Everybody loves a good challenge. After all, there's nothing more satisfying than the triumph after a tough fight. But some developers have taken the idea of a hard-earned win to unreasonable extremes. Let's take a look at 7 of the hardest bosses in video games, those culprits behind many a sleepless night and broken gamepad. We're not including MMO boss raids or RPG super bosses in the list -- we'd never be finished if we did.

Mike Tyson

Punch-Out!! (1984, Arcade/NES)


Mike Tyson was the climactic last fight in Punch-Out!! A fitting final foe after a long campaign that saw you facing off against a lineup of eccentric characters from around the globe.

Big Mike was designed to be virtually impossible to defeat. He was quick, strong, and seemed to be able to read your punches before you even threw them. A single blow would send your boxer to the floor, and his deadly combinations were uninterruptible. You'll need to take advantage of every slight opening he affords you; much easier said than done.


Final Fantasy Tactics (1998, PSX)


When Ramza storms the gates of Riovanes Castle to save his sister Alma, he comes face-to-face with his old rival, Wiegraf. There are no indicators nor warnings that you're in for one of the toughest fights in the game. The generic foot soldiers that guard the castle's gates fall easily to your sword. There's no build-up, no big reveal, just a short exchange of words followed by the boss fight that's much harder than it has any right to be.

If you've been focusing your development on other players in your party, be prepared for several hours of reloading and praying to the gods of RNG. Ramza must face Wiegraf alone. He's fast, strong, has a ranged lightning attack, and is built like a tank. If Ramza is under-leveled, there's essentially no way you're getting past this point in the game without some serious farming.

To make matters worse, the last save point is just before this fight. If you're not keeping multiple saves (the limited capacity of memory cards meant that was a luxury in the late 1990s), you might find yourself stuck with a save that you can't advance from. If you like tactic games, this is the one to check out on the PS1.

Ornstein & Smough

Dark Souls (2011, PC/PS3/X360)


Really, you could fill this entire list with Bloodsouls bosses. Yet even in a genre filled with fights that are frustratingly, absurdly difficult, there are some bosses that stand out for their ability to have us tearing our hair out. Ornstein and Smough certainly belong in that tier of bosses.

From the get-go, you know you're in for a bad time. The game forces you to fight the two of them at once -- a difficult ask considering you've likely struggled even against solo bosses. Ornstein wields a large spear which he uses to hurt you from a distance and Smough swings around a huge hammer to smash you into pulp from melee range. If you somehow manage to beat one, the other becomes even stronger! This is a fight that requires patience, unbreaking awareness, and an understanding of attack patterns if you want to win.


Devil May Cry 5 (2019, PC/PS4/XONE)


Vergil is the final boss of Devil May Cry and Dante's oldest rival and brother. After a lifetime of finding themselves on opposite sides of every conflict, the brothers find themselves duking it out for one last time. What results is an insanely tough battle of a variety that only Devil May Cry can deliver. It's the perfect conclusion to a conflict that many of us grew up to and, in our opinion, the most epic battle in the series' long his tory.

Vergil's attack combos can trip you up if you're not ready. He also has the power of flight and is incredibly quick, making him difficult to keep track of in the chaos. His array of different attacks in human mode make Vergil a tough nut to crack -- there's no way you'll take him down in one go. Take off half of his health and he'll take his Demon form which gives him a huge boost in speed and strength. Combine his huge move list with these different forms and you get this monster of a boss battle that might end with you putting a fist through your TV.


Katana ZERO (2019, PC/Mac/Switch)


As you might assume from her name, the Headhunter is one tough cookie. This two-part boss battle is a highlight even among Katana ZERO's memorable cast of foes.

As you might suspect, the Headhunter is fast and has a wide array of attacks she can employ at will. Even in a game as fast-paced and frenetic as Katana ZERO, your first go at taking down the Headhunter will leave you a bit dazed. She can even stick to the ceiling and walls, giving you players another reason to want to toss their console in the bin.

More than her crazy movement patterns, it's the timing that gets you. Avoiding her destructive beam is hard enough, but reliable strategies also depend on your ability to consistently strike at the same moment you dodge.

The Devil

Cuphead (2017, PC/Mac/XONE/Switch)


Just like Dark Souls, Cuphead is another title with multiple boss battles that could have easily made this list. We've decided to go with the big finale against The Prince of Darkness himself.

Cuphead and Mugman are fighting for their freedom and it won't be long until you find yourself fighting for your sanity. The Devil is no pushover and you'll need to use every single ounce of skill you have to send him packing.

But, really, is there a better way to end a famously challenging run-and-gun title than with a multi-phase boss battle that encompasses the whole stage?

Yellow Devil

Mega Man (1987, NES)


At the start of his success, the Blue Bomber made a name for himself by starring in some notoriously difficult platformers.

The Mega Man series would eventually become best known for its rock-paper-scissors mechanic that saw young gamers working out the ideal path for completion based on Robot Master weaknesses. But time has perhaps forgotten the Yellow Devil fight, an encounter that was once so infamous for its difficulty that it would become a recurring cameo in future titles and defeating it a mark of personal growth.

Unlike the various Robot Masters, there is no way to cheese the Yellow Devil with a special weapon. Technically, Elec Man's weapon deals the most damage, but it's patience, reflexes, and sheer power of will that will win you this fight.

In closing...

Video games have a long, rich history of super-hard boss battles. Each generation has its own war story to tell about a particularly frustrating encounter that either put them in a rage or left them completely broken. With the popularity of Blood Souls and rogue-likes, there are bound to be many more tough boss battles in our gaming future. What boss battles were so hard that you wanted to give up gaming?

Comments are closed on this article.