I just finished Mass Effect tonight, and the boss fight at the end was pleasantly straightforward, unlike so many games I've played over the years. It got me to thinking how arbitrary some of the big-bad-guys at the end (or significant points) of modern computer games are.
The fights tend to be heavily scripted and involve the player beating their head against the boss until they figure out "the trick", after which it's down to luck and perseverance.
A good case in point is just about every boss in World of Warcraft. These guys are often complex... and the dancing boss in Naxxramas is probably among the worst of the lot. In the game he's called "Heigan", but he's referred to as the Dancing Boss because of the requirement for a room full of players to run back and forth repeatedly across a room avoiding scripted waves of lava in order to bring him down.
I really don't have too much trouble with the concept of an end-of-level boss. These guys are supposed to be what you're working your way towards, and the defeat of them is the capstone to the storyline you're following. They should
be hard, because they're the villain. Anything less would be an anti-climax.
Unfortunately, a game is often - I feel - compromised by the ridiculous requirement for players to stand *just so* and shoot *just there*, and then run around like a headless chicken between phases.
This is why I liked the bad guy at the end of Mass Effect. Sure, it was scripted, but basically you just shot him until he died... and then shot him again once he resurrected. All you had to do was make sure that you didn't get shot too many times yourself. All the while, the story is unfolding around you... and no requirement to stand on a moving 3x3 pixel spot while reciting the lyrics to Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls" and mixing a batch of muffins.
"Are you not entertained? Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?"