Boss (video gaming)

Last updated

A boss fight from Guacamelee!, a game in the metroidvania genre, in which the player characters (the two characters in luchador outfits) must keep ahead of the giant rampaging creature (boss) on the left, while dodging obstacles and other enemies. Guacamelee! screenshot E.jpg
A boss fight from Guacamelee! , a game in the metroidvania genre, in which the player characters (the two characters in luchador outfits) must keep ahead of the giant rampaging creature (boss) on the left, while dodging obstacles and other enemies.

In video games, a boss is a significant computer-controlled enemy. [1] A fight with a boss character is commonly referred to as a boss battle or boss fight. Boss battles are generally seen at a climax of a particular section of the game, usually at the end of a level or stage, or guarding a specific objective; the boss enemy is generally far stronger than the opponents the player has faced up to that point, and is usually faced solo. A miniboss is a boss weaker or less significant than the main boss in the same area or level.. A superboss is generally much more powerful than the bosses encountered as part of the main game's plot and often optional to encounter. A final boss is often the main antagonist of a game's story and the defeat of that character provides ultimate satisfaction to the game player.

Video game electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device such as a TV screen or computer monitor

A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a two- or three-dimensional video display device such as a TV screen, virtual reality headset or computer monitor. Since the 1980s, video games have become an increasingly important part of the entertainment industry, and whether they are also a form of art is a matter of dispute.

Level (video gaming) in a video game, space available to the player in completing an objective

A level, map, area, stage, world, track, board, floor, zone, phase, mission, episode, or course in a video game is the total space available to the player during the course of completing a discrete objective. Video game levels generally have progressively increasing difficulty to appeal to players with different skill levels. Each level presents new content and challenges to keep player's interest high.

A player of a game is a participant therein. The term 'player' is used with this same meaning both in game theory and in ordinary recreational games.


For example, in a combat game all regular enemies might use pistols while the boss uses a machine gun. [2] [ failed verification ] A boss enemy is quite often larger in size than other enemies and the player character. [3] At times, bosses are very hard, even impossible, to defeat without being adequately prepared and/or knowing the correct fighting approach. Bosses take strategy and special knowledge to defeat, such as how to attack weak points or avoid specific attacks.

Player character fictional character in a role-playing or video game that can be played or controlled by a real-world person

A player character is a fictional character in a role-playing game or video game whose actions are directly controlled by a player of the game rather than the rules of the game. The characters that are not controlled by a player are called non-player characters (NPCs). The actions of non-player characters are typically handled by the game itself in video games, or according to rules followed by a gamemaster refereeing tabletop role-playing games. The player character functions as a fictional, alternate body for the player controlling the character.

Bosses are common in many genres of video games, but they are especially common in story-driven titles. RPGs, FPSs, platform games, and fighting games are particularly associated with boss battles. They may be less common in puzzle games, card video games, sports games, and simulation games. The first game to feature a boss fight was the 1975 RPG dnd. The concept has expanded to new genres, like rhythm games, where there may be a "boss song" that is more difficult.

A role-playing video game is a video game genre where the player controls the actions of a character immersed in some well-defined world. Many role-playing video games have origins in tabletop role-playing games and use much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. Other major similarities with pen-and-paper games include developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, as well as replayability and immersion. The electronic medium removes the necessity for a gamemaster and increases combat resolution speed. RPGs have evolved from simple text-based console-window games into visually rich 3D experiences.

Platform game video game genre

Platform games, or platformers, are a video game genre and subgenre of action game. In a platformer the player controlled character must jump and climb between suspended platforms while avoiding obstacles. Environments often feature uneven terrain of varying height that must be traversed. The player often has some control over the height and distance of jumps to avoid letting their character fall to their death or miss necessary jumps. The most common unifying element of games of this genre is the jump button, but now there are other alternatives like swiping a touchscreen. Other acrobatic maneuvers may factor into the gameplay as well, such as swinging from objects such as vines or grappling hooks, as in Ristar or Bionic Commando, or bouncing from springboards or trampolines, as in Alpha Waves. These mechanics, even in the context of other genres, are commonly called platforming, a verbification of platform. Games where jumping is automated completely, such as 3D games in The Legend of Zelda series, fall outside of the genre.

A fighting game is a video game genre based around close combat between a limited number of characters, in a stage in which the boundaries are fixed. The characters fight each others until they defeat their opponents or the time expires. The matches typically consist of several rounds, in a arena, with each character having different abilities but each is relatively viable to choose. Players must master techniques such as blocking, counter-attacking, and chaining attacks together into "combos". Starting in the early 1990s, most fighting games allowed the player to execute special attacks by performing specific input combinations. The fighting game genre is related to but distinct from beat 'em ups, which involve large numbers of enemies against the human player.


The first interactive game to feature a boss was dnd , a 1975 role-playing video game for the PLATO system. [4] [5] One of the earliest dungeon crawls, dnd implemented many of the core concepts behind Dungeons & Dragons . [5] The objective of the game is to retrieve an "Orb" from the bottommost dungeon. [6] The orb is kept in a treasure room guarded by a high-level enemy named the Gold Dragon. Only by defeating the Dragon can the player claim the orb, complete the game, and be eligible to appear on the high score list. [4]

<i>dnd</i> (video game) 1975 role-playing video game

dnd is a role-playing video game. The name dnd is derived from the abbreviation "D&D" from the original tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons, which was released in 1974.

PLATO (computer system) mainframe computer system

PLATO was the first generalized computer-assisted instruction system. Starting in 1960, it ran on the University of Illinois' ILLIAC I computer. By the late 1970s, it supported several thousand graphics terminals distributed worldwide, running on nearly a dozen different networked mainframe computers. Many modern concepts in multi-user computing were originally developed on PLATO, including forums, message boards, online testing, e-mail, chat rooms, picture languages, instant messaging, remote screen sharing, and multiplayer video games.

Dungeon crawl video game genre

A dungeon crawl is a type of scenario in fantasy role-playing games in which heroes navigate a labyrinthine environment, battling various monsters, avoiding traps, solving puzzles, and looting any treasure they may find. Because of its simplicity, a dungeon crawl can be easier for a gamemaster to run than more complex adventures, and the "hack and slash" style of play is appreciated by players who focus on action and combat. However dungeon crawls often lack meaningful plot or logical consistency.

A 1980 example is the fixed shooter Phoenix , wherein the player ship must fight a giant mothership in the fifth and final level. [7]

<i>Phoenix</i> (video game) 1980 shoot em up arcade video game

Phoenix is an outer space-themed, fixed shooter video game released in arcades in 1980. According to Centuri's Joel Hochberg, the game was licensed from "a smaller Japanese developer." Amstar Electronics licensed the game to Centuri for manufacture in the United States. Taito released the game in Japan. Atari, Inc. released a port of Phoenix for the Atari 2600 in 1982.


Bosses are usually more difficult than regular enemies, can sustain more damage, and are generally found at the end of a level or area. [8] [9] While most games include a mixture of boss opponents and regular opponents, some games have only regular opponents and some games have only bosses (e.g. Shadow of the Colossus ). [10] Some bosses are encountered several times through a single game, typically with alternate attacks and a different strategy required to defeat it each time. [9] A boss battle can also be made more challenging if the boss in question becomes progressively stronger and/or less vulnerable as their health decreases, requiring players to use different strategies to win. Some bosses may contain or be composed of smaller parts that can be destroyed by the player in battle, which may or may not grant an advantage. [ citation needed ] In games such as Doom and Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia , an enemy may be introduced via a boss battle, but later appear as a regular enemy, after the player has become stronger or had a chance to find more powerful weaponry.[ citation needed ]

<i>Shadow of the Colossus</i> Video game

Shadow of the Colossus, released in Japan as Wander and the Colossus, is an action-adventure game developed by SCE Japan Studio and Team Ico, and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 2. The game was released in North America and Japan in October 2005 and PAL regions in February 2006. It was directed by Fumito Ueda and developed at SCEI's International Production Studio 1, also known as Team Ico; the same development team responsible for the cult hit Ico, to which the game is considered a spiritual successor.

Health (gaming) gaming-related attribute

Health or vitality is an attribute assigned to entities such as characters or objects within role-playing games and video games, that indicates their continued ability to function. Health is usually measured in hit points or health points, shortened to HP which lowers by set amounts when the entity is attacked or injured. When the HP of a player character or non-player character reaches zero, that character is incapacitated and barred from taking further action. In some games, such as those with cooperative multiplayer and party based role playing games, it may be possible for an ally to revive a character who has reached 0 hit points. In single player games, running out of health usually equates to "dying" and losing a life or receiving a Game Over.

Boss battles are typically seen as dramatic events. As such, they are usually characterized with unique music and cutscenes before and after the boss battle. Recurring bosses and final bosses may have their own specific theme music to distinguish them from other boss battles. This concept extends beyond combat-oriented video games. For example, a number of titles in the Dance Dance Revolution rhythm game series contain "boss songs" that are called "bosses" because they are exceptionally difficult to perform on. [11]

Specific boss types


Miniboss in the 2015 video game Broforce, a run-and-gun platformer Broforce miniboss animated.gif
Miniboss in the 2015 video game Broforce , a run-and-gun platformer

A miniboss, also known as a "middle boss", "mid-boss", "half-boss", "sub-boss", [12] or "semi-boss", is a boss weaker or less significant than the main boss in the same area or level. Some minibosses are stronger versions of regular enemies, as in the Kirby games.[ citation needed ] Other video game characters who usually take the role of a miniboss are the Koopalings ( Super Mario series), Dark Link ( The Legend of Zelda series), Vile ( Mega Man X series), and Allen O'Neil (Metal Slug). There is also a subtype nicknamed the "Wolfpack Boss", for its similarity to a pack of wolves, often consisting of a group of strong normal enemies that are easy to defeat on their own, but a group of them can be as difficult as a boss battle.


A superboss is a type of boss most commonly found in role-playing video games. They are considered optional enemies, though optional bosses are not all superbosses and do not have to be defeated to complete the game. They are generally much more powerful than the bosses encountered as part of the main game's plot or quest, more difficult even than the final boss, and often the player is required to complete a sidequest or the entire game to fight the superboss. For example, in Final Fantasy VII , the player may choose to seek out and fight the Ruby and Emerald Weapons. Some superbosses will take the place of the final boss if certain requirements are met. This is common in fighting games such as Akuma in Super Street Fighter II Turbo . Some superbosses can also yield special items or skills that cannot be found any other way that can give a player a significant advantage during playthrough of the rest of the game, such as added experience or an extremely powerful weapon. For example, the "raid bosses" from Borderlands 2 give rare loot unavailable anywhere else. Some superbosses in online games have an immense amount of health and must be defeated within a time limit by having a large number of players or parties working together to defeat the boss. Examples of such superbosses can be found in games like Shadow Fight 2 and Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes .

Final boss

The final boss, or end boss, [13] is typically present at, or near, the end of a game, with completion of the game's storyline usually following victory in the battle. [14] [15] The final boss is usually the main antagonist of the game; however, there are exceptions, such as in Conker's Bad Fur Day , where the final boss is the antagonist's alien pet. Final bosses are generally larger, more detailed, and better animated than lesser enemies, often in order to inspire a feeling of grandeur and special significance from the encounter.[ citation needed ]

In some games, a hidden boss, referred to as the "true" final boss, is present. These bosses only appear after the completion of specific additional levels, choosing specific dialogue options, or after obtaining a particular item or set of items, such as the Chaos Emeralds in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, or doing a series of tasks in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker . These bosses are generally more difficult to defeat. In games with a "true" final boss, victory leads to either a better ending, or a more detailed version of the regular ending. Examples of a "true final boss" include Indalecio in Star Ocean: The Second Story and the Moon Presence in Bloodborne .

Some reviewers, over the years, have harshly criticized the implementation of final bosses. A video game journalist known as "Scorpia" stated in 1994 that "about 98% of all role-playing video games can be summed up as follows: 'We go out and bash on critters until we're strong enough to go bash on Foozle.'" [14]

The term "Foozle" was used in the 1990s [14] to describe a cliché final boss that exists only to act as the final problem before a player can complete the game. [16] [15]

Related Research Articles

An experience point is a unit of measurement used in tabletop role-playing games (RPGs) and role-playing video games to quantify a player character's progression through the game. Experience points are generally awarded for the completion of missions, overcoming obstacles and opponents, and for successful role-playing.

An action game is a video game genre that emphasizes physical challenges, including hand–eye coordination and reaction-time. The genre includes a large variety of sub-genres, such as fighting games, beat 'em ups, shooter games and platform games. Some multiplayer online battle arena and real-time strategy games are also considered action games.

<i>Ultima III: Exodus</i> 1983 video game

Ultima III: Exodus is the third game in the series of Ultima role-playing video games. Exodus is also the name of the game's principal antagonist. It is the final installment in the "Age of Darkness" trilogy. Released in 1983, it was the first Ultima game published by Origin Systems. Originally developed for the Apple II, Exodus was eventually ported to 13 other platforms, including a NES/Famicom remake.

The monk is a character class in a number of role-playing tabletop and video games. In those games which follow the Dungeons & Dragons traditions, monks are characters with excellent martial arts skills and who specialize in unarmed, unarmored combat.

In the Final Fantasy series of console role playing games by Square Enix, monsters are common antagonists to the playable characters, with usually no relevance to the storyline. Most monsters come from folklore and literature from around the world.

<i>Might and Magic II: Gates to Another World</i> video game

Might and Magic II: Gates to Another World is a role-playing video game developed and published by New World Computing in 1988. It is the sequel to Might and Magic Book One: The Secret of the Inner Sanctum.

In video gaming, grinding is performing repetitive tasks, usually for a gameplay advantage or loot but in some cases for purely aesthetic or cosmetic benefits. Many video games use different tactics to implement, or reduce the amount of grinding in play. The general use of grinding is for "experience points", or to improve a character's level. However, the behavior is sometimes referred to as pushing the bar, farming, or catassing.

<i>Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom</i> 1994 video game

Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom, published in 1994, is the first of two arcade games created by Capcom based on the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop role-playing game and set in the Mystara campaign setting. It is a side scrolling beat 'em up with some role-playing video game elements mixed in. The game was also released on the Sega Saturn, packaged with its sequel, Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara, under the title Dungeons & Dragons Collection, although the Saturn version limited the gameplay to only two players. In 2013, both games were re-released for modern platforms as Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara.

<i>Wizardry IV: The Return of Werdna</i> 1987 video game

Wizardry IV: The Return of Werdna is the fourth scenario in the Wizardry series of role-playing video games. It was published in 1987 by Sir-Tech Software, Inc.

<i>Champions of Krynn</i> 1990 video game

Champions of Krynn is role-playing video game, the first in a three-part series of Dragonlance Advanced Dungeons & Dragons "Gold Box" games. The game was released in 1990. The highest graphics setting supported in the MS-DOS version was EGA graphics. It also supported the Adlib sound card and either a mouse or joystick.

<i>Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Treasure of Tarmin</i> 1983 video game

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: Treasure of Tarmin is a video game for the Intellivision video game console and the Mattel Aquarius computer system. This game was a licensed Dungeons & Dragons adaptation.

<i>Telengard</i> 1982 video game

Telengard is a 1982 role-playing dungeon crawler video game developed by Daniel Lawrence and published by Avalon Hill. The player explores a dungeon, fights monsters with magic, and avoids traps in real time without any set mission other than surviving. Lawrence first wrote the game as DND, a 1976 version of Dungeons & Dragons for the DECsystem-10 mainframe computer. He continued to develop DND at Purdue University as a hobby, rewrote the game for the Commodore PET 2001 after 1978, and ported it to Apple II+, TRS-80, and Atari 800 platforms before Avalon Hill found the game at a convention and licensed it for distribution. Its Commodore 64 release was the most popular. Reviewers noted Telengard's similarity to Dungeons and Dragons. RPG historian Shannon Appelcline noted the game as one of the first professionally produced computer role-playing games, and Gamasutra's Barton considered Telengard consequential in what he deemed "The Silver Age" of computer role-playing games preceding the golden age of the late 1980s. Some of the game's dungeon features, such as altars, fountains, teleportation cubes, and thrones, were adopted by later games such as Tunnels of Doom.

A raid is a type of mission in a video game where a number of people attempt to defeat either: (a) another number of people at player-vs-player (PVP), (b) a series of computer-controlled enemies in a player-vs-environment (PVE) battlefield, or (c) a very powerful boss (superboss). This type of objective is most commonly seen in massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), and usually, but not necessarily, occurs within an instance dungeon in that genre. On the other hand, in military real-time strategy (RTS) games like StarCraft, the term is used differently.

An overworld is, in a broad sense, an area within a video game that interconnects all its levels or locations. They are mostly common in role-playing games, though this does not exclude other video game genres.

Grand Chase was a free-to-play, two-dimensional side-scrolling MMORPG developed by the South Korean company KOG Studios. Alternative names for Grand Chase include 3小俠 used on the Taiwan server; however, it has now been changed to 永恆冒險. Another name used was 彩虹骑士 on the Mainland Chinese server; the reopening of the server also used the name of the Taiwan and Hong Kong server. The main game has also spawned several mobile spin-off games, with the remaining active one as of 2016 being Grand Chase M.

<i>The Addams Family</i> (video game series) video game series

There have been five video games based on The Addams Family television series and films, released between 1989 and 2001 on various home video game consoles.

<i>Realm of the Mad God</i> Massively multiplayer online video game

Realm of the Mad God is a massively multiplayer online shooter video game co-created by Wild Shadow Studios and currently owned and developed by DECA Games. It was in public beta from January 2010 and the browser version launched on June 20, 2011. On February 20, 2012 the game was made available on the digital distribution platform Steam for Microsoft Windows and OS X.

This list includes terms used in video games and the video game industry, as well as slang used by players.

<i>Wizard of Legend</i> 2018 roguelike video game

Wizard of Legend is an indie roguelike video game released by American studio Contingent99 and Humble Bundle in May 2018. Funded through Kickstarter in 2016, players take control of a wizard as they traverse a procedually-generated dungeon, using a wide variety of spells to defeat mobs, three major bosses, and a final boss to earn the title "Wizard of Legend". The game received generally favourable reviews.


  1. Burt, Andy (2008–4). "No More Heroes: The Killer Boss Guide". GamePro . vol. 235. p. 66.
  2. Thompson, Clive (8 May 2006). "Who's the Boss?". Wired . Archived from the original on 8 May 2008. Retrieved 22 March 2008.
  3. Schroder, Ben (15 November 2006). "The Top 7... Big Bosses". GamesRadar+ . Archived from the original on 8 March 2014. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  4. 1 2 "Gary Whisenhunt, Ray Wood, Dirk Pellett, and Flint Pellett's DND". Retrieved 8 April 2008.
  5. 1 2 "dnd (The Game of Dungeons)". Universal Videogame List. Archived from the original on 13 November 2007. Retrieved 9 April 2008.
  6. Barton, Matt (23 February 2007). "The History of Computer Role-Playing Games Part 1: The Early Years (1980–1983)". Gamasutra . Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  7. Sterbakov, Hugh (5 March 2008). "The 47 Most Diabolical Video-Game Villains of All Time". GamePro. Archived from the original on 9 March 2008. Retrieved 28 April 2008.
  8. Thompson, Clive (6 May 2004). "Tough Love: Can a video game be too hard?". Slate . Archived from the original on 10 February 2009. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
  9. 1 2 "The Next Generation 1996 Lexicon A to Z". Next Generation . No. 15. Imagine Media. March 1996. p. 30.
  10. Roper, Chris (17 October 2005). "Shadow of the Colossus Review". IGN . Archived from the original on 31 May 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  11. Dodson, Joe (15 October 2007). "Dance Dance Revolution: SuperNOVA 2 Review". GameSpot . Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  12. "The Next Generation 1996 Lexicon A to Z: Sub-boss". Next Generation. No. 15. Imagine Media. March 1996. p. 41.
  13. Rossi, Matthew (13 June 2012). "Know Your Lore: The true end boss of Mists of Pandaria?". Engadget . Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  14. 1 2 3 Scorpia (August 1994). "Scorpia The Avatar". Scorpia's Sting. Computer Gaming World . No. 121. pp. 29–33. Archived from the original on 2 January 2018. Retrieved 21 November 2017.
  15. 1 2 Kaiser, Rowan (13 July 2010). "Stop Killing the Foozle!". The Escapist . Archived from the original on 22 December 2017. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  16. Scorpia (20 May 2009). "Looking Evil". Scorpia's Gaming Lair. Archived from the original on 7 April 2016. Retrieved 11 November 2018.