I’m a sucker for a good boss fight. I used to jump into old games I’ve played and finished long ago, just to see if I have the save file from just before a certain boss fight. To me, a good boss fight can be the perfect climax to a tense storyline, or sometimes you just want to mindlessly blast some big strong baddie into oblivion. But, not these guys, oh no my friend; these shifty, tough little buggers were the bane of my existence, some for several days at a time. Whether forcing players to play in a way previously not needed, having a unique pattern of attack, or just being balls to the wall difficult, these are the five hardest bosses I’ve ever had to face. Spoilers for Cave Story, Undertale and Dead Rising 2 ahead.
5. Crawmerax The Invincible - Borderlands
Having a tagline of ‘The Invincible’ in an enemy’s own name should be a sign that they are probably going to cause you some pain if you try and tackle them on your own. Crawmerax The Invincible is an optional Raid Boss, the first of the Borderlands series, added in The Secret Armory of General Knoxx, and becoming a feature in the base game of every main entry to the series since.
The Borderlands wiki explicitly states that Raid bosses are ‘designed to be fought by multiple players’, but I didn’t quite get the memo. Crawmerax scales to be four levels higher than the player, to a maximum of 72. The level cap for the player in Borderlands is 69 (nice), so at max level he was still higher than me. Even then, I didn’t get the memo. He is highly resistant to damage from the front, with his weak spots being found at his sides or right behind his head. I still thought it was meant to be done alone. A full day of experimentation and I finally found a successful, if not slightly cheap, tactic. Using Lillith’s Phasewalk ability, I was not only able to lose aggro from him, but I was also able to quickly and safely traverse the arena and regenerate health. These three combined meant that the fight was a long process of using her ability, getting to a pillar behind him, waiting for the recharge to finish before unloading everything I had at his weak spots before he could turn around; start back at square one and repeat.
And after all that, I didn’t even get any of the rare weapon drops from him. I guess I need to beat him again sometime...
4. Ballos - Cave Story
Cave Story is a quirky Metroidvania title from 2004 that went on to be a staple of indie-gaming history, leading to three remakes and being one of the first titles to demonstrate how a one-man development team can find success in a market that was being dominated by big companies. Some argue it was also largely responsible for the 2D platform genre managing to maintain a key spot amongst games in the contemporary gaming industry.
The final segment of Cave Story is essentially a gauntlet that goes directly to Paintown and refuses to have it’s brakes checked. Typically, the ending of the game comes after fighting four separate bosses, back-to-back and without saving in between. But, players who made choices that, to be quite frank, are ludicrous to make on a first playthrough without prior knowledge, such as straight up ignoring your friend when they fall down a chasm (if you talk to them, this will kill them and stop you getting the good ending), then you get access the ‘Blood Stained Sanctuary’ after defeating the Undead Core, wherein you will find Ballos.
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