Awesome boss fights in gaming (Update: 14/02/2015)

Last week I looked at those boss fights that were done wrong, the ones that almost ruin experiences and the ones we wished we never fought.

To bring balance to force I thought it only fair that I now examine the boss fights that have you scream “HELL YEAH”, the ones that are so awesome that you tell all your friends, the ones that make you feel like an absolute bad ass!

What follows are four of gamings greatest boss fights; complete with videos of all their glory!

Bowser (Super Mario 64)


From the humble beginnings of this showdown on NES – waiting for him to jump before running under him, jumping onto a button and sending him to a lava pit – we reached the zenith with the N64.

The reason I’ve picked this above all the Bowser fights in Super Mario 3D World – is simply for how revolutionary it was. This was the first opportunity I had to run in the third dimension and it was truly a boss fight to show everything Nintendo was about.

The boss fight was the evolution of that iconic NES showdown. Circle Bowser and wait for him to blow fire, grab his tail and swing him in conveniently played bombs. They say Nintendo make games around their controllers and this is a perfect example of that logic in action. It was a fight that rewarded guts, guile and daring; risk-reward gameplay and it was expertly poised. Nintendo guaged the difficulty absolutely perfectly.

I played this game in 1997 and I still remember this fight, that’s how good it is.

Valus (Shadow of the Colossus)


In a game that was built around the concept of boss fights; it is no surprise that they are all bloody brilliant!

I have chosen the Valus because – well its the first one. This is where the player cuts their teeth and the game shows it’s hand. The game also makes a point at showing you the soft side to these creatures. Valus is colossus who is lumbering and awkward, he/she would be extinct through natural selection in the real world. There is a certain grace to the creature and undoubtedly a beauty, the game asks you the question…how do you bring this creature down with a small-sword?

Every Colossi is a puzzle and a level in itself. You must climb each of the behemoths and locate their weak-point. Once you have found this weak-point does the boss battle begin…

…you see each Colossi will be placid. They will not harm you. Until you harm them.

Once you hurt it they change and the sheer size of these creatures is made abundantly clear to the player – these things are not to be trifled with. The challenge facing you is getting back to the weak-point and putting this creature down.

The battle with Valus is a beautiful introduction to the mechanics as well as a tutorial without the hand holding.

You will learn by doing, and in the end, well…

Psycho Mantis (Metal Gear Solid)

psycho mantis

Another Japanese designed boss fight. And another boss fight from an absolute classic. No list on great boss fights is complete without the gas masked one.

This fight is here for many reasons, the easter eggs as the game reads your memory card (searching for other Konami games), the manipulation of the PSOne hardware (he’ll make your controller vibrate!!) and the realisation of the tactic needed becomes obvious.

Psycho Mantis is all about smashing the forth wall! His psychic ability allows him to telegraph everything you do and counteract it. It seems that all is lost until…

…you put the controller into the second controller port – all of a sudden he is unable to read you “mind” and you find ourself doing damage to the crazy S.O.B!

I can assure you that this was mind-blowing in 1997.

What’s mind-blowing now is the fact that it is a boss fight that has never really been copied – nor bettered.

The Riftworm (Gears of War 2)


This is the first (and only) boss fight that was designed in the west. And it is a doosey.

The Gears have run riot up until this level, and this fight (like Shadow of the Collosus) is an entire level.

You will take down this city-toppling worm from the inside. Once you make your way through this creatures digestive track; complete with acid spewing stomach, crushing tracheia and antibodies you will come to it’s still beating heart.

After a case of impromptu; and grossly under-qualified, chainsaw triple bypass the creature expires. In their typical, bombastic style Delta Squad then proceeds to chainsaw their exit through the creature and emerge back in the sunshine of Sera.

This boss fight is especially memorable because it changed up the gears formula; yes you were just shooting different enemies, but the simple trap dodging and sheer scale of the fight makes it truly memorable and a shining example for other Western developers to reference.

Honourable mention

Cronos (God of War 3)


This fight was brought to my attention this morning by @lordstark24 I promptly checked it out (I’ve never enjoy gow) and I was blown away!

The scale of this fight is something I have never witnessed! Kratos is literally smaller than the Titans finger nail! The battle takes place around, on and inside the Titan and is as epic a boss fight as I’ve ever seen!

Thanks for the heads up @lordstark24!

Do Japanese developers really understand boss fights better than the western developers?

Can you think of any poor Japanese bosses?

Can you think of more classic western bosses?

Tell me in the comments below!


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