My selection of completed games or even nearly completed games being rather small has left me with a shameful admission, I don’t have much experience with game bosses. I’ve heard tales of their ueber greatness, their near god-like prowess, and most of all the nightmares they spawn when no matter what you do you just can’t beat them.
For those of you who might not be familiar with Kenichi Yamada, and I’m willing to bet just about everyone fits into this group, let me tell you a little about the man who would become my great adversary.
Mr. Yamada is a family man who enjoys spending the summers at his vacation home with his wife and daughter. His job is a stressful one and he finds flower arranging to be a wonderfully relaxing past time. Nothing can sway his sunny disposition, except me.
You see in this game I’m a mosquito and it has been made perfectly clear that I only have a short amount of time to gather enough blood to last me through the hard winter months ahead. If I fail in my mission it will mean my doom. As such I can hardly be blamed for my actions.
I became acquainted with the family, though at first they didn’t know I was there. A fly on the wall so to speak, I listened in on their conversations, their petty arguments and their planning. In a weird way I felt that I too was part of their family. As such surely they wouldn’t mind if I took some of the sustenance that I so desperately needed.
I started off small, only taking a tank or two of any of their blood at one time. While the girl and the mother seemed to find me a bit of a nuisance I noticed that Mr. Yamada had taken an especial disliking to me.
As time wore on I realized I’d need to take more blood if I wanted to make my quota in time. By now the family had decided something must be done about me. I felt betrayed, I just wanted to live and prosper as they did. Wasn’t my life worth the slight itchy inconvenience that I caused? Apparently not and a series of battles ensued.
I met with the daughter first, she had come prepared for a showdown. My shaky flight controls and tendency to collide with invisible geometry hindered me greatly in the battle. Still, I realized this was what the game had been preparing me for from the beginning. I managed to out maneuver her and make off with the necessary blood to secure my victory.
Next up was Mrs. Yamada, a formidable opponent to be sure. It took several attempts before I was able to see her go down. My confidence was bolstered by this point, what more could they throw at me? What obstacle couldn’t I overcome?
I never expected Mr. Yamada to answer the call so fiercely. Driven to rage by the state of his family, still ignorant to my plight he prepared himself for the final showdown.
I readied myself and took flight, zooming around to get a better view of his weak spots, but where were they? Suddenly he spotted me and the battle began. I found his pressure points, but as I was about to dive for them something unexpected happened. The Kenichi Yamada I’d watched arranging flowers and idly flipping channels from the comfort of the couch vanished. In his place was Dragon ball Yamada.
I felt my confidence shatter instantly as he powered up his super attack. Until this time I wasn’t aware such attacks existed in this game, but there it was, an energy ball bent on my destruction. I tried to swerve, tried to fly lower and higher, but it was no use. No matter where I went or how fast I dodge he found me, over and over.
My fingers grew sore and calloused on the duel joystick controls as I became increasingly erratic in my flight. The quirky level geometry that I’d thought I’d become used to now openly mocked me as I ricocheted off of walls and furniture, certain I’d never been close to it. All of the elements that had given the game such a steep and uncompromising learning curve suddenly made sense. It was all a cruel setup to make me think I had a chance.
There was no safe place to be found as Yamada rampaged after me. I’d restarted so many times, yet my efforts were entirely futile. There was no weakness in the man, the game was on his side and I would not live to see another summer.
It’s a funny thing when you are resolved in your failure. When you know you’ve given it all you can and that the only thing left to do is to stand up so you can be struck down one last time. Once your death is imminent there is no longer reason to fear it and without that fear comes a certain clarity.
That’s the only way to describe where my second wind came from, somewhere deep inside of me shouted that if I was to die then Yamada was going down with me.
His fist swung, ogre-like and seemingly slower then before as I casually dodged it and rammed right into his pressure point. He was caught off-guard for a moment and I used the time to loop myself over his shoulder and hit the second point. Shaken, he began gathering energy for his power attack, the unsurvivable one that had hitherto sent me running for cover.
I knew better then fall for that this time. There was no more running away, there was no place safe to run to, this was going to end now.
In the slow motion aftermath as the lights blurred and Yamada fell I dropped the controller, my hands throbbing from the tricky stick work I’d just performed. Somewhere in the back of my head I think I heard singing, though it could have been the onset of a headache. The title screen came up again, inviting me to play the coveted second season, that was basically the whole game over again, but with the bonuses I’d won this time around. I reached for my PS2 and turned it off.
I never played the game again. Maybe I will someday, its one of the few games that is short enough that even I can finish it, but perhaps it would be better to just hold onto my hard won victory. I don’t have many, and Kenichi Yamada was a worthy opponent until the end.