Tag Archives: Ys

Bosses and the RAAAAAAAGE they sometimes instill.

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I recently went back and replayed the Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion. I had beaten the story mode when it came out. But I had also skipped a few stages and so I had decided to go back and 100% the game. With the upcoming Splatfest, I figured now would be as good a time as any to finish up the 10 or so stages I didn’t do, and replay the handful I glossed over near the end. I had also heard tales of just how difficult the super-secret boss encounter in the game is. To experience that you need to clear every one of the 80 stages, and pay Pearl any of the money you may have borrowed from her to enter stages if you had run out of it trying to clear stages. So over two nights, that’s what I did. Sunday night I cleared all but about three remaining stages. Then Monday night after a grueling workday I finished those up. As I unlocked the super-secret boss encounter I was reminded of many of the toughest fights I played through over my lifetime. This by no means a list of the absolutely most difficult. But a number of the ones that immediately came to mind. Also yes, I will talk about the one I defeated last Monday night.

Also, I know many of you may not have played some of these games and worry about spoilers. So you may want to skip over some of these with your hyper scroll wheel or you may want to click the back button. On the other hand, I don’t think any of these are from games that came out this year thus far. So I think enough time has passed for most of these.

Why do these encounters stick out in our minds?  I think there are multiple reasons. Some of them are as simple as “This character is a cheap bastard, and I’m glad I never have to do it again.” Others might be cheap bastards too. But they have a cool design, awesome backstory, or something else that goes along with that well. You expect Dr. Wily to be a cheap bastard. He’s cowardly, crosses his fingers. But sometimes still shocks you with the lows he will sink to. Other villains exude confidence and a demeanor that put you into a false sense of security. You’ll think to yourself “This bad guy doesn’t need to be cheap. They’re just going to be a fair challenge that I’ll just have to practice a lot.” And then the game goes “To Hell with that.”. There are other bosses that are sometimes far more brutal than the final bosses they answer to.

Anyway, these fictional entities often get our blood boiling. They bruise our egos. They often don’t play by the very rules they set, and they constantly cheat. But why would we expect anything different? These are villains after all. Some of them are defeated by our pure skill. Others are defeated by completely cheesing them. But we love and hate all of these antagonists for being the world’s biggest stinkers. So here are some of the ones I’ll certainly never forget. And again, these are by no means the most definitively toughest encounters, just ten of the ones that stuck out in a sea of thousands.

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10. Dr. Wily Machine #10 (Mega Man 10)

I’ll be you were probably thinking I would mention the Dinosaur vehicle bot with two forms and subsequent saucer fight from the previous game. Or perhaps the 11th Wily Machine in the following game. A lot of you were probably thinking the Wily Castle 2 Dragon, or Wily Machine #2. But Mega Man 10’s next to the last encounter is somehow at least to me, a little more salt inducing. For the first form, things aren’t too bad. He does the “Shoot missiles that can be used as platforms” thing previous Mega Man bosses have. But then after you blow up the Pirate ship skull faceplate, Dr. Wily gets stupid cheap. He fires an orb that keeps you from moving so that he can get you caught in not one, but two clouds to ground lightning bolts. And while all of this can be avoided once you know what to do, you’re going to die like a hundred times figuring it out. Plus you have to do the required robot master gauntlet when you run out of lives again before fighting him. I’m told playing on the lower setting makes him a tad slower. But it’s still some cheap stuff. Definitely one of the Dr. Wily encounters you will probably lose your cool on.

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09. Dark Fact (Ys 1.)

Dark Fact is an asshole in every version of Ys. In some versions, he might be slightly slower. But he’s still one of the biggest jerks in boss encounters. He flies around the room doing a figure 8 pattern and you have to run up and stab him. Sounds simple enough right? Well, then he summons fireballs. Of the bullet-hell shoot ’em up variety. So you’ve got to try to avoid taking too many third-degree burns while trying to stab him. And with all of that going on, he also randomly destroys part of the floor so you either: A.) Get stuck in one part of the room eating fireballs until you die. Or B) Manage to somehow not burn to death while getting enough stab wounds in that he finally bleeds out. Suffice it to say many of you will be flipping tables when you get to him. This boss took me many, many attempts to defeat, and what a sigh of relief it was when I finally put him down.

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08. Bowser (Super Mario Odyssey) 

Yeah, Bowser would have to get on here somewhere. By no means the most difficult of the examples listed here, he gets a very memorable appearance that will stick with you. At first, it doesn’t seem like much of a fight. It repeats an earlier encounter. He throws his hat at you, and you need to take control of it to knock him out of the arena. But this is easier said than done because he sends a ton of crap at you to keep you from getting to him. He jumps onto the ground sending out rings of fire. He shields himself with flames while breathing out the longest flamethrower breath possible. And each time you do get to him he throws more decoy hats as well as increases the number of flame rings and flamethrowers and tail swings at you. But unlike other Mario games, you don’t really beat him when you beat him. Because the game goes all Metroid and throws a self-destruct sequence into high gear. So you have to take control of the King of the Koopas in order to escape in an honestly quite challenging platforming section. You’ve only got so much time and for all the power Bowser has, he’s slow. So good luck with that one. Still, it’s one of the coolest Mario moments ever. And if that’s not enough for you there’s even a harder third version of the fight hidden in the metagame.

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07. Demogorgon (Forbidden Forest)

This one gets on here because he requires two major metrics in order to be defeated. You have to hit a pixel-perfect spot to pierce his heart and you have to do it in only 60 seconds. Succeed and the game will loop allowing you to go on. Fail, and it’s Game Over. His pixelated visage will come down from the heavens oh so menacingly. Even if you have extra lives in reserve. It matters not.  On top of this, The Demogorgon is only visible when lightning strikes. The only help you’re given is sometimes seeing the background distort if he happens to be there. Sometimes, but not always. You’re likely going to hear that shrieking ear-piercing BEEP BEEEEEEEP BEEP BEEEEEEEP BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP in your dreams.

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06. Evil Otto (Berzerk) 

Evil Otto is invincible. He was also inspired by the game’s creator’s boss as he reportedly smiled when he yelled at people. Evil Otto will relentlessly hunt you down and hump your corpse. Forget your childish opponents in your favorite shooter. The smiley face of doom did it first. You can’t shoot him. You can’t hope one of his subservient robots turns on him. All you can do is run. The rare exception is the children’s mode in the Atari 2600 port where he can be killed. But even going into baby mode won’t help you. Because Evil Otto will still respawn. Good luck sleeping tonight.

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05. Jasper Batt Jr. (No More Heroes 2)

This guy is an annoying pain in the ass. He drives a hovercar around his office so you can’t hit him with your swords. He also has a slew of death lasers that generate throughout the office, and can even summon a giant death beam. After you manage to weaken him through some well-timed strikes that lead to QTEs when he tries to run you down, the cheapness goes up to eleven. After you blow up his car he becomes a supervillain. And as a supervillain, he either shoots around 50 bats at you, teleports the second you go to hit him or manages to land one of his Incredible Hulk punches on you. When you really start to put the hurt on him he gets even cheaper.  Warping around like a Dragonball Z character, throwing tornadoes at you while giving you more suplexes and piledrivers than Mike Haggar. If you somehow survive all of that he becomes a Godzilla you have to cut up from a rooftop while avoiding death beams he spits out. If you manage to pull it off, you’ve defeated one of the toughest bosses out there.

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04. God Rugal (Capcom Vs. SNK 2)

This guy is SNK Boss Syndrome to the nth degree. First of all, the guy will take off nearly a quarter or more of your life bar with any given move. He will also repeat specials at an impossible speed and land combos that no human player could reasonably pull off. Your only hope is to block like crazy and find the one move the computer didn’t account for and spam it until you maybe win. That is if he doesn’t clown you before you can figure it out. Which he will. SNK was always a genius with its evil boss plan. An idea Capcom implemented here, and something even Midway rode within Mortal Kombat games. Make the bracket pretty doable, and then suck out hundreds of tokens from people who made 98% of the journey and really want to see that final 2%. In this case, though reaching him or the other secret Akuma variant also requires you to keep up your performance score. That means winning with Supers and Perfects on the way. If you pull that off, the ending of the tournament is interrupted and you’ll face one of the two ultimate boss variations. And if you get God Rugal there will likely be a broken controller in your future.

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03. Grim Matchstick (Cuphead)

A lot of Cuphead is difficult since being Nintendo hard is kind of the point of the game besides honoring 1930’s era animation. But Grim Matchstick is the one boss that really stands out from the crowd of bosses for me. He’s clearly inspired by the Dr. Wily Mecha Dragon boss in Wily Castle 2 (Mega Man 2) but other than jumping on clouds like blocks, the fight is a completely original experience. He starts out the way you might expect. Spitting projectiles you need to avoid while shooting him. But before you know it he has boulders flying at you in different combinations of three patterns. While also dodging other projectiles. If you last long enough, he ends up behind you where he spits out a marching band of flames. And you still need to avoid other things at the same time. Make it past all of that and he becomes a Hydra. With practice he is beatable. He’s still very much a pattern memorization exercise. But that doesn’t make him any less tough.

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02. Gurglewocky (Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams)

Gurglewocky is easily one of the toughest bosses you’ll face in a game. He’s a three form affair that requires a lot of memorization and dexterity. When you first reach him they take a page from New Super Mario Bros. Wii, where he chases you down Bowser style. Fitting as the original Commodore 64 game borrowed Super Mario elements. But from that quick moment, things kick into overdrive. He becomes a background boss where he uses a variety of attacks. He’ll swing his tail at you. He’ll spit a fireball into the air and cause it to rain fireballs. He’ll also fill the floor below you with lava leaving you with only some moving platforms and temporary blocks to stand on. When this happens, if he does the fire rain I mentioned earlier, the fireballs shoot back up out of the lava while the other fireballs are still raining down. Not enough for you? Sometimes he’ll shoot larger fireballs that you can avoid a little bit easier. But if they land in the lava, it causes fire columns to go from lava coated floor to ceiling.

After around three of these attacks, he’ll spit a flaming rock out that follows you around as you avoid more of these attacks. He usually does another one after this, and then shoots a line of fire out that goes either clockwise or counterclockwise. Depending on which world you’re in at the time (Dream or Nightmare) You’ll have to shift it to the opposite color of the flame on the boulder that’s been chasing you. The fire breath will then clear the fire off of the rock so you can knock it back at him. Do this three times and you can move onto the next phase. But before you can, he’ll likely flood the entire room with lava except for the very top line. You’re going to die a ton of times on this form. If you can manage to get past this and hit him three times you can escape. But he appears again! After you almost get crushed by boulders you have to dash attack his mouth at just the right time. Pull it off and you can say you’ve saved Maria! Even though that means you’re just going to be moving onto the Expansion pack content.

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01. Inner Agent #3 (Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion)

And this leads me to the battle I had with the super-secret boss in Nintendo’s 80 stage DLC for Splatoon 2. Inner Agent #3 can only be faced if you’ve beaten every stage and owe Pearl no money. (Stages cost money to enter and if you lose the level you pay to continue or reenter it later. If you run out of money Pearl will give you more. You can repay it to her when you earn money back for beating stages.) And the stages have to be beaten. You can’t use the game’s level skip mechanic. So you’ll have to go to any stage you used the mechanic on, and replay it. Once you have all of that done you can face the boss by going to a previously closed locker. This initiates a flashback where our expansion pack protagonist Agent #8 faces the protagonist from the original Splatoon (Wii U).

I had heard from a lot of players in the Splatoon 2 community that this was one of the hardest fights in videogames. But I went in with just a dash of skepticism. Surely some of this was just hyperbole. Nintendo game bosses are usually a nice balance of tough and fair. This is not one of those bosses. The match starts out with Agent #3 turning at you slowly before divebombing into the arena as the Squid Sisters’ Calamari Inkantation comes on. They start with an immediate Splashdown special and proceed to throw auto bombs while shooting at you. Shortly after this, they start initiating Inkjet specials (Two different specials so far when they should only be able to use one.). If you can manage to injure them enough to break a temporary shield they then go back to a Splashdown special and then the Bubble Blower special. This creates giant Bubbles they can explode for massive damage and kill potential. All while still throwing auto bombs that are basically homing bombs. Survive this, and they begin throwing a massive slew of auto bombs while also shooting you. Get past this, break their shield again and they’ll begin to ride a UFO while they shoot continual Tenta Missiles at you while throwing auto bombs and shooting at you. So now you have homing explosives of two varieties coming at you.

You have to throw Splat Bombs (Grenades) at them until their shield breaks again. This is where the unfair cheapness really kicks in. They do three Splashdown specials in a row while throwing more auto bombs at you. This becomes a war of attrition trying to get in a few hits while avoiding massive assaults. Keep in mind you also need to have the floor covered in your ink to be able to escape these attacks, and each attack only makes the floor more and more their color. Also when you shoot at them they will start dodge rolling out of the way despite the fact they aren’t using dualies (the only weapon class that allows one to use this move.) If you can somehow break their shield in between avoiding all of that. Then, you’ll knock them out and get the win. Winning gets you a cosmetic item for multiplayer. It’s not much, but as it is the only way to get it, at least other players will know you went through a proverbial war. By some miracle, I did it on my eighth attempt or so. But I can see why many put this high on their lists of tough bosses. All of that said, when you understand the patterns well enough you can defeat them. But even with that understanding, it isn’t an easy fight. People may mock me for comparing Inner Agent #3 to an SNK boss, but until you’ve gotten there yourself you’ll never know just how apropos that it really is.

But as I said earlier, this is by no means a “Top hardest” list by any means. Just some of the ones that came to mind as I was entering the fight with Inner Agent #3. There is a slew of challenging bosses out there. I can already hear fans of Ninja Gaiden, Dark Souls, Guilty Gear, Castlevania, Final Fight, and Streets Of Rage getting ready to beat me to death with their keyboards. So what say you? What are some of your toughest boss encounters? Which ones made you lose your composure, break your controller, or simply say “Fiddle DeeDee”? Tell your stories in the comments below.

 

Ys Origin Review

Ys never seems to get into the pantheon of JRPG franchises. Everyone gets their thumbs, and sometimes pitchforks ready with every Final Fantasy. Everyone has at least heard of Dragon Quest aka Dragon Warrior. Look at the aftermarket prices for the Super NES version of Chrono Trigger. Yes, JRPGs are a large subset of the Role Playing genre. They have been since the days of 8-bit console systems.

PROS: Pretty good story. Cool characters. Responsive, and fun combat.

CONS: Short length. Story requires beating the game thrice to see it all.

ADOL: Isn’t in the campaign. This is a prequel folks.

So why hasn’t Ys been more popular here? There are probably a lot of factors. One of the most widely accepted theories involves platforms. Ys started out on the PC-88. A computer only ever released in Japan.  When released stateside, games in the series have appeared on many of the less popular platforms of their time. Ys I made an appearance on the Sega Master System, then Ys I+II would see release on the Turbographx 16 CD add-on. In other parts of the world Ys would be on all sorts of computer, and console formats including the Famicom.

The series doesn’t have turn based combat. It instead takes action game cues. Going for more of a Legend Of Zelda style of combat. It retains plenty of item gathering, and exploration. It builds up a lot of characters, even minor ones. It still feels decidedly JRPG, yet has enough twitch game play for novices, and action fans. So while it’s more accessible, the fact that it’s an action RPG hybrid probably kept some of the purists away. Where am I going with this? To the chronological beginning. Because thanks to XSeed, Ys has been getting a little more attention over the past few years. They’ve been given porting, and translation duties for many of the games in the series. One of those games is Ys Origin.

Ys Origin is a prequel. It takes place 700 years before the original game, and attempts to set up a lot of the back story for the series. Ys is a story about a kingdom in the sky. When evil threatened to doom the kingdom, two super natural beings elevated it into the heavens above. These beings are known as the Goddesses. They, along with a council of priests advise the kingdom on matters. They also have a stable of holy knights that they call upon in times of trouble. Like a lot of great fantasy stories, it involves different family blood lines, mysticism, and interpersonal drama. Some of the stories can be pretty deep, others fairly simple.

Ultimately the game will make you want to beat it three times, because that is the only way to see every aspect of its story.

Without giving too much away, the story in Origin centers around the Goddesses, and their relationships with the three main characters. The two disappear mysteriously from the sacred Solomon Shrine, and head off to the surface land below. Eventually they head into a tower overrun by evil demons, and other monsters. The tower also happens to be the same one featured in the original Ys game.

Worried about the Goddesses, the leaders of Ys send our heroes to find, and return the Goddesses. But of course, a band of evil demons attempt to get to the Goddesses before the heroes can. Along the way you’ll run into many of the JRPG conventions you might expect. From game play conventions, to character archetypes.

In Origin you can take control of one of three characters:

Yunica Tovah is a young woman who is the daughter of one of Ys’ high priests. She is the only one in her lineage who doesn’t have a mastery of magic, and so using her means you’ll be doing a lot of hand to hand combat. She earns an apprenticeship with the Holy Knights of Ys, and embarks on her mission to find the Goddesses.

Hugo Fact is a sorcerer. He has a recklessness in him, and so he follows the trope of the edgy, devil-may-care, anti-hero. Being skilled in magic means that most of your attacks will be ranged. So if you love projectiles in your action RPG you’ll probably choose Hugo.

Beating the game with either one of these characters will open up a third character quest. Toal Fact is the mysterious brother of Hugo Fact, and has a story arc that crosses paths with the other two character storylines. Interestingly, Toal Fact’s storyline is considered canon, while the other two are not. Toal’s storyline also has a unique perspective in that he is actually helping the demons trying to capture the Goddesses, rather than the heroes trying to rescue them.

Ys Origin differs a little bit from Ys I&II. While it follows a similar formula, it has a slightly different combat system. The original games featured something called the Bump System. Running into your enemies  would damage you, while hitting them off-center, would damage them. This game follows the path of other action RPGs, and gives you an attack button. There is also a jump button for use in some light platforming sections. You will also have a button to activate your boost mode, as well as a spell ability attack.

Attacks feel pretty accurate. Hit detection is pretty solid in this game. Battles generally feel not only fair, but satisfying as well. As you level up your character by grinding kills, and finding items, some of these moves can be upgraded. So a mystical force field can be increased in size, or a fire attack made more powerful.  The game also features a checkpoint system similar to Metroid Prime’s Save Rooms. In certain areas you will find statues of the Goddesses. Here you can save your progress, or use the currency picked up from fallen enemies to upgrade your items. There are all sorts of items you can find like better weapons, and armor throughout the game. There are other items that are paramount to solving certain puzzles. For instance, there is a mask that allows you to find hidden paths one couldn’t find otherwise.

Other items are needed to further the storyline you are playing. You may need to find a certain item, and back track it to an NPC you found earlier. All in order to acquire a new item to get further along. Initially, the game will feel a little bit linear. Early on, the game makes things fairly easy to figure out, and you won’t really feel much need to explore or backtrack. Thankfully, after the first segment or so, it really begins to open up in its level design. Once that happens, you’ll find yourself exploring every nook, and cranny for potential items. From there you’ll constantly try to find another statue to buy upgrades, and save your progress.

There is only one major drawback to the level design aside from some early linearity. That is that the entire game takes place in the tower featured at the end of the original Ys. Because of this, it limits some of the environment variety. There aren’t any outdoor environments to really explore. There are certainly a lot more than steel or stone structures mind you. There are areas that have a sandpit theme, volcanic foundries, a flooded section, as well as some fantastical sections. They do fit the themes of the storylines nicely, but one can’t help but miss exploring large swaths of land, and finding towns, or other structures. Still, when the game opens up, again you will do plenty of exploring. So it isn’t a complete deal breaker.

Upgrading your character is also very important in Ys Origin. Because while this game may be more action oriented than many standard RPGs, leveling is still a big deal. Some of the regular enemies will seem impossible until you do, as taking one or two strikes will probably kill you. On that front, enemy variety is quite large. You even have access to a log book that adds entries describing each new type you discover. It will also add entries for NPCs, and even boss characters. There are goblins, orcs, killer turtles, phoenix birds, and countless other monsters.

Bosses in this game are also grand, and amazing. Some of them return from the original Ys games with retooled attacks. Some of them are entirely new. While the game may not be a technical powerhouse, these bosses still come off as imposing. Each of these boss battles will feel like an event. Even after you solve an attack pattern, or find the right item. The enemy variety continues in the run of bosses. You’ll face towering demons, NPC’s, and more.

It goes along with some excellent presentation. Ys Origin combines modelled environments with 2D sprites. Sprites are very detailed, and colorful. As in other Ys games characters have a super deformed look, while the cinema screens, and dialogue HUDs feature a more traditional manga style. Cut scenes vary. Some of them are done in the game’s engine, while others are done in FMVs. The FMVs look right out of an anime, featuring some really nice animation, and colors. Unfortunately the FMVs do have a compressed look to them, with some grain.

The audio in Ys Origin is one of the highlights here. The hard rock chip tunes are really well crafted, and mesh nicely with orchestration. Most of the songs have catchy hooks, and will bounce around in your head hours later. Some of these are remakes of classic Ys games’ songs, while others are new. Sound effects are terrific. Fighting enemies have nice punchy sounds, along with some excellent clings, and clangs during blocks. Enemies growl, scream, and even explode while accompanied with some wonderful cues. Even little details you would find important in other games from other genres are here. Footsteps, Doors opening or closing, you name it, it probably has a nice sound effect to go along with it.

Depending on the difficulty you select, Ys Origin can take anywhere from six to ten hours to finish. It isn’t a terribly long JRPG. However, playing through each of the character quests can get you as many as thirty hours, as the storylines will artificially lengthen the game in doing so. Even though the game is short compared to most RPGs where there are hundreds of hours of side quests, or activities, Origin delivers. It has a large roster of likable characters, the game play is rewarding, and has one of the better storylines in the genre. Even if it isn’t entirely original, it takes a few chances. Some of the swerves you’ll see coming, and others will surprise you.

Ys Origin doesn’t have very high requirements by today’s standards, so almost any modern PC should be able to run it with little trouble. The Steam release also features some achievements, and support for widescreen monitor displays. Ultimately, it is a really cool game. JRPG fans, as well as retro gamers would do well to check out the prequel to this under looked series. Especially those who would like to see more Japanese developers produce games for computers.

Final Score: 8 out of 10