Boss battles are something of a lost art in gaming over recent years. Where the closing moments of a level or chapter used to be filled with Nazi’s with mini-gun arms, we’re now confronted by “immersive” quick-time events, which are often as threatening and exciting as a knife-wielding hamster.
That said, there are some games in recent times that have paid homage to the golden era of boss battles. These particular encounters have stood out, where the bosses are not only challenging, but fun and interesting – giving gamers something to cheer about as they stand over their fallen opponent.
It may be somewhat obvious to suggest that this list may include some spoilers.
Rex vs. Ray (Metal Gear Solid 4)
If there’s one series that has stood by its dedication to boss battles, it’s Metal Gear Solid. Always featuring bizarre and intriguing enemies, Metal Gear has provided clashes with enemy leaders that stand out as unrivalled highlights throughout the series.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots delivered a boss battle which combined two of the series’ most notorious bosses into one, and on the plus side, you got to drive one.
A showdown between Solid and Liquid Snake sees the clones hopping into the Metal Gears known as Rex and Ray, from Metal Gear Solid 1 and 2 respectively.
What ensues is the game upping the scale dramatically and turning from a stealth-based action game into a full-fledged mech war between two clone brothers – and it’s awesome.
Using missiles, machine guns and strategic slide-dodging, players are tasked with taking down Liquid Snake in the more advanced Metal Gear Ray, although despite Rex’s age, the original Metal Gear is a tank in its own right and can deal a serious amount of damage.
The Final Colossus/Malice (Shadow of the Colossus)
Hands-down, Shadow of the Colossus is one of the best games ever made. The PS2 classic not only introduced great and epically-scaled boss battles, but the entire game is based around them.
Featuring only sixteen colossal-sized bosses and no other enemies in the game, Shadow of the Colossus plays out with every boss encounter as a puzzle, entrenched in an action/adventure format.
Instead of smashing your enemy into a pulp, Shadow of the Colossus is more about learning how to defeat the Colossi, using physics, climbing and anything else that comes to mind.
Probably the most difficult and rewarding battle is with the sixteenth and final Colossus.
Looking like a mountain with legs, this boss requires a lot of thought, patience and quick climbing to defeat. One slip-up and you tumble to your death and start again.
While it’s challenging and overwhelming, it’s also a testament to the scale and gorgeous art design the game has to offer.
The Riftworm (Gears of War 2)
One of the most interesting and different boss battles in Epic Games’ third-person shooter series has to be the encounter with the Riftworm in Gears of War 2.
This titan-sized worm literally tunnels through and destroys entire cities. A menace to Marcus Fenix’s Delta Squad, they inevitably get caught face-to-face with the giant boss. Thinking outside the box, they decide to go inside the worm.
What follows is a confusing trek through the gooey and bloody insides of the worm as you hunt down its three hearts, but the insides are a threat of their own, with a wrong step resulting in being crushed from moving organs and creatures lurking inside.
Delta Squad eventually destroy the hearts and have to chainsaw their way out of the overgrown earthworm in one of the bloodiest moments in the series – and that says a lot.
Gobblegut (Super Mario Galaxy 2)
Speaking of burrowing worms, Super Mario Galaxy 2 features a battle that is up there with one of the most creative and exciting boss encounters around.
Gobblegut is a giant dragon-like worm, who plunges himself into planets, digging right through them; the problem is, you encounter Gobblegut when you’re on a tiny little planet and he’s not in a good mood.
Mario has to get those little Italian legs moving as he is always one inch from being Gobblegut’s lunch, but as with any old-school boss, Gobblegut’s attack leaves him vulnerable.
Gobblegut’s head will get stuck, allowing Mario to hit him with a spin-attack, which makes the digging and speed of the battle increase.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is a phenomenal game and proves that you don’t need big guns, gore or 1080p graphics to create a memorable boss moment.
Poseidon (God of War III)
The final climactic battle with Zeus almost made this list, but the first boss battle of God of War III takes the cake in terms of a memorable and gargantuan-proportioned encounter.
Poseidon emerges out of the ocean in an attempt to stop Kratos from reaching Mount Olympus, and in doing so, the god of the sea brings with him a giant horse-crab-hybrid-thing made out of water and who knows what else.
Trying to crush Kratos with the giant crab legs and electrocute him at every opportunity, Poseidon is a pretty tough start to a challenging game, although it doesn’t stop Kratos from getting hold of the Olympian deity and performing some involuntary eye-surgery.
What are some of your most memorable boss battles in recent times? Let us know in the comments below…