Boss battles can serve a few different purposes in games. They can change up the pace and often the scenery; they can serve as convenient punctuation between a game’s acts; they can work as a skill-gate, ensuring players are ready for the challenges ahead; they can even offer a sort of breather by allowing players to focus on just one enemy.
The many bosses in the DOOM universe are no different – except they also tend to scare the pants off of players, and look cool as Hell doing it.
2. The Icon of Sin
No matter the game, starting off a level in a room packed to the gills with ammo, weapons, and power-ups is never a sign of peaceful times ahead. So when you begin level 30 of DOOM II in just such a room, you know some very bad things are about to go down. And yes, we’d say a two-story-tall demon head shooting an infinite number of smaller demons out of its exposed brain qualifies as a very bad thing.
This haunting battle puts every bit of the player’s skillset to the test, requiring superb timing, exceptional reflexes and serious focus to survive. At its heart, this is a fairly straightforward battle: You need to lower a towering platform, ride it upward and plunk a rocket in the demon’s exposed brainpan. Trouble is, you must do this several times and you have to do it while being absolutely swarmed by endlessly spawning enemies.
And if that weren’t enough to make this one of the most heart-racing boss battles in the series, this level also features one of the more intricate Easter eggs in DOOM history. If you activate a cheat to let you walk through walls, you’ll discover that the target you’re launching those rockets at isn’t the demon’s brain at all – it’s id Software co-founder John Romero’s head on a stick. And the satanic-sounding voice that speaks at the beginning of the battle is actually a simple phrase run backward: “To win the game, you must kill me, John Romero.”