GameZone's Epic Boss Battles (Nostalgia Warning)
Developers have dangled many carrots over the heads of gamers throughout the years. These carrots may take the form of high scores, unlockable trinkets, bonus levels, fancy hats, elaborate cinematics, and plain ol’ bragging rights. When kiddies congregate at their lockers and co-workers gab around the water cooler, these prizes are rarely a subject of intense discussion. It’s what we experience during the game itself that burrows into the heavy soil of our brains, and those adrenaline-pumping, enamel-grinding ordeals are commonly known in the industry as “boss battles.”
The mere mention of this term recalls sleepless nights. How long had you stayed awake to empty clip after clip into that hulking monstrosity? What was so compelling about sinking your sword into that fearsome fortress of flesh in level nine, causing you to ignore your family and friends? Boss battles certainly leave their mark---and sometimes scars---and that's why they are among the most cherished of moments in our careers as gamers. Super Mario Bros. – Bowser
Resembling the oversized offspring of a misshapen turtle and fiendish dragon, Bowser gained his status as an icon with a horrifically difficult boss battle at the end of one of the world’s greatest video games. The Big B was not about to surrender Princess Peach without a fight, and that is certainly what the little Italian plumber got. To even stand a chance at beating him, players had to navigate his treacherous lair and hold on to their goodies---who can forget that invaluable fire flower?
Street Fighter II - M. Bison
Heaven knows how many quarters were gobbled up by Street Fighter II arcade machines around the globe thanks to the red-caped devil. If you were lucky, you could throw down and tackle Bison on your SNES, but that was easily as frustrating. After plowing your way through the ranks of every challenger and taking on the previous three “boss” characters, you were treated to a final battle with the ultimate warrior. Bison was a merciless wrecking ball with his psycho-crusher attacks, zooming about the screen in a disorienting flurry of steel-toed boots and weird purple energies. Best of all, you had to beat him with every single fighter if you wanted to see their special endings---Blanka has to be reunited with his mum, after all.
God of War – Hydra
How do you make a battle aboard a ship in a storm more interesting? Add a multi-headed hydra to the mix. This classic creature, which hails from the Feats of Hercules, is just too popular to be left alone by writers. Fortunately, God of War does dabble in Greco-Roman mythology, so the appearance of the Hydra is at least somewhat appropriate. More interesting is the execution of the battle itself, which sees Kratos dealing death to the peripheral heads before slaying the central serpent. The wild, over-the-top action in the final moments of the fight sold God of War as an action title for the modern age.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Shredder
When all his thugs are dealt with, the turtles know there is one more foe waiting for them: Shredder. Cloaked and covered in spikes, the bloodthirsty villain is able to take on most anyone in hand-to-hand combat. Just to cover his bases, he creates holographic projections of himself to make the battle even more difficult for his reptilian enemies. If you spent dozens of quarters to reach him, chances are you weren’t going to let a few more coins keep you from bringing him to his knees. Naturally, the challenge was a bit easier if you had three buddies watching your back.
Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Ganondorf
As any Zelda fan can tell you, Ganon can be a tough guy to put down. Partially thanks to the popularity of the title, what is arguably his most memorable incarnation could be found in Ocarina of Time. There is a cliché among bosses who seem vanquished only to return again in a more powerful form. To their credit, the Zelda devs made this a pretty good fakeout. You had to escort Princess Zelda from the crumbling ruins of the castle following the big man’s initial defeat. All seems calm at the end until an ominous rumble heralds the return of one wicked boss. Victory seems like a long shot for poor Link, but maybe a longshot is exactly what he needed.