Today we took a look back at the 5 most iconic video game villains of all time. These are bosses that, for one reason or another, we can never forget. What's the one thing that makes a boss unforgettable? Difficulty.
Admit it. At one time in your gaming history, you ran into a boss you just couldn't beat and you were forced to either buy the guide or hand the game over to a friend who is inevitably better at playing video games than you are.
The first time I remember this happening to me was my first encounter with Seymour in Final Fantasy X. After 20 tries I finally sought the help of a friend. In hindsight this wasn't really a hard boss to beat, it was just a weird difficulty spike in the game and I went on to defeat the final boss, Sin, without the help of anyone.
USgamer asked their team what their least favorite boss fight was, ever. These are the boss fights that nearly made them throw their controllers out the nearest window:
Boss: Liquid Ocelot1
Game: Metal Gear Solid 4
Man, what a piece of garbage this was. After I'd followed the Metal Gear saga for nearly 20 years, the whole grand epic resolves itself like this? The final faceoff of the Metal Gear timeline was so terrible that it actually tainted all the great things that had come before by mere association.
Let's walk you through it. After working his way through impossibly baroque plot machinations, Solid Snake finally goes up against his clone-dad's long-time admirer/rival/ally, Revolver Ocelot, who's pretending to be possessed by the spirit of Snake's clone-brother in order to fool a cartel of military Illuminating. OK, whatever, fine. But all of this culminates in a crappy fist fight that casts aside all the play mechanics that have defined Metal Gear Solid 4 - shooting, sneaking, etc. - in favor of a QTE-driven brawler. It's a self-referential wankfest nodding back to the previous chapters of the series, especially the fistfight against Liquid Snake atop the ruins of Metal Gear Rex in the original Metal Gear Solid, and it's terrible.
To properly understand the disappointment inherent in this fight, though, you really need to have played through the previous Metal Gears. They also ended with one-on-one battles, but each one improved on the last. Metal Gear Solid 3's in particular was a masterpiece of game design, pitting Snake's father against his mentor The Boss in a test of stealth and close-quarter combat expertise that made use of the game's core mechanics in a brilliant fashion. For the first time in the series, the obligatory showdown at the end of MGS3 felt like an extension of the game that had played out before it rather than a bit of an unrelated game awkwardly grafted on. MGS4's final conflict, on the other hand, threw that progress out the window. In trying to pay tribute to its past, it ultimately just felt like a step backward. I sincerely doubt I will ever play MGS4 again, just because I know what's waiting for me at the end. And honestly, I'm kind of dreading whatever awaits at the end of Metal Gear Solid V, because the odds are in favor of it being pretty wretched as well.
Game: Demon's Souls
While the Souls series is known for its punishing nature, it's actually grown a lot more user-friendly over the years. Take Demon's Souls, for instance: Some parts are legitimately hard, while others just feel cheap. I get the sense FromSoftware gradually learned the difference between these two qualities over time, because Demon's Souls contains a few stretches I dread whenever it's time to run through the game again. But no single moment in Demon's Souls hurts more than level 3-2's Maneater.
This boss encounter contains a "gotcha" moment the Souls series would eventually reuse multiple times, but in Demon's Souls, it was a brand-new nightmare. Even before Demon's pulls the rug out from under you, 3-2's boss makes for a tough fight: You're trapped on a narrow walkway, pitted against a massive, gargoyle-like creature who can fly, and perform several attacks intended to knock you off the ledge, into oblivion. Should you manage to successfully take on this creature and reduce his life by half, you're greeted by a second Maneater, who flies into the area with and greets you with all of his hit points intact.
Admittedly, a lot of the challenge stems from overcoming the stress of this situation: The Maneaters telegraph their attacks well in advance, and are easy enough to avoid, but you have to contend with two of them at once, all while keeping your footing on a narrow walkway. On mostly every playthrough of Demon's Souls, I usually lose all hope on the Maneaters, and I still haven't figured out a successful way to keep my cool while fighting them until around my 20th attempt. I've never resorted to the cheap way to beat these bosses-out of some misguided attempt to preserve my "honor"-but next time, I just might. Shooting arrows at the boss before the fight even begins might be the coward's way out, but at this point, I think I've earned it.
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