Though many of you are already enjoying the warmer days of Spring, this boss idea will take you back to the shivering times of winter and send chills down your spine when you get a hold of this compelling boss idea that takes a narrative approach and describes a captivating battle. Sam of the ZU forums placed second on the latest round of Design a Boss with the following boss concept:
Solar Diety: AMY
What is winter? It’s a drop in temperature, yes, the onset of ice and the promise of snow. It is a cruel season for the farmer, and for the animal it is a season of hibernation, and hence rest and rationing. It is a time of retreat but also snugness in your environment, safe from the harsh world outside, and a time of bravery to push yourself outside of that comfort zone.
Winter is also a time of hiding; hiding from the cold, and that which the snow hides; the Summer, places, even people– as it was so with our villain.
More after the jump!
I came to the village in the depths of winter, but it felt like the height of summer. The heat of a fever wrapped my skin like a blanket. A sick man’s blanket, I wondered?
My estimate did not fall far from the truth. From a vantage point on someone’s roof (the people here, so friendly; they don’t even ask you to knock!), I could see the valley that this village was built outside of. Steep mountains stretched out into infinity on either side, and between them, in the valley, the heart of the sickness: a blizzard, more befitting of the season, raged uncontrollably, with an energy foreign to me. So thick was the storm that I knew my destination beyond the mountains would be inaccessible to me.
With my feet back on the ground, I asked a loitering villager what one could do to pass through the valley. He directed me to the village hall where the elder lived and, returning to his non-business, a subdued melancholy invaded the features of his face. I asked what ailed him, and from beneath a thick, ginger beard he confided that his daughter had spent the day outside and had not yet returned.
He and I were not the only two with ailments, it seemed. Much of the village was in an uproar (at least, as much of an uproar that their lazy inclinations would allow for) on the subject of missing belongings; a coat, a pair of boots, a bag of gold, disappearing in the night, as was only natural. I hoped that, in the day, their thief did not double as a kidnapper– else the ginger bearded man’s daughter was not like to return soon.
“A.. that is, um, a… Summer Orb: that’s what you need,” the elder half-heatedly explained, once I had put my problem to him. “Our village has two- it’s what keeps us warm.” Fever orbs, then, I thought. “But we only need one… certainly it is vital you get past the mountain range, I see. But can we really give up our orb to an unproven hero?” he mused, and continued, “if only there was a way to test him…”
“Sir, perhaps the puzzle lock would be a sufficient-”
“I know that!” the elder retorted, coupled with a clip to the ear of the interrupting aide “The pause was for dramatic effect!”
The test that locked the orbs safely away in a room was a brainteaser, certainly, but once the crates had been pushed onto the correct switches the large door ahead of me creaked slowly open without further encouragement.
I heard an ominous voice speak; “Why thank you”, and I was filled with dread, for rarely does an ominous voice offer gratitude sincerely.
Rushing into the room that held the Summer Orbs, I saw two pedestals, one decorated with a yellow glowing orb, the other empty, and, behind me, a figure fled silently through the open door with a large red glowing shape under its arm.
Stirred to action by the weight of his loss, the elder reiterates the situation: I could only penetrate the mountain range by way of the valley, and could only pass through the valley with a Summer Orb. The village could not survive without one, but the world would be doomed unless I could pass through the mountains, and so the elder urged me to take the yellow orb and to immediately follow the thief through the valley to retrieve the orb before it along with the village’s way of life.
By the time I left the village hall, with the orb removed from its pedestal and having gotten comfortable in my bag, the icy winds had already extended their influence from the valley to the streets. The cobblestone was laminated with ice and roofs were painted white. The villagers left outside traipse, alarmed, revealing to me their inability to cope with the cold.
As if my contribution to this thing was not burden enough, my spirits dropped like a stone when I saw the same bearded man, stooping, arms huddled around his middle, walking slowly, calling out to his daughter, now terrified she will be lost to the storm…
The storm swept valley, once inaccessible due to the raging storm that will drain your body of heat in a matter of second, can now be entered with the use of the Summer Orb, which surrounds you with a glowing shield, sheltering your form from the blizzard. The shield is spherical in shape and not much bigger the hero himself. Outside of its small protective radius the full strength of the storm can still be seen, battering against the walls of the shield viciously. It renders every part of the environment invisible behind it, and the only thing the player will see on the screen is the storm and the player’s self inside a glowing yellow sphere. It glows brighter in the storm than it does in the village, suggesting a greater use of its power. The orb can be left on the ground where it will leave a stationary shield. If you venture into the storm without it, Link will only be visible by a silhouette in the storm, and the cold will drain his stamina meter in a matter of seconds, after which he will start to lose hearts ( /s), of which, at this stage in the game, he does not have many to lose: perhaps only seven or eight.
The Wintry Valley, and its connecting tunnels, caves and mountainsides make up a veritable dungeon of ice, but let’s skip ahead; it should be noted, though, that the Summer Orb is considered this dungeon’s key item, and puzzles revolve around placement and movement of the orb’s heat, light and shielding for various effects in the dungeon.
Towards the center of the valley, I finally found shelter in the form of a large, circular hall with a glass dome. I could see the thief ahead, hood-covered face raised inquisitively, studying a large door identical to the one I had just fought the blizzard to get through.
“Ah, you. You know, I think we’ve stumbled upon the old town hall. This is where the village once lay, before the storm became too strong for the Summer Orbs to hold it off in the valley.” He looked back at the door, musingly. “Our ancestors liked their tricks. Look at this, just like in the town hall back home. I bet you can solve anything, though, right, cleverclogs? Why don’t you give this a look?”
I strode towards him, and, once he realized I had no intention of assisting his escape, he shrugged, nonchalant, and launched a projectile towards the glass dome. One glass after another shattered as the storm broke into the room. Suddenly, the blizzard was as impenetrable inside as it was out, and I was again forced into my blizzard shield, with the world outside of my protective aura invisible… except, one thing; a red, circular glow in the white haze, and I knew that this was the glow of my orb’s twin– I knew where the thief was hiding.
The thief moves faster then you, and so chasing him is futile. He will chase you, though, as seen by his red glow approaching your yellow one. When he gets close, he will leap towards you, your yellow shield and his red overlapping and attack you with a lunge. Whether he hits you () or you block the attack, he will leap back out of your shield and into the blizzard, ready to attack again.
“You stick out like a sore thumb with the Summer Orb around you. If only there was a way to hide,” your partner informs you….
Dropping the orb to the ground, I slipped into the storm with its cold engulfing me completely. I knew I could only handle a few seconds like this, but it would be enough. From here, I could see inside the shield but knew from the inside I would be invisible. I saw his glow approach me like the eye of a murderous dragon, and I saw him attack into my shield with the same recklessness I had seem in him do before. His shock at the nothingness that greeted his sword was perfect, and as he recovered, I sprung my trap.
After a missed attack, the thief will enter a recovery phase of a few seconds, during which time you can follow and leap into the sphere to attack him with your sword. Alternatively, you can use your arrows whilst outside of the sphere.
Probably the most effective method that may take the player a few attempts to figure out but that would really hit his health is to drop a bomb inside the sphere before you exit it– as he leaps into attack, he will set off the bomb, doing the same amount of damage as two sword strikes.
Either way, once you damage him he will retreat into the storm (or, in the case of a bomb, be blown into it!). If you don’t deal damage but are inside the sphere, he is free to attack-retreat once his recovery phase is over, and if you stay outside of the sphere he will grab the sphere from the ground and run away with it, putting you in danger of freezing; the extra weight, however, slows him down considerably, and retrieving the orb is a simple matter of chasing close enough to him to scare him into dropping it.
After taking the equivalent damage of six sword strikes, the boss fight enters its second stage.
His glow had stopped moving. I wondered if I had finally hurt him enough to bring him to a stop. I approached the glow. By the time I could see inside his shield, and knew I had fallen to the same trick I had just utilized, I already felt the tug on the Summer Orb at my side, and by the time I had turned to meet my thief, he was gone, and I was left defenseless in the cold.
The game will let you think you are finished for a few seconds as your stamina drains. Then, something even the thief did not expect occurs. The powers of the two orbs merge, and you can see, in the blizzard, the yellow and red shield grow, together, into a larger orange one…
…at the center of which was… I wasn’t quite sure. I knew I wouldn’t last long out here, and dived into the heat of the orange shield where I witnessed a bizarre sight.
On the floor was the thief, clutching at his middle as if something was due to burst from it. He looked up at me, and his hood fell from his face, and I looked into the eyes of…
A young girl, freckled on a face that flashed from scared, to defiant, and back again. I knew then where the bearded man’s daughter had spent her day. My epiphany was cut short as a burst of light enveloped my opponent, and she emerged floating, armor-less, and glowing with intense orange light that matched her natural flaming red hair– a deity of the sun, and one not all too happy with the puny mortal that had stumbled into her presence.
“Do you know how stifling it is to be trapped in that village, cleverclogs?”
I was confused, and she knew it, and it did nothing to improve her opinion of me.
“Every morning, lazy, summer mornings, every evening, lazy, summer evenings, everyone eating and sweating away their lives waiting for the day their over-contentedness will kill them. It’s all too– too–” she paused as she struggled with the power blossoming inside her.
Easy, I finished for her in my head. It’s all too easy.
“Beyond the mountains is a world that will challenge me. I don’t intend to frolic forever, cleverclogs. I was born a child of summer, but I will become a woman of winter”
That look of scorn… could a child really hold such reserves of hatred within them? The power within her was doing strange things to her; and I did not intend to let it have control.
The new shield centers on the sun goddess. It is large enough to give you room to move in, room enough to stay out of the goddess’ reach, but it is not big enough to fill the room, and outside of its influence the storm rages on as it did before.
Staying within the shield is key in this fight, but as long as you are, she will make every effort to put you out of your misery. Her minor attacks include close range swipes with her magic imbued hands ( ), long range lasers that will follow you ( ), and a rush attack ( ) that will move you from out of range to into range.
Each of her major attacks involve her drawing in the orbs energy, causing the shield to shrink, and then unleashing the energy at you; this will occur periodically. The first of these attacks have her blasting the energy at you in the form of a giant heat beam. Around this beam is a glow, similar to the glow of the shield; stay too far away from the heat of the laser, and you will enter the cold zone; get to close, and the laser will charge you ( ).
Her second major is a hail of heat sparks unleashed in a horizontal pattern around her. Again stay close to the spark, but don’t get hit ( ), and before the spark hits the wall of the room and vanishes, run to the next one.
Each time she uses a major attack, her shield grows back although smaller than it was before. After two majors, it hugs her closely, and she is too weak to attack you with projectiles, leaving her with orbs that rotate in a vertical circle in front of her for protection. This is your chance. The small shield is the only place left to go, organically drawing the player in for a melee assault. Timing is key, here. She has one attack that she will use in two directions. It is a burst of light from the ground that will start beneath you as you travel to your right, in which case you would avoid by rolling to your left and vice versa; stay still or move wrong, and you’ll get hit ( ) You can tell which direction she’s aiming at by noticing which arm she raises to cast the conjuration (e.g. the left arm raised means a leftward traveling spell).
When you’re not rolling to avoid, you must make your move to attack. The circling orbs will protect her in the direction they are in a line of; when at the North and South of their circle, you should attack between them horizontally through East and West. The WiiMotion+ is used to achieve this; swing it vertically or horizontally or anything in between to attack between those orbs.
When hit, she will enter a recovery phase. You must repeat the above, as only a chain of five quick, consecutive hits will damage her. If you are too slow in aiming your sword, her recovery phase will end after 3 seconds, and you must try again from the first slash.
Completion of this process will yield one point of damage, and at its conclusion the process will start again from the beginning of the second form. After 3 points of damage have been scored, the destructive deity is defeated. The light leaves the poor girl’s body as she drops to the floor, exhausted.
Her slight form curled in the snow, so out of place in this harsh environment, but safe in the orb’s protective glow, made me smile. I considered the irony that she had tried to escape the village by taking a part of it with her. She could only survive in her winter with a shard of the summer she so hated; I wondered if she had realized this. At the same time, I respected her; unlike her village, she sought to challenge herself rather then let herself stagnate in the heat, and in my heart I hoped that when she awoke her goals, if not her methods, remained intact. I half wished I could fulfill her wish and take her with me.
Instead, I lifted her in my arms and carried her back the way I had come.
Halfway back to the village a search party led by a ginger beard fought slowly through the storm towards me. One Summer Orb and one winter-child changed hands, and I couldn’t bring myself to say a word during the exchange.
As I turned my back on them, it seemed to me the blizzard was dissipating. Or rather, it was departing, to find a new home behind the mountain range, in the land of the north where an evil king was rising. I realized then that the blizzard had been far from natural. I had averted one disaster, but I knew that in the land ahead another one was brewing.
Were this game to continue, I would hope for Amy to return later in the game, perhaps to give Link a helping hand in some two-man puzzles. Maybe she even accidentally retains some of her solar powers…
Illustration of AMY:
Illustrated by IGNIS
Sam placed second in the Design a Boss | HIVER contest and was awarded with Steam DLC.