Remembering - Retro Arcade Bosses
Remembering – Retro Arcade Bosses
I found myself thinking this week about an old arcade boss, that took me ages to defeat. It wasn’t until a C64 port of the game dropped on the market, that I was finally able to beat the game. That’s one of the great things about modern games, knowing that you’ll always be able to defeat a challenge given enough time. Back in the days of arcades, your patience was not the cause of a defeat, but your funds. If you run out of coins (and we all did) at a crucial battle, it was game over. I remember playing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game in 1990, running out of coins on the very last boss. It was a crushing defeat, and one that was created by being short of 20p. So I thought we should look at some of the arcade (and I’ve thrown a couple of C64/Spectrum games in for good measure. Don’t be angry!) game bosses that have stuck with me all these years. Looking at Classic Arcade Bosses that We loved to Hate. The Good, the Bad and Damn Right Cruel. Remembering – Retro Arcade Bosses
Two Crude Dudes
As a solo game, Two Crude Dudes was a brutal game, it was always best played with a friend to fight off the post-apocalyptic horde. Filled with colourful characters, explosions and the casual tossing of cars, It was great fun. If you manged to make your way through the to the final round, that game outrights screws you over by facing you up against an entire level of bosses. Yep, all those bad guys you had to face at the end of each stage, now you must fight them back to back. The final boss started off on a humorous note, as this tiny mad scientist cries his little eyes out over his defeated creations, before pathetically pounding at your leg, tears still streaming down his cheeks. A few swift kicks and he’s down for the count. But suddenly, he transforms in to a pissed off, muscle bound, monstrosity. Now you had to fight this crazy looking thing too! Cheers game.. thanks for the cola!
I loved Space Harrier. It was one of the very few arcade games that sat you in a hydraulically controlled vehicle, so that it felt like you were really flying. Very few games managed to immerse you in the way Harrier did. It was also a bloody hard game to master. I can’t recall how many times I ended up splatted all over the side of a floating rock. Getting through a level was only half the fun, because the boss fights were always epic, and none more so than the classic Dragon. Game of Thrones eat your heart out, I was battling these beasties before Daenerys was even a glint in George R.R. Martin’s eye.
If you have never experienced a 4 player arcade game of golden axe, you’ve never really ‘gamed’! The close quarters of the controls meant you had to crowd round the small screen like a bunch of hungry vultures over a corpse. And Whilst four player experience at the arcade did improve, with larger purposes built control panels, Golden Axe is one that sticks out in my mind. I always remember Golden Axes very last Boss, not because he was spectacular or hard, but because of how underwhelming he was. You had just faced down Death Adder forces, amongst giants and skeletons, you had ridden on the backs of giant turtles and eagles, and now you must face…. ‘Mr generic’. There is seriously nothing impressive about Death Adder, his look is so similar to that of any other character, he just blends into the crowd. Even his legendary “Golden Axe” looks more bronzed than anything else, and looks no bigger than any other axe you’ve seen in game.
Now I’m not a big fan of deep water. There’s something about it that just put me on edge. So imagine my horror, to find myself suddenly rolling and dropping into a huge lake of sorts whilst playing Turrican. With no way of getting out, my worst nightmares are realised, as a huge hideous sea creature comes straight at you from the murky depths. Look, I know I’m overreacting, but that’s how it felt playing the game at the age of 9. It’s one of those memories that has always stuck with me, and why the Mother Fish boss still gives me a funny feeling in my tummy.
The Ghostbusters video game was great fun to play. It put you right at the heart of the film, putting you in charge of running the ‘Busting’ business, as you drove around New York City, catching ghosts and upgrading equipment. The game ran on a timer and as the countdown reached zero, you were faced with an equivalent of an end of level boss, The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. The Giant walking snack would skip left and right in front of door, which you need to get you busters through without the fat one squishing you. It was harder than it sounds and it was always so disappointing to have your game end here, right at the last hurdle. Screw you Puffy!
Shadow Dancer was an epic arcade game. Alongside playing a ninja with magic powers, you also had a faithful canine partner whom you could sic upon enemies. Both you and your attack pooch were tasked with bringing down a group of terrorist that had planted bombs throughout the city.
The game only had four bosses, but if you were to ever see past the second, you must have been made of steel. Shadow Dancer was a hard game, and I never saw anyone ever make it past the third stage (At least not until years later when it appeared on console). This meant that I saw a lot of the 1st stage boss, an armoured giant you confronted inside a plane. This boss would chuck glowing balls of energy at you, which bounced across the screen. You could only defeat him with a good old blast to the face, so timing was everything here. Hard at first, but easily mastered given enough time. I became so good at taking down this guy, I’d get people asking me to defeat him for them. Good luck with the Tank Engine boss though…that things was tougher than old leather
Altered Beast was a kick ass beat’em game that saw two dead Greek dudes resurrected by Zeus to save his daughter. By collecting three ‘spirit balls’ you could transform into human/beast hybrid killing machine. These transformations included a werewolf, a werebear and friking Weredragon. When was the last time you ever played a game as a WEREDRAGON? Awesomeness aside, each end of stage would involve kicking some nasty looking creatures butt. These included a (literally named) Moldy Snail , a plant thing that chucks eyes at you and Aggar. Now if you have ever made it through to final boss stage, you’ll realise that the most awesome of boss battles actually took place at the end of the first stage, with the giant face throwing Aggar. Now I have no idea what Aggar is, but he looks like a troll climbing out of large man-eating dinosaur turd. No wonder he throws his head at you, he’s probably trying to get away from the awful smell. Aggar is the biggest, meanest looking and most challenging of all the stage bosses. Yep, screw you Neff, you looked like Rocksteady from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Splatter house was a gore filled beat’em up that saw your protagonist transformed with a ‘Terror Mask’ into a muscle bound monster with superhuman strength. Rampaging through a dungeon to save his girlfriend, you would punch kick and hack your way through creatures and objects to win escape the Splatter house. It stood out from the many beat’em ups that populated arcades in the 80s, thanks to its violent and gruesome nature. Splatterhouse even had a parental advisory warning printed on the side of the arcade. “The horrifying theme of this game may be inappropriate for young children… and cowards.”. The game had many crazy bosses, including one where you had to fight the content of a room, as chairs and candelabras attacked you. But the best boss fight came mid game, as your innocent girlfriend is transformed into a hideous malformed creature, and your forced to kill her to survive. Now, even if you escape the house, the victory will be bittersweet at most. Damn game…your mean!
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“Hey Horror Fans – I loved the arcades growing up as a little GHOUL. All those flashing lights and beeping noises. Splatter House was just KILLER, although you would catch me on Pacman once in a blue moon. Do you remember any of this classic arcade bosses? What are you best memories of arcades? DROP us a message in the comments below, and as always … Keep Rotten”