Community Blog: Playable Boss Characters

starlordtitus Posted by: starlordtitus Jul 3, 2011 | 6 comments
Tagged: blog mortal-kombat-9 street-fighter-4
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Over the years, developers have allowed the gamers to play as boss characters from time to time in video games. Is it a good idea? Boss characters usually have a clear advantage over normal characters. Well, let's take a look.

What was the first boss character you were able to play in a video game? Was it a fighting game? An RPG, a racing game? For me, it was Goro of Mortal Kombat 4.

 

It was really the first time where I felt like had greater power for wielding a character of such magnitude. Goro!? The 4 armed fighter of Mortal Kombat? This was too good to pass up. But as later releases came out, even Shao Kahn was playable. How rediculous is that? A powerful emperor to be playable, can you say spam selection?

 

More and more games would eventually allow boss characters to be played. Street fighter is a prime example. Vega, Balrog, Sagat, and M. Bison, would be playable characters even before Goro and Shao Kahn. Bowser from The Super Mario became available to play in Super Smash Bros Melee, I remember how cool we all thought that was going to be xD But are developers doing the right call when it comes to making boss characters playable? They spend a great amount of time coming up with menacing ideas to hype up a boss character, regardless of that character's alignment. Fighting a boss character usually means he has very distinct advantages over most of the characters in the game. Normally, greater damage output, higher defense, more health, and a grand arsenal of abilities that you normally have to develope a strategy for. So what happens when they make that character playable? They tone that character down, nerfing his abilities. Of course right? Balance is what developers want when it comes to competition, but at the same time it almost diminishes the boss character's status. The near fear of fighting a boss character is reduced when playing against a human opponent because one knows the boss character's abilities have been toned own. In the end it comes down to player skill to really win the match.

But then again, who wouldn't want to play with a boss character, some of these characters' aesthetics are really detailed and elaborate. They just look damn cool. And over the years, developers recieved great amounts of fan mail requesting that boss characters become playable. So the developers did just that, but they needed a formula for a boss to be playable, powerful, but not broken. And in the mist of their creation, 2 versions of boss characters were created. One for competition and players, the other for challenging through the story, campaign, or arcade, depending on what game you played. Sometimes however, there were other powerful characters in a game, Secret Characters. These characters would clearly have advantages over many of the normal characters in a game. Faster and and more resilient, secret characters would share properties of normal characters to keep them balanced, sometimes playing the role of a long lost character or new character all together. Discovering the movesets or abilitites of these characters and how to use them to win is the main purpose of secret characters.

One of my personal secret characters was  Mewtwo of Melee. Sure, it was discovered that his abilities in the game weren't as great as say, Fox xD But Mewtwo was still considered to be powerful, why? Because he was Mewtwo, the incredibly powerful pokemon we all abused in Pokemon Red, Blue, Yellow, Silver, Gold, Crystal, Ruby, Saphire, Emerald, Pearl, Diamond, Platinum, White, Black................oh wait, we're STILL abusing him. Mewtwo will always be one of y favorite characters for his awesome power.

 

Boss characters play an essential role in replability as well. Players enjoy becoming better in the games they play, but being able to play as the malicious boss character they just defeated and now earned the right to play as, with their own skill, is just simply put grand. There are, however, characters that have never been actually been truly enjoyed as playable boss characters. One such example is Sephiroth of Final Fantasy 7. Although Sephiroth was actually playable the games called Ehrgiez and the Itadaki Street series, has not been seen in any recent fighting games. Personally, I'd love to see Sephiroth and Cloud in Soul Calibur 5.

 

In conclusion, as of now there are many boss characters that have come to have great success in many games alike. It was a bit risky for developers, but they mangaged to pull them off. Among my favorite boss characters of all time are Algol of Soul Calibur 4 and Oni of Super Street Fighter 4 Arcade Edition. Thanks for reading and I hope you all have your own favorite boss characters!

 

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