The lights are on
Beating a game doesn’t always mean that the experience is over. For devoted fans, many games include additional tasks to undertake, including bonus bosses. These extra battles are often more difficult than the real final boss, giving players a sense of mastery and accomplishment for overcoming the challenge. Simply including a hidden monster with lots of hit points isn’t enough; these end-game battles should push players in all the right ways without resorting to cheap tactics or tedium. These are our tips for how to make a cool bonus boss – and how to avoid making a bad one.
Right: Skill-basedBoss battles aren't fun when they're just formalities. If grinding to hit the level cap or finding an overpowered weapon turns victory against any foe into a forgone conclusion, then something has gone wrong. Bonus bosses are at their best when you can't just overwhelm them with brute force; they should require the skills that you've spent an entire game cultivating.Be Like: Bayonetta (Father Rodin)
Wrong: Dumb-lookingNothing kills the drama of an epic confrontation like seeing that your opponent is...a ball of clay? A marble? Some kind of jawbreaker? If players are going to feel awesome after beating a super boss, games should at least give them the satisfaction of fighting something that looks cool. Don’t Be Like: Final Fantasy IX (Ozma)
Right: High DifficultyThis is similar to the skill-based entry, but the distinction is important. Not only should boss fights be a test of skill rather than your willingness to grind, but they should also push those skills to their limits. Even if your characters are completely powered up and have all of the best weapons, bonus bosses should still have the potential to wipe you out if you aren't playing careful and constant attention. Be Like: Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga (Demi-Fiend)
Wrong: Inaccessibility Hiding a hard fight at the end of an extra dungeon is fine, but they shouldn't be more buried than that. Requiring extensive sidequests, obscure item collection, or improbable other requirements just to access a battle is tiresome. Sure, it makes the accomplishment that much sweeter, but what's the point of a bonus boss if only a fraction of players even get to see it? Don’t Be Like: Super Street Fighter II Turbo (Akuma)
Right: Try Something NewIf players are fighting a bonus boss, it means they have probably seen everything else the game has to offer. Developers shouldn't be afraid to use these encounters as a chance to try something different or clever with the combat systems they've refined. As long as the basic mechanics are consistent with the core experience, players will appreciate the novelty along with the challenge.Be Like: Dragon’s Dogma (Ur Dragon)
Wrong: Too LongThere's nothing wrong with a boss that takes time to defeat, as long the fight remains a test of skill rather than one of endurance. A boss with 50 million hit points isn't awesome just by virtue of the fact that it takes forever to defeat. It needs tactical variety; when the only requirement for victory is that you don't completely give up out of boredom, then the bonus boss should go back to the drawing board.Don’t Be Like: Final Fantasy XII (Yiazmat)
That’s our list. What are the main things you look for in a great bonus boss?
Email the author Joe Juba, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.
Can't wait to take on Sephiroth again when KH 1.5 HD Remix comes out!
I also like how Kingdom Hearts sometimes has bonus boss's that foreshadow the next games. Like how BBS had a bonus boss that got explained in 3D. It's nice when the bonus boss has some connection to the plot. I've heard Atlus has some truly evil bonus bosses, the Demi-Fiend is actually considered one of the hardest JRPG bosses ever from what I've heard.
MAke the reward for beating the extra boss worth it.
I love fighting bonus boss-like trainers in the pokemon games i.e. Red and Cynthia. The main thing (if possible) that most bonus bosses need is the ability to replay it. I loved fighting Sephiroth in Kingdom Hearts 2 but i wish i could do it again to see how much better i became since the last fight.
I remember spending two weeks of my childhood doing nothing but losing to Sephiroth in Kingdom Hearts II. Defeating him was my crowning achievement of that console generation.
Whatever Square did there, that was "right."
Tons of abilities. A boss with 4 to 6 abilities, all timed, takes away from the thrill of the fight.
I'm glad you Father Rodin from Bayonetta on there. I recently defeated him and he is a very good secret boss. Even with the strongest weapon in the game he's still a challenge. You should've mentioned some of the secret bosses from Kingdom Hearts, especially Birth By Sleep in particular. That series is well known for its secret bosses.
I remember Yiazmat. That was such a long ass grind of a fight it wasn't even funny. One of my friends had actaully set all his gambits, then went to school and came back and they were still fighting.
My personal favorite bonus boss would have to be Crawmerax from Borderlands he was super hard and may have fallen into some of the don't categories from the article but man seeing all that loot drop at the end made it all worth it.
As long as the bosses are fun and not too challenging i'm all for bonus bosses.
borderlands 2 bonus bosses are a pain to beat but it's worth the loot
" Sure, it makes the accomplishment that much sweeter, but what's the point of a bonus boss if only a fraction of players even get to see it? "
Maybe the point is to give players a rewarding end to a long arduous string of post game challenges instead of just giving people who don't have the dedication to see the game through to the very end with a short hollow thrill? Your not getting soft, are you?
I like it.
If the battle is as much fun to watch as it is to play, I'd say that adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the overall ordeal. Sephiroth from Kingdom Hearts 2 is a great example.
Ur Dragon was nearly impossible for me.
I knew Yiazmat would show up in this challenge. It's been a long time, but if I remember correctly, it took me around 12 hours to beat that boss.
Fighting Akuma wasn't that difficult. If you weren't good enough to get to him, you weren't good enough to beat him anyways.