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Best Bosses in Gaming

This article may contain mild spoilers for multiple games.

One of GameGrin’s own writers - Ryan (RGDFleet), recently had the spectacular idea of naming his personal ‘Best Dragons In Gaming’, which promptly gave me the idea to pinch his format and do my own ‘best of’. I know, I’m just full of original ideas.

Bosses have been waning in popularity recently, whether this is due to developers preferring to conclude their titles with thought provoking narrative, or because they are simply unable to create an end boss worthy of their audiences, I don’t know. Chances are, it could be an entirely different reason, but one thing for sure is that, over the years, there have been a huge variety of innovative boss fights for players to overcome, new and old.

I should mention, this list is a personal one of my own, most memorable head honchos, so don’t be upset that your favourite didn’t make the cut. After all, no one person can experience every epic encounter the video game industry has to offer. But, by all means, let us know what your favourites are!

So without further ado, here are my ‘Best Bosses in Gaming’:

Big Arm - Sonic The Hedgehog 3

When you’re presented with a history as rich as Sonic’s, it’s incredibly difficult to pick just one of Robotnik’s marvellous machines to feature in this list. The fact that I could make a ‘best Sonic bosses’ article is a testament to how creative SEGA were in their earlier years.

Even today, I’m hard pushed to think of any music accompanying a boss fight that is as spectacular as Big Arm’s. As soon as you hop out of the ‘Egg-o-Matic’ onto that platform, you know that this is the last boss. As the skies turn black and the terrifically foreboding music kicks in, your adrenaline really starts to pump.

He may not look like much, but Big Arm is probably one of Sonic’s hardest encounters, and you’ll have to be precise if you want to triumph.

Dark Falz - Phantasy Star Online

Another SEGA classic, PSO revolutionised the way console gamers consumed entertainment. Originally released for the Dreamcast, PSO was one of the very first online games and MMO’s, cementing its place in history.

Dark Falz, the eternal embodiment of darkness and evil is the game’s main antagonist and boy, was he/she a thrill to fight. As you enter Falz’s domain, you are presented with an idyllic, utopian garden that promptly becomes a nightmare. With a group of four teammates, you are treated to not one, but two forms of this skyscraper-sized behemoth.

If you ever managed to reach the Very Hard difficulty, a third and final form was revealed, and to this day I still remember my sheer amazement at the incredibly difficult final form of evil.

Gwyn, Lord of Cinder - Dark Souls

Yes, I know exactly what all the Dark Souls fans out there will say. “Ornstein & Smough should be here instead of Gwyn, he was so easy for a last boss!” Whilst that is true, (and I spent more time than I would like to admit deciding on which of the two to include in this list), Gwyn has something that O&S simply didn’t have: emotion.

Hardcore fans of Dark Souls’ subtle storytelling will know the story of Gwyn and his tragic self sacrifice to prolong the age of fire. The moment you walk through that fog gate and hear the sad, melodic music, you realise that the man that stands before you is a husk of his former self, and your battle to defeat him is an act of mercy.

Bob Barbas - Devil May Cry

Devil May Cry fanboys never had cause to fear Ninja Theory’s reboot of Capcom’s beloved franchise, and although DmC’s bosses were kittens in relation to what came before, Bob Barbas is, by far and away, one of the most creative and innovative bosses in recent memory.

Dante’s world is full to the brim with demons, but you wouldn’t know it, as they hide in Limbo. While Bob Barbas is a seemingly normal newscaster, he actually heads a propaganda campaign for the underworld. I won’t spoil the surprise for you, but needless to say, Dante’s encounter with the anchorman is a very clever (and news themed) affair.

Elite Four - Pokemon

That’s right, Pokemon has made the cut. The titular four may not have the same sense of grandeur as others in this list, but you’ll be hard pushed to find a more iconic boss battle than developer GameFreak’s marathon run through the worlds toughest trainers.

With each new iteration, you know your adventure culminates in a no-holds-barred battle to the end. Those of you old enough to remember the original games will surely remember the feeling the first time you became the Pokemon champion.

Grigori - Dragon’s Dogma

Sadly, Grigori didn’t make the team for Ryan’s list, but the philosophical dragon is welcome here. Forget Alduin, Grigori is the Dragon fight to end all Dragon fights.

Before you even get the chance to engage the big red lizard, you have to scale the giants back mid-flight and ground the sucker. What follows is a tooth and nail grudge match between man and monster that will literally last for an hour on your first playthrough.

Wheatley - Portal 2

Who cares about GlaDos when you have Wheatley. Brilliantly voiced by Stephen Merchant, Valve’s creation is initially your guiding light, until he is corrupted by power. There’s nothing quite like facing off against an insane supercomputer whilst it spouts nonsensical insults in a British accent with a slight Bristolian twinge.

If you thought Chell’s battle with GlaDos was ridiculous, wait until you find yourself on the moon. Oh and if you’re interested in playing Portal 2, you can also engage in some nonsense about using portals to solve puzzles, but I didn’t pay attention to any of that.

Jubileus - Bayonetta

Two words to describe the final boss of Bayonetta would be ‘absolutely bonkers’, and that’s saying something considering this is a game about a witch whose clothes are made from her own hair.

What starts as a battle with a city-sized statue, turns into a fight in space with a city-sized statue. Just climbing the monstrosity feels like a fight in itself, and when you finally topple the demi-god, you’re treated to a motorcycle ride back down to Earth. Like I said, bonkers.

Psycho Mantis - Metal Gear Solid

From the mind of Hideo Kojima, it’s no surprise that a Metal Gear Solid boss made it in. Psycho Mantis needs no justification to be here though, as Snake’s bizarre encounter with the gas mask clad soldier is one of the most memorable boss battles you are ever likely to experience.

I can only smile to myself when I think of all the people who sat in front of their T.V screens wondering how the hell they were supposed to defeat the psycho. Hint: you need to unplug something.

JoeP | 23rd July, 2013

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