Top 5 Final Boss Battles

This is another one of those topics that, upon researching, I found that there are no shortage of opinions or blogs about. Pretty much every major gaming website has at least one list of the best boss battles EVER OF ALL TIME EVER. As they should. But here’s my approach to it: First, I’ll be focusing just on final boss fights, to narrow the list and maybe differentiate the selections a bit. Second, I’m focusing on the fact that this is about the BATTLES, not necessarily the actual boss character, though they are obviously an integral part of the battle itself. What that means is that while I recognize there are some sweet bosses to beat out there, namely Sephiroth, Bowser, and apparently Mike Tyson, I’m going to forego some of those iconic figures in favor of a greater concentration on the actual experience the gamer has in the battle.

So without too much preface, and with the knowledge that a discussion about final boss fights lends itself to spoilers, here are the Top Five Final Boss Battles:

5. Colossus 16 (Shadow of the Colossus)


It was inevitable that a game dedicated solely to boss battles would end up on this list.  And the final boss battle is certainly the most epic of all of 16 battles, despite not knowing exactly why you have to fight it or what will happen afterwards.  For those who haven’t played the game or this particular boss, it takes place in a "dark and stormy night" kind of setting, and requires Wander, the playable character, to navigate through tunnels and ledges leading up to the boss, and then haphazardly clamber up the colossus’ erratically fur-covered body to finally reach the weak spot on its head. But the boss doesn’t end there, because after this boss, the game concludes with a lengthy story-driven segment back at the main castle, where the result of defeating all the colossi enables Wander to actually turn into a colossus.  I can’t imagine a more perfect ending to a game dedicated solely to killing every colossus possible, and the battle beginning at the feet of one of the most epic bosses of all time is not to be missed.


4. Ganondorf/Ganon (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)


Ganondorf has come in many shapes and sizes, many times and dimensions, but none nearly as awesome and memorable as at the end of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the N64.  The game itself has become iconic as one of the greatest of all time, and its closing battle is certainly a huge component of that.  Not only do you harness the power of Zelda herself with the light arrows, but the battle hearkens back to previous Zelda games like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, where Link deflects Ganondorf’s power balls with the Master Sword.  Then the big baddy himself morphs into his "true form," Ganon, another one of those rare moments in gaming where the player’s jaw drops as they consider the unbelievable epic nature of the battle they are about to undertake.  Another absolute must-play, perfectly sealing up the 3D jaunt through Hyrule that is Ocarina of Time.


3. Mr. Burns and the Atomic Battle Suit (The Simpsons: Arcade Game)


This may not be the most innovative boss fight on the list, but it is a personal favorite of mine.  To begin with, who doesn’t want to wail on Mr. Burns in a giant tin suit after watching him scheme against Homer for seasons on the show?  And there really is no more perfect boss for a game like this one, with so much simple 2D side-scrolling fun and classic Simpsons-style humor.  The battle actually begins with what appears to be a vampire-caped Smithers, but escalates quickly as Burns busts through the wall, baby Maggie in his clutches.  Like most arcade games, this boss was clearly designed to guzzle quarters, but if you’ve already invested enough change to get to Burns in the first place, you might as well finish him off and see the solid Simpsons ending thereafter.


2. Striders and Hunters (Half Life 2: Episode 2)


This is one of those boss battles that excels solely on the virtue of the battling experience as opposed to an iconic boss with offhanded one-liners and a maniacal laugh.  Instead, this fight is all about fast-paced movement, lots of waves of increasing numbers of difficult enemies, and a little finely honed gravity gun launching.  There are a number of wave defense moments in video games where the player is left clinging to their last weapon and heart of health before barely making it out.  But Half Life 2: Episode 2 actually charges you with completely eradicating an army of Combine in order to save what’s left of the Black Mesa research team, and to do so with nothing more than a broken down old car, a gravity gun, and some sticky bombs.  And let me tell you, it’s a battle not to be missed.


1. Jaws (Jaws for NES)



The simple reason for crowning this the best boss battle of all time is that the entire game is a boss battle.  There isn’t much of a story besides "Kill Jaws," and of course the graphics and gameplay are commensurate with other NES games, but this was a truly original game for its time.  It had one of the first real open-world exploration systems, a primitive currency exchange system, and of course, the shark that shut down beaches for years after the movie was released.  Most of the game, the extended boss battle, is consumed by exploring varying depths and locations in the ocean, hoping that Jaws will show up so you can blast at him with your harpoon gun.  Literally hundreds of harpoons later, you take on the menace of the seas from aboard the boat, hoping to land that last fateful harpoon and sink him to the deep for good.  It just doesn’t get better than that kind of epic, memorable adventure.


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Author: Dan Crabtree View all posts by
Dan is Managing Editor for GamerNode and a freelance gaming writer. His dog is pretty great. Check him out on Twitter @DanRCrabtree.

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