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The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, #8


As we work our way up through the bottom tier of our list of the The Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights, it’d dawned on me that our previous 2 entries both earned their slots, partly through an element of “cheapness” in their attack patterns.

While far from the cheapest or most annoying bosses of all time, (hence their low placement on the list) it’s hard to look at the Yellow Devil and Shredder and not say to yourself:

“Man, there’s just no good way to fight these guys without getting dick-slapped here and there.”

That being said, while I admit, wholeheartedly; that the next entry on this list isn’t anywhere near as annoying as the 2 bosses that have preceded him, I’d argue that he was the more difficult, and the more thrilling challenge overall.

Our #8 entry on our list of the Top 10 Hardest Boss Fights is:

#8. Sigma – Mega Man X

Pictured: X doing battle with Wolf Sigma, the nefarious Maverick's final form.

The Mega Man X series has produced some of gaming’s best boss fights.

Fighting a futile battle against the indestructible Vile in his robot ride armor was an experience few gamers will forget their first time around.

You can't beat him in the beginning of the game. Trust me, I've tried.

Similarly, fighting Zero, the protagonist’s partner and close friend; yielded real drama in my young imagination (mostly because of the simple, but AWESOME music) way back in the day.

By the way, the only reason you’d ever have to fight Zero in Mega Man X 2 is either because YOU SUCK, or because you’re lazy.

My guess is that guy was lazy.

Despite all this, in terms of both drama and overall difficulty, no other boss in the X series ever sucked me in and tested my platforming skills quite like Sigma in the original Mega Man X.

BAD ASSSSSSSSSSS.

While many would dispute Sigma’s placement on this list, one has to understand that, at the time of the original Mega Man X’s release; the gauntlet style of final boss encounter that has since become his signature was in the process of being pioneered.

Like many contemporary games, fighting Sigma is a multi-stage affair involving 2-3 back-to-back fights of ascending difficulty.

Sigma is relatively difficult in all of his appearances, with the notable exception of X 2 and 6 where he was a total pussy; and truth be told, I was actually tempted to put his iteration from X 4 on the list as opposed to the original.

The kicker however, was the fact that 2 out of Sigma’s 3 forms in X 4 were pathetically easy, making for an experience where all of the difficulty in the battle is reserved for the very end.

Even so, that last fight was pants shitting-ly insane:

Unlike in X 4 though, the battle is very much pants shitting-ly insane all the way through from start to finish in Mega Man X 1.

Oddly enough, the first fight with Sigma in X 1 is against his robot dog, Velguarder; who sadly did not become a recurring element of Mega Man X universe, despite having a pretty badass design.

INSUFFICIENTLY BAD ASSSSSSSSSS.

Given his extensive range of context sensitive attack functions, and tricky wall climbing dash, Velguarder can be pretty tough; however after you’ve spent about 20 seconds with him, or put some Shotgun Ice up his ass, usually he folds pretty quick.

Despite this, the dog is a credible threat that, if able to get the drop on you enough times; can sufficiently gimp your life meter for the battles to come.

Next up is the big boss himself, Sigma armed with a pimp-ass beam saber:

Sigma, about to put the hurt on, the wall, apparently.... Seriously, I don't know where the X sprite is in this pic.

Similar to Velguarder, Sigma has the capacity to dash onto the walls and basically follow you wherever you go; however his movement speed is actually a bit slower.

The tradeoff is, Sigma’s sprite is about twice as big as the dog’s, and he does quite a bit more damage.

While he can be strung along and forced into chasing you up the walls in a diagonal fashion, on occasion Sigma breaks his pattern and plants his feet for a devastating slash with his beam saber.

Seriously man, while it’s entirely possible, and indeed, necessary; to make it through Velguarder and Sigma without using a sub tank, one hit from the Chartreuse Beam Saber of Ultimate Destruction is good enough to nearly cut your life bar in half.

IN HALF!

In other words, if you’re planning to fuck up against Sigma, do so without sitting on his fiery, lime-green popsicle of Death.

You see, the really hard part about fighting Sigma, is the fact he forces you to enter into the battle thinking 2 steps ahead of yourself.

The fight in Mega Man X is 3-stage gauntlet, and with (ideally) 4 sub tanks AKA 5 total life bars at your command from the start, you have to be judicious with your life refilling or face the consequences in the form of getting to the finish line, only to run out of gas.

By far, the most frustrating part of fighting Sigma is getting to his final form, using all your sub tanks on a good effort, only to lose and realize that your sub tanks won’t refill automatically on your next life.

That being said, as mentioned earlier, it’s in your best interest to get past both Velguarder and Sigma’s first form without using a sub tank, as the final boss, Wolf Sigma; is one mean motherfucker that’ll wreck your shit, and then shit on your shit that’s just been wrecked.

SERIOUSLY:

Like the Yellow Devil from #10, Wolf Sigma is one of those nasty fuckers that won’t let you hit him until he’s good and ready.

His attacks are numerous, constant, and savage enough to take a third off your life bar every go; and the only way to get at his weak point (read: THE FACE) is by jumping on and riding his quick moving claws that are trying to kill you all the while.

Like most Mega Man bosses, Wolf Sigma has a weakness, in the form of the Rolling Shield; however it can take awhile to figure that out your first time through.

Put it this way:

You’ve got 8 weapons at you’re command at this point in the game, and that means you have to survive to hit Sigma with each them almost 8 times to test out the Rolling Shield.

That means you need to eat a lot of Wolf Sigma claws, lightning, and fire breath before you figure out his weakness, by which time you very well may have burned through most of your sub tanks.

While not exactly the hardest boss of all time, Sigma’s debut in gaming will always stick out in my mind as one of the more taxing mind games I’ve encountered in an action game.

3 fights, all in a row, and you’ve got to ask yourself, “Do I go all in, or will I do better next time?” all the while.

Of course, you could be a bastard and just use the hadouken to plow through the first 2 fights… but not third.

Capcom wanted to make sure you’d suffer just a little bit, even if you decided to cheat…

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Super Mario Bros. Must Die!


Tonight my good buddy and I are going to embark on a magical videogame journey 25 years in the making.

Tonight we are going to do what neither of us could do as children.

Tonight, we are going to RAPE the original Super Mario Bros. on the NES.

It won’t be easy, it certainly won’t be pretty, and the whole experience would probably be a helluva’ lot more “fun” if we were going to be playing it drunk, (we aren’t) but by golly, we’re gonna’ do it.

We are going to kick that games’ ass.

I don’t have a way of recording the game footage, but I’ll see if I can record the live audio and post it later.

Wish us luck, kids!

*Update*

Well, me and my buddy managed to beat Super Mario Bros., along with most of Ninja Gaiden, (NES version) and the last two “Juggernaut“spec-ops missions in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

Here’s the video footage of my friend killing Mario:

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The Best Track in the Game #1: Mega Man X

You don't wanna' see what I'm doing with my other hand...

Megaman X.  Few games have had as huge an impact on my life than Megaman X.

Growing up, I was a Megaman/Capcom nut.  I remember way back in the day, my barber (yeah, I don’t know why either) gave me and my brother an issue of Nintendo Power with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the cover:

Back when men were men... and turtles were not yet made of rubber

Yeah, that’s the one.

Anyway, somewhere in there was a sneak peak at Megaman 2 with a fold out poster featuring all 8 of the robot masters, plus Guts Dozer, The Mecha Dragon, and the schmuck Dr. Wily.

From the first time I saw this poster, I was hooked.

I remember running over to my mom and showing her all the characters, and telling her in impossibly adorable child-speak:

“This guy, his name’s Bubble Man!  He has bubble powers!  He shoots, um… He shoots bubbles!”

Eventually, I got my mom to make me a Bubble Man helmet out of cardboard…  and a Crash Man helmet for one of the neighbor kids… and a Quick Man helmet that I told her was for one of my friends that I ended up keeping for myself.

Yeah, back then Bubble Man was my favorite boss from Megaman 2.  My brother used to give me shit about it.  He would say:

“Bubble Man’s fat.  No wonder you like him, fatty.”

So fat...

Well, can’t say my brother was ever wrong about him being fat.  At least he’s not a pussy like Metal Man AKA THE FIRST FUCKING GUY EVERYONE KILLS.

FIRST. FUCKING. GUY.

Anyway, back to Megaman X!

Wall climbing.  Dashing.  Wall Dashing.  Throwing a Hadouken.  These were just a few of the amazing innovations that Megaman X brought to the Megaman franchise.Most critical among these was the Dash, which, coupled with the ability to hug walls to slow your descent, made for precision gameplay far faster and more forgiving than the classic Megaman series has ever been.

In gaining a beam saber, he lost his cock. Tragic...

True the franchise has never been very hard, (except for the utterly craptacular Megaman X6) and I see how that could be a problem for all the Contra kids out there, but the level length, number of secrets, and plethora of colorfully animated boss characters throughout most of the games has always struck me as being among the best in gaming.

Okay, maybe X3 had too many secrets, (most of the time you found at least half of the stuff by accident) and X2’s difficulty was sinfully weak, but few people can argue that the original Megaman X was pretty much on the mark in every area.

But that says nothing for the quality of the music.

Picking a best track from Megaman X is no easy task.  When you first boot up the game, you are treated to a provocative and well-executed diagnostic sequence, followed by one of the most awesome title screen tracks EVER.


Right from the get go, best title track EVER.

And it just keeps getting better from there.

The intro stage (an innovation to the Megaman franchise first seen here) tune is exhilarating and skillfully layered.  In fact one of the most remarkable things about this soundtrack, to me at least, is the fact that it succeeded in making me feel like there was some level of importance to my actions.

The track that plays when Zero and X hold their conversations establishes a sense of brotherhood between the two characters that does a lot to add to the gravity of the conflict at hand (especially when you consider the events that precede the two instances when this track is heard in the game.)

In picking a favorite track from this game though, my objective is to select the one that is not only the most enjoyable to listen to, but the one that “means” the most to me as a whole.

Being one that plays Megaman games more often than he beats them, I tend to spend most of my time playing through the pre-castle, robot master stages.  That being said it’s natural for me to pick one of the robot master stage tracks as The Best Track in the Game for Megaman X.

Without further ado,

The Best Track in the Game is…

Armored Armadillo Stage

Why?:

The music is fast, energetic, and has a significantly longer running time than many of the other robot master themes. (I’m looking at you Storm Eagle and Sting Chameleon…) Not only that, but Armored Armadillo’s stage is potentially the most fun to play through, featuring a number of unique enemies (the “jet birds” at the end, and the tunnel digging bug-machines) and gameplay mechanics (the spiked mine cart rides).  In general, Armored Armadillo’s stage seems to have more “love” put into it than the others, and is therefore, simply more fun to play.

In addition to this, Armored Armadillo’s stage is undoubtedly the one that most people have played through the most.

No, not because it’s so damn fun, (even though it is) but because it’s the only way to get the Hadouken capsule!

Assuming you don’t suck, and don’t have to continue through any of the robot master stages, one will end up playing Armored Armadillo’s stage 5 times as much as any of the other levels in the game!  I can’t prove it, but something tells me Capcom made the conscious decision to step up their game in designing Armored Armadillo’s stage in order to prevent people from getting pissy over having to play through the stage an extra 4 times (potentially more, again, if you suck) to get a cheesy fireball upgrade.

In this is case, it worked, ’cause I have never once balked at the idea of playing through the game without getting the Hadouken.

Runner-Ups:

Storm Eagle Stage, Title Theme

Why?:


Storm Eagle’s theme has a solid reputation for being the favorite among most gamers.

It’s short, it’s sweet, it has a sort of Top Gun-ish heavy guitar feel to it, in short, it’s fucking awesome and it goes with the airport setting very well.

Storm Eagle’s theme was my favorite as a kid, and remained so until fairly recently.

As I mentioned previously, I think Armored Armadillo’s theme is great partially because it was shoved down my throat so many times over the years.  In that sense I think it’s fair to say that I enjoy both tracks pretty much equally, however one has recently begun to occupy a larger place in my memory than the other.

In regards to the Title Theme, listen to it!

It’s fucking awesome!

Even without the awesome metallic *SHING* noise when the “X” flashes into place, it’s still fucking awesome!

How could you not get crazy hyped up after hearing this for the first time!?

I know I did at least until one of the little purple flying dudes with the red nose bumped me in mid-air and knocked me into a pit not 2 minutes into my first life.  Little fucker, has the nerve to blink his eyes and bob his nose in celebration every time he hits you too…

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