Boss Fights

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I think boss fights, in some cases, are certainly a painful thing...and in Alpha Protocol, its an excellent need force to succeed,and without it you fail. Which is pretty sad really when it says any approach can work...

I'd like to speak up as one of the people who beat System Shock 2 with a Marine and Navy engineer without cheating. But the PsyOps playthrough, yeah, I had to cheat for the end boss, so Yahtzee is still right.

Boo, hiss, boss fights. Epic scramble at the end, a hectic movie-climax kinda ending, is great. But the big baddy you have to kill only by empting your entire ammo supply (where the hell do I carry all that ammo, btw?)... horsepoop!

Oh, and Yahtzee... I've beaten System Shock 2 multiple times with multiple characters on hard difficulty... and while some were harder than others, sure, I was able to beat the game "psionic-y", "hack-y", and "guns-blaze-y". It's the reason SS2 will always be right there with Deus Ex as my favorite video games of all time... no matter what, there's a way to do it your way.

Just like Burger King.

So, even Yahtzee's a troper. I have to agree, boss fights should rely on all learned skills. Personally, I prefer not a boss fight, but a gauntlet of sorts, like the final run of Halo 1, 3, and ODST. It's longer, more epic, and gives a developer the ability to work in giant battles or awesome music with things exploding (and occasionally with Nathan Fillion). Oh, and I'M NOT WEARING A SHIRT!

I'm not sure if it's a problem with "tropes" specifically or if it's just one more content generation issue. It's time to design, build, and finalize the end of the game and development time is running short because you've already spent it designing, building, and finalizing the other 98% of the game. Everyone is already exhausted and you have a decision to make: cut back on making a compelling ending or go full-force on fixing the thousands of bugs that have been piling up. Nine times out of ten it's going to be the second option. Thus, we get the classic boss fight, or even worse in my opinion, the exact same enemies you've been fighting the whole game only twice in number with maybe a time limit ticking in the background.

Where tropes come in and trash the hotel room is when you've played an entire game where stealth is the only option and are forced into combat. At least shooting things is an option in Alpha Protocol. I'd rather be told "you picked the wrong option, try again" instead of, "there is only one option and you will probably never good enough at it."

HA! i am not wearing a shirt, i am in my underpants... wait, i mean urrrm.

I love Boss fights and i'm not quite sure what Yahtzee entirely means by all of this... the only big point i got was that Boss fights are more fun if they aren't just spontaneous and make little sense... but i feel there was more too it than that. will read it later when i have the time.

I subscribe to the Castlevania school of boss design: pattern-based boss fights. Give the boss attacks that are hard but POSSIBLE to dodge and can be predicted but are NOT broadcasted too overtly. Oh, and at least make the boss interesting: nice to look at, not some reskinned human model. If it is human, give me a good reason to want to kill this bastard.

In regards to turn-based RPGs, the best boss mechanic I have seen is the shifting barrier: change the boss' resistance each time you hit his weak spot. It requires more than the tired nuke-and-heal method.

"Deus Ex is one of the few action RPGs I can think of that genuinely does allow any approach, and it's so old now it takes place on the blocky-leveled planet of the shiny fat people."

QFT! In the decade or so since it came out, no single player game I've played has beaten the Deus Ex experience, not even close. Oblivion, Fallout 3, Mass Effect, and especially (oddly) the end of Red Dead Redemption all gave glaring reminders of why Deus Ex was just better. I hope Human Revolution doesn't disappoint.

I'm not wearing a shirt! Ha!

On the topic of boss fights... eh. I can take them or leave them. I generally like boss fights, but sometimes they are just disappointing. A lot of boss fights are just badly designed and seem to serve no other purpose than to have something to kill at the end. Other bossfights are genuinely well thought out and give the game's ending a memorable extra oomph just before the credits roll.

Oh, lawl. Didn't expect Yahtzee to copy/paste the front page of tvtropes into one of his articles. Oh well, they explain it the best, anyway.

OT: I agree that the best boss fights should involve all or most of the previously-attained combat/strategy aspects of the game, but I think that boss fights should have an emotional tie to it as well. An example of a combat-based fight would be Ganondorf in Ocarina of Time. You had to use your best deflect-ball-of-light skills to play ping pong with Ganondorf until he got hit by it. Then quickly whip out the hookshot, target him, pull yourself over the gap between you two, and have at with your sword. Lather, rinse, repeat. Then you had to escape the collapsing castle and defeat some mooks within the given time frame, putting your normal fighting skills to the test. Then in the final FINAL fight with Ganon, your sword is taken away, and your dodging skills and use of the Megaton Hammer are tested. Great fight.

Then there's stuff like the final battle in Persona 3. You have gone through one hell of a year of high school; you made friends; you fought shadows; you had good times and bad times. All of the different arcana-based classmates are now lifetime friends, and you have the most kick-ass persona in the game. Despite what everyone has said about it being impossible to defeat Nyx, the bringer of the end, you and your friends have pressed on. And then the final boss comes, wearing the face of one of your friends and towering a good thirty feet above your head. And you have to bring down all thirteen versions of Nyx's power, based on the first thirteen of the arcana your social links have been based around. And then you have to fight Death itself AFTER all of that.

Holy crap, shit just got real. That's my example of an emotional fight.

But... it was a free shirt...

Half Life 2 isn't exactly a good example for game designers to follow.

Of course not, we wouldn't want game designers to accidentally make another fantastic super game, it'd take too much shelf space away from the boring river of shit they've been producing for the last 5 years.

Hrm, If I'm not mistaken you can kill the final boss in AP without firing a single bullet.

You know, following the narrative structure theory of Freytag's pyramid, I always considered the last battle with the striders to be the last of the falling action phase, and thus considered them a "final boss." Everything that came after was Denumont and I was pleased to see somebody who actually knew how to do that instead of just suddenly concluding everything after falling action. The battle in the Citadel was just the natural conclusion to everything that came before. Breen was never really a final boss, just a face for the real enemies. It would have been wrong to have a real boss fight with Breen, because it would have taken him out of his role in the game.

Now, I liked the boss fights in Deus Ex. They were tough, but not ridiculous. It made sense that Nevarre, Hermann and Simons could take more hits than standard enemies because they had augmentations like your own character and a rocket to the face still killed them. The great thing about it was that, except for Nevarra, you actually didn't have to kill any of the bosses at all. You could circumvent them all. Even Nevarra you could get around using a bug in the AI and the plot continued (although the game wouldn't recognize that Nevarra lived, so I guess it really doesn't count). So, you could use any of the skills you built up over the game to finish the bosses, or you could just skip them entirely if it suited the way you wanted to play.
The final boss of Deus Ex was great because you never actually fight him directly. He's unreachable, so you have to find cut the power out from under him and how you went about doing that determined how the game ended. You could either take the direct revenge scheme and kill him after shutting down his shield, you could steal all of his hopes and dreams out from under him and leave him with nothing, or you could be the biggest ass-hole anyone could possibly be and pull the plug on everything.
More action-RPGs need to be like that.

Half Life 2 isn't exactly a good example for game designers to follow.

Oh dear God...

Must... Not... Flame...


OT: I bloody hate boss-fights. My latest example of why they're shit is Arkham Asylum: what would have been a great fistfight using the freeflow combat was turned into a very shit boss-fight in which the Joker totally broke character and took the clichéd route of becoming

All you do is use the grapple and tap X like 3 times.

I hate cheap bosses and 50% of them are cheap......

I find I have the same problem wioth Dragon's Age. I always do fine and upgrade my stats however the hell I want them, and then suddenly they toss a group of enemies at me that undermine all the stats I've put in. Said group, couldonyl be defeated if I were a tank, not a rogue.

Such is like the mage's tower, then you have to go into the faze. You have to kill these female faze things (Forgot the terms... Things seems appropriate). now when fighting one enemy, two, or three... I can usually hold my own. Here they asked me to hack on a woman wil qa significant amount of health while enemies regenerated all around her. With the number of times I was getting hit and the fact that I was on fire, I hit the heal button and he was too busy spazzing about before he could gulp down the potion.

There is the RARE boss fight in alpha protocol you can avoid. The Yacht and thr liutenant are the ones I could count, but I agree with yahtzee with the stances. I figured I would take a slightly agressive stance with one of the characters, and then he runs on sounding like an asshole and insulting the dude to no end before slamming his head into the counter. (my friends actually got an option to slam grigori's face in, but I didn't)

Yahtzee Croshaw:
So why, gamers of the world, did people complain about the fact that Half-Life 2 didn't have a "proper" boss fight?

I don't understand why gamers complain about a lot of things.

Boy, he's gonna keep beating the "RPGs should be about universal choice for the player, about giving him unlimited options and letting him affect the world however he like" drum until people start marching, won't he?

In this case, though, it's bullshit.

Some skills are legitimately less useful than others. Some fights are unavoidable, and sometimes you have to use gunplay rather than stealth skills. If part of the "awesome-life simulation" aspect of an RPG is that you can make your character however you like, there's some realism in that if you chose to devote your energy to learning useless skills, you get bum-raped.

That's what I'm gonna call realism. If I decide to spend my time learning to be an expert in WoW playing, rather than an expert in Shotokan, those times when the latter would be useful, I'm getting my ass kicked. The irony of the Yahtzee-style RPG player (who wants to be able to do whatever he wants, and let his inner id run wild) is that they don't want any responsibility for what happens. Sure, they want the "this is so badassed" responsibility, but not the real "I pissed off all of my allies, and now I'm fucked" responsibility, or the "I faffed around for too long, and now the evil empire has won" responsibility, or even the "I decided to specialize in stealth, so I can't fight encounters where I have to fight straight-up". If RPGs are meant to be anything other than a simple succession of times when the player gets to feel awesome beating a boss only slightly more wimpy than he is, that's fine. But if RPGs are meant to actually be about role-playing, then there are going to be times when the suave, effete, faceman isn't going to be able to win in a shootout.

It's like how in most games the big bruiser with the massive guns, and even bigger firearms, isn't going to be able to pull off good social interaction.

Would it be nice if there were similar social "bosses" in such games, where you have to really work ten-times as hard at winning if you put your skills exclusively into gunplay? Absolutely, but no game should exist wherein you can "win" using any given "build", because that's not how life (even awesome, sci-fi, life) works.

I like some boss fights, like in Borderlands they were pretty fun and same with the Final Fantasy games. Some other games don't really need boss fights. My problem with boss fights is when they have ones that have an insane amount of hit points to make them "tough". Like Emerald Weapon from FFVII. Seriously, 1,000,000 HP? I've tried dozens of times to kill the game thing without having to resort to the quad magic KOTR summon chains, and no luck.

Awww, no Fun Space Game update? Too bad.

I don't know why people actually expected anything from it. Yahtzee has made some 2D games sure, but 3D is a completely different ball game. I highly doubt Yahtzee has the time and the motivation to ACTUALLY go anywhere with FSG. But then again I don't blame him, but if you have any hopes of ever seeing it completed get rid of them now.

But I'm wearing a 1up-shirt... and I fell. If I take it off now I might have a punch-up with Satan.

Anyhoo, back to the point. I think it's in game developer's best interest to not fully dismiss them, but just slightly mess with bosses and the fighting thereof. For example, in many a game entering a big arena, or even just a big room will usually mean either:

a) A boss fight
b) Several boss fights
c) Just a regular ol' big group of bad guys

I can recall a few times in Metroid Prime and its sequels where I walked into a big room , expecting a big fight of some sort, when it turns out to be just a big puzzle for unlocking the next gizmo. It did a pretty effective job of keeping me on the edge of my seat whenever I realised the scope of the room I was in was slightly bigger than your average, run-of-the-mill extra-terrestrial room.

Assassin's Creed II also did a pretty nice job with boss fights, in that they weren't really boss fights. Killing one of the nefarious villians hardly ever came down to a face-to-face, you had to sneak your way past their guards in order to give them a big death-cuddle, as they were just as squishy as the guards meant to protect them. You needed to use the skills you spent the entire game mastering, so the boss fights really did feel like some sort of extremely bloody exams. That is, until the last boss fight where you keep beating on...

...until he decides that lying down is the smarter option.

"...equal blame resides with the audience. So basically, the biggest problem here is you. Yes, you," And especially you Adrian!

I thought Resident Evil 5 had some of the best boss fights. Working together with your friend to figure out the monster's weakness. We only had to try a couple of them more than once or twice.

*points at self

Female, by definition I must buy nice clothes. :P

But Yahtzee you need to read the character dossiers to know how best to respond to them and buy the dossiers to get other dialogue options that turn out to be the most effective. In fact, in some of those boss fights, bought intelligence will make your life so very much easier. (Disabling turrets, paying off guards, using your contacts, blackmailing Halbeck for mucho deniro, etc.)

I'm sure someone has already told you that though.

I personally didn't mind the boss battles in Alpha Protocol the way I did in *cough*DragonAge*cough. But then, I wasn't playing a stealth character with no gun skill. Still, given that this is an Obsidian game it would've been nice if you'd been able to talk your way out of most of them.

Remember Zelda: Twilight Princess?
Now there was a game with a final boss fight... and another final boss fight... and another final boss fight.

My Cardiacs t-shirt is snazzy as fuck.
You know this.
But I'll take it off for you if you want...

[incoming spoilers for Legend of Zelda's Twilight Princess and Wind Waker, Super Mario Galaxy's one and two and Final Fantasy's VII and IX]

From the two Legend of Zelda games I've beaten (Wind Waker and Twilight Princess) I'd say they also do pretty good final bosses, even if it is, by some mind-bending abuse of conventional logic, always Ganondorf (perhaps all this has been explained properly in earlier incarnations, but it really fucking bothers me). In both cases, not only is there a suitable application of skills learned throughout the course of the game, but there's also a proper teaming up of Link with his principle support characters (Princess Zelda in both cases and also Midna in TP). I think it helps seal the idea that the characters actually mean something to each other, unlike, say, Mario and Peach.

I found Super Mario Galaxy 2 a really tough ride (I'm not great at games, though, I freely admit that), so I was bothered by just how much of a pushover Bowser is. Still. I was hoping the game would reveal some other uber-villain halfway through, but nope, that's not how it works. Interestingly, though, so much of the game (and over half of the stars you can get) are only accessible AFTER you beat him. It's as if beating him and saving Princess Peach is no longer the point of the games, which does make me wonder: what exactly does Mario want? He's beat that giant reptile and rescued that hideous Princess more times than he can count, and not even out of any real interest in her or it. I think he's just an arbitrary bastard who likes putting his life on the line for thrills. A more realistic interpretation of him would have him putting his hat on backwards and saying "yo" and "cowabunga" a lot.

Aside from playing JRPG's with their typical end game side-bosses that are tougher than the actual final boss (which I never understood), most boss-fights do seem out of place.

Don't know whether you mean that you don't know the thinking behind said optional bosses, or that you understand it but you disagree - if it's the latter, go ahead and ignore me. The idea behind the optional uber-bosses is to present an extra, tougher challenge for the more challenge- or completist-centred gamer, whilst not going too far out of their way to buttfuck those of us who just want to follow the story through and complete the fucking game. Really, it only annoys me when said bosses exist contrary to the plot - like Final Fantasy VII's Emerald and Ruby Weapon, both of whom really shouldn't, according to the story, exist at all. But I'm okay with Ozma from FFIX because it's alluded to in a vague way that sort of makes sense if you read the chocograph clues and its existence doesn't contradict the plot any. That said, the effect that helping all the friendly monsters IN ORDER has on him makes no sense whatsoever.

I can't believe Yahtzee didn't mention the fact that all the "boss battles" in Assassin's Creed had nothing to do with stealth. Especially the last long-winded level and subsequent 10 or so bosses that ended it. You're supposed to be this quiet, mongoose-like Assassin with a sharp dagger in place of your ring finger, and that's what you spend your whole game using. Also there's an emphasis(read:Assassin's Creed) on being sneaky. WHEN ALL OF A SUDDEN, everybody knows where you are because you're assaulting a castle HEAD ON instead of sneaking around the front lines and later tea-bagging all those no-names that didn't even see you coming. Classic example of things you weren't expected to work on being thrown at you over and over again. Anyway.

Yahtzee, you're confused. My shirt says I'm with stupid, not that I'm stupid. I trust this was an honest mistake.

Jokes on you, I dont wear cloths.

Anyway I think God Of War had some pretty good boss fights, especially since if you wanted to go on the hardest difficulty for all the marbles you were just asking for a rectum cleansing. The game gave you all the mechanics that were used to play the game, and it was at your disposal as to how you went about it. I could have killed every boss with a lightning bolt from afar. Would it be affective? No, but the point is I did it.

I agree though, that bosses are now just becoming a large health bar, and a formulated dodge strategy. Even a game as good as Arkham Asylum was extremely disappointing as far as boss fights.

Fable 2

But I suppose Alpha Protocol has a different, problem the game revolves around the idea of spy stuff and being slick with words yet one HAS to fight certain encounters in order to win the game. The game isn't just about looking kickass while fighting bad dudes, but about being able to have CHOICE of how others treat you which is ruined by no matter how you act you have to fight certain dudes. I think.

We need more games like Shadow of the Colossus.

Half Life 2 isn't exactly a good example for game designers to follow.

porqoui? it was a pretty good game. A lot of work went into it and I thought it was an exelent game.

RJ Dalton:
The final boss of Deus Ex was great because you never actually fight him directly. [ ... ]

SHHHH!!! Don't spoil it! I'm still playing it!

We need more games like Shadow of the Colossus.

So the entire game can be nothing BUT tedious boss fights?

Man, both Yahtzee and Shamus are ranting about the same thing today.

That said, i didn't specialize in any weapon and still didn't find boss fights in Alpha Protocol to be that hard. Brayko was a bitch, but you could beat him with a regular unupgraded shotgun if you knew how.

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