The chips are down. The odds are stacked against you. The atmosphere leaves little doubt in your mind – if you want to survive, you’ll have to fight.
The boss battle is perhaps the most memorable staple of any video game, ever. And what’s a decent boss fight without some music to go with it? Last week, I detailed some of the best composers in the gaming industry, the men and women who’ve etched their music down into legend.
Today, we’re going to get a bit more specific: we’re going to look at some of the most memorable, ear-popping, adrenaline inducing boss music to ever make its way onto the digital screen.
Bhaalspawn Battle (Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal):In Baldur’s Gate II, you take on the role of a Bhaalspawn: a cursed son or daughter of the lod of murder, possessed of godlike powers. You’re far from the only one: and whenever you end up encountering another of your brethren (they’re never friendly. Ever.), you’re treated to this song. Of course, most of you probably remember it most from the battle with the Fire Giant, Yaga-Shura. The starting city, Saradush, has just been sacked by Yaga-Shura’s army, and you’re now the only thing standing between his forces and the rest of the continent. Did I mention they’re here to kill you, specifically?
Yeah, it’s a pretty awesome fight.
02(Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards):For a franchise cheerful as it is, the Kirby series has some downright disturbing enemies. One of these is the eldritch abomination, Zero, the monstrosity which commands Dark Matter; a force which threatens to consume Kirby’s universe. After killing him in the third game, he makes a return in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards after you’ve collected all the crystals, as a zombified-looking fallen angel…thing. This song leaves no doubts: you’re the only one who can defeat this thing, and if you don’t, well….
So much for Dreamland.
Last Battle (The Witcher):While Last Battle might be one of the shorter songs on this list, it’s no less incredible. It perfectly portrays the dual sense of determination and desperation present in the battles during which it plays, and feels as though it was custom-tailored to suit its name.
Lady Tears II (Shadow Hearts: From the New World):This one’s a touch strange to listen to – the composer, I think, designed to portray the anguish felt by the game’s final boss. It certainly feels more tragic than any of the other compositions that made the list, and even the ‘heroic’ portions of the piece seem to have an air of sadness about them.
Undead Core/Ballos (Cave Story):Cave Story is filled to the brim with catchy, enjoyable music, but the song that plays during the fight with the Islands Undead Core (or, if you run through the Sacred Grounds to the Sealed Chamber, Ballos) is by far my favorite. Either you’re fighting the puppet master responsible for pretty much everything that went wrong in the world…or you’re doing battle with the warped, twisted, ancient sorcerer who created the puppet master’s primary weapon. Either way, the song leaves no doubt that there’s no turning back.
Final Boss (Sonic the Hedgehog):I like a lot of the music from the Sonic the Hedgehog series, but very few of the songs have come anywhere close to being as good as the one which plays during your final encounter with Eggman. Masato Nakamura did a masterful job piecing this one together, and I invite you to listen to it without getting goosebumps – particularly if you’ve beaten the original Sonic The Hedgehog.
World Revolution (Chrono Trigger):The stakes can’t get much higher than they were in the first battle against Lavos – a complete apocalypse which leaves the world a dying, burnt-out shell is a pretty difficult thing to top. Lavos is a monstrosity that’s ancient beyond imagining, and when fighting it, one gets the very real sense that it’s done this sort of thing before- and that, to this world-devouring abomination, your party seems little more threatening than insects. Chrono Trigger was an incredible game for a lot of reasons, and the music is undeniably one of them.
Cannonball (Megaman Zero 3):If you haven’t played Megaman Zero 3, you probably shouldn’t read this next bit: there are some pretty major spoilers. See, towards the end of that game, Zero finds out that, while his ‘mind’ might be that of the original, his body most assuredly is not. Omega possesses Zero’s empty shell, and, after mockingly declaring himself the world’s messiah, draws his – your – weapon.
Keep in mind that this creature you’re fighting is the one that CAUSED the apocalypse which left the world in its current, devastated condition.
Zeus(God of War III):Again, spoiler warning- though everybody knew it would happen eventually. God of War III features a final, world-shattering encounter between Kratos and Zeus, the king of the gods and quite possibly one of the most colossal dicks in the series. By this point, Kratos has realized that killing the gods is going to destroy the world – not that he cares. The battle against Zeus is quite possibly one of the most epic in the series, and the music that plays during the encounter only serves to make things even better.
True Heroes (Viewtiful Joe 2):Both catchy and fast-paced, the music which plays during final battle of Viewtiful Joe 2 (who many could argue might easily count as the penultimate battle of the series) is a sort of operatic rock medley. It’s hard to listen without getting pumped up.
Tell us what your favorite Boss Battle Themes are. Did we miss any?
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