Some games live or die on their boss battles. The From Software games like Bloodborne and Dark Souls are filled with difficult and memorable monsters for you to kill (or more likely, be killed by... a lot). Shadow of the Colossus was nothing but boss battles, but each of them was a unique experience that stayed with the player long after completion. The Final Fantasy series is no exception to this, and Square Enix puts a lot of time and effort into the enemies that await you at the end of dungeons. Anything from a lowly knight with a vendetta, to a twenty headed dragon that wants to become a god, can be given pathos in their hands.
When you have a series that has literally hundreds of boss fights, how do you decide which are the most memorable? It's not enough that they are difficult, or graphically impressive, or even have a great soundtrack. They need something extra to stand out from the crowd, in a genre full of outlandish beasts.
From the misquoted knight of evil who was there since the beginning, to the man who became a mockery of an angel. Here are the fifteen most memorable Final Fantasy boss battles ever.
15 Garland - Final Fantasy
The first ever boss battle to take place in a Final Fantasy game happens with the evil knight known as Garland.
Garland is a former knight of the city of Cornelia, after revealing his evil nature, he kidnaps the Princess of the kingdom as part of a ransom plot. If the player tries to fight him immediately, then they will most likely be defeated. This is actually a clever way of introducing the players to the concept of level grinding. Once the party has gained a few levels, and upgraded their equipment, then Garland should be a pushover.
Being the first ever boss battle in a Final Fantasy should be more than enough reason to put Garland on this list. He is, however, more famous for his dialogue. Garland's introductory speech to the Warriors of Light contains one of the first notable mistranslations in video game history. When you first meet him, Garland says...
"I, Garland, will knock you all down!"
It's not exactly the scariest threat in the world. In the original Japanese version of the game, the words he uses are difficult to translate directly into English, but they essentially mean "I will defeat you".
14 Ruby & Emerald Weapon - Final Fantasy VII
The Final Fantasy series is no stranger to the concept of the "superboss". The superboss is a monster in the game that is more powerful than the end boss of the story. The superboss is there to provide some extra challenge for the most dedicated of players.
When most RPG fans think of the superboss, the first names that come up to mind are usually Ruby and Emerald Weapon.
In Final Fantasy VII, the Weapons are a group of five monsters that are unleashed by the planet as a self-defence mechanism. In the original Japanese version of the game, you only fought one of these as an optional boss (Ultima Weapon). In the English localisation, three more battles were added. Diamond Weapon was added into the main story, and Ruby & Emerald Weapon became optional fights that you had to look for.
Ruby & Emerald Weapon are, without a doubt, the most difficult battles in the game. Emerald Weapon has his Aire Tam Storm attack, which limits the amount of materia you can bring into battle with you (one of which needs to be the Underwater materia, as you will have too strict a time limit without it). Ruby Weapon has his tentacles, which forces you to use only one party member for the battle. You best get ready to be creative with the materia you bring with you, as even the mighty Knights of the Round summon will not help you here.
13 Feral Chaos - Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy
The end boss of the original Dissidia Final Fantasy is Chaos, who is also the end boss of the original Final Fantasy. The fight against Chaos is notoriously unfair, as he is a massive demon that you must fight in a tiny arena. His moves have massive range, and there is basically nowhere to run... except towards him.
In the sequel to the game, Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, a new version of Chaos is the end boss. The party must travel to an alternate dimension, where Chaos gained ultimate power. This version of Chaos has long since gone mad, transforming him into Feral Chaos. The true form of Feral Chaos is battled at the end of the game, and he is a level 130 monster, equipped with several items that make an already difficult fight even more unfair.
There is another battle against Feral Chaos that can happen much earlier in the game. When you start a new save file, you will meet a Moogle who acts as the tutorial. It's his job to determine if you played the original Dissidia Final Fantasy or not, as you could skip most of the tutorial and just learn about the new features. At one point during the conversation, you can tell the Moogle that you are a master at the game. If you do this, then you will be thrown into a battle with the Feral Chaos from the end of the game... while playing a level 1 version of Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII. It is actually possibly to win this battle, but you would have to be a master of the game to do so.
12 Absolute Virtue - Final Fantasy XI
Most video game bosses are defeated within the first few days of their release. Absolute Virtue took players years to take down.
Absolute Virtue was first introduced in the Chains of Promathia expansion for Final Fantasy XI. After defeating a boss called the Jailer of Love, Absolute Virtue will appear, and battle the players. Along with being one of the most powerful creatures in the game, Absolute Virtue has an absurdly high rate of regeneration. Players have to keep pouring damage into it, just to keep up with the amount of health it heals.
The secret to beating Absolute Virtue is linked to something called the "Two-Hour" ability. Each character class in Final Fantasy XI has an incredibly powerful ability with a charge time of two hours (this was decreased to one in later updates). Absolute Virtue has access to all of the two-hour abilities in the game. The one that is truly meant to be feared is the White Mage two-hour ability - Benediction. This ability heals every allied creature in the area to full health... including the user. If you get Absolute Virtue down to one hit point, he can use Benediction and restore himself to full health. If one of the players manages to use the same two-hour ability around the same time that Absolute Virtue uses it, then it prevents him from using it for the rest of the battle. This was not discovered for years, however, and Absolute Virtue continued to happily stomp on any party that tried to take him down in the meantime.
11 Sin - Final Fantasy X
If Godzilla fell in love with a whale and they had babies together, the result of the coupling would be Sin - the biggest boss in Final Fantasy history.
Sin is a colossal whale monster that flies around the world of Spira on a destructive rampage. He is not alone either, as other monsters literally grow on his skin, and attack anyone who comes near. Everything that stands in Sin's path will be annihilated.
The whole point of the quest in Final Fantasy X is to find a way to stop Sin. The party must make a pilgrimage to the dead city of Zanarkand, and use the power of the final Aeon in order to kill Sin... for a few years. After each death, he eventually returns, and the cycle of bloodshed begins anew.
When the time comes to battle Sin, you have to fight his individual body parts whilst riding an airship. He is so big that you cannot just fight him head on. That size isn't for show either, as the game will slow down if you try and use an attack that moves his character model (such as Anima's limit break).
10 Kefka - Final Fantasy VI
When Kefka is introduced, the player will most likely confuse him for a jokey subordinate. He is certainly amusing and cruel, but not exactly end boss material.
Then he turns himself God, and ends the world... at the halfway point of the game.
Kefka manages to accomplish what most other Final Fantasy villains fail at, he becomes a God, and squashes anyone that dare try and oppose him.
After draining the Warring Triad of their power, Kefka ascends into the heavens and becomes the God of Magic. Once the player is ready for the final battle, they must journey to the Floating Continent, and defeat Kefka's many guardians, before they can approach him. The final battle is almost metaphorical in nature. You must ascend a giant statue that depicts Kefka's rise to Godhood. Beyond the tip of the statue is Kefka himself, transformed into a winged angel. The battle to defeat a deity begins... and so does Kefka's incredible theme music - Dancing Mad.
A lot of the elements that make up Kefka can be seen in the villain of the next Final Fantasy, Sephiroth. The desire to become a God, transforming into an angel with several wings, and having a kickass theme that isn't heard until the final battle. It's a shame that Final Fantasy VI is not as famous as its follow-up, as Kefka has the potential to be just as loved and feared as his successor.
9 Good King Moggle Mog XII - Final Fantasy XIV
Despite it's shaky beginnings, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn has become a highly acclaimed and immensely popular MMO. It mostly sticks to the Final Fantasy formula... except when it comes to Moogles.
The Moogles are a recurring race of friendly creatures in the Final Fantasy games, so much so that they are a close second to being the mascot of the series (after the Chocobo). Usually, the Moogles are on the side of the good guys, and will help you out in any small way they can.
There is one major exception to this, however - Good King Moggle Mog XII.
A group known as the Mooglesguard attempt to summon a legendary Moogle from history to the present day. What they get instead is a Primal spirit that needs to feast on Aether (the source of life and magic) to survive. The players must fight the evil Moogle, and his powerful courtiers, in order to stop its rampage.
Even though Good King Moggle Mog XII is a memorable battle on its own merits, the best part may be his theme. If you ever wanted to know what it would sound like if Tim Burton made a Final Fantasy, then this battle has you covered.
8 Demon Wall - Final Fantasy XII
The Demon Wall is a recurring boss battle in the series. As his name implies, he is a monster fused into a slab of stone. Unlike most walls, however, the Demon Wall likes to move. Each battle against the Demon Wall is a race against time, as he inches forward closer and closer, with the goal of crushing you into paste.
The first appearance of Demon Wall was in Final Fantasy IV, where its character sprite would move slowly forward. When it reaches its destination, it would cast the "Crush" spell, and kill each party member in succession. It would appear again in Final Fantasy VII, where it would become one of the most difficult boss battles in that game.
It wasn't until Final Fantasy XII that the Demon Wall finally got its due. Final Fantasy XII was similar to an MMO, and the characters could move around in a 3D environment during battle. When you enter the Tomb of Raithwall, you have two separate boss battles against two Demon Walls. The fight takes place in a long corridor, with no way to escape. The party must attack the Demon Wall as it pushes them slowly backwards. If you cannot kill it before it reaches the end of the corridor, then it's game over.
7 Jet/Amber/Garnet Bahamut - Final Fantasy XIII-2
The Final Fantasy XIII trilogy gets a bad rap among fans. The first game was criticised due to its needlessly complex and poorly explained story, as well as the fact that the gameplay involves you running down a series of corridors without any outside exploration. The 3rd game in the trilogy, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, was criticised for being a poor attempt at recreating the unique gameplay of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.
In between these two reviled games is Final Fantasy XIII-2, which had a more positive reception. Taking its cue from classics like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy XIII-2 has a time travelling story that offeres a lot of exploration and choices that affect the ending (created in response to the complaints about Final Fantasy XIII). This was coupled with an improved version of XIII's battle system, which now added a satisfying monster catching mechanic that allowed you to use them in battle.
The final boss of the game is exceedingly difficult compared to the other foes you have faced. When Caius Ballad assumes his final form, he turns into his own wicked version of the recurring Final Fantasy boss/summon, Bahamut. Caius becomes the Jet Bahamut, which would be enough of a pain in the ass to fight on its own. In order to even the odds, Caius summons the Amber and Garnet Bahamut's as backup. You have to battle three Bahamuts at the same time, and cannot even damage Caius/Jet Bahamut until the other two have fallen.
6 Ultimecia & Griever - Final Fantasy VIII
When Final Fantasy VII was released, one popular feature of the game was the summon monsters. As 3D graphics were still a novelty at the time, the notion of summoning a monster to hit your enemies with an impressive looking attack was well-received. This would become a central theme of the next game in the series, as Final Fantasy VIII introduced the "Guardian Force", a summon monster that you could equip to your character, and would grant you new abilities.
Throughout Final Fantasy VIII, you will likely use your Guardian Force summons against enemies on many occasions. It was likely this game that killed interest in the long, overblown summoning sequence, as there was more temptation to spam them in battle (unlike in VII, where they had limited uses).
One question that you will likely ask yourself as you play Final Fantasy VIII is, "Why don't any of the enemies use Guardian Forces?"
You will have to wait until the final battle to get the answer. During the climactic confrontation against the Sorceress Ultimecia, she calls upon her own Guardian Force - the lion monster known as Griever.
Not only do you have to face an incredibly powerful witch, you now have to face her favourite summon monster too. Once they are defeated, the two will fuse together into an evil more powerful entity.
5 The Elemental Archfiends - Final Fantasy IV
The first Final Fantasy introduced the concept of having four bosses that are themed around the elements. Originally you had Lich (Earth), Tiamat (Wind), Kraken (Water), and Marilith (Fire). Creatures that used a similar structure would appear in later games
When Final Fantasy IV was being created, the developers decided to get fancy. The elemental archfiends that appeared in the game were named after monsters from Dante's Divine Comedy. This was, perhaps, an indication of the series growing maturity, as the ever-improving technology allowed for stories of greater scope to be told.
The first archfiend to be fought is an undead monster named Scarmiglione. The second is a turtle monster with a terrifying face named Cagnazzo, who has been impersonating the king of Baron. The third is Barbariccia, who is a wicked creature, despite looking like a beautiful women. The final archfiend is Rubicante, the Autarch of Flame, who possesses his own sense of honour, and will heal the party before fighting them
Each of the archfiends is a powerful foe on their own, and they make up some of the most difficult boss battles in the game. Things get really difficult when you reach the Giant of Babil, and must battle them all at the same time.
4 Gilgamesh - Final Fantasy V
The Final Fantasy series has a lot of recurring characters, but with the exception of the crossover games (like Dissidia), they usually aren't the same characters each time. The Bahamut that you meet in the original Final Fantasy is not the same as the one who appears in Final Fantasy X.
When it comes to the main games, there is one big exception to the recurring characters being new each time, and his name is Gilgamesh.
At the end of Final Fantasy V, Gilgamesh sacrifices himself to save the party, and falls into the dimensional vortex. His last words to the main character, Bartz, is a lamentation about how they never got to fight each one last time.
Most fans assumed that this was it for Gilgamesh... until he returned as a summon in Final Fantasy VIII. He reveals that he is the original Gilgamesh, and that he is searching the universe for powerful swords, and a way home so he can challenge Bartz once more.
You battle Gilgamesh many times in Final Fantasy V, as he is initially a servant of the villain, Exdeath. It is the first fight against Gilgamesh that makes it onto this list. Why? His theme music. "Clash on the Big Bridge" is one of the most famous songs in the Final Fantasy series, and when you battle Gilgamesh again in later games, a new arrangement of the song plays each time.
3 Ozma - Final Fantasy IX
Final Fantasy IX has two superbosses. One of them is Hades, the lord of the Underworld. Hades is a flashy creature, sitting on an imposing throne of skulls and eyeballs, and wielding a huge red sword. He also serves an important purpose in the game, as defeating him will unlock his "Synthesis Shop", where you can create some of the most powerful items in the game.
The other superboss is a being named Ozma. You need to complete the lengthy "Chocobo Hot and Cold" series of quests in order to find the Chocobo's Air Garden, where Ozma resides. This is a floating sanctuary for the Chocobo species, and it requires a Gold Chocobo to access. At the back of the Air Garden is an eidolon cave, and should you choose to approach it, you will face Ozma, the most powerful foe in the game.
Ozma is one of the most unsettling boss battles in the Final Fantasy series. While Hades is the kind of boss you would expect to fight in a fantasy game, Ozma is unlike anything you will have ever seen before. It is a swirling sphere of two coloured sides, that does nothing but attack. You never learn what Ozma's deal is, except for the fact that it will annihilate you if you try to fight it.
You cannot even physically attack Ozma without completing the "Friendly Enemies" sidequest (where you help out friendly monsters that you meet). Even with the quest completed, you will be in for the most difficult fight in the game, as Ozma possesses a range of incredibly deadly magical attacks, that will swiftly kill any party that is unprepared.
2 Wiegraf Folles - Final Fantasy Tactics
Wiegraf is one of the most memorable Final Fantasy bosses, but for all the wrong reasons. Final Fantasy Tactics is one of the best games in the PlayStation's library, and it has achieved cult status, despite being released close to Final Fantasy VII. The one thing that holds the game back is the battle against Wiegraf, as it reveals a huge oversight on behalf of the developers.
Final Fantasy Tactics is an isometric strategy RPG. You spend most of the game engaging in small squad battles, usually with teams of five against five (or more). The game has around twenty job classes, and it expects you to form a team of characters who's abilities complement each other.
Then you face Wiegraf, and all of the rules go out of the window.
When you reach the second level of Riovanes Castle, you are expected to have a one-on-one battle against Wiegraf. This is the first time this happens during the game. If your main character is not designed to survive a battle against the powerful Wiegraf, then you will not make it to the (also difficult) second stage of the battle, when your team shows up to support you.
There are few reasons this is problematic. Due to the large amount of classes in the game, it is possible to have a main character with low hit points (if you made him a Black Mage or a Thief, for example). Therefore, he has no chance of surviving against Wiegraf. The second issue is the fact that you have the option of saving before the battle against Wiegraf. If you save your game, you cannot leave the castle and go level up (you are locked into the menu screen before the battle). If you don't have a backup save, and you can't beat Weigraf, then you will have to restart the whole game.
1 Safer-Sephiroth - Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII was the first game in the series to be fully 3D. As such, the graphics look very primitive, even compared to Final Fantasy VIII.
The blocky polygons and janky visuals did help in one respect, and that is in making the penultimate boss of the game one of the most unnerving monsters in video game history.
This form of Sephiroth is known as Safer-Sephiroth, a name believed to be a mistranslation of Seraph-Sephiroth (Seraph meaning angelic being). After pursuing numerous Jenova clones throughout the game, you finally get a chance to see what Sephiroth has become during his stay in the Lifestream. He still retains the human top half of his body, but he now has a set of wings below him. The visual imagery is striking - Sephiroth is a monster attempting to become a god, and he now looks the part. He has become a terrifying mockery of religious iconography.
In terms of the battle itself, if you have the Knights of the Round materia, then you can win in one hit. If you don't have it, then you now have a difficult boss battle in front of you. While Final Fantasy VII gets a bad rap for its lengthy summon sequences, Sephiroth's ultimate attack, Supernova, is the longest of them all. The animation for Supernova is around two minutes long.
The most memorable part of the battle against Safer-Sephiroth is his music. "One-Winged Angel" introduced actual singers to the Final Fantasy series, and wisely saved them for the final encounter. When players heard that Latin choir singing, they knew that this battle was unlike anything they had ever fought before.