Even in the nonsense world of video games, the existence of "boss" enemies is pretty weird. It's usually some giant monster wandering aimlessly around a lair, protecting some artifact the hero needs. Bosses seem to serve no other purpose in life, and it's never clear how they got there. We just kind of go with it and find the shiny spot we're supposed to shoot.
But you can't help but feel sorry for some of these guys. In fact, we're not even sure that we're not the villain here ...
Let's take a boss from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: King Dodongo. He's a giant lizard that lives in a cave in the ground, bothering no one.
Hehehe ... "Dong."
First, keep in mind that this isn't a sprawling underground city -- it's a single goddamned room, and most of the room is lava. And Dodongo is not a lava monster -- you kill him by throwing him into it. So this beast exists entirely on a small stone ring barely wide enough for his own body, encircling a remorseless pool of magma.
"You know, man ... you can just have the artifact. In fact, here, take some of mine."
He can't even turn around without risking tumbling into the pit of eternal hellfire. And most importantly, there is no possible way for King Dodongo to ever get out of this cave. Link falls in through a tiny hatch in the ceiling, and escapes through a magic portal -- there are no exits. So Dodongo wasn't terrorizing the countryside or building a moon laser. As another character tells you, he's only there to eat whatever the cave has to offer. Meaning rocks.
That's right -- rocks. Not virgins or children, but rocks. Motherless deposits of sediment whose disappearance from the earth results in the shedding of precisely zero tears. King Dodongo lives in a hole in the ground, eating rocks and minding his own business. And Link breaks into his house and throws him into the lava, for the express purpose of proving to the townspeople outside that he is a real man.
If there's more to manhood than destroying things, we don't want to hear about it.
Granted, Dodongo isn't defenseless -- he breathes fire and has giant teeth -- but he isn't hurting anyone. He isn't even bothering anyone. He's just sitting in his circle pit, eating rocks. And it isn't like Link stumbled into Dodongo's cave and now has to fight his way back out to stay alive -- he went out of his way to go in there. Killing Dodongo was an errand in his planner.
But Dodongo is just one example of the bosses in the Legend of Zelda series whose only crime appears to be being trapped in a room with no exit. Take a look at A Link to the Past's Helmasaur King:
Because neither he nor Link can be bothered to look at each other.
Helmasaur's left foot can barely fit through the only way out of that entire chamber. Either the keepers of that particular dungeon built the entire thing around him, or they brought him in when he was a baby and just left him there for a decade. The same goes for his successor, The Wind Waker's Helmaroc King, who is really just a great big bird somebody trapped in a battle mask.
"Somebody take this goddamn thing off me!"
Twilight Princess makes the situation even worse. Nearly every boss in the game is just an enemy that's been poisoned and transformed against its will by a piece of the Fused Shadow. So now Link is basically fighting captive animals soaked in oil and rabies that arguably have no idea what is going on.
You can tell by its blind, maddening shrieks that it has been given careful instructions.
Super Smash Bros. is the game that taught us important lessons about destroying friendships in a single sleepover, such as "Whoever's house it is will demand to be Star Fox" and "The asshole who got invited by mistake will always pick Donkey Kong and just grab people and walk off the edge."
And "If you are losing, unplug everyone else's controller and/or turn off the system."
In the single-player game (which no one should ever play for any reason, even if you don't have any friends), the characters start out as Nintendo-themed toys lying about in a child's bedroom. Then Master Hand, a sentient flying glove that absolutely does not belong in a child's bedroom, arrives to magically bring them all to life.
Boy do those tissues seem inappropriate after that last sentence.
You then select a character and fight your way through the others, leaving only dust and ruin in your wake, until you finally come face-to-fingers with the final boss: Master Hand itself.
Do not pull its finger. Bad things happen to good people.
You then punch Master Hand until it explodes in a burst of Technicolor insanity, and your character turns back into a doll. Roll credits.
Our question is, why? Before Master Hand came along, you were just a soulless piece of clutter collecting dust on a child's desk. It swooped in from some parallel dimension of flight and fancy and sprinkled the magic dust of life on your hollow shell, bestowing upon you the priceless gift of sentient existence. So your response is to destroy your enchanted brothers and beat Master Hand to death in an explosion-filled windmill of ignorant fury? That's like receiving a last-minute heart transplant and then tearing the still-beating lump out of your chest on the way home from the hospital.
Only Jigglypuff has an excuse to spurn the gift of life in this way.
As far as is ever made apparent to us, Master Hand has no real agenda. It didn't bring you to life to be its slave or work the rubber glove mines or anything. It just did it, and asked nothing of you in return. Your immediate response is to kill the power that created you and unmake your own existence -- really, you are the bad guy in this game.
"I must undo the murderous monster that I have created."
Speaking of which ...
The main bad guy in Kirby's Adventure is King Dedede, the lord of penguins.
The souls he's collected with that hammer could feed hell for a month.
So in typical video game fashion, you have to fight your way through his six underlings as mini-bosses before taking on the king himself. But right away, you notice that these guys don't seem all that dangerous. Whispy Woods is a depressed apple tree ...
Paint Roller is some kind of liberal arts student ...
Heavy Mole spends the entire battle desperately tunneling away from Kirby ...
And Meta Knight is such a gentleman, he actually gives Kirby a sword to duel him with.
"My sincerest apologies in advance in case I get blood on you."
Hmmm ... perhaps this situation requires more scrutiny.
The point of the game is that you're trying to win back the Star Rod, which the evil king steals at the beginning of the game and breaks apart and that Kirby must reassemble (obviously each mini-boss has a piece of it). So, Kirby of course hunts down the thieves and eats them all to death, recovering the Star Rod ... just in time to have the Nightmare, an entity of pure evil, arrive to steal it.
As it turns out, the "evil" King Dedede knew the Nightmare was coming. He broke up the Star Rod to keep it safe from corruption, and gave the pieces to the six most trustworthy champions he could find.
And Kirby killed almost all of them.
"... wow, I feel like such a tit right now."
Kirby stone-cold murders five of the bravest souls in the world and shits all over everything they died for by almost handing the Star Rod over to the Nightmare. Kirby tries to redeem himself by defeating the Nightmare and sending him back to the damnable reaches of hell. He patches things up with King Dedede, but those heroic bosses stay dead. The end credits include a montage of all of them, sort of like the "in memoriam" segment of the Oscars, only if somehow even fewer people gave a shit.