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The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, #6


It’s funny, as I was typing out the article for yesterday’s entry on our list of The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, it dawned on me just how much I hated fighting Duriel from Diablo II.

As much as I discovered I hated him though, I feel I was justified in placing him relatively low on this list.

Despite the fact that I’m pretty sure there’s not a single boss character on this list that I hate more than him, the actual difficulty that came from fighting Duriel came almost entirely as a result of his unbalanced and, quite frankly; cheap design.

He’s not hard per se, he’s just broken….. And more than a little douche-y.

The point I’m trying to make, is that, in my eyes; the hardest boss fights are the ones that are just that:

Tough fights.

Fighting Duriel isn’t what I’d call a traditional fight, it’s just an unwarranted and totally out of place exercise in tedium within the confines of an otherwise straightforward and balanced game.

I know it’s just a matter of opinion, but I felt I needed to make my stance on this subject as clear as possible.

That being, the next boss on our list, earned his spot, not through being cheap, or even unpredictable; but by simply being one of toughest motherfuckers I’ve ever fought.

There are bosses with patterns, and there are bosses with weaknesses, and then there’s the #6 entrant on our list of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights:

#6. Beowulf – Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening

Pictured: Dante, about a half second a way from getting bitch slapped by Beowulf.

To me, Beowulf isn’t just one of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, he’s also one of the best.

His pattern isn’t anywhere near as complex as some of the other bosses in Devil May Cry 3, and he certainly doesn’t deal an inordinate amount of damage; but for my money he’s the toughest boss in a game packed to the hilt with some of gaming’s stiffest challenges.

We're talkin' TURBO TUNNEL-tough!

The fact of the matter is, Beowulf’s a hard boss simply because he makes you work for your victory over him.

There’s no such thing as a quick win over Beowulf, and therein lies the beauty in fighting him.

The frantic nature of the battle prevents his various “phases” from ever feeling overlong, not to mention lead to instances where the sheer intensity of the conflict cause you to make mistakes with your controller.

If ever there were a sign that a boss is tough, it’d have to be that of making your hands twitch out of pure sensory overload.

To this day, I have yet to find a “good” way to fight Beowulf outside playing it cool and wearing him down.

That’s the thing with Beowulf:

He doesn’t have any weaknesses.

Unlike most Devil May Cry bosses, and indeed most bosses in general, Beowulf doesn’t have a magic solution to his pattern.

Hell, he doesn’t even really have a significant vulnerability to any weapon in the game, making defeating Beowulf an affair based purely on skill and endurance.

Unlike fuckin’ Crash Man:

Beowulf’s pattern is essentially that of a pressure-fighter, a Rocky Balboa if you will.

He’s predictable, and he’s kind of slow, but he’s on your ass all night long and there’s no safe way to hurt him.

At first glance he seems like a pushover as long as you keep your distance, however the sad truth of the matter is:

Inevitably he’s going to catch up to you.

.... But not without taking 20 times the punishment in the process.

While all Beowulf really does in his opening phase is stomp and throw haymakers, there’s a clever science to the placement of his attack angles.

You can see every move he makes coming from a mile away, and yet, due to the wide-arcing nature of his swipes; you’ll often find yourself caught by blows that initially looked harmless.

As is typical of Devil May Cry bosses, Beowulf is rarely reactive to the damage of your attacks, making it unwise to exchange blows with him, given his potent attack power that is equally typical to the series.

The one exploitable weakness I know of that Beowulf has, is extraordinarily minor to the point of being almost counterproductive.

Throughout various cutscenes in the game, as well as the in-game graphics; it is imparted to you that Beowulf bears a scar over one of his eyes.

Whenever a blow is delivered to Beowulf’s scarred eye, he immediately clutches it in pain and swings wildly with his free arm with surprising accuracy.

"Nobody move! One of my contacts just fell out!"

This technique is only really viable in the first phase of the battle, and indeed does a fair amount of damage, however the dangers in employing jumping attacks against Beowulf are numerous, so in my opinion it’s better to play defensively and simple forego the exploit altogether.

The second and third phases of the fight are where things get really hairy.

Up until this point in the fight, Beowulf basically just plods about and punches at you, however once you’ve done enough damage to trigger his second phase, he drops down onto all fours and starts running about the arena with frightening speed.

In between phases, he throws easy to dodge metal towers at you, but make no mistake, once he’s on all fours, he becomes quite difficult to keep up with.

Given his ability to break into a gallop at any given moment, Beowulf’s second phase takes the tricky accuracy of his initial attack pattern and injects a element of unpredictability that makes it a bitch to keep up with.

Much like fighting Sigma in the Mega Man X games, Beowulf is a test not only in a twitch sense, but also in the sense that you never really feel like you’re pulling ahead in the fight.

Sadly, defeat usually comes very late in the fight against Beowulf, as his third and final phase is hard to avoid without taking at least some damage…. Damage that one usually can’t afford to spare by this point in the fight.

Beowulf’s third phase compounds all of his previous attacks and abilities, but adds a few volleys of glowing white energy fired from his now fully outstretched wings.

...I guess I better say what everyone's thinking: BEAST MODE: ENGAGE.

The damage dealt from these projectiles is significant, but mostly survivable.

The real kicker in all this, is the fact that it’s very difficult to avoid these volleys without taking at least some damage.

After softening you up with the projectiles, typically Beowulf will charge at you full speed, at which point one of you will likely be killed given the lowly state of your health bars.

Just take a look at this video where the player does well throughout, but inevitably ends up with almost no health by the battle’s final moments:

That’s what I love about fighting Beowulf:

He represents the rare case when a boss demands not just precision, but also endurance.

He really doesn’t do all that much, but something about the way he subtly changes his angles in order to chase you, and unpredictably makes use of his running attacks; makes him hard in a way that’s different from many other bosses.

Simply spamming the dodge or roll commands won’t work, because if your timing is off he’ll punish the shit out of you.

Simply pulling out the “right” weapon won’t work, because he doesn’t bear any weaknesses to any of them.

Simply hanging back and shooting him death won’t work, because eventually he’ll spread his wings and run your ass into the ground.

Beowulf’s a terrific boss, that also just happens to be one of the hardest I’ve ever fought.

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Bayonetta: First Impressions

BUTT.

In light of yesterday’s Devil May Cry post, I figure it’s appropriate that I take the time to share some of my thoughts on the similar, but also very different game:

Bayonetta on the Xbox 360.

Please bear in mind that, as of this post, I’ve only got about 2 and a half hours of gameplay under my belt.

Developed by Sega, and directed by the prolific and uber-talented Hideki Kamiya of the now defunct Clover Studio, as well as the original Devil May Cry fame, Bayonetta is, in a word:

JAPANESE.

Every pixel, frame, word and beat of Bayonetta is absolutely gushing with Japanese zaniness and anime-esque melodrama, such that my first few minutes with the game were almost too much to bear.

The aesthetic is way over-the-top, and the story and characters decidedly tongue-in-cheek, and for the most part, not all that appealing to me from a personal standpoint.

Nope, still not appealing. Goddamn she got a tiny head...

Despite this, I will say this:

The artistic design of the game, while not necessarily up my alley; is actually quite impressive.

The costuming and ornamentation of the character designs, while perhaps a little bit too flashy and intricate for it’s own good, are quite unique and certainly praise worthy.

Huh, this I like. Go figure...

In fact, I could honestly see myself owning a coffee table book of the production materials for Bayonetta at some point.

Anyway, the flashy cut scenes of Bayonetta, (choreographed by the always excellent Yuji Shimomura of Versus and Death Trance fame) annoy me much in the same way that Devil May Cry’s do.

They’re overlong, they often show the characters behaving contrary to how they do in-game, (Anybody at all tired of seeing Dante be invincible in cut scenes, only to be a total pussy in-game? Anybody?) and they feel artificial, like flash for the sake of flash.

Kind of like any movie by:

Pictured: "Flash" incarnate.

I guess the cut scenes just frustrate me because they are actually quite intrusive to the gameplay experience.

Like Devil May Cry, Bayonetta is a game all about action, and when the action is frequently interrupted by cut scenes, showing my character busting out awesome moves that I’d like to see myself do in-game, I get just a little bit frustrated.

Bottom line, 2 hours into Bayonetta, I can’t help but feel that the pacing is not quite up to snuff, as the gameplay seems to come in all too infrequent spurts.

Which brings me to my 2nd, and ultimately far more critical gripe:

Bayonetta’s learning curve is just plain mean.

We're talkin' Kobe Mean Face-Mean!

While the game, like any current gen game, comes with the obligatory introductory tutorial sequence that seems to be essential to the illiterate, non-instruction manual reading gamers of today, outside of teaching you the basic button inputs of the game, Bayonetta doesn’t really teach you how to play the game.

Sure, you can put up a good fight, and sure you know what you’re doing for the most part, but at the end of the day, if you’re playing the game straight through as I am, you’re just not given enough time to get a grip on the gameplay before the game starts tossing you some serious shit to deal with.

"Oh don't mind me, I'm just the first boss. Excuse me while I TOTALLY WRECK YOUR SHIT while eating bagels and lox."

This is coming from someone that utterly beasted half of the Devil May Cry series.

My problem is this:

Bayonetta didn’t give me enough time to warm-up to it.

In the Devil May Cry series, the basic enemies are reactive to your blows, staggering and generally being reduced to punching bags the moment you first lay into them.

This is not the case in Bayonetta.

There is no fodder in Bayonetta.

Nope, none of these.

All of the enemies in Bayonetta are able to put up a decent fight, thusly leaving you with nobody hone your skills on.

Every fight is a desperate struggle.

From what I can tell, my complaint may in fact be a result of me having failed to grasp the concept of the dodge system and the Witch Time AKA Bullet Time mechanic.

I don't care what you tell me man. There IS a spoon, and I'm eating my fuckin' Cheerios with it as we speak. Fuckin' new-age bullshit...

Anyway, at this point, I’m tempted to say I like Devil May Cry 4 better, but I’m only a few hours in, so we’ll see.

I’m still having fun with Bayonetta.

I love the gorgeous presentation and liberal use of the context sensitive button mashing segments.

I’m diggin’ the core gameplay, but at this point I truly do suck at it.

Time will tell…

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Devil May Cry and the Azn Badger

Capcom’s Devil May Cry series is one that the Azn Badger desperately wants to love.

Honestly, I don’t really care much for the Gothic aesthetic of the series, nor do I have any sort of appreciation for the death metal soundtracks and overall overblown nature of the storylines and cutscenes.

So, what exactly is it that I do like about Devil May Cry?

That my friend, would of course be the bombastic, action-heavy gameplay of the series:

My introduction to the Devil May Cry came in the form of the 3rd, and best, entry in the series, Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening.

Yes, I am in fact aware that he is wearing a nipple-strap. The game STILL kicks ass...

Featuring the highest difficulty level in the series to date, as well as perhaps the best, or at least, most relatable storyline, Dante’s Awakening effectively ruined me from enjoying any of the other games in the franchise.

Let it be known, beginning a game series from it’s highest peak in terms of overall quality, and then working your way down is not the way to enjoy a videogame franchise.

That'd be like going from THIS to THIS.

You see, I really enjoyed my time with Devil May Cry 3 on my PS2.

I played it to death, nearly beating it on the hardest difficulty in the process.

After I finally grew tired of 3 though, I made the mistake of thinking it would be fun to work my way backwards and play through the first game in the series.

I skipped that sack of fail Devil May Cry 2 though, as I’ve heard nothing but bad about that one…

ASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!

From the moment I picked up the controller to play the original Devil May Cry, it immediately became clear to me that I was playing a vastly different, and far inferior game.

The gameplay was slower and less responsive.

The animations were less dynamic and felt very detached.

The attacks lacked the sense of “oomph” that was the highlight of the experience in the 3rd game.

Not only that, but due to the games’ age, the graphics and textures were somewhat lacking.

Yeah, I'd say there's a difference...

Needless to say, I found little enjoyment in playing the original Devil May Cry post-Dante’s Awakening, so much so that I saw fit to return it to Gamestop after only a few days.

Devil May Cry was a wonderful game for it’s time, serving as the progenitor of a new breed of fast-paced action games shortly after it’s release.

You see what you did Capcom!? You gave that piece of fuck Gackt an excuse to star in his own game!

Despite it’s laundry list of credentials though, being the first of something doesn’t necessarily make it the best, or in this case, anywhere near that level of quality.

Recently, I had the opportunity to play through Devil May Cry 4 on the Xbox 360.

Pretty fuckin' spankin' if you ask me...

After the beating the ever-loving piss and shit out of Devil May Cry 3 in decidedly epic-fashion several years back, I found Devil May Cry 4 to be somewhat tame in terms of difficulty.

In general enemies were easier to stun, and more importantly, easier to corral and manipulate, resulting in the gameplay being much more forgiving, and ultimately flashier than ever before.

Since the release of Devil May Cry 3, Capcom went on to reinvent the Resident Evil series, and indeed; much game design in general, with it’s 4th entry.

In the post-Resident Evil 4 world of gaming, context sensitive button functions were very much en vogue, predictably resulting in Capcom’s own Devil May Cry 4 including several instances of said gameplay elements.

In fact, awesomeness can be visited upon most enemies with a simple touch of the “B” button:

Cheap thrills yes, but thrills nonetheless.

Personally, I couldn’t give 2 shits about the new main character of Devil May Cry 4, a frustratingly emo little butt-pirate named Nero, (voiced by Adam the Black Ranger AKA Johnny Yong Bosch)

Pictured: Nero.

I will say this about him however:

His move-list is fun, inventive, and made all the better by the inclusion of the Devil Bringer in his arsenal.

The Devil Bringer is the chief innovation brought to the table in Devil May Cry 4, and for the most part, it’s worth the price of admission.

Trust me, yanking enemies over to your position for quick and efficient beat downs is a pleasure that far surpasses repeatedly Stinger-ing my way across an arena just to get to an out of reach opponent by leaps and bounds.

But then again, being able to do shit like this is pretty fun too:

While the game is a little bit on the easy side when compared to Devil May Cry 3, I’m willing to concede that that may in fact be a good thing.

Devil May Cry 3 was a beast.

It got off on taking eager young player’s confidence and shitting all over it like a fuckin’ pigeon perched above a Porsche.

... Yup, pretty much the visual I was going for.

4 however, is a prettier and more accessible game that even goes so far as to have a storyline (for those that give a shit) that requires virtually no knowledge of the prior games to understand.

Simply put, Devil May Cry 4 serves as a fine example of how to begin a series anew on a new platform.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it fared better than Resident Evil 5 in the console transition.

While not as good as 3, 4 was an enjoyable entry in a young series that was desperately in need of a #2 best game in it’s lineup, as up until it’s release, none of the other games could be at all regarded as anywhere near the level of quality of Dante’s Awakening.

I understand that I’m being critical of the series, but as I mentioned earlier, Devil May Cry is a series that I want to like.

So far we’ve got 4 games in the series, and I’ve only liked 2 of them.

I don’t like the art.

I don’t like the music.

I hate the storytelling.

All I play them for is the raw experience of playing the game.

In that sense, 1:2 ain’t a bad ratio at all.

KITTY.

Which brings us to the newest Devil May Cry game, one that, to my knowledge; is intended to be a massive diversion from the core series.

Uh, okay. I see what you did there, very nice... I don't get it.

Going by the name DmC, (Ugh…) this new game features a protagonist of a drastically different design aesthetic, as well as a game world that seems a little more urban, and less castle-like than previous entries in the series.

This would all be fine in my book, as I was never that attached to Dante or Nero as series’ protagonists, except for the fact that this new character’s design is just plain HIDEOUS.

Pictured: An ugly-ass, skinny piece of emo punk-fuckery that I honestly have ZERO desire to play as in a game.

At this point, all we have is a trailer to work from in terms of first impressions, however I for one feel my desire to give this game a shot slipping away purely based off of the character design:

That may sound petty of me, but unless DMC gets some truly fuckin’ incredible reviews chances are I’ll probably sit it out in favor of taking a step back and visiting some of other hardcore action game franchises out there, like the Ninja Gaiden series and Bayonetta.

Every now and again I have to ask myself: Why HAVEN'T I played this game yet?

Anyway, this has been a lengthy and intensely muddled post.

For this I apologize, but thanks for reading.

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