I haven’t done a Top 10 post in ages! This is something I have been thinking about for a long time. The final boss in a game is a culmination of all the elements of that game. A final boss can be difficult, thematic, frustrating, or cathartic. It all depends on the kind of game and how well the narrative is told. Given that it’s me and you know what a pretentious douche I am, you can imagine that my favorite final bosses are the ones that have a more thematic edge. That’s not to say that I don’t like something because it’s difficult. I am currently addicted to Bloodborne, after all. But a truly great final boss, in my eyes, is when you are able to get an emotion out of it. Or, at the very least, when it makes you think as well as challenges your skills in the game. With all that in mind, here is my list of the top 10 final bosses in gaming.
Mass Effect 2
What a climactic boss! Everything leading up to this confrontation is just awesome. The Suicide Mission is one of the greatest levels in all of gaming. It puts your skills to the test and your choices too. Each choice can leave team members dead. In fact, if you really suck at the game, then everyone dies. But the all the build-up is great. You finally learn what the Reapers were doing with all the colonists they kidnapped. They were being melted down and siphoned into this creature. After finding it, then you get to kill it . There is a brief mission to destroy its connection tubes , then you get to choose to destroy the Collector base or save it. Just when all seems well and you are going to walk away, guess who’s back? The tension is on as you finally put that monster in its place. Good shit.
Star Fox 64
Now, to be clear, I’m talking about the version of this battle when you take the harder path. You get to the planet Venom, and Star Wolf is waiting for you. He’s got better ships and is planning on putting Fox down. You put a stop to them, then it’s down you go, into the abyss. Here, you finally run into Andross. After putting down his first form, you are thinking – well, that was easy. I thought this was the hard path. What’s up with this? Then, you realize that he has an ace up his sleeve! You expose the brain of the creature, and from there you have one of the most nerve-wrecking fights EVER! First, you gotta take out the eyeballs. And once you do, the brain is on you! Dodging it takes all your skills, as you only get a few seconds to hit the brain stem, which is the only weakness. Finally, the brain explodes, and you think that you’re dead! However, hope comes in the form of Fox’s father, James. So much build-up, for an awesome fight.
8. Dark Samus
Metroid Prime 2
To make things clear again, I am talking about the final form in the game. You are finally able to square off with the Emperor Ing. It’s a brutal battle. After you get through all three forms, and take the Light Energy from it, Dark Aether starts to collapse. The move to get out is one of desperation, until you are stopped dead by a new problem – Dark Samus. This creature wants one more chance to take you out, and it brought its A-game this time. I won’t say that the fight is extremely complicated, but it’s all about the build-up. The clock that is counting down makes this fight stressful as fuck. And after a few fuck-ups, you begin to feel the heat from that clock. Plus, and maybe this is just me – it took me ages to realize that you have to let loose the Phazon ball at the energy form of Dark Samus. When I finally figured that out, I felt SO stupid.
Batman: Arkham City
You wanna know the hardest thing there is to do – introduce a new character at the last minute of a game. At the last minute of any story, really. Typically, this is done by people who don’t know what they’re doing, and have written themselves into a corner. Might explain something about the end of Mass Effect 3, am I right? But this game did it perfectly. I cannot begin to tell you how awesome the build-up was here. You have the Joker, having kidnapped Talia, now at the movie theater. First, you have to sneak your way in, taking out the endless amount of snipers surrounding the joint. I always tried to do it so that nobody ever saw me. So I could feel like the Joker would notice what was happening due to the lessening of sniper beams. After you get inside, there is a confrontation. Talia escapes her bonds and then runs the Joker through. Well, that story ended abruptly, didn’t it? But wait! Batman realizes the truth – the Joker was playing him all along. Before he can warn her, Talia takes two bullets in the back. She dies in Bruce’s arms, as he comes face-to-face with the truth Joker. How was playing him the rest of the time? Why, that would be Clayface, who snuck into Arkham City just so he could pull off this one performance. What a grand-stand show! Such an awesome boss, to such an awesome game. I love it.
6. Shadar: The Dark Djinn
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
This is kind of cheating, since it isn’t the true boss of the end of the game. However, I count this because it is the final boss of the first major part of the game. And the build-up for this is utterly- fantastic! Ollie believes that he is doing the right thing by killing this monster. He believes that it will allow him to find his mother and bring her back from the dead. After some amazing build-up, Ollie learns the truth – that his mother cannot come back. Her other self from that side of the worlds is the same as in Oliver’s. What’s more, he also learns that he shares a connection to Shadar, and that destroying the entity will kill him as well. Yet, he pushes forward, knowing that he can’t change what’s going to happen. All he can do is keep moving forward. That is some heavy shit! Of course, the ending isn’t sad like that. But the build-up to it was so flawless that you do feel for the kid. That’s some heavy shit! And the boss fight is great too. Not the greatest example of build-up, but it’s up there.
God of War III
This boss is not especially difficult. You know what makes this boss fight great – payoff. Two games were spent building up to this. The entire game preceding this fight is so fucking epic, with Kratos killing all of Olympus to bring Zeus down to face him. After sacrificing Pandora due to his anger, the two finally have the epic match-up that was always meant to be, with Kratos literally beating Zeus to death with his bare hands. He will keep beating the god until the player stops mashing the X button. It’s SO cathartic! Granted, with how long I went the first time, Kratos should have been covered in blood from head to toe, and Zeus’s face should have looked worse than Hercules’. Still, while the fight isn’t that hard, it is so much fun. I can’t say enough how fun it was.
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
It’s ironic how loved this game is by Kingdom Hearts fans, given how utterly-depressing it is. Remember how the build-up with Shadar earlier? Well, this is kind of like that. Ventus knows that to destroy Vanitas, he has to destroy a part of his heart. A part that he won’t be able to get back. It will likely kill him. But he fights on anyway. The difference here is that – it does kill him. His heart is destroyed, with only his body remaining as a shell. There is no heart there. If that isn’t depressing enough, Aqua leaves him in the base of Hollow Bastion, to go off on her own mission. Just a husk that can only sit in a basement and collect dust. Depressing…
Kingdom Hearts II
Honestly, for all the awesome things about this fight, this battle earns its place for one thing. But we’ll get there. SO much build-up! You go through three forms before this. King Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Kairi are all locked out, with Sora and Riku being trapped alone in the realm of light. You finally bring him down to size, and the guy throws off his armor and then decides to go mono-a-mono with you. Everything about this last fight is awesome. First, the music. Second, you and Riku are teamed up alone. Third, when Sora is taken captive, you get to play as Riku (something I hope we get to do more of) and put the smack-down on him. But my absolute favorite moment of this game is the last straw that Xemnas has. After you beat him down to the point of desperation, he summons a huge dome of lasers, which Sora and Riku have the deflect in probably the coolest animation that I have ever seen in any game. Ever. That is fucking awesome! One of my favorite games ever, and now you know why.
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Oh my god. Honestly, I don’t think that there is any boss on this list that ratchets up the tension better than this one. You climb the stairs to the top of the castle, the organ music getting louder and louder. Finally, you get to Ganondorf, and he throws off the gauntlets! You get to play the most tense battle of tennis ever, with each hit costing you a TON of health. Also, did you know that you can deflect the light balls with a bottle? How the fuck does that work?! After he gets hit by his own energy, you whip out the Light Arrows and blast him! That’s when you long-shot over to him and whip out your sword, putting the pwnage on that bastard. After he is defeated, he brings the castle down around you, and you have to escape before the timer runs out. The place is fallen, the battle is over. Right? Wrong! From the ashes, the man rises, using the last of his power to mutate into a creature that you can only clearly make out the giant glowing swords. That is awesome! I love this battle. I love it so much. Everything about it is great. The only reason it isn’t at the top of this list is because it lacks one crucial element that the top selection has…
And my favorite final boss in video games is…
Shadow of the Colossus
Everything leading up to this battle is depressing. First, you are looking REALLY bad. Then, your horse sacrifices its life so you can get across a barrier, falling into the abyss. Everything gets dark and grim as you get closer. When you finally reach the creature, this monster makes you feel like shit for killing it. Everything about this fight is dark. There is the music, that tells you that what you’re doing is wrong. You have the creature shooting unbelievably-powerful energy beams at you. And it screams as you are killing it. I cannot tell you how bad I felt the first time that I played through this level. While the rest of the Colossi makes you feel a little guilty for killing them, this thing looks right at you, and those eyes almost seem to beg you not to end its life. You realize that you are killing an innocent creature, but now you can’t turn back. That is SO sad, and when you finally do kill it, you are betrayed by the entity that wanted you to do so, making you realize just what a total dick you are. Your horse got mangled for nothing. So did you, technically. What a kick in the quad.
What are your favorite final bosses? Let me know in the comments section.
Until next time, a quote,
“You’re right. Light and darkness are eternal. Nothing probably goes on forever too.” – Riku, Kingdom Hearts II