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The Many Kinds Of Boss Fights

The Many Kinds Of Boss Fights

Update: 2022-03-312


What's your favorite video game boss fight? Kirk, Maddy, and Jason break down all the options with a brand new taxonomy of bosses, from The Preview to The Gimmick to The Final Exam. They talk about some of the most memorable boss fights in gaming history, like Metal Gear Solid 3's The End and Metroid's Ridley, then dissect what makes each one unique.

One More Thing: 

Kirk: Elden Ring’s Story

Maddy: The Afterparty

Jason: Triangle Strategy


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The Preview - An early fight against a boss you won’t fight again until later. 

  • Variation: The Hunter Preview, see below

The Roadblock - A difficulty spike boss that stops many people from playing the game entirely.

  • Variation: The Skill-Check, a boss that’s hard on purpose to make sure you’re leveled up enough, aka Margit, Hornet. 
  • Variation II: The Sidestreet Roadblock, where it’s the hardest boss in the game but it’s optional

The Gimmick - A boss fight that’s actually just a puzzle. You can possibly beat them straight-up, but there’s some trick that makes things easier. 

The Setpiece - A fight that’s really more of a long interactive cutscene with occasional combat 

  • Variation: The Giant - A Setpiece boss who is way bigger than you to the point that you can’t engage them with ordinary gameplay - you have to either focus on their feet or do platforming to get to their head

The Hunter - A boss fight where you have to hide from the boss, i.e. a stealth boss fight. 

  • Variation: The Hunter Preview - An unkillable version of the boss hunts you, but ultimately you wind up fighting it

The Final Exam - A boss that requires you to combine every skill/item/ability/party member you have to that point to beat them 

  • Variation: The Teambuilding Exercise - a Final Exam boss that cannot be beaten by a single person, aka an MMO raid boss 
  • Variation II: The Duel - No weapons, no abilities, just fists (Liquid vs Snake in MGS4 - the opposite of the Final Exam)

The Pair - Oh no there are two bosses! 

  • Variation: The Mob - there are lots of enemies - common to From games, e.g. Renalla phase one or those old dudes in DS3, Watcher Knights in Hollow Knight

The Spitting Image - Surprise, the boss is you! (The mirror self in Control, the Mimic Tear, Shadow Link, Dark Samus)

The Unfriendly Friend - The (often final) boss turns out to be someone you’ve been talking with. 

The Saga - A boss fight with multiple phases that keeps going and going. First you fight Sephiroth, then Safer Sephiroth, then…

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The Many Kinds Of Boss Fights

The Many Kinds Of Boss Fights

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