Everybody Must Die Twice: Boss Rushes In Video Games

Tedious_boss_rush.

I don’t know how these fuckers keep coming back alive, my guess is they kept them on an external hard drive labelled  “in case of Megaman”. It isn’t even just robots, loads of games seem to find a spare or a bootleg or whatever of a boss already defeated, and so we must bring them down once again, let’s go do a boss rush.

A boss rush is a simple concept really, prove that your first victories weren’t flukes by defeating all of the previous bosses again…this time all in succession. It makes for excellent padding without creating any new content and is highly effective in driving a knife into my side, ruining my concentration when that one boss crops up again and I’m doomed to struggle or perish yet again.

Despite it’s existence as a clear time waster or perhaps secretly as the ultimate build-up to the final boss as you wade through his generals, usually I like a boss rush. I’m not a big fan of the boss rush system in Megaman by any stretch of the imagination, you simply do as you did before and move on with your life. Its standard at this point, tradition to walk into a room with a teleporter of some kind that takes you to the boss fights of previous.

Let the hilarity overcome you when I tell you a Megaman game on the DS has a standard boss rush of the 8 robots in the story, a separate full boss rush of all 8 plus the extras and final boss….and upon beating that you get a full boss select to fight any boss whenever you please. Gotta admit I like the boss select though, it’s nice to replay favourites over and over again and is something frankly would appear more. There should always be one or two fights that you still enjoy playing, the ones that ended too quickly and thrust you back into the standard gameplay once again.

A simple repeat of the same engagements in boring, what I do love about a good boss rush is that you have grown since your last encounter. Okami did this rather nicely despite having one boss be fought three whole times, the boss rush at the end of the game has you with your end game weaponry. There is a tangible sense of progress and power when you revisit these bosses, at least with the early game ones.

What was once 5 hearts and a measly few chips off the HP bar is now a empowered healthy beast who slashes away a tenth of the bosses health in a single swipe, to revisit old foes with a whole new bag of tricks is something of a pleasure of mine which I find lacking in games with some of my favourite boss fights in quite some time. Luckily the Castlevania series has found itself using bosses as normal enemies in their more modern “metroidvania” style games, the lumbering skeleton now just one among many enemies rather than the gargantuan blockade it once was. Even with this implementation I feel it cheapens the bosses and makes me see my younger, Lv. 3 self as somewhat….pathetic.

Perhaps it is the nature of strength in Castlevania coming from weapons almost entirely, said weapons being usable at any stage. I did not grow to be able to wield the Claimh Solais out of pushing myself to grow and adapt but rather by simply finding it and wielding it, without a level limit or some sort of barrier it makes the weapon the entire part of the formula for a winner. I could kill myself doing foolish things yes but the combat is simply pressing an attack button and watching the giant holy sword of light cleave my foes. The only positive feeling I find comes from the stark difference to your measly starting dagger, a nice feeling but not one that achieves the satisfaction I crave.

The term “boss rush” has some negative connotations within the gaming community or at least some parts of it. It is looked down upon as busy work for the already triumphant champion, why face a lesser challenge again when you have overcome the trials of getter here in the first place. I personally believe they are something that can be interesting and positive to the experience if they are implemented and modified well. The sense of growth when defeating a previous boss is fantastical & empowering.

Hell even the Megaman series decided in Megaman Zero 2 to have a return of previous bosses, the Four Guardians, with new forms, bringing with them new attacks and new strategies. I wouldn’t suggest doing this in something as hard as the Zero game series as learning a new boss takes time and the game doesn’t really give you room for error. The idea though still has merit, coming back to an old foe who you once bested to see them improved and more powerful, turning one or perhaps even a handful of bosses into a rival, one whose strength grows with you to test you.

The practice isn’t bad, I just don’t think anyone is seeing the potential and uses them for the wrong reasons.

What games have bosses that you love to fight? Do you think a boss rush can be fun if it is done well or can you simply not enjoy fighting the same boss again? What really makes a fight memorable, not necessarily fun, for you? Thanks for the read and I’ll see you later.

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  1. #1 by Matt on April 13, 2015 - 11:33 am

    Maybe what I am about to say is sinful, but I have never cared for boss rush modes. Maybe that’s because most of those modes just bring together copy-and-paste version of the bosses.

    Like you said, if the bosses themselves are slightly altered and the mode is implemented in a clever way, it can be very interesting.

    Like

    • #2 by Prof.mcstevie on April 13, 2015 - 5:11 pm

      I like a boss rush mode as a neat challenge rather than a mandatory one within the story mode or whatever you wish to call it. It also really depends on how bosses are handled in the game, some games really just do colour palette swaps while others go really out there for their designs.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. #3 by moshfish on April 11, 2015 - 2:11 am

    Nice article. I loved the system in Okami, as you said, it feels great to destroy a boss that used to give you so much trouble. Same as in many Zelda games, where you can see what effect new items have on old bosses.

    I don’t really have an issue with boss rushes, in general, but I hate games that have bosses appear as normal enemies later (unless it makes sense in the plot). The repeat of Capra and Taurus demons in Dark Souls after their respective boss battles had nice story connotations.

    Like

    • #4 by Prof.mcstevie on April 11, 2015 - 12:08 pm

      I like the Capra and Taurus demon reappearance very much, I imagine more games could bring back bosses by twisting the plot to have them be resurrected or even something like their shadow brought back by an enemy necromancer.

      Like

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