Improving Unwinnable Boss Fights

What do you think of unwinnable battles or battles that aren’t ment to be won like the first kishgal fight in Ys Origin, first Jetstream Sam encounter, first Vile fight from Megaman X, ect?

They’re kind of a waste of time. It’s a lot more rewarding when it’s a 1 chance battle instead of an unwinnable one.

Shoutouts to Demon’s Souls, and Ninja Gaiden Sigma for including these and giving special rewards for completing them (in NGS’s case, literally beating the game on the spot).

Shoutouts to Magination for taking this idea to its logical extreme and including a boss fight that is technically beatable, but ridiculously hard (kill 99 enemies in turn based combat hard in a game designed for only 4~ enemies per battle).

Unwinnable boss fights are better viewed as segments where the goal of the scenario is altered from other scenarios, but it’s not clearly communicated to the player. The new condition for progression is reducing HP to 0 or the equivalent, which is normally avoided. So instead of trying to kill the boss, you need to surrender as soon as possible.

Some people view them as “taking control away from the player” or “forcing the player to experience defeat.” I think this is kind of a misguided layman’s view.

This can be really bad in games where you have consumable resources which can be wasted in such a fight. If players don’t catch on that they’re not supposed to win, they might waste resources. Also bad is if players think a battle is supposed to be unwinnable, but actually isn’t. A lot of games don’t want to be honest about whether a boss fight is unwinnable or not, because they’re trying to tell a certain story and deliberately mislead you into trying your hardest and failing.

One solution might be to have a 1 chance battle, but at the end, the boss asks, “Do you give up?” and one choice progresses the plot, one choice triggers game over and you can retry from there.

Mostly I think they’re a waste of time because it’s not challenging to die, it’s inevitable, and it can be irritating to trigger the enemy to kill you, depending on how random they are (I get annoyed at this in MGR sometimes when Sam decides to just stand there).

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