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Warning: We're going to be spoiling the end of these games, so don't complain if you haven't played them yet.

Life is hard for a video game boss. They spend all their time in some humongous chamber, waiting for some wannabe hero to appear, hoping he doesn't find their one weak spot.

It's no wonder that some game bosses seem to just shrug and give up.

Trevelyan from Goldeneye 007

In this N64 title, considered one of the most important shooters of all time, Bond finds time between martinis to thwart ex-agent Alec Trevelyan's plan to send the country which betrayed him back to the Stone Age. The game is so highly regarded due to its balanced death match options and working stealth sections. It is also because of developer Rare's decision to dehumanize the enemies by showing them as square-headed freaks, thus letting us step inside Bond's head by seeing them as he sees them: not as people, but as things to be destroyed.

What you'd expect ...
In the movie, Trevelyan acquitted himself pretty well, holding his own against Bond in a straightforward fist fight. How will this be recreated in a first-person shooter? Will you have to keep pausing the game, thus causing Bond to raise his arm in front of his face to deflect Trevelyan's blows? Will you have to karate chop him to death? For England, James?

What actually happens ...
The game deals with these difficulties by not actually including badass Trevelyan as a character. He is replaced with "little girl" Trevelyan, who runs away from you, throwing up a wall of henchmen as he does so. He also has the audacity to imply through one-liners that running away from Bond makes him the braver man.

Trevelyan climbs, sobbing with terror, onto a ludicrously small platform. You, as Bond, follow him down and kill him. End of game. Trevelyan is dead.

But, the whole thing was like killing a child, and instead of triumph, there is a feeling of gnawing emptiness that can only be sated by more death. Perhaps, Bond won't jump on the helicopter after all. Perhaps, he'll stay here and die with his ambitions.

But, no, James is rewarded for his defeat of this frightened, helpless man by getting the girl (the same one whose ass you had to protect in the most tedious parts of the game) and we watch as they kiss with their weird, square heads.

Of course, this is James Bond we're talking about, who "gets the girl" about six times on an average day. So, for Bond it must have been the reward equivalent of a snack-sized bag of Cheetos.

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Giant alien brains from Gradius series

The Gradius series is truly old school. The original was released back in the NES days and had sequels and spinoffs aplenty, all the way up to Gradius V in 2004. The games are all 2D side-scrolling shoot-em-ups (or "shmups" as you should definitely not call them in front of girls), which will have you dodging slow-moving enemy bullets and collecting power-ups to enhance your own weapons as you navigate your spaceship through some pretty strange shit.



Above: Pretty strange shit.

What you'd expect ...
Let's say you're playing Gradius V, and you're enjoying it despite the fact that the damn thing is trying as hard as it can to make you fail. Seriously, if the game's packaging included a little trap that tore your hands off the first time you opened the box, it couldn't make it more obvious that it hates you. Let's say that, hands intact, you've made it to the final level. Given the bosses you've faced down so far, you'd expect something pretty fucking hardcore like some screen-filling badass whose very glare will terrify you into surrender. It's a balls-to-the-wall, glistening, squishy boomstravaganza, with maybe a pixel's width of the screen at a time not occupied by the bullet storm your foe will let loose at you from his unimaginable maw.

What actually happens ...
Considering how enthusiastic all the henchmen you've slaughtered have been, the evil alien overlords of the Gradius universe are surprisingly unmotivated. You can forgive them for not having much energy. After all, they are pretty much just brains.




Above: brains

But damn, guys, stick a gun turret or something in the room with you. A TV or something, maybe if you keep yourselves entertained you won't end up so goddamn depressed by the time we reach you. Sometimes you don't even have to get a shot off; the brain sees you in the room and explodes out of sheer desperation. The only way to lose against these boys is to intentionally fly your ship directly into them. And you have to do it fast, since they decide pretty quickly that they're better off dead.

The end bosses in Gradius II and III at least get a few shots off, but we get the feeling it's more to spare their dignity than anything else. They can meet up with the end bosses from Gradius I, IV and V in Evil Alien Heaven and say, "Well, at least we tried."

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The Dark Prince from Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones

The final installment in the Sands Of Time trilogy sees the eponymous Prince fighting, time traveling and acrobating his way through the plot of the first game, again. But this time, it's with an evil alter-ego sharing his body.

The two have arguments, and the Prince has to suppress his dark side with water to keep from being taken over completely. There's gonna be a fight sooner or later, once the Prince completes his noble quest to free his people against enormous odds and bring peace once more.

What you'd expect ...
In the first game you fought the Vizier, who was a frail old man. This, naturally, didn't make for the world's most challenging battle as he was pretty much already dying and you just had to nudge him along. In the second game, you fought the Dahaka, which spent most of the battle trying not to fall off a cliff. Finally, finally, the Prince has a nemesis who is his equal: strong, fast, agile and perhaps with some time-travel powers of his own. There is absolutely no way in hell this battle will not blow your shit completely down the street.

What actually happens ...
Unless, of course, there is no battle. The Dark Prince just runs away, and the real prince gives chase. The point, you see, is that by fighting his dark side the prince would actually be feeding it. He defeats it by simply walking away. Which would be quite a nice ending if this were a novel.

That point would have been much better translated to a video game if the Prince had been attacked by symbolic representations of all his negative emotions. Perhaps symbolized by cybernetic demons with chainsaws.

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Ganondorf from Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

The peaceful land of Hyrule is being invaded by peace-hating goth dudes from a parallel universe. Only Link, a horse-breeding yokel, has a sword big and sharp enough to stop them.

What you'd expect ...
The leader of the goth dudes claims he gets his power from his "god." It turns out that this god is actually series regular Ganondorf.


Ganondorf is eager to fight you.

And, when Ganondorf is involved, anyone who's played a Zelda game before knows exactly what to expect. He'll fling a fireball or two at you, which you'll deflect with your sword, and he'll then deflect it back at you, and then this will be repeated until you're considering suicide. At this point, he'll forget to deflect it. Then, it'll hit him, shutting down his entire nervous system, and you can wade in with your sword, delivering cutty, meaty justice until he falls, dead, to the floor and then turns into a giant pig monster. And lo, our prophecies come true.

You kill his pig monster form, then Ganondorf tries to kill you from the comfort of his horse, earning himself another slice of hurt. He then, FINALLY, challenges you to a one-on-one sword battle. Bring it on, bitch: We named our character Rambo. We're ready for the ass kicking to end all ass kickings.

What actually happens ...
The sword duel fails to materialize. Perhaps, Ganondorf is depressed by the death of his horse. Maybe, he's embarrassed that this kid in a fairy hat has thwarted him utterly, or just baffled by the fact that this happens every time he tries to do anything. He probably can't even go to the toilet without fighting his way past some tights-clad Hero Of Stopping Ganondorf Having a Piss.

For whatever reason, Ganondorf's lacking motivation. He trudges around the battlefield like a teenager on the way to an interview for a job he doesn't want. He does, to be fair, swing his sword occasionally, but not in a sword fighting way. It's more like a pointer and he's giving a lecture; ranting, perhaps, about blond bastards in green tunics conspiring against him, to a room full of nervous college students. He manages to spin this out for a good few minutes before being decisively impaled.

Even then, he barely changes his fucking expression! We went into this battle expecting Darth Maul, and what we got was C-3PO.

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Krieger from Far Cry Instincts

This Xbox spinoff from the PC game sees Jack Carver (a more fitting name, we feel, would be Jack Ripopenfucktodeathshooter) killing an island full of Bad Guys(tm) using his genetically-implanted beastman powers.

Oh yeah, and his huge guns.

What you'd expect ...
Toward the end of the game, you're taking on fellow beastmen, and it's getting harder and harder, until you eventually fight a man named Crowe, second in command to the evil Krieger.

After you dispatch him, Krieger surrounds himself with beastmen to stop you getting to him. A fight with four beastmen, simultaneously, in a little room, with your health and ammo drained by the face-off with Crowe? You're scared. You don't want to do this. You want to see an alternate ending where Jack Ripopenfucktodeathshooter runs away to his mommy, who dresses him in a little flowery frock, because it's too hard to be a boy. You're reaching over to turn the Xbox off, shaking your head in horror, as Krieger says, "He killed Crowe! He took away your leader! You owe him vengeance!"

What actually happens ...
Krieger's beastmen decide that, since Jack Ripopenfucktodeathshooter killed their leader, he is now the new leader. And, who's been trying to kill their new leader?

Yes, Krieger is one of the legions of evil scientists who end up destroyed by their own creation. If only the poor guy had taken a few minutes to talk to his beastmen, find out how they felt, he might not have suffered such an ignoble fate. Instead, he'd have been shot in the face by Jack Ripopenfucktodeathshooter, which would at least have been over a lot quicker.

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Bowser from Super Mario Sunshine

Mario's nemesis, Bowser, has a new, creepy plan to seduce Princess Peach. He creepily convinces his son that Peach is his mother. When given this news, Peach is surprised but doesn't deny it, which is even creepier. Baby Bowser then kidnaps Peach, and the three of them head off for a creepy family reunion in a toxic hot tub in space. Mario has to stop them by cleaning up the brown waste Bowser and son have left in their wake.

What you'd expect ...
After the intense fire-based punishment of the preceding volcano level, you're more than ready for some one-on-one fisticuffs.

You expect, nay demand, a duel of epic proportions. You will settle for nothing less than Mario emerging from this final battle burned and bleeding, but triumphant, with Bowser's severed head in one hand and a swooning Princess Peach in the other, roaring his victory to the gods themselves.

Or, an updated version of those arenas where you swing Bowser around and throw him face first into a bomb would be good, too.

What actually happens...
Bowser's annoyed that Mario has ruined his vacation. He's not annoyed enough to actually get out of his damned hot tub, though. He just sits there, putting up a token resistance.

But he really doesn't give a shit and consequently is not only defeated, but humiliated in front of his son.

You can't really blame him. He's been at this for over 20 years. He must have known from the start that this would happen, and what good has fighting it ever done him?

So, the final battle of Super Mario Sunshine is an uncomfortable farce for all involved. After Mario has smashed Bowser's hot tub (yes, that's how you beat him) Bowser goes plummeting sadly to earth, where he and his son wind up stranded on a desert island. There, Bowser is forced to explain to his son that dinosaur monsters and human women cannot actually mate, Bowser enduring the kind of shame that would destroy any other man.

Bowser's son bravely endures his father's humiliation, and vows to get his own revenge on Mario when he gets older. King Bowser reassures him as the camera pulls back to reveal they are trapped on the island with no means of escape...

...and thus within mere days, Bowser will surely be forced to eat his son, ending his sad royal line forever.

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