Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, #5


Yesterday I mentioned in passing that fighting Beowulf from Devil May Cry 3 was a boss fighting experience that transcended the staples of normal gaming challenges.

To me, the difficulty of fight with Beowulf stemmed not just from the challenges presented by the gameplay of that segment, by also by the psychological stress the battle places on you, the player.

Now, I consider myself a particularly seasoned gamer, so whenever a videogame is able to genuinely cause me stress, and not just anger or annoyance; it tends to stand out to me as something special.

Such is the reason the battle with Beowulf stood out to me as both an incredibly difficult and exhilarating fight entirely worthy of The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights.

On that same note, today’s boss just happens to have earned their spot in much the same fashion as Beowulf.

As chatty as he is dangerous, the #5 entrant on our list of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights is:

#5. Sinistar – Sinistar

Pictured: A lone fighter pilot prepares to face the dreaded Sinistar head-on.

“BEWARE, I LIVE!”

If ever there were a phrase in gaming history capable of sending a chill down a gamer’s spine, that quote from Williams’ Sinistar would have to be it.

Announcing his presence with a Jack and the Beanstalk-esque “Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum!” of sorts, the arrival of Sinistar at the end of each level in the game of the same name is one of those moments in gaming that, though it may seem ho hum by today’s standards; will live on forever as a classic of it’s time.

Sinistar’s hilariously minimalist taunts and battle cries will likely live on forever, however it’s easy to forget that, as fun as it could be when you were winning; the game was hard as fuck.

A classic twitch shooter through and through, Sinistar was one of those mean-ass arcade games that would bait you into thinking it wasn’t all that tough, only to stomp the ever loving shit out of you by level 2.

Be it Centipede, Missile Command or Robotron, arcade games of the early 80’s, and indeed throughout much of the history of arcade machines thrived on inviting players in win the promise of a fun first level, only to drop the hammer and crush them just a few stages down the road.

Centipede: A whole helluva' lot harder than you'd think.

I’m guessing this was supposed to trigger a “What the fuck? Let’s try this again…” psychological response in the players or something.

Things were different back then.

It was a lot easier to justify pumping money into a machine for a few minutes of fun when few people owned consoles of their own, not to mention the fact that the home systems weren’t capable of the graphical sophistication presented by arcade machines of the time.

History lesson aside, Sinistar was entirely guilty of the gameplay model mentioned above.

It was pretty easy in the first level, but holy Ewoks and graham crackers brother, you gotta’ be a motherfuckin’ pinball wizard to get much further than that!

The boss of the game, Sinistar; being largely responsible for said nut-crushing difficulty.

Fighting Sinistar is not what you’d call a “fight” in the traditional sense.

Much in the way I wouldn't call this a "fight."

Up until his arrival, you spend your time in the game piloting your star fighter, shooting the occasional enemy, and, quite literally; shaking down asteroids for “Sinibombs” and crystals.

The gameplay during this phase of the game, at least during some of the earlier stages; is actually kind of eerie in terms of how quiet and relaxed it can be.

Like many arcade games of the day, the game features no music during play, resulting in a unnerving silence in between the occasional laser or explosion sound effect.

Don’t let my overly romanticized descriptions fool you, this phase of the game is merely the calm before the storm.

Allow me to paint for you, a picture (in words) of how a typical fight with Sinistar goes down:

As you’re collecting shit out in space, at some point you’ll likely notice the enemy ships zipping about and snagging crystals before you can get to them.

For whatever reason they aren’t trying to shoot you down…. For what purpose could they be gathering the crystals for?

As this process continues for a time, it will likely dawn on you that those little ships are up to something…

Something…. SINISTAR.

Just as you’re starting to put the pieces of the puzzle together in your mind, suddenly a horrifying call resonates from the void of space, shooting shivers down your spine and dookie out your poop-hole.

“BEWARE, I LIVE!”

HOLY FUCKING SHIT!

The ravenous space-beast Sinistar has arrived!

His hunger knows no bounds!

He dares you to run, as it is truly your only option in the face of such a beast!

Moreover, he is Sinistar, and he lives!

From the time the hunting call sounds, precious few seconds remain before the great gray beast comes into view and gives chase.

Innumerable questions come flooding into your mind with the utmost urgency:

Should I go out looking for Sinistar, or let him come to me?

Do I have enough Sinibombs to kill him?

Am I a bad enough dude to rescue the president?

Eventually, all questioning and speculation goes out the window as the mighty Sinistar rears his demonic head and cuts a swath through the flotsam of the cosmos, bellowing insults and taunts at every turn!

You juke left!

You juke right!

And all the while Sinistar follows close behind!

In your panic, your fingers trace their way across the surface of the arcade cabinet in search of the one weapon, the one source of sanctuary that can hope to save you from the advance of Sinistar:

The Sinibomb button.

You mash on the button again and again, scattering scores of Sinibombs into the massive face of Sinistar!

With every impact the great beast howls in pain, delivering a shock to your nerves, and a morbid sense of satisfaction…

Bomb after bomb makes it’s mark and your confidence begins to build.

13 direct hits are all that are needed to fell the space monster, could victory be within reach?

NO.

You depress the Sinibomb button one last time only to realize:

You’re out of ammo.

The gray space leviathan follows close behind without any semblance of fear across it’s battered, mechanical visage.

"Never wound... What you can't kill."

In a desperate bid for survival, you begin making attempts to rebuild your ammo supply, carefully skirting asteroids while slowly giving ground to the rapidly encroaching Sinistar.

You juke left!

You juke right!

And just before you recover the last Sinibomb you need to finish the monster pursuing you, it happens:

You accidentally bump an asteroid, Sinistar slams into your ship and crushes it in his terrible maw; sending fiery chunks of debris out into every corner of space.

Such is the ordeal that is fighting Sinistar.

The actual procedure is little more than a fairly straightforward chase, however due to the panic-inducing presence of the boss in question, coupled with the variables of the level construction, (I.E. enemy ships, asteroids) the difficulty piles up very quickly.

If that’s not Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights material, I don’t know what is.

Oh yeah, after all my fanciful storytelling I guess you deserve a look at what the actual battle with Sinistar looks like in-game:

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Snow Bros: The Best Game Ever

Snow Bros. was my favorite videogame as a kid.

Every week or so, my mom would take my brother out to rent an NES game from a little mom and pop rental store near our local grocery, Art’s Grocery.

Rentals at this store were one day only, so you had to be sure you would enjoy whatever it was you rented.

Well, you can bet I was satisfied by my selection every time, ’cause I must’ve rented Snow Bros. like 50 times.

Snow Bros. was a simple yet enjoyable game that shared more than a few simalarities with Bubble Bobble.

I know Bubble Bobble is way older, but c'mon, Snow Bros. kicks it's ass.

The story goes like this:

Nick and Tom are two dudes that are trying to put the moves on these twin princesses, then some evil sorceror shows up and jacks their bitches, but not before turning good ‘ole Nick and Tom into snowmen.

Apparently turning dudes into snowmen is supposed to diminish their ability to rescue princesses.

Fortunately, that logic is bullshit, and our evil sorceror ends up seriously dropping the ball, ’cause snowmen or not; Nick and Tom are BAD DUDES, and they have what it takes to save the president.

If you never got to see this screen, then you aren't truly a BAD DUDE.

The basic gameplay of Snow Bros. has the two players, cast as Nick and Tom; being dropped into a series of single-screen arenas populated with monsters that they have to defeat in order to advance.

Sounds like pretty standard arcade game fare, doesn’t it?

That’s because it is, smart ass.

The fun part of Snow Bros., was in specifically “how” the player went about defeating monsters.

Although nobody kills monsters like Rick from Splatterhouse. NOBODY.

The Snow Bros. of the games’ title each possess the ability to throw snowballs, manufactured from their own bodies no less; that they can use to pile up on their enemies, thusly encasing them in giant, roll-able snowballs.

Good God this movie was terrifying...

Being as most of the stages are set up as a series of cascading platforms, it only makes sense that the Snow Bros. method of killing monsters consists of taking said roll-able snowballs, and sending them careening into other monsters.

Upon steamrolling monsters with a snowball, the resulting pile of monster corpses transform into food products (snowmen are gluttons) or colored medicine bottles, each of which provide the players with a number of different power-ups.

One caused the snowmen’s feet to develop restless leg syndrome.

I believe the medical term is "The Jimmy legs."

One made the snowmen’s balls bigger.

Right Guy: "I WIN."

One made the snowmen’s balls shoot farther.

Yikes, better get that thing checked out, man. Oh wait, you found a little boy to take care of that for you.

And my personal favorite, the ultra-rare teal medicine, made the snowmen’s head inflate like a balloon, causing anything they touch to die instantly.

"ALL SHALL BOW BEFORE THE GREAT AND MIGHTY PENIS OF INSTANT DEATH!"

Snow Bros. was a wonderful game, that while a little too easy, and definitely repetitive, was easily my favorite videogame as a child.

My brother used to make fun of the title screen, calling Nick and Tom “fatties,” and of course pointing out that I was the fat and dumb snowman.

Mental giants they are not.

Which one he was referring to, I will never know, but I think it’s pretty safe to assume that it was the red one, seeing as my brother was ALWAYS player one.

The whole game could be beaten inside of a half hour, and though I beat the game numerous times with and without my brother, for some reason I spent most of my life thinking I never really beat the game.

Omega Tom Hanks: UN-FUCKING-BEATABLE.

You see, the final boss of Snow Bros. isn’t the evil sorceror whose portrait is featured in so many of the between level cut scenes, but rather a pair of statues that have zero personality, and are not so much as mentioned in the game’s (limited) narrative.

How the fuck do you go from this, to THIS!?

As a kid, I was so underwhelmed by the final battle in Snow Bros. that I outright denied it’s status as such.

It wasn’t until I replayed the game years later that I finally admitted myself that I had thoroughly beat Snow Bros.’ ass.

“Holy shit, that’s really the end?” I said to myself.

I found myself saying the same thing about 3-4 times during this movie. Was none too happy about it.

Other than the bullshit final battle, Snow Bros. was great.

I loved the little things, like how the snowmen would “Superman” their way out of each stage, and how an evil pumpkin headed ghost would drop down from the heavens and kill you if you played too slow.

This punk scared the piss outta' me.

I loved the enemy designs, especially the fuzzy purple dudes that did pirouettes until they turned into heat-seeking tornadoes of rape-age.

No comment.

Some of the bosses were pretty memorable too, with one of my favorites being the twin naked chickens that you fight in the freezer.

Thought I was kiddin', didn'cha?

The music was also spot-on, with a stage 1 theme that I catch myself humming to this day.

It’s kind of funny actually, my mom still remembers the stage 1 theme of Snow Bros., in fact she still teases me about it whenever she overhears me talking about videogames.

She always reminds me of the days when I would wake her and my dad up at obscene hours of the morning, humming along with my Snow Bros.

Pretty sure we had one of these posted in front of my house.

I am well aware that Snow Bros. is a Capcom port derived from a Toaplan series of arcade games.

You can thank Toaplan for giving you this, you fucking dork.

I’ve pumped quarters into both arcade machines because of my fondness of the NES version, however I found both to be graphically superior, but otherwise quarter-munching games that lack the charm and nostalgia factor of the console version.

Also, the music quality was tinny and crappy.

While the second game gets points for it’s expanded cast, and overt Japanese-ness, for my money the NES version is the best of the bunch.

Snow Bros 2 with New Elves: The Creepiest Fucking Player Select Screen EVER.

Anyway, I’ve always felt that Snow Bros. was lacking in terms of fan support, so I figured I would take the time to write a little something showing my appreciation for it.

God bless you Snow Bros., I still can’t believe I never owned you.

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