Boss fights are a fact of life in role-playing games. After a long bout of adventuring in fields and talking to NPCs, you know it's only a matter of time until you're faced with a big bad boss. Sure, you may have done a good job of beating in a slime's face (do they even have faces?), and spanking kobolds around, but sooner or later you're going to go head-to-head with an enemy that eats punks like you for breakfast, lunch, and maybe as a snack in-between courses at dinner, just to cleanse the palette. Here are our votes for some of the toughest bosses you'll find in RPGs.
Yes, he was an optional boss in Kingdom Hearts. Yes, he was willing to fight a little kid. And yes, he was voiced by former N*SYNC member, Lance Bass. But did any of that make him any less of an incredibly tough, finely-coifed cookie? No, sir. Stepping into the coliseum with Sephiroth meant that you had to bring your ‘A’ game, because one misstep would mean your doom. Like most bosses, he follows a pattern that can be exploited for openings. But every once in a while he’ll yell, “Descend, Heartless Angel!” and your HP/MP will be drained, dropping you down to one point of health. Of course, he’ll immediately attack you, so you’ve got to be quick or else it’s over. The One-Winged Angel isn’t one of Square Enix’s most celebrated villains because he’s a pushover. Unless hair-pulling is counted as a celebration.
Demon's Souls/Dark Souls
The enemies in Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls may not all be bosses, but they deserve an honorable mention here for being so godawful hard to defeat. We’d like to put the games themselves down as bosses, because just the sight of either titles sitting on store shelves is enough to drive some players running away in tears and quaking in absolute fear. As walking horrors that populate games not for the faint of heart, the enemies of Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls gets a spot as honorary “bosses” on our list.
The Beast Rune of Suikoden II didn’t seem all that menacing at first. Hell, it hardly seemed like a proper boss since it was basically an emblem on a floating orb. So the final encounter with this ethereal menace didn’t seem so bad— until it turned into a giant, two-headed wolf. It was a good thing that you could have six members in your party, because six-on-one would be a piece of cake, right? Wrong. It turns out that each part of the beast (both heads, all four legs, and the rune itself), attack independently, so it’s actually six-on-seven. Make sure all your dudes are equipped with the best runes or you’ll have to spend more than half an hour with this multi-faceted demon.
Chrono Trigger/Chrono Cross
This alien parasite was such a pain that it ended up being the final boss of Chrono Trigger and its sequel, Chrono Cross. Guess it wasn’t enough that it had multiple forms in Trigger, but it had to go and assimilate with Schala to become the Time Devourer in Cross. Because of its temporally-frustrating antics, Lavos gets our vote as one of the most annoying bosses of all time.
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
This optional boss looked pretty out of place in the whimsical world of Super Mario RPG, resembling the Dark Knights from the Final Fantasy series. Not only did he look incredibly badass, but the fight included four Elemental Crystals that needed to be destroyed as well. He and the Crystals had a combined health of 12,396 HP and was more powerful than Smithy, the main boss of the game. The most frustrating part? Well, it turns out that he’s a pretty nice guy and congratulates Mario for winning upon his defeat. It’s kind of a bummer to trounce someone with such good manners.
Star Ocean: Till the End of Time
She may seem like a cute little Norse mythological figure, but this tiny package packs a powerful punch. Arguably the strongest optional boss in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, Freya requires all of your party members to be at level 255 (yowza!), and equipped with Boots of Prowess. She’s got a whopping 20,000,000 hit points that take quite a while to whittle down, even if your characters are super buffed. Freya’s so badass that she’s even more powerful than the Star Ocean series’ signature hidden boss, The Ethereal Queen.
Tales of Destiny 2/Tales of Eternia
There’s nothing quite like fighting a hidden boss that happens to be a possessed historical figure. The namesake of the Regulus Dojo and the Regulus gnoll is available for a fight in Tales of Destiny’s hidden dungeon. What makes the battle tougher is the fact that he’s possessed by the game’s main villain and is capable of countering everything you throw at him. The early games in the Tales series featured battles on a 2D plane in real-time, kind of like Street Fighter. Now imagine having to micro-manage four different characters with their own move sets, spells, tactics, and items. This boss fight almost required you to pause after every action to queue up another command. But if you did manage to defeat him, then you could take pleasure in knowing you killed the hardest boss in the game.
Star Ocean: The Second Story
Another hidden boss on our list, except that this one is also the main story’s final boss as well. After beating Star Ocean: The Second Story, players can go on and fight through a hidden dungeon with difficult battles that can cause one’s controller to suddenly fly straight into walls. It’s an interesting phenomenon. But Gabriel’s “Unlimited” form is one of the toughest in the game, on par with the Ethereal Queen hidden boss that appears in every Star Ocean. The biggest gripe against this guy is that he can move so fast that it’s almost like he’s teleporting and can cast spells almost instantly. Your best defense? Hit the level cap of 255 with all characters, deck them out in the best gear, and develop a penchant for micromanaging.
Final Fantasy XI
Surprisingly the only MMORPG boss to make it onto our list, but with good reason. This Final Fantasy XI boss was so crazy-hard that it made people physically ill in real life. It accomplished this horrifying feat by taking over 18 hours to down, even with a very high level group. After news of subscribers wasting away because of this monster came out, Square Enix fixed it so that the Warden was significantly easier to defeat and would despawn if not downed within two hours of battle. The Warden gets a spot high up on our list for the sole fact that it could affect people’s HP in the real world. And that is damn scary.
Everyone’s favorite Velvet Room attendant is also everyone’s greatest nightmare. This cheery, bob-sporting young woman is also available as an Ultimate Boss in Persona 3: FES. If you’re sadistic enough to want to fight her, you’ll have to seek her out first by wading your way through a dungeon, all by your lonesome. If you take any party members with you, she’ll one-hit kill you. If you have any personas that nullify certain attacks, she’ll one-hit kill you. She can even attack multiple times in a row. Elizabeth will also mock your attempts to damage her by fully healing her HP when it drops to a certain point and then laugh at you while you sob into your controller. You’ll need to max out everything and tread carefully with a good strategy, otherwise you’ll end up bashing your head through your television screen. The bottom line is that she’s bad news and is the reigning queen of our 10 Most Aneurysm-Causing RPG Boss Fights.
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