End Boss Month #24: Metroid: Zero Mission

Remakes are a difficult thing to pull off. The best are like Resident Evil on the GameCube, widely praised for its ability to remain true to the source while also vastly improving it. And then there are the games like Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes which, while not bad, left some cold with its new mechanics and crazy cutscenes. It’s a difficult line to toe, and a subjective one at that. But with that in mind, let’s take a look at the final boss of one of my favorite remakes out there; Metroid: Zero Mission.

Zero Mission is a full revamp of the original NES game that takes advantage of just about every advancement made to the Metroidvania subgenre since Samus first destroyed Mother Brain. There’s new gear, an actual map with objective markers, a more coherent, less Engrishy story with cutscenes, and well, it just looks, sounds and plays better in every conceivable way. On top of all of this, though, is the fact that Mother Brain got downgraded from final boss to the boss that’s fought before encountering a lot of crazy new stuff.

And near the end of all of this crazy new stuff? Mecha-Ridley. That’s right, not regular-ass Ridley (or Green Lantern Ridley, for that matter); he kinda sorta got missiled in the face earlier in the game. But now he’s back, he’s electronic, he’s pissed off, and Samus has to fight him if she wants to escape.

Don't call him Robo-Ridley. He hates alliteration.

The fight against Mecha-Ridley isn’t just a reskinned Ridley fight. This incarnation is pretty much stationary, but can swipe at Samus and fire projectiles of the fire, laser, and missile varieties. And if you’re crazy enough to do a 100% item collection run, he gets even harder. That’s right; the fight’s difficulty rises if you decide to go at it after collecting every single power-up scattered around Zebes. And when you do defeat him, his wrecked body triggers a self-destruct mechanism, meaning that it's time for that traditional Metroid "getting the hell out of Dodge" sequence.

I’ve never attempted a 100% run of the game myself, so I couldn’t really say how much the rise in difficulty truly matters, but I never personally had much trouble with him. I actually found the demoted Mother Brain the more difficult boss. That being said, facing Mecha-Ridley is still pretty satisfying, as he’s the one enemy that really presents a challenge to Samus after she regains her powersuit and starts mowing through mooks left and right. He’s what brings the player down to Earth, or Zebes, after suddenly becoming a war goddess capable of massive carnage.

So, while Mecha-Ridley isn’t exactly the most iconic final boss of the Metroid series (I’m sure that some of you are still scratching your head over why I picked this game over Super Metroid), he’s a unique addition to a not-insubstantial sequence that takes off right where the original game ended. Like any addition brought to remake, Mecha-Ridley could have fallen flat, but he holds his own quite well.

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End Boss Month #23: The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age

Folks, we are almost a week from the conclusion of End Boss Month. Throughout this blog series, I've highlighted a wide variety of final bosses. Some known for their devious personalities, others for their devious gameplay, and yet others for being just all-around devious. But it is here, before we head into the final seven, that I'd like to highlight a particular final boss that frankly makes even Alpha-152 look like a masterstroke of creativity by comparison.

Which is truly an odd thing to say when I’m talking about a boss from game set in Middle-earth. J.R.R. Tolkien crafted no shortage of villainous forces and personalities in his fantasy universe. And none of these foes are more evil, more conniving, and more dangerous than Sauron, who once used the power of a ring to bring ruin to all in his way. His massive, glowing eye, which sits atop Barad-dûr as a ghastly, intimidating presence, is an iconic symbol that instills fear upon all those that enter its gaze.

So of course it makes perfect sense to cast the Eye itself as a boss fight. A final boss fight. In one of the worst games ever based on the Lord of the Rings license. I speak of The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age.

Sauron's eye is wide with shock and dismay.

For those of you that are not familiar with The Third Age, it is an RPG that follows the events of the Lord of the Rings trilogy with a design stolen "borrowed" from Final Fantasy X. Or at least, the game clumsily plods along the same general path as the trilogy. Actually, that’s not accurate, either. What The Third Age is, is a goddamn piece of self-insertion fanfiction.

That’s right. Fanfiction. In which the protagonists are not Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn, or any of the other names one would expect to see in anything related to The Lord of the Rings. It is a cast of original humans, elves, and dwarves; the Fellowship that follows the Fellowship that Mary-Sues their way from one major event in the trilogy to another. It’s absurd enough to see them team up with Gandalf to slay the Balrog, or join ranks with Aragorn to kill the Nazgûl. But at the end of the game, they somehow, in defiance of all narrative logic established by the trilogy, manage to climb to the top of Barad-dûr and confront the Eye of Sauron face to…giant, flaming eyeball.

I…what? How the hell does that even work? Who approved this shit? What in…why? Just, just why?

Feel free to take a deep, disappointed sigh, if needed.

Okay, are we good? Splendid. Let’s go to the video tape. Be sure to watch all the way to the end.

What the hell kind of an ending is that? You kill the Eye of Sauron, and then the ending is just a bunch of scenes from the movies stitched together with Gandalf’s narration. Scenes which include the collapse of Barad-dûr and the Eye’s explosion.

Uh…okay? So, did this Diet Coke Fellowship manage to survive the destruction of the towering evil structure? Yes? No? Oh, who the hell cares. One should never expect much from a game based on a licensed property, but Sauron deserves better than to be treated as the final boss in this trainwreck.

I'm sorry that I had to bring this game and this fight up, but with the greatest fights come the not so greatest, and I'd be remiss if I didn't include Sauron's bastardized boss fight incarnation in this feature. But with this out of the way, join us again tomorrow, as we start our final week of End Boss Month and return to bosses that are, well, not insanely fiction-breaking.

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End Boss Month #22: Kingdom Hearts II

If you ever want to start an argument on Giant Bomb, just bring up the subject of Kingdom Hearts. Some people will immediately jump in and complain that we’re still getting side-stories, prequels, and sequels instead of the “true sequel” Kingdom Hearts III. Others will complain that the series has sucked ever since Kingdom Hearts II, and yet others will yammer about their distaste for Tetsuya Nomura, or Disney, or Final Fantasy, or all of the above. It seems that there are only a relative few that are fine with the way things are right now and are content to enjoy the games rather than find reasons to moan.

But, though my passion for the series has waned a bit (I never did get around to playing Re: coded), Kingdom Hearts II, my first experience with the series, ranks among the best and most memorable. This is largely due to its primary villains, Organization XIII. Organization XIII is comprised of Nobodies (not nobodies), beings that came into existence after their hearts were torn from their bodies and became Heartless.

If recent Reddit antics claiming that the story is somehow incomprehensible are now entering your mind, allow me to clarify, because Reddit certainly won’t. A dude’s heart is removed, and the heart becomes a Heartless. At the same time, a separate entity containing the memories of the former whole being also comes into existence, and is called a Nobody. If a Nobody has a particularly strong will, then they may also retain their human form. These sorts are exceedingly rare, and Xemnas, the leader of Organization XIII, is among the most powerful.

For soothe! I am a sociopathic jackass.

Xemnas was spawned from a researcher named Xehanort who betrayed his superior, Ansem, assumed Ansem’s identity, and then through his experiments managed to separate himself into both a Heartless (Ansem, the final boss of the original Kingdom Hearts) and Xemnas. There’s a bit more backstory, but this should suffice for now. In any case, Xemnas’s goal is to acquire the power of Kingdom Hearts, and as leader of Organization XIII, has those under him work toward bringing that goal to fruition under the belief that, should they acquire that power, they can use it to be restored to their whole selves. But how does one go about summoning Kingdom Hearts? By using a keyblade to harvest a whole lot of hearts from Heartless.

In short, Xemnas and his minions manipulate Sora into doing their work for them, and Sora has little choice but to cut through the Heartless in his path if he actually wants to stop Organization XIII. Xemnas is a crafty bastard that way. But even more bastardly is the fight against him at the end of the game.

On the morning I beat Kingdom Hearts II, I sat down and prepared for what I thought would be a fairly standard boss fight. What I received, on the other hand, was a battle that took me a significantly larger chunk of time to complete due to fairly low character levels on my part and a severe underestimation of the number and complexity of Xemnas’s forms. (Also, I didn't stop for breakfast at any point. That might have had something to do with it, too.)

Fighting Xemnas is basically like fighting four or five different bosses, each with their own life bars and gimmicks. Trying to even describe them all in any form of detail would simply take too long. There are multiple points where I thought, “OK, now the game is over,” only for Xemnas to return with yet another form. And his final form in particular was a pain, simply because of the point where Sora is caged and you briefly have to control Riku to free him before Sora’s life runs out. Why that part was so difficult for me, I don’t know. I lost count of the number of times I died on that part of the battle alone. And this is after fighting his regular form, his armored form (twice), and flying around on a jet bike to fight him in the air. Fighting Xemnas is like running a marathon that is actively trying to murder you at every mile.

Heck, just watching this video reminded me of parts that I had completely forgotten about in the years since I last played this game. Seriously, it's ridiculous.

This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy it. It became ridiculous at points, but it did nothing to sour my taste on the game. Xemnas is a powerful foe, and he throws absolutely everything that he can at Sora before he finally goes down. He single-handedly makes the rest of Organization XIII look like child’s play in comparison. But hey, he is their boss.

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End Boss Month #21: Ninja Gaiden & Ninja Gaiden II (NES)

Long before Ryu Hayabusa was known for starring in balls-hard action games pitting him against such foes as the Holy Vigoor Emperor and teaming up with scantily clad women like Rachel, he was known for starring in balls-hard action games pitting him against an evil sorcerer and teaming up with a professionally dressed women like Irene. (OK, she's less professionally dressed in Dead or Alive: Dimensions, but that's beside the point.) But heroes and sidekicks aside, that sorcerer that Ryu faced in the first two games in the NES Ninja Gaiden trilogy, Jaquio, was a monster.

He's also a fan of purple.

Actually, he was a monster just to get to fight. Between the sadistically placed enemies, the platform hopping, wall climbing, and bird dodging, it’s a triumph in and of itself just to look the guy in the face at the end of both games. The last time I tried playing the original game no more than a year or two ago, my withered NES skills failed me utterly and I was left battered and bruised, weeping softly in the corner as my Wii looked down on me in disgust.

But enough about my failings as a human being and the anthropomorphizing of my consoles. As tough as it is just to get to Jaquio, actually beating him is an even greater challenge. In the original game, losing to him would force you to restart at the very beginning of the final stage.

Did you see that? That is not easy to learn when failure leaves you running back through a gauntlet of bad guys, sadistic jumps, and asshole birds that all want to kill you just as much as Jaquio. Of course, facing him in Ninja Gaiden II isn’t much better. It is in fact the opposite of better. Not only does he gain more maneuverability and throw fireballs in more difficult patterns, he has two more forms to share with you after that.

For his second form, Jaquio takes on the form of a giant head stuck in the wall as death rains from above. And if you can beat that form, you have to fight his head again, which is now attached to a grotesque, monstrous body with a giant pulsating heart. Sort of like the final boss of Contra, only more painful for the fact that you’re equipped with a sword and some ninja magic rather than a machine gun with infinite bullets and the Konami Code.

Amazingly, Jaquio stayed dead for Ninja Gaiden III. Although even if he did come back for that one, I’m not sure it would have mattered too much. Unlike the first two games and their unlimited continues, Ninja Gaiden III grants a total of five.

Yeah, good luck getting to the end of that one.

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End Boss Month #20: Dragon Age: Origins

For a game called Dragon Age: Origins, the game has very few actual dragons in it. But when they show up, oh man do they present a problem. And no dragon poses a greater problem than the Archdemon Urthemiel, the game’s final boss.

Dragons have notoriously bad dentists.

Like other Bioware titles of a similar structure, the player spends the bulk of the game making preparations for the sake of this final moment. Forming a solid group of adventurers is just the first step; alliances must be forged, betrayals must be punished (or committed), and racial tensions must be overcome. Once all of the pieces are in play and the other worries have either been dealt with or forced aside, the Warden must lead her (male Wardens are for suckers) forces against the last remaining tides of Darkspawn and the Archdemon itself.

The Archdemon, being a dragon capable of flight, is kind of a pain to fight. I fully admit that I did not play this portion of the game on a particularly challenging difficulty; I played it on the easiest, in fact. After a frustrating evening trying to navigate the Fade, I said screw it and ratcheted the setting down to casual. (Aside: Whoever designed the Fade is a sadist.) Perhaps there’s more strategy involved on the higher difficulties, or at least a better strategy than the one I ended up adopting; running around like an idiot and trying not to die as my elven allies did most of the work for me.

Bows are awesome. Beyond that, I did what damage I could and quaffed an entire inventory of healing potions because I had somehow managed to get all the way to the end of the game without anyone capable of casting a freaking healing spell. What? Don’t look at me like that. It’s not my fault Wynne attacked me. I wasn’t even trying to pick a fight.

So, to summarize, elves, running, occasional stabbing, healing potions. All that was missing was whimsical calliope music to truly set the mood, or perhaps Yakety Sax. In other words, don’t come to me for good strategies on how to beat this game. I will either get you killed, or a role in a Benny Hill sketch.

Be that as it may, there are a surprising number of outcomes to this fight. When the time comes, you can either choose to deal the final blow to the Archdemon yourself, or leave that task for one of your Warden allies. Whoever deals the finishing blow dies, because being a Grey Warden sucks. That is of course, unless you either agree to have sex with Morrigan the night before (because you’re a guy Warden), or you sweet-talk Alistair into a night of awkward witch lovin’ because you’re a girl. (And also because seeing the uncomfortable look on Alistair’s face at the very idea is worth it.)

But once Morrigan is knocked up, she performs a ritual that allows all of the Wardens involved to get out of the final battle alive. And if you’re anything like me, you get a happy ending with Alistair as king, you as queen, and a willful desire to disregard Dragon Age II in its entirety.

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End Boss Month #19: Dead or Alive 4

Say what you will about the creative usage of physics in the Dead or Alive series, but Team Ninja’s fighting game franchise has not been without its creative bosses. Of course, they can all be home runs. Such was the case in the final boss of Dead or Alive 4, Alpha-152.

Get those jokes out of your system now, folks. She kicks high. Boobies. Etc.

Alpha-152 is basically a clone of the character Kasumi. That is, a clone made entirely out of sentient, super-powered Jell-O. Dead or Alive: Dimensions clarifies things a bit by stating that she’s actually the powered-up form of Kasumi Alpha, the twisted, non-Jell-O clone that appeared in Dead or Alive 2. But yeah, Jell-O clone.

And the disappointment doesn’t stop there. Fighting game bosses tend to be a notorious bunch. Bred from the genre’s roots in arcades, a lot of bosses tend to be difficult in blatantly unfair ways. Whether that be the use of full-screen super attacks that are nigh impossible to defend against or an AI that is programmed to react in specific ways to button inputs. In Alpha-152’s case, it’s a Get Out of Combo Free Card. Launch into a combo, and she’s likely to teleport right out of it and into a position where you’re a sitting duck.

Like the worst fighting game bosses, Alpha-152’s design forces the player to abandon the normal strategies that the game otherwise encourages. To avoid launching into combos, and only deal a few quick hits before backing off to guard against her inevitable retaliation. Facing her in the time trial mode of Dead or Alive 4 is especially painful, as without a doubt, she’s wrecked more of my trial runs than any other opponent due to the number of times I’ve had to retry that fight.

Regardless, she’s not the worst I’ve ever fought. I’d argue that Shao Kahn from last year’s Mortal Kombat reboot was far, far worse in the above respects. That being said, Alpha-152 was easily the worst thing about Dead or Alive 4 unless you simply abhor Halo. Strangely, I didn’t find her nearly as bothersome in Dead or Alive: Dimensions, but that may just be because I knew well enough what to expect from her this time.

But yeah. A Jell-O clone? That’s the best that Team Ninja could come up with? Did they spend too much of the budget licensing Aerosmith music to have the resources for something better? Does Tomonobu Itagaki have a dessert-based fetish that we would really all be better off not knowing about?

The world may never know.

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End Boss Month #18: System Shock 2

Today, for the first and only time in my planned schedule, we’ll jump into the realm of PC gaming. Back in time to an age when sci-fi horror didn’t mean Dead Space, and when Ken Levine worked on a shock of a different sort. System Shock 2, to be precise, and its antagonist SHODAN.

For what it’s worth, SHODAN was also the villain, or rather, villainess, in the original System Shock, but I personally am more familiar with the sequel. Mostly because it’s the one that I played, and it scared the utter shit out of me. You haven’t known fear until you’ve screamed at the top of your lungs while flailing in the darkness with a wrench. And SHODAN is the cause of it all.

What is SHODAN? Well, she’s an evil artificial intelligence hell-bent on murdering the worthless sacks of meat she considers humanity. Imagine GLaDOS, but replace her dark sense of humor and cake recipes with an acute, genocidal psychosis and the desire to turn people into cybernetic zombies to serve as her unwilling murder puppets. Both AIs toy with their subjects, whether it’s your space marine character in System Shock 2 or Chell in Portal.

SHODAN does not appreciate your cake memes.

But rather than lead you through a series of test chambers with the promise of cake at the end, SHODAN’s plot is far more sinister. After being forcibly awakened from his sleep chamber on board the Von Braun, the player character quickly learns that everything has gone to hell. His only help is Dr. Janice Polito, who communicates with him and directs him through the ship. He makes his way through the Von Braun, hoping to make contact with Janice and hopefully find a way out of this mess. But when he finally finds her, she’s dead, and has been dead for quite some time. She had committed suicide before he even woke up.

So who was this Janice helping the player through the whole game? Why, SHODAN, of course. The entire time, she had been tricking you into helping her assume control of the ship. And when she starts using the Von Braun’s faster-than-light drive to start warping reality, you have to shut her down. And by shut her down, I mean run around a chamber, hacking terminals to shut them off as a physical avatar of SHODAN chases you around and makes you piss your pants, your skirts, your jorts, and your kilts.

And, like all horror villains that just refuse to stay dead, SHODAN finds a way to live on, even after her defeat. She takes possession of a woman, one of the few survivors of that managed to find the safety of an escape pod, and becomes SHODAN in actual physical form. Yeesh.

Unfortunately, Looking Glass Studios shut down after System Shock 2 was released, and with the rights to the series being held in the purgatory that is the EA back catalogue, it’s unlikely that we’ll see her villainy rise again. Which is unfortunate, because her antics could teach necromorphs a thing or three.

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End Boss Month #17: Dragon Warrior

Show of hands. Who here subscribed to Nintendo Power back in the day when the magazine offered a free copy of Dragon Warrior with each subscription? Well, like some of you (assuming any of you reading this actually did accept that offer), I too received a subscription through this promotion thanks to my mom. Technically, the subscription and the game were shared between me and my brother. But regardless of where the game came from, Dragon Warrior was my first taste of the RPG genre.

And man, what a taste. It’s simple and kind of a slog to play now, but without it, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. But for me and my brother, the Dragonlord will forever remain our white whale.

Moby-Dick.

I’ll get to why in a moment. But first, it’s important to know who this Dragonlord guy is. Well, he’s a princess-kidnapping bag of dicks. I know that a bag of greasy Dick’s is a delight (seriously, if you're ever in the Seattle area, try them out). But not this guy. He kidnaps Princess Gwaelin and uses his power to threaten Alefgard. The only way to stop him is to rebuild the rainbow bridge to his castle, march on over there, and take him on.

This is a process that can take an exceedingly long time. Particularly if you’re nine years old and have never played an RPG before in your life. The learning curve is steep, the number of steps that require getting to the end is long. But once you’re ready, it’s time to face that evil sorcerer and beat him down.

Only wait! He’s actually a dragon. And the battle suddenly becomes a lot more difficult. I hope you’ve found Erdrick’s Sword, because you’re going to need it.

Unfortunately, neither my brother nor I ever beat the game. My brother actually got to the end first. He could get to the Dragonlord’s dragon form, but then he’d die. So he just needed to level up some more. I figured I’d catch up to him on my own save file.

It was around this time that some family friends came to visit. They have a son that’s about our age, and we let him try the game. All was cool. And then, after he left, my brother went to resume his own game. But…oh.

Oh.

Said family friend had saved over my brother’s file.

That, folks, is more soul-shattering than any number of beatdowns courtesy of the Dragonlord himself. The loss of save data after countless hours of questing, level grinding and slime slaying. My brother never did beat the game, and well, neither did I. I mean, it wasn’t my save data, but it was a punch in the dick all the same. Regardless, my brother never touched another console RPG after that. I think the last game in the genre of any sort that he played was Diablo II, and that’s a considerably different game altogether.

But this I swear; one day, I will hunt the Dragonlord down and kill him for the honor of my brother. From hell’s heart I stab at thee.

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End Boss Month #16: Eternal Sonata

As we officially cross over into the second half of End Boss Month, I’d like to take a look at the final boss from one of the RPGs of the current hardware generation nearest and dearest to my heart; a game that came about at just the right moment in my life. Today, I speak of the final boss of Eternal Sonata. A game in which the final boss proved to be a legitimate surprise, and not the unpleasant kind like Final Fantasy IX’s Necron.

Eternal Sonata is a fantasy centered on the dreams of the nineteenth century Polish composer Frederic Francois Chopin. The game takes place in the final hours of his life, soon to be claimed by tuberculosis. As he sleeps, he dreams of a world inspired by his music, as well as some cues from other aspects of his life. It is a world in which those that are terminally ill gain magical powers. He accompanies a girl named Polka, also sick, and inspired by Chopin’s real-life sister Emilia, who died of the same disease at fourteen. He accompanies her on a journey through this world, and in the process encounters new friends and enemies along the way.

Not bad looking for being thirty-nine.

But in the very end, he turns on the party. Convinced that he must confront the others so that his soul might finally find rest and to stop the destruction of the dream world, he challenges Polka and the others to a final battle. A battle in which he fights more or less as a powered up version of his standard playable form. His normal battle taunts of his enemies being "soulless creatures" suddenly becoming chilling when directed at the other party members.

He of course goes down in the end. In the real world, he dies, and his spirit is able to rest. Eternal Sonata is not really otherwise known for its plot, which is simple, save for a convoluted ending with extensive philosophical chatter. It also layers on the melodrama quite thick, with one character taking several minutes to die as she monologues away. So the game will never win any awards for its story, but it is incredibly respectful toward Chopin, taking breaks at points to expound on specific periods of the composer’s actual life. It’s an unusual approach to an unusual subject of an RPG, and I forgive its narrative faults for that.

That still gives me chills.

I said before that this is a game that came along at the right time in my life, and I am not exaggerating. On the day of its release, I was actually put through the most painful humiliation of my professional life; one in which I will not go into details to describe here. But I will say that Chopin’s journey toward his own death proved to be soothing in its own way. The idea of death is not something that’s always at the forefront of the game, but with two terminally ill characters, it’s something that’s always on the player’s mind regardless. And yet, strangely, I came away from the game feeling happier than I had been when I started playing it. Chopin’s role as both the instigator and the end of the journey is a major reason why.

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End Boss Month #15: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4

Ladies and gentlemen, we are on the fifteenth day of End Boss Month. And as we reach the halfway point of this thirty-day examination of final bosses, I think it’s only fair that we take this time to look at one such adversary that holds a special place in the heart of long-time Giant Bomb visitors. I speak of the final boss of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4. Izanami.

Hi, there. How about a handshake?

It has been my observation on the forums that, in general, a lot of people tend to view Izanami as something of a let-down. After the unveiling of the serial killer and the defeat of Ameno-sagiri, the malevolent source of fog encroaching on Inaba, the last-minute unveiling of Izanami comes as a bit of a surprise; one that’s actually easy to miss, given the very specific requirements that are necessary to unveil her. Then, with one final trip into the TV, the Investigation Team climbs Yomotsu Hirasaka and learns the whole truth before facing her down.

In more literary terms, Izanami is the goddess behind the curtain controlling the visage of the wizard that was Ameno-sagiri. And when taken at that level of value, it’s easy to understand why some might be underwhelmed. But there’s another level of depth here, just as there was in the casting of the Nyx Avatar as the final boss of Persona 3.

Some of you will probably recall the school trip to Tatsumi Port Island. And while it’s a sequence that’s mostly remembered for several characters inexplicably getting drunk off non-alcoholic beverages, and for the Persona 3 players, some bonus fan service, there’s one sequence that sometimes gets overlooked. Heck, even the anime adaptation skimmed over the scene in favor of getting to the part where everyone gets smashed. The scene I’m referring to is Mr. Edogawa’s special lecture to the class, in which he discusses the tale of Izanagi and Izanami; the ancient Japanese creation myth.

This scene is the first and only time that Izanami is ever brought up during the plot prior to the big reveal near the game’s end. But for those that don’t know their Japanese mythology or only have a fleeting interest in it (which I’m guessing is the majority of the game’s western audience), Edogawa’s lecture is a pretty big deal, as it presents a major hint of events to come.

A couple of other things to note; one is that both the protagonist and the killer, Adachi, share the same default Persona in Izanagi, though Adachi’s incarnation is a twisted version. It would not be far off to assume that, had Taro Namatame not gone off the deep end and had the chance to awaken to his own Persona, it too would have been a form of Izanagi. Further, the other prominent Personae of the central cast, such as Konohana Sakuya are figures that are also derived from either ancient Japanese myth, or from ancient Japanese history, such as Tomoe Gozen. Some of these figures are also directly involved in stories of Izanagi and Izanami.

And then there’s the confrontation with Izanami herself, who in the ancient myths got the short end of the stick. She was scorched to death giving birth to Kagutsuchi. And before Izanagi ventured into Yomi to retrieve her from the underworld, she ate the food of Yomi, causing her appearance to rot horridly and also trapping her in the realm. Izanagi, upon seeing her rotted appearance, ran away out of fear and blocked the entrance to prevent pursuit.

As you can imagine, this turn of events left Izanami incredibly bitter.

And this is her good side. (Well, her not-quite-as-bad side, anyway.)

And yet, when Izanami chooses to awaken powers in three individuals that represent aspects she’s looking for, at least two of those she selects have a Persona that represents her former love. In essence, she chooses to use Izanagi as the bar by which to measure humanity’s worth. And she wasn’t ever intending to be found out. But when cornered, she challenges her most successful “Izanagi” to a final battle.

And what a final battle it is. After flailing at Izanami ineffectively, unable to defeat her, the protagonist uses the Orb of Sight, an item crafted by Igor by the power of the Social Links, to unveil Izanami’s true, hideous form, much in the same way the light of a torch revealed what she had become to Izanagi.

And while the battle’s grand finale takes its design cues from Persona 3, in pitting the protagonist alone against the boss in order to deliver the final blow, it’s fitting that it occurs as it does. Through his Social Links, the protagonist is given the power of Izanagi-no-Okami, and defeats her through the use of the skill Myriad Truths. He literally defeats her with truth itself.

And what does Izanami do when she’s thwarted? She congratulates him and the others. No spite, no petty diatribes. She takes her defeat graciously, which is really more than can be said for most villains in video games. That she so willingly accepts her defeat at the hands of a metaphysical representation of the god that spurned her and left her trapped in Yomi is even more impressive.

There’s more that could possibly be read into this, but it’s probably best to leave the discussion here. However, hopefully this gives at least some of you a new perspective on a boss that some in the forums found superfluous. Till next time!

P.S.: Oh, and in case you didn't know, her English voice is performed by the same actress that voices Nanako. Wrap your head around that one, while you're at it.

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