We all know what it’s like, that grueling feeling when you finally overcome a formerly impossible foe. The moment when they finally go down, your hours of hard work and dedication have paid off, and you can move onto the next inevitable frustration.
Or alternatively, you never beat the boss, and that haunts you forever.
The important thing to take away from this though is that we’ve all struggled with boss battles before. Sometimes for a few minutes; other times, for months. So in honor of all of those big baddies that you either could or couldn’t take down, we look at what we thought were the 10 toughest bosses.
10. Psycho Mantis (Metal Gear Solid)
One of the most inventive boss fights ever, the battle from the original Metal Gear Solid for the PlayStation pitted you against a nearly invincible foe that was capable of reading your every move (as well as your memory card data, in what made for some pretty mind-bending gameplay at the time).
The trick to beating Psycho Mantis is to unplug your controller and put it in the second controller port. After doing this, Psycho Mantis will no longer be able to read your moves and the fight actually becomes fairly simple. That being said, it took gamers a lot of effort to figure out his weakness in the first place, and it’s a surprisingly creative element to the boss that hasn’t really re-surfaced since.
9. M. Bison (Street Fighter II)
M. Bison would leave your pockets quarterless at the arcade, after this and the Mortal Kombat II cabinets robbed you blind. While many of these arcade fighter end bosses could be worthy of a place on this list, Bison stands out because of his simplicity.
He doesn’t appear to be overly domineering (other than his huge stature, but, he’s no Shao Kahn for instance), and it’s merely his all-around impressive collection of stats that make him a challenging competitor. In spite of his size, he seems to always be dodging and avoiding your projectiles, he’s always on point with his blocking, and he knows when to wail on you appropriately. This is not some boss that you can just spam your moves on to find victory. You need to understand the game here and know how to work it if you want to make Bison extinct.
8. Spider Guardian (Metroid Prime 2: Echoes)
The Metroid series was never one that catered to casual gaming, which is why it was so satisfying to see Retro Studios’ take on the franchise in Metroid Prime turn out to be just as difficult and hardcore as the original games. The middle installment in the series, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, is often considered to be the most punishing title in the trilogy, and it’s bosses like the Spider Guardian that make that statement hard to argue with.
To begin with, this encounter is immediately different from the rest of your fights because it takes place entirely in a spider ball track. This would actually make the boss kind of easy, only you don’t have your spider ball ability yet, but guess what, the boss does. That means that the Spider Guardian is zipping along this track with ease while you clumsily need to use bombs to not only propel yourself away to avoid the boss, but also plant them in a way to cleverly attack him. It’s a very difficult, time-consuming process, and being entirely dependent on the whims of your bombs is never a reassuring feeling.
It’s also worth noting that this boss and the mechanics behind him were slightly changed and simplified on the Wii’s re-release of the title. It’s still a challenging fight, but hardly the same hair-puller, and for the true sadists out there, you need to play the Gamecube version to get the “real” experience.
7. Dracula (Castlevania III)
Some video game bosses are a sprint, others are a marathon. Like a lot of end bosses from this time, Dracula from Castlevania III was in the latter category. He had three separate forms that you had to work through, each with complete life bars naturally.
That’s a feat in and of itself, but the real challenge here is everything you must do before getting to Dracula. The final level is a headache and a half, and if you die fighting Dracula (in any of his forms), you’re sent right back to the beginning of the entire level. At that point, the level itself might as well be considered the first form of the boss.