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Boss Fights That Almost Ruined The Entire Game

Boss fights in video games can often serve several different purposes. They can allow a player to utilize their learned skills in brand new ways. They can introduce a new gameplay mechanic and teach the player how to use it. Or they can be a final exam, asking the player to put together all the skills they have learned so far in order to overcome their foe.


When it's all said and done, however, a boss fight is supposed to give the player a natural stopping point and a pat on the back – well done, you've completed a level/area/sequence, and now you can breathe again. They aren't supposed to be something that makes you unhappy.

Unfortunately, some of them do. Below, we look at some boss fights that almost ruined the otherwise strong games they are a part of. Many of these are final bosses that just leave a sour taste in your mouth, but others are mid-game bosses that, for some reason or another, just can't cut it. Keep in mind — these can't be "optional" bosses. You are forced to fight these beasts, so get your megalixirs ready: you're going to need them.


Joker - Batman: Arkham Asylum

Batman: Arkham Asylum was quite a revelation on its release. The pseudo-open world mechanics, excellent fighting system and slew of gadgets helped make the player feel like they really were the Dark Knight himself. On top of that, an excellent voice cast and strong character design made it feel like this was the nastiest iteration of Batman villains ever in a video game. It holds a "must play" rating from Metacritic and was seen by many as the best version of Batman out there.


Then that last fight had to come along and almost break the whole thing down. The Joker is legitimately terrifying in Arkham Asylum, and Batman has gone through the ringer to reach him. What insane plan could he possibly come up with to take down the Dark Knight?

Oh... he's going to get really big? And angry? And repetitive? And most of the fight will consist of beating up minor enemies and waiting for Joker to expose a weakness? Alright then.

It's just so disappointing that this is how Arkham Asylum comes to an end. Luckily, the next game in the franchise gave us the Mr. Freeze fight, which helped wash Asylum's Joker battle out.

Fontaine - BioShock

It's rare that a developer comes out and apologizes for part of a video game release, let alone for a game as universally revered as BioShock. However, Ken Levine, BioShock's senior developer, has done exactly that. In fact, he's done it twice; to be fair, one seemed a bit like him just having a laugh.


The boss in question is BioShock's final boss, Fontaine. He's a giant naked man who leaps around and blasts you with electricity. He is... unremarkable, especially considering how impressive the story BioShock throws at you is. A big bullet sponge doesn't do BioShock much justice.

In an interview with Rolling Stone (preserved by Vice), Levine called the Fontaine fight "terrible." He continued: "You have this great game, and then you end up fighting this giant nude dude. We didn't have a better idea." Later on, Levine took to Twitter on Yom Kippur (the Jewish day of atonement) to apologize once again. Considering that tweet was over ten years after BioShock's original release, Levine must feel really bad about it.


Shao Kahn - Mortal Kombat 9

Fighting game bosses are almost always overpowered -– they need to provide a consistent challenge to players who have probably spent hours mastering their chosen character. One way to counter that is by making them cheap, and few bosses are as cheap as Shao Kahn in Mortal Kombat 9.


He has a massive amount of health. His moves and combos come out of nowhere and do insane amounts of damage. For example, his X-Ray attack takes over half your health! Perhaps most egregious of all is Shao Kahn's invincibility frames. Normally, special moves that deal heavy damage are easily telegraphed and can be countered with a quick strike. Shao Kahn's moves continue right through your attacks, allowing him to just bull rush you. It wouldn't be a huge issue, but you've been trained in every other match how to play Mortal Kombat 9, then all bets are off.

On top of all that, Shao Kahn taunts you throughout the match. He's so cheap that most players fight fire with fire, spamming projectiles and teleports to overcome Shao Kahn's OP moveset.


Ornstein and Smough - Dark Souls

You could probably slap any boss fight from the notoriously difficult Dark Souls on here, but most anyone will probably tell you that Ornstein and Smough are the most difficult of the bunch. It isn't hard to see why – either one of these bosses would be a nightmare on their own, and you have to take them both on at the same time.


Dragon Slayer Ornstein is a tall, nimble knight infused with lightning quick reflexes. Executioner Smough is a massive, hammer wielding foe that drops your health bar to zero in very few hits. They attempt to flank you, with one drawing your attention and the other striking from behind. Even worse, defeating one fully heals the other and supercharges them with extra abilities. If it takes everything you got just to take one down and you lose, you have to go through the whole thing again.

Most savvy players recommend taking down Ornstein first, but you're in for a tough battle regardless of your strategy. Difficulty is the name of the game in Dark Souls, but we're willing to bet this duo has caused more than their fair share of broken controllers and rage quits.


Lawrence Barrett - Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex: Human Revolution had an impressive pitch behind it – even though it looked like a shooter, the player could ignore their offensive capabilities and instead use guile and deception to make their way through. This worked great, up until you ran into the game's first boss. Lawrence Barrett (and the few other bosses in Human Revolution) mocked your attempts to sneak on by, forcing many players to grind those offensive skills up anyway.


Interestingly, there's an easy explanation for this bizarre disconnect in design: Eidos Montreal, who designed the entire game, did not design these fights. The team was in crunch mode and didn't have time to program them, so Eidos Montreal instead outsourced the boss battles to another studio called Grip Entertainment. Grip apparently didn't get the memo on what the team was doing with Human Revolution, and made the game's boss battles pretty standard "hit them with bullets until they drop" affairs.

Human Revolution's boss battles, especially that first one against Barrett, are incredibly frustrating because they're so jarring and obviously out of place in the finished product.

The Black Hand of Sauron and Sauron Himself - Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was a surprisingly excellent game. Taking the well-worn Lord of the Rings mythology and spinning a tale that was original but close to what players knew was a strong choice. The combat mechanics echoed the Arkham series, but with sword and sorcery instead of fists and gadgets, and the Nemesis mechanic made for always interesting fights.


Well, almost always interesting fights. That game's final sequence leaves a lot to be desired. After finally making it to the monster who killed you in the beginning of the game, you would expect an epic, drag out fight that utilizes all of the abilities you've learned so far in Shadow of Mordor.

Sorry! You'll just use one. You drain the Black Hand of Sauron, then enter a cutscene against the big bad himself, Sauron. This final battle is a literal quicktime event: you press a button prompt to dodge an attack, then two more to strike Sauron down. That's it.

It's incredibly deflating. Shadow of Mordor has you control an army of brainwashed orcs, teleport all around the battlefield fighting dozens of foes, yet Sauron is taken down by a "Press spacebar to win the game!" moment. Lame.


Yellow Devil - Mega Man

The Mega Man series was always about finding the pattern and weakness of whatever boss you encounter and exploiting it. With most of the stage bosses, this was as simple as trying every weapon you had until you found the one that took off large chunks of health. However, Dr. Wily's castle always varied things up with a slew of more intense boss battles, and few are as frustrating as the Yellow Devil in the original Mega Man game.


Yellow Devil has one red eye to aim for as its sole weak point, and shooting it once causes it to split into several pieces and fly across the screen. Memorizing the pattern of Yellow Devil's split is crucial, as is having a fully charged Thunder Beam when you start the fight. The arena you fight it in is tiny; you won't have time to react, you just need to have the pattern memorized. In the age of the internet, it's easy to find solutions to this fight (the pause cheese trick is an especially nice touch). When Mega Man released in 1987, however, overcoming this battle took superhuman ability.

Fatman - Metal Gear Solid 2

When most people think of the Metal Gear Solid series, they conjure up images of inventive, original boss battles that still impress to this very day. Psycho Mantis would read your memory card and talk about games you played. The End was an old man who could be defeated simply by saving the game and waiting a week (he dies of old age). The Sorrow forces you to encounter the spirits of all the lives you've taken in the course of a military career.


Fatman was a dude on roller skates who planted bombs.

Fatman is a member of Dead Cell in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and his battle sticks out like a sore thumb. He just skates around, pushing Raiden over and arming bombs around the arena. You freeze the bombs, you shoot him in the head... it seems like the developers just ran out of ideas with this one. It's unfortunate, as Fatman has a fairly interesting story behind him. He's an explosives genius who built an atomic bomb at age ten! His boss battle is tedious and forgettable, though –- exactly what you don't want from a Metal Gear Solid game.

Seth - Street Fighter 4

Fighting game bosses are just the worst, as they use cheap tactics, ridiculous AI scripts and overpowered abilities to trump everything you've learned in mastering your chosen character. Often, you have to resort to spamming one technique or learning how to exploit predictive AI to stand a chance. Few fighting game bosses are as frustrating as Seth in Street Fighter 4.


Many fighting games use "predictive AI" to read the player's input and react according to what move is probably coming. If you input a quarter circle forward, the game knows you're probably going to hit the punch button to throw out Ryu's Hadouken. Seth takes this to an absurd degree, making conventional tactics against him fail miserably. Instead, you have to basically learn how to trick the AI, even on the easiest difficulty, to stand a chance.

Oh, then he "powers up" for the second round. Good luck!

Most people play fighting games for the competitive multiplayer components, meaning the final boss, isn't too important. In Street Fighter 4, however, you had to play through single player to unlock all the characters. That means you get to fight Seth multiple times. Hooray!


Trevelyan - Goldeneye 007

Goldeneye 007 is still held up by many as evidence of the superiority of the Nintendo 64. Most people remember it as one of the first successful console multiplayer shooters, but it actually had a pretty strong single player mode, as well. It followed the plot of the movie fairly closely, the difficulty adjustments kept things fresh, and trying to beat levels under a certain time to earn cheat codes was good fun.


What wasn't good fun, however, was the final boss. Stupid Trevelyan.

Set on the level Cradle, the showdown with pixelated Sean Bean involves the player running in circles, chasing their quarry through the level. After shooting him a few times, the end sequence is triggered, and you knock him to his death.

On higher difficulties, however, this isn't as straightforward. Trevelyan takes a ton of bullets, enemies constantly respawn, and your health drains alarmingly fast. On the highest difficulty level, it takes outrageous skill (and incredible luck) to beat him legitimately. Nearly every strategy for taking down 006 involves tricking the AI in some way, locking him on the same short route around the cradle. Otherwise, you just have to pray that you only get shot twice.