Monday, January 13, 2020

12 Bosses That Were Tougher Than The Final Boss

Time for another list. This features mostly RPGs, but not all. Only main story bosses count. No uberbosses (Ruby Weapon, FFVII), postgame bosses (Nemesis, FFX), or optional fights (Warmech, FF1). The only criteria for this list is that it's a main story boss that exceeds the final boss in difficulty, or at least causes more grief for the player than the last boss. Also, one boss per game.

12. Living Ice (Lost Odyssey) - This fight is less "tough" and more just a complete pain in the ass. The boss is immune to magic and yet you fight it at a point in time when you're stuck with a party of casters. The one melee-based character you have access to here is a lower-tier character that most players likely wouldn't have used much before this, meaning he'll be underleveled while also being your main damage dealer. The fight itself isn't too bad, but it was so poorly set up that it ends up being more of a roadblock than the final boss.

11. Yellow Devil (Mega Man 1 and 3) - This guy appears in a bunch of Mega Man games, but he's by far the toughest in Mega Man and Mega Man 3. In those games he overshadows every other boss, including the final bosses. The only reason it isn't higher on the list is that both games give you an out: In Mega Man you can use the Elec Beam pause trick to beat him in one or two shots. In Mega Man 3 you can bring 9 E-Tanks to the fight which pretty much nerfs any fight.

10. Ridley (Super Metroid) - Ridley is the big challenge of Super Metroid's endgame, in my view. Without enough energy tanks, super missiles, or the Wave Beam, he can be a complete roadblock to finishing the game. On the other hand, the final boss is more of a test of your ability to fire diagonally, with easier-to-avoid attacks compared to Ridley's all-out assault. The Draygon fight in Maridia is ALSO tougher than the final boss, but it isn't included here over Ridley because you have an out with a convenient insta-kill trick if all else fails.

9. Barubary (Breath of Fire 2) - The second-to-last boss of this game is notably tougher than the final boss. His attacks all target the entire party, and his attack power goes up the lower his HP gets. He also challenges the hero to a one-on-one fight midway through, and accepting this challenge makes it even more difficult. However, if you don't accept the challenge, there's a good chance he'll knock your fusions off so you won't have them for the final boss. All told, this is a truly grueling battle that they dropped right before the comparatively-manageable finale.

8. Balzack (Dragon Quest 4, NES version) - In the NES version of Dragon Quest 4, you couldn't control your non-hero party members in battle, and the AI was astonishingly bad at times. For this fight, main healer Cristo would spend a lot of time trying to cast instant death spells on the boss (to no effect) instead of healing. The boss, meanwhile, unleashes absolute hell with AOE attacks aplenty. Having Nara as a healer works a little better, even though her heals aren't as good at this point. There are ways to mitigate Balzack's damage, like spell shield. Unfortunately that spell also makes it more difficult to keep your party healed, and does nothing to stop Balzack's physical attacks. This thing is a massive step up from every boss fight before this point and gave me more grief than even the final boss did. The difficulty of this fight really comes down to how bad the AI is.

7. Bloodbane (Valkyrie Profile) - This guy restores nearly all of his HP every ten rounds, and he has a lot of HP. There are game mechanics that you can use to bring him down, and up to this point those mechanics are never particularly necessary to use during the game. As a result, a lot of players get to this point only to run into a brick wall where they have to stop and essentially re-learn the gameplay to account for the mechanics that allow this fight to be winnable.

6. Boozoo (Lennus 2) - The hardest fight in Lennus 2, easily. It's near the end of the game, and the boss himself has a higher damage output than the final boss. Even for a lategame fight, this guy is wildly overpowered for the point in time that you fight him in the aptly-named Boozoo's Ice Castle. The main thing that makes him a completely insane boss is that his big attacks don't distribute damage evenly. So you end up with these attacks that hit the party 12 times randomly, and if most of them land on one or two characters, those characters are knocked out. You basically have to hope that his damage gets distributed somewhat evenly, and spam defensive spells that block damage. The fight is absolutely nuts. Luckily, you can level up pretty fast in the areas before him, and overleveling mitigates some of the difficulty here. Read about my own dealings with Boozoo in Lennus 2 here.

5. Borgan (Lunar: Silver Star Story, Sega CD version) - This guy is a nightmare, largely because it's easy to be under-leveled for the fight and his difficulty is very poorly tuned for that point in the game. He's a bit like Culex in Mario RPG in that he's got a few orbs with him that attack independently, making the fight that even more difficult. The problem is that he's a required main story fight, and at a point in the game when most players will be in no way prepared for a fight of that magnitude. They nerfed him in the PS1 remake at least. All in all, this guy is an impressive relic of a time when one off-balance boss could bring an RPG playthrough to a complete standstill for underleveled players.

4. Kintaro (Mortal Kombat 2) - An argument could certainly be made for Motaro from MK3 being on this list as well, and I can see that because they're both tougher than Shao Khan. However, on Very Easy I found Motaro to be pretty beatable on a first run of the game, while Kintaro STILL gives me problems even on Very Easy. There are a few moves that work well on this guy, like Liu Kang's Bicycle Kick, but it's still hit-or-miss whether any of them will land. Kintaro loves to block and some of his counterattacks are almost unavoidable, like the air-stomp. The key is to attack when he taunts, if you get the chance. Shao Khan is similarly OP, but he doesn't have the air-stomp and he taunts a lot more, giving you more chances to attack.

3. Golem Twins (Chrono Trigger) - These things are complete beasts, emulating the elements you use against them and firing back with extremely powerful versions of them. Shortly before this you fight Giga Gaia, which is also a difficult "elemental damage check" fight that gets significantly easier with elemental armor equipped. At least that fight can be lessened by taking out the hands temporarily. Golem Twins are like fighting two Giga Gaias that always have the hands up. If you missed out on the secret elemental armor like I did the first time I played, the best thing you can hope for at this point is that you have a couple Ruby Vests to at least blunt fire damage somewhat. From there, just get them to copy fire damage for the entire fight and you might be able to eke out a win.

The first time I played Chrono Trigger this was BY FAR the hardest fight in the game. Like many fights on this list, knowing what you're doing will significantly nerf the fight, but on a first run, being unaware of elemental damage? Yeah, this fight is a roadblock. It also punishes you tremendously for using physical damage, something you're able to rely on for the entire game up to that point. Any usage of physical damage will be retaliated against with a massive (400+ point) physical attack against one character. And on top of all of these retaliatory strikes, they also spam Iron Ball which halves HP.

2. Miang/Opiomorph (Xenogears) - This boss only has one attack, but it's a devastating AOE, so healing is paramount. Problem is, you need fuel to heal, and there's another boss fight right before this one that for whatever reason has fuel-draining attacks. So by the time you get to the Miang fight, your characters are already weakened significantly and have little defense against Miang's overpowered AOE spam. Combine all of this with the fact that you have about 10 minutes of cutscenes/fighting to do before this boss every time you lose, and it makes for a rough situation that gave people more grief than the actual final boss did.

And now...

1. Belias (Final Fantasy Tactics) - Yet another B-name to round out the list, which almost could have been a list of bosses with B-names. I almost forgot about this guy when compiling the list, which is funny because he's hands-down the best choice for #1. Many of the problems I cited in above fights return here, plus new problems, to make for a fight that is roundly difficult and a game-ender for many players. Considering it's only about 60% of the way through the game, it blows away the relatively normal-difficulty final boss.

For one thing, you have to do a separate one-on-one fight right before this with no saves in-between, and that fight on its own is very difficult. Get past that and you get to contend with Belias, who has blistering AOEs and a group of minions launching their own attacks. Lose, and you get to fight the previous difficult boss for a while again.

On top of all of this, you can't leave if you save within this dungeon, so there's no chance of going off to level or build up your party once you run into the brick wall that is Belias. On the bright side, having to replay the whole game up to this point isn't exactly the worst thing, since the game is so brilliant. And being crushed in this fight is a great impetus to really figure the game out and develop an OP party that can annihilate him on the second go.


  1. Great post, I'm familiar with many of these. Velius did make me go through the game a 2nd time even better (learning Auto Potion was crucial and I think I also learned Teleport) and I got crushed by Golem Twins as well, before going back out to find elemental armor just as you said. I never got through the Mega Man I Rock Monster because I played on Playstation's Mega Man Collection and I recall I couldn't do the Elec Beam trick.

  2. Even without the E-Tanks all you need for the Yellow Devil in Mega Man 3 is the Rush Jet. Use it to get around the faster harder to dodge movement part, then park yourself right in front of his eye and put in as many shots as you can while it's open. Rush drains pretty fast, but you can sploit that by jumping.

    Balzack is such an ass.

    Great picture of Boozoo here.

    Kintaro's air stomps are nightmare fuel.

    My pick for this list that didn't make it in would be Lashiec from Phantasy Star IV.

  3. yellow devil mk2 mm3 is very easy. not tough at all and u can land up to 3 hard knuckles before it shuffles