We’ve all been there. Banging our heads against the desk, even throwing our gamepad across the room in frustration. Playing long into the night, wondering why we ever bought the damn game in the first place, yet unable to pass on giving the boss fight ‘one more go’.
And then there’s the joy and celebration that comes along when you finally beat that boss you’ve been spending hours, days, or even weeks to overcome. And in those moments, it’s all worth it.
In the spirit of the moments, we’re going to take a look at some of the cruellest, wickedest, and most difficult video game bosses of all time.
10. Dr Kahl’s Robot (Cuphead)
Cuphead is full of difficult bosses, but the worst of the bunch has to be Dr Kahl’s Robot. As the final arial fight of the game, the robot promises to test everything you’ve learned about arial fighting so far, and then some.
The bombardment of things to dodge is immediately overwhelming, from laser beams to homing missiles, magnets to bombs, and much more. With only two eyes, it’s almost impossible to keep watch of each corner of the screen, meaning you’ll often be hit by stuff you never saw coming.
The second phase of the fight pits the player against the mad doctor himself, and ends up feeling like a nightmarish version of flappy bird as the player avoids electrified columns while dodging a dizzying number of projectiles.
9. The Nameless King (Dark Souls 3)
Let’s be real; From Software are known for their sadistically difficult bosses, and numerous bosses from the Soulsborne games have the potential to dominate positions on this list. So we can celebrate other difficult games out there, we’ve elected to include what’s arguably the hardest boss in the Dark Souls catalogue: The Nameless King.
Also Read: All FromSoft & Dark Souls Games in Order
A true test of endurance, this encounter is essentially two boss fights one after another. The first phase of the fight is about taking down the King’s dragon, which is made all the more difficult due to a camera that struggles to follow the dragon whilst the player is targeting it.
Once the dragon has been slain, the true test begins. The Nameless King has a seemingly unending moveset, capable of destroying the player’s HP at both melee and range. Worse still, upon reaching half health, the boss adds an entirely new set of lightning-based moves to his kit.
8. Dracula (Castlevania)
The NES was no stranger to difficult games. Indeed, Castlevenia was extremely tough from start to finish, but the Dracula fight was probably the most difficult part of the whole game. The randomised nature of his attack patterns combined with ridiculously high damage make him a tough one to beat.
There are two phases to this encounter. In the first, the player fights Dracula in his human form, having to contend with projectiles that require extremely specific dodge timings to avoid. He also spawns on top of the player throughout this section of the fight, requiring them to keep moving at all times.
If that wasn’t enough, after Dracula’s first health bar has been destroyed, he’ll transform into his ‘true’ form, which involves more projectiles and a randomised jump attack that requires split-second reactions to overcome.
7. Sigrun (God of War)
God of War 2018 isn’t exactly famous for its difficulty, even on the hardest setting. That said, to 100% the game, the player needs to track down and fight a number of Valkyries, all of which are extremely difficult encounters when playing on ‘Give Me God of War’ mode.
Also Read: All God of War Games in Order
So while each Valkyrie undoubtedly puts up a fight, they’re a walk in the park when compared to the last one; Sigrun, The Valkyrie Queen.
She can only be summoned once the player has defeated all eight other Valkyries, and she can cast all the abilities of her fallen kin.
While the player will be familiar with the attacks, defending against them in sequence is another story. Each attack does significantly more damage, too.
6. Yiazmat (Final Fantasy 12)
Yiazmat is a war of attrition in every sense of the word. With over 50 million hit points, the fight takes literally hours to complete. As a prerequisite, players must have completed all other hunts at max difficulty (which is a trial in itself), and have killed the Hellworm (again, no easy task).
In addition to a team of max level characters and abilities, smart use of items is key to victory. Be prepared for the long haul, as not only does Yiazmat have an unholy amount of HP, but also gains increasing damage reduction as time goes on, prolonging the fight even more.
Throw in devastating attacks, including a 5% chance to KO a member of your team with any attack, it’s an extremely gruelling fight.
5. M’uru (World of Warcraft)
World of Warcraft has been around almost 20 years, and in that time we’ve been subject to countless unthinkably difficult boss fights. The most difficult boss fights in WoW often take hundreds of attempts to complete, even by the best players in the world.
Perhaps the hardest and most infamous boss of them all was M’uru, the filth boss of Sunwell Plateau, a raid from The Burning Crusade expansion. The boss was so difficult to release that only five of the best guilds in the world managed to kill it, before Blizzard decided to nerf it.
Also Read: All World of Warcraft Expansions in Order
M’uru was a ruthless fight for tanks, healers, and DPS alike. There were tonnes of terrifying adds to deal with, as well as a myriad of debuffs and raid-wide damage abilities. The whole fight was practically a DPS race, and guilds needed a very specific team composition to have a hope of downing the boss.
It’s safe to say that M’uru dismantled more than a few guilds back in the day.
4. Through The Fire and Flames (Guitar Hero III)
Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of the Guitar Hero franchise will understand the renown that one can achieve by mastering Through The Fire and Flames on expert difficulty.
While not technically a boss, we’re including this on our list because finishing this song on the highest difficulty is one of the most badass achievements in video games. It requires true mastery of the rhythm game genre, and after all, aren’t bosses supposed to be a true test of our skills?
And, I’m a big DragonForce fan!
But seriously, even seasoned guitarists struggle. This song was so difficult that even the guitarist of Dragonforce himself said it’d probably be easier to play on an actual guitar.
3. Sephiroth (Kingdom Hearts II)
For a series that sees the player going on adventures with Donald Duck, Goofy and other Disney characters, you wouldn’t necessarily expect Kingdom Hearts to contain some truly nasty boss encounters. Well, it does, and Sephiroth from Kingdom Hearts II might be the most difficult of them all.
Originally the primary antagonist from Square Enix’s acclaimed Final Fantasy 7, Sephiroth makes an appearance in Kingdom Hearts II as a minor character and late game optional boss.
Sephiroth is particularly difficult because the average player will need to have grinded out at least 70 levels, and unlocked a number of powerful abilities, before they have a hope of defeating him. The fight itself is mechanically intense, requiring precise dodging, evasion of homing projectiles, and a solid understanding of attack patterns.
2. Mike Tyson (Punch Out!!)
Another super difficult game on the NES was Punch-Out!! Getting to the last boss, Mike Tyson, was in itself an enormous feat of strength, but to defeat the man himself in the ring was an almost impossible task.
It was a hugely popular game, but most people never beat Mike Tyson. Most people who said they did were probably lying. He’d knock the player out in a single punch, and even blocking a punch would drain your energy to nothing.
Defeating Mike Tyson came down to dodging at the right time, making the most of your jabs, and getting a little lucky.
1. Melania (Elden Ring)
Melania is widely considered to be not just the hardest boss in Elden Ring, but the hardest boss in all of From Software’s titles.
In addition to her horrifically high base damage, lightning-fast attacks, and unpredictable combos, she’s also equipped with a devastating life steal mechanic that allows her to restore a chunk of HP whenever she hits the player. Even when they block.
We’ve all seen those ‘0 hit’ Elden Ring runs by now, but Melania pretty much demands this of every player, not just the most talented. Getting hit by Melania will not only destroy most of the player’s health bar, but will also negate any progress they’ve made in the last few hits.
And of course, there’s a second phase that makes her even more deadly. A true recipe for nightmares!
Who do you think is the hardest video game boss of all time?
We’ve given you our picks, but there’s hundreds of other sadistically difficult boss encounters out there that could have easily made this list.
With that in mind, who’s the most difficult boss you’ve ever faced? Did you defeat them, or wave the white flag with your sanity still in check?
Let us know below!