Best Boss Battles: Psycho Mantis (Metal Gear Solid)

One of the most heartbreaking parts about getting older is watching the things you loved age along with you. Nothing is eternal. Everything ages. One day, you and everything and everyone you knew and loved will be nothing more than dust, engulfed in the uncaring void of eternity and forgotten.

Anyways, on a far less depressing note, let’s talk about Metal Gear Solid!

In many ways, Metal Gear Solid still stands the test of time. Yes, the graphics are most definitely PS1, even if they are among the best the PS1 had to offer. But actually playing it, the game is still a lot of fun.

This is also true for its boss battles. While a bit rough by today’s standards, they still stand as some of gaming’s most iconic battles. Sniper Wolf. Revolver Ocelot. Liquid Snake.

But let’s be honest: none of them can compare to Psycho Mantis.

When people think Metal Gear bosses, this guy is usually the first one that comes to mind. Hell, he’s the first name to a lot of people if you ask them about video game battles in general! The dude is an icon of the series!

Question is: was the boss fight itself actually fun? Or do people just like him because of the fourth-wall stuff?

The actual fight isn’t all that complicated. Mantis will teleport around the room, throwing objects and paintings at you. Between ducking and dodging, you’ll have very limited opportunities to hit or shoot him. It sounds simple in writing, but actually playing it is a different story.

Especially because of one factor I haven’t mentioned. Said factor’s name is Meryl.

Halfway through the fight, Mantis will use his powers to possess Meryl and turn her against you. If she shoots you, you can expect a good chunk of your health to vanish. But you can’t shoot her back; if she dies, that’s a game over. Eventually, Mantis will try to have her shoot herself in order to get said game over, so you’ve got to knock her out using melee before that can happen.

And that’s the fight. If you have a deep supply of healing items and even the slightest idea of what you’re doing, it’s really not much of a challenge. Is it fun? Yes. But it isn’t particularly complex, mechanic wise.

Now, let’s talk about the real reason this boss fight is so iconic: the fourth-wall breaking. Before the battle begins, Psycho Mantis will perform all kinds of wacky ‘psychic abilities’ to spook the player. This ranges from reading your PlayStation’s memory card and telling you what games you’ve been playing to… making the controller vibrate.

God, remember when that was a big leap in technology?

During the battle itself, Psycho Mantis is basically untouchable. That is, until you swap the controller from the player one port to the player two port. After that, he actually becomes vulnerable. But he’ll still occasionally black the screen out, taking you back to the Hideo screen.

Which, of course, isn’t a thing anymore. Neither are the controller ports. Nor are there memory cards. What once made this boss fight so iconic and crazy is now an inescapable reminder of its age.

If you want that real, authentic Psycho Mantis experience, you’ll need an old CRT and an original PS1. Running it on a PS3 also works, but it isn’t quite the same. As for an emulator, I have no idea, but I wish you luck. Though, if we’re being honest, PS1 emulators probably still have controller port features specifically because of Metal Gear Solid.

While much of its charm has worn away with age, the impact Psycho Mantis has had on gaming is gonna be around as long as there are video games. Besides which, the fight itself is still decently fun to play.

Honestly, this fight is the main reason why I think we’ll never get a Metal Gear Solid remake. How do you capture the same mind-boggling magic that made it so good in the first place? What? Would they have some poor voice actor voice lines for every single game on the PS5?

Granted, there ain’t that many, so he wouldn’t be at it for long. But let’s be real: they’d probably just use AI.

Which, considering Metal Gear’s history, would be sickeningly ironic.

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