So, I saw this week’s Monday musing on Xbox Live and it got me thinking – why is it nowadays that there’s so much focus on getting to the end of the last level, final area, last challenge or whatever it may be, to find yourself against a (sometimes) massively powerful enemy or massive group of enemies? It seems like some developers put a lot of work into a game’s finale, while others don’t. Now, initially it seems like there should be a lot of effort put into the ending boss battle of a game, because after all, that last boss stands between you and seeing how the game ends; it seems only natural that last enemy should be so difficult.
But this isn’t always the case, as some final boss battles can prove extremely easy, and if a boss battle is too easy, it makes it seem as though it wasn’t really worth doing all the levelling up, killing guards, getting extra lives or whatever else is usually necessary to kill a final boss. For example, the endings of both Fable 2 and 3 both had surprisingly easy boss battles, one of which simply requires you to press two buttons. Two. Then of course there’s the ending of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, to kill the final enemy, you again just have to press a few buttons. On the other end of the scale though, some games have an extremely challenging opponent for you to fight at the end, or in some cases multiple opponents, such as in Final Fantasy XIII where you have to fight three bosses in a row (although one is easier than the other two).
The difficulty of a final boss battle isn’t always the issue though, as some developers insist on using the same enemy in some form, or other repeatedly throughout a game series (here’s looking at you, Nintendo), such as fighting Ganon, Bowser or Dr.Robotnik/Eggman. Although these bosses are reinvented every time so that you fight them in a different way, it can still be slightly boring to know what the final boss will be before you even start playing the game. Although there aren’t many examples of this, it’s a disappointment when it does occur, but thankfully the rest of these games are usually brilliant, and it isn’t really fair to judge a game by its finale.
So, what is to be done? It’s now become a necessity in most games to include some form of final boss battle, regardless of how difficult it may be, or in some cases how irrelevant it may be to the rest of the game’s story (such as the Lambent Brumak from the ending of Gears of War 2). But the final boss battle should have the same standards as the rest of the game; compelling, challenging, story-driven and most of all, fun, which is why we’re all here in the first place.