The most beloved video games out there make people feel proud of their skill. They cannot be so hard that the player quits, but they still have to present the illusion of risk and high stakes.
Some people, however, really do take pleasure in a virtual world that dishes out the pain, making one all too familiar with the game over screen.
The harder the game, the more satisfying it becomes to finally overcome.
One staple of the medium is the boss battle. These super powered foes with more health are usually a treat to encounter, as they mark significant progress in the game and a deviation from the normal fights.
They are also meant to be a test skill, forcing the player prove their mettle. their can even emotional weight behind the fight if the foe is somebody the characters have been trying to reach throughout the course of the story.
An ideal boss fight leaves the player feeling tough, yet tested, like they really earned the right to beat the enemy and progress to the next stages.
A less than stellar boss can be underwhelming for a whole slew of reasons.
Maybe it is insultingly easy, devastatingly hard, or it requires skills that the player has not utilized or developed up until that point.
On both sides of the spectrum of good and bad, there are countless examples. This list will take a look at the ones that had a negative impact on the game, and those that improved the experience as a whole.
Here are the 12 Bosses That Hurt Their Video Games (And 13 That Saved Them).
25 Saved: Kingdom Hearts - Sephiroth
RPGs often have a final goal for players to aspire. This goal often requires skill and power far past what is needed to complete the main story.
Kingdom Hearts has several extra activities to do during the endgame, but the most daunting is a boss battle with Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII.
On paper the battle is a tough, but Sephiroth himself is a menacing presence on the screen.
In Final Fantasy VII he uses a move that causes several planets to explode, so have fun taking him on as a small child wielding a key blade.
Should he be defeated, Sora will be rewarded with an extremely powerful weapon.
24 Hurt: Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Jaron Namir
The third entry in the cyberpunk series follows in the footsteps of the first game, letting players tackle the sandbox levels stealthily, with guns blazing, or somewhere in between.
This level of choice falls apart during the boss encounters, with Namir being a prime example of their faults.
If the player develops Adam Jensen as anything but a straightforward combat character, the bosses will prove a to be a bad time.
Namir is especially strong, and depending on the player's actions, he may have to be fought without augmentations.
He's beatable, but there is nothing fun about it.
23 Saved: Resident Evil 5 - Wesker
The fifth numbered entry in Capcom's long running survival horror franchise was released in 2009, meaning fans waited thirteen years to finally duke it out with the series' main antagonist, Albert Wesker.
When the fight finally transpires, what follows is an epic showdown through several locations and some transmogrification by Wesker.
The fate of the world lies on Chris and Sheva to beat him before Uro Buros is unleashed, but Chris also has a personal bone to pick.
The series is known for cheesiness, but the intensity of the fight so strongly grabs players that no one thinks twice when Chris literally punches a boulder blocking his path to help Sheva.
22 Hurt: Uncharted: Golden Abyss - Guerro
Uncharted does not have the best track record with boss battles, as they often feel shoehorned in, but the series' sole handheld outing takes the cake in this department.
The game is a stellar translation of the franchise's trademark wit and game play, but the final encounter with the antagonist, Guerro, is dreadful.
The whole fight is an extended quick time event, requiring players to swipe their fingers across the screen in the indicated direction. If only a couple of prompts are failed, the fight must be restarted.
This fight exemplifies the game's weakest aspect, its use of the PSP's touchscreen capabilities.
21 Saved: Metal Gear Solid - Psycho Mantis
Not a single boss fight in Metal Gear's first 3D entry is a dud, but the duel with Psycho Mantis stands above the rest for the ways it toys with the player's head.
The fight begins with Mantis taking control of Meryl, evaluating your progress through the game so far, and even reading your memory card for other game files that may be on it.
To make the battle significantly easier, players can put their controller into the second player slot.
These, and more, add up to make one of the most memorable bouts in all of gaming.
20 Hurt: Valkyria Chronicles - Maximilian
Valkyria Chronicles' unique game play, fantastic setting, and gripping plot helped find a dedicated audience.
One major flaw with the whole game is the final boss battle with High Prince Maximilian.
Up until that point, all of the battles and the boss encounters feel beatable with any number of strategies.
However, this boss battle is nearly impossible, and too long at best, if the player does not use one specific method.
By spamming Shock Troopers, the last boss can be defeated within a few turns. Without the shock troopers, the battle will be a drawn out, frustrating mess.
19 Saved: Final Fantasy VII - Jenovah Life
The end of disc one in Final Fantasy VII gave players one of the most shocking moments in gaming at the time. Right after the event occurs, they are forced into a boss battle with Jenovah Life.
What makes this battle so special is how quickly it starts while most players' jaws were still on the floor and tissues were still drying their eyes.
To top it off, the music is not the usual theme for a Jenovah battle, but a more emotional piece
Those who have not played FFVII need to remedy that immediately so they can experience this moment for themselves.
18 Hurt: Batman: Arkham Asylum - The Joker
The dynamic between the caped crusader and his most famous adversary has never been brute strength versus brute strength.
However, because video games feel the need to have a giant last boss, Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham Asylum finds a way to make the Joker a huge mass of muscle.
The game revolves around Titan, a substance that gives people super strength. During the finale, the Joker uses a large dose of it on himself and transforms into a monster.
Batman is able to subdue him and the villain reverts to his normal state.
It's not a poorly done fight, but it does not feel like an appropriate battle between the two polar opposites.
17 Saved: Legend of Legaia - Songi
Perhaps the single most underrated RPG of all time, Legend of Legaia tells a tale of three heroes trying to repair a world shattered by mysterious monsters and the mist which makes them stronger.
One if its best aspects is how it combines the world ending stakes with personal stories. Songi was Gala's, one of the three player characters, friend who becomes corrupted by the mist.
He follows the party and attempts to stop them as they try to revive the genesis trees and destroy the mist generators.
He fights the party several times before a final showdown, leading to a tragic conclusion of his story arc.
16 Hurt: Mortal Kombat (2011) - Shao Kahn
2011's Mortal Kombat brought the series back from the brink with a return to the visceral 2D fights that popularized it in the first place.
Along with the game play was a surprisingly fleshed out story mode detailing the game's plot with well done cut scenes.
The story mode is challenging, but becomes downright unfair during the last battle with the emperor of Outworld, Shao Kahn.
It's expected for him to be powerful, but the extent of his strength is so much so that a head to head fight is nigh impossible.
Most players resort to hit and run tactics to slowly eat at his health little by little.
15 Saved: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater - The End
All of the encounters with Metal Gear Solid 3's Cobra Unit are unique challenges that feel like true head to head fights instead of exploiting weaknesses.
The fight with the geriatric sniper, The End, is a duel most players remember fondly.
The battle takes place in several huge open areas, and Snake has several methods at his disposal to fight him.
He can use a sniper rifle to take him at a distance, track him down and hit him from the back, or even wait several weeks for the boss to succumb to old age.
It is even possible to take him out earlier in the game after a certain cut scene.
14 Hurt: Half-Life - Nihilanth
Valve's seminal first person shooter was a genre defining masterpiece that perfectly mixed horror, action, and story all while never taking control away from the player.
The whole experience is nearly flawless up until Gordon Freeman is transported to the world of Xen.
Xen is filled with frustrating platforming puzzles and looks like a washed out mess. It is all topped off by a battle with the Nihilanth, a monster that kind of looks like a giant mutated baby.
Once the battle is done the game is finished, but players are more relieved to be done with Xen than to be satisfied with having beaten the game.
13 Saved: Wolfenstein 3D - Hitler
Few political positions are objectively bad, but being a Nazi is an undeniably evil thing.
This is what makes Wolfenstein 3D's game play so satisfying, as almost everybody can agree that violently disposing of the Third Reich and its supporters is heroic and patriotic.
The cherry on top of all this is a showdown with Hitler himself. He is assisted by a mechanical robot suit, appropriate since he doesn't have the stones to face BJ Blazkowicz in a true mano a mano fight.
After all, history does show Hitler to be a coward since he took his own life instead of facing defeat and capture.
12 Hurt: Bioshock - Fontaine
Bioshock's world, gameplay, and story enthralled gamers everywhere upon release.
The intense intimacy of its battles were unlike anything gamers have experienced for years, maybe even since its spiritual predecessor, System Shock 2.
Unfortunately, that all comes crashing down during the ultimate boss fight with Frank Fontaine.
Fontaine has been spliced beyond recognition and appears as a giant naked man throwing ice and fire at the player.
Even the developers knew the battle was bland, but they did not have time or better ideas for how the fight should play out.
11 Saved: Bionic Commando - Master D
1988's Bionic Commando was unique at the time for its relatively graphic violence and story line. In its original form, the enemy empire were neo-Nazis and the final boss was a recently awoken Hitler.
In the U.S. version, all references to Nazis were removed and the last boss was changed to Master-D.
Master-D still retains the look of his original form and his defeat is followed by an image of his face exploding, which was surprisingly unchanged in the North American release.
Any game where the player gets to blow up Hitler's face is good in our book.
10 Hurt: Max Payne 3 - Becker
Max Payne 3 is a nearly perfect third person shooter that seamlessly melds cinematic, John Woo influenced game play with a poignant story about an alcoholic ex cop drowning in past sorrows and sins.
One small blight against it is the boss fight against Armando Becker, the head of the UFE special police force.
The game never explicitly states whether Max is supposed to take out all of his henchmen or make a bee line for Becker, who is using a shield and lobbing grenades at the player.
The fight is won once all the henchmen are disposed of, but until players learn this the fight is frustrating and confusing.
9 Saved: Mass Effect 3 - Rannoch Reaper
Andromeda may have ruined the Mass Effect franchise beyond repair, but the three games that proceed it are an epic science fiction tale that stand toe to toe with the best in the genre.
One perfect example of the game's scope is the showdown with the Rannoch Reaper in Mass Effect 3.
The reapers are the impending threat throughout the whole trilogy that decimate entire planets at the snap of a finger.
Finally battling one up close was something fans had been waiting years to do.
The ensuing fight does not disappoint, with commander Shepard even utilizing air support from space to win.
8 Hurt: Final Fantasy IV - Demon Wall
The Final Fantasy series has nearly countless boss fights. While many of them are well done, they cannot all be golden.
For example, the Demon Wall is a recurring boss fight we wish the creators would stop bringing back.
First appearing in Final Fantasy IV, this fight is a monstrous wall that slowly closes in on the player.
Upon getting close enough, it will unleash a devastating attack that knocks out the entire party.
When it shows up, there is almost never any connection to the story, giving players no real stakes except just to survive.
7 Saved: Metal Gear Solid 4 - Metal Gear Ray
Fighting a Metal Gear is obviously nothing new to the franchise, but finally letting the player pilot one themselves was wholly unexpected.
First the player battles with numerous unmanned robots, but eventually they come face to face with Liquid Ocelot piloting the Marine Corps' Metal Gear Ray.
The thrill of piloting the machine would be enough, but it also plays comfortably enough for such a short segment.
It is also the first time players face off against Liquid Snake, possessing the body of Revolver Ocelot, since 1998's Metal Gear Solid.
6 Hurt: Final Fantasy X - Yu Yevon
There is nothing wrong with a final boss battle being impossible to lose. If the emotion is there, the boss can still be engaging.
Fighting Yu Yevon in Final Fantasy X does just this, but goes about it all wrong.
When the battle starts the party is given auto life, meaning getting a game over is nearly impossible.
While Yu Yevon will heal himself frequently, there are a few strategies which can end the battle in just a few turns.
If there was no illusion of challenge or some dialogue, the encounter would be more enjoyable.
5 Saved: Portal - GLadOS
The 2007 first person puzzle game is a unique experience to behold. Thankfully, the final duel with the antagonizing AI, GLadOS, stays true to its puzzle solving principles.
While many games of its ilk may resort to a more traditional battle, Portal's final boss fight has the player methodically throw parts of the artificial intelligence into a furnace while it taunts you.
It is possible to lose your life, as no danger would make the fight uninteresting, but it is not a high octane action sequence.
There would be no better way to end Portal than the boss encounter they chose to make.
4 Hurt: Wolfenstein: The Old Blood - The Monstrosity
For even a standalone DLC campaign, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood goes far and beyond what people would expect with its depth, length, and level design.
There are only two negative aspects of it; the shoehorned in stealth segments in the beginning and the final boss fight with The Monstrosity.
The concept of the Third Reich bringing ancient demons and monsters to life fits right in with Wolfenstein, but the fight itself leaves much to be desired.
Not only does BJ battle it, but he also must contend with enemies swarming him from all sides. The fact that it is the last boss brings down the whole campaign a peg.
3 Saved: Uncharted 4 - Rafe
The Uncharted series often deals with ancient curses with implications that could devastate the world. In Uncharted 4 it is all personal, even right until the last duel with the game's antagonist, Rafe.
The battle is a one on one sword duel with the life of Drake's brother, Sam, hanging in the balance.
It all takes place in a hidden pirate ship being engulfed by flames.
In a series known for extravagant set pieces, this intimate duel makes for one of the series' most intense moments that exemplifies the differences between Nathan Drake and the villain.
2 Hurt: Star Fox 64 - Andross
Star Fox 64 stands as one of the Nintendo 64's finest titles, which is no small feat.
The last boss fight, while engaging, stretches the player's tolerance for ridiculousness, and this is in a game with anthropomorphic space pilots.
Andross, the main villain of the entire series, appears as a giant floating monkey head in space.
In prior games player's see him as a monkey, but in the actual fight, he is a grey face with glowing eyes.
Thankfully, there is a final form after the monkey head, but it does not undo the fight that just transpired.
1 Saved: Matrix: Path Of Neo - Mecha Smith
The Matrix: Path of Neo is not remembered for being a particularly magnificent game. What did make it so memorable was the extreme deviation from the source material during the finale.
After Neo defeats Agent Smith, the villain recovers and assembles together with all of the other Agents, growing to a gargantuan size.
This is included with a interruption by the Wachowski's themselves giving a special message to the player.
The battle itself is simply okay, but the bizarre, fourth wall breaking twist makes it stand out among the countless film to video game adaptations.
Who are some of your favorite and least favorite video game bosses? Let us know in the comments!
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