Boss Battles – Dark Souls/Mega Man

Alright. So, let’s pretend you’re a kid sitting in front of the living room tv playing Mega Man 2 on NES, or a grown-ass adult playing the Mega Man Legacy Collection on your Nintendo Switch, it makes no difference. You’ve guided the Blue Bomber through Wood Man’s stage and will be squaring off against yet another one of Dr Wily’s robotic rogues. Wood Man’s attack pattern begins by sending a group of leaves into the air. You try not to take too much damage from this weaponized foliage as it floats back down towards you; at the same time, Wood Man will fire his leaf shield directly at you, providing yet another obstacle to avoid. The battle can prove even more daunting as you realize your Buster Cannon in its default form doesn’t deal a ton of damage; however, you’ve already defeated Heat Man and have absorbed his Atomic Fire ability. This weapon upgrade proves all the difference in the contest as it takes roughly two charged shots to defeat Wood Man.  

Every enemy in Mega Man games have a set of specific strengths and weaknesses against a particular type of weapon. Identifying which upgrades are effective against which enemies – essentially a rock-paper-scissor match with each robotic foe, makes an ENORMOUS IMPACT in combat rather than simply jumping, shooting and dodging your way through each level. This has become one of the central gameplay elements to Mega Man games and was something that I routinely thought of as I played through Dark Souls over the summer. It was during many of the boss fights contained within From Software’s dark fantasy epic that I realized the similarities in how most boss encounters, while intimidating at first, can be made to feel much less so once you discover and exploit an enemy’s distinct weakness(es).

Bell Gargoyle(s)

One of the earlier boss fights in Dark Souls is the Bell Gargoyle. You come across this enemy on the roof of the Undead Parish before reaching the bell tower. The fight itself is pretty straightforward – dodge and attack. Once the Bell Gargoyle’s health reaches the halfway point is where the real fun begins; you will be promptly be joined by ANOTHER Bell Gargoyle and have to face off against not one, but TWO of these winged assholes. I spent several attempts trying to get the attack patterns down and generally testing my own patience in the process. I was ultimately unsuccessful as I just couldn’t avoid the near-constant onslaught of fire breath attacks from both gargoyles. It wasn’t until I randomly looked in my inventory for any consumable items that may be of use to me that I noticed I had accumulated several gold pine resins, which when applied add a healthy dose of lightning damage to your weapon. On the VERY FIRST application of gold pine resin to my weapon, I completely annihilated both Bell Gargoyles in about a minute flat…well, shit. I had spent so long grinding away at this boss fight, hoping to finally get the attack patterns down and picking the ideal time for a counterattack that I was actually caught completely off guard by how some seemingly small detail like applying lightning damage to your weapon could have in, what had been a difficult fight. It was actually this moment that made me begin to understand the way most boss fights can be approached in not just Dark Souls, but most From Software souls-like games.

Moving on to another example…

Stray Demon

You get your first glimpse of the Stray Demon in the opening minutes of Dark Souls as you make your way through the Northern Undead Asylum. The (optional)fight doesn’t actually occur until you return to the Asylum a little later in the game – another fight that gave me a fair amount of trouble in my first several attempts as this thicc bastard can absolutely wreck your chance at earning that ‘W’ with some potent magic AOE attacks. In doing a bit of research on the fight that I learned of its Achilles heel – bleed effect. The Stray Demon fight can be trivialized by the fight you can stroll, well…fall, more precisely into the boss arena with nothing a base level Bandit’s Knife capable of causing bleed damage(as well as a shield with magic resistance) and emerge victorious, which is EXACTLY WHAT I DID. Is the Stray Demon an imposing enemy? Yes. Does it have a not-so-obvious weakness to be exploited to the point of being (almost)laughably easy? Also, yes.

Ornstein & Smough

Of course, there’s times when you simply WILL NOT have the upper-hand against a particular boss – either because you never picked up the weapon/ammo to gain the upper-hand or they…just don’t have any distinguishable weaknesses to exploit. Reaching the level boss in a Mega Man game without the weapon giving you the upper-hand usually means you’re stuck using nothing but the Mega Buster and having to memorize every single movement and attack if you wanna win the fight. This happened to me MANY more times than I’d like to admit in Dark Souls, making the game feel even more similar to the Blue Bomber’s various adventures. The example which comes to mind first during my playthrough of Dark Souls was the infamous Ornstein & Smough fight. I had made my way through Anor Londo, dealing with a dozen sentinels and a whole goddamn army of silver knights before finally coming face-to-face(-to-face) with the proportionally mismatched duo. This fight took me what felt like the better part of a week. One of my biggest disadvantages, outside being outnumbered, was the fact I knew there was a weakness to exploit – FIRE. I just had no way of doing so. I didn’t have any weapons or consumables to deal fire damage, with no souls to make a quick detour and acquire any either. This meant If I was going to take on both Snorlax AND Pikachu, I had to do it the hard way – patience and pattern recognition. Just like with Mega Man, it IS possible to go through the entire game without using elemental attacks to give you an edge, but it makes an already uphill battle even steeper. The fight against Ornstein & Smough wasn’t exactly pretty and took me an eternity, but…I did it, dammit! 

Of course, I’m morally obligated to mention Bloodborne in at least one blog post a month and a number of boss fights could apply to this as well, though most end up falling under the basic “BEASTS = USE FIRE” guidelines as established by the Hunter’s Workshop…which could be an entirely different post for another day.

Thanks for reading!

The Unofficial Shitboi Roster: Elden Ring’s Most Annoying Enemies

It’s been four months since I finished Elden Ring and From Software’s latest Souls game is still living rent-free in my head. The game is one I will absolutely describe as “an experience” and have little doubt will end as my GOTY – though God of War: Ragnarök is likely to be a contender. Apart from actually playing the game, one of the other things I’ve enjoyed the most about Elden Ring is the general sense of “community” after its launch. I remember my Twitter timeline being almost *entirely* flooded by clips and screenshots as everyone was sharing everything from tips and strategies to discussing the game’s story and lore in greater depth. There was also an endless array of memes to provide a laugh or two after rage-quitting a boss fight or inadvertently walking into a dungeon trap and losing a small fortune in runes.

I had intended to have this completed for the Blaugust 2022 ‘Creative Appreciation Week’ – yes, I know that was LAST WEEK. Coincidentally enough, this week’s theme is ‘Staying Motivated Week’ and what better way to build momentum in yet another attempt to stay motivated than by *actually finishing* something I’ve been procrastinating on for WAY TOO LONG. I’m pretty excited about today’s Blaugust entry as it is part of a collaborative effort in the spirit of ‘Creative Appreciation Week’. I began this rambling intro by talking about Elden Ring and my experience as part of the FromSoft/Souls community. What better way to tie this all together than by joining forces with the self-appointed ‘Pope of Dark Souls’Meghan from MeghanPlaysGames.

What began as a simple conversation complaining about discussing which Elden Ring enemies annoyed us the most eventually turned into what was not-so-affectionately referred to as the “Shitboi Roster” and…here we are today. Both of us picked the five enemies that irritated us more than any other in our time across the Lands Between and have added our respective two cents for the other’s selections. Alright. Let’s do this! There’s one enemy in particular I knew was gonna get roasted first on my list…

Fanged Imps

When thinking of enemies faced in Elden Ring, no enemy evokes the same level of rage as Fanged Imps. These annoying little gremlin fucks are found in countless dungeons and catacombs throughout the Lands Between and typically hide on walls and ceilings in order to ambush and inflict blood loss on any wayward Tarnished not paying close attention to their surroundings. They are incredibly nimble and often attack in groups. Maybe not as menacing as other enemies found in Elden Ring, but they will absolutely ruin your day if not given the proper respect – 100% speaking from experience here. I’m a little torn as to whether or not my profanity-laced outbursts were affected greater by the sheer number of times you encounter them throughout the game, or being miserable little fucks in general? Either way, my Elden Ring Shitboi Roster BEGINS and ENDS with Fanged Imps.

Meghan: I was humbled by these gremlin fuckers way more times than I am publicly willing to admit. I had a particularly troublesome time with them in the Subterranean Shunning Grounds, while trying to traverse some pipes. The Fanged Imps are hiding everywhere, ready to jump you and send you plunging to your death – or, if you manage to survive, to the Giant Crayfish waiting below. The Fanged Imps are deceptively unassuming, but like Omni said, they will absolutely fuck your day up with vigor. Can’t imagine my Elden Ring experience without them (said with no warmth whatsoever).

Glintstone Sorcerers

I wasn’t sure anything would match the sheer obnoxiousness of the inhabitants of Stormveil Castle – endless waves of archers, birds with knives for legs, and a lion with a giant sword grafted to its front leg. But that was BEFORE I reached Raya Lucaria Academy. Of all the enemies hellbent on making your visit to the academy as MISERABLE AS POSSIBLE, the Glintstone Sorcerers may be the most maddening. These Burger King-masked goons are content to sit back and spam non-stop magical homing missiles which can and WILL one-hit kill you. In addition to a barrage of ranged attacks, Glintstone Sorcerers are more than happy to straight up bitch slap you with a Whopper-sized spellbook should you get close enough. The *only* positive thing I have to say(see? positivity) about these flame-grilled assholes is they provided some A+ meme content to laugh at while suffering through my time at the Academy.

Meghan: As if going to school wasn’t already miserable enough, this particular wizard academy is crawling with the worst kinds of students – no, not Chads, the Glintstone Sorcerers! Though these little shits are among the most annoying enemies in the game, I do kind of love them – their Burger King likeness (honestly, sending memes back and forth to Omni was my favourite part of this discovery) and general silliness of their appearance does make me more fond of them than I probably should be. Even that one dickhead that shot me in the back with an uncannily accurate homing spell on every single one of my runs to fight Rennala. Shout out to them especially. Number one draft pick for the Shitboi Roster, easily.

Abductor Virgins

There’s no shortage of…strange enemies to be found in Elden Ring, but the Abductor Virgins are among the more foreboding designs. These mechanized foes look like Inquisition-era torture devices and will quickly cause an inattentive Tarnished to seek penance for running afoul. Abductor Virgins only have(need?) two different attacks: rolling up and flailing about with their chain-guillotine arms, and pulling any nearby victims into its frontside chamber of horrors for MASSIVE DAMAGE. I still remember the first time I stumbled across one of these shitbois in the Raya Lucaria Academy courtyard – my bemused laughter quickly turned to fear as soon as one slowly wheeled its way up to me and completely wrecked my ass. What makes these Popes of Pain Town even MORE aggravating is the fact they don’t have a particular weakness as they boast high defensive numbers and are completely immune to all status effects. Another enemy whose appearance would warrant a firm “NO THANKS, BRO!” as I scurried away with my maidenless fingers(and runes) intact.

Meghan: Big “same” from me. I was initially excited about these Iron Maiden-wannabes after seeing them in one of the loading screens – their design is pretty cool, right? But after encountering the Virgin Abductor’s for the first time (getting grabbed, killed, and being unceremoniously yeeted to the Volcano Manor with a ton of runes) I started to avoid these enemies whenever I stumbled across them. Their grab attacks can be hard to dodge, and do an insane amount of damage. Yet another enemy that falls into my “it’s a no from me” category. Bravely running away, not out of fear, at all. Unless I need a pizza sliced, these things can stay ALL THE WAY away from me.

Revenants

Ok. So there I was, minding my own business, casually taking in the sights(and loot) of Elphael – Brace of the Haligtree. I had made a wrong turn somewhere down the line and had become pursued by the numerous Cleanrot Knights patrolling the area. Long story short, I found myself down in the lower depths of the city. It was here that I once again crossed paths with an enemy I had learned to fear dozens of hours prior – Revenants.


Revenants are, in scientific terms – fucking terrifying. I’d elaborate further on precisely what happens when attacked by a Revenant, but I never really…uh, lived long enough to discover anything other than swift death. These humanoid-arachnid abominations have limbs for days and are freakishly fast! Even the bravest of neanderthals(aka STR builds) best tread carefully when there’s one in the area, if not more. I didn’t come across as many of these as some other enemies during my time in Elden Ring and I bothered to fight even fewer – I saw a Revenant, I RAN FOR MY GODDAMN LIFE! Salty, angry tears were plentiful after encountering these cursed foes.

Meghan: The Revenants are probably among my least favourite enemies in this game. Not only do they have 45 limbs to slap you around with (which will stagger you, leaving you unable to roll away – accept your death with as much dignity as you can muster) but they can also magically teleport around by appearing and disappearing into the ground. Great. As if that wasn’t already enough, they have an incredibly loud, grating shriek, reminiscent of the inhuman horrors that they are – headphone users, enjoy. I sure didn’t. I genuinely refused to fight these things after I encountered them a few times, because they were just so infuriating to deal with. I remember running into one down in the sewers while I was looking around for the Shit Eater’s jail cell – I took about three steps into one of the chambers to snatch up some items, heard the Revenant appear, and immediately made a swift exit. Nope. Nope, nope, nope.

Ulcerated Tree Spirit

Have you ever thought to yourself “I wish I could fight the Moldorm from A Link To The Past – the squirmiest, most annoying boss fight in the game, but with the grim specter of death looming over you in a way only Hidetaka Miyazaki can accommodate?” Have I got just the irritating shitbag for you! Ulcerated Tree Spirits look like the disgusting offspring of *Nerdtree* Avatars and Magma Wyrms, but even more frustrating to fight and are found in several places across the Lands Between as mini-boss fights. What makes Tree Spirits so difficult to fight is the face they flop and squirm around the area with no discernable pattern, oftentimes doing little other than spinning in circles and dishing out huge damage to whatever it decides to slap around. As annoying as the erratic movement and attacks of the Ulcerated Tree Spirit can be, the biggest hurdle IS the camera itself which seems to immediately get knocked to the ground and you spend the entire fight looking upward in a daze as the camera spins. There’s also the fact that the majority of fights seem to take place in very confined areas, as if something frivolous like being able to, you know, see what’s kicking your ass was an afterthought. What cemented the Ulcerated Tree Spirit’s place on this list was squaring off against yet another of these fuckers in Elphael at the Brace of the Haligtree, which of course, takes place in a lake of rot. As if tackling these giant slugs wasn’t already fun enough.

Meghan: I hate enemies/bosses like these, specifically for the struggles that Omni mentioned. Locking on to something like the Ulcerated Tree Spirit is completely pointless because the camera goes insane, and you’re more likely to get killed because of it. Instead, I found myself jumping around and swinging my sword like a madman during these encounters, just hoping to hit SOMETHING. It’s a massive tree slug, WHY IS THIS SO DIFFICULT? I didn’t mind so much when I came across the first one – but then I found a second. And a third. And so on. Yeah, that’s when I started to mind, and officially added these creatures to my Shitboi list. And the ones in the rot areas, like the Grand Cloister? Fuck right off.

(Go check out Meghan’s list of annoying enemies here and bask in her suffering as she undoubtedly did in mine.)

Thanks for reading!