Video Game Rage – Bad Bosses #1

Surprise, surprise. Another Video Game Rage focusing on Sonic Generations. Yes, the game was enough to warrant another dose of RAGE. This one focuses on the final boss of the game; a menacing purple cloud that goes by the name of Time Eater. You think with a name like that you’d be treated to a pretty epic boss fight– nope, you get a menacing purple cloud that continually flies away from you. You can see him floating up in the Title Card for this edition of VGR. However, before I dive into this post I’ll explain a bit about what I like about bosses.

Bosses can make or break the climax of video games. What do we all remember when we reach that big moment at the end of the game? The big bad boss that kicks our ass and looks good while doing so. Recently, games don’t include bosses as much; instead we’re usually treated to a big final enemy push, a protection mission, or in the case of MW3, you’re given a badass God-mode to take on the big enemy. In some truly awful cases the bosses are put down to Quick Time Events, which I’m not a fan of the slightest. I firmly believe that a good boss is a dying art. They’re going to keep disappearing until bosses almost become a niche game trait, which is something that I think would be really disheartening.

As you can tell by the title this is all about ‘Bad Bosses’; I can assure you that there will be future entries called ‘Good Bosses’ where I’ll talk about all the bosses that are truly memorable experiences. For now, I’m going to talk about the stinky pile of turd that is Sonic Generations’ final boss. Spoilers lie within, but who really cares in a game with a story like Sonic Generations?

The 2D Sonic games of a gaming age past had good boss fights. Each level had its own and the final boss itself was usually a great challenge in and of itself. The Sonic games’ bosses also usually had a very unique style and most gamers who gamed on the Sega could recognize the bosses from Robotnik’s contraption alone.

I would go so far to say that every 90s gamer recognizes Robotnik’s machine with the swinging wrecking ball as its weapon. Most kids played Green Hill Zone and most of them kicked Robotnik’s ass. This is a classic boss battle and something that the Sonic series should be, and is, remembered for. It was even revisited as a boss battle in Sonic 4, released quite recently on the XBLA and PSN.

I’m sure you recognize this right off the bat:

Now scroll up and go look at that blob of a mess that is the Time Eater. A nice case of bad design vs good design. I’ll get to the boss battle against the Time Eater in a few moments, I’m going to touch on a few other bosses that exist within Sonic Generations.

There were a few good bosses in Sonic Generations. There were three mini boss battles with Metal Sonic, Shadow and Silver that were all pretty fun and the boss with Perfect Chaos was enjoyable platforming fun. Then came Egg Dragoon, or whatever it was called, and pretty much ruined the boss streak that the game had going for it. Fittingly enough this was at this point, right before going into that boss, where I was thinking ‘this game has pretty great bosses’. Egg Dragoon kicked me in the face with its mind numbingly stupid boss battle and then Time Eater came right after.

The boss battles in this game had no chance now. Every good boss battle before it was now moot. As good as they were the game’s last two boss battles crapped all over the good ones and left them cold and humiliated in a ditch.

Now, the Time Eater himself. So we can get on the same page, here is a video of the final boss. There are spoilers here, as many as you can get in a formless purple turd.

You may not be able to tell from the video, but you’ll just have to trust me as someone who actually experienced this monstrosity. This fight is stupid. It is the goat testicles of gaming. It’s the part that you don’t want to actually play, but for some reason you just force yourself to go through it. I did it for completion of the game, but I regret it.

The boss battle is you flying towards him as Super Sonic(s) as he throws shit in your path and perpetually flies further away. You dodge what he throws at you and eventually you get close enough to damage his core three times. He slows down time occasionally, which, of course, just makes the boss battle even more drawn out and frustrating. His attacks aren’t necessarily lethal, in actuality you’re not even competing against him. That’s the worst part.

This whole boss battle is a very thinly disguised time attack mode. To stay as Super Sonic you need rings because your rings will slowly deplete while staying in Super mode. The rings in the level are hard as hell to see and if you spend too much time focusing on hitting your target and not your ring counter you’ll find yourself suddenly falling to your death. Out of nowhere. You lost. You didn’t save the day. You’re NOTHING.

This never made the boss fun, challenging or anything remotely good. It was pretty much a giant steaming turd with no actual stakes. When I started to lose I wasn’t getting scared of losing because of how intense it was, or because of feeling compelled by the story and situation– I was getting scared because I didn’t want to actually attempt that stupid boss fight all over again.

Watch the video. You’ll see the Time Eater’s tedium.

That’s probably the easiest way to simply define a ‘bad boss’. A boss that you want to win against not because he’s cool, challenging or anything of value– you want to win because you don’t want to waste your time going through and beating everything all over again. If you’re faced with that situation you should consider turning off your game and doing something else. Like reading TUG.

In a few weeks: Good Bosses #1


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