Video game bosses are often rewards after a lengthy run through hoards of common enemies, but a majority of these encounters have you follow the same patterns and programming until one side is beaten. Some games, however, have given players an escape from the hallways of jumping, shooting or otherwise to see a creative take on a particular encounter that makes that moment memorable. Below is a truncated list of enemies that broke the mold in gaming and changed their respective games themselves. Be aware, there are some light spoilers for how boss encounters play out.
When talking about video game bosses, almost every list has to start with the Metal Gear Solid Series as their boss encounters are rarely ever straight-forward affairs. Two particular boss fights that stand above the rest are Psycho Mantis from Metal Gear Solid and The End from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. The first of the two changed how players perceived these kinds of encounters; psychological games were played when this enemy took memory card data and turned it into insults while vibrating your controller. The End, on the other hand, forced players to dedicate themselves fully to a non-linear, multi-area encounter that involved Naked Snake, an old man and his bird. This is a battle that was uncompromising in its ability to last for up to a week, and had multiple ways to avoid the fight all together, opening further the idea of a video game boss fight.
A more recent example of video game bosses changing the landscape is the Bed of Chaos from Dark Souls. This title, already littered with boss fights a lot of people consider difficult, handed players this fight that is unlike any other in the Souls series. Instead of learning enemy patterns and gradually taking away health, Undead are tasked with destroying two orbs in a couple of swipes and then jumping—dodging a flaming claw on the way—onto a thin branch and killing one of the first souls in one blow. This seemed like a huge change of pace for an often predictable trip through the mist gate, and caused many retries from the change-up alone.
Final video game bosses can seem like more of a mixed bag than ones found in the middle chapters, but Portal 2 has a prime example of how to break expectations at the last possible moment. The original Portal had a fairly standard ending battle against G.L.A.D.O.S., but the second entry throws any fears of a repeat into space, along with a majority of the cast for a little while. In a game full of comedic intentions, this is among the best ways to put a smiling bow on top of the whole experience while subverting the expectations laid out by earlier framework.
Hidden encounters can sometimes offer something new to video game bosses as well. One of the most well hidden, and most difficult, in the Final Fantasy series, Yiazmat from Final Fantasy XII has the most health out of any character in the Fantasy games. Touting 50 health bars, each representing one million hit points, this was a challenge console gamers had not seen to that point. This kind of boss was fairly standard for higher-levels in massively multiplayer games, but Final Fantasy XII was a single player experience with this level of enemy at the end of a long line of hunts and cahllenges. Taking down video game bosses such as this remains a multi-hour affair even at maximum levels, so any looking for a challenge and something new can look no further.
Opinion by Myles Gann