5 Steps To Make the Worst Game Boss Possible

Senior Contributor
01.30.12 9 Comments
Game developers, we know and appreciate you have hard, difficult jobs. And sometimes, we make those jobs harder. So you want to share the pain. Or maybe you just want to bring back the good old days of controller tossing frustration. Or maybe you just don’t listen to your playtesters and QA team.

Either way, there seems to be an ongoing attempt to find and create the Single Most Annoying Boss possible in modern video gaming. In fact, while gaming itself has improved substantially on this point, with “Insane Difficulty” mode actually being playable for people with lives, bosses seem to have regressed into messes that would make Air Man shake his head in loathing.

So, we thought we’d help you: here’s how to make bosses everyone hates, and not in the good way, either!

Step #1) Deny Us As Much Information As Possible

You don’t want to make weak points obvious. At all. In fact, the better hidden and less obvious they are, the better! This is especially important if you have to use various parts of the arena to kill the boss: you don’t want to highlight that at all. Make it as non-obvious as possible.

Perfect Example: Barrett from “Deus Ex: Human Revolution”. Unless you’ve enabled the “Skip Boss” button, er, the Typhoon, the best, and probably only, way to kill him without being murdered is to use the gas canisters in the room to distract him and whittle away at his health. This is the first, and last, time you will use this ability, and the game never brings it up. Good job!

Step #2) Make Sure It’s Insanely Overpowered

You absolutely do not want this to be a moderately challenging fight. Moderately challenging fights are actually fun. To make a boss utterly annoying, make them impossible to fight back against and able to utterly obliterate the player in a few shots. Bonus points if you give them a one-hit kill attack, or just make all their attacks impossible to block.

Perfect Example: Tony Montana from “Hitman”. Great, a fully automatic weapon AND mercy invincibility every time you shoot him. Maybe he could also light you on fire!

Step #3) Force Us To Use a Mechanic We’d Never Actually Use in Combat

There’s nothing that makes a boss more enraging than being forced to use a mechanic that’s clunky in combat to fight said boss. Especially if the boss in question is insanely overpowered and hard to hit to begin with. You know how Mr. Freeze, in “Arkham City”, requires characters to use all the tools in their arsenal? Like that, only incredibly frustrating instead of cleverly thought out.

Perfect Example: Tiamat from “Darksiders”, at least in her first go-round. The Crossblade is great for solving puzzles, one-shotting flying enemies from a distance, and absolutely nothing else. So let’s make it integral to beating a boss who already can kill you in a few hits!

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