Today we continue our countdown and my ode to Square Enix and Final Fantasy.
Looking for Part 1?
And so it continues…
Tantarian is an optional boss many might not remember well or be overly fond of, but something about the uniqueness of the fight sticks out to me. It’s definitely not the most difficult optional boss, nor the most emotionally invested opponent. Yet, when I think about the fight, I remember one unlike any other I can remember.
Supposedly you can fight this boss earlier in the game than when you go to save Garnet (Dagger, if you like), but whenever I played I didn’t. Tantarian is a creature inside of a book and must be provoked out – literally – by successfully landing a physical attack that amounts to the right damage. There is a mathematical formula for coaxing Tantarian out, but for all intents and purposes it amounts to attack while keeping your party healthy until you see him. When exposed, the creature’s defense is drastically reduced and he only casts bio. However, if you hit him with anything other than a magical attack he will retreat back into his book (which he will do regardless after a certain amount of time).
Tantarian isn’t overly complicated or trying, but he is different. Just like Final Fantasy IX. There have been dozens and dozens of bosses in the history of Final Fantasy, so any boss that is different from all the rest deserves some recognition.
“Fulfill your Focus and gain eternal life!”
In one aspect, the antagonist of Final Fantasy XIII is a little clichéd and forgettable. On the other hand, he is a decently menacing foe who offers a challenge to the party as well as the frustrations/satisfaction that normally only comes when you’ve faced a mid-boss several times only to finally defeat him for good.
The player encounters Bathandelus three times, and each time his attacks change – thus the player must change his/her strategies as well. Whether needing a relentless assault (puns!) to cancel his super powerful Destrudo spell or avoiding his widespread status ailments, each fight can be an adrenaline pumping exercise in paradigm management. Personally, I think the second encounter (out of three) is the best overall because in the first his attacks are powerful but straightforward while the third encounter the party will likely be too powerful for him to be a real challenge.
Okay, so I’ll admit that Barthandelus doesn’t really have anything truly special about him or his fights. In fact, the boss I wish would have been here was the fight against Cid Raines. Cid Raines changes his tactics depending on your paradigm, a fantastic idea. Sadly, Cid proved to just not be tactically difficult enough, so Barthandelus is the standout boss of the game. Still, while I understand those who just don’t enjoy Final Fantasy XIII, the Big B (as I call him) weirdly is reminiscent of classic Final Fantasy bosses while giving a new, action oriented way of battling.
“The Hallowed Father… The First Sire, Hallowed Father to all Eidolons, watches over his children from on high. So indomitable is His strength that He has never known defeat. None could hope to emerge victorious against Him, save perhaps a warrior capable of rising to the heavens in order to deliver the felling stroke.“
The genesis of Bahamut can be traced to the original Final Fantasy, though that incarnation was only the basis for what Bahamut would become. The second Final Fantasy offered the first real glimpse into how Bahamut would be seen and utilized in games to come. But it wasn’t until Final Fantasy IV until I finally felt that Bahamut had become what we know and love.
The god of Eidolons is an enemy not to be reckoned with. He will cast MegaNuke and kill at least a couple of your party members every time, so it’s a constant tug-of-war of recovery and attack. Plus, it’s just disconcerting to see a countdown. The music for the fight is fantastic, the challenge is very good without crossing the threshold of being truly nerve-wracking and, well it’s bahamut – the king of all Final Fantasy summons.
In each game, Bahamut is often only the second or third strongest summon; but of the recurring summons in the franchise (Ifrit, Shiva, Odin, etc.) Bahamut is always the strongest. What’s your favorite Bahemut? I always fall back on Bahamut Zero.
Either you love the Yiazmat fight or you hate the very idea of it. The last Elite Mark in Final Fantasy XII has over 50 million HP – yeah that isn’t a typo. To some, it’s a ridiculously long and tedius boss whose only real trick is to take forever to beat. And I admit, had Yiazmat hard a normal superbosses amount of HP, say a measly 5 million HP, Yiazmat probably wouldn’t be on the list. But, as some bosses are insanely difficult to test player’s skill, this fight is there to test a player’s dedication – and I respect that.
The Yiazmat fight is truly unique. There are traps around the coliseum the player must avoid as well as maintaining the right distance from the fearsome dragon. If the party is too far, it starts buffing itself and casting instant death spells. If you are too close it destroys your party with tremendous physical attacks. After his HP dwindles below 50% something very frustrating happens: damage is capped at 6999. When at 10 health bars (10 million HP), he uses Growing Threat (ironic as it takes 40 million damage before you are a threat) to increase its stats and at just 5 bars left it casts Reflectga. But, what separates this fight from any other I can recall is the ability to save in the middle of the fight.
Saving is a risky proposition. While you’re gone Yiazmat might cast regen, making it impossible to outdamage his health regen. However, in a fight that likely will take three hours, stocking up on provisions and saving your progress is a must. Almost as if to ridicule you there is a “round counter” for each time you save during the fact. The Yiazmat battle is one of excess. At the core is a very intriguing set of gameplay elements that challenges the player and adds in a risk/reward mechanic. However, it’s simply just too much. To me, I adored this fight and the perseverance required; but I fully understand those who abhor this superboss for the ages. Regardless of how you feel, this is a boss that is memorable to anyone who has faced it.
“Enough expository banter! Now we fight like men! And ladies! And ladies who dress like men! For Gilgamesh…it is morphing time!”
Quite simply, the Gilgamesh incarnation in Final Fantasy V is not only the perfect example of what a mid-boss is, but also the best version of Gilgamesh to date – as it should be because he is integral to the story. Much like Ultros in Final Fantasy VI, the samurai offers up hilarious one-liners to add levity to the game. But, unlike the comical purple octopus, the mid-boss in V has real character development and occasionally actually challenges the player.
The first encounter with Gilgamesh is in Castle Exdeath, where Galuf mops the floor with him on his way to rescue his comrades. After that, the party runs into him several times and undergoes some decently challenging battles – though no special tactics are required. If you’ve play Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, the fights against Gilgamesh are a mirror image of Naked Snake’s encounters with Ocelot (quite possibly where Kojima got the idea). By the end of the game, its clear Gilgamesh gained respect for the party and it’s reflected in the easy battle.
In Final Fantasy V Gilgamesh is an interesting mix of sobering character progression and comical relief. His character design is easily one of the coolest in all of Final Fantasy and the idea that because he was banished to the void that the Gilgamesh seen in the other games could be the same character (and indeed his growing sword collection and Dissidia story info). Gilgamesh very well be my favorite video game character (definitely Final Fantasy), and in Final Fantasy V we see the true arc of the strange samurai.
Due to extenuating circumstances I wasn’t able to publish this yesterday, so tomorrow I’ll post both part 3 and 4 to catch up. So, what do you think of these bosses? How awesome is Gilgamesh? Let me know below.