What is a video game without an awesome boss to test your skills against? Okay, admittedly there are some amazing games that aren’t really about the bosses. Journey, anyone? However, many games do depend on bosses to help mold the gameplay. For some games, the boss, especially a final boss, serves as a meaningful reminder of who has been putting so many obstacles in your way. Other games use bosses, sometimes these bosses are even optional, more as a means to simply test your capabilities. Most creators consider both of these aspects when creating a boss, because they want it to be relevant to the story and they want you to feel a sense of accomplishment when you do gain victory. This list does take all that in consideration but has a particular interest in bosses that truly tested your skills. So, let’s get to it.
10. Sans Skeleton from UNDERTALE
- System: PC
- Publisher: tobyfox
- Developer: tobyfox
- Release Dates: Sep. 15, 2015
Undertale is a pretty interesting and unique game and Sans is definitely one of the reasons why the game caught fire so quickly. He is lazy, loves puns, and is your best friend on the neutral and pacifist route, which is why he’s #10. However, if you decide to take the genocide route, he becomes the final boss, and he is insanely difficult to beat.
It’s best to buckle yourself in and prepare for a drawn-out fight when you go against Sans. There’s no way it will end quickly unless it is with your death. What makes Sans such a significant boss, besides the difficulty of the fight, is all the factors that roll into the fight. The first is that you might remember the friendship you had formed with Sans on an earlier run, and guess what, he’s also aware that you’ve played through the game before. The second is that you know you’ve definitely played without mercy or fairness and so this beating has been a long time coming. Finally, he messes with your head constantly throughout the battle.
9. Master Hand from Super Smash Bros. Brawl
- System: Wii
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Game Arts
- Release Dates: Mar. 9, 2008
For some, Master Hand might be a slightly confusing entry on this list. After all, if you’ve played Super Smash Bros. Brawl, then you’ve come face-to-face with Tabuu, who you probably had a lot of difficulty with. It is true that Tabuu is a real pain to defeat, however, it would be a dishonor to the franchise as a whole to not give credit to Master Hand. Master Hand is, after all, the main boss of the series.
Since the first Super Smash Bros., Master Hand has been picking out the warriors who will have to fight against each other. In each game, he is generally the toughest to beat and his role ties together the premise of the game. It’s also fun to consider that Master Hand is indeed the actual player, which gives the game a little bit of a meta vibe.
8. Mizar from Jet Force Gemini
- System: N64
- Publisher: Rare Ltd.
- Developer: Rare Ltd.
- Release Dates: Sep. 30, 1999
How many of us actually reached Mizar when playing Jet Force Gemini? The game actually required players to save all of the Tribals as well as find hidden components to create a stronger spaceship in order to even reach Mizar. The conditions were strict and many players probably did not reach Mizar until years later, when YouTube finally started airing guides.
If you feel that the prerequisites are unfair, then just wait until you actually fight the boss. In a game, that generally made you feel like a god as you tore through ants with a vast array of weapons, Mizar was there to take you down a notch. His attacks could quickly deplete your health and rarely gave you time to take proper aim. On top of that, you needed full ammo on your two strongest weapons, the tri-rocket and homing missile, if you even expect to win.
7. Ornstein & Smough from Dark Souls
- System: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
- Publisher: Namco Bandai Games
- Developer: From Software
- Release Dates: Oct. 4, 2011
As stated earlier, the list would focus on difficult bosses, and few boss matches are as difficult as this fight in Dark Souls. You are literally taking on two bosses at the same time, and when one dies, the other absorbs that power. If Ornstein falls first, then Smough quickly finishes him off and claims his lightning power. If Smough falls first, then Ornstein gains a couple sizes and is a bit more destructive with his attacks. Kudos to the creators for creating such character development through the way each react to the other’s death.’
It is true that this fight can be made easy in numerous ways. Summoning people for instance, makes this fight ten times easier. If you’re playing solo then you are still able to summon the fan-favorite NPC Solaire. Though his assistance doesn’t make the fight super easy, it does make it a lot more manageable. For those who are taking it on purely solo, the battle is a tough one to overcome. Quite a few people have simply given up on the game, because this duo presents a new level of difficulty in a game that has been all about dying since the beginning.
6. Alma from Ninja Gaiden
- System: Xbox
- Publisher: Tecmo
- Developer: Team Ninja
- Release Dates: Mar. 2, 2004
Ninja Gaiden is a game that is notorious for its difficulty. Even the regular mobs of enemies that you face at the beginning can be extremely difficult for a first timer. If you’re good at stringing together combos, then you’ll at least find the game a little bit easier. However, not even an in-depth knowledge of combos will help you against Alma.
Alma is the final boss in Ninja Gaiden and she definitely proves herself to be the toughest. Her attacks are extremely fast and relentless, and you only have a little bit of room for error. Actually, make that no room for error. You have to be extremely quick with your dodges and your timing has to be impeccable in order to land a hit on her. With her moves and recovery, don’t expect to string any long combos on her. This is going to be a battle that depends on your timing and patience.
5. Devil from Cuphead
- System: Xbox One, PC
- Publisher: Studio MDHR
- Developer: Studio MDHR
- Release Dates: Sep. 29, 2017
Cuphead is a new game that has taken the internet by storm with it’s absolutely gorgeous hand-drawn aesthetic. However, don’t let the 1930 cartoon-like drawings fool you. This game is particularly difficult and it will gladly suck up hours of your day.
All levels and bosses are extremely difficult in this game. However, the main antagonist, The Devil, is definitely the toughest. Things start off pretty easy, with four types of attacks that are pretty easy to dodge as you shoot The Devil up. Then the match really begins when you drop down to a more hellish landscape, where you have only five floating platforms. These platforms drop until there’s only one left, and you will definitely need to be skilled with the counter ability if you expect to make it out alive.
4. Ultima Weapon from Final Fantasy VIII
- System: PlayStation
- Publisher: Square EA
- Developer: SquareSoft
- Release Dates: Sep. 7, 1999
Final Fantasy is renowned for making players work hard to obtain the best weapons and summons. It is simply part of the franchise’s make up. It’s along the idea of you have to be stronger than the weapon you use. The challenge involved with receiving the ultimate power is quite notable in Final Fantasy VIII.
This fight basically pits you up against the greatest power you can hope to control and so it is fitting that it is one tough battle. It also references Final Fantasy VII, as the sword being wielded by Ultima is identical to Cloud’s ultimate sword. Fun facts aside, this boss is a major pain to take down. So much of the battle depends on luck even after using the best of your magic.
3. Sephiroth from Kingdom Hearts
- System: PlayStation 2
- Publisher: SquareSoft
- Developer: SquareSoft
- Release Dates: Sep. 16, 2002
Sephiroth is one of the most notorious villains and bosses in video game history. He became infamous thanks to the plot of Final Fantasy VII, where he murders your healer and becomes the final boss. Though Sephiroth made his rise to stardom through Final Fantasy VII, Kingdom Hearts capitalized on his signature look and theme song to create an even memorable experience.
As the final opponent in Hercules’ Coliseum, Sephiroth is actually an optional boss. You don’t need to beat him in order to progress the story and thank the heavens for that, because his battle is mind-numbingly cruel. His sword can reach across a quarter of the stage (if not more), he has a massive health bar, and he can teleport. The only reason why you’ll keep coming back is because it is one of the most dynamic battles you can experience. The moment the battle begins, “One-Winged Angel” starts up and you realize you no longer have the safety of turn-based battle. The mixture of real-time fighting and Sephiroth’s backstory make it truly memorable.
2. Ridley from Super Metroid
- System: Super Nintendo
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Intelligent Systems
- Release Dates: Apr. 18, 1994
Few games are as memorable as Super Metroid. The gameplay of Super Metroid mixed with that of Castlevania became its own type of genre: Metroidvania. That says something about the impact of the game. So obviously, there are a lot of incredible aspects of this game. One of those happen to be the final battle against Ridley.
Ridley is an exceptionally difficult and frustrating boss to beat. If you’re not used to platformers or games where you have to jump, then this battle will be even more difficult. Ridley basically swoops down on you from above, while you’re stuck on a little platform. If you can’t jump and shoot at the same time, then chances are you won’t win. Ridley’s movements are also incredibly quick and have a wide range of effect, so you have to have quick reflexes. However, the toughest part of this battle is the simple fact that Ridley doesn’t display a health bar. This isn’t something particularly unusual in a game, especially in an older one, but if you’re accustomed to checking in on your enemy’s health bar to see your progress, then this will require some mental fortitude.
1. Mike Tyson from Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!
- System: NES
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release Dates: Oct. 1987
Mike Tyson is the final boss in Punch-Out!!, which makes sense because the game is named after him. For those who actually played the game, you know why he’s on the list. To this day, he is one of the toughest bosses to beat in any video game. There’s not much flash or bang to the fight, but there’s a lot of ways to lose. You can’t make mistakes when fighting Tyson. In most games, even the tougher ones, you have a chance to recover from a mistake. This is not the case with Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! You have to be able to dodge and strike and do everything perfectly if you expect to win, and there’s no algorithm to learn for the second half of the match. For anyone looking for a real challenge, time to start looking to the past.
Before this list closes shop, it’s time to give a quick shout out to the bosses of Shadow of the Colossus. Though none of the bosses were impossibly difficult to beat, they did provide a unique way to view battles. Half puzzle, half fighting; every boss you beat in Shadow of the Colossus came with a feeling of accomplishment. With that honorable mention given, are there any memorable bosses that you feel deserve a spot on this list?