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The Annoyance of the Boss Battle - a Rant

Boss battles in video games have been around seemingly forever, maybe even since the coin-op explosion of the 70s and 80s.

Do you remember, in Pac-Man, when you would finish one of the levels and everything on the screen would disappear, leaving your little yellow dot-munching circle at the bottom of the screen, until a giant pink ghost taking up half the screen would slowly phase into view? It would slowly descend toward the bottom of the screen and you had to race back and forth, side to side, hoping to chomp enough power pellets that when the ghost reached you, you would have enough strength to get him instead of the other way around?

You don't remember that?

Ok, that might have been a drug-induced hallucination.

But nevertheless, boss battles have been around for quite a while.

Typically, boss fights are some big, or just tough, monster or villain, indestructible except for one or two weaknesses. Everything that you've learned so far in the game goes out the window, except maybe your basic dodge move. Headshots being one-shot kills? Not in a boss battle. Most of the time, your bullets don't even damage them, unless you hit them in just the right spot.

Boss battles have a tendency to get old and tedious very quickly, as you go through the same motions again and again, trying to access that one weakness the d*mned thing has. If you miss it, it's wash, rinse, repeat, again and again, until you manage to do it.

Or you die. And then you have to start all over.

Which is the biggest annoyance of them all.

I normally don't care too much, but I've had a couple of games come together all at the same time to bring this irritation to its head. Namely, Ms. Splosion Man and Shadows of the Damned.

Shadows is the worst offender. All of its boss fights (and there are many) are some variation of "hit the right spot on this guy, and then do something else while he's weakened." In this game, the weak spot is often a huge red bump on the monster's body (or, in one case, a series of five electrodes that are red). Sometimes, you have to be in Darkness (which can kill you after a certain period of time) in order to hit this weak spot. It's invulnerable in normal light.

(Thanks to Gamer4Eva)

What this leads to is a lot of dodging, as the boss usually has one or two attacks that can do big damage to you if you're not careful. What happens is that you dodge the attack, maybe the second one as well, then have to get up really quickly and shoot and try to hit that sweet spot. You can waste a lot of bullets that way, especially if you're not that good a shot. Yes, ammo does appear regularly as you're running out of bullets, but that involves more running around, dodging attacks, in order to pick up the ammo. One of the demons has the red bump on its back, so you have to dodge it's charging attack and then turn around and shoot at the bump before it turns around. Occasionally it gets its blade stuck in the ground, giving you a little more time.

And there are a *ton* of these monsters in this game. So much so that they might not even be considered "bosses," but just really tough monsters.

Who keep showing up, making the player go through the same procedures every time.

I have never used the "dodge" button so much in my life.

Shadows does have a control that will let you do a 180 degree turn with the press of the button, which you would think would make some of these a bit easier. You don't have to waste the time turning around after a dodge.

But you have to be standing perfectly still for that button press to turn you around. Because it's the same button as the "dodge" button if you're moving *at all*. You're in the middle of an adrenaline-filled fight, how easy is it to stand perfectly still for a second so you can execute a 180 degree turn?

Not that easy.

Or maybe I just suck. I guess there is that possibility.

Two other annoyances with Shadows before I briefly mention Ms. Splosion Man.

There is one sequence in the game where you face a few *really* tough, but beatable enemies. You then face two "bosses" of the armored variety. They are invulnerable unless you make them run into a wall, momentarily stunning them so they'll lay flat, exposing their red bump. Defeat them, and you meet two of the ones with the electrodes sticking out of their back. (Oh, did I mention that these electrode creatures, if they get a hold of you, start a QTE that, if you mess it up, you're automatically dead? Yeah, sorry, forgot that).

Get this.

There are no checkpoints in between any of this. If you die (and like I said, if you mess up the QTE, you've lost), all the way back to the beginning. This got tedious in the extreme, but I was finally able to get past it. On a lucky shot.

You know what else gets tedious, and which Shadows is also guilty of way too often? Watching the entire cutscene leading up to the boss battle again and again and again and again and again...

(Thanks to This is Your Conscience)

Oh, thank you. Got stuck there.

Game companies, please place your checkpoint right at the beginning of a battle, rather than making us sit through a long cut scene so many times. And if you do want to make us sit through it, please let us skip it if we want to! Sorry, Shadows, you fail there too.

This type of tedious boss battle is probably more forgivable in 2-D platformers, perhaps because we grew up with them and are used to them. I survived the first boss in Ms. Splosion Man with very little annoyance (other than just my usual "oh, another boss battle" annoyance). The second area's boss battle was extremely tedious, though. There were four different stages of the battle, and it just got a little stale and boring after a while. I probably wouldn't have noticed or cared if I wasn't in the middle of Shadows. I do think four stages is a bit too much for a boss battle. Thankfully, dying in any stage just made you restart the stage. I remember too often when dying meant you had to start the whole battle over.

Ok, enough ranting.

So what are your thoughts on boss battles? What's your favourite and your least favourite? Like them or hate them?

Are they really annoying or do I just suck and they're easy as pie?

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