Video game boss fights have clichés that sometimes get on our nerves in a hurry, and most of the time, they only annoy us. They don’t add any actual difficulty beyond just wanting to throw the controller at the TV or shut the game off and declare yourself done with it.
Almost nothing annoys a gamer more than that one guy whose attacks just seem to juggle you around, and there is nothing you can do except wait for them to stop so you can try to at least pay them back. Those fights have that “I’ll go grab lunch while you keep spamming me and maybe when I get back you’ll let me play again” quality. Nobody likes that.
You’ve played for almost a half hour, whittling away at their health, and you almost have them dead, when suddenly you notice their health refilling. It just makes you wonder why they didn’t simply have a larger health bar in the first place.
It’s probably the easiest version of the video game boss fight clichés, but there is no challenge beyond hitting the right button at the right time as it’s shown on the screen. Prototype 2, we’re looking at you.
Only One Weapon can Damage Them
The Legend of Zelda was a masterpiece except for one small flaw in the boss battles. Every time you get to the final boss, only one weapon can even damage them, and it doesn’t even give you a clue which weapon it is as you run around trying to avoid getting hit and juggling your weapons trying to find that one that actually makes a difference.
Ridiculous Health Points
Much like the above mentioned regenerating health, this is also just cheap and lazy. Instead of making the video game boss battle difficult, all you can do is hit them over and over … and over until their millions of health points finally vanish. That’s not challenging. It’s annoying and lazy.
Throwing Minions at You
You’ve done it, you’re finally face to face with your rival, when … they throw a bunch of minions at you to keep you distracted while they run around taking easy shots at your busy form. It’s not as bad if the minions can be easily avoided or killed, but if the minions themselves are a pain to deal with, it only makes us wish we’d never tried to beat the game.
Palette Swaps or Identical Clone Teams
Another kind of laziness that shows the developers didn’t really try to make the video game boss battle challenging is when the boss looks just like every other enemy you’ve fought so far, only … green. Why? Was it that difficult to just come up with one more design? And the clone it uses to make you figure out which of them is real is just stupid. We want the boss to be something original.
Breaking the Rules for Cheap Difficulty
This is a classic attempt at difficulty that Mortal Kombat made famous beginning with Shao Kahn. The boss suddenly just decides that your attacks don’t hurt them, or their attack simply ignores the fact that you’re blocking. That isn’t difficulty. It’s just cheap.
No Indication that You’re Hurting Them
Sure, we can always look at the health meter and see if they’re being hurt, but we shouldn’t have to. How hard is it to make them shudder a little or pause slightly when you damage them? We want to see some indication that we’re winning without having to check the HUD.
Being Avoidable but Unkillable
This particular video game boss fight cliché was partly made famous with Final Fantasy VII and its wandering monster simply called “Weapon.” It roamed the sky and the ocean, and running into it brought you into a battle that was nearly impossible to win. At least it was killable and netted you a prize, but other games just started making bosses unkillable and avoidable. About the only games that actually did it right and made it interesting were the ones featuring Slender Man.
Are there any video game boss fight clichés that you wish would just end?