Thursday, January 2, 2014

TOP 7: Nintendo Bosses

Video games have been, in my life, anything from a fun pastime to a complete and uncontrollable obsession. My best memories of video games spawn from my first console: the Nintendo 64, and continued through Nintendo consoles as I grew up. As I spread my virtual wings, I spread my scope into the other available systems, but they never sparked the magic flame that the N64 did all those years ago. Thanks to those, memories, I present to you:

THE TOP 7 NINTENDO BOSSES (remember, this list is COMPLETELY subjective)

1) Goras - Starfox 64

Starfox 64 was one of my favorite games of all time, and every boss was a unique and artistic experience. From giant robots and clams to Pigma (just kidding), Starfox 64's bosses outshone most of those of other franchises.

You know what kids love? Pigs!

Out of all the amazing and artistic boss fights, however, I remember one boss being particularly awesome aesthetically, challenging, and unique. After Slippy gets bitch-slapped away by a giant robot, he crash-lands on a desert planet. For some reason, the Starfox crew head in to save the annoying frog.


You start in the Landmaster, a tank with the ability to hover, which is the most badass thing ever. You shoot through desert monsters to finally find the monster responsible for holding Slippy hostage. What pops up to challenge you is Goras, a weird mixture of limbs, spikes, talons, and weapendages (which is the word I made up for weapons + appendages). I used to think the aforementioned boss bore a striking resemblance to a praying mantis, but looking at pictures now, I think that may have been a stretch of the imagination.

"Look dad, I drew a praying mantis!" "... ... Go to your room."

Just look at the imagination and creativity it required to design that monstrosity! Two laser arms, two spike arms, a unicorn horn, a prehensile tail, the solemn eyes of a blues singer. As a CHILD, I was so taken aback by the amalgamation of crazy things that I had to define the boss as a real creature (a praying mantis) or my head would explode. It was the hardest boss to beat in the game when I was a kid, too, and for some reason, I really had a hard time without a health meter. Playing the game again now, I find bosses like the giant clam and Andross' brain to be more difficult, but this one was actually FUN as well as challenging. The Landmaster was my personal favorite vehicle, and this was my favorite fight in the vehicle by a small margin. The other Landmaster boss, the Forever Train, was a close second.

2) Megaleg - Super Mario Galaxy

Mario was never known for having the most innovative bosses, and the games usually boiled down to amazing overworlds with challenging levels concluded with a boss fight that highly resembled the prior boss fights in the game. Mario Galaxy's bosses were all unique, but they were far from challenging. Like Bowser from Mario 64, it usually boiled down to a rinse and repeat strategy. However, I chose the Megaleg not for his difficulty, but the sheer enormity and artistry of the boss and fight design.

The boss starts with Mario on a lone moon, just chillin', enjoying life.

Can't see nuthin', I must've beat the game

The camera then pans forward and reveals a monstrous mechanical creation so big it reduces Mario to a speck on the screen. Then, Shadow of the Colossus style, Mario must climb the giant monstrosity and smash the dome on top of it.

Please sign my petition to rename this boss "MegalegS". Sincerely, Grammar Nazi

After avoiding Bullet Bills, jumping between platforms, and conquering the three individual legs and smashing the top dome three times, the boss will run away in cowardice. Just kidding, it will SPACE EXPLODE.

You... you did this...

Ultimately, this is one of the first bosses of the game and a simple victory, but the visuals and proportions make the win so much more meaningful.

3) King K. Rool - Donkey Kong Country

This is probably the toughest Nintendo franchise to pick one specific boss out of. Every boss in the franchise was memorable and unique, and the designs were all so colorful yet daunting. Donkey Kong 64 really stepped up the foreboding aspect of boss fights, and genuinely freaked me out with a few of the fights.

This boss brought to you by Nightmares

Each and every Donkey Kong boss brought with it a different experience encompassed by tactics, difficulty, design, and ambience. The one boss remembered for an all-inclusive enjoyable experience, however, is the final boss of the first DK Country game: King K Rool. The battle starts on a pirate ship, the music jolly and upbeat. King K Rool runs around the stage for a bit, throwing his crown once in a while.

"Sir, it's easy. Just don't throw your crown and you won't get hurt"

Then, the music goes into full techno hardcore battle mode, and you're sucked into an epic and engaging experience that will rock your eye and ear-balls. The process of beating the boss never really changes, but the music takes you on a journey that makes you feel like you're suddenly fighting a different boss.

This boss also introduced me to a trick that blew my mind as a young kid and got me so excited I could barely continue. King K Rool is defeated, lying on the ground, and the credits pop up. At the end of the credits, however, reads two huge words: "THE END?" The question mark lingers in the air as King K. Rool stands up for one more round. This "I'm-not-really-dead-I'm-just-faking" trick is now a commonality among frustrating boss-grinders, but this is the only game I remember where the trick affected me on a cathartic level.

Pretty much

It wasn't so much the boss fight that I remember so much about King K Rool, but the experience, and for that, he deserves a place above all the Necky's and Armydillo's.

4) Orion - Bomberman 64

How come no one talks about Bomberman 64 no more? This was one of my favorite games as a kid, and is, to this day, one of the most challenging games I've ever played. The bosses took timing and reaction to a new level, and were always nearly impossible for me the first play through. As you repeated them, however, they began to make sense, and you could begin to formulate your own strategy. Bomberman 64 had some AMAZING boss fights, including a dragon you could rain bombs upon in order to burn its wings off (RIGHT? Sounds AWESOME, RIGHT!?)

The worst boss in the game was a ROBOT that shot LASERS at you

The bosses that really stuck with me, however, were the mini-bosses that would challenge you throughout the game. They were all extremely similar in concept, but their designs were what grabbed me as a kid. I remember thinking the humanoid cyborgs that would constantly repeat the same noises over and over were the COOLEST things in the world. My favorite of these sub-bosses was Orion, the green warrior of the fire level.

How Orion looked

How I remember Orion looking

I can't quite explain why I was so enamored with the character design of Orion, but I do remember one thing very specifically. Orion's main attack was to jump in the air and punch the ground, creating a dome of energy that would hurt you if you touched it. He would make this robotic yell sound whenever he punched the ground, too. It was the most badass attack I've seen from a boss, and I remember as a kid running around my house imitating it to annoying and worrying extents. Check out the video at to see what I used to do as a kid. Clearly, pictures can't encapsulate the amount of awesome that can be captured by a single boss attack.

Run away! GREEEEEEEN!!!!

5) Red - Pok mon Silver / Gold

After 16 gyms, two rounds with the Elite Four, and encounters with various legendary Pok mon, you finally are allowed into the final cave that houses the most challenging in-game Pok mon battle of early history. The first Pok mon game was great: 8 bosses with unique characters to fight against with ateam of your own unique and individual characters. The second game ramped up the bosses to a potent 16 and threw in a final challenge for good measure. His team consisted of an Espeon, Snorlax, Blastoise, Charizard, Venusaur, and Pikachu, all level 70 and up. This may sound like gibberish to you if you've never played a Pokemon game, so just trust me: it's an awesome team.

Almost as awesome as this team

By the time you get to this guy, your Pokemon are fatigued from the trek, and probably equal in level to his own monsters. The experience leads to an amazingly close fight, regardless of your own level and stats. Throughout the fight, the boss never speaks, and is introduced as ??? You later discover he is "Red", the same character as the main hero of the Red/Blue series and may also be Ash Ketchum from the TV show!

Red has clearly seen some shit Ash has yet to

The graphical limitations of the GBC made the battle half strategy, half imagination. Pokemon was such a thrill for me because I allowed my mind to expand the basic character concepts of the monsters into epic and real creatures of real life, and this battle, when contextualized into imagination-world, was SO awesome. He had all three starters, and a Snorlax to boot, which was the Dream Team I could never own because I had no friends to trade with / no trade cable to trade to myself with. Again, if this makes no sense to you, you didn't play Pokemon, and your childhood was worse than mine.

Much worse...

6) Phoenix Gamma - Mischief Makers

In my opinion, Mischief Makers is the most underrated game in the entire N64 library. Each and every level was unique in play, although repetitive in color and presentation. The game had a hell of a difficulty curve, and by the end, you're forced to fight through hordes of bosses, each with multiple forms or life bars. My favorite and most memorable boss fight from this game happened to be with a little falcon called Phoenix Gamma (or Phoenix squiggly Y). The various forms for this boss created a special experience, just beating out the wolf boss Lunar (who you fight on a motorcycle, which is the only reason it's a close second).

The fight starts with Phoenix detaching a drill that flies about, doubling the hazards on the screen. While you two duke it out, the drill lists about lazily.

I'm a lonely, lonely drill

After throwing Phoenix into the drill a few times, he gets tired of being hurt, and decides to just combine with the drill, which transforms into a pair of robotic wings. (That was the greatest sentence I've ever written.)

Laser-shooting robot drill bird

The bird proceeds to shoot lasers out of its wings, and you must fly around, avoiding them while ramming into the robot once in a while. It's an epic battle with a flowing, anime background. Finally, Phoenix fires a missile in desperation, and you catch and return it and WAPOW! Fried falcon.

for the final defeating explosion in all it's Japanese glory.

7) Twinrova - Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Oh, be still my heart. Twinrova, the greatest Zelda boss of all time, was also one of the easiest. There was something about the Mirror Shield that blew my mind, and it was, at the time, the coolest item/weapon I'd ever used in a game. A boss that incorporated that item would have automatically been my favorite in the game, but the tactics required to actually win were so special and unprecedented that I repeated the fight a good four times when I originally played the game.

Blades of Glory 2

The battle consisted of reflecting fire and ice beams back at the opposite sister to damage them, which was simple enough. Halfway through the battle, however, things escalate, and the Twinrova sisters combine to create the greatest Megazord of all time.

It's morphin' time!

If you haven't noticed from the last two bosses, I love it and get excited when things combine into bigger and stronger things, so Twinrova was right up my alley.
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