I have a problem. I love boss fights and cutscenes in video games. So, why is that a problem? Because everyone else doesn’t. More and more frequently I hear gamers and developers talking about how traditional boss fights and cinematic cutscenes are a thing of the past. And once everyone starts agreeing on something, it starts to change. Well, consider this my manifesto on why I don’t want these gaming staples to change just yet.
Let’s start with boss fights: One of my fondest old school gaming memories was finally defeating Mad Jack–the boss of the Frantic Factory level of Donkey Kong 64 (it was a simpler time). Anyway, it took me forever to beat that guy, and the feeling of conquest was extremely satisfying. It was something rewarding about completing a game’s stage and then being confronted by a big, bad boss. It was like the game’s way of saying: “Good job, kid, now here’s your final test.” It was like a prize for me. I just loved figuring out a boss’ patterns and weaknesses and then exploiting them to win. Some boss fights were hard and some were insultingly easy, but I always got a thrill out of facing off with them. Sometimes I would put a game down for years because of a frustrating boss, but I always had to come back to master him. It was just my thing. And it’s why I loved Shadow of the Colossus. That game is just straight boss fights! My mouth dropped to the floor when I first saw that game. It was like being a kid in a candy store…but I digress. You see, the trouble is, more and more gamers are starting to find the idea of boss fights to be contrived. They say it doesn’t fit with the stories being told in gaming today. Now, maybe I’m just not a refined gamer, but I don’t care if the boss fight doesn’t make sense in the context of the story. I just want a boss fight! I was actually disappointed that the end of Halo didn’t have a traditional boss fight. Now, maybe Halo didn’t need a boss fight and that’s fine. I’m not saying all games need bosses. I just don’t want them to disappear from gaming completely. The other problem is that modern developers tend to make lackluster boss fights that only serve to put the nail in the coffin. If these badly developed bosses keep leaving a bad taste in gamers‘ mouths, developers will just stop bothering with them completely. And that’s not cool.
Now, let’s move on to cutscenes. For me, cutscenes are a breath of fresh air. They are a great way to break up the monotony of a game while pushing the story along. Sometimes, I played through a game waiting for a cutscene. It signaled to me that I had made some progress, and whenever a cutscene came (especially in RPGs) I knew I was about to learn something new about the plot of the game. Of course, cutscenes can be done wrong, but I think they’re a vital part of gaming. When I watched my brother play games like Fable 2 and Assassin’s Creed I was appalled by all the the vital information not being given in cutscene form. You could literally pan the camera or walk away and the voice of whoever was explaining important plot points would grow quieter. That’s no good! What if a player misses something important doing that? (I guess they could just not touch the controller, but you get the point). Now, I’m not knocking those games–at least not Assassin’s Creed–but, to me, if I’m being forced to listen to long exposition I’d rather it be in shiny cutscene form. This “full immersion” option is frankly more boring. The whole idea is that gamers don’t want their gaming experience interrupted, but that’s not everyone. I do want it interrupted. I want to sit back and watch the fruit of my labors be rewarded by story progression. I’m sure I’m in the minority, but that’s just me.
So, that’s my problem. I know there are still plenty of games with boss fights and cutscenes, but I can tell the climate of gaming is changing. Pretty soon, these things might disappear altogether, and I don’t want that. These gaming staples might be outdated, but I like them. And maybe if more gamers like me (there’s got to be somebody else, right?) make their voices heard these concepts won’t completely die off.
Boss fights and cutscenes forever!!!!
- The Barnes Bros. are brothers (obviously) who ROCK the faces off of the entertainment industry (metaphorically speaking). They are the authors of the upcoming e-book series “Legends”, media professionals, part-time comedians (only on weekends, nobody wants comedy all up in their face like that), and they stand boldly for the cause of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.