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The only good boss is a dead boss!

Tchernobog, Molov, The Vorsoth Guardian, Makron, General Mohc, The Spider Demon... they all have one thing in common. I utterly and unconditionally despise them for ever making an appearance in a computer game. The traditional boss fight is a legacy of old which I think would be best put down to rest. Seeming to stem from a storyteller's wish to create a formidable and terrifying foe it instead conjures up spite and frustration as you have come this far, wanting to finish the game, only to stall in finding a way to blast the ugly thing to kingdom come.

If it was bad enough in the 8-bit days, it became even more annoying as the geezers started to taunt and goad you, so that you'd have to concentrate less on the fighting and more on trying to pick up exactly what they said in the middle of the mayhem.

One of the most annoying features of the boss is that he usually lives in a completely different universe from the rest of the game. Suddenly the laws of physics you've been following through the campaign vanish into thin air. I'm sorry, those fifty rockets you shot up his butt cannot damage him, your only chance is to wait for him to stop firing and open that little hatch in his forehead that exposes his soft glowing brain. I don't know about you, but if I were the boss I'd keep that shutter tight.

There are many games that have successfully put an end to a story without the need of a slow or dumb slab of metal augmented flesh (which is what it usually boils down to) that stands in the middle of a circular arena and indifferently sends a gazillion of fireballs after you.

Look to games such as Call of Duty, Freelancer or Ikari Warriors. Tension and difficulty instead comes from battling a large enemy force that offers difficulty without dumbing down the experience of the game. (Admittedly it'd be difficult to put in oversized tanks or cyborg soldiers in a WW2 game, although some games best forgotten have plied that route).

I imagine there are still plenty of hopeless bosses out there that I will one day have to face, and with the help of the cheat code I will bring them down swiftly without justice.

Vital boss statistics:

Hardest: the space-whatever-creature in Z-Out
Easiest: Shinnok, MK4
Most original: all the fights in MDK
Most intimidating: the guardians of Into Oblivion
Most out of place: the giant bomber in 1942

"With 128 kb of RAM it comes well prepared for future requirements"

Ever since my 1571 floppy drive bought the farm my trusty C128 has been relegated to basement storage for almost a decade now, waiting for the day she will make her return. Provided that is, I remember how to switch her on.

Meanwhile, I have eased my own consciousness by not getting out of touch with the marvellous C64 gaming world. Through the years I've been running a number of different emulators, currently sticking with C64S on my old PII 350 running W98 and it works like a charm. Every now and then I go for a session, usually late at night just as I am about to hit the sack.

Be as it may that mashing a keyboard instead of a worn out TAC-2 controller is not optimal, neither the fact that my reflexes have grown stale, and let's not even try to remember the wave patterns of thirty levels of shooter enemies. Still, a lot of fun can be had, moments like these sometimes suck me in completely and I can remember just what it was that was so entertaining about computer gaming.

My good friend Mr. Murphy...

I recently obtained a copy of Soldiers of Anarchy, a game I have been wanting to try out for quite some time. Well I did come as far as reading the introductory story in the manual, but since then it has pretty much been lying around gathering dust and biding its time. Last Sunday I got the brilliant idea it would be the perfect companion on my next biztrip, so the last thing I threw into my bag on early Monday morning was the CD and then I was good to go. Imagine then my disappointment when at day's end I was getting myself set up at the hotel, only to get a glaring "cd key required message" in my face. So much for improvised gaming...

In the end I decided to vent my frustration by finding a CoD UO server running Cassino, only to get beaten up repeatedly at the spawning point. And most annoying of all, meanwhile Kunta Kinte is being flogged on the TV screen to remind me that I am having the best days of my life.

Where's the emergency?

Been spending a few evenings with Emergency Fire Response (or "Fire Chief" as it is known over here) now and in spite of the clunky interface I find it very satisfying. Slick presentation and clever puzzles that bring "Emergency" to shame. Ten missions of which one is a simple tutorial is a bit on the short side of things though, but it was fun for as long as it lasted.

The never ending biz trips are well suited for late night gaming, and recently I started dragging a laptop around to kill some time with Call of Duty United Offensive, and it has proven quite entertaining. This week it finally seems that I am actually starting to survive a bit longer on the battlefield (StarCraft's 9 second marine lifetime expectancy has been a good motto), soon I might even rack up as many kills as deaths, but for now I am still clan fodder and my continued efforts at a particular server have earned me a suicide trophy award...