"For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: 'It might have been!"
The above statement comes from Maud Madder, a 19th century poem by John Greenleaf Whittier. I mention it because:
a) It's a fitting sentiment for the subject of this article, and
b) It's a rare chance to get some practical use out of an English Literature degree.
This list will take a look at some of the best boss battle that gamers never got to experience. As well as fights that were cancelled outright, this list will also include climactic clashes whose best ideas never made it to the finished product.
After all, who wouldn't want to fight a horse that turns into a castle? Or fight an iconic comic book bad guy across the entirety of New York?
So let's pass through the fog door of history and take a look at what might have been.
10. The Hydra - Half-Life 2
To start things off, we have one of gaming's most infamous disappearing acts - Half-Life 2's Hydra.
The Hydra made a memorable appearance during Half-Life 2's showcase at E3 2002, impaling a hapless goon and dragging him to the watery depths before the player's eyes. Evoking memories of the original Half-Life's legendary Blast Pit Tentacle (now there's a band name if ever we've heard one), gamers everywhere were anticipating a similarly tense encounter against this aqeuous adversary.
Unfortunately, it was not to be. Valve soon realised that while the Hydra was great to look at, it was a monumental pain in the rear-end to actually fight. As detailed in Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar, the Hydra was a massive let-down once the player got down to actually fighting it. The book described the boss as an unsatisfying blob monster whose tentacles killed players before they even realised what was happening, and the decision was made to cut it from the game.
A Hydra that was as satisfying to fight as it was incredible to look at would have been amazing, but Half-Life 2 turned out fairly well regardless.
(Fun fact: Half-Life 2 will be old enough to drink this year. We'll let that sink in before moving on to the next entry...)