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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 ...

Zelda's Bosses Are Just Huge Trapped Animals

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.

Via Zeldalegends.net
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.

Via Zeldauniverse.net
You can tell by its blind, maddening shrieks that it has been given careful instructions.

In Super Smash Bros., You Kill the God That Gave You Life

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."

Via Nintendoenthusiast.com
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.

... congratulations?

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 ...

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The Sub-Bosses in Kirby's Adventure Appear to Be Heroes

The main bad guy in Kirby's Adventure is King Dedede, the lord of penguins.

Via Smashbros.com
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.

Mario Is Constantly Killing Children

The Koopa Kids are Bowser's chief lieutenants in Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, leading us to wonder which unrescued princess gave birth to them in a windowless dungeon.

One with a uterus as spacious and durable as a late-'80s Volkswagen.

Each one guards a stronghold in Mario's path, which is, historically, a tremendous mistake. One by one, Mario marches through them, tossing them all, without exception or remorse, into boiling lakes of molten rock. He does this for sex, so we think nothing of it.

"Yoshi and his friends are going to wait in the fucking car."

But we should, because the Koopa Kids are child soldiers, conscripted by their tyrannical father and thrown headlong into a conflict that predates their own births against an enemy they have no real chance of defeating. All they know is that Dad handed them a scepter and a castle and said "This is yours now."

Via ilvg.wikia.com
Yep, he looks like he understands the gravity of the situation.

They can't possibly have any concept of what they're really doing. Maybe they thought they could finally win Daddy's love. Or maybe they were told that Mario was a bad man trying to keep them from having the mother they always wanted, which is literally the case with Bowser Jr. in Super Mario Sunshine.

"He told me all I have to do is touch your heart with this magic spear and we'll be together forever."

Mario, clearly never having seen Blood Diamond, kills every single one of them, flashes a peace sign and cheekily entombs their eternal spirits beneath a pile of rubble.

"Donut Land" is just making him focus more on the sex.

Granted, the Koopa Kids do return in New Super Mario Bros. Wii ... 16 years later. That's more than enough time for Bowser, insane with grief, to have raised seven more kids and given them all the same names in a desperate attempt to correct the mistakes of the past.

Step one of which is to put them in the exact same situation.

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Samus Murders Countless Alien Families in Super Metroid

Super Metroid stars Samus Aran, an intergalactic bounty hunter spelunking into the consistently horrible Planet Zebes to recover an infant Metroid from the evil Space Pirates, as one does. The powerful baby alien decides Samus is its mother, and that relationship defines most of the game. So, given that all of Super Metroid's bosses are freaky alien horrors standing between Samus and an endangered infant, how tragic can any of them really be?

Let's take a closer look. One of the first bosses is Kraid, a fat lizard with belly fingers:

Via Metroid.wikia.com
You know, because it's from space.

Samus battles this feeble boss at the end of a hallway, pretty much annihilating it without a second thought. To be fair, Samus is on her way to rescue an innocent infant creature; she can't be bothered with every single little detail.

And if we're being honest, we also would've shot this thing immediately.

But when she proceeds to the next room, she encounters an enraged, two-screen-tall behemoth Kraid. What Samus killed before was, in all likelihood, its child. Its "rage" is a product of bewildered, desperate mourning, and it is absolutely justified.

So really, Samus should be firing a grief counselor out of that gun.

Samus kills it anyway, without batting an eyelash. Of course, that might not mean anything, right? Bosses look like giant versions of smaller enemies all the time. It's just a rule of video games. However, something bizarre happens later on in Samus' journey when she reaches the crustacean boss, Draygon: Just before the fight, five little Draygon babies randomly swim by. They aren't enemies. Samus can't even shoot them.

Something in Metroid that can't be shot? Balderdash!

Once they've finished passing by, big Draygon swoops in and attacks, locking Samus into a brutal struggle that ends with her electrocuting it (and nearly herself) to death. Its smoking carcass collapses to the ground, one more gruesome enemy felled in Samus' quest to free the alien child that calls her "mother." However, once the dead Draygon starts sinking into the sand, the babies suddenly return to bury their murdered parent in front of you.

"No need to waste your bullets on us -- we will all surely die of starvation, since we are mere babies."

In her singular pursuit, Samus has orphaned five creatures and forced a sixth to suffer the agony of outliving its child before releasing it from bottomless despair with the cruel mercy of a laser cannon.

Finally she makes it to the infant Metroid, rescuing it from the evil Mother Brain (whose name suggests that it too has a family somewhere that depends on it). But Super Metroid is not without irony, and Mother Brain, presumably having paid much closer attention to the little details than Samus, gives her a taste of her own medicine and kills the Metroid as it gives Samus a life-saving hug.

Right up the ol' alien butthole.

By the end of Super Metroid, Samus has destroyed several alien families to rescue some space infant that isn't even hers, only to watch it die in her arms. However, unlike the other video game heroes discussed in this article, we feel that Samus learns a powerful lesson from the consequences of her callous adventuring that resonates deep within to her very core, which she demonstrates by nuking the entire goddamn planet.

Nothing keeps the blues at bay like genocide.

Cameron Laventure is a filmmaker. You can watch his short Frank the Assassin online, and on February 25 you'll be able to buy the DVD of his feature Apocalypse Theory.

For more on how you're totally misunderstanding video games, check out 12 Great Video Games With Ridiculous Premises. Or learn about 8 Creepy Video Game Urban Legends (That Happen to Be True).

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out Why Hogwarts Was All in Harry's Head: A Conspiracy Theory.

And stop by LinkSTORM to discover why you should hate everyone that uses Link in Super Smash Bros.

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