Da List: Big Bad Video Game Bosses

Video games are fun, imaginative and undoubtedly a great way to pass time. All of us remember playing the best of the best, like Super Mario Bros. 3, Sonic the Hedgehog, Castlevania, Mega Man; the fan-favorites like Bionic Commando, Metal Slug, Smash TV; or the forgotten ones like Earthworm Jim. Those were great…
And then there are the others. The ones that bring a cloud over an otherwise great day, the ones that you remember with a bitter taste and sore thumbs. These are the ones that were nearly impossible to beat, and had an insanely tough boss that defeated you every single time. In this edition of Da List, the 25 toughest bosses in Video game history are revealed. Read on and remember what it was like…

25) Shinobi 3 Return of the Ninja Master – The Shadow Master (Genesis)
By far the best of the Shinobi games, the last boss was no exception. The Shadow Master would defeat you by his ninja stars, uppercut, fireball, and lethal flips. Oh yea, that’s just his first form, his second one is more powerful. I remember yanking the controller out at numerous times after he killed again and again….

24) NBA Jam – Every single freaking team (Arcade, Genesis, SNES)
I never will again doubt the 3-point shooting of Shawn Kemp. This game alone inspired new respect for NBA players, as every single team could and usually would smoke you by 15 or more. Also, this game contains the most half-court game winners in history. I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t supposed to lose every time I played the Mavericks…especially when they had the worst record in The League for years.

23) Narc – Mr. Big (Arcade)
Remember the anti-drug slogan from the 80’s? “Winners Don’t Use Drugs…they take a .45 and some grenades and kill off every drug dealer in the city.” No? Well, that’s what it meant in Narc. When you get to Mr. Big, any thoughts you may have had about a DEA agent were quickly smashed to pieces by his weaponized, NSA-designed wheelchair. After that, his head makes like a balloon and he proceeds to defeat your with his tongue. I thought about entering the drug trade after this, if only to put more quarters in this to beat him.

22) Resident Evil 2 – Tyrant (Playstation 2)
One of the best games ever made had the ultimate test of survival. Tyrant, who’s been chasing you though the entire game, shows up mutated and more than a little upset because you tossed him in lava. After growing to eight-feet tall with three-foot claws, you must hurt him enough so someone can toss a rocket launcher…only he moves twice as fast as you, halves your life in one hit and you have a time limit. Good luck.

21) Streets of Rage 3 – Mr. X (Genesis)
The best game in the series had a tough-as-nails boss. A robot that specializes in busting your face like a piñata and yes, there’s a time limit. If you don’t beat him, the whole place explodes and Game Over. Not another life or continue, Game Over. You start from the beginning if you lose here. After the first three lives, I suggest you hit pause and drink a Red Bull. You’ll need it.

Ok, so those weren’t so horrible, you stood a shot with them. Not so much with the next group.

20) Metal Slug 3 – Alien Head (Arcade, Neo-Geo)
SNK is known for making generally impossible games and this was no exception. The last level alone features a fight with a giant Alien head in his chamber. This doesn’t sound so bad until you realize that those giant glowing balls of death are entirely too big to dodge, and they never wait for you to move. But that’s just the first part. When you’re falling back to earth, he picks you up, and you have to dodge small, apple-like objects as he emits brain waves. The easiest thing to do was just die, and get ice for your hand.

19) Super Smash Bros Melee – The Trio (Gamecube)
Now, I had already beaten Giga-Bowser, Gannondorf and Mew-two, but seeing the three of them begat in my stomach a feeling of despair. After that 37th pounding, I decided to take a break and write a letter of apology for every time I killed them previously. Sadly, they still killed me on Try #38. And #40, #41, #57…

18) Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater – The End (Playstation 2)
I want you to imagine an old man in a wheelchair, snoring loudly with a briefcase full of money besides him. You’re thinking about taking the money, but then an angel tells you that he’s the world’s deadliest sniper. While you laugh, he wakes up and greets you with a double-tap head-shot. That’s The End. This sniper battle can take over an hour, because you have to find him with a micro-phone to hear him breathe. Old-school to the max.

17) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Dark Link (N64)
This is the only time where you could die with the help of your shadow. Dark Link has everything you do and then some, from swords to magic to general amounts of ass-kicking. I’m still convinced that he let me win one random day so I could feel hope, because I never beat him again.

16) Super R-Type – The Mothership (SNES)
By the time you get here, you’re feeling pretty good about yourself. You see the beginning of the ship and it looks big. Then you see more, and more and more and realize that part of it is sticking out of your TV because it doesn’t fit on the screen. Combine that with at least five constantly firing guns and little space to maneuver in. In real life, if aliens ever had a ship that big, humanity’s screwed.

Ok, so that last group gave you a blister or two. Still going strong? Not after these guys get done with you.

15) Top Gun – The Aircraft Carrier (NES)
Well, if the movie followed the game, we’d all speak Russian right now. After the warning “The Aircraft Carrier is coming!” scared your bladder, the ship shows up and gives you an honest account of what it’s like to fight an aircraft carrier. Going up? No, going down. Going left? No, going down. Praying? Sorry, going down. The best technique was to jump out of the plane.

14) NBA 2K1 – The Lakers (Dreamcast, Playstation)
In the 2000-01 NBA season, the Lakers went 23-1 over their last 24 games of the season, the only blemish being an overtime loss in the NBA Finals. They won every game on the road, and smoked the best defensive team in the league by 39 and 29 points; and had Shaq and Kobe. Trust me when I say this game simulates this and relates what the other teams felt perfectly. Hopelessness, despair, anger, frustration…and Kobe getting 40.
The only time I was glad that I could turn the system off.

13) Mortal Kombat 2 – Kintaro
Another Midway game, and that’s French for “I spent my allowance in the arcade”. The best MK of the series featured a boss who felt it was his destiny to beat up every player in the world. As crazy as that sounds, most times he succeeded…due to the 40% damage of his many moves of instant-defeat. “Kintaro wins” was a common sound around this game.

12) Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out! – Mike Tyson (NES)
Before his cannibalistic tendencies got the better of him, Iron Mike was the best heavyweight around. So, with a name like “Little Mac”, you would fight your way to the top, until you reached Mike the Mauler himself. And just like most of everyone he fought back then, you would hit the ground in 90 seconds or less. One punch KO’s 90% of the time-hell, he still beats me.

11) Mega Man series – Dr. Wily (NES, SNES)
The Mega Man series is one of the hardest around, and every form of Dr. Wily took vicious delight in reducing you to itty-bitty atoms. Mega Man 3 in particular, after you thought you beat him and it turned out to be a doll, the game sends you to the real Final Battle. A clue to how this fight would go is given by the various power-ups, extra lives and energy tanks outside the room…like “Good luck. After you die, come back and see if these help.”

Alright, you’ve been dunked on, shot, impaled, blown up, reduced to mere molecules and lived to see the last 10. Turn back now to avoid bathroom breaks.

10) Tetris – You (Arcade, all platforms)
The most addicting game ever made, it was also one of the toughest as the blocks fell faster and faster. The best and worst part about it was that if you did brick up the entire screen, you had no one to blame but yourself. You are the toughest boss in the game, because your mind couldn’t miscalculate anything or it meant “Game Over”. If you ever wanted to blame someone, look in the mirror.

9) Metroid – Mother Brain (NES)
After playing though this alien world and experiencing how your weapons really do suck at times, you reach the last boss, a giant brain. Now, if you haven’t played this, just imagine a 10-foot, mile-wide baseball bat that has one desire – to hit you until you stop making that funny breathing noise. Then, it transforms and your desire to win goes out the window.

8) Devil May Cry – Nelo Angelo, Dante Must Die mode (Playstation 2)
A genre-defining game with hellishly strong bosses…but Nelo Angelo was cut from a different cloth entirely. The final fight goes something like this: cool music starts, he swings at you with a sword bigger than Godzilla. If you don’t dodge, that is merely the beginning of the combo that will end your life in extreme pain. Oh, you dodged? Good. Now he’ll just jump back and launch ice-spikes from above, don’t get hit-damn, look out for that vitality-sapping uppercut! Ah well, try again. He demands perfection or it’s your ass, simple as that.

7) Contra 3: The Alien Wars – Red Falcon (SNES)
Contra has never been known for fairness, but this is the most frustrating boss designed. Mainly because even if you know the pattern, human reflexes do not move fast enough to dodge the eyes, spike balls and everything else he decides to pummel you with. I’m pretty sure I killed every soldier in the US special forces trying to beat him-and lost.

6) Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – Smoke/Officer Tenpenny (Playstation 2)
This gangsta epic can only end in bloodshed. You have to fight your way through 4 floors of thugs before reaching a coked-out, vest-wearing Smoke, who also has an AK-47. After you’ve dealt with him and the lights going out mid-way through it, you must escape the burning building in 7 minutes. This means fight your way down and put out fires whenever one gets in your path. Once you get outside, it’s a breeze. Just hop in the car and chase a LAPD-manned fire-truck through a riot-filled city while cops, pedestrians and other gangs are trying to take you out. Oh yea, at one point, you’ll have to catch your brother or the ends. CJ, you da man!

5) Dracula X (Castlevania) – Death (PC Engine Super CD-ROM)
To this day, this is best boss name invented, because your ultimate fate was never clearer. He can slow down time, and has scythe blades with varying rates of speed-after he finishes warming up; he decides to play tag with one massive scythe blade of guaranteed homicide. Blade would’ve shown up, and got his ass, arm, and head (complete with shades) handed to him in 30 seconds. Thanks for playing.

4) Devil May Cry 3 – Virgil (Playstation 2)
He’s your older brother, so that’s already an inferiority complex. The last fight in Hell is basically something that nothing else in the game can prepare you for. You’re just going to get repeatedly killed in new and interesting ways. Will it be his orbs of death? His dash and slash? What about his unstoppable five-hit combo of “Start Over”? Without a doubt, a game that earned its toss out the window.

3) Super Street Fighter 2: Turbo – Shin Akuma (Arcade, Playstation, SNES)
The ultimate fighter was created due to a little prank by EGM. They discovered a trick where you could fight Sheng Long for their April fool’s joke. Funny stuff…only a few years later, those smiles came off gamers’ faces. If you got to M.Bison fast enough in Super Street Fighter 2: Turbo, you were treated to a black robed fighter warping on-screen, giving M.Bison the beating of life, tossing him in the background where you could see his broken body and setting his sights on you. He was nearly as fast as Chun-Li, had all of Ryu’s and Ken’s moves, could teleport, and had a double-air fireball that spelled death if you looked close enough. He also had the Shun Goku Satsu, which meant you’d have to put in another quarter to get beat again. We spent two full weeks trying to get this guy, and won the impressive total of one round. Then we broke the joysticks. He was defeated until a new cabinet arrived. Jerk.

2) Samurai Showdown – Amakusa (Neo-Geo/Arcade)
“Look, an SNK game! Crap, guess I won’t have lunch money.”
Well, as far as cheap bosses, this one wins hands down. Where Shin Akuma was ridiculous, at least you could land a combo every now and then. Amakusa takes care of that annoying feature by warping every time you stand a decent chance of damaging his robe. Not to mention that his throw could own you by accident, and his attacks assure that no amount of damage you can dish out will compare to the reaming he just gave you.
Only reason you win? He gives up every once in a great while, then realizes he doesn’t want you to win. Some people, boy…

And the worst, most preposterous boss ever? Well, it’s an entire game.

1) Ninja Gaiden (Xbox)
This puppy’s an invitation to an ulcer. From the moment you press start, every single enemy in the game decides that it will be the one to deliver your face to their master. From the lowliest ninja to cutthroat bosses like Doku, the game is one long beat down where you have to be married to the “block” button. This game has resulted in more smashed controllers than anything else, mainly because it’s so damn good and so damn hard. True story: one day at work, there was a photo circulated of someone who had an eye-ball vein bust when he died for the umpteenth time. Stay away from this one if you enjoy sight.

So next time you think a game could be harder, don’t tempt fate and play these, you’ll hurt yourself.