Boss battles are such an iconic part of a video game. They test what we’ve learned in the preceding level, they check we’ve been paying attention to the way that new power-up works and they’re mile-markers on our route to finally completing this difficult game.
Even better, just about every genre known to humankind has brought us boss battles of some kind or other, from puzzle titles to racers, scrolling beat ‘em ups to platformers and strategy games. Horror games, naturally, have featured some real doozies as well.
When it comes baddies being utterly disturbing, then, there were a lot of options here.
In Earthworm Jim, for instance, there’s an encounter with Major Mucus, in which Jim battles his foe on bungee chords made of stringy snot while suspended over a lake of snot. That’s disturbing in an entirely different way, but what we're really shooting for here is the scare and/or creepy factor.
So, let's put the snot aside and dive into the likes of Resident Evil, Silent Hill and House of the Dead, in the search for the most unsettling boss battles ever.
12. Fool - House Of The Dead III
As gamers of a certain age will remember, The House of The Dead series has never messed around when it comes to boss battles. Each of the grim and grisly monstrosities the player faces at the end of the stages are named after Tarot cards, and the Fool is a particularly horrifying customer.
Generally speaking, sloths are fairly lovable, harmless creatures. After all, any animal that grows mold on its body because it barely moves and sleeps up to around 20 hours a day is an absolute lifestyle goal we can all empathise with. This particular sloth, however, is the stuff of nightmares.
The player meets this monstrosity in either chapter two, three or four of the third game in the series (which had regular enemies that were awful enough, as pictured here).
Finding themselves in its cage, players discover that this thing has a delightful taste for human flesh and is more agile than a regular sloth could ever dream of being. Its razor-sharp claws are its weak point, but they're tough to hit as this thing marauds around the walls shaking its cage, sending human bodies cascading down on you.
Did you notice the super-sharp nature of those claws? Of course you did. The fact that this creature is a lot more real than many ghastly House of the Dead bosses (in the sense that it's a 'real' animal) just emphasises how disturbing it is.