Brensey, I hope you don't mind if we talk about this game, but I need you to read this. It was something interesting that you might find enlightening.
This list has been a long time coming. Yet another countdown, the second in my Top (insert random number here) list. This list is primarily based on whether or not the villains had four of these things:
1. Good boss battles
2. Were good characters
3. Good backstory
4. Had good designs
All four of these will be discussed in different orders, so please pay attention. Now, without further ado, let's begin the list, from least to greatest. Note that there are obvious spoilers, so if you don't want anything spoiled, then don't read this.
6. Cyrille Le Paradox: If anyone has played Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, then the name Cyrille Le Paradox is heard very often. This is, of course, for a good reason: he's the final boss. It's never a good sign if the final boss is so low on the list, but rest assured that I find Thieves in Time to be a stellar sequel for a stellar franchise. But that's beside the point. Cyrille Le Paradox is rather infamous for his boss battle, as this manipulative skunk is not only a pushover, but his fight, for the most part, is a QTE, not to mention that, at least in the final segment of the duel, all you needed to do was mash the buttons and hope that you hit the right one. Definitely not a good idea, if you ask me. Cyrille as a character was incredibly underwhelming as a villain, although this is mostly because of his boss battle. He does, however, have presence and solemnity. These two combined traits made him deceptively sinister, in the sense that, despite the fact that he was arguably the worst final boss in the series, he still manages to have an element of danger to him. He is also very manipulative, as I stated earlier, hiring several mercenaries (including someone "of particular important"), and he is outright heartless, stranding anyone who fails him in the past and leaving them there to die, something that actually happens to one of the characters. His backstory is arguably the one thing that can make him "peculiar" to say the least. He apparently came from a family of thieves that rivaled the Cooper Clan, only they were vastly inferior. In fact, one of the main reasons that Le Paradox even hated the Cooper Clan was because his father failed to steal a diamond that Sly's Dad stole first, leading to Cyrille's father's arrest and his downward spiral into villainy. After that, he got a criminal education and became a sort of crime lord, the very thing Sly's family would more than willingly steal from. Design-wise, the boss is, well, strange. He, unlike most mammalian main characters in the Sly games, doesn't have a more humanoid design. For instance, he has a long, thin snout and an overly large round head, and none of this makes him look too appealing. Overall, Cyrille Le Paradox is what you get if you make someone like Killer Moth the main villain of an Arkham game, and that's never a good thing. Expect many complaints and many laughs at the expense of the boss' quality, which this boss greatly lacks in.
5. Ms. Decibel: I'm going to be blunt with you. For the most part, the bosses were equally awesome. However, they were awesome in their own, unique ways. In Decibel's case, however, it's a strange case. Ms. Decibel's backstory is a very original twist on the "angry musician/hypnotist" bad guys that we've seen in the Sly games thus far. The daughter of a wealthy British family, Ms. Decibel had her money spent on music lessons, which, for the most part, were in vain, as her skills were poor. Ms. Decibel was also prone to temper tantrums, and had one in one of her final performances, when the crowd booed her. During her hissy fit, her trumpet got stuck in her trunk, which, for whatever reason, made her gain hypnosis powers, and made her a force to be reckoned with for law enforcement. Stationed in Ancient Arabia, she was in charge of making forged documents for Le Paradox so he could rule the present, and she was also in charge of getting Salim al Kupar's cane. Perhaps the greatest highlight for her is her boss battle, which is a really big improvement over Le Paradox's in every way imaginable. It had two phases: the first was one involving her musical powers, where Sly had to use his both his Thief Costume and his Rail Walk technique to reach Ms. Decibel and whack her with his cane when she was weak. The second phase has her using her weight to her advantage, engaging mostly in physical combat with Sly rather than being technical like last time. The key to beating her was to have her ram into three large electric generators that acted as a key part of Le Paradox's blimp. Truly, two phased boss fights are a must if gamers want variety, and this boss delivers. However, Ms. Decibel suffers from several key flaws, the first of which is her design, which is both good and bad. Firstly, her trumpet trunk was a very unique and original idea, one that I greatly like. However, Ms. Decibel should've worn a jumpsuit like the other bosses did, as her concept art shows that she was meant to have......... Moving on. Regardless, all of that aesthetic nonsense is the worst aspect of this boss, worse enough to put her at number five. But her personality helps to make up for this, but not by much. She seems too one-dimensional at times, but she does have a level of depth to her, something two of the other bosses on this list don't have at all. She is, alas, nothing more than the stereotypical music snob, and everything cultured that comes with it when you get down to it, making her seem too bland at times. Ultimately, like her "boyfriend", she's not high on this list.
4. El Jefe: What is it with Sly Cooper and tigers that just seems to be such a thing? El Jefe is, as I literally just said, a tiger, and automatically, we have a flaw. Tigers have been used as enemies in the Sly series for a long time, dating back to Band of Thieves with Rajan and Neyla, both of whom were Bengal Tigers. And then we have the Flashlight Guards in China in Honor Among Thieves, who are based on Chinese Tigers. Now we have El Jefe, who is based on a Siberian Tiger. El Jefe seems to be a character who combines his flaws with his strong points often, making him hard to judge. On one hand, he's a tiger, making the choice of animal unoriginal to the point of being done to death. On the other hand, he's designed in a way that makes him look greatly different from the other tigers in the series, making up for this, in a very big way, too, as, unlike Rajan and the Flashlight Guards, El Jefe is a male tiger who looks and acts intimidating, often in nearly every scene he is in, and not just the boss fight. Although his personality is rather one-dimensional, El Jefe's personality is paradoxically memorable, mostly because of his quirks, such as a few (and I do mean a few) subtly comedic moments. As for his backstory, El Jefe, Spanish for "The Boss", was a Cuban mercenary general who was well-known for his ability to capture small countries and sell them to the highest bidder. His military expertise was just what Le Paradox needed, and he was hired to steal Rioichi Cooper's cane in Feudal Japan. Ultimately, his boss battle is perhaps the thing most gamers remember most about El Jefe, as it was one of the first things in Thieves in Time that was shown to the public. For a first boss, El Jefe is intimidating, summoning lightning and fire attacks from his twin katanas as he and Sly Cooper fight around El Jefe's giant statue. In order for Sly to get some hits in, Sly must use the Samurai Costume to shield himself from the fireballs that El Jefe summons, and then deflect the fireball back at El Jefe, making him vulnerable to attacks. Then, El Jefe will move to a new location. This happens a total two times, and Sly must use his acrobatic moves for exactly three times to reach El Jefe, the first being right before the battle officially begins. In general, El Jefe is a nice first boss, but he's nothing special.
3. The Grizz: I like bears. They are one of my favorite animals of all time. Needless to say, I was anticipating a battle with The Grizz a lot. What I got, however, was a shock to not just me, but nearly every Sly fan out there. But I digress. The Grizz was once just an ordinary graffiti artist and street thug until an artist saw his work, and he became a celebrity. Unfortunately, he lost his status when the hype went away, as more people saw his work for what it was: terrible. In a fit of rage, he became an art thief to get revenge on the community that threw him away. He was eventually sent to the Ice Age by Le Paradox to retrieve Caveman Cooper's cane, with the ulterior motive of making cave paintings and then "discovering" them in the present. While his backstory is reminiscent of Dimitri's, it is at least original enough to be good, and the plot he had was also pretty inventive. The Grizz is extremely goofy, with his dialogue being like rap lyrics and his comedic personality and behavior making him one of the more colorful henchman of Le Paradox's. However, he is actually very vicious as well, as he actually kills one of his own guards and then skins him! And this skin is what the Sabertooth Costume is! This makes him arguably one of the more murderous goons that Le Paradox has under his employ as well. His boss battle is also very well done, although it can be a bit too difficult for a mid-game boss at times. The boss battle consists of Murray battling The Grizz on a frozen arena, and Murray must hit blocks of ice into The Grizz to bring about the second phase: a QTE. The QTE involves Murray and Grizz skating, with the Grizz performing moves that Murray must duplicate, lest the second phase revert to the first phase, which must then be done all over again. These phases revert to one another often in this fight, making it varied, yet predictable. However, it is varied enough for the fight to remain amusing. The one gripe I have about The Grizz is his design. His crown and paintbrush scepter are so alien to the time period he invaded that he sticks out like a sore thumb, as if he was originally planned for Medieval England but then had his level switched with someone else's during development. Overall, however, The Grizz is a good boss, but he is by no means the best. There are two others much better than he ever will be.
2. Sheriff Toothpick: Big things come in small packages. This rule greatly applies to Sheriff Toothpick, and in more than one way. Toothpick's boss battle involves Toothpick using explosives and a mini-gun of sorts to mow down Sly onboard a train, the Gold Digger. Sly must deactivate the floor lasers and then hit several switches to get Toothpick on Sly's level, making this fight rather repetitive. It gets even more repetitive whenever Toothpick grows in size and creates whirlwinds to attack Sly with, along with smashing the ground with his backside. Expect to see these technique a lot in Toothpick's battle, and expect to hear "Who turned on the blasted whistle" very often. Regardless, it was a fun, fast-paced boss fight that kept you on your toes for the whole battle, and was as difficult as it needed to be for a second boss fight. Personality-wise, Toothpick is a psychotic, trigger-happy psychopath, and is perhaps the only Sly villain in this game that manages to meet the criteria of what a Sly villain usually is. This is obviously a good thing. Also, unlike The Grizz, you actually see him kill one of his own henchman, something that Toothpick honestly has no remorse for. It's no wonder he was killed off. Toothpick's design is not exactly what you'd call the best, as it's rather underwhelming compared to the other boss designs. However, he does manage to look crazy, so there's one thing his design has going for him. Other than that, though, his design is generally nothing special, neither bad or good. Sheriff Toothpick's backstory consists of this. Addicted to spaghetti westerns and interested in gold, a young Toothpick would grow up to be a mobster who specialized in gold robberies. He even masterminded several well-known gold heists from across the globe. This attracted Le Paradox's attention, and he was tasked with taking "Tennessee Kid" Cooper's gun cane in the Wild West, along with Toothpick having his own goal of sending the gold from the Wild West to the present, making Toothpick impossibly rich. This is one of the more well-planned schemes, definitely worthy of being considered well thought out from a development standpoint. Ultimately, Toothpick's placement is high, but he's not number one. This is most likely a shock to many people. And speaking of shocks...here comes number one...
1. The Black Knight: Arguably the most controversial boss in the game, the Black Knight is cloaked in mystery. At this point, you're probably wondering who supplied Le Paradox with the technology to travel through time. After all, why would a crime boss like Le Paradox have a time machine if he isn't smart enough to construct one himself? Simple. He had help from the most unlikely source.........The Cooper Gang. Now hold on! What kind of backstabbing rat would ever dare betray Sly? Was it Murray? Did Bentley become a mad scientist? Nope. Neither of them did anything, and neither did Carmelita. But what does this have to do with the Black Knight, you might ask? Isn't it obvious? Only one Cooper Gang member had a fondness for black to the point of making a false identity around the color. And that member.........was Penelope. That's right, Penelope Mouse betrayed the team. This sort of personality change was so controversial that people refused to buy Thieves in Time because of how different Penelope's personality was. And yet, given the actions of Penelope as The Black Knight, her betrayal is extremely dubious. But more on that later, in another journal entry. For now, however, here is her backstory. Penelope was once one of Sly's companions during the Cooper Vault Job. Without her, they never would've made it inside. After the gang split up, She and Bentley began dating, and they even started a peculiar project together, which turned out to be the Time Machine. Unfortunatley, according to her, she began to resent Sly's honor code that Bentley followed, and wanted him to cut ties with Sly forever so that they could conquer the world. To do this, she sent the Time Machine plans to Le Paradox, essentially becoming one of the game's main antagonists. She was sent Medieval England to take Sir Galleth's cane. However, she had no intention of being loyal to Le Paradox, and wanted to backstab him as soon as his usefulness ran its course. However, when she arrived in England, she designed a mech called "The Black Knight", a knight-like battle suit with a large axe that makes a thud with every step it makes. Penelope even built cyborg/robotic guards to accompany her in Medieval England. Again, the plot twist is the worst aspect of her character in this game, but her backstory makes up for it by being somewhat reasonable, as her betrayal was essential for making this plotline flow in a way that made sense, given how final the ending in the third game was and all. Both the Black Knight and Penelope have superior designs than the other bosses. For instance, Penelope now has a tail, making it obvious that she is a mouse. She also has a more slender femme-fatale-like body, which fits her role in this game perfectly, although she is a bit too thin, and that has drawn negative criticism. As for the Black Knight, it is huge, it is intimidating, and it is everything you'd hope for the boss of Medieval England to look like if you wanted to battle a big bruiser. And speaking of big bruisers, the boss fight in this game is incredibly hyped, with hints of it being tossed around all over most of Medieval England's missions. The first phase has you pitted against a giant, upgraded version of the Black Knight suit, which towers over Sly in a way that is practically a love letter to Clockwerk. The first phase, however, is very easy, as it has you using the Archer Costume to shoot arrows into the immobile mech's weak spots, the shoulders and chest. After trashing all three weak points two times, the upgrade is destroyed, leaving Penelope to duke it out in a zany fight with an angry Bentley, who has to save Sly from being crushed to death by Penelope's mech. The fight plays out like a boxing match, with Bentley and Penelope both having the same moves as each other, so the fight is evenly matched, representing how Bentley and Penelope were like equals. Possible symbolism aside, there is a sort of challenge to this phase of the battle. However, all that needs to be done is get the Black Knight's HP low enough to start a QTE, and then doing the QTE successfully will allow the player to achieve victory. You see, this is how you do QTEs correctly. Overall, once you get over the betrayal, the boss is actually one of the better ones in the game, if not the very best.
P.S.: I left a puzzle for you to solve. Can you solve it?