Throughout the history of video games, the word "boss" has come to symbolize many things. For some, it is a feeling of oncoming dread at the realization that you're about to face the very best that the game has to throw at you. For others, it's a rush of adrenaline, knowing that within moments, you'll be locked in a clash for the ages.
While almost every gamer knows the legacy left behind by a Bowser or Shao Kahn, there exist a plethora of awesome game bosses that, for some reason or another, have been overshadowed by time, writing or more successful games. These unsung champions of awesome villainy are peppered throughout the pages of gaming history, from the old to the new, and we're counting them down here.
Many things were taken into consideration. Difficulty, AI, overall game programming, and general design were all accounted for but ultimately, it was the bosses' legacy and the degree to which they were denied their proper glory that determined the rankings on this list.
Let us know in the comments section below if you feel we missed any memorable bosses and who or what you would change.
No. 20 Kintaro (Mortal Kombat II)
Back in 1993, the sequel to one of the most controversial video games ever created was released. Mortal Kombat II was wildly successful and picked right up where its predecessor left off, thrilling kids and infuriating parents with its over the top gore, blood and violence.
Players successfully reaching the top of the Arcade Ladder for the first time then encountered Kintaro. Though he initially looked like a poor man's version of Goro, Kintaro would quickly become every player's worst nightmare. Though he is classified as a "sub-boss", appearing just below the game's end boss Shao Kahn, MKII Kintaro is generally considered to be the most difficult character in the entire game to beat and soon earned the reputation as the hardest boss in the entire Mortal Kombat series, a distinction that still holds to this day.
The extreme difficulty associated with defeating him had quite a bit to do with his attack pattern. Kintaro can spit three fireballs simultaneously, a sequence that deals quite a bit of damage. He also (infuriatingly so!) has the ability to catch jumping players in mid-air and slam them to the ground, which he will typically follow with a flying stomp attack that became so synonymous with his character that it was emulated in Mortal Kombat 3 by fellow four-armed kombatant Sheeva.
Though he is overshadowed by Shao Kahn and future MK bosses like Motaro, the urban legend surrounding Kintaro's difficulty, and the thousands of dollars in quarters he likely ate at arcades across the nation, mean that he hasn't been completely denied his just dues and ensure that he doesn't sit any higher on this list.
No. 19 The Master Hand (Super Smash Bros. Melee)
For some reason, we couldn't find many gamers who would show any love for the Master Hand!
Waiting to smash, flatten, palm and finger-stab-of-death players into oblivion at the end of Classic Mode in the Super Smash Bros. series, it's safe to say that many gamers had never before battled a giant gloved hand. Master Hand has a wide variety of unique and challenging attacks and players facing him without at least basic knowledge of the game's combat strategy quickly found themselves beaten and humiliated.
In Super Smash Bros. Melee, Master Hand is even bigger than his Nintendo 64 counterpart and more challenging to boot. Players could exploit a system-glitch to actually play as Master Hand, making him easily the coolest "playable" boss character. Additionally, Melee introduced a left-hand companion to Master Hand known as Crazy Hand. Though they are identical in appearance, Crazy Hand's attacks are more destructive and impulsive.
Despite his obvious cool factor and the unique challenge presented by facing a giant homicidal metacarpus, Master Hand is often snubbed during typical office water-cooler discussions of video game bosses and for that reason, he sits proudly at Number 19 on our list.
No. 18 Yunalesca (Final Fantasy X)
While Final Fantasy X had a litany of dangerous and difficult bosses, most of the attention goes hands-down to Sin and its various forms that served as the primary antagonist for most of the game. While we look back and grit our teeth remembering white-knuckled battles with Sin and various Sin Spawns, we'd be remiss if we didn't recall the rage-inducing soul-ulcers we suffered as a result of tangling with Yunalesca.
Yunalesca, whom the game's female protagonist Yuna is a namesake of, is a legendary summoner and the daughter of Yu Yevon, the original ruler of Zanarkand 1,000 years before the events of Final Fantasy X. Seeing how Yuna is also a summoner and her mission is to destroy Sin and bring about the "Calm", a period of Sin-free peace during which Spira rejoices and heals, all common sense would dictate that the legendary Yunalesca would want to help the party upon meeting them late in the game.
Alas, Square Enix couldn't resist hitting players with a powerful twist in the story and when the party refuses Yunalesca's bestowing of the Final Summoning, she goes batcrap crazy and an epic battle ensues.
While her first form doesn't prove to be especially difficult, her second and third forms possess tricky combat strategies that will quickly defeat unwitting players.
Her second form begins with her using a special ability called "Hellbiter", which inflicts all party members with "Zombie" status. She will then proceed to hurl curative magic at the player, which causes significant damage while party members remain Zombified. Players can attempt to summon Aeons, though Yunalesca will usually absorb their health and KO them quickly.
She really screws players in her third form, in which her very first move will be Mega-Death, which instantly kills everyone in the party unless they're still Zombified.
**Author's Note: This is where she had her way with me, repeatedly and unmercifully until I finally mastered the strategy behind beating her.**
Still, once a player learns the appropriate strategies for dealing with her, Yunalesca proves to be very beatable, and still manages to be vastly overshadowed in the grand scheme of things by Sin and the barrage of twists that lead the player to the final boss fight. Because of her infuriating insta-kill move and the surprising level of strategy players must apply to overcome her, Yunalesca and her hideous Medusa-inspired head-serpents zombie-shuffle their way to the Number 18 spot on our list.
No. 17 Hydra (God Of War)
While the Hydra has been represented in games in the past, we cannot recall an instance that thrilled us more than the opening moments of the inaugural God Of War on Playstation 3.
The player is thrust into a gorgeous opening level, set on a large boat on a stormy sea, and given a brief chance to learn the basic combat controls and game mechanics before being met head-on with the first of two sub-bosses in the Hydra Spawn. Both Hydra Spawn sub-bosses are fairly simple in execution and are more or less practice to acclimate to the in-your-face intensity of the rest of the game.
Where the game really blew us away, however, was the actual level boss. After besting the Hydra Spawn not once, but twice, the player encounters the Hydra itself, who comes armed with the two Spawns that the player just defeated. Though the first part of this boss battle plays much like a larger-scale version of the Spawn fights, the second part is really where this battle shines. The player must navigate Kratos, the protagonist, up some ropes and engage in a context-button battle. After much mashing of the Circle button and a lot of heart-racing intensity, the player emerges victorious.
The Hydra was Santa Monica Studios' way of ramming players balls-first into the world of God of War. Though it may be forgotten among the many other epic bosses of the God of War series, we feel the Hydra rightfully slithers its way into the Number 17 spot on this list.
Speaking of God of War...
No. 16 Cronos (God of War III)
We found it hard to compile a ranked list of underrated video game bosses without including this gargantuan fella from God of War III.
The massive figure occupying the picture on this slide is Cronos, Titan and father of Zeus. That tiny indescribable lighter-colored shape in the bottom right of the picture?
That's Kratos, the protagonist and player character.
While Cronos is far from the most challenging boss in God of War III, he's by far the coolest from a visual and conceptual standpoint. He's easily in the running for "Largest Boss of All Time" and the entire fight is absolutely unique and thrilling. There are tons of context-button sequences, requiring the player to mash whatever button is displayed on the screen, and his exponential size advantage means that the bulk of the boss fight actually takes place on the boss himself. Kratos must navigate his arm, avoid being squished between the Titan's colossal thumb and index finger and even blind him before finally plunging the Blade of Olympus between his eyes.
Though player focus was directed at Zeus, the main antagonist since the beginning of God of War II, we find it impossible to overlook this insanely fun and visually stunning boss fight. For these reasons, Cronos takes one titanic step into the Number 16 spot on this list.
No. 15 The Hunter (Dead Space)
If there was one thing the Dead Space series was good at, it was scaring the daylights out of people. The chilling atmosphere and haunting environment of the entire game is highlighted by the game's enemies: Necromorphs.
These terrifying aliens of a wide variety spend almost the entire game stalking the player from every conceivable angle. Very rarely do any battles consist of straight one-on-one fights. The unique concept of zero-gravity combat in airless vacuum areas peppered throughout the game only increase the terror, as the Necromorphs can suddenly come at you from above and below as well.
But the single, most terrifying Necromorph is undoubtedly the Hunter. While the rest of the aliens in the game are horrifying amalgamations of dead human body parts or possessed corpses, they can be killed. Indeed, the game actually instructs players to conserve ammo by blasting off the aliens' limbs, thus rendering them much less dangerous.
The Hunter, on the other hand, isn't your run of the mill Necromorph. This terrifying creepazoid stalks players throughout the duration of the game, occasionally making an odd appearance here or there as the game progresses. Once a player actually engages the Hunter in battle, its truly horrific ability is revealed. The Hunter is nigh invincible. The player can saw off limbs and blast the Hunter to kingdom come, to no avail, as it can readily regenerate lost limbs. This means that sawing off its arms, legs, torso and even head, will do nothing more to it than slow it down for 10 or 15 seconds, long enough for the player to run away for a short distance before it pulls itself back together to continue the fear-inducing chase from hell.
Though the player will eventually kill the Hunter (only by slowing it down while it's standing over an engine exhaust port and frying it), this nightmarish Necromorph left most players with bad images for hours to come. Despite the fact that the game is often remembered for its visually unnerving end-boss, the Hive Mind, the sheer terror of facing an enemy that you can't kill, coupled with a heart racing chase that will leave you begging for an episode of Spongebob to detox on, tells us that the Hunter has definitively sliced its way into the Number 15 spot on the list.
No. 14 Scarecrow (Batman: Arkham Asylum)
In 2009, Rocksteady Studios brought us Batman: Arkham Asylum. This was a dramatic leap forward in video games for the Caped Crusader, and the game was wildly successful. Though The Joker is Batman's primary antagonist in Asylum, few who played the game will forget the awesomeness, and frustration, caused by Scarecrow.
Though not the most intimidating villain up close, with his gas mask and syringe-fingers, Scarecrow's real power is in his fear toxin. In various points throughout the game, Batman will be afflicted with Scarecrow's fear toxin, which will cause him to hallucinate and enter a bizarre "dream world".
Scarecrow is the lord and master of this realm and players suddenly find themselves side-scrolling around an area devoid of logic, trying to avoid the deadly yellow-lighted gaze of a giant Scarecrow. There are various objects for the player to hide behind and Scarecrow can be defeated by reaching a set of spotlights and using them to blind the towering mad psychologist.
While not a "boss" in the traditional combat sense, Scarecrow and his giant death-stare dream-world incarnation stand the test of time as one of the absolute coolest parts of Arkham Asylum and for that reason, he traumatizes his way into the Number 14 spot on this list.
No. 13 Bosc (Blasto)
In a gaming industry full of un-appreciated villains, there are few characters who have as legitimate a gripe as Bosc.
Many players may not remember Bosc, but the little pear-shaped alien tyrant charmed his way into gamers' hearts on the original Playstation in 1998 as the primary antagonist of the game "Blasto".
While Blasto was not very well received amongst critics, gamers and game reviewers, it's still a fun game to pick up and play and Phil Hartman's one-liners, as the voice of game hero Captain Blasto, are worth the price of the game alone. Bosc's personality and dialogue are particularly hilarious and the entire game is filled with innuendo and subtle toilet humor. Who are we kidding? The game takes place on and around Uranus after all.
The game is a third-person action/platformer/shooter, with particular emphasis on platforming. There are rotating platforms and other obstacles that players must carefully navigate lest they fall to their death or plummet into deep space while listening to one of Blasto's witty one-liners. Once gamers actually reach Bosc, they'll be surprised to find that the little fruit-shaped alien emperor with the Napoleon complex is actually quite difficult to defeat.
After a humorous exchange between Bosc and Blasto, the green madman will sink into the floor on his throne and emerge in a giant alien robot suit! Players must strafe around the throne room, dodging laser blasts and melee attacks from the robot and when Bosc's first health bar is finally diminished, the head of the machine disconnects and the second stage begins. From here, the throne room will light up bright and then explode, leaving players to navigate a series of lopsided platforms resting in lava. There are a wide variety of power-ups and health pills available and the flying head is much harder to hit than the big bulky robot. After defeating the head, Bosc is finished and following another hilarious bit of dialogue, he sinks to his doom into a pit of lava.
Classic and vastly un-appreciated, we feel Bosc rightfully saunters his way into the number 13 spot on this list.
"Ha! All that target practice, and your aim STILL sucks, Captain Butthead!"
No. 12 Dr. N. Gin (Crash Bandicoot: Warped)
Dr. N. Gin could have made this list simply because we have never seen another video game boss that had half a missile sticking out of his head. Based on his incarnation, N. Gin is either part or full cyborg and 100% bonkers.
Making his debut in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back as the replacement for the first game's sub-boss, Nitrus Brio, Dr. N. Gin made his presence felt with some really fun and epic boss battles. His two best remembered appearances were in Cortex Strikes Back and Warped and for the most part, N. Gin played his part well and didn't outshine the primary antagonist of both games, Dr. Neo Cortex.
Our fondest memories of N. Gin come from Warped. Like in the second game, N. Gin is the second-to-last boss and the last major opponent standing between Crash and Dr. Cortex. Though not particularly difficult, N. Gin made a statement with what we felt was the most fun boss battle in the entire game, even more thrilling than the final showdown with Dr. Cortex and his evil tribal mask Uka-Uka.
The battle begins up in space, with Crash having commandeered a space fighter to go one-on-one with N. Gin's flying space robot. The action is stimulating and flying around engaging in laser-beam warfare with the robot is both fun and challenging if you're not paying attention.
Like his predecessor Nitrus Brio, N. Gin's existence is constantly marred by the presence of Dr. Cortex and other bosses who captured the spotlight but we feel that Dr. N. Gin is more than worthy to rocket into the Number 12 spot on our list.
No. 11 Dr. Neo Cortex (Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back)
While Dr. Cortex has terrorized Crash Bandicoot and his friends in numerous games, we still look back most fondly on his second appearance in Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back as our favorite incarnation. Unlike the first game that saw Crash traversing three islands with the sole mission of defeating Cortex, this time around, the nefarious doctor is enlisting Crash's help. Or so we thought.
The goal in this game is for Crash to collect 25 crystals, with one crystal appearing in each of the game's levels. As you progress through the game, you will eventually encounter none other than Nitrus Brio, Cortex's former second-in-command, who has seen the evil of his ways and begs Crash to collect gems instead of crystals. Gems in the Crash Bandicoot games are generally earned by breaking every single box in a level, with colored gems awarded to players who access hidden areas.
Though Cortex has had plenty of epic confrontations with Crash, this battle stands as our personal favorite. The player must navigate Crash, who is sporting a jetpack, through a twisted tunnel in space littered with mines and asteroids. These hazards cannot kill Crash but they will slow him down. The objective is to catch up to Cortex, who is fleeing on his hoverboard, and spin attack him to lower his health. This must be done 3 times to defeat him but after each successful hit, Cortex will fly back out of reach. Players must be cautious not to hit too many obstacles as this makes it much harder to get close enough to the doctor to score a hit and if Cortex is not defeated by the time he reaches the end of the level, he will escape through a portal and the player will lose a life.
The battle is fun, challenging, and forces players to re-think previous hit and run strategies as Cortex can be surprisingly hard to reach after only running into one or two obstacles. While the sinister madman with "N" stamped on his forehead may be better remembered for other Crash games, and often seems to wallow in obscurity when compared with legendary bosses like Bowser or Ganon, we feel that a boss as classic and charming as Dr. Neo Cortex deserves his props.
For this reason, Cortex hovers his way proudly into the Number 11 spot on the list.
No. 10 Griever (Final Fantasy VIII)
While we're aware that Griever probably gets plenty of attention from Final Fantasy fans, we're still not sure he gets the recognition that he truly deserves.
For starters, he's absolutely devastating to unassuming players. We can personally recall many instances of controller flinging fury upon unlocking our powers in Ultimecia's castle, challenging the evil time-kompressing sorceress to a battle and backhanding her first form into next Tuesday, only for her to "summon" Griever.
Attentive players will notice references to Griever throughout Final Fantasy VIII, as its visage is emblazoned on protagonist Squall Leonhart's gunblade. The game's ultimate end boss, Sorceress Ultimecia, summons Griever from Squall's mind and unleashes it upon the party.
The single most infuriating part of battling Griever is the "Shockwave Pulsar" attack. This will more or less wipe out your entire party in one hit unless players figure out that it can be blocked with the "Shell" spell. Still, we can't help but love the concept of this giant feathery-winged lion-god spawned from the brooding and powerful mind of the game's lone-wolf protagonist. Unfortunately, for all the references and potential behind the Griever character, it is often overlooked by the increasingly bizarre forms Ultimecia takes after the Griever battle ends, as well as the sheer magnitude of the end battle itself.
Still, as one of the coolest characters we've ever seen in Final Fantasy, Griever shocks his way into the Number 10 spot on the list.
No. 9 King Zing (Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest)
We're honestly surprised King Zing doesn't get mentioned more often, just for the sheer squeamishness he caused children!
We struggled to find gamers who played Donkey Kong Country 2 as kids who weren't at least slightly creeped out by the sight of a gargantuan killer bee chasing them through "Rambi Rumble". This boss battle stuck a chord with us, as players do not face King Zing with Diddy and Dixie Kong, but rather, with Squawks the parrot in the aptly named level "King Zing Sting".
Even freakier is when the player scores a hit on King Zing, as he turns red and begins buzzing about the screen at a faster pace. While not terribly difficult to defeat, King Zing always sticks out in our minds as one of the more irritating bosses, primarily because after a few hits, he will spawn a barrage of regular sized Zingers that will circle around him, protecting him.
While the original Donkey Kong Country had an almost identical boss in Queen B, we had to nominate King Zing for the sheer difficulty his battle can provide. In addition to the Zingers, King Zing will occasionally fire spikes at the player, making the fight surprisingly tricky. To this day, players still attest to getting creamed once or twice by the monstrous killer bee.
Despite being lost in the shadow of the menacing Kaptain K. Rool, we feel that King Zing sits on his rightful throne at the Number 9 spot on this list.
No. 8 Rez (Gex)
Ahh, this one brings back memories of angry adolescent swearing and controller flinging.
To begin with, this entire game could be nominated for "Most Underrated Video Games of All Time" but that's another list for another day. Gex followed the story of sentient gecko, aptly named "Gex". While watching TV one day, Gex shot his tongue out and ate a nearby fly, figuring it to be a tasty snack. In reality, the fly was a metal transmitter and a hand suddenly reached out of the TV, grabbed Gex by the neck and pulled him through the screen into the "Media Dimension".
That hand belonged to Rez, a creepy and unique villain with a cheesy laugh and a bizarre agenda: Make Gex his mascot and take over the world. The game itself sees Gex traveling about the Media Dimension, collecting remotes he can use to activate TVs that lead to strange worlds in the hopes of tracking down Rez and getting back to his comfortable life and his ridiculously huge television.
The game's worlds are all based on different TV channels and genres, like cartoons, horror movies and science fiction. Once the player makes it to Rez, they are treated to a fun and challenging boss battle that caused more frustration than it likely ever received credit for.
Rez is untouchable for the majority of the time he's on the screen and the player can't simply walk up and try to tail whip him. The battle consists of a lot of platforming, with Gex jumping across a large pit across the tops of TVs that count-down and explode. Rez can only be damaged with fireballs that the player can collect via power-ups that appear sporadically. With each successive hit, Rez's attack pattern becomes more erratic and harder to avoid. The fight is made even more entertaining by the occasional cheesy Rez cackle, with comedian Dana Gould's hilarious one-liners flowing appropriately from the mouth of our gecko hero.
While the Gex series was a major commercial success, Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko was the best selling title of the three and so Rez's initial appearance in the first game is often overlooked. Still, the frustration that came from fighting him combined with the satisfaction we felt upon finally defeating him is enough cause for us to award the TV-World overlord an Emmy-worthy spot at Number 8 on our list.
No. 7 Jackal (Contender)
Contender was a satisfying, if not monotonous, fighting game for the original Playstation. Though the fights in Contender lacked extensive technique, they were challenging and surprisingly satisfying.
In the game's primary Career mode, players were allowed to choose one of several selectable fighters and then attempt to fight their way up the ladder, winning various championships en route to a showdown with the Heavyweight Champion of the World, the undefeated Beastman. Wins could be achieved by 10 count knockout or technical knockout by knocking the opponent down three times in one round. To satisfy either of these winning conditions, players would have to master the art of high and low punches, dashing and weaving to avoid hits, high and low blocks and "Super punches", powerful attacks that could change the tide of battle if landed successfully.
With each rank the player goes up, the strength and endurance of the fighters does so as well. While knocking Duke Jeffra on his butt over and over again will get the player used to the basic controls and defense, the vast majority of opponents proved to be quite a challenge. Though players may have believed the greatest challenge over after conquering the unbeaten Beastman, the game throws in a twist after a certain number of successful title defenses.
The eye-patched boxer, whom players became acquainted with as a trainer during various sparring sessions, decides to make his grand return to the boxing ring and challenge for the World Title. Jackal, as should be expected, is probably the hardest character in the entire game to beat. His health and stamina drain sinfully slow and you will very quickly wear your thumb out trying to punch out Jackal's concrete face.
Still, he is beatable and the feeling of satisfaction after finally doing so is perhaps sweeter than the "sweet science" itself. Fans of the game will note that Jackal's presence as a bonus character, coupled with Contender being only a moderately successful arcade boxing game from the PS1 era, are the primary factors that keep him out of the discussion of awesome boss fights. For these reasons, we beam with nostalgic satisfaction as Jackal uppercuts his way into the Number 7 spot on our list.
No. 6 Vile (Mega Man X)
The Mega Man franchise has no doubt left its indelible mark on gaming history. Who can forget tangling with Dr. Wiley or overcoming Proto Man? We certainly won't ever forget how much frustration we had taking down Air Man!
Still, one group of games in the Mega Man series seems to get a little less attention than the rest. The Mega Man X series on Super Nintendo was classic, just like the rest of the franchise, and introduced us to a boss character that has never truly received his due recognition. That boss is Vile.
He's first encountered at the end of the "Intro" level of Mega Man X. After fighting through a level full of broken freeways and various enemies, X meets Vile. Vile is piloting his armored war carrier and it goes without saying that the ensuing battle is painfully short. X's attacks do virtually nothing to Vile's suit and after being smacked around a few times, Vile immobilizes X and takes him captive. It is only the saving grace of a charged shot from Zero's arm cannon that releases X and saves him from certain destruction.
Near the end of the game, when X is fully upgraded, he encounters Vile once again. Despite having a much larger health bar, enhanced armor, and special weapons, surprise surprise, X still can't dent Vile. It is only after Zero jumps onto Vile's carrier and blows himself to kingdom come to destroy it that X can finally compete on level ground with the crazed war-machine.
The fair battle against Vile isn't anything overly difficult or noteworthy, but for the sheer awesomeness it takes to come up against a fully upgraded Mega Man and still smack him around like an armored ballet dancer, we don't dare deny Vile and his nigh-indestructible armored battle-suit the Number 6 spot on our list.
No. 5 Jaquio (Ninja Gaiden)
This guy could go on almost any list about video game bosses, just for the fact that he stands the test of time as one of the most difficult bosses in gaming history.
Few gamers would deny that the Ninja Gaiden series was perhaps the hardest set of games in the NES library. Like the Castlevania series, getting hit would cause the player to be knocked backwards, oftentimes into a conveniently placed pit. Though the second and third Ninja Gaiden games were definitely more difficult than the first, we can tell you from first-hand experience that Jaquio has caused more than a few controllers to be violently whipped against the wall.
The difficulty lies in more than just the boss fight. Jaquio shoots fireballs that travel across the screen, following the player around and the pattern is difficult to discern. While astute players will eventually nail down the pattern necessary to avoid the fireballs, surviving the fight long enough to drain the boss's health is still extremely difficult. The crippling disadvantage is that learning the boss's fireball pattern often results in a number of deaths for the player. This wouldn't be a major issue, except that after dying a few times and getting a Game Over, the player will not resume anywhere near the boss. Rather, the game resumes back at the beginning of Stage 6-1. This means that in order to have another attempt at the boss, players have to repeatedly traverse the most difficult portions of the game.
On top of this, Jaquio is only one of the three final boss forms and as far as we've ever seen, your health bar is never replenished. Still, we can't deny the skilled programming it takes to make a boss so difficult that we still endure hair ripping frustration in our 20's beating him.
For these reasons, we grant a wide berth to Jaquio with the Number 5 spot on our list.
No. 4 The End (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)
Oh man, now we're really getting goosebumps.
Any proper fan of the Metal Gear franchise will recognize the ancient visage of The End. One of the five members of the Cobra Unit, The End was born in the early 1860's and despite being vulnerable because of his age, he is quite possibly the most lethal sniper who has ever lived. He is even referred to as "The Father of Modern Sniping".
The End was created because Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima wanted to bring a completely new style of boss fight to the game, and boy did he succeed. He is also the only member of the Cobra Unit that will not kill Snake, under any circumstances. Upon encountering The End in the forests of Sokrovenno, the player is treated to what we firmly believe is the best sniper boss fight in gaming history.
The End will mercilessly stalk you, almost never revealing his position, and his pet parrot even acts as his spotter. Furthermore, legend says that The End had photosynthetic powers and could go prone in a sunlit area to restore his health and stamina. There are multitudes of ways to end this battle, though only two of them are honorable. Upon seeing The End at an earlier point in the game, the player can actually attempt to snipe him to death from a distance which will prevent having to face him directly if you don't mind murdering a defenseless, sleeping old man in a wheelchair.
If the player has already begun the battle with The End, the game can be paused and the internal clock on the PS2 can be set forward one week. After resuming the save file, Snake will encounter The End, laying in a prone position with his sniper rifle at the ready, having died from old age while waiting for Snake to engage him in battle. This is perhaps the only method of defeating The End that is less honorable than offing him in a wheelchair.
For truly worthy players, there are the traditional methods. Engage The End in an honorable battle of sniping. Occasionally, the sunlight will reflect off his scope, temporarily giving away his position. The player can defeat him via draining his health or, even cooler in our opinion, holding him up. Should the player stumble upon The End's position, without revealing themselves, they can point a gun at his back and hold him up, causing him to surrender. This, in our opinion, is the coolest way to defeat him.
Getting The End to surrender will also earn the player his camo, which will regenerate stamina slowly when worn. Though The End may appear lost amongst the veritable sea of awesome Metal Gear bosses, his character and absolutely epic boss fight with Naked Snake proudly shoot The End into the Number 4 spot on our list.
No. 3 Whitney (Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal)
It takes a special kind of boss, both unappreciated yet oddly iconic, to reach the Number 3 spot on a list like this. So, why would this coveted rank go to a Pokemon Gym leader?
Because she just so happens to piss people off enough to make them quit the game.
Though Whitney is a lower level gym leader with only 2 Pokemon, one of those pocket monsters is a nightmare disguised as a dairy cow. Whitney has reached near legendary status, amongst Pokemon gamers at least, for the absolute blood-letting that her gym challenge could be. Though her level 18 Clefairy shouldn't prove to be too much trouble, it's her level 20 Miltank that makes grown men want to punch puppies to this day.
Innocuous in appearance and at a fairly manageable level, the problem with Miltank and Whitney's gym in particular is that the vast majority of players, even Pokemon veterans, tend to underestimate her. Once her gym is reached and ready to challenge, the player's team is typically not at a level sufficient to defeat her. On top of this, fighting type Pokemon are extremely difficult to find at this early stage of the game, and this is the only Pokemon type that possesses a type-advantage over Whitney's normal types.
While Clefairy shouldn't be overly hard to dispatch, Whitney's Miltank has high defenses, higher HP and the one attack that makes players see red: Rollout. The Rollout attack is a multi-hit move, meaning that it lasts for multiple turns and its damage increases exponentially each turn. Unless the player has spent a significant amount of time training their Pokemon to higher than average levels, Miltank will pretty much one-hit KO everything in its path if it isn't defeated before the second or third turn of Rollout.
Though she may seem like a pansy once the player reaches the upper echelon of the game, there is no denying that almost everyone who played the second generation Pokemon games was curb-stomped by Whitney at least half a dozen times. Because of this, we gladly swallow our rage and allow Whitney and her %^#$^%# Miltank to roll their way into the Number 3 spot on our list.
No. 2 Dark Link (Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link)
In the expansive world of Zelda games, it's easy to forget about Dark Link. Though he is a recurring antagonist in the games, the baddest dude in the franchise has almost always been the legendary Ganon.
For gamers who spent time with Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link, there might be some debate about that.
Zelda 2 was a direct sequel to the timeless classic Legend of Zelda on NES. Unlike the first game, that used a top-down camera angle, Zelda 2 was a sidescroller. This was somewhat controversial, as some folks loved the switch up, while others hated the change in game format. Regardless, Zelda 2 played quite differently from its predecessor. When players reached the end of the game, they didn't encounter Ganon. Instead, they were jumped by a shadowy clone.
Dark Link is more or less a silhouette of Link, a doppelganger, and he is one gigantic pain in the arse to fight. Your shadowy clone can mimic your every move and is extremely difficult to fight. While he is far from impossible to beat, he causes far more frustration in this game alone than he is ever given credit for. There is little strategy for defeating him and he is likely to hit you at least as many times as you can hit him, if not more.
To this day, there exist forum topics devoted to discussing people's ever-lasting hatred for Dark Link in all of his incarnations. For managing to make a mark on history in a franchise dominated by a dark beast named Ganon, Dark Link rests comfortably in the shadows of the Number 2 spot on our list.
No. 1 Star Wolf (Star Fox 64)
There's always controversy surrounding the Number 1 spot on any list, and this is no exception.
In the wide world of video games, there are tons of unappreciated and underrated bosses. In our personal opinion, there is perhaps no collective boss entity in any game that is as vastly overlooked and slighted than Team Star Wolf from Star Fox 64. While the Star Fox team, and more specifically Fox McCloud, serve as the protagonists of the game, the Star Wolf team led by Wolf O'Donnell serve as the complete foils.
Throughout the corse of the game, depending on the path the player ends up on, Star Wolf will be encountered several times. What ensues is arguably the best set of dogfights in video game history. What the battles lack in graphics or technique they make up in spades with dialogue and programming.
We won't lie. The Star Wolf battles more or less play out the same way each time. Each member of the Star Wolf team is pre-programmed to concentrate their fire on a specific member of the Star Fox team. But the dialogue is good, with each member of the team regularly taking to the coms to taunt, disrespect or otherwise antagonize their chosen target.
Facing the Star Wolf team with all three of your teammates is challenging but fairly easy to accomplish, provided that your mates aren't entering the battle with low health reserves. Facing Star Wolf while missing a teammate is more challenging, as one member of the opposition will now be flying around interfering in your attacks. However, facing Star Wolf by yourself with none of your teammates is absolute suicide. The same programming that makes the team so linear and easy to predict is also what makes them nearly impossible to defeat on your own.
Even skilled players, who have mastered barrel rolls and mid-air direction changes, will find themselves struggling to shoot down even one member of Star Wolf. Because the opposition is programmed to single out specific members of your team (with Wolf himself targeting you), the entire dynamic will change should you face them on your own. Without your teammates to fly around and draw the fire of the other members of Star Wolf, they will all be flying around erratically, taking potshots at you. This makes it virtually impossible to single out any one member of the team to concentrate your fire on.
As a matter of fact, we were waffled so completely attempting this handicapped dogfight that we challenge gamers reading this to send in videos of a successful victory against Star Wolf on Venom without teammates to our Twitter @RantLifestyle.
Despite the awesomeness of Andross, Star Wolf possessed the ability to completely screw a player all the way to the Game Over screen if the conditions were right and because of this, Wolf O'Donnell and his team of miscreants fly directly into the Number 1 spot on our list.