Chris Marks continues his series of Diablo deconstruction articles with Diconstruction #8, an article that’s all about the bosses. From D1’s big guys through the juicy act-ending targets we found in D2, they’re all mentioned with some humor and snark. After all, the Diablo games are all about the monsters, and with that in mind it’s a good thing Blizzard has given us some good ones.
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Springsteen Would Be Proud
You know what the Diablo games would really miss if it was taken away? Diablo. Without Diablo, Diablo just wouldn’t be Diablo. You know? Diablo! Car of the century, in someone’s opinion I’m sure. Maybe not. Good thing it’s not a racing game, I guess.
Instead, it’s a game where you wander around some surprisingly well closed-in spaces murdering anything the game lets you, unless you feel they’re actually not worth killing. As much as I’m sure that monster’s wife and kids appreciate him not being stabbed in the eye a bunch of times, he’s really just one of many stepping stones on your way to your real goal: killing more monsters. Eventually you reach the title role, get on top of him and punch him in the face until he taps out. Chuck Liddell you’re not, but you get the job done in your own, I’m sure subtle way.
Except, Diablo isn’t always the big nasty you’re after, now, is he? Sometimes it’s not even the end of the game. There are actually lots of bosses throughout both Diablo games, and each have their own little quirks that make you want to give them the rose to keep them on for the next show.
Asbury Park Says “Hello”
In the first Diablo there’s just one boss: Diablo himself. Well, actually that’s not quite true, because in in some single player games you also get the Skeleton King, so there’s really 1 or 2 bosses. Except, the expansion also gives you Na-Krul, the ridiculous bug/scorpion/man …thing. So really there’s somewhere between 1 and 3 bosses depending on the game, unless you count that douche nozzle Lazarus in which case there’s 2-4… are you following me?
First, there’s the Skeleton King. He’s such a bigshot he gets his own level, off level 3, and he even drops the same hat every time. He needs some meat on his bones though: the guy’s way too thin to be healthy, you can practically see his ribs. He is the only monster in the game who can raise other monsters, as far as I know, so that makes him kind of cool. With so little padding he’s going to get a cold.
The Butcher is not a boss. There, I said it.
Na-Krul is mostly there for comic relief; he has to be, there’s no other reason for him to exist. They even put in an alternate speech for him as an easter egg. All he can really do is try to stab you with his stinger, and he can’t be hit by spells. On top of that you can coax him out of his little room by reading the appropriate bedtime stories in the correct order, and then he comes out all drowsy and has fewer hit points and no resistances. It’s like he doesn’t really want to leave his bedroom, and would rather just roll over and hit the snooze alarm.
Let’s skip Lazarus (he gets his own staff in D2, don’cha know) and go straight to Diablo next. Not Chicken Leg Diablo yet, he looks kind of like a porcupine/ram/bull experiment gone terribly wrong in the first game. He basically gets to cast Armageddon and have a ridiculous amount of hit points, and then vomit from his navel when you finally beat him. As far as boss monsters go he’s actually pretty weak, being really just a harder-hitting Acolyte who can’t teleport and has a stronger jaw.
It Rises from a River in Nebraska?
Diablo 2 has 4 Acts (5 in LoD), and one boss per act: Andariel, Duriel, Mephisto, Diablo and Baal. I could write something hysterical about Diablo not being the final boss in his own game, and how that relates back to him having the legs of an overgrown chicken, but I’m sure it’s already been covered quite well by others and I wouldn’t want to step on their talons. There are other minor bosses, but if I gave each of them face time this article would never end, so we’ll just stick with the main five.
Andariel is simply never going to get to finish baking that pie. All she wants to do is finish her cooking over the burning Rogues she’s using to fuel her fire, and then you crummy adventurers show up and make her spray the poison topping on you instead of in the pie. Now the Rogues will never get their peace offering! Seriously though, she looks pissed.
Duriel is obviously some kind of insect …thing. His shell is so cold it freezes those around him, and yet he’s very fast. All he really has going for him is his impotent rage though, since he can’t exactly burrow out, what with not knowing how to go up stairs. Seriously though, slowing down those who are attacking you while beating on them faster than they can even react? This dude’s going to kill you at least once.
Mephisto is the other female boss. She at least has the decency to wear a dress while spewing her spells at you, though the way she just hovers down her stairs is kind of unnerving. She must have a fantastic jewellery collection, because she gets killed for it a lot. She seems to have a peculiar fondness for breast plates, but I’m sure it’s nothing to get concerned over.
Diablo: Chicken Legs himself. And for some reason he runs on all fours, like a dog with spikes coming out of his back. His Lightning Hose of Doom is probably his biggest weapon, followed closely by his horrendous breath, which is so bad it lights things on fire. He’s also a fan of Vogon Poetry, and given the chance will enclose you in a bone capsule so he can read it to you. All in all he’s really rather unpleasant.
And finally we come to Baal, the one whom the game is really about. Baal who is such a threat he doesn’t even appear in the first version of the game and must be purchased seperately. Before you can fight Baal you first have to go through his minions, his messengers of doom if you will. As you cut them down you are greeted with more and more grotesque monsters from the darkest corners of his empire until- holy crap, Baal is King Xerxes! Xerxes doesn’t get to clone himself though, or shoot triangles of cold at people, or circles of firey skull-rage.
Though this undoubtedly reads as a list of flaws, what it should be communicating is that the fine people at Blizzard have been able to use their game engines for more and more complex boss monsters over time. The original Diablo is little more than a glorified monster found elsewhere in the game, and in Diablo 2 he gets a whole bunch of new and interesting abilities, including two spells that don’t appear anywhere else in the game. The bonus boss Na-Krul who is basically just a giant walking bug with nothing overly special is replaced by Baal, who despite his terrible death animation is really quite the thing to deal with. Also Baal has that whole “evil genius throne” thing going for him.
The simple fact is that in any game of this type, the boss monsters are vital as they provide benchmarks of progress, and they prove the old adage that a hundred guys dressed in black are nothing compared to one guy dressed in white. If Diablo 3 has a guy dressed in a rainbow, I strongly recommend you steer clear.
Diconstruction (Diablo Deconstruction) is written by Chris Marks. It examines differences between the two (soon to be three) Diablo games, as well as comparing them to other games, in a hopefully amusing style. Diconstruction is published on the first and third Tuesday of every month. Leave your comments below, or contact the author directly.