In preparation for our upcoming assignment to design a boss battle in game design we're analyzing a boss battle we thought was "kick ass". I picked The Jack In The Box battle at the end of the Toyland level in the Disney platformer Castle of Illusions. I chose this battle because it was simple and straight forward, the mechanics were presented in a way that felt easy to learn and understand, and it's challenging without being too hard not to be fun.
Toyland Boss Battle
Toyland Boss Battle
The player goes directly into the boss battle after completing the final phase of the toyland platforming level. The player enters a darkened room with a green box in the middle, the narrator gives a small intro and Mickey announces when the Jack in The Box pops menacingly out that "Now I'm in trouble"
Using a jack in the box at the end of a toyland level is an obvious choice that fits in well with the overall level. Jack in the boxes are also kind of sinister I suppose due to the "Surprise" aspect, so it seems appropriate for a boss battle. The mechanics all incorporate springs in some way, which fit into the design of a jack in the box. The level also takes place on an over sized drum, which is fitting as there are a lot of toy soldiers in the toyland level that precedes.
One of the ways the battle signifies that the player is moving to new stage of the battle, and hints that the obstacles are going to become more difficult is in a change of the music's pace and intensity. At the second and third stages of the battle the music is notably more frantic and powerful.
Another way is the lighting. When you hit the second phase of the battle the lighting turns red, signifying things are getting serious.
Phases of the battle:
-Part one of the first phase of the battle starts with the boss bouncing around the scene on a spring. The player must avoid being crushed/losing health by running. Where the boss will land is indicated by the drop shadow underneath him. After the boss is done jumping, the camera fixes to a profile of the level and locks the player in place. We see a spring with a boxing glove coming out of a door in the jack in the box, facing the player, its obvious that you must duck to avoid this. When the player ducks and avoids the attack, the spring bounces back to the boss and hits him, briefly incapacitating him and spitting out a springed platform for the player to bounce on. The player then must time their jump and bounce on the spring to jump on the boss's head and take away a point of his health.
In Phase 2 the boss stations himself in the middle of the drum and extends two springed gloves to the drums borders, and spins clockwise The player must time their jumps so as not to run into the spinning arms. After this, the same fixed player location and camera are used as before and the sequence the player used to damage the boss in the last phase is repeated.
The lighting changes to intense red here, so you know shit is going down. The jack in the box folds itself back into its boxy form and from each side a boxing glove appears. The box spins around the drum randomly not fixed in one location and bounces off the sides. The player must run AND jump to avoid damage in this phase. Again, the sequence in which the player damages the boss is repeated at this point.
Phase 4 repeats the same fixed location and spinning arms as in Phase 2, however, the difficulty is increased as there are now 4 arms instead of just 2. Also, the spinning begins clockwise but switches to counter clockwise midway through, another method of increasing difficulty. Again, the sequence in which the player damages the boss is repeated at this point.
The last and final phase the music becomes even darker and deeper. The jack in the box jumps around so hard that it creates shockwaves. The player overcomes this obstacle by running and timing their jumps, so that when the box lands they can avoid the shockwave. For one final time the player damages the boss in the same sequence as before.
Overview of Game Mechanics/How the obstacles are overcome:
The player overcomes the obstacles in the battle using quite simplistic mechanics, the first is running to avoid the jumping boss. The second is ducking. The third requires the player to time their button press to high jump onto a spring platform in order to jump on the boss's head to damage him. The third is timing jumps while the boss's arms spin clock and counter clockwise around the room.
In the end of the battle the player is rewarded with the orange rainbow gem. Collecting these gems are the game's main objective.