(So I’ve been looking for a series to create for a while and this suddenly clicked with me last night. Hopefully, when I actually cough up the dough to buy a capture card, I’ll be able to pair writing and video together to make an interesting series. For now, enjoy these baby steps.)
Thanks to the intense, crushing boss battles found in Dark Souls, YOU DEFEATED has become a phrase synonymous with success. Everytime a boss falls in From Software’s masterpiece, those two words flash up on screen as a reward for the player’s success; in our minds, it should be accompanied by the Victory Fanfare from Final Fantasy VII.
What makes a boss battle great though? Is it the gameplay? The setting? The soundtrack? With this series, I’m going to break down some of my favourite boss battles of all time, looking at the finer details and savoring the moments which need to be appreciated.
As always, feedback is massively appreciated – hit me up in the comments on here or on Twitter (@colemansa).
The rebirth of Devil May Cry may have upset many but those who looked past the stylistic changes and gameplay rework found a great game – it was a little rough around the edges but very few titles can match the stylistic, fluid, combo-driven gameplay found here.
There’s some exceptional boss battles to enjoy too; ridiculously over-the-top confrontations which provide constant highlights – slapping the digital face of Bob Barbas around or laying the smackdown on a giant demon slug-like baby (still attached to it’s mother’s umbilical cord, by the way) are inexplicable joys.
Sometimes it’s the quieter moments that linger in the mind longest though; DmC strips away the flair and extravagance for its final battle, instead crafting a one-on-one encounter which genuinely feels like a battle for the ages.
Dante’s sibling rivalry with Vergil was well documented in Devil May Cry 3 so unsurprisingly, despite co-operating for the majority of the game to defeat Mundus, the two brothers face-off with the fate of humanity on the line.
The setup is extraordinarily well done. Vergil’s sudden declaration that “the path is clear for us to rule” is a neat little plot twist which suddenly reveals Vergil’s real motivations for battling Mundus – he envisions himself (and Dante, presumably on a minor scale) as humanity’s master. When Dante compares his brother to Mundus, Vergil simply laughs, remarking “we’ll respect our subjects, not enslave them!” Not particularly reassuring.
Set within the ruins of Limbo City, the atmospheric surroundings of the battle’s arena is remarkably well done too. Mundus’ destroyed tower can be seen off in the distance and the destruction caused by Dante’s battle with the demon god is clear for all to see. It’s a really effective way of showcasing just how much damage demon overlords can inflict on humans, making it all the more vital that the player stops Vergil in this climatic showdown.
As the battle continues, the sky gradually darkens and creates a spectacle that’s simply incredible. Vergil’s immense power seems to dictate the weather patterns somewhat too as when Dante lands a blow on him, lightning cracks across the sky – another effective way of showing the supernatural powers that the two brothers possess.
From a gameplay standpoint, the fight is relatively simple, though on the harder difficulties it still provides ample challenge. The player must dodge Vergil’s moves and then counter with a quick combo – it’s very similar to Dante’s encounters with Drekavac, a ninja enemy who requires quick dodging reflexes and short but damaging combos to defeat.
The real fight begins when Vergil is near death. Here, he uses his Devil Trigger to produce a doppelganger, aping his moves and giving Dante two foes to combat at once. Despite Vergil’s low health, the fight grows in intensity as the player has to dodge twice as many attacks, making opportunities to counter scarcer too. Ultimately though, Vergil’s encounter is only really excruciatingly difficult on Hell And Hell difficulty – old school Devil May Cry fans might be disappointed in this aspect.
However, the build-up and glorious setting of this fight is where the magic really lies and thankfully, the encounter is left wide open for a sequel to revisit. Vergil’s final departing line – “I loved you, brother” – might have created a number of creepy fan fiction stories (seriously, look it up… or don’t, actually) but it’s also a great line to end Vergil’s role in the game – despite Dante’s betrayal, Vergil still bitterly wants the best for him. It’s a story arc that desperately needs revisiting in a sequel – get on it Ninja Theory.