We get it, we get it, you’re the boss…can you stop being so difficult and die now, please?
We’ve scoured video game history for the greatest, most difficult, most frustrating, and overall impossible goons to have graced our gaming sessions. To the following boss baddies, we salute you. You are our mentors and our tormentors.
Grand Theft Auto IV: Revenger’s Tragedy (AKA The Dimitri Helicopter Chase)
You are Niko Bellic. You’ve come to America from some Eastern European shithole and, with the help of your dumb-but-lovable cousin Roman, you’ve worked your way up from thug to kingpin. Then Roman gets murdered at his own wedding by a hired gun who was there to kill you… and so begins one of the longest, most epic, and most utterly frustrating finales in all of video games. First, take out an army of henchmen with everything from an AK-47 to a purple dildo to get to Dimitri, the guy who ordered the hit. Then, when Dimitri escapes on a chopper, chase him with a boat. Then jump from the boat to a chopper of your own. Then land on an island and play Duck Duck Goose around the Statue of Liberty until you goose Dimitri in the head with your 9mm. Exhausted? Yeah, so were we.
Street Fighter IV: Seth
When a person is so stunningly good at a game that the publisher decides to hire him and immortalize him with a character in that game, it’s an honor. For Street Fighter tournament winner extraordinaire Seth Killian, though, just being a character wasn’t good enough to match his own prowess, so Capcom had to make him a boss. Now, you may be an excellent street fighter. You may easily whup the entire ladder of opponents on hard difficulty. You might even be able to hadoken in real life. But when you take on Seth, even on easy settings, you’re gonna go down, and that’s not just a likelihood, it’s a certainty. Bubble wrapping your controller before going into this fight is always a good idea.
Gears of War: General RAAM
When the general of an entire army is also the guy leading the charge on the front line, you better think twice before facing off against him one on one. We loved RAAMs single word utterances, like, “sssuuuffffer” and “slaughterrr” and “vengeeaaaance” but, in the end, that guy had to go. In proper Gears fashion, we ran headlong into the battle against RAAM only to fail miserably several times before thinking out a strategy. Taking out the Kryll that RAAM controls and then plastering his dome piece with sniper bullets proved to be effective...we just wish it didn’t take us 32 attempts to realize that.
Dark Souls: Slayer Ornstein and Executioner Smough
If we had to rate games by difficulty from 1-10, with 1 being a cakewalk and 10 being fucking impossible, Dark Souls would be a 25. Contributing to that score is this double-header throw down against two boss baddies at the same time. Ornstein and Smough would be tough as hell if we had to fight one at a time, but no, Dark Souls isn’t happy until you’re crying in the corner. The bonus (if you consider an extra punch to the kidney a bonus) is that once you kill Smough, Ornstein gets all his powers and turns into a giant. Switch it around by killing Ornstein first and you’ll be rewarded by Smough taking his powers, jamming them into a hammer, and swiftly nailing you into the ground Bugs Bunny-style. If this fight made you stop playing Dark Souls, you can come here for a hug, because we know that feeling.
Final Fantasy X: Dark Aeons
It’s one thing when a boss requires a skilled technique to beat - it’s an entirely different thing if it requires grinding for items and puzzle-solving skills to take them down. The Dark Aeons block your path to previously accessible areas, carry an unusually high amount of health, and generally make your life miserable because there are so many of them. Luckily for Americans, the Dark Aeons were only in the international version of the game. We’re not sure if we should feel like Fredo in The Godfather (“We’re smart! We can do it!”) or if we should just be grateful that only kids in Japan had to suffer through these buttholes.
Shinobi: Final Boss
We remember the days, not so long ago, when the only achievement you could earn from playing video games was the satisfaction of victory, and Shinobi was the game that taught us that feeling. Arguably one of the best ninja games of all time, Shinobi was all about timing and having lightning quick reflexes. After playing through the story, facing off against the final boss was like a game entirely in itself. Seriously - it took us a few weeks just to reach the final boss, and then a further few weeks to actually beat him. In the end, we still revere Shinobi as the only ninja game to actually teach us the ninja skills of patience and vigilance, because it took both to beat that bastard. We don’t know what’s worse - that we didn’t get an achievement for our victory, or that it was so hard to beat a guy in an oversized hat.
Kingdom Hearts: Sephiroth
Some background here: Kingdom Hearts borrows many characters from the Final Fantasy series, but Sephiroth is the only one who’s a villain. More importantly, he’s completely un-killable. That is, you can beat him, but he’ll come back so you can fight him again, making him a great guy to use to grind out XP and level up your character. There are two major problems with Sephiroth, though: Firstly, he’s more difficult to beat than any other boss in the whole game, and secondly, he’s entirely optional. That’s right, you don’t actually have to fight Sephiroth to finish the game. If that’s not a formula for rage-quitting a boss battle, we don’t know what is.
Tyson’s Punch Out: Iron Mike Tyson
We’re ashamed to admit this...but we’ve never actually beaten Mike Tyson in Punch Out. In fact, we’ve never even seen someone beat Iron Mike in the game. This wasn’t tough to reconcile when we were kids - as a 5-year-old playing Punch Out, it was easy to write off the title character as simply unbeatable. As a teenager, you could say you beat him but you were probably lying. Now we’re full-fledged adults (note that we say “adults,” not “men”), we can drive cars, we can do calculus, we can (sort of) understand astrophysics...but we still can’t beat Mike Tyson in Punch Out. At this point, we probably have a better chance of knocking Mike out in real life.
God of War: Ares
This one doesn’t hold as much water unless you play the game on God mode. If you’re not, well, why the hell not? Kratos would be ashamed. Ares is challenging when playing on a Hard difficulty, but he’s damn near impossible in God mode. Just like most of the bosses on this list, Ares takes a boatload of time and patience to beat, but the difference here is that he also requires fast thumbs, because it’s absolutely necessary to mash the hell out of the circle button to beat him. Follow that mash session with a few mini-game button pushes, rinse and repeat. If your thumbs aren’t bloody by the end of this battle, you did it wrong.
Super Mario Galaxy: Bowser
The final battle in Super Mario Galaxy isn’t much to worry about in theory - a couple well-timed twirls and you’ll send Bowser into deep space until the inevitable sequel. Fail to do so, however, and you’ll be sitting through the same, lengthy cut scene over and over again, mashing the A button in the hopes of speeding through it. Only, you can’t speed through it. In the end, it’s infinitely harder to beat Bowser on the fifth try than the first, because your brain’s been turned to jelly by that Goddamn cut scene. We postulate that this is Nintendo’s highly effective attempt at psychological warfare and, for that, Bowser might just be the toughest boss in this article.