Boss fights have always played an important part in video games. Typically used to signify the end of a level or the very end of the entire game, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as the feeling you get when you finally beat a difficult boss after hours of attempts. However, some boss fights aren’t as simple and straightforward as others. While most boss fights are typically frustrating and difficult, some games use the opportunity to offer its players a more creative and weird gaming experience.
10. Mom – The Binding of Isaac
The Binding of Isaac is a creepy and twisted rogue-like dungeon crawler which is inspired by the biblical tale of the same name. Isaac is a young child who is forced into a monster-filled basement when his mother tries to kill him because she believes the voice of God told her to. The game is full of disturbing visuals but the end-game boss is a particularly weird treat. Isaac finally fights his way to his mother but she is never completely seen on screen. Instead the player only sees Mom’s leg (which is covered in varicose veins) or her pudgy hand as she stamps down from the sky in an effort to squish Isaac. It’s an inventive final boss battle in a game which is already filled with terrifying nightmarish creations.
9. The Great Mighty Poo – Conker’s Bad Fur Day
Conker’s Bad Fur Day was a smutty platform game intended for mature players of the N64. Containing graphic language and violence which was uncharacteristic of games on a Nintendo console, Bad Fur Day sold poorly but proved to be an enduring, underground cult classic. The game’s toilet humour peaked with the introduction of The Great Mighty Poo. This boss was, as you’d probably expect, a big pile of poo which players defeated by flushing down a large hole.
8. Hitler – Wolfenstein 3D
Arguably one of the most important first-person shooters ever made, Wolfenstein 3D completely revolutionised the genre. Set during WWII, players take control of American spy William “B.J.” Blazkowicz as they battle through waves of Nazis in the infamous Castle Wolfenstein. Players eventually uncover a mad scientist plot to create an army of mutant soldiers and they eventually get to take on Hitler himself. However, this is by no means a simple boss fight as the German Fuhrer wields four huge chain guns equipped to a futuristic robotic suit. The rest of the game doesn’t try for historical realism, but this final sight is a weird surprise nonetheless.
7. Psycho Mantis – Metal Gear Solid
Fighting Psycho Mantis in Metal Gear Solid is one of the most memorable video game moments of all time. Just before the fight between Solid Snake and Mantis begins, the mind-reading villain promises to “read more deeply” into the soul of Snake. He then breaks the fourth wall of the video game by reading out some of the contents of the console’s memory card as a demonstration of his memory reading ability. Mantis then decides to show off his psychokinetic powers by asking the player to put their controller on a flat surface which he then makes vibrate uncontrollably. It’s an ingenious way to bring a boss fight to life and it’s a completely unexpected and surprising development in the game.
6. Vortex Queen – Ecco the Dolphin
Ecco the Dolphin was definitely one of the weirdest franchises in video game history. In the first game, players take control of the titular dolphin as he swims around the ocean looking for his missing pod. However, the story takes a weird detour by introducing time travel and a sinister alien race called the Vortex. In the game’s final fight, Ecco has to destroy the Vortex Queen by blasting it with his sonar rays and unleashing his charged-up head butts. It’s a bizarre final boss for a game which most players innocently assumed was just about a dolphin swimming around the ocean. The huge, creepy disembodied head of the Vortex Queen (surrounded by the impenetrable darkness of the deep ocean depths) is a terrifying image for such a child-friendly game.
5. Alien Queen – Duke Nukem Forever: The Doctor Who Cloned Me
Duke Nukem forever was in development for so long that it had no chance of pleasing gamers who had been waiting for more than 15 years for the game’s release. However, while the game was never going to live up to such massive amounts of hype, it could have at the very least been a slightly enjoyable gaming experience. The game was poorly received by gamers and critics alike, but that didn’t stop Gearbox Software from bringing out an additional single-player campaign via DLC which promised the return of Dr Proton; Duke’s nemesis from the original game. Unsurprisingly, The Doctor Who Cloned Me DLC was another disappointing gaming experience, but it did offer a weirdly creative boss fight. Taking place on the surface of the moon, players have to defeat an alien queen by ramming their moon buggy into the creature’s exposed vagina. They then have to run around the insides of the alien and shoot at its ovaries to win the boss fight. At the very least, it’s a memorable experience which is something not seen in any other video game.
4. Gluttony – Clive Barker’s Jericho
Inspired by the twisted imagination of horror writer Clive Barker (who also provided the game’s story), Jericho was a very dark and very gory first person shooter. The game takes place in a twisted alternate reality called the Box. The Box houses the evil creations of God which he accidentally gave life to and tried to hide away, so this makes for some truly disturbing enemies and boss fights. The weirdest boss represents the sin of gluttony. A huge morbidly obese man suspended from the ceiling on meat hooks, Gluttony attacks by tearing open his huge belly and damaging the player with the spewing contents of his insides. It’s a bloody, disgusting fight which just feels plain wrong on every level.
3. God – Bayonetta
Bayonetta is by far one of the weirdest fighting games to come out of Japan. Following in the footsteps of third-person shooters like Devil May Cry, players take control of the title character and use her witch powers and hair-based attacks to take on all sorts of supernatural foes. The gameplay is fast and frantic and there is always a thousand things happening at once during some of the game’s more action-packed levels, but nothing tops Bayonetta’s final big fight. The game ends with a cosmic battle against a massive deity. Bayonetta is dwarfed by the huge God Jubilieus and players have to figure out a way to kill this omnipotent threat. Of course, the deity can be defeated (Bayonetta uses a god-crunching “BIG BANG BONUS” combo as the finishing blow), but the game does make players question just how they are expected to win against such a massive boss.
2. Bob the Killer Goldfish – Earthworm Jim
As is to be expected from a platforming game which follows a space-travelling earthworm wearing a super suit, Earthworm Jim featured some pretty weird elements. Some of the game’s whacky bosses included a manic junk man, a bungee-jumping piece of snot and a robotic chicken, but the best by far was the fight with Bob the Killer Goldfish. Bob is literally just a goldfish in a bowl, so in the first game players simply knock him over and leave him flopping on the floor. Earthworm Jim 2 upped this boss encounter with Bob making a much grander entrance by dramatically appearing from a pneumatic tube as the words ‘FIGHT’ flashed across on the screen. However, it’s another anti-climactic fight as Earthworm Jim simply plucks the goldfish from his bowl and eats him. Of course, it’s a tongue-in-cheek parody of the over-the-top nature of boss fights in video games, and it fits in perfectly with the game’s offbeat, humorous tone.
1. Scarecrow – Batman: Arkham Asylum
Rocksteady Studios could have gone the easy route for their boss fights in their impressive open-world take on the Batman universe. Most brawling/fighting games typically have bosses with insanely high amounts of HP who just need to be pummelled into submission, but Arkham Asylum had a much more creative approach. Each boss fight in the game was completely different from the last, and players had to use different skills (stealth, quick reflexes, combo hits) for each Batman villain. However, the best boss encounter was the Scarecrow. When Batman suffers from the effects of the villain’s fear toxin, the game briefly turns into a side-scrolling platformer and players have to avoid the gaze of a monstrously huge version of the Scarecrow. Jumping across a weird, distorted landscape of the asylum, players have to reach a bat-light to shine at the villain to break out of the spell of the toxin.