Note: This article was originally published as part of my time as an Associated Content Featured Contributor to the Video Games Section. Associated Content was later bought by Yahoo! and renamed Yahoo! Voices. Yahoo Voices shut down in July of 2014. This article is being republished here on The Code, backdated to its original date of publication to remain as a record of my writing.
All that stands between your hero and the ending credits of a video game is the final boss. All of the reflexes you've honed, the tricks you've learned, the strategies you've practiced elsewhere in the game come down to
one final battle. Not all final boss fights are created equal, though. Here's a look at the seven hardest boss fights the history of video games have to offer.
Game: Final Fantasy VIII
System: Sony Playstation
Final Fantasy VIII is a game that has been a point of contention with some Final Fantasy fans. Fans complain about the final boss as the game's true villain not being introduced until very late in the story. Fans complain the characters and their angst. Many fans even complain about the magic Junction system. However, all of these elements combine to make Ultimecia a formidable final boss. First of all, the final boss is actually three fights in a row as she phases between past, present and future. She seems like a pushover in her first form. She becomes a bit tougher in the second phase, stealing the hero's innermost thoughts to summon a very strong beast to fight the party before merging with it herself. But but the last phase of the battle becomes hair-pullingly difficult . Why? Ultimecia takes the Junction system that is also used to to boost the stats of your heroes and strips them away. Forever. That's right, the final boss permanently de-buffs your characters. Should one of your characters die, then they sucked away into a time void and can't be brought back. Talk about a game over.
Game: Double Dragon
This final boss fight in Double Dragon stacks the deck against you. Willy has a lot of health, and moves faster than any of the other enemies in the game. While you are stuck with punches and kicks, Willy uses a machine gun. While that sounds a little unfair, at least you have the advantage of pumping quarter after quarter into the game until you defeat him, right? Wrong. As soon as you get to Willy, you can only pay for three more continues. If you can't beat the final boss in under three continues, then you get an automatic game over and have to start the game all over again from the beginning.
5. The Origin
Game: Radiant Silvergun
System: Sega Saturn
Radiant Silvergun is considered by many shoot-em-up fans as the pinnacle of the genre. But for all of the unique elements that made Radiant Silvergun a stand-out space shooter, it was the game's final boss that made this game unique. Instead of a two dimensional alien boss that fills up half the screen as would be expected for a top-down shooter from Japan, Radiant Silvergun's boss is a giant 3 dimensional robot that runs around the screen along a flight path. This boss fight flips the script by now making you have to think in three dimensions while the screen is filled with so many bullets that you run a very real risk of blundering into a stray bullet if you so much as blink.
Game: Mike Tyson's Punch-Out
Just getting to Mike Tyson is a challenge. The boxers get progressively difficult as you advance through three circuits. Mike Tyson is leagues ahead of every boxer that you face before him. For the first minute and a half of the first round he will do nothing but throw jabs that, if they land, will knock you down in just one hit. What's worse is that his punches can't be blocked; a block still counts as a hit and down you'll go. His punches can only be dodged. Also, unlike every other boxer in the game, Mike Tyson has no one-hit weakness. You'll have to slowly chip away at his stamina, and hope you don't get knocked out.
3. The Boss
Game: Metal Gear Solid 3
System: Playstation 2
The final boss fight with Metal Gear Solid 3's The Boss serves as an endcap to not just the emotional arc of the story, but also requires the player to draw on every skill in stealth, camouflage, close quarters fighting, and gun play. The fight takes place in a rolling field full of white flowers that make absolute mastery of camouflage a must for having a chance at winning. And you can't just button-mash your way through any close quarters combat, because The Boss is Snake's equal and can easily counter most of the hand-to-hand action you throw her way. Also, you have to take her down in ten minutes, or the carpet bombing that's been called in will obliterate you, leading to a game over.
2. Last Boss
Contra Hard Corps
Contra Hard Corps was one of the few games that was actually made more difficult for its North American release. While the Japanese version gave the player a 3-hit life bar, the US version has one hit kills. The
Japanese version gave the player unlimited continues. The US version only gave the player five. This game's final boss has several forms it transforms into, each more bizarre-looking and difficult than the last. It starts as a humanoid that hovers in the upper right corner, tosses a dozen deadly energy balls per second, then shifts to the left hand corner of the screen and does the same. When it lands, it can shoot energy beams half the length of the screen, and can dash across the the screen in a blink of an eye. After you defeat this form, it transforms into a two headed creature that can shoot fireballs and energy blasts from either mouth. The neck can extended the entire length of the screen and with a shake of the head, will also raining energy balls that will fall from above, scattered in the 1/4 of the screen you can move in. Beat this form and it tranforms once again, this time into a whirling ball of skulls and alien faces that can expand to fill most of the screen, leaving only the extreme lower right and left corners safe, having to shoot the "core" in the middle, with space to do so for a split second. Hope you have enough continues saved up.
They say a picture can be worth a thousand words, but in the game Mushihimesama Futari , only a video can truly express how well deserved the final boss demonstrates the genre of "bullet hell":
Featuring a final boss fight that requires razor-sharp reflexes, Spiritual Larsa will unleash wave after waves of bullets that fill the screen like rain. The only safe spaces for the ship are mere pixels wide, and those safe zones last for but a split second. Mushihimesama Futari truly deserves the title of hardest final boss fight.