I don’t know about you — but I’ve got quite the catalogue of brutal boss battles weighing down on my last nerve. Even with some of the despicable foes phasing out years ago, I’m still just about wrapping my head around how I ever managed to summon the patience to dethrone some of them. But that’s all a part of gaming, and it’s not something we ever really grow accustomed to. We flourish from being the almighty hero with the power to ridicule any obstacle that lays before us. But when something crops up and knocks that power from our heads — we’re immediately thrown through the bottleneck of frustration.
We’ve seen plenty of complex enemies over the years, and some still very much hold a place in our memories today. Whether it’s down to the ridiculously large health bars or the series of piercing counterattacks they holster — some things just don’t fizzle out without imprinting on our brains for the foreseeable future. But let’s run it from the top, right down to the worst boss battle that we truly do, weirdly enough, love to hate.
5. Mike Tyson (Punch-Out!!)
It’s fair to say that, as far as difficult fights go — Mike Tyson definitely bags the gold for his closing bout in Punch-Out. But seeing as a few more worthy enemies have since stepped up to the plate, we do have to nudge the boxing giant a little further down the line on our list of brutal boss battles. Still, if you’re hunting for a challenge that’s ridiculously unforgiving and retro beyond belief — then Tyson’s your boy — and Punch-Out!! is definitely your platform.
Of course, it only made sense for Tyson himself to go on and become the toughest closing battle in the 1984 arcade sensation. Having said that, there’s a fine line between challenging and downright impossible — and Punch-Out definitely leant more towards the latter with the final tribute fight against the man himself. With his one punch knockout abilities and swift attack patterns, opponents can expect to face the hook of the glove a few times before daring to take a swing in retaliation. And as for winning, well — that’s definitely easier said than done, that’s for sure.
4. Ornstein & Smough (Dark Souls)
Any Dark Souls newcomer will likely tell you that two-thirds of the game is an impossible cluster of mind-bending chores. A seasoned player, on the other hand, will just laugh in the face of danger and wipe the floor without even batting an eyelid. That is until Ornstein and Smough step up the plate and introduce themselves. That’s when Souls gets real, and players of all skill levels suddenly cower at the thought of battling the monstrous duo. As if one beast wasn’t enough, eh?
Dark Souls definitely isn’t short on enemies, nor is it starved of challenging obstacles and harsh environments. It is, however, short on double-barreled enemies (not that you really need them). But with Ornstein and Smough, Souls veterans can truly test their nerve with the curveballs the two overwhelming enemies hurdle at you. Of course, if you can best the both of them, then you’re in line for some pretty spectacular loot. But you’ll probably die at least sixty times before getting so much as a glimpse of it. Worth the trouble though. If you can keep your cool, that is.
3. Sephiroth (Kingdom Hearts)
After rifling through a collection of Disney environments and banishing the darkness, Kingdom Hearts basically lets you mop up the leftovers from each connected world. However, the majority of the endgame content pretty much lurks within the Olympus Coliseum, where a series of tournaments stand to be dominated. But between the lashings of rounds, it’s the grand finale that essentially knocks you off your feet and tests your knowledge that the game envelopes.
Okay, so we all knew Sephiroth wouldn’t be a walk in the park — even under Disney’s gentle construction. But having said that, we also didn’t really expect to face such a harsh battle, either. In fact, Kingdom Hearts basically wipes the slate clean once you clear the story and reimagines the genre altogether, building on a Souls-like formula where anything can kill you with one well-placed strike. And Sephiroth, unfortunately, was one of the few bosses that had the luxury of annihilating you without even having to lift a pinky in the process. And hey, if you thought that was tough — wait ’til you get a load of Kingdom Hearts 2.
2. Emerald Weapon (Final Fantasy XII)
It’s common knowledge that Square Enix adore oversized monstrosities with sky-high health bars. The problem is, Final Fantasy and its slew of meaty chapters tend to house quite the roster of them, with a select few being branded as the toughest in the history of RPGs. However, scrub through the timeline and you’ll most likely pluck out Emerald Weapon as the hardest of the bunch. Thanks to the long arm of deadly attacks and one million HP the weapon stocks, this superboss glues its place atop the apex of challenging boss battles.
After submerging into the darkest depths of the ocean, Emerald Weapon throws down the gauntlet with a series of brutal attacks, all of which hit ridiculously hard and break most lines of defence. But if that isn’t enough of a chore to put under your belt, the superboss also hands you a 20-minute countdown in order to beat it. So, that basically means you’re left sweating bullets and punching buttons for every split-second the battle rolls out. Fun times, am I right? Well, no, not really.
1. Sigrun (God of War)
Santa Monica Studio gift-wrapped one of the best gaming experiences we’ve ever seen back in 2018, with enough hack and slash action to keep us ticking over for months — if not years. And luckily for us, even after completing the bulk of the main questline, God of War opened up its chest of secrets and gave players a boatload more material to divide and conquer. Buried beneath all of these secrets, of course, was the nine Valkyrie’s, all of which possessed a staggeringly high tolerance to the mighty Kratos and his arsenal of godly weapons.
Beat the eight Valkyrie’s that roam the lands and you’ll find yourself going toe-to-toe with the infamous Queen, Sigrun. Only, rather than being a one-track enemy with a small set of attacks, this dreaded beast instead hoards the powers of all those previously slain. And, seeing as each Valkyrie deals a massive amount of damage — you can only begin to imagine the power that courses through the final link in the chain. Best it in battle, however, and you’re looking at quite the trophy for your blood-soaked portfolio.