Top 10 Recurring Bosses

Sometimes you fight a boss, defeat it, and that’s that. There are other times, though, when you encounter one that is just not willing to give up. This determination may result in comic relief, a welcome challenge, or even a mix of the two. At their best, they provide memorable experiences that stick with you long after you’ve finished a particular game.

10) The Rival – Pokemon

Pokemon rival

Ever since Pokemon Red/Blue, facing off against your rival has been a staple of the franchise. The rivalry will often begin with a simple battle involving starter Pokemon, but before long, your rival ends up one step ahead and is always ready to challenge you. This actually provides a useful gauge for your skills, and it can be fun seeing how your team stacks up against your rival’s as both evolve and learn new skills.


9) Balrog – Cave Story


Cave Story originally came out in 2004, making Balrog the most recent entry on this list. But that doesn’t prevent him from being a very memorable boss. This lovable guy may look like a bar of soap/toaster hybrid, but he ends up being a fairly formidable opponent. He also knows how to make quite the entrance, shouting “Huzzah!” with each appearance (or “Oh Yeah!” in the remake). After that first battle you can’t help but wish for him to make his return, and luckily you get your wish more than a few times.


8) Pyramid Head – Silent Hill 2

Pyramid Head

Pyramid Head is certainly the most sinister recurring boss out there. He ended up making multiple appearances in the Silent Hill series, but nothing will top his debut in Silent Hill 2. When you are first introduced to this character he seems to be having fun with some mannequins — good luck not being freaked out by that. From that point on, each of his appearances is incredibly creepy and tense, helping to make Silent Hill 2 one of the most memorable survival horror games of all time.

7) Liquid Snake – Metal Gear Solid

Liquid Snake

Liquid Snake was created as part of a government project involving the genetic traits of Big Boss, making him Solid Snake’s twin brother. Obviously the Metal Gear Solid franchise can get even more complicated than that, but all you really need to know is that he was the main antagonist in the original Metal Gear Solid. Solid and Liquid Snake face off against each other a few times, but there is something oddly satisfying about that final battle. Just two twin brothers duking it out, fisticuffs-style.


6) Gilgamesh – Final Fantasy V


Throughout the course of Final Fantasy V, Gilgamesh makes a whopping six appearances. Talk about persistence! The funny thing is that each of these battles against the sword collector is rather easy. Perhaps this is because he mistakes his weapon for the holy sword Excalibur. Instead, it’s the cheap knock-off, Excalipoor. These encounters provide some refreshing comic relief, though he does show some courage and bravery by the end of the game when you face Necrophobe.


5) Nemesis – Resident Evil 3: Nemesis


Nemesis is a particularly noteworthy recurring boss. Whereas the rest of these bosses certainly play an important role in their respective games, Nemesis is integral to Resident Evil 3. The entire game revolves around him as he chases you down. Some fights are optional while others are mandatory, but they’re always intense, exciting and a lot of fun.

4) Death – Castlevania


Acting as Dracula’s right-hand man, Death (aka the Grim Reaper) is often an important antagonist in the Castlevania games. If you go into a battle with Death with the intention of using regular weapons, you’re sure to die in no time. Only spells and weapons with special properties are effective against him, making the boss encounters that much more challenging. Add on top of that his large scythe and his ability to conjure up floating skulls and you have an extremely dangerous opponent.


3) Ridley – Metroid


The battles between Samus and Ridley in each Metroid game are always incredibly memorable. This dragon-like creature provides quite a challenge for the player, but when you defeat him, the feeling of triumph is quite satisfying. He does have some backstory, such as his distinction as a high-ranking Space Pirate, but all you need to know is that any time he makes an appearance, the gameplay and fun factor in that respective Metroid title will truly shine. To this day, the boss battle with Ridley in Super Metroid is still my favorite.


2) Ultros – Final Fantasy VI


No one tops Ultros when it comes to the comic-relief boss. Whether this purple octopus is talking about seafood soup or how much he hates muscle-heads, there are sure to be a lot of laughs. You fight him a total of four times, and the best part is that he sometimes shows up in the unlikeliest of places. What kind of octopus goes to the opera? Ultros still wants to be taken seriously, though. As he would say: “Don’t tease the octopus, kids!”

1) Bowser – Super Mario


Seeing Bowser at the top of a list involving recurring bosses certainly shouldn’t be surprising. He’s practically the one who started it all. As Mario’s arch-nemesis, Bowser makes multiple appearances in many games in the Super Mario franchise. I’ll be the first to admit that not all of Bowser’s boss fights are particularly memorable, but the ones that are really shine. And there’s no denying the influence that Bowser had on the entire recurring boss theme. A classic character in the world of video games.


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Author: Anthony LaBella View all posts by
My first experience playing a video game blew me away. The fact that Super Metroid was that game certainly helped. So I like to think Samus put me on the path to video games. Well, I guess my parents buying the SNES had a little something to do with it. Ever since then my passion for video games has grown. When I found that I could put words together into a coherent sentence, videogame journalism was a natural interest. Now I spend a large majority of my time either playing video games or writing about them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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