Best/Favorite Final Dungeons in Video Games
Posted on May 21, 2020, 12:50 p.m. by DemonDragonJ
Video games have been around for a long time, now (almost fifty years, if one begins counting their history with the release of the Magnavox Odyssey, the first ever home video game console, in 1972), so, by this time, there have been plenty of memorable video games.
In this thread, I shall focus on a very specific, yet crucial, element of video games: the final dungeon. For many players, the final dungeon is one of the most memorable parts of game, since it appears at the very end, just before the fight against the final boss, so the game designers know that they shall need to put great effort into making the final dungeons appropriately dramatic. Therefore, I shall mention several of my favorite final dungeons in video games, and then invite other users to do the same.
One of my favorite final dungeons is Wario’s castle (which was originally Mario’s castle) in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, one of the few Mario games in which Mario is not rescuing a princess or other damsel in distress. That was the game that introduced Wario, Mario’s arch-rival (essentially, the Vegeta to Mario’s Goku) to the world, and his introduction was definitely a memorable one. The castle is by far the longest and most difficult level in the game, due to the constant barrage of obstacles and hazards that it contains, as well as the fact that it has no save points; if the player dies, they must restart from the beginning of that level. Also, the background music helps the level to feel appropriately epic; I am focusing on final dungeons and not final bosses in this thread, but I shall briefly mention Wario himself; the first time that one fights him, he may be difficult, but, once the player memorizes his patterns, he is actually quite easy, but that was a limitation of video games at that time.
Two games later in that series, Wario Land II had a very epic final dungeon: actually, due to the branching storylines that that game has, it has several final dungeons (called final chapters), but, after all of those dungeons have been cleared, the player gains access to the Really Final Chapter, which is by far the longest and most difficult level in the game. It is a creepy level that resembles the inside of a living creature, with enemies embedded in its walls with expressions of pure terror on their faces. The level’s background music is appropriately epic and creepy, helping to make the player feel the drama and tension of that level; again, I know that I am focusing on dungeons and not bosses, but the final boss of that level was a severe disappointment, after such an amazing level; how could the game developers pull such a trick on the players, as that?
Another final dungeon that I remember very fondly is the Wind Fish’s Egg from Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. Unlike most of the other dungeons that I shall mention, in this thread, that dungeon is not particularly large or complex: it has no enemies (other than the final boss) and is only a single room with four doors. However, that one room is almost pitch-black (the floor is barely visible) and, upon going through the doors, the player returns to the same room; they must pass through the doors in a certain sequence in order to reach the final boss. That stark emptiness, combined with the extremely creepy background music, gives that dungeon a sense of claustrophobia and makes it certainly one of the best that I have ever seen.
Yet another final dungeon that I really enjoyed was Infinity, the final dungeon of Breath of Fire II, so named because it is a bottomless and featureless void beneath the surface of the earth. While in it, only the characters and the platforms on which they stand are visible, with the background being black and forbidding, which, combined with very dark and ominous background music (noticing a pattern, yet?), makes the player feel as if their party is descending into Hell, except that they fight a god, not a devil, at the end.
What does everyone else say about this? What are some of your favorite and/or the best final dungeons that you have seen in video games?
Technically not the end dungeon... but it sort of is. FF Tactics Midlight's Deep. Everything is pitch black, it's 10 levels deep, and each level contained two unique items that you had to use the Treasure Hunter ability to turn traps into these items. You had to hope to get the rare item instead of common junk and if your enemies stepped on the trap you couldn't get the item without reloading and trying again. There was also a Summon you could learn from the final boss on level 10 that you couldn't get anywhere else. Lots of reloading and patience were needed.
May 21, 2020 4:48 p.m. Edited.
The Sacred Grounds. It's tense, exciting, just the right amount of bizarre in the setting design, and you finally learn the full history of the island, why it is what it is, and the greater forces at work behind the Doctor, Misery, and the Demon Crown she created.
When the moon is about to crash into Termina and you enter it, you probably expect a hostile, barren wasteland...nope, it's a bright, sunny field, as if something out of a child's dream. The tranquility of the background setting and the vaguely creepy naiveness of the masked "children" running around lends it a unique atmosphere - the child wearing Majora's Mask seems to think of the whole thing as a fun game.
It even assigns you the role of "bad guy" in a child's game as it hands you the most powerful mask of all, leading to the intriguing question of: just who is the Fierce Deity, and how did they interact with Majora before?
May 21, 2020 7:37 p.m.
Hollow knight had one of the most rewarding and visually/audibly enjoyable endings and Christopher Larkin’s score is honestly just very good overall