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Boss Portrayal in Video Games

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Boss Portrayal in Video Games

Post by Claire on Fri Dec 30, 2011 3:23 pm

I will start off by saying that this is a serious topic for me, which is why I'm not putting it in the General Games section. I expect us to have deep discussions of boss themes and how they affect the player directly or indirectly. The idea for this topic hit me yesterday when I was watching old boss fights from games preceding the year 2000. Namely, the Ganon fight from Ocarina of Time. I was wondering why no bosses following Ganon had the same amount of dark presence that Ganon radiated in the fight. I wondered how a lot of bosses I come across are missing a certain element that I haven't felt since Ganon, and that element is tension.

The general belief I have about bosses is they have so much buildup and pressure adding up to the battle, that I always feel slightly disappointed in some way. Yet again, Ganon did almost nothing to squash the buildup he had throughout the game as the King of Evil. The ambiance in the fight was incredible, as the darkness in the area hid Ganon's face (due to a textural flaw, but it ended up working out, imo) made me feel helpless and still does to this day. The music and sound effects helped to drive that helplessness to a climax, Ganon was the King of Evil and he was determined to see you dead. To be fair, I was a kid when I first fought Ganon, so as a result, I had a sensitive mind, but I've yet to fight an end boss, or boss in general to leave me with the same feeling of tension and helplessness without resorting to just a difficult fight.

Another reason Ganon proved to be a tremendously frightening boss, is that all of these elements help to hide the fact that he isn't difficult, but the tension of his design made the battle much more engaging, and made this fight seem much more difficult than it really is. All you need to do is get close to him, roll under his legs and strike the tail, but you feel hesitant to get near such a beast as his entire body is shrouded in shade that you feel far too frightened to even accomplish this small task. Bosses nowadays are simply resorting to having as much difficulty as possible to achieve the helpless feel, and that isn't the same in any sense.

Having a high difficulty isn't an issue, because this IS a boss we're talking about, and the buildup of pressure needs to be balanced out somehow. But, whenever I come to these bosses, I don't feel as frightened as I feel I should be. I spend a lot of time on the boss, and the only reason I remember the boss is because it was just hard, and not tense or epic. I find this to be particularly disappointing, since in my opinion, a boss should be memorable because of the image that is burned into your mind, and not how many hours you spent facing the same boss over and over. Yiazmat from Final Fantasy XII won't be memorable for me, because I spent six hours fighting him and still haven't beaten him, but most importantly, he was portrayed in the mark as this ultimate being, and you only catch a small glimpse. So, I was honestly scared of fighting this creature until the moment I saw him. The lighting and design of the creature didn't have any fear factor, but instead, it portrayed him as a beautiful deity, which is almost what you would expect, but I don't ever expect the ultimate challenge to be beautiful if it doesn't have a frightening element of some sort other than difficulty. I figured the least they could have done was have an introduction scene showing what this creature was capable of, and since it's the ultimate challenge the game had to offer, they could have done a little more to make you hesitant to fight this boss.

I know I'm repeating myself, but I don't think I'm alone in saying that for all the buildup that bosses have, they should be something other than just difficult. Difficulty is good to have, but developers shouldn't rely on just that to make a boss memorable. I would feel more compelled to play a game that had a boss more like Ganon, a boss that is frightening, tense, and above all, makes you feel helpless. Now, I should say that the reason the developers put the dark shading in the Ganon fight was to cover up the lack of detail in his design, which is pretty disappointing, but little did they know that they would accidentally make one of the best end bosses in video game history.

One more example of a terrific boss fight is Alice from No More Heroes 2. This boss had only the stage to act as the buildup, since the game doesn't have much of a plot. This fight has to be one of my favorite bosses ever, because the design of Alice, along with the design of the stage you are fighting in helped to compliment the difficulty and tension of the battle. Alice was fighting Travis with the intention of having a true battle, and going all out in one last ditch effort to be remembered, and that paid off in full. The music also contributed to the purpose of the battle, feeling tense, but not in a way that makes it feel that Alice hates you. Alice wanted to fight the strongest person in the world with no hard feelings, and everything about the fight contributed toward that theme.

The purpose of this topic is to discuss what your favorite element in boss battles are, and what you would want game developers to do to repeat that element in future games. As you can see by my example, I love bosses to be intimidating and to make me feel helpless in a way other than just a difficult fight. I also like bosses to contribute to the theme or buildup that is presented throughout the game. Remember, that I want you to state your opinion in a way that makes sense to you, so if you end up repeating yourself like I did, don't worry about it.
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Re: Boss Portrayal in Video Games

Post by Zane the pure on Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:22 am

Henry
No More Heroes
bitter mode

The only glimpse of this man you see is in mission 5, after chasing him through 10 miles of poorly lit sewer, you emerge in the arena for the fifth rank fight against Dr. Letz Shake. He and travis exchange banter and the Dr. begins charging an enormous attack. Right before he is able to attack the camera pans upwards to show a lone figure drop from the sky, slashing his rig in half and then skewering him as the rig explodes.

When the dust clears his opponent is now the man who fell from the sky. He already knows your name and is about to reveal a secret (that he later does reveal) but travis voices his mind about kill stealing. They prepare to battle when the manager o the fights blows her whistle and he is gone without a trace.

After the Final boss and unknown assasin sneaks up on travis on the toilet, and before he can say another word he is chopped to ribbons by Henry. the two then relocate to the lot outside of Travis' hotel and what ensues is one of the most painfully entertaining boss fights I've seen in a long time.

needless to say, the cutscene before was no exaggeration of his prowess
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDq6akpKHLU
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJm7VwITLog&feature=related

and if you screw up, this is your fate.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNsyofCN-a4

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