There will be some spoilers after the titles in red, so proceed at your own peril.
I can’t even begin to explain how much the final boss of a game means to me; they’re the last thing you see in a video game (usually, depending on the nature of the game), and can leave an impression the lasts forever (or until I decide to play the game again). Lots of factors go into how much I like a final boss; between build-up, their theme song, how hard they are, and just how satisfying it is to finally beat them. Not all of them are similar; some of them are extremely dramatic, like a symphonic masterpiece of hero versus villain. Others are violent, fast-paced orchestras of raw destruction, chaos, and extreme action that challenge your wits, patience, and ability to not have severe hand cramps after burning through all but your last life. The final boss is something that is both feared and respected in the story of any video game, and although sometimes the final boss is not all it’s cracked up to be, I’m gonna focus on my top 15 most excellent final boss battles.
15) Malpercio (Baten Kaitos)
It’s been a long time since I’ve touched Baten Kaitos, and I don’t personally know anyone else that’s ever played it, though I think that it’s one of the most underrated games on the Gamecube. A blend between card games, turn-based RPG, and a storybook, Baten Kaitos is a fantastically unique game that I will remember till the day I die, even if some of the details get a little foggy. Malpercio was a name to be feared in this game – the God of Destruction – with his parts scattered in the End Magnus cards (oh god I think I’m butchering the story within the first few sentences. Let’s just get to the fight). Technically, you fight Malpercio more than once, his perfect (complete) form is the final boss, and jesus did it take me a long time to bring down this sucker. It took me about a week to finally get a strategy (and lucky card draw) down to beat him, being that I’m pretty sure I was under leveled as hell for being the final boss, and I was too young to really know what the do with my decks for each character. The music for this fight was so kickass, it’s easily the best track from a game with an already amazing soundtrack. That shit got me pumped to rip apart the God of Destruction. An equal amount of difficult and fair, this guy will stay in my heart (and my nightmares) for a very long time and will ensure that one day, I will play that odyssey of a game at least one more time.
14) Ashnard (Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance)
Path of Radiance is definitely my favorite Fire Emblem of the whole series, though I never have played any of the Japan-only games (duh). Of course, the way I play Fire Emblem games, I do my best to make sure that the only character that fights the final boss is the main character, in this case, Ike. That strategy did not have a snowball’s chance in hell against Ashnard, because that mofo is one dense, powerful Wyvern riding powerhouse. His sword looks like a cross between a platypus’s bill and chainsaw; the charred soul of an evil, demented king. Despite him being a huge pain in the ass and impossible to take down even with a maxed out Ike, he is so damn fun to fight. Between the banter back and forth with him and your soldiers, the dramatic music, and the sweet, sweet satisfaction of cutting him down with a critical hit from Ike’s sword, Ashnard was the perfect way to cap off the amazing experience that was Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance.
13) Sigma (Megaman X6)
Now, I know a lot of people think that good X games ended with X5 because the series wasn’t originally intended to go past the fifth installment, but X6 was my first experience with the franchise. The eight maverick bosses aren’t all that hard, but the endgame bosses are BULLSH!T hard, the difficulty spike is seriously a 90 degree angle upward until you get to Sigma himself, oddly enough. When you first fight him, he’s inhabiting an unfinished body that Gate developed for him. It’s a slow, lumbering, almost zombie-like body that can’t do much, he’s got a few attacks that are a little tough to dodge, but he’s not all that hard to take down. You strike one last blow on him and his body lets out a disturbing distorted laugh as it erupts and explodes just like every other boss, and the screen goes dark around X or Zero. You can hear Sigma talking, telling you to die over and over again, and then the most pants-shittingly terrifying Sigma shows its ugly face. The lights turn back on to reveal that half of the screen is a giant bronze skeletal Sigma body, and this is where the difficulty skyrockets through the ceiling. He’s creating falling spike traps that deal tons of damage, turrets that you can destroy but are still a pain, and can summon massive lasers that you can pretty much kiss your ass goodbye if you touch them. Seriously, Sigma in Megaman X6 pulls no punches as the last boss of the Playstation One X games, but though he’s ridiculously hard and maybe a teensy bit unfair, he was memorable, and dammit his theme was metal as f*ck.
12) Human-Reaper (Mass Effect 2)
While Saren was a pretty good final boss in the original Mass Effect, the Human-Reaper was definitely the best ending to any of the Mass Effect games, because we all know that the third game’s ending was doggy doodoo. The Human-Reaper was actually kind of terrifying to me when I first realized that the Collectors were kidnapping humans for the purpose of turning them all into one giant human-esque Reaper. Now, it wouldn’t be so hard to fight him if all you had to do was dodge his attacks and shoot his weak spots, but this sucker packs a punch when he hits you. Plus his lackeys – including Harbinger – are all trying to mow you and your squad down as well. You really have to divide your squad’s attention between the Collectors and the Human-Reaper, and the fight is a great test of your ability as a leader in battle. Not only that, but unlike some other bosses or powerful enemies in the game, you can’t just whip out your heavy weapon and take him down with a few nukes or rockets because he’s got a ton of shields and health. The Collector Beam is the best weapon against him with the steady stream of damage it produces, but he still takes a while to kill and it’s awesome finally bringing him down. Of course, afterwards, you have to choose whether to keep the station and body of the Reaper intact, or blow it up and be a total badass while escaping with your Squadmates that hopefully don’t die for no god damn reason at all (I’m looking at you, Mordin). If you only play one game in the trilogy, make sure it’s Mass Effect 2, I think it was the best one in the whole series from start to end.
11) Mr. X (Streets of Rage 2)
Streets of Rage 2 is one of my favorite games to play with friends. I know Mario Party and Smash Bros. and Mario Kart are usually the fan-favorite games to play with other friends, and I love 4-player games, but 2-player games are a great experience. I love kicking ass side-by-side with a friend, and Streets of Rage 2 is the epitome of ass-kicking with a good friend. Beating the snot out of Mr. X’s henchmen never gets old, though some of the bosses can be a serious pain, especially that jetpack wearing douche on the bridge level. But if you can manage to get to the final boss with at least one life left, it’s so worth it to finally go toe-to-toe with Mr. X. Having a partner makes the fight a little easier, but he still puts up a pretty good fight for being what looks like a 45-year-old mob boss. There’s certainly a story to go along with the Streets of Rage games, but to be completely honest, I usually skip the intro cutscenes, because me and a friend just want to beat the living crap out of thugs with our fists and some lead pipes.
10) Ganon (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
Ganondorf is one powerful dude, right from the beginning of the game, you’re seeing this guy in your nightmares (kind of the way I did when I was 6). You see him now and again through the game and fight his Phantom at one point (who, for a ghost, puts up a pretty good fight), meaning that the real deal would have to be an even bigger pain in the ass. When you finally face him, it’s a real man’s fight. No fancy tricks or anything, and it really feels like a duel between good and evil. It’s awesome! When you finally strike him down, there’s such a wave of relief that follows when it looks like everything is over – but of course, it isn’t, – and using his last bit of strength, uses his part of the Triforce to transform into Ganon. Ganon is as powerful as he is terrifying, and for a portion of the fight against him, you don’t even have your sword! You have to use your other items at your disposal to slow him down long enough to finally grab the sword from Zelda and put the beat down on Ganon. Zelda paralyzes him with her power, giving Link the opening he needs to jam the Master Sword right through Ganon’s skull, and when you watch it all unfold, you can feel all of your efforts from the whole game going into that last stab and it just feels awesome. For the sake of not being chased around with torches and pitchforks, I’d never try to say which Zelda game is the best, but Ocarina of Time definitely had the most memorable Ganon fight for me.
9) The FinalHazard (Sonic Adventure 2)
Sonic Adventure 2, while not being the best game in the series (technically) because of how crappy Tails/Eggman and Knuckles/Rouge levels were, wonky camera angles, and GOD AWFUL audio in cutscenes, so many fans still say they like it the most. I’m one of those fans even though I know it’s got a boatload of problems, but goddamn I cannot get over how much I loved and still love Sonic Adventure 2. The soundtrack is in it’s entirety on my iPhone, and I listen to it constantly. I mean, come on, don’t even try to stop me from belting out “Escape From the City” when it comes on in my car. The final boss of the game is FinalHazard, a gigantic lizard that’s fused with the space colony ARK for the purpose of… actually, no, I can’t even justify its origin, so I’ll let anyone who really wants to know Google it themselves. All that matters is that both Sonic AND Shadow turn into their superstates using the chaos emeralds, take off into the outside of the space station, and duke it out with the FinalHazard while “Live and Learns” plays, and damn it if I think about it too hard I’ll cry it’s so awesome. Switching back and forth between the Blue Blur and the Ultimate Lifeform to smash into his weak spots was pretty cool, as I was finally getting them to team up and kick some serious ass. If you have an Xbox 360, you can pick up the game and play it for yourself, as that might be easier than trying to get the original Dreamcast game or the Gamecube version.
8) Metroid Prime (Metroid Prime)
Metroid Prime was one of those games that I bought because of Super Smash Bros. Melee, because of Samus’ appearance in the game, I had no idea who this person was, but from trophies in the game, I could tell she was pretty awesome. I finally picked up the game and there was SO MUCH STUFF to do in the game it blew me away. As someone who had no exposure to any Metroid game before (the scan visor had me stopping every couple of minutes to look around and see what was new that I hadn’t scanned already), I fell in love with it! I thought the controls were tight, intuitive, and blasting away Space Pirates, Metroids, and other somewhat disturbing creatures was satisfying and finding new weapons and missiles to do so was really rewarding. When I finally got to the end of the game (with the help of a strategy guide), I remember almost being scared of the final boss because I had no idea what to expect. The giant first form of Prime could be a serious health drain, with all of the different attacks coming from different angles, having to shoot down its projectiles, avoiding his lasers, and having to switch between your weapons on the fly to break through his shell. Once you take him down, he tries to escape, and you have to fight his core which is a ghostly, squid-like thing that – rather than having you swap weapons – has you swapping visors to find its location. You now get to use a new weapon – the Phazon Beam – an immensely powerful addition to your arm cannon that when you’re standing in a pool of Phazon fires a massive laser at Prime, and takes a chunk of his health. It’s pretty much just rinse and repeat, but it takes a while and you have to keep your health up the whole time, so it can wear on your reflexes trying to avoid his attacks. This was a terrific final boss to a fantastic experience, and I urge anyone that hasn’t played this entry in the series to do so. You will be doing yourself a huge favor.
7) Xemnas (Kingdom Hearts II)
Normally I don’t really like final bosses that have a bunch of different forms (like anything more than two like Ganon is overkill), but for some reason I really love Xemnas from KHII. It could be because I just loved the game as a whole, so by the time I got to Xemnas, I was on such an adrenaline-fueled train ride that I WANTED the final boss to be long and epic because I didn’t want the game to be over. Regardless, Xemnas, for me, was a good way of doing the whole multi-form final boss because each form was radically different from the last, with the final form being actually the most simple (but difficult) form with Xemnas sporting his Starkiller-esque dual lightsabers. Not just that, but having Riku by your side for the final battle was something I’d wanted to happen so bad, knowing that he was alive and well and that he could help me, and he DID. Nothing against Donald or Goofy, but come on, Sora and Riku tag team is way more epic, and their team up attacks were awesome. Beating Xemnas to a pulp was almost too much fun because damn, I just wanted to shut that guy up. He was like a weird, creepy preacher that I felt a little bad for now and then during the story, but still just wanted to make him shut up and save the world once and for all. Xemnas was a fun, fair, fight, and teaming up to take him out is so much fun that I actually have an endgame save file from right before you fight him so that I can go back and fight him whenever I want to.
6) Genesis (Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core)
Crisis Core was like an emotional roller coaster for me – and I’m sure a lot of gamers – because that game’s purpose, I swear to god, is to rip out your heart, show it to you, and force you to cry yourself to death. Final Fantasy VII may have been one of the greatest turn-based RPGs in all of gaming history, but Crisis Core is definitely my favorite game out of the VII series. The final boss battle with Genesis actually took me off guard a little bit, and I didn’t realize that I was at the last boss until the game prompted me to make sure I was ready for the final fight. Nonetheless, I continued onward through the portal to throw down with Genesis, only to realize he was going to transform into a giant terrifying monster with a sword that makes the Buster sword look like a damn toothpick. This was one of those boss fights that I died in repeatedly, and when I finally beat him, all of my items were totally exhausted. It took what felt like 25 minutes to bring him down, only to realize I now had to fight him in his normal form. His normal form wasn’t nearly as bad, I don’t think, and I won’t spoil anything too major, but I will say the 20 minutes of cutscenes after him had me in god damn tears sitting in my bed at about 1 AM watching the events unfold. I’d say I love this boss so much because of a combination of the fight and the cutscenes during and after, it really just stuck with me, and Crisis Core is the only reason I kept my PSP until now. I don’t care if everyone thinks the original game was better, I’ll always love it and I’ll never forget the final hour or so of the game.
5) Dr. Neo Cortex (Crash Bandicoot)
Ask me how much I hated this damn boss battle when I was a kid. No seriously, ask me and then watch as I scream into a pillow and maybe cry a little thinking of all of the “game overs” this asshole caused me. Cortex, in retrospect, isn’t all that hard, but with me being 4 years old trying to conquer him was nearly impossible. His first few health chunks weren’t so hard to take down, but once his attack pattern started getting erratic, I could never handle it, I died every single time. It got to the point where I was getting so frustrated I was biting the controller and smacking it off my head because I hated myself for not being able to beat him I thought it was rigged. Not even Flappy Bird pissed me off this much. I finally just put it down and didn’t go back to it for a long time – a couple years at least – before I would eventually go back to it and try to beat it for real. Cortex’s shots were still just as ridiculous as I remembered, but being more experienced with 3d platformers, by the gods I was actually able to beat him! Seeing that lame cutscene of Crash with his disturbing Barbie-eqsue bandicoot girlfriend was so satisfying, even though I had already beat Crash 2 and 3 at this point, being able to say I beat the original felt so good. Just don’t ever ask me to play Slippery Climb again, I’d rather snap my Crash Bandicoot disc in half and eat it than play that crap again.
4) The Hive Mind (Dead Space)
Dead Space was the first game that really got me into the Horror genre of games, because even though it was terrifying, I thought Isaac Clarke was a badass. Cutting off limbs left and right, curb-stomping hordes of nasty necromorphs, and not to mention, this guy has a punch like a freight train that can take off heads and limbs! The whole trilogy is something I’ll never forget, and though I think Dead Space 2 was better as a whole, the last mission of Dead Space was much better than anything the sequels had. The Hive Mind came out of nowhere, and the necromorphs were pretty terrifying up to that point, but the Hive Mind was every nightmare I’ve ever had put together. I felt like a damn ant trying to take down a giant, and it was one of those boss fights were I was maybe half a second away from dying multiple times whenever he’d pick me up and try to eat me. It felt so bad ass blowing that ugly mother away while he tried to eat me alive, being in so much danger and maintaining badassery was just awesome. Isaac Clarke will forever be one of my favorite characters from the Xbox 360/PS3 generation of games.
3) The Shadow Queen (Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door)
The Thousand-Year Door was a once in a lifetime experience for me, and in terms of turn-based RPGs, I’d call it a masterpiece and one of my favorite Mario games of all time, even if it doesn’t follow the classic Mario formula. The final boss, the Shadow Queen, was an extremely dark twist for the end, and the game as a whole was pretty light-hearted and funny for the most part. Sure, there were some serious moments, but it held that Nintendo charm very well. The Shadow Queen is resurrected by Sir Grodus, and takes Peach’s body as her “vessel”. Her first course of action is to immediately kill (not maim, not knock out, outright kill) Grodus for ordering her to attack Mario and his companion. She then turns to face Mario and fight him using Peach’s body, though she doesn’t put up much of a fight, and quickly decides to switch out of Peach’s body and fight using her full, nightmarish form. You can’t deal any damage to her for a few turns, and then she basically devours the entire audience to heal any “minor damage” (as she puts it) that you may have done to her. She beats you within an inch of your life before Peach temporarily gains back conscience within the Shadow Queen and gives you the last of her power to heal you completely and give you an edge in the fight. Even with being fully healed and powered up, she puts up a seriously long fight, and when you finally take her down, it’s like a weight being lifted off your shoulders; you did it, finally, you did it. The Thousand-Year Door is more than a game; it’s an experience. I urge anyone with a Gamecube or Emulator to please play this game, you really need to.
2) Omega Zero (Megaman Zero 3)
Talk about the ultimate doppelgänger final boss. Omega is revealed to actually be in control of Zero’s original body, while Zero’s spirit and memories are actually inhabiting a copy of Zero. It’s the exact opposite of what you’d have expected, because this time you are the fake. You’re the copy Zero, and you have to destroy your own original body. I mean, how messed up is that? Not only that, but you realize just how powerful your original body truly is. Omega Zero is superior to you in every way; his buster is immensely powerful, his Z-saber is better than yours, and he has abilities that you could never use with your current body. The boss fight itself is fairly tough with Omega on you like a rash the whole fight, and he does not let up. All of his attacks are as powerful as your fully charged attacks, and he can cover way more ground than you. Even when you think you’ve beat him, Omega comes right back and nearly kills Zero, but with the help of X’s soul (who stuns Omega, leaving him open), Zero deals the final blow, thus destroying his original body forever. This fight is the reason that I love Zero so much as a character. It was so badass and the music is one of the best tunes that Capcom has ever put out in a video game, and I love it SO much. Not to mention that it’s had some seriously good remixes made by fans, and it just fits the fight so well and – for a Game Boy Advance game – sounds incredible. I bought the Megaman Zero Collection just for the 3rd game, and I don’t regret it whatsoever. I love Megaman Zero 3, and if it got some kind of HD remake one day, I would die happy (so long as they don’t butcher it).
1) The Elite Four and Champion (Pokemon Series)
What’s more intense than one final boss? How about a series of five final bosses all one right after another, with varying specialities and little to no remorse for your ten-year-old punk ass. The Pokemon these guys are packing range from cannon fodder to making you want to break your Game Boy/DS/3DS in half because they need to STOP USING FULL RESTORE I ALMOST HAD HIM. Every member of the Elite Four in every region and every champion are memorable characters full of life, and I always feel honored to be duking it out with these titanic Pokemon trainers. Lately, the Elite Four and Champion haven’t seemed so difficult; nothing like what they were in Pokemon Red/Blue or Gold/Silver, but they still provide a challenge even to those that have put a decent amount of training into their Pokemon. I mean, who doesn’t remember having to fight Lance’s three Dragonites? And getting all the way to the end of Red/Blue just to realize that your rival turned out to be the Champion; that was awesome! It was like one last rival battle for all the marbles, all the fame, everything. Yeah sure you might have murdered his Raticate (just a theory), but it’s time to take him down a notch one last time and take that title. The Elite Four and Champion are the ultimate test for every Pokemon trainer that’s just acquired their eighth badge, and for those millions of Pokemon fans out there, they – along with catching legendaries – are the highlight of any Pokemon game.
So, we’ve come to the end of my list, and again I’ll state: this is all just my opinion and my experiences with games. I’m sure you’ll all have different ideas of what I should have put so let me know! I want to know what your favorites are/were, what bosses you loved beating or couldn’t wait to slug it out with. Leave us your ideas in the comments below or follow/message us on Twitter/Facebook/ etc. Thanks for reading, I hope you liked it as much as I loved writing it!
“Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”