I have to battle WHAT now?! 5 ridiculous retro gaming bosses

Star Fox's slot machine in space

Hooray! What do I win? ‘Death’? Ah, crud

It’s hard being a retro gaming villain. There you are, ruling your kingdom with all the power and evil henchmen you could ever wish for, when some upstart comes along and ruins everything.

That’s bad enough. But what if the game designers made you… different? If those infernal tormentors gave you a ridiculous body or put you somewhere you don’t belong (like in space – more on that later), then your misery is compounded. It can be hard being evil.

Retro games feature some of the best, wackiest villains out there. In a time when developers were less concerned with incredible realism, there was more room for characters, plots and bosses that were just plain weird. So here’s our homage to 5 of our favourite ridiculous retro gaming bosses.


Mecha-Hitler – Wolfenstein 3D

What’s more evil than Adolf Hitler? Why, Adolf Hitler in a giant mecha suit armed with quad mini guns!

As he stomps around his secret bunker in his ridiculous robotic armour, you’re left wondering why the Nazis didn’t make greater use of this before. Or why more of his henchmen don’t have these suits in Wolfenstein 3D. Or why Hitler decides to only fire the suit’s four mini guns for one paltry second before he starts stamping towards you again. Maybe he just wants a hug.

Mecha-Hitler

History you don’t learn in the textbooks

After you destroy his suit, Hitler hops out with two mini guns. Because one isn’t enough, apparently. Nevertheless, he maintains his strict policy of not shooting for as long as possible, hoping you’ll die of fright, thereby enabling you to pick him off with a pistol. Strangely, tactics like this weren’t tried out in the blitzkrieg. Can’t imagine why.


The space-faring slot machine – Star Fox

Part of an alternate ending level called Out of this Dimension, the slot machine must be one of the most bizarre retro gaming bosses there is. The pinnacle of an outlandish level that’s something of a mix between a psychedelic drugs trip and a Star Trek nerd’s lucid dream, the level features circus music and warping, shifting shapes floating around in the ether.

Then, enter the slot machine. To activate it you must shoot its handle, whereupon its dials start spinning like a Las Vegas one-armed bandit. If an Andross image appears you’ll get assailed by missiles and lasers, and the only way to win is by getting triple 7’s. Once that happens, the credits start scrolling, activating a mini game where you need to spell out the words ‘The End’. Which of course resets once you do it, meaning you can never fully win. Yeah, we don’t know what this one’s all about either.


The Great Mighty Poo – Conker’s Bad Fur Day

Conker’s Bad Fur Day makes another appearance here on The Next Level Gaming, although this time it’s for its hilarious take on final bosses. In keeping with the game’s general irreverence and rude humour, the final villain is an enormous, singing poo with sweetcorn for teeth – because, it claims, that’s the only thing that makes it through its rear. Lovely.

Appropriately, to defeat it you need to throw toilet rolls into its mouth, leading to it being flushed away. Which brings up another thing – if this is the hardest enemy in the game, living in a world of poo of its own design, why does it choose to sit above what is essentially a giant toilet? Ridiculous to the core, which is why The Great Mighty Poo makes it onto our list.


Joe Head Joe – Skullmonkeys

This boss is just downright crazy. Probably the result of either an internal developer joke or an attempt to placate an over-zealous fan, it’s got a giant human head… which is also its body. And another head on top of the body… head… thing. And then its legs come straight out of its head-body, meaning it has no real body… except the head one…

Its attacks feature burping out fireballs and poisonous bubbles and, disgustingly, popping out its eyeballs and rolling them at you. Although they’re not the only eyeballs it has because the head-body has another set just behind them lying in wait, just waiting for another insane attack.

Did we tell you this character is messed up? Thought so.


Andross – Star Fox series

Now, don’t think that because there’s another Star Fox entry here that we somehow have a grudge against the game. Far from it, Star Fox is a retro classic beloved by millions. But its bosses… they were a little unusual at times.

Prime example – Andross. The arch nemesis of Fox McCloud, Andross is an evil scientist banished from his home planet after his numerous outrageous crimes. He’s experimented on himself to the extend that he’s now just a floating head and pair of hands.

Wait, what? The main enemy, the most evil being in the galaxy, is a floating head and pair of hands? Not some sort of grisly alien monster? Or super-mecha-robot-beast? Not even a green turtle-dragon-thing? No? Hmm.

Nope, he just looks a bit like a giant monkey face with impressive eyebrows. And in the first Star Fox game he was a massive metal skull and had a cube covered in images of himself. So he’s weird and egotistical. You stay classy, Andross.


Which villains did you think were the weirdest? Should Bowser’s naive-yet-strangely-persistent attempts to kidnap the Princess have earned him a place on this list? Or was there someone else we forgot about? Let us know in the comments below! Or why not like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter?

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2 thoughts on “I have to battle WHAT now?! 5 ridiculous retro gaming bosses

  1. Isn’t that the way it always was? You’re the evil super villain, and you’ve got all your random monsters just trolling around your hideout, which apparently is a maniacal death trap with no actual functional design. Apparently evil monster lairs don’t require mechanical infrastructure, and no one in your organization has any actual “job duties” other than “kill anything that isn’t hideously gruesome”!

    • Exactly. If they really wanted to stop the likes of Mario or Link ever getting as far as the final battle, they wouldn’t have put all those slowly-rotating fire sticks in the corridors, they would have just made the entire thing on fire. Or put a huge un-jumpable abyss in the way. As you say, it’s not like the boss’s lairs are exactly functional anyway, so why give the imposters a chance?

      Being a video game villain is completely illogical in some ways, although these ones are the basically the weirdest of the weird. These bosses are like “yeah, we’re completely insane, but you’ve still got to beat us. Try not to laugh.” They revel in their bizarre nature, which is something you don’t see that often in video games these days, at least not in the major blockbusters.

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