“Kratos will some­times climb in­side his en­e­mies to de­stroy them from within!”

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Games & Apps -

re­peat­ing the process un­til ei­ther the mon­ster dies or you turn off the Xbox in a red mist of anger and bore­dom.

Tra­di­tion­ally, the boss is the gaunt­let you must run be­fore you’re granted ac­cess to the next stage. This fre­quently in­volves fran­tic, rep­e­ti­tious but­ton-mash­ing and end­less frus­tra­tion.

Many play­ers sim­ply give up on games that in­sist on in­clud­ing these im­pass­able road­blocks. I know I’m not alone – a Google search for “videogame an­noy­ing bosses” will gen­er­ate more than 4.5 mil­lion re­sults.

The most no­to­ri­ous bosses of­ten throw in a mo­ment of crip­pling un­fair­ness, just to en­sure it’s on the right level of frus­tra­tion. Some vil­lains, such as the gi­ant ar­madillo in Ninja Gaiden 2, self-de­struct when you de­feat it, killing you in the process! Even Bulletstorm (a game I love) is cursed with it: on one oc­ca­sion a gi­ant man-eat­ing plant re­gen­er­ates it­self if you don’t kill it fast enough.

A great chal­lenge in game de­vel­op­ment is to make dif­fi­culty lev­els chal­leng­ing but not in­fu­ri­at­ing. So it’s telling that the Call of Duty and Halo se­ries, two of the most lu­cra­tive fran­chises in game his­tory, don’t use these end-of-level bosses as a crutch. In­stead, they present in­cre­men­tally dif­fi­cult nar­ra­tives.

If de­vel­op­ers in­sist on in­clud­ing hulk­ing, vir­tu­ally in­de­struc­tible ad­ver­saries, they should at least use some imag­i­na­tion in their (ahem) ex­e­cu­tion. In­fa­mous 2 avoids repi­ti­tion by giv­ing the hero a va­ri­ety of pos­si­ble tac­tics and su­per­pow­ers in which to fight mon­sters. In the likes of God of War III they break it down – Kratos of­ten at­tacks his en­e­mies limb-by-limb, so at­tack­ing one part of a beast re­quires dif­fer­ent tac­tics from at­tack­ing an­other. Plus, for even more di­ver­sity, Kratos will some­times climb in­side his en­e­mies to de­stroy them from within!

Some game tra­di­tions have yet to die – and we live in hope that one day, all videogame bosses will even­tu­ally fall to their col­lec­tive knees.

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