by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
POTENTIAL SPOILERS BELOW!
The final boss of an RPG is supposed to be the culmination of all of your hard work. The greatest encounter, the hardest battle, unless it’s a Final Fantasy game, then there are hidden Superbosses. But for the most part, the final battle is supposed to be where everything comes full circle, the story starts finally making sense, and you prove you’re the hero of whatever legend or prophecy you’re presently fulfilling. That’s how that works, right? So how about when you get to the end of the game, and it’s just a disappointingly easy fight, or the fight comes out of left field, or simply makes no damn sense? Sometimes the final boss is hinted at a few times, then you get there, and instead of a world-breaking, soul stealing devil or god, it’s a blob of tentacles and disappointment. It can really ruin hours of gameplay to get to the end of a game and find that all of this work and toil was for basically nothing. Sure, you don’t want the game to absolutely stomp your face in (Zeromus, FFIV), but you don’t want it to be the easiest, disappointing tripe ever.
These are games I’ve personally played and experienced, mind, so there will probably be some that are not on this list. I do have a few honorable mentions though. A fine example is the entire final area of 7th Saga. You know all those amazing, powerful (well maybe not powerful, but useful) runes you spent the game gathering? Now you can’t use them. Have fun being a baby in the ending. Also, the final encounter of Dragon Age 2 where you fight some dumb statues. How is that the final encounter of a game? If it were a mountain-shattering titan made of stone, that might be okay, but statues?! Come on now. Another good one is Colonel Autumn of Fallout 3. You basically follow Prime, kill stuff and try to survive, finally get to the end of the game, pop a headshot or two and the game’s over. It’s really anti-climactic and disappointing. Well, let’s start our week off right with some serious letdowns.
5: Gateau (Robotrek): You know, despite how awful the translation/localization/story/everything is about Robotrek, I really loved this quirky turn-based RPG. It was funny, it had charm. It had heart. It had a group of hackers led by a crab. Meta Crab. Why would you swerve away from this? The game was already insane, just roll with it. But no, they swerve you late in the game, Blackwake takes over, and you fight two phases of the giant robot airship/doomsday device, Gateau (which is appropriately named, as Gateau is a layer-cake, and this fight does have two phases. So, I’ll give them that). It’s a really dumb, disappointing fight, and we could have had an epic showdown against a hacker crab. But instead, we get Gateau. I’m so disappointed, Enix. So disappointed.
4: Satanail (Star Ocean 4): The Star Ocean series is excellent at creating a gripping story with interesting characters that you either love to love, or love to hate. But you know what they do not excel at? Final. Bosses. Star Ocean: The Last Hope is no exception to this rule, and while I loved SO1 and 2, the subsequent games just get weirder and weirder. So, let’s talk about the final boss of SO4. The final boss is the Apostle of Creation, which is absorbed by a Grigori. But it turns out to just be the main character after he decided the universe didn’t need to exist anymore. So he’s going to create instead a universe of perfect harmony (which of course, means everyone has to die). You fight Satanail (the name of Satan from the book of Enoch) immediately after the Apostle of Creation. So you’re basically fighting some kind of perverted Mega-Satan. This reads like something you would find on DeviantArt or FanFiction.net. Hard pass.
3: Shrine of Exodus (Ultima III: Exodus): I adore the Ultima franchise. It’s a series about the Virtues, and incredibly complicated, challenging stories with almost no hints or help to be found in the game. You explore and find your own way. You decide to be good or evil in most of them, and your actions have consequences. The final boss of Ultima III: Exodus (or just Ultima: Exodus on the NES) is the Shrine of Exodus. It’s not even a boss! It does, however, contain the strongest, meanest, party-killingest enemies of the game. If you go in with high str/dex/hp, you’re fine. But I do not believe the game tells you that ranged weapons won’t work there. You just kind of have to know. Or have tried it yourself. What you do, is you navigate to the end of the shrine, activate the items you’ve collected over the game (the cards) in the correct order, then you run as fast as you can while the shrine is sinking. Yeah, that’s it. The game is already cryptic and mysterious enough, why make it harder? I love it, but it also makes my bones ache with anger and disappointment.
2: Tyr (Breath of Fire 1): The main story of Breath of Fire 1 is that the last vestiges of the Dragons of Light are trying to stop the Dark Dragon clan from acquiring all of the Keys of the Goddess, and unlocking her power. That goddess we learn is Tyr. You spend so much of the game fighting the Dark Dragons armies Lieutenants that it might slip your mind that a goddess awaits at the very end. Or maybe you think that once you get all of the keys, you can just destroy them, no god to fight. But this is a JRPG, so of course, the bad guys are going to win out in a clutch moment! Towards the end of the game, you finally encounter the leader of the Dark Dragons, Zog. He’s not your last encounter, because his 2nd, Jade still awaits. And that is not enough because of course not. You unlocked the ultimate power, Agni, and do battle with Jade, then the goddess Tyr. You know how you fight Tyr? Activate Agni, spam attack. You will likely occasionally heal. But you just let Agni do all of the work because he does guarantee 999 damage (whereas Rudra only does 455, 999 on a crit). When I beat Breath of Fire 1 as a kid, I was so happy, but so, so, so frustrated. Luckily, Breath of Fire 2 made up for it.
1: Yu Yevon (Final Fantasy X): Final Fantasy X spends the entire game telling you that the main enemy is Sin. It’s an unstoppable force of nature that arrives every ten years and wrecks the world until a summoner gives their life, someone becomes the new Sin, and history repeats in another ten years. Towards the very end of the game, we learn that the Aeons and Yu Yevon are kind of to blame for all of this. They perpetuate this idea that the Aeons stop Sin when all it does is create an endless cycle of death, allowing a select few at the top of the political/religious food chain to live forever. Tidus and Yuna break the cycle of death by refusing to participate and enter Sin himself to kill the very core of the beast. You know, Jecht, Tidus’ dad. That should be it, right? But as long as there are Aeons, there will be Sin it seems. It’s pretty much all Yu Yevon’s fault, and that plot point is revealed at the very end of the game.
So the religion that everyone follows, worships and adheres to, that forbids the use of Machina, it’s their fault. The final battle is summoning the Aeons, letting Yu Yevon possess them, and killing them. The fights are appallingly easy, and this curveball at the last minute was honestly infuriating. I appreciate that there’s some kind of twist, but the major religion of the world? That’s actually kind of interesting. But why does that last fight have to be so disappointing? What if you don’t have the hidden/optional Aeons? Would that mean all of this is for naught? The Sin battles were interesting and challenging, and the Arena Superboss is horrific. Why is the last battle such a cakewalk? Is it symbolism? That the core of religion is weak and frail? I still to this day have questions, but it was a crummy ending to one of my favorite games.
What about you guys? Worst final bosses ever? Hit me with some of them below! I’d love to know!