the rest of his Delta Squad. Taking out all the Locust along the way is action at its best in the game that revolutionised cover-based shooters. The final boss battle required you to take out General Ramm, which was no easy feat. Strategy was important when facing off against Ramm and the Kryll under his control, but once you defeat him and those menacing creatures you will be jumping for joy. Playing on Insane may cost you a controller or two though.
7. Hydra – God of War
Not everyone gets the popularity of the God of War series but one thing is for sure and that is that the boss battles are truly special. God of War gave us one of the best, and only a short time after starting the game, Kratos takes on the mighty Hydra as it attempts to rip open a ship and destroy everything in its path. Not quite sure that the Hydra fits in the list? Next time you take on a gigantic, three headed sea monster let us know and we will eat our words.
6. Spider – Binary Domain
Binary Domain is one the most overlooked games of 2012 (so far). It has everything a good game should have, a good story, great characters, excellent mechanics and some intense boss battles. The boss battles vary from robotic Gorillas to Iron Raptors, but the best has to be the fight against the giant robotic Spider. Taking care of it isn’t too hard, but it is incredibly fun and sets up players for the rest of the game, which never shies away from the over-the-top action.
5. Solidus – Metal Gear Solid 2
It is impossible not to include boss battles from the Metal Gear Solid series and this time it is the final boss battle against Solidus. Not everyone enjoyed playing the majority of the game as Raiden but the final battle makes up for it. After some lengthy dialogue where the whole story is explained (sort of, if you can follow it all) Raiden takes on Solidus equipped only with his recently acquired blade. So we have Raiden with a ninja blade taking on Solidus… need we say more? Probably, but we won’t.
4. Mother Brain – Super Metroid
When you mention the Metroid series most people immediately think of Samus, or more likely Zero Suit Samus and that infamous scene where it is revealed that Samus is actually a woman. What topped that bit was the battle against Mother Brain herself. Not only do you find yourself fighting off the giant monster in her own backyard, you feel a sense of panic when doing so and get a real sense of knowing that what you are doing is pivotal, a feeling few games manage to invoke. The fight against Mother Brain is the definition of the word ‘battle’, and the ensuing escape that follows really makes it worthwhile.
3. The End – Metal Gear Solid 3
There are very few boss battles as grueling as the one against The End. The expert marksman lies somewhere over the space of three fields and players need to get to him. Each section has a different setting which Snake will need to combat, while surviving the elements, getting shot at from the unknown and trying to keep his stamina in check. The battle can take hours to finish and really is a test of patience. There are many ways to complete the fight and, once you do, you will find yourself basking in the glow of absolute accomplishment.
2. Ganondorf – Legend of Zelda: Windwaker
A Zelda boss fight had to make the list, and what better to put in than the final fight against Ganondorf. Windwaker has often been dubbed a ‘childish’ take on Zelda, but you should not miss taking part in the battle pitting Link and Zelda against Ganondorf. Once you have, then return and tell us that isn’t one of the most mature, heart-stopping events in gaming history. No, it is not number one in the list because it only just loses out to game that has an edge to it.
1. Psycho Mantis – Metal Gear Solid
There could only be one boss battle in this position, purely down to how unique the battle was. Psycho Mantis could read your mind. It was amazing, every move you make he countered with ease. Hints come through over the codec but no matter what you try, getting the better of Psycho Mantis just seems impossible. That is until you get a few more hints and realise what the ‘trick’ is. It was an idea that only Hideo Kojima and his brilliant mind could come up with. Breaking the fourth wall and immersing gamers in the experience more than ever was a stroke of pure genius.