Top 5 Most Original Final Boss Battles - Page 2
Double Dragon is the story of Billy Lee and his twin brother, Jimmy, as they take on a gang known as the Shadow Warriors (or Black Warriors, depending on your source) who have kidnapped Billy's girlfriend, Marian. In the arcade version, Billy and Jimmy defeat the standard final boss, rescue Marian, and live happily ever after. However, in subsequent versions of the game, there is an additional boss, who turns out to be none other than Billy's brother, Jimmy, who has apparently forgotten the golden rule concerning bros and hos. Though it's hard to decipher the storytelling nuance of an NES game, it seems as though the entire kidnapping was a poorly planned plot by Jimmy to win Billy's girl.
Though the co-op doesn't exist in the original ports that pit Billy and Jimmy against each other, the game isn't shy about the fact that it's about two inseparable brothers going to Hell and back for each other. That's why the twist at the end is so shocking and original. The battle itself is also much like the fight with Shadow Link, because Jimmy has pretty much the same attacks and strengths as his twin brother, making the fight a truly equal one.
It has been done significantly better since, however. A recent example is the co-operative storyline for Splinter Cell: Conviction, in which two players spend several hours working together only to have to duke it out in the end. Either player can win, too, which adds an extra layer of originality. If the first ports of Double Dragon had actually kept the arcade's co-op mode and still made Jimmy Lee the final boss, having it play out much like it does in Splinter Cell: Conviction, Double Dragon might have made it higher on this list. As it stands, however, there are still two final boss battles more original than that first fight between Billy and Jimmy.
The Sarafan Inquisitor
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2
For those of you unfamiliar with the Legacy of Kain (shame on you), it's about extremely gothic and non-emo vampires who travel through time. Yes, it's awesome. One of the series' main protagonists is Raziel, a being who has undergone so many changes to his mortal coil that he is no longer human or vampire, but a creature that feeds on the very souls of others, a soul reaver.
Raziel, while chasing the über-vampire Kain in a far-flung post-apocalyptic future, comes across a portal through time and follows Kain into the distant past where a quasi-religious order of warrior knights known as the Sarafan are killing off vampires. Raziel learns of a weapon that can be used to change the course of history--something previously thought impossible--but it is in the hands of the Sarafan. Soul Reaver 2 climaxes with Raziel storming into the Sarafan stronghold and slaughtering the order, setting events in motion that bring the story full circle. With no Sarafan, Kain eventually rises, humanity is wiped out, and thousands of years later, Raziel will start chasing Kain through time.
There is one slight twist, however, in that the leader of the Sarafan, the Sarafan Inquisitor, is none other than Raziel himself, long before he became a vampire or soul reaver. The final boss battle in Soul Reaver 2, therefore, is between Raziel's future self and Raziel's past self. Think about that for a minute. How do you kill your past self without causing a paradox?
It ultimately makes sense, because Kain will later raid the coffins of the Sarafan to make his own vampire family, which includes Raziel. However, when you are tasked with killing your former self, you don't necessarily understand this. That's why Soul Reaver 2 has one of the most original final boss fights in all of gaming, because you aren't just fighting a dark version of yourself or a former friend or something like that; you are actually fighting yourself. What makes it even crazier is that, if you lose (which isn't technically possible), the Sarafan would win, Kain would never rise, and the future would look pretty bright for humanity. Of course, anyone who knows The Legacy of Kain knows that a happy ending like that would never happen.
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith
Though no doubt the most obscure title on this list, Mysteries of the Sith, an expansion for Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, contains the most original final boss fight of any game I have ever played. In order to explain what makes it so mind-blowing, let me start by setting the stage. For the entirety of the two previous games, Star Wars: Dark Forces and Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II (and for a significant portion of Mysteries of the Sith), you play as Kyle Katarn, a Star Wars hero who is part Han Solo, part Luke Skywalker, and as bad-ass as Boba Fett. However, a few levels into Mysteries of the Sith, you take control of Kyle's new apprentice, Mara Jade, an important character from the extended Star Wars universe.
Kyle disappears while searching for information about a newly discovered Sith temple, and eventually, as Mara Jade, you are tasked with tracking him down. You make your way to Dromund Kaas, where you enter the Sith temple and face gameplay so difficult, lengthy, and nerve-racking that only the most skilled players can stomach it. Then, when you finally reach the inner sanctum where the final boss waits, you come face-to-face with none other than Kyle Katarn, who has been seduced by the dark side. You have to fight him.
Did I mention that it's impossible to beat him? I don't just mean that it's so hard it seems impossible; I mean it is impossible. You cannot beat him, no matter what you do, because he's Kyle Fricking Katarn and he's been infused with the power of the dark side. After hours of trying to beat him, I even tried cheating--using God codes that gave me complete invulnerability--but still, Kyle refused to fall to my attacks. Eventually, out of frustration and disbelief, I sheathed my lightsaber and gave up. Then I watched the end of the game.
You see, once you sheath your lightsaber, Kyle lunges in to deliver a final, fatal blow to his apprentice, but he can't do it. This brings him back from the brink and gives him the strength to overcome the dark side. In other words, the only way to beat the final boss is to refuse to fight him. On one hand, the gamer in me wants to cry foul, argue that this is cheap and stupid. On the other hand, however, this ending is brilliant. From the narrative standpoint of Star Wars, it makes total sense, and I'm sure Yoda himself would have tried the proper strategy long before resorting to cheat codes.
-e. magill 3/22/2011