Are Boss Battles Really Necessary?
I never did like boss battles. They have always been my least favorite part of a game. Why does every world or every dungeon need a big monster at the end? The normal levels are what make the game. Exploring a dungeon, solving puzzles, finding treasure, and tearing through the lesser enemies are what I like about a game and why I would consider playing it again. Being stuck in a small room with an intentionally difficult boss is frustrating, a complete departure from the core of the game, and is an invitation for me to turn the damn thing off.
I hate how bosses have a “pattern” you have to discover, too. You can’t just attack them like you would any other monster. Oh, no. They have to have a weak spot to exploit, and once you find it, you have to repeat the process of attacking said weak spot several times. And each time you hurt it, the boss grows bigger and stronger. Now wait a minute… why would the boss get stronger when I hurt it? Shouldn’t it get weaker? I think I’d take more satisfaction in taking down a gigantic monster if it realistically felt like I was affecting its stamina/power instead of being victim to another stupid rule of game design.
Before you come at me with torches and pitchforks, I fully realize some games necessitate boss battles. RPGs, for example… Every enemy in an RPG is like its own little boss battle with some being significantly harder than others. The story in a game also plays into whether or not bosses need to be present. But why does the boss need to feel like a completely separate part of the game? Why ruin a good platformer with something that has nothing to do with platforming?
This reminds me of the first Super Mario Bros. game, a great example of how to incorporate a “boss” into a level without messing up the flow of the game. You got the idea that Bowser was the bad guy without having to step into his chamber and face off against him one-on-one. He was just another obstacle to slip past, albeit a bigger and scarier obstacle. Other Mario games since then have turned confrontations with Bowser into more obnoxious endeavors (Sunshine and Galaxy were particularly annoying), but I’ll always remember Mario 1 as the game that did boss battles right.