Who’s the Boss?
It is time once more for the tribe of the 64 to rise with another visit from the N64 Connoisseur. You might remember last time, when I was encouraging you to quit your incessant whining about the Water Temple, that I mentioned another piece I had planned instead. This is that piece. Games are all too often criticized for their boss battles. If they are too easy, people complain. If they are too hard, people complain. There are those few games though that seem to have the Goldilocks of boss battles, if you will. Those that are just right. For me those are the ones that whether they are easy or difficult, they are just plain fun. I thought it would be cool this week to reminisce about my favorite boss battles on the N64.
Volvagia (Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
Ahh yes, the Goron eating, fire breathing, Arwing replicating Volvagia from Ocarina of Time. This was the Fire Temple boss and it required you to find the Megaton Hammer in order to get to the boss. Why would you need an enormous hammer in order to fight a dragon you ask? Because at its core, this boss battle was little more than a giant game of Whack-a-Mole. The platform on which the battle takes place has several holes in it. Volvagia will pop its head out of one of them at which time you must rearrange its dental work with the hammer to daze it and then carve up its face with your sword. Once you do, Volvagia flies out of said hole and tries to kill you before returning to its subterranean lair to begin the process again as if the results will somehow be different this time. It was almost like a mini game inside of a boss fight and at the time, Volvagia was one of the most beautiful bosses I had ever seen.
Star Wolf (Star Fox 64)
Oh, these jerks. I am a huge fan of space fighter dogfights. It’s the reason I love Star Wars: Rogue Squadron so much. If you played Star Fox 64 the right way, you got to fight Star Wolf not once but twice. If you were fortunate enough to get to a second fight with Wolf O’Donnell’s team of mercs, you were in a tough showdown. After you made an open show of them in the first battle, Star Wolf returns with the Wolfen II, which was technologically superior in every way to your Arwing. Technology can only make up for a lack of skill so much and if you were really good, you could out-maneuver Star Wolf’s upgraded ships and make it on to your final fight against Andross. The thing that made me fall in love with this battle though was how difficult it was. Star Wolf could match your every move so timing became your best friend. There was good pacing to the fight and you really had a sense of urgency compounded by the radio chatter of your struggling teammates and taunting by your opponents designed to force you to make a mistake out of anger.
Mr. Patch (Banjo-Tooie)
No one has ever accused Banjo-Tooie of being overly difficult but for what it was, it was fun. Rare knew their way around a platformer. This boss fight was a lot of fun but not for the fight itself. Mr. Patch or as he is also known, Strange Wobbly Inflatable Thing, is your nemesis for this fight. Banjo and Kazooie are tricked into thinking that they are headed to see a circus when they encounter this fellow. He is a big inflatable reptile sort and he doesn’t like you for some reason. Strange thing about him though is that he has all of these patches around his body. You can shoot the patches which causes Mr Patch to start leaking air. After the first hit, he makes you take to the skies and shoot while you fly. Even with that, this is not an overly difficult boss. Shoot all of the obvious patches and it’s over. Here comes the big payoff and the whole reason this fight is on the list: Fart circles. The entire fight I was just praying that beating him would cause him to fly around in fart circles and I was not disappointed. Thanks, Rare. You get me. Or got me, I should say. Added bonus: really good music for this fight.
The Great Mighty Poo (Conker’s Bad Fur Day)
You can save all of your talk about how this game was overrated. I don’t care. This game was about charm, humor, and shock value and what could be more humorously shocking than the charm of a giant singing turd? When you first enter Poo Mountain (no dancing around it there, I suppose), you are warned by a frightened dung beetle that something awful is in the mountain. Well, Conker being Conker heard that there was cash in the mountain so he doesn’t care. He comes across a piece of sweet corn when suddenly a voice beckons, asking for sweet corn. Conker obliges and brings the corn to a platform and throws it into a poo-l (see what I did there?) and sets of a series of events that leads to my favorite boss fight of all time. The Great Mighty Poo arises from the pond and you are treated to a hybrid of a boss fight and a musical. For me, it was the first musical boss fight I ever played through. The song was hilarious and Conker even gets involved in it. Oh, did I mention that you have to beat the Great Mighty Poo by throwing toilet paper into his mouth and eventually flushing him? Because you totally do. It was the funniest boss fight I ever encountered and for that as well as getting the damn song stuck in my head for the last 12 years, it sits on the top of the list of my favorite all time boss fights. Also, kudos for the best end of fight one liner I have ever heard.
Time and space, of course, prevent me from listing every fight that belongs on this list. Thankfully though, we have a handy, dandy comments section below this very article. Hop on down there and share your favorite N64 boss battles with me. Join me back here in 2 weeks for a showroom new edition of 2 Decades Late.