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The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, Runner-Ups


Well folks, it finally happened.

Yesterday we finally finished working our way up through the ranks of The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, and named Mike Tyson as the rightful owner of the #1 spot.

As per the norm whenever I put together a top 10 list, today we’ll be taking a look at some of the runner-ups to the list.

Some of the omissions surprise even myself, so expect a few exceptionally tough cookies to pop up in the proceedings.

That being said, let’s get to take a look at the top 5 runner-ups, presented, for my convenience; in no particular order:

#5. SS01-Schwarzgeist – Einhander

Pictured: The Astraea FGA Mk.I does battle with the heavily armed orbital satellite, the SS01-Schwarzgeist.

In case you’re wondering “Schwarzgeist” is German for “Black Ghost.”

With a name like that, the developers of Einhander were pretty much obligated to make this guy totally badass.

To be fair, they also went ahead and made pretty much the entire game absolutely fucking badass.

I’ve mentioned Einhander elsewhere on this blog, but for those who might not know, the game is a supremely difficult Playstation 1 scrolling shooter developed by Square.

While the game is populated by a host of tough bosses, each sporting a number of variable attack patterns depending on the approach you take in fighting them; “The Black Ghost” is likely the most difficult overall.

He also happens to have one of the better tracks in the game as his battle theme.

Boasting an absurdly complex attack pattern that is nearly impossible to grasp without burning a continue or 2, “The Black Ghost” is a brutal challenge that is nevertheless, much easier to defeat through brute force than pure skill.

That is to say, coming into the fight with the right weapons *Cough!* Grenade Launcher! *Cough!* is key to victory.

The fact that “The Black Ghost” has a definable and not all that well hidden weakness, is likely the reason he didn’t make the Top 10.

Despite this, his despicable variety of attack patterns, combined with Einhander’s unforgiving gameplay system of only allowing you 1 life before each continue; make a strong case for his presence among the runner-ups.


 

#4. Isaac Frost – Fight Night Champion

Pictured: Andre Bishop goes toe-to-toe with heavyweight champion Isaac Frost AKA The White Guy.

Another game that I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, Fight Night Champion’s inclusion of a nearly invincible final boss came of somewhat of a surprise to me.

Then again, these days it’s almost a tradition to include at least 1 overpowered athlete in sports games.

That’s right, I’m lookin’ at you Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson and NBA Jam Scottie Pippen

Designed to be fought in a round-to-round, objective based system; the actual procedure involved in fighting Isaac Frost contributes almost as much to his difficulty as his actual fighting ability.

Possessed of unbalanced punching power, speed, and stamina, Frost holds all the cards from the opening bell, and yet his beastly-ness is further bolstered by the fact that the game forces you to fight him a certain way.

Essentially, throughout each round of the fight you are required to follow a pre-determined gameplan, be it using your legs and hanging back, or landing haymakers to the body.

It’s an entirely inorganic procedure that doesn’t exist outside of the “story mode” of the game, resulting in whatever skills you learned playing the game competitively getting tossed to the curb in terms of usefulness.

To date I have yet to beat Isaac Frost, largely due to his insane attribute bonuses, but the fact that the game forces me to fight him the way it wants me to really grinds my gears to an exceptional degree.

With that, I leave you with this video of Frost obliterating Super Middleweight, Anthony Mundine:


 

#3. General Akboob/Hitler – Total Carnage

Pictured: Captain Carnage and Major Mayhem do battle with the giant heads of General Akboob and Adolf Hitler.

In terms of pure quarter munching arcade shooter goodness, few games can measure up to Smash T.V. and Total Carnage.

Virtually identical in terms of gameplay, both are exceedingly difficult top-down shooters that absolutely revel in chewing up players and spitting them out.

While every second of these games is a challenge of the most epic variety, the bosses featured in them are quite likely the most difficult aspect of them.

On that note, I don’t think many people would argue with me in crowning General Akboob, the final boss of Total Carnage, as the toughest among them.

His pattern involves filling the screen with projectiles at all times.

Most of his attacks have an accurate homing capability.

And worst of all, he has no less than a half dozen forms, one of which is a giant Hitler head!

I have no idea what that has to do with anything, especially since the very Russian looking/sounding Akboob is supposed to be Middle Eastern, but whatever it was the 90’s.

Anyway, all of this results in a horribly drawn out battle of endurance.

… A battle of endurance in a game where your character dies in one hit.

You do the math.


 

#2. Emerald and Ruby Weapon – Final Fantasy VII

Pictured: 2 brave parties face down the infamous Emerald and Ruby Weapons.

I just realized this, but there weren’t any RPG bosses on our list of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights.

I’m guessing it has something to do with my own (heavily biased) opinions, but the simple fact of the matter is that I really haven’t played an RPG since Final Fantasy VIII way back in ’99.

I did however, play quite a few before that point, mostly of JRPG variety.

That being said, while I’ve heard that some of the Shin Megami Tensei bosses are absolutely balls out insane in terms of their capacity to rob you of hours of your life, I haven’t actually played any of those games, so I don’t really have an educated opinion in that matter.

The point is, from my experiences with pre-1999 RPGs, Emerald and Ruby Weapon were the only 2 bosses that I recall having an inordinate amount of trouble with.

From what I hear, the debate rages on which of the 2 is more difficult, though I got my ass served by both of them equally, hence their dual ownership of the their spot among the runner-ups.

I remember Emerald had, no joke, about a million hit points, and Ruby was able to eject your characters from the fight, making doing battle with either of the pair an absolute pain in the ass.

From what I’ve been told, much of the strategy involved in defeating either of the 2 involves an incredible amount of dedication and prep work, as well as a healthy dose of luck.

When Final Fantasy VII came out, I was barely a pre-teen, so I had neither the patience nor the intelligence to figure out which angle to attack them from.

This resulted in me getting literally whipped to death by Ruby, and sat on by Emerald more times than I’d care to admit.

That being said, here’s a clip of some Narutard beating them both into the ground.

Don’t ask me why he dubbed the Final Fantasy themed J-ballad over it….


 

#1. Geese Howard – Fatal Fury

Pictured: Terry Bogard blocks a Reppuken from his nemesis, Geese Howard.

Geese Howard was, and always shall remain, one of the toughest bosses in all of fighting games.

Oh yeah, and he’s quite possibly one of the pimp-est videogames of all time to boot.

That’s saying a lot considering how far fighting games have come since 1991.

Possessed of a limited, but utterly devastating repertoire of moves, Geese was tough to beat for all the reasons you’d expect an SNK boss to be.

He was better than you in every way, especially in his capacity to dole out chip damage on par with some of your clean hits.

Despite this, I’d hesitate to call Geese cheap, merely inordinately difficult and just a little bit frustrating.

Much like Sagat from the original Street Fighter, Geese was a fighting game boss who’s bread and butter consisted of brutal and relentless fireball traps.

Perhaps worst of all though, ‘ole Geese also had a counter-throw capable of cancelling most of your melee attacks.

I don’t think I have to tell you that he often employed this technique with pinpoint timing, often using it to ruin your offensive rallies at the most inopportune of moments.


 

Thus concludes The Azn Badger’s Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights!

Thanks for reading!

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The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, #1


Alrighty folks, today we finally reach the big #1 on our list of The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights.

On our journey up through the Top 10, we’ve covered bosses featured in games of numerous genres, ranging from action platformers to 2D fighters.

Yesterday we took a closer look at Tageri and Ubusunagami Okinokai, a pair of end-game bosses from the acclaimed Treasure shoot ’em up, Ikaruga.

While some bosses earned their places on this list through being deceptive or unpredictable, the 2 bosses mentioned above did so through possessing entirely predictable, but immensely complex and oppressively persistent attack patterns.

There are innumerable traits and profiles to choose from, but when it comes to describing that which makes for the most difficult of boss fights, in my mind the combination of the 2 listed above makes for the perfect unbeatable monster of the videogame realm.

To be “unpredictable in one’s predictability.”

That’s what makes for the greatest challenges, not just in gaming, but in all things of a competitive or adversarial nature.

Today’s boss, the #1 ranked entry on our list of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, possesses the aforementioned elusiveness, while at once making use of crushing attack power and inhuman speed.

That being said, The Hardest Boss Fight is:

“Iron” Mike Tyson – Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!

Pictured: Little Mac mere nano-seconds away from eating a right uppercut from Tyson.

Mike Tyson is of those rare bosses that is so hard that there’s a certain elegance to be found in the brutally of his design.

The original Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! (that’s right, we’re not talkin’ that Mr. Dream bullshit) came out in 1987, smack dab in the era in which few would argue “Iron” Mike’s claim to the title of “Baddest Man on the Planet.”

To put things in perspective, at the time of the game’s release Tyson was 31-0, with only 4 of his wins going to decision.

The rest, went pretty much like this:

While time has gone on to prove things otherwise, in 1987 Mike Tyson was, for lack of a better term; invincible.

What better than to honor the man’s reputation than by creating an 8-bit digital version of him that was every bit as powerful, quick, elusive and intimidating than the real thing?

In case you couldn’t tell by now, that’s pretty much what the folks over at Nintendo did.

That’s right, they took the terrifying essence of Mike Tyson, and crammed it into an NES cartridge for mass consumption.

Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!: The game that eats your children.

In real life, Tyson’s aura of invincibility was shattered in 1990 through a complex combination of a lax training camp, possible fatigue generated by traveling to Japan and fighting at an off-time, and the relentless, pressuring attack of one James “Buster” Douglas, a B-level fighter emboldened by the recent passing of his mother.

While that’s how things went down in real life, the sad fact of the matter is that, in order to even last 2 seconds with the “Iron” Mike featured in Punch-Out!!, one’s best bet is to play defensive and look to land blows immediately after slipping one of his.

Which, if you've never seen it before; results in THIS delightful face.

Of course, if it were that simple Mike Tyson wouldn’t be the Hardest Boss on this list, now would he?

The core mechanics of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! are extraordinarily simple on paper, though in practice their complexity is not to be denied.

Much like real boxing, in every fight in the game the basic strategy, without fail; is to dodge or block your opponent’s blows while landing your own in response.

In the game, when you miss or block punches you lose “hearts,” which are representative of one’s stamina and must be exchanged at a rate of 1:1 in order throw punches.

Countering an opponent “clean,” that is; at the exact frame of animation in which they would’ve hit you with a blow of their own, awards you with “stars” that can be used to execute a devastating (but slow) super punch.

Every fight in the game goes a maximum of 3 rounds, with decision wins being a possibility, though more often than not fights end with one of the boxers being TKO’d due to the 3 knockdown rule being in effect.

Which will result Tyson doing his nifty "win" pose.

At it’s core, Punch-Out!! is a game that is based around timing and memorization.

Every fighter in the game has “tell” of some sort that signals you of their actions, though it’s up to the player to identify the meaning of these signals while surviving under the strength of their reflexes in the meantime.

All of the fighters in the game have a complex pattern to their actions, though many of them expand on their repertoire of moves should they be allowed to advance to the 2nd and 3rd rounds of the fight.

Mike Tyson takes all of the above complexities and turns them up to 11.

His power is unworldly.

His timing is deceptive and uncertain.

To put it in his own words:

Seriously man, words cannot describe the beastly-ness of Mike Tyson.

Like our #2 entrant(s) on this list, Mike Tyson is a rare example of a final challenge that demands absolute precision and excellence in all of the skills you’ve acquired throughout the game.

While I’d argue that such a gesture on the part of the game’s developers is actually quite admirable, especially in this modern age of gaming where “hand-holding” is in many ways the norm; there’s no denying that Mike Tyson is a videogame challenge was designed to be conquered by only the best of the best.

AKA The Koreans.

His absurd power and speed alone would likely make him worthy of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, however at the end of the day it’s his indecipherable timing that make him it’s king.

Like all of the fighters in Punch-Out!!, “Iron” Mike signals his attacks with a gesture or facial tic, however the reaction time necessary to avoid the resulting attacks,; let alone capitalize on the openings presented by them, is downright superhuman.

Not only that, the timing of his attacks, and his pattern on the whole, is somewhat variable; resulting in instances of familiarity on repeat plays, but never complete consistency.

Even if you somehow manage to avoid his attacks and land a follow up shot, if the timing of your offense is off by a fraction of a second, or worse yet, you overextend yourself and throw one too many punches; his recovery time is usually quick enough to punish you.

Pictured: What it looks like to be "punished" by Tyson.

Another tricky aspect of “Iron” Mike’s game, is the fact that his blows suck stamina like a fuckin’ Dyson, resulting the inevitable instance or 2 in which you’ll have to hang on for dear life and dodge a few of his shots in sequence in order to get your wind back.

Given the imperceptible nature of most of his attacks, this is usually the point in the fight when Mike Tyson picks you apart and puts you to sleep.

Dodging his attacks every now and again isn’t terribly difficult, but doing so several times consecutively is a whole ‘nother story.

Such is the indescribably nerve-wracking experience that is fighting Mike Tyson.

I’ve never beaten him, and to date I’ve only gotten to Mike Tyson maybe 1 or 2 times in my life.

While he’s quite a bit more “fight-able” than some of the lesser bosses of this list, (*cough!* Duriel *cough!*) in that it’s possible for an above-average player to hit, and even knock him down once, Mike Tyson remains to me the Hardest Boss Fight in videogames.

In fact, in many ways “Iron” Mike’s faux vulnerability is what makes him the #1 entrant on this list.

While as the final boss of the game he was appropriately given the tools to run over you at the outset of the fight, his AI was cleverly designed to fight in unpredictable fits and spurts, resulting in a perpetually tense situation wherein you don’t know what kind of Tyson you’re going to be dealing with.

You could spend 2 thirds of the fight straight-up handling a relatively lax and predictable Tyson, only to have him suddenly shift gears and unexpectedly put you to sleep in the closing moments of the final round kind of like this:

There’s no such thing as catching your rhythm or finding your “comfort zone” with Mike Tyson.

Much of Tyson’s aura of invincibility in real-life was perpetuated by psychological means, through the fear each of his opponents failed to conquer, before and after stepping into the ring with him.

If Mike Tyson was unbeatable in his prime for this reason (among others) in real-life, then personally I find it’s only befitting that his videogame counterpart should share this reputation.

Thanks For Reading!

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The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, #4


A recurring subject in our list of The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights thus far has been the important distinction between bosses that are genuinely hard, and those that are merely “cheap” or “broken.”

In my mind, no other bosses in gaming embody both of these definitions with as much ease as fighting game bosses.

Given the limited functionality of fighting game play mechanics, fighting game bosses are often some of the more difficult in gaming due to the head-first manner in which they must be dealt with.

There are no switches to be flicked, or items to be used; it’s just you and them, one-on-one.

Often possessing movesets consisting of absurdly quick and high profile maneuvers, as well as enhanced attributes, fighting game bosses typically boast every conceivable on-paper advantage over the standard player characters.

What’s more, in most cases bosses in fighting games have a tendency to “stretch” the rules of their respective game’s mechanics I.E. being able to execute special attacks without charge time or possessing a few unblockable moves.

...Or in the case of Nancy, totally break the standard mechanics of the game.

These “unfair” advantages make most fighting game bosses an easy target to be labelled “cheap,” however in some cases, I actually welcome the challenge they represent.

Let me just stress the use of the word “some” in that last sentence.

Fighting games are usually won through knowing your arsenal and being able to anticipate your opponent with precision.

In games like Street Fighter, all it takes to block an attack is to hold back on the d-pad.

In that sense, the unfair advantages owned by fighting game bosses shouldn’t be looked at as straight up cheapness, but rather padding to the computer’s (hopefully) human-like AI.

The best fighting game bosses are the ones that are challenging, but human in the way they occasionally make mistakes or overextend themselves.

The hardest fighting game bosses are the ones that boast absurd attributes and flawless, frame-by-frame AI routines.

Today’s entrant on our list of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights occasionally shows glimmers of the former in his behavior, but most of the time he proudly embodies the latter.

‘Cause he’s an epic, diaper-wearing douche-hole.

*AHEM!* That being said, our #4 is:

#4. Gill – Street Fighter III: Third Strike

Pictured: Ken Masters lying at the feet of Gill following a narrow defeat.

Let me just get things started off here by saying that Gill is an anus sucking turtle-fucker.

Seriously man, as far as fighting game bosses go, few others have carved out a spot for themselves on my naughty list as emphatically as Gill has.

*COUGH!* Now that I’ve gotten that ugliness out of my system, I feel I’m obligated to mention the fact that Gill also happens to one of the better designed fighting game bosses in gaming history.

That should give you a good idea of how many “good” fighting bosses there have been over the years.

Gill’s natural on-paper advantages over you, the player; are extensive, to the point in which it’s hard to deny the cheapness of his design, however his AI, at least on the mid to mid-high difficulties, veers a little closer to “fair” on occasion.

Close to, but still nowhere near fair.

What I mean to say is:

Gill is a blue and red BEAST of the highest order.

He does more damage than most of the characters in the default roster.

His attacks generate an absurd amount of stun damage.

Most of his attacks strike from troublesome angles and have priority and reach advantages.

He is able to execute charge moves without charge time.

His projectiles strike twice, ensuring that he’ll win any exchange of fire.

His durability and speed are both well above average.

To fight Gill is to enter the room outgunned and outclassed from the very start.

In essence, this screen is a forgone conclusion.

While I’d never consider myself much more than an experienced novice at fighting games, to date I’ve only been able to beat Gill twice.

Once using a brute-force strategy with Hugo, and once using defensive tactics with Ken.

Both times it took several continues to achieve the serendipitous task that is defeating Gill.

You see, despite all the nasty traits of cheapness that I mentioned above, Gill also brings to the table a pair of utterly devastating super combos that do wonders to ruin his standing as a “great” boss in my eyes; and make beating him a feat often times a feat equally attributable to luck as to skill.

Allow me to clarify.

Gill’s greatest asset as a fighting game is his inherent fallibility.

While his moves and stats are all better than yours, I have to admit that Capcom did well to program Gill with the occasional human-like lapse in his concentration.

He never acts silly, or outright dumb, but there are times when Gill slips up and takes a hit he shouldn’t have, or fails to capitalize on a round winning opening.

Gill’s greatest success as a boss is that he’s difficult enough be one of the hardest bosses in gaming, while at the same time easy enough to be fought with some degree of success on every occasion.

Nothing is worse than a hard boss that doesn’t even let you get a hit off every time you continue.

I'm lookin' at you Duriel....

Nearly every time I’ve fought Gill, I was at least able to take his health down considerably, or on a good day; beat him one round.

That said, Gill’s AI generally behaves with stunning precision, making use of his high priority moves to counter most of your attacks; making him a stiff challenge most of the time.

Which brings me to the aforementioned game breaking super combos:

With a full super meter, Gill has at his command the power to instantly reverse the outcome of a round.

The gameplay mechanics of Street Fighter III restrict the players to selecting and utilizing only one super combo in battle.

Gill is the only character in the entire roster that is capable of making use of all 3 of his super arts in one fight.

One of these moves, Meteor Strike; is relatively harmless.

Meh. I've seen worse...

The other 2, are utterly devastating.

First is the fearsomely boosh-tastic Seraphic Wing:

Sprouting Wings: A sign that shit has well indeed, just got real.

Seraphic Wing is a move that drains about a third of your life bar when blocked, and virtually all of it when landed at close range.

While it can be stopped preemptively, in most cases the deployment of Seraphic Wing usually means the end of the match in Gill’s favor.

If that’s not a kick to the boner, I don’t what is.

Oh wait, there’s one more move!

Gill’s other dick slap of a super combo is his Resurrection ability:

Awr?...

Basically, Resurrection is exactly what it sounds like.

Imagine this scenario:

You’ve just spent the past hour battling Gill, continuing over and over again while cycling your way through the entire roster numerous times.

Finally, after countless attempts, you’ve managed to get the upper hand on Gill and are only a precious few hits away from victory!

The tension is palpable.

Your eye twitches involuntarily.

With the clever use of an EX attack you manage to upset Gill’s impeccable timing and rocket a Shoryuken into his chin and straight towards the realm of victory!

His life bar depleted, Gill collapses in a heap on the ground in slow-motion.

Throwing up your arms in victory, you are shocked to hear the familiar sound of a super art being deployed.

Suddenly, Gill beings to levitate, and immediately his life bar begins to rapidly refill!

Pictured: What happens when you poke the bear.

You quickly fire a Hadouken, only to watch as it is harmlessly repelled by the powerful vacuum generated by the Resurrection field.

Eventually, Gill’s health is restored in full, leaving you to fight him with what little you have left.

Exhausted from the historic effort you put forth from getting this far, ultimately you lose to Gill in the third round as you have on every occasion prior.

Such is the epic douchey-ness of Gill.

He’s better than you from the start.

He’s pretty damn smart, even when he’s stupid.

And to top it all off, he can take all of your hard fought efforts, and render them irrelevant with the use of a mere super combo, one of which he doesn’t even have to be alive to use.

To this day, I still hate Gill, however I do retain a certain level of respect for his AI design.

On a side note, I’m pretty sure Capcom was the first to make a genuinely incongruent 2D fighting game sprite, but that’s besides the point.

Gill: An atypically hard boss that has the gall to max-out his douchey-ness by holding back and shitting on you when it hurts the most.

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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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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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The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, #9


Yesterday we kicked off our list of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights with an alum from the pantheon of Dr. Wily’s robotic warriors, the original Yellow Devil.

The Devil earned his spot on the list through the frustrating nature of his borderline random attack pattern that made battling him a test of reflexes and coordination rather than memorization.

Appropriately enough, battling the #9 entry on the list requires a similar range of skills, however coming out on top is measurably more difficult given their more aggressive stance.

That being said, the next entry on our list of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights is:

#9. Shredder – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game

Pictured: The Turtles take on the Shred-Head and his shadow clones.

If there’s any one, constant truth about arcade beat ’em ups, it’s that you can always expect to face a cheap-ass boss or 2 at some point within them.

Wind blows, water flows, Mr. Shadow dies by the power of Leeloo and Corbin Dallas’ love, and arcade beat ’em ups have cheap-ass bosses.

In the age of the beat ’em up, no other company stuffed their games full of quarter munching bastards quite like Konami.

Don’t get me wrong, Konami was also one of the best when it came to cranking out beat ’em ups, but whether it be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Turtles in Time, The Simpsons, X-Men, or Metamorphic Force; virtually all of Konami’s beat ’em up bosses made use of an infuriating attack pattern that was entirely beatable, but rarely without the use of a continue or 2.

As you may have guessed, Shredder makes use of said attack pattern, both in the Ninja Turtles arcade game, and the NES port of, well, basically the same name.

While I highlighted the arcade version of the Shredder in the pic above, make no mistake, he’s equally tough on either platform, though arguably more so on the NES.

Unlike the Yellow Devil from yesterday’s entry on the list, I’ve beaten Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game numerous times, mostly in my early childhood; however on every occasion I’ve had considerable difficulty in challenging not only the Shredder, but virtually all of the end level bosses.

Especially Granitor. NOBODY, fucks with Granitor...

As mentioned earlier, fighting the Ninja Turtles arcade game bosses is mostly a reflex oriented experience, much like fighting the Yellow Devil; however the difference in difficulty lies in the aggressiveness of their attack pattern.

The Yellow Devil has only one attack sequence, that if you can endure for long enough; (which in my youth, I couldn’t) will lead to your eventual victory.

Shredder, along with virtually all of the Konami arcade game bosses of the day; doesn’t have a distinguishable pattern in his attacks, but instead forces you to enter into a war of attrition with him.

The bosses in all of these games have superior reach and damage dealing ability to your player character, and attack in such a way that there really is no good way to ensure dealing damage to them without taking some yourself due to their split-second reaction times.

Did I mention virtually all of the Shredder and his buddies’ attacks have priority over your own, and have the nasty tendency to fling you across the room or knock you out of the air every time they hit you?

As with yesterday, check out this video to get a feel for what’s it’s like to tangle with the Shred-Head:

It looks dumb, but the player in the video above’s incessant use of the JUMP KICK is basically one’s only viable option in Ninja Turtles 2, especially against the Shredder.

Think of it like a nightmare scenario where you’re fighting a counter-puncher who’s not only got your number, but also has 20 lbs on you.

You’re only real option is to try and remain elusive (read: JUMP KICK) and take potshots at distance, however inevitably; no matter how fast or accurate you are with your attacks, Shred-Head is gonna’ find you and put the hurt on you.

See that spear? That's his beatin' stick, and it's about to go up your ass...

Such is the frustration of doing battle with Konami’s quarter munching stable of assholes.

While one could argue that virtually all of these bosses deserve a spot on this list, I’ve always felt that Shredder’s multiplying ability and one-hit kill anti-mutagen beam put him over the top.

That’s right, Shredder can indeed multiply in this game!

AND kill you in one hit at any given moment!

You see!? THIS is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps!

So imagine every nasty detail I mentioned above, coupled with the fact that during the course of the battle you have to contend with 2 Shredder’s on the NES, and up to 5 in the arcade; any one of which can take a life away with one blast of the blue laser from their hands!

Imagine being like 5 years old and having to deal with that bullshit!

While the arcade version may put you up against 5 Shredders, I honestly think the NES version is more difficult.

When you face 5 Shredders, you do so with the help of 3 other players; not to mention the arcade Shredder has a less overbearing style of attack that rarely knocks you across the room, making it easy to simply swarm him and trade blows until he folds.

Given the lack of an option to pump more quarters into the machine for extra lives, as well as the Shredder’s slightly more annoying style of attack; I’d say the official #9 entry on this list would have to be the NES iteration.

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The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, #10


Alrighty folks, I’ve been a lazy motherfucker over the past, uh, month; so I figured it was about time I buckled down and committed to cranking out some real posts for the blog.

That being said, I can think of no better source of motivation, than to start up another epic Top 10 list!

As you’ve probably guessed from the AWESOME banner at the top of this post, this time around our list is focused on a subject that is very near and dear to my heart: videogame boss fights.

For better or for worse, boss fights have been a staple of game design for nearly as long as the medium has existed.

Perhaps a product of the “quarter munching” aspect of arcade games, boss fights were at initially characterized as a clash with a unique character, who’s attack pattern and/or attributes often caused them to represent a significant spike in the games’ difficulty level.

Nowadays, what with the advances in technology and a fairly consistent trend towards favoring narrative based gameplay, boss fights have become increasingly irrelevant.

Hell, I remember reading an article on Kotaku awhile back positing the possibility that boss fights may be an unnecessary artifact carried on from a bygone era of gaming.

Despite being a fascinating read, the viewpoint of said article largely applied exclusively to story driven games, games that boss fights would feel “tagged on” or extraneous in.

Pictured: A good example of a boss fight that meant well, but ultimately didn't need to happen.

For whatever reason, I can’t find the article in question, but oh well; you get the gist of it.

Personally, my background in 8 and 16-bit gaming has left me with nothing but fond memories of battling big baddies at the end of every level.

Maybe it’s just the old school gamer in me, but I play most games expecting there to be big ugly dude with a bloated life bar at the end of every stage, level, chapter, episode, or what have you.

For me, boss fights are both the final obstacle prior to advancement, as well as, on occasion; a reward in and of themselves.

Good boss fights represent some of the finest moments in gaming history.

Bad boss fights can be anywhere from disappointingly shallow, to controller smashing-ly hard.

The latter, largely represents the contents of this list; though not entirely.

Tough boss fights are just another part of gaming, as natural pressing the “A” button to jump, and the “B” button to kill.

That being said, let’s get this party started as we delve in to the 10th hardest boss fight:

#10. Yellow Devil – Mega Man

Pictured: The Blue Bomber chucking a Thunder Beam into the cyclopic eye of The Yellow Devil.

I don’t know what it was about him, but for whatever reason the Yellow Devil from the original Mega Man game always stuck out to me as one of the hardest bosses I ever fought on my NES.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve played plenty of harder games, especially on my NES, however in terms of hard boss fights; few put fear in my heart the way the Devil did.

Ninja Gaiden’s Jaquio and Jashin were tough, as was the sequel’s Ashtar; but I managed to beat both of them in my youth.

That's right bitch! I got yo' numbah'!

When I was a kid, I never beat the Yellow Devil.

I rolled over his cousin, the Yellow Devil Mk. II from Mega Man 3; but I never beat the original.

Encountered in the first stage of Dr. Wily’s fortess, the Yellow Devil was a wretched beast that kept me from beating the original Mega Man until well into adulthood.

Fighting the Devil was a fairly straightforward experience, but one made difficult by the tedious nature of the bosses’ pattern, as well as his fearsome attack power.

Basically, the original Yellow Devil only had 1 attack in his pattern, but it was a real pain in the pass.

Check it out here:

Disassembling his mustard-y yellow form into a series of cubes, the Devil launches his body, piece by piece; from one end of the room to the other.

While in flight, all of these pieces serve as dangerous projectiles that must be avoided by the player through careful jumps of varying heights and timing.

The actual pattern of the pieces’ dispersal isn’t quite random, however it’s complicated enough to the point of being easier to dodge through reflex than memorization.

The real problem with this pattern, is the fact that damage can only be dealt to the Devil one shot at a time, for only a brief moment following the completion of his reassembling phase.

Many bosses throughout gaming history have employed the annoying as fuck pattern characteristic of, “You Can Only Hit Me After I’ve Slapped You With My Dick For 5 Minutes” but few have done so with the audacity of the Yellow Devil.

With a rather potent weakness to Elec Man’s Thunder Beam, the Yellow Devil doesn’t take all that many hits to kill, however the time one has to devote to frantically hopping about in order to get into position to deliver said hits; more than compensate for any weaknesses he may have.

I was usually good enough to get close to taking out the Devil in Mega Man, but it wasn’t until I was much older, wiser, and entirely less interested in achieving victory that I would actually conquer the beast known in the states as the Rock Monster.

That being said, I feel the Yellow Devil’s #10 slot on this list is entirely warranted, however imagine my disappointment when I stumbled across the glitch/exploit featured in the video below:

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The Top 10 Videogame Songs, #3


Well folks, we’ve finally reached the Top 3 of our Top 10 Videogame Songs, and appropriately enough; today marks the first occasion of a “serious” song adorning our list.

That’s not to say trashy Jpop isn’t without it’s value, it’s just not quite as substantive as some of the stuff that’s to come.

Pretty much every song on the list so far have been included in their respective games for the purpose of being “fun” or “colorful.”

Today though shit’s about to get REAL as we delve into the musical world of Metal Gear Solid:

#3. Metal Gear Solid – The Best Is Yet To Come

Assuming you skipped the lengthy (and mostly extraneous) briefing sequence at the beginning of the game, one’s first few musical minutes with Metal Gear Solid were bound to be some of the most memorable in gaming history.

I don’t know about you, but from the moment “The Best Is Yet To Come” first starts playing during the opening infiltration sequence of the game, I could tell Metal Gear Solid was going to be something truly special.

At that point in my life, you could probably count on 2 hands the number of games I had played that had any sort of digitized voice or CD quality audio, so needless to say; I was caught entirely off guard by Metal Gear’s use of a hauntingly beautiful traditional Irish song at that time.

To put things in perspective, I still had this in the back of my mind around the time I first played Metal Gear Solid:

Okay fine, that was actually kind of awesome, but you know what I mean…

Sung by Aoife Ní Fhearraigh, (good luck pronouncing that…) “The Best Is Yet To Come” stands out in my mind as one of the most memorable and thematic songs in gaming, if not the most beautiful.

Truth be told, it’s folksy nature prevents me from listening to it as often as some of the other songs on this list, but few can deny that it’s first minute, the one used repeatedly in the game to drive home the drama at key points; is utterly unforgettable.

In that sense, “The Best Is Yet To Come” won it’s high placement on this list largely due to it’s inestimable contribution to the gameplay experience of Metal Gear Solid.

Many of the songs on this list are opening and ending themes, songs that are awarded to the player for booting up or finishing the game.

“The Best Is Yet To Come” is very different from these songs in that it serves as the overarching theme song for the ENTIRETY of Metal Gear Solid, making it a key element in the overall experience.

Hell, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t genuinely touched by it’s inclusion in the Shadow Moses segment of Metal Gear Solid 4, as “The Best Is Yet To Come’s” presence in that game really served to bring the themes of the series full circle.

Anyway, enough gushing, that was song #3.

Check back tomorrow for something even better!

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The Top 10 Videogame Songs, #8

#8 of our Top 10 Videogame Songs brings us to a genre of game that very likely should have a larger presence on this list, yet due to my personal taste in games; doesn’t.

Said genre is of course that of the ever popular rhythm/dance game.

As with many genres of games that don’t involve the words “fighting” or “scrolling,” rhythm games have never really appealed to me.

Dance Dance Revolution was kind of popular among my friends way back in middle school, and indeed I must confess to having hopped around on the dance pad a few times at a birthday party or 2; but for the most part dance games have never been my thing.

No surprise, given that real dancing is not exactly something I’d consider all that fun.

While I generally loathe dance rhythm games, I’ve had my fair share of fun with musical games that make use of a standard controller.

In case you’re wondering why I’d take the time to make mention of the “standard controller,” let me just say this:

Videogame peripherals like guitars, drums, or turntables have no business in my home.

The only game peripherals I’ve ever owned were light guns, and even then I kind of regret buying those.

Well, except maybe my GunCon. GunCon was the shit...

That ugliness aside, Amplitude and the Beatmania series were rhythm games that I remember enjoying alongside my friends back in the day.

On that note, I’d like to present to you a song from 1 of 2 musical rhythm games I’ve owned over the years, and the 8th best song on our Top 10 Videogame Songs list:

#8. Bust A Groove – Bust A Groove


I’m a believer that pop for pop-ness sake isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Going by that logic, songs like “Bust A Groove,” while hardly original or anything beyond cheap knock-offs of Madonna’s old shit; can be a lot of fun if you’re in the mood for them.

That being said, I must have been in the mood for cheesy translated Jpop music back in 1998, ’cause I ate up the tracks from Bust A Groove like they were fuckin’ Willy Wonka Gobstoppers.

Pictured: CRACK COCAINE.

For those who might be unaware, Bust A Groove was of course the American version of the Japanese original, Bust A Move.

Like many Japanese imports of the 90’s, much of the content of Bust A Groove was altered, resulting in many of the songs being re-written and performed in English.

Unlike many other examples such as this however, many of the English songs of Bust A Groove ended up being just as good as, if not better than the Japanese originals.

Take for example Shorty’s song:

Japanese

English


The Japanese version sounds like it’s sung by a bored 11 year old with no talent, and truth be told; I’m pretty sure that’s exactly the case.

I realize this was likely the intent of the producers, given the relative age of the character that’s supposed to be singing it, as well as the undeniable fact that Japan is a nation of pedos; but even so, I just can’t stand the sound of a singer that doesn’t seem like they’re enjoying themselves.

The English version, while still not all that great, at least has some degree of feigned enthusiasm to it; making it at least somewhat bearable.

Shitty examples aside, I feel confident in saying that “Bust A Groove” is indeed a better song than it’s original Japanese iteration.

The original Japanese version, “Blue Knife” is pretty good, however at the end of the day it just sounds like a wimpy Jpop song among a sea of similar, but far better produced songs.

The lyrics of the English version are stronger, and the overall sound of the song is made stronger and more unique by the fact that American pop songs of it’s style are less common than in Japan.

That being said, while nearly every song in Bust A Groove is remarkably entertaining, (unlike most the shit from Bust A Groove 2…) I’ve always felt that “Bust A Groove” was the cream of the crop.

Anyway, thus concludes #8 on our list, check back tomorrow for more!

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In Celebration Of Completing The Top 10 Manliest Man Moments…

I’m not gonna’ lie, typing up the Top 10 Manliest Man Moments in movies list really took a lot out of me.

Part of me wants to say I never want to explore the depths of MANLINESS again.

Fortunately, the other, less fruity parts of me forced me to spend my first day free of the MANLIEST MAN MOMENTS list inevitably trolling the internet for more MANLINESS.

That being said, I really don’t have anything substantial to write about at the moment, so you guys’ll have to make due with the results of my search.

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you Sean Connery in song form:

(Found via ToplessRobot.com)

Filed under: Movies, Top 10 Manliest Man Moments, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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