The 50 Hardest Video Game Bosses of All Time

Rage-quitters beware!
Ash Ash (343)
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Not all video game bosses are created equal. Some hardly earn the title, while others can push players to the brink of physical exhaustion. Think video games can't hurt you in real life? Think again. These are the most brutal boss fights in all of video game history—guaranteed to land a controller or two through your TV screen.

It's worth noting this list is entirely subjective. Your mileage against these video game bosses may vary depending on skill and sometimes sheer luck. If you think we missed a particularly heinous boss fight, be sure to let us know in the comments below.

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Nemesis
Pinterest

Game: Resident Evil 3

Release Date: 1999

Nemesis is the main villain of Resident Evil 3 so, of course, he is the main boss of the game. Players encounter him throughout the game numerous times but he mutates after each attack, getting progressively harder to defeat. By the end of the game it's just you, Nemesis, and a railgun. If you think you can take him on, that's your decision and we wholeheartedly wish you the best.

Ori and the Blind Forest
Pinterest

Game: Ori and the Blind Forest

Release Date: 2015

This boss isn't exactly a fight in the traditional sense but players must complete rounds of puzzles before escaping the Ginso Tree. It's the escape that has become infamous for its brutal guidelines. If you touch the water as it rises, you'll have to start the level over which takes several minutes to complete. If you can't get by, try easy mode which includes checkpoints, but don't expect any bonus points from us.

Spider Guardian
Pictured: Samus
Pinterest

Game: Metroid Prime 2

Release Date: 2004

We could hear the collective groans from here of all the players that endured this battle in Metroid Prime 2. The Spider Guardian is arguably the worst fight in the whole game and we challenge you to fight us on that one. Not only does this monster zip around unpredictability but you've also got very specific moves to pull off in order to be effective and not much time to do it. If you want to kill this boss, don't let it touch you!

Enchantress
Pinterest

Game: Shovel Knight

Release Date: 2014

The Enchantress is the main antagonist of Shovel Knight and this boss is far from optional. Defeating the Enchantress is necessary to save Shield Knight but we won't go into details here to avoid spoilers. Dealing damage in this boss fight is a serious pain as the Enchantress is only vulnerable in one location and hurls dangerous projectiles throughout the fight. Our advice? Keep trying!

Valkyrie Queen Sigrun
Pinterest

Game: God of War

Release Date: 2018

Thankfully, this boss is optional, so beating it is for nothing but brownie points! You must defeat the Valkyrie Queen Sigrun's Valkyries before she can be summoned and there are nine of them to take down. The rewards for this fight are totally worth it, though. You get more than 5,000 experience points, a trophy, and plenty of powerful gear to equip.

Kai Leng
Pinterest

Game: Mass Effect 3

Release Date: 2012

Mass Effect is well-known for its huge, space-themed universe and numerous alien characters, but the most powerful boss in this series is none other than a human from Earth. Kai Leng is one of the toughest baddies in the game and one of the toughest battles we've ever seen. Many attacks aren't effective in this battle save from Cryo powers that can slow him down. If you aren't ready for this fight, you'll find out soon enough.

Mewtwo
Pinterest

Game: Pokemon Red, Pokemon Blue

Release Date: 1998

I won't refer to Mewtwo as a villain but he is definitely an opponent in the Pokemon franchise and a notably powerful one at that. If you remember playing Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue, chances are you remember the encounter with Mewtwo. If you aren't ready to face him, your team will be wiped out in no time. Our suggestion? Save your Master Ball for this guy.

Shao Kahn
Pinterest

Game: Mortal Kombat 3

Release Date: 1995

The main villain behind Mortal Kombat 3 is Shao Kahn so it makes perfect sense that this battle would be the toughest in the game—we just didn't know it would be one of the toughest fights of all time! You'll spend a lot of time dodging his attacks in this battle, but if you can catch him in the middle of a Shoulder Ram, you can intervene with an uppercut and follow up with your favorite combo move to do some damage.

Ballos
Pinterest

Game: Cave Story

Release Date: 2004

The true antagonist of Cave Story is Ballos and it definitely shows in his nearly impossible-to-win boss fight. Even if you get to the ending of Cave Story go toe-to-toe with this bad guy, and manage to defeat him, you have a second round to endure and it's way harder than the first battle. Ballos is almost entirely impervious to your attacks. The trick for this battle is to shoot for the eyes!

Ghost of Lady Comstock
Pinterest

Game: BioShock Infinite

Release Date: 2013

When you play through BioShock Infinite, there's no easy way to get past the Ghost of Lady Comstock and even if you do, there's a second battle to follow up the first. This fight is ruthless and she does everything to make the experience a living hell. It doesn't help that her ghost has a tendency to bring the dead back to life around her, so you'll be managing a horde of zombie foes throughout the duration of her fight.

Jackal
YouTube

Game: Jackal

Release Date: 1988

Konami's Jackal was known in the '80s as a fun multiplayer game, complete with tanks and plenty of bad guys to take down. But if you want to win the game, you have to take down the final boss. Playing might seem easy at first, but by the end, you're low on resources, and surviving gets harder and harder. To make things worse, the final boss has waves of stages to complete before the final giant tank appears.

Great Eggman Robo
YouTube

Game: Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Knuckles

Release Date: 1994

The final stop for Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Knuckles is one of the most frustrating Robotnik bosses of all time. The Great Eggman Robo is exactly what it sounds like. It's great in size, it looks like Egg Man, and it's definitely a robot. This boss fight takes place right after the defeat of another, so you're going into it without a break. And just when you think you've made progress, there's another stage to endure.

Psycho Mantis
Pinterest

Game: Metal Gear Solid

Release Date: 1998

This was one of the most difficult and frightening bosses we've ever seen. This guy has some crazy mind powers. At one point, he asks the player to place the game controller down and uses his mind to move it (or maybe it was just rumble settings). In another feat, he reads the mind by tapping into your memory card save data and commenting on select Konami games. He can recognize Castlevania Chronicles, Vandal Hearts, Azure Dreams, and Suikoden.

Absolute Virtue
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Game: Final Fantasy XI

Release Date: 2005

In Final Fantasy XI, players can encounter a type of enemy known as a Notorious Monster, or NM for short. Absolute Virtue is so difficult to defeat, it's regarded by the Final Fantasy community as the longest-running NM, having taken players the longest to defeat through legitimate means. This boss is hard enough to fight but you better be careful when he first appears. Absolute Virtue spawns with a special buff that can instantly KO players with one hit.

Shadow Queen
Pinterest

Game: Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Release Date: 2004

Paper Mario is anything but fragile--this game had some seriously tough baddies to take down. The one we can't get out of our nightmares is The Shadow Queen. She might be one of the most powerful foes Mario has ever encountered next to Bowser. This boss has multiple phases and over 350 hit points to eliminate. She has an attack power as high as 17 on some attacks—making this battle far from a walk in the Mushroom Kingdom.

Spider Mastermind
Pinterest

Game: Doom (2016)

Release Date: 2016

Doom had remained a beloved, quotable title over the years and seems to have evolved into a benchmark for low-spec screens. In 2016, we saw the release of a new game in the Doom franchise, and it was Spider Mastermind that whooped the collective booties of gamers around the world. This boss is mean, and his attacks are serious. If you want to get past him, aim for the face!

Azazel
Pinterest

Game: Tekken 6

Release Date: 2007

Tekken is one of the most well-recognized fighting games of all time, but Tekken 6 has arguably one of the most notable boss battles we've ever seen. Azazel isn't just any random foe. Azazel is the main antagonist of the entire game. There's only one way to master this title, and Azazel is standing in your way. If you want to emerge victorious, you'll need patience, skill, and maybe a few hours.

Ultimecia
Pinterest

Game: Final Fantasy VIII

Release Date: 1999

This is the main villain of Final Fantasy VIII, so of course, the final fight is difficult—it just happens to be so difficult it stands out against other games. Ultimecia is toxic. She can kill Guardian Forces in an instant and even take away a given character's spell stock, robbing you of critical offensive and defensive maneuvers. You have to be strong and swift to see her go down. Just one Hell's Judgement spell takes every party member's HP down to 1.

Wood Man Mega Man
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Game: Mega Man 2

Release Date: 1988

Mega Man has been more than mega for decades, but even he struggles against foes now and then. If you remember playing Mega Man 2, then you remember the incredibly frustrating arborous creation known as Wood Man. This is another robot created by the supervillain determined to stop you with an incredible arsenal of attacks. Players need to land 14 normal shots to take him down but need to break through his Leaf Shield while avoiding hazardous, falling leaves.

Sans Undertale
Pinterest

Game: Undertale

Release Date: 2015

There's more than one way to complete Undertale, and for those familiar with the Genocide Route, nothing hits harder than the final boss fight with Sans. His attacks are ruthless and accompanied by gaster blaster skulls. You've got a lot to juggle just to avoid damage—let alone deal any. It takes a merciless gamer to end up face to face with Sans in this battle which is hands down the toughest battle in the entire game.

Seth Street Fighter IV
Capcom

Game: Street Fighter IV

Release Date: 2009

In Street Fighter IV, Seth is responsible for aggravating players and delivering a steady stream of damage. According to Street Fighter lore, he's the CEO for SIN, a weapon division of Shadaloo. He first appeared in 2009 and proved to be one of the most formidable foes in the entire franchise. You can still find copies of Street Fighter IV on Amazon for the PlayStation 3.

Note: Pictured is the latest redesign of the character which has much more hair than the Seth encountered in Street Fighter IV.

Bowser Super Mario 64
Nintendo

Game: Super Mario 64

Release Date: 1996

It's no surprise that the big boss battle in Super Mario 64 is none other than Bowser. He's always been a tough foe to face, but this time he's notably fierce. He has three big moves, including a stomp, headbutt, and fire breath. If you pay close attention, you can recognize when a particular attack has begun to steer clear of incurring damage. Get around those attacks, and you might stand a chance at winning.

King K. Rool boxing match

Game: Donkey Kong 64

Release Date: 1999

Donkey Kong 64 brought our favorite Nintendo primate to an entirely new dimension (3D, to be exact). Anyone who's played through this game knows it's bananas and can't forget the main antagonist—King K. Rool. If you want to defeat him for good, you have to go toe to toe with King Krusha K. Rool, his boxer persona, in one of the hardest battles in the whole game.

Lavos Chrono Trigger
Square Enix

Game: Chrono Trigger

Release Date: 1995

The final boss of this game is named Lavos. He's an evil alien parasite and a serious threat to the world. If you want to take him down, it's not going to be easy. This boss was saved for last for a reason. If you want to beat Chrono Trigger, be ready to take out this boss for good.

Earthbound
Nintendo

Game: Earthbound

Release Date: 1989

The main villain of the SNES game Earthbound, known in Japan as Mother, is a big baddie named Giygas. This boss is beyond tough, and he comes in three aggressively dangerous forms. If you want to take down Giygas for good, all you can do is pray for a victory. No, literally! If you use Paula's prayer ability and manage to squeeze in 9 prayers, you can beat Giygas and complete Earthbound.

Majora
Nintendo

Game: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

Release Date: 2000

The final boss in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is none other than Majora. And what a final boss it is! Players have to face off against Majora, who has three forms to defeat: Majora's Mask, Majora's Incarnation, and Majora's Wrath. Taking out all three nets earns you some serious bragging points and the completion status you need to finish the game.

Liquid Snake
Konami

Game: Metal Gear Solid

Release Date: 1998

Without giving too much away, let's just say your character has a lot in common with this boss. If you want to take down Liquid Snake, you have to act fast. He gets tougher as the battle progresses, and the pressing time limit doesn't do you any favors.

Shadow of the Colossus
Sony

Game: Shadow of the Colossus

Release Date: 2005

Shadow of the Colossus was released in 2005, and the fanbase is still going strong 15 years later. This boss is referred to as Dirge by the fans. It can be found in the Forbidden Lands around quadrant B4. This worm-like boss is seriously destructive, but its glowing eyes are a weak spot that can be exploited.

Guitar Hero 3
Activision

Game: Guitar Hero 3

Release Date: 2007

Battle of the bands is totally on the table for this boss battle list. If you're a fan of the mid-2000's classic Guitar Hero, you may remember this carpal-tunnel-inducing ballad by DragonForce known as Through the Fire and the Flames. If you're a sucker for rhythm games, this song is the hardest goal worth tackling on the greatest difficulty.

Ender Dragon
Minecraft.Net

Game: Minecraft

Release Date: 2011

There's an ending to Minecraft? That’s right—there is a way to beat this classic sandbox game. There’s only one way to get the Ender Egg, and it involves facing off against the Ender Dragon. He is the biggest monster in the game, and it takes a bit of patience to see through. We recommend starting this fight with quality armor and plenty of friends!

Mortal Kombat Goro
Warner Brothers

Game: Mortal Kombat

Release Date: 1992

It's hard to imagine Mortal Kombat without Goro. Not only is he regarded as a staple character to the series, but he's also often recognized as the toughest boss in the first Mortal Kombat. He's a secondary boss next to Shang Tsung.

Culex
Nintendo / Square Enix

Game: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

Release Date: 1996

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars brings all the best features of an RPG to the imaginative world of the Mushroom Kingdom. There are plenty of battles to complete, including optional ones like Culex. This boss is arguably the toughest in the game and even harder to beat than the main villain, Smithy.

C’Thun
Blizzard

Game: World Of Warcraft

Release Date: 2004

Until the release of new expansion packs, C'Thun was regarded as the toughest boss in Word of Warcraft. If you wanted to max out your character and beat all the bosses, this guy was your last stop. He can be found in the temple of Ahn'Qiraj.

Yellow Devil
Capcom

Game: Mega Man

Release Date: 1987

The only weakness this giant yellow boss has is his little red eye. The Yellow Devil is from Mega Man. It's known for its gooey body that can split into pieces and fly around the screen. If you want to defeat him, dodge his body, and shoot for the eye!

Final Fantasy VII
Square Enix

Game: Final Fantasy VII

Release Date: 1997

The Final Fantasy series is known for its occasional inclusion of optional bosses. This powerful boss, from 1997's Final Fantasy VII, is known as Emerald Weapon. It's featured alongside four other weapons: Ruby, Diamond, Sapphire, and Ultimate.

Queen Larsa
Pinterest

Game: Mushihime-sama Futari

Release Date: 2006

They don't call these games bullet-hells for nothing! Queen Larsa from Mushihime-sama Futari is the main villain and final boss fight in the game. The rules are easy, shoot first and don't get shot. If you want to mark this game off your list, you've got to start firing and dodge!

Skolas
Bungie

Game: Destiny: House of Wolves

Release Date: 2015

Destiny: House of Wolves launched in 2015. The final boss in the Prison of Elders challenge is Skolas, and he's more than mean. This go around, he still has his ground-smashing and teleportation abilities, but he's beefed up with a Scorch Cannon. It only takes a few shots to get knocked out by this bad guy.

Dracula
Konami

Game: Castlevania

Release Date: 1986

Castlevania dropped in 1986, and who better to serve as the final boss of this vampire classic than Dracula? If you want to beat this game, you've got to take the old bat down. Dracula can transform into a huge monster that hops around shooting fireballs at the player. There's a reason they saved him for last. He's an absolute beast to fight.

Ocarina of Time
Nintendo

Game: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Release Date: 1998

The Dark Link mini-boss can be found in the Water Temple. This is hands-down one of the biggest challenges players will face in the Ocarina of Time. Dark Link knows all of your moves, and the damage from each attack hits hard. It doesn't help that he can also teleport right behind you.

Death
Konami

Game: Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse

Release Date: 1989

Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse was released in 1989. What better way to see out the '80s than to spend countless hours getting whipped by Death himself. This is one of the toughest boss battles in the entire game. Players have to dodge flying scythes and withstand two different forms of this pixelated baddie.

The End
Konami

Game: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

Release Date: 2004

There's only one thing tougher than a sniper, and that's another sniper who's better than the first sniper. If you want to finish Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, you've got to take our The End, an old sniper that could be one of 40 hiding spots across three maps. You can use a few tricks to beat this old sharpshooting master—one of the most amusing methods is to time travel ahead two weeks by adjusting your Xbox clock. The old sniper will die of old age.

Alma
Microsoft / Koei Tecmo

Game: Ninja Gaiden

Release Date: 2004

Ninja Gaiden for the Xbox is classic and just one decade away from being an antique—but we won't get into that. If you want to conquer this exciting game, you'll need to take out Alma. She's one of the main baddies in the game and for good reason. This boss is one of the biggest pains for completionists.

Death Egg Robot
Sega

Game: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Release Date: 1992

In Sonic the Hedgehog 2, nothing stomped players quite like the Death Egg Robot from the Death Egg Zone. This is the last zone and is set on Dr. Robotnik's Death Egg satellite. You have to defeat the robot to win the game, but this battle requires Sonic to survive the entire fight without any rings.

Shadow Link
Nintendo

Game: Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Release Date: 1987

If you want to get through Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, you'll have to square up against Dark Link. He copies all of your abilities and looks just like Link, albeit a bit more shadowy. It's hard enough to beat a monster but squaring up against a boss designed to mimic your moves is even harder. This fight is the closest you'll get to an equally matched opponent.

Riku
Square Enix

Game: Kingdom Hearts

Release Date: 2002

If you have half a heart, you obviously haven't spent hours facing off against Ansem. Wait, we mean Riku. Or do we? It doesn't matter; what does matter is that this boss is responsible for one of the toughest Disney-themed JRPG battles you can encounter. He's not even optional. This fight is necessary to complete the game. You can play the original Kingdom Hearts in a remastered edition for the PlayStation 4.

M. Bison
Capcom

Game: Street Fighter II

Release Date: 91

Anyone who grew up playing Street Fighter knows how serious the final boss fight is with M. Bison in Street Fighter II. Ever since his first appearance, his character has remained one of the most notorious baddies of the franchise. This boss fight is responsible for the transfer of countless quarters across arcades in the 90s.

Mike Tyson
Nintendo

Game: Punch-Out!!

Release Date: 1987

The big boss of this game is so big his name is on the box—or at least it was before the team lost rights to Mike Tyson's name and rebranded the game as just Punch-Out!! The final boss with Mike Tyson was reworked into a new character called Mr. Dream. He might look different, but he's the same, seemingly unbeatable boss.

Sephiroth
Square Enix

Game: Kingdom Hearts 2

Release Date: 2005

It's sometimes contested in the Kingdom Hearts community whether Sephiroth is harder to beat in KH1 or KH2. In both battles, the player is left to fight one on one without any assistance from Donald or Goofy. This battle isn't even required, so any beatings that occur are entirely voluntary.

Final Fantasy XI
Square Enix

Game: Final Fantasy XI

Release Date: 2002

This boss fight pushed players way beyond their limits in an incident that lasted over 18 hours with no success. Some players reportedly played until they were physically ill. Over 36 players marathoned the attempted takedown of Final Fantasy XI's Pandemonium Warden, which ultimately led to an HP decrease of the monster along with a two-hour time limit.

Ornstein And Smough
Namco Bandai

Game: Dark Souls

Release Date: 2011

The Dark Souls game is a notorious beast, but even Dark Souls has to have a king of all monsters. In fact, it has two. The fight against Ornstein and Smough is arguably the toughest boss battle in the whole game. In the lore, Ornstein is regarded as one of Gwyn's four Knights, along with Artorias, Ciaran, and Gough. You've got to take him down along with Smogh—be careful who you save for last as this will impact the loot dropped at the end of the battle.

Opening scenes better than any movie!
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We've all been there, right? You start a new game, the opening credits roll, and then suddenly you find yourself watching a cinematic masterpiece that far exceeds any of your expectations.