Boss Battle Design Vol. 2 – Designing Engaging Boss Fights in Games

Boss Battle Design Vol. 2 – Designing Engaging Boss Fights in Games

Today’s episode is sponsored by lets you make online purchases
using virtual credit cards, which helps keep your real identity and bank info safe. Hey, I like good boss fights and I like…
uhh… talking about bad boss fights. I’ve got a few more to talk about, good and
bad, that I think are great examples of the design challenges that go into making interesting
and memorable boss fights. Like last time this won’t be a ranking of
the best bosses or anything, this is just a broad look at a few ways developers approach
the infinitely open-ended challenge of boss design. Okay, let’s go! Oh, and you’d better believe we’re driving
into spoiler town *Costa del Sol from FF7 plays* When you’re designing a boss, you can get
caught up in thinking about the boss’ difficulty and length. But if you’re just thinking, ‘is this boss
too easy or too hard? too long or too short?’, you’re going to overlook
something. The most important thing a boss battle needs
is engagement. Easy bosses can be fun too, if they draw you
in with a fun scenario. Or they can be a pointless roadblock. Difficult bosses can leave you fighting desperately
to survive, or be a frustrating mess. Short bosses can be do-or-die tests of skill,
or disappointingly brief. Long bosses can be unforgettable tests of
endurance, or painful slogs. The deciding factor is engagement. And you can find some very engaging bosses
in A Hat in Time. A Hat in Time is a delight from start to finish. It’s full of memorable levels, humor, and
characters, it controls like a dream, is super well-paced and, oh hey guess what, it’s
got some killer boss fights. The Mafia Leader, The Snatcher, Mustache Girl,
that haunted Outhouse. There aren’t that many bosses, but each of
them is a great test of reflexes that acts as a high point in their respective chapters
– just as all great bosses should be. But out of all of Hat in Time’s bosses, I
especially love The Conductor. No wait… DJ Grooves. Hat in Time’s 2nd chapter takes place in
a movie studio. You meet two directors – DJ Grooves, a funky
fresh emperor penguin, and The Conductor, who’s very Scottish and is an owl? Maybe? I’m going with owl. The two are bitter rivals competing in a film
festival, and they’re using Time Pieces, the game’s macguffin, as movie props. You need the Time Pieces yourself, so you
sneak in and get hired by both directors. You then star in each of the birds’ movies. Solving a train murder, becoming a diva on
the moon, platforming across a chaotic train to defuse a time bomb, and marching in the
world’s deadliest parade. You rack up points for each director’s movies,
and then when you feel you’ve delivered an award-worthy performance, you can start the
finale. Whichever director has the most points when
you start the finale is declared the winner of the film festival. Then the chapter just kinda ends. You’re given another time piece and you’re
brought back to the main hub…kind of an anti-climax…or is it? Someone suddenly calls you. The festival was rigged. The winner is hiding something from you. You head back into the movie studio at night
and after some solid platforming, you find that the winner betrayed you and is hiding
another time piece. Time to fight. The battle goes through tons of different
attack phases, with callbacks to every movie you just performed in. They’ll drop stage lights, come at you with
a body slam, drop the disco ball from the parade level. They’ll cut the lights and charge you with
a knife from the murder mystery level. The cars from the diva stage will run you
over. The photographs will multiply all of the attacks
as the phases go on, keeping the difficulty of the fight increasing throughout. But suddenly someone cuts the lights, a piano
starts to play, and the directors will…try to have a nice heart to heart chat with you? Just negotiating, bringing the action to a
halt, right in the middle of the fight. Of course, the negotiations fail, and the
second half begins. The director straps the train time bomb on
you and everything gets faster and more intense as the timer ticks down. Keep chipping away, and then the losing director
will come to your aid. He defuses the bomb with big scissors
and we start the final phase. Now cue the marching band! And they’ve got knives! By now the screen is so full of stuff it gets
extremely frenetic and tense until you finally finish off the boss. It’s an amazing fight for its theming and
pacing. All of the different attack elements make
the boss a real climactic moment that ties the whole chapter together. Each phase shift feels like a natural escalation
of tension – each new ridiculous attack and the ever increasing demands the overlapping
attacks put on your platforming skill brings you deeper into the drama of the fight. And that heart to heart in the middle of it
all to subvert expectations, develop the boss’ character a little more, and give a much-needed
breather in the middle of the chaos is just perfect. In a game full of memorable ones, the Battle
of the Birds’ theming and pacing cap off a fantastic chapter. Ok, now we need a game with some bosses with
bad engagement… hmmm… Oh. I know. Would you be shocked if I told you that Sonic
06 has one? Iblis from Sonic 06 is… not engaging. My God, is it not engaging. You start the fight on rows of stalactites
above a pool of lava. At the center of the arena are 3 elevated
platforms, each with a glowing purple rock. You hit the rock to bait Iblis in. He drops more stalactites so you can reach
the rocks, because why wouldn’t he. Hit the rock, Iblis will dive for it, and
you hit him in the eye. That’s it. Rinse and repeat. Cmon, repeat. Ok, here comes the ground a… ugh. Thank you. Like a lot of other platformer bosses, this
is one where you have to wait for a boss to become vulnerable to attack. What you do in between these vulnerable moments
is key to whether the fight is engaging or not. Usually the player is given… y’know… something
to do. A variety of attack patterns, something to
keep you on your toes while you wait for your moment to strike. The boss fights in A Hat in Time will introduce
an attack, then ramp it up as the fight goes on. You’re always dealing with not only new
attacks but old attacks with some extra oomph added in. The Iblis fight…doesn’t do that. His few attacks don’t get any faster, become
more complex or even more frequent. There’s a desperation attack at the very end,
but that’s the ONLY change. Every phase is the same, maybe with some minor
platform changes. That doesn’t make the player make a choice,
or think through a new strategy, or change their approach. It’s just an incredibly static fight. But you know what, that’s not even a dealbreaker
for a good boss. Mario bosses often take a very similar structure,
with waves of attacks and vulnerability. Those bosses aren’t always super exciting,
but they’re not nearly this bad. The difference is in the pacing. The Iblis fight is glacial. This entire fight is actually shorter than
the Hat in Time fight, but it feels 3 times longer in practice because there’s so little
for the player to do. You’re still waiting for the boss to do
something most of the time and nothing he does makes the fight more challenging or engaging. His attacks are slow enough to be inconsequential. If you do take a hit, you can just regain
your lost rings very easily. The only real risk for dying is stepping into
the lava but that’s more of an issue with the game’s camera. The camera is a better boss than Iblis. You have no micro-goals, there’s nothing
to learn, barely anything to avoid, so the battle slowly ticks away. Slowly. The fight against Iblis is a low point in
a game full of low points, but at least it’s a great example of what it can look like when
a boss completely fails to give players engaging goals. Boss battles in turn-based JRPGs are strategic
affairs. Yes, the best ones are part fashion show. Part set piece. Part symphony and part narrative climax. But at their heart, the best boss fights are
great FIGHTS. A puzzling battle of endurance to exercise
your strategic muscles while you take in a monologue, an aria, and a runway walk all
at the same time. Good late game bosses in JRPGs challenge your
preparation and tactical skills. Players usually develop a certain cadence
to their attacks when getting through encounters. They create cycles, built from a well-oiled
machine made to deal damage, buff and heal. One way to design a great JRPG boss is to
throw wrenches into those strategic cycles. Leave the player scrambling to put the pieces
of their machine back together while they’re getting punched in the face by a dad whale,
or an evil pope or whatever. Some of my favorites come out of Final Fantasy
X. The boss battles in FFX are pretty well varied. Most of them have little gimmicks to surprise
you, and they mix well with the game’s turn and party member swapping systems. Some bosses have multiple body parts with
different functions. Some bosses play with airship positioning,
where your location and the attack types of your party are factors. But one of the most challenging fights is
with Lady Yunalesca. Lady Yunalesca is divided into 3 different
phases, each with their own separate HP pool. The first phase is straightforward. She alternates between physical attacks that
remove buffs and an Absorb attack that takes half of your character’s HP. The second phase is trickier. She starts attacking with ‘Hellbiter’, which
inflicts the Zombie status effect on whoever it hits. Zombie characters can’t heal – any healing
item or spell will do damage instead. After Hellbiter she casts a heal spell on
a random target. If it hits a Zombie character, the heal does
a pretty serious amount of damage. You can use Holy Water to remove Zombie, but
hold up a sec. The third phase is coming. Yunalesca melts down in the way all evil Final
Fantasy bosses can and turns into this… medusa head. Oooooooo. She gets two new big moves, too. Mind Blast can hit everyone and inflict Confuse. The other is Mega-Death, which just one hit
kills everyone. UNLESS! They’re a zombie! She casts it instantly when the third phase
begins, which will very likely blindside players on their first run. It’s a little cheap, but once you understand
how it works you can see a balancing act unfold in front of you. Now you have a reason to KEEP a crippling
status ailment. You need at least one zombie at the end of
phase two, but you can’t heal zombies. Reviving a zombie who died will also remove
zombie, so you need to goad out Hellbiter in phase 2 on as many party members as you
can while still keeping their HP high enough so they won’t die to a standard attack. And she KEEPS casting Mega-Death occasionally
in phase 3, so you need to keep at least one zombie around to the end of the fight. It’s not just a simple cycle of attack and
full party healing, you have to be deliberate with your heals and take calculated risks. Yunalesca is not only a good mechanical challenge,
but her fight is the turning point of the whole story, so you get a double dose of engagement
– pride in beating a tricky, tough boss, and the satisfaction that comes with the game’s
turn into its final act. Yunalesca is challenging but fair. Tricky, but unique. Above all, she’s an encounter exquisitely
designed. A great boss fight knows how not to outstay
its welcome. Once a player figures out the patterns and
can properly execute a counter-attack, the best boss fights do one of two things: Add
additional hooks, or End. If it doesn’t do either, if it keeps going
well past the point where anything new happens, it can turn an interesting encounter into
a Damage Sponge. Most damage sponges aren’t very compelling
fights. It’s tough to get a lot of interesting hooks
into a JRPG boss, which is why JRPG bosses are so prone to becoming damage sponges. The hook in the Yunalesca fight is ‘Survive
when the normal means of survival don’t function properly.’ But once you’ve found a way to dodge the wrenches
she’s thrown at you and are doing good damage to the boss, the fight ends a few minutes
later. Now Final Fantasy XII, that one’s different. We have to talk about Yiazmat, the optional
final superboss. Yunalesca’s fight is over in maybe 5 minutes
once you have it figured out. Once you’ve figured out how to deal with Yiazmat,
his fight is over in maybe 5… hours.. And it’s all thanks to this little bar right
here. Yes, it’s a special case, and not nearly as
much of a problem since it’s completely optional, but come on. That’s 50 million HP. The fast forward feature in FFXII’s updated
release, The Zodiac Age, is worth adding for the fight with Yiazmat alone. But at least Yiazmat is interesting because
of how audacious it is. Go big or go home, I guess. The Destroyer and the Rakk Hive in Borderlands
don’t even have that going for them. They’re gigantic stationary targets, no more
complicated to fight than take out your best weapon and open fire. Maybe strafe around a little to avoid some
basic attacks. They’re more of a measuring stick for your
character’s build than they are an actual fight. What can make a damage sponge boss even worse
is having very short windows where you can attack them such as in the Corn Boss from
Castle Crashers. The gimmick with this guy is that he constantly
pops up from the ground randomly across the arena. As its health depletes, your opportunities
to attack him will get shorter and shorter until you’re barely getting any hits on
him before he pops back down underground. It draaaaaags the fight out, and makes for
an annoying and uninteresting boss. So yeah, bosses are tricky things to design,
and the design process is full of ways to make something not worth playing. Let us know in the comments some of your favorite
and least favorite boss fights, which we might talk about on the next edition. No matter the length or difficulty, boss fight
designers can make their job easier by focusing on engagement. Get that right and you’ve got a great boss
fight. All these bosses bow down before the toughest
boss of them all. Identity theft. can help keep that from happening
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47 thoughts on “Boss Battle Design Vol. 2 – Designing Engaging Boss Fights in Games

  1. I think fear can be one of the greatest assets to a boss fight, and one that does this correctly is Young Xehanort from Dream drop distance. His attacks are erratic and deal enough damage to make you keep your distance. But there is something that really changes this fight. Just before the fight occurs, he proves that he has a strong control over time, and if you bring down his health bar he will begin a super attack.

    Since this is already a tough boss fight, and you have been conditioned to keep a safe distance to be able to react, you are likely to hesitate in attacking him, but if you do, you've made a mistake. He has control over time and if you leave him too long, he will revert time to the beginning of the fight, regaining his life. What's great about this is it gives you all the information you need. The cutscenes acknowledges his power, and their is a unique indicator shown (used to display the initiation for a specific attack). But the conditioned fear can make it seem like they haven't given you enough time, because you fled from him.

  2. Some of my favorite bosses would be the Cameo Battles from the Tales series, a battle with generally the same composition as your own and follows the same rules as you do while giving a challenge.
    Seven Force in both Gunstar heroes and Alien Soldier.
    Most of the bosses from Viewtiful Joe 1
    And Gorgon from Star Fox 64.

  3. Mistral from Metal Gear Rising. The boss in itself is not very complicated, but the music makes this fight incredible !

  4. I dont know about that final fantasy boss. Getting to the final phase of a boss fight and getting instant killed sounds like the kind of thing that would make me drop the game like i have with many other rpgs that pull that nonsense

  5. A good boss…
    Actually, most of seikiro's bosses, they can be very long frustrating, but once you know them well, when you know when to attack and if you take risks, their healthbar can go down pretty fast.
    (Exept for the headless ape, and the corrupted monk, theses have way to many hp and are very annoying to hit)

  6. As much as I like the Dark Souls series, I despise the fight against Darkeater Midir with a burning passion. It's that one fight where even the game mechanics work against you. Enormous hitboxes? Check. Large open arena that Midir can cross in seconds, leaving you biting the dust? Check. Bloodborne levels of speed and ferocity? Check. In order to deal sufficient damage to it, you have to hit its head, but this approach has two issues with it:
    1) A lot of Midir's attacks involve it raising its head high up and requiring you to tilt your camera up;
    2) Midir has no chill whatsoever.
    It all combines into a frustratingly difficult boss fight: you constantly have to run from one place to another, which means stamina management is crucial and you have to have a fast and long-reaching weapon to increase your chances of hitting its head.

  7. Ninetails from Okami resonates a lot with me. Its like a "Battle of equals" in the way that if you linger too much in a brush technique, Ninetails interrupts you with one of her own. Its a fight that encourages you to think quickly and deliberately and also makes use of what you learn in the stage before it: her sword looks just like all the othet electric-powered machinery in Oni Island so you make the connection quickly and from then on its like a rehash of the Fox rods mixed in with the Rao fight. In a way it kinda tells you "im not throwing anything particularly new your way but i expect you to do whatever you've done before fast and right"

  8. Some of my favorite JRPG bosses are the Ba'als from Bravely Second. They're all optional bosses, aside from a couple encounters in the main story. Despite being mostly fought in optional battles, they have significant relevance to the main plot. They have very memorable designs, boss arenas, and music fitting the encounter. Every one of them has a unique gimmick that you need to take into account while building your party and fighting them.
    Redshirt, for example, takes the Yunalesca approach by messing with your healing. It inflicts the Gluttony status, which converts all damage taken into healing, but KO's the party member if they get healed above max health.
    Other notable Ba'als include Turtle Dove who inflicts Love, which makes your party members copy the moves of the member they're in Love with. If two members both Love the same person, they'll instead waste their turn attacking each other as Love Rivals.
    Snowcap cast powerful Ice magic on everyone including itself, making itself bigger. If it gets big enough, it does a massive attack on your party, but you can make Snowcap lose some snow and get smaller by attacking it. Things get more complicated when it inflicts the Freeze status (basically Stop + Poison) which you can heal by attacking an afflicted party member with Fire magic.
    Apparati uses elemental attacks that make you weak to different elements. It's water attack makes you weak to lightning, the lightning attack makes you weak to fire, and the fire attack makes you weak to water. It will also counteract at the end of the turn with Action-Reaction, dealing damage to a single party member equal to the damage Apparti took that turn, which can KO any party member if you're not careful.
    Goldie summons other enemies who will buff themselves, but Goldie will eventually eat then to take their buffs and heal. It also uses Festival Music to confuse everyone, including all the enemies, which can result in Goldie eating a party member and removing them from battle.
    Urchin is able to summon enemies that attack your party when they attack, but the real challenge comes when Urchin uses Rainfall to block all attacks that deal less than 9,999 damage (which is the damage cap) for a few turns.
    Firstborn has an innate 85% Evade ability, which lets it avoid attacks 85% of the time. It can be bypassed by using reflected attacks, or brute forced by attack multiple times. Once it gets hit twice, it'll fall over, making it much easier to hit for a turn.
    Diamante has an innate ability to reflect your attacks back at the party, making for a long battle where you aren't able to attack with all your might.

  9. One of my favorite boss fights is the Julius fight in Castlevania Aria of Sorrow. The build-up fantastic, having just dropped one of the biggest plot twists in the series up to that point, the fight is a clever twist on the series formula (you're Drcaula fighting a Belmont), and the music kicks ass, but Julius himself is unique compared to other bosses in the game: He's human's sized, doesn't really have a pattern but is relatively easy to dodge, hits like a truck, and uses some classic moves against you. He's tough because you really just have to defeat him before he kills you.

  10. The boss fights in Dandara are amazing, they progress and get harder in a way that really test your understanding of the core mechanics, it's just a shame there are only 3. I would love to see you talk about that game apart form anything else.

  11. Pyribbit from Kirby Triple Deluxe and Kirby Clash. In fact, a lot of Kirby Trippe Deluxe boss fights are notorious for just hanging out in the background to show off the 3D of the 3DS. But Pyribbit just happens to do the worst. It gets worse when he's in Kirby Clash because of the time limit to get a good score. He just wastes so much time unfairly

  12. One of my favourite bosses of all time is hands-down the Time Golem from Blinx the Timesweeper. First of all, that jerk rewinds time and makes you fight four of the game's toughest bosses in a row before allowing you to even face him. If at any point in these fights you game over, you have to do it all again. It's grueling, but not in an annoying way somehow, and you get into the motions of really getting good at reading and combatting their attack patterns. This is actually training, because these skills will come in very useful on the final boss himself, who's (this phase excluded) subdivided into 5 separate phases. Each is marked with a distinct change in the music and attack patterns of this boss, and he will often start interacting with the stage and the game's iconic time control abilities in different and interesting ways. For example, he'll split himself into clones (Record) and you have to destroy each clone before you can even hurt the real one. He'll make you subject of time control spells, freezing you in place with Pause, slowing you down with Slow-Motion, etc.. Thus far, no other boss has ever exerted time control _over you_. You've always been the one doing the honours. Each set of attacks is in itself a puzzle to solve to try and figure out how to beat him, and his "video game weaknesses" aren't always as obvious at first as you might think. It takes some creative out-of-the-box thinking and mechanical prowess to beat this guy. After all of this, there's the game's generic 10 minute time limit that's persisted all throughout the game. So you can't even take your time and weave through the attacks. It's go go go time from start to finish… and it's amazing.

  13. One of my usual gripes when it comes to RPG bosses it just how mechanically detached they are from the rest of the game. For example, Persona 5 is about hitting opponents elements and statuses they are weak to, abusing weaknesses and strengths to win, and every boss is just a damage sponge with no weaknesses and immunity to all statuses. So many games do this. It uproots the system we became accustom to. With this being said, my favorite RPG final boss has to be Akron from Epic Battle Fantasy 3. The gameplay is similar to persona’s element based system, just without the knockdown mechanics. This boss does have weaknesses to certain elements, but where he’s unique is his ability to change his elemental strengths and weaknesses at will. It’s about using all of the different strategies you’ve come up with throughout your play through as a final test of mastery. It is about adapting and using what you’ve learned to fight him. You can also mess with status effects too, as he’s only immune to instant death. He allows you to use every strategy you’ve ever had against him, which makes this long fight super worthwhile.

  14. General Tao, Sly Cooper 3
    Smough and Ornstein (idk how to spell it), Dark Souls
    The Skeleton king thing from Twilight Princess

  15. Do you mind if I talk about the best game ever made?
    Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
    "The Boss" Is a great final battle that constantly engages the player and gives them a bit of a stressful battle with that 10 minute time limit!
    Funnily enough, the best way to beat her without just cheesing it with flash bangs and copious amounts of lead is to actually play the game like a stealth game. Huh. Who would'a thunk it.

  16. Can you talk about "boss fights" in non-combat games in a future episode? Such as how very hard puzzles can be engaging and fun as you're figuring them out, and not just an extreme random difficulty spike that frustrates the player?

  17. In the last couple years I think the best designed boss has been the valkyrie queen from the newest god of war game. During the whole game you fight the other Valkyries who have about 3 or so abilities you learn to play around, but the queen has all of them so slowly beating the others is training you for the real fight, who's the fastest, toughest, and scariest boss in the game

  18. I say all Kuze encounters from Yakuza 0. Despite not having many new moves, the circumstances changed while putting test the skills you learn with each encounter. Fight 2 and 5 are the biggest factors since 2nd is a whole different moveset and strategy since Beast and Rush won't have many advantages in a small space. The 5th is the ultimate test before the final battle, where you fight him at full power without any tricks. Just a 1vs1 and demonstrates how much this guy taught us across the game.

  19. Bad boss fights? Well, Toriel, like, seriously, it's by design a bad boss fight.
    And since that's out of the way, as Okami is briefly flashed by in the video, let me say that, the good thing about its boss fight is that you have to defeat most of the bosses twice, and that really shows the progress of the character, as, even though the second fight is supposedly harder, you usually would finish it faster because you actually know how to do it quickly the second time.
    Also, for long boss fight, maybe the final boss of HEARTBEAT. Without too much spoiler, it's pretty much the harder versions of minibosses combined without giving you free replenishment times, the reason is in the plot so just go play it (if you are a RPG fan). So, a boss rush then, in fact the condition of the fight is pretty close to the miniboss fights as well. And the engagement kinda goes that, you don't have the luxury of grinding the boss (some of the characters are fixed in team), and you probably should make use of the fact that there are temporary team members to leave some debuff right before phase change.

  20. my favorite ffx boss was actually the flying dragon looking creature directly after exiting yunalesca's domain. That fight was interesting, trying to figure out how to outpace it's regen spells while also dealing with its high damage output. in the end, I just threw a reflect on it so it couldn't heal itself. this unfortunately meant that I couldn't use magic on it but that's fine as it kept healing my party 🙂

  21. I love Nega Wisp Armor from Sonic colors. It isn't hard really, but the music just sells it. It's probably my favorite sonic boss atleast.

    Plantera is up there too as one of my other favorites

  22. Isshin from Sekiro although was test of every skill learnt through the game. The Owl's second encounter was most intersting IMO. Often those bosses which are just like the player character are some of the best designed ones too (like Vergil) because the developer is using yourself against you in a way. Owl's dirty fighting is just as a trickster as Sekiro is, emerging from the smoke to thrust faster than even expected, using unfair means(might seem to the layer) like poring acid on floor and so on. Also when you think it cant get worse, he's the only one who can mikiri you :")

  23. I spent closer to 40 hours on Yiazmat because my team were all about level 50, and I was an idiot. Absolutely ruined that game for me.

  24. Bayonetta has really fun bosses, they’re like the grandest part of the game and the part you look forward to

  25. One of my favorites of all time is Senator Armstrong from Metal Gear Rising.

    To start off he has the earlier two phases where he can barely be damaged, showing just how strong he is when he breaks the sword that used to tear apart cyborgs and seems like nothing you throw at him can properly deal damage. So when you get Sam's sword to start really doing some damage, you feel all the more powerful.

    Then there's the fact that he tests every skill the game has drilled into you all game. Dodging, parrying, ninja run, zandatsu, QTEs, the works. And if you don't show that you've learned everything up until now, you're doing it over until you demonstrate that you've mastered all those skills. As a final boss should be, it's the ultimate do-or-die final exam. And it knows how to end things, with the final clash that leads you to one final zandatsu finisher to rip his heart out. Satisfaction.

  26. I'd love to see you go over the giant battles and papercraft battles from Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, and Paper Jam!

    The giant battles work surprisingly well despite how drastically they change the game, but that's because the developers understood they had to keep the core RPG elements in place first. You have to turn the DS sideways, and rely a little more on touch controls, but the goal is the same: Dodge attacks, and beat the enemy by pulling off your own. Even the way these fights are integrated into the plot are interesting! To fit the drastic formula break, a drastic, near death experience is presented to Bowser before they begin, the giant boss battles being over-the-top solutions to over-the-top predicaments. It's a welcome break in formula in an RPG that could've otherwise settled with a few standard, less creative boss fights in place of these.

    Mario & Luigi Paper Jam, meanwhile, tried to re-create this break in formula without actually understanding what made them work in the first place. In fact, they just completely forget there even IS a formula, and throw the player into what could be considered and entirely unrelated game! One moment you're running around in an RPG, the next, you're controlling a papercraft Mario and… ramming into enemies in a 3D environment? Did the developers just suddenly get bored of their own game and decide they wanted to make something else? Even the excuses provided by the story aren't interesting enough reasons for the player to like the idea. Kamek swoops in and just… places an enemy papercraft in front of the player. Apparently that means the main characters have to go collect toads to build their… own papercraft to get rid of it? This is followed up with a lot of backtracking in what's usually a bland New Super Mario Bros world 1-1 or 2-1 location too. It's like every time the game presents you with a new papercraft roadblock, it actively goes out of its way to make sure the player is bored by the time they're finished. Papercraft battles aren't necessarily boring, but in a game like this, it just doesn't belong, no less for the player to endure 5 times.

    While Giant battles mix up the battle system in a creative way, staying true to the core gameplay while changing the presentation of battle for plot integrated reasons, Papercraft battles force the player to backtrack because of lazily executed roadblocks, only to reward them with a minigame that continues to pull them away from the core RPG gameplay.

  27. I really like the boss fights in Sin & Punishment on N64. They utilize the games controls to the fullest extent, I mean you could probably say that about a majority of the game since it was designed specifically around the N64 controller, but the bosses are great highlights of it too. Although, I wish the final boss was a bit more relentless in regards to foreground movement, aiming your reticle is a big deal in the final fight, but barely is movement of the main character a real big issue. Earlier fights would have you jumping over obstacles or quick dodging projectiles, but the last fight basically amounts to "don't miss any of your shots" which yeah you're still trying to move across the foreground to make sure you're not missing any of your shots or getting hit, but it pales in comparison to the hectic movement from a lot of the earlier fights, although in retrospect maybe it was to give the player a bit of mercy considering how tough the last section of the game is.

  28. i don't know if you played MMOs such as world of warcraft but I would like to see your thoughts on MMO boss fights.

  29. Thank you for actually LABELING your spoilers ahead of time. A big pet peeve in videos like these is when people say "Spoilers ahead", but you have no way of knowing what the spoilers are for until they say "[Insert Game] – Major Spoiler"

  30. I think that Final Fantasy V has some of the best bosses in RPG history, because none of them have much hp, but they have overwhelming attacks and the like. They're not a "hit them for five minutes while not screwing up", they're a "find out how to not get killed really badly while doing damage"

  31. This might be a controversial one, but I love the totem-pokemon in Gen7 and would always prefer them over any gymleader. A gym leader is just a normal trainer 3 level higher than the normal levelcurve. Some have a TM-move, but barely anyone makes a difference.
    Totemfight uses actual strategies, like weather effects and have typecoverage(at least in USUM) and the higher stats don't let you one/twoshot everyone with something effective, making setups like weather and other statusmoves viable. You don't need to buff/debuff, if you can twoshot everyone already.

  32. My favorite boss fight has to be the final boss, Alpha from Megaman Battle Network 3. You have to constantly dodge "hand" sweeps and other moves that keep you moving on your feet while also trying to deal enough dps to his core or whatever in the middle row of the arena so that you can actually hurt him while amazing music blasts away

  33. Not sure if that counts as a boss, but I really like the Hellblade from Monster Hunter G/GU.

    It has a really nice back and forth and rewards you for understanding its attacks and keeping the aggression up on its weakspots.

  34. One of my favorite boss fights is the true final boss of Azure Striker Gunvolt, Asimov. There's so much going on in the story, but what makes it so great is the leadup to it. For most of the game a lot of players are relying on the prevasion mechanic to avoid taking damage, but in order to unlock this boss you need to do the final stage without using it once. This is definitely a challenge, but after you beat it you will get unlimited prevasion and what is essentially MP, absolutely blowing everything away in your desperate chase after Asimov.

    But when you finally get to him, you're probably getting your ass kicked. Because there are two types of attacks that prevasion can't protect against: silver bullets and electricity. Asimov uses both to end your mission early in both a reflection of your own attacks and callbacks to other bosses, and the result is a very intense but very satisfying true final boss, both because of the fight itself and because of the story.

  35. Favorite: well, since you've already discussed the Vergil fights in DMC3 I'm gonna have to go with The Biolizard from Sonic Adventure 2

    Least favorite: any of the mech fights from Sonic Adventure 2

  36. I love how the fight with the Hollow Knight is build: it's not fantastic in terms of mechanics, it just plain works. But the way the story is told throughout the fight is marvelous: starting epic, dangerous, heroic.. Until the moment he starts to stab himself and the theme song takes a sad turn.
    And to boot: if you go to the golden ending, you fight The Radiance. Everything in the fight says "you are fighting a living God", from the song, the appearance, the title card, its omnipresence in the battlefield… It's absolutely amazing!

  37. I have to say that instead of the bossfights themselves, I'm left wondering what sll those gorgeous JRPGs that aren't Finsl Fantasy wete. The spritework was beautiful, and I've never seen any of them.

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