Any Japanese Role Playing Game produced nowadays, if they are worth playing, always has optional content, from areas one can miss to over the top bosses that can challenge even the most dedicated players. However, not everything is created equal as these “Challenges” can often be anything but. Where developers confuse unfair advantages and game breaking pointless tasks with a true challenge.

If a game manages to strike the right balance, a Super Boss can be the most memorable fight in a fifty hour experience and can serve as a true bookend, so dozens of hours of extra playtime is worth it. The greats test not just your level and gear but a player’s skill as well, separating the wheat from the chaff. With that in mind, here are some of the most unforgettable Super Bosses in gaming.

For many gamers, any of the late game Marks in Final Fantasy XII could justifiably find its way on this list. The last fifteen or so hunts are heads and shoulders stronger than any of the stories main bosses, including the “final boss” of the game itself. However the gap between the second to last Mark and the final Mark is one of the earth to the moon. There is nothing like Yiazmat really before or since in a single player RPG.

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As Final Fantasy XII was basically a single player MMO, a lot of these bosses took on a Raid Boss feel with excessive health and the ability to push out more damage the longer the fight goes on. Yiazmat takes this too an insane level with over fifty million hit points, and it can take most players well over two hours to beat him even maxed out with end game gear. Yiazmat is basically a Raid Boss that forces you to beat it with one party rather than fifteen.

In an era before trophies and achievements, beating Yiazmat wasn’t for the digital trinket. It was to say you were among the best, you actually did it, you beat the biggest and baddest monster in gaming. I myself only beat him once and it took me four hours - slow by most standards. When Final Fantasy XII - The Zodiac Age releases for the PS4 next year, I know for a fact I’m going to try to break my time to take this Mark down.

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I wrote above a good Super Boss should be fair and challenging... well this one is the exception. Imagine playing a pure action game for 30 hours, you have the best weapons, beat the hardest challenges all that is left for the final ending is one boss. You are ready to kick ass and take names, and nothing can stop your slaughter. Then... the boss is one giant Rhythm Game with no clues on how to play exactly the same kind of boss from Drakengard 2 everybody hated.

Yes this is the final Boss to Drakengard 3. The only reason it is here is that it is quite possibly the biggest troll in modern gaming. Drakengard 3 you see is very self aware, the game knows how messed up it is. As the game goes on, it makes it harder narratively to stand it as basically the game continually asks you, why do you put up with this? The Flower is the ultimate result of that, not a reward for finishing the game but a punishment.

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I will be frank: I had to cheat to beat this “boss”. Only with outside help telling you the exact moment to press the keys could I beat this game. How is it so hard you ask? Well the game has one final laugh, as after the screen goes dark it sends three attacks without warning or any way to know about them. Yes the game continues to try to kill you AFTER THE BOSS HAS BEEN DEFEATED. This boss isn’t fair but damn if you don’t respect the balls it took to program this thing in the first place.

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Chrono Trigger is a classic in every sense of the word. Considered one of, if not the greatest game ever made, and certainly a milestone for RPGs and game design. This makes it hard to top, so when a near 1:1 port of the SNES/PSX classic made its way to the Nintendo DS, collectors knew they had to play it again. However while the game remained much the same, they had one major addition a new and optional boss.

The Dream Devourer is accessed by beating the only new area in the game, the Dimensional Vortex. While there, Crono and the Party meet an alternate dimension Magus leading to a new alternate ending. To access it the Dream Devourer is formed as a combination of Lavos and Another.

Interestingly the new boss serves a meta void too. Strongly linking Chrono Trigger with its less well-received sequel, Chrono Cross, as the Dream Devourer over time becomes the Chrono Cross boss the Time Devourer. While the boss fight itself isn’t anything to write home about, it’s still a fun and surprising addition to the classic game.

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You thought I was going to go with the Moon Presence didn’t you, being the header and all? As the Final Optional Boss of Bloodborne it would be an obvious choice; as a Great One the most powerful and deadly race in the game and pretty much the perfect Eldrich Abomination, so why not? Well the issue is it is not actually the hardest boss in the game, nope that honour goes to its gatekeeper Gehrman, The First Hunter.

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Right off the bat, Gehrman is amazing because of his weapon, the scythe. You know this guy means business when his main weapon is one of the most bad ass in gaming. Coming anywhere near this man and you’re liable to get sliced to ribbons faster than you can count to three.

Along with his range he has speed to spare. My first few deaths (and I died more than a few times) was just getting used to his patterns and agility. While earlier bosses were erratic they were dodgeable at least, Gehrman less so being both relentless and quick about it. At the very least his stagger window is bigger than other Hunters being his most glaring weakness. While beating the Moon Presence may get you an ending, beating Gehrman gives you satisfaction.

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As one of the most visible villains in all of Final Fantasy and the best next only to Kefka, it’s a small wonder Sephiroth remains the only main Final Fantasy villain to appear in a Kingdom Hearts (Seifer doesn’t count as he wasn’t the “main” villain) game. Beyond that, what makes him so unique in the game is his overwhelming power, while formidable in his own game, his skill is unmatched in Kingdom Hearts.

If you expect an easy fight when standing against the wielder of Masamune you are mistaken. One major hindrance to victory in these fights is the systems itself, Sephiroth is much quicker and more agile than Sora alone in either of their encounters, with only Cloud likely to be a worthy foe. As such there is a steep learning curve to the fights. While Kingdom Hearts is an able Action RPG, Sephiroth tests the limits of its system as much as it tests the skill of the player.

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Honestly the fights really push what one could consider “fair” especially from a PS2 game. With the final entry and Kingdom Hearts 3 coming ever closer I’m hoping with the power of the eighth generation of game consoles, we may finally have a fight worthy of Final Fantasy’s greatest swordsman.

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Did you know every Tri-Ace game takes place in the same Universe? From Star Ocean to Valkyrie Profile there is always one constant. The Celestial Beings, the angelic forces that watch over and aid you, test you, and insult you. Standing above them is the duo of Gabriel Celeste and The Ethereal Queen.

While Gabriel Celestia is strong, the Queen makes him look like a pushover. In (almost) every game her power is unrivaled with Area of Effect attacks that can destroy a players team without much effort, to single target one hit knock outs, she is formidable. Tri-Ace’s final challenge to who ever makes it through their games.

What is also interesting though is the fact unlike most Super Bosses she grows with each defeat. Possessing three forms, as she powers, up she grows wings to show off her new power. To even contemplate fighting her a player must have both the ultimate weapons and a beyond Max (Lvl. 99) team. While not every Tri-Ace game is great, her fight is always memorable, partially due to the challenge and partially do the fact she’s an arrogant witch. Plus even in defeat her arrogance is still absolute, as she has one of the best sign offs in gaming “Now what will you do with your power?” Turn off the game I suppose... there is nobody left to conquer.

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No list on Super Bosses can be complete without mentioning the Emerald Weapon. Due to Final Fantasy VII’s historical significance and popularity in the development of JRPGs, it’s likely without Emerald Weapon I wouldn’t be writing this list right now. Although since VII was released there have been far stronger, tougher, and ingenious bosses; Emerald Weapon will remain important as the first (or most recognized as the first).

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Much like Final Fantasy VII in general, Emerald Weapon set the standard for optional Super Bosses going forward. They’re big, they’re tough, and if you beat them there is nothing left to be thrown as you. In short they’re only there for a player’s masochistic pride to be the best.

Emerald Weapon was the first fight I tried over and over to beat and it wont be the last. It’s why I love Super Bosses and one of the reasons I love Japanese games as a good Super Boss can make or break a game. How many of you play a game just to fight your favorite Super Boss one more time, to see if you still can?

In the end I don’t think there is much left to say other than what are some of your favorites? Are you the crazy type who spends an extra 20 hours grinding just to be able to fight these beasts like me? Or do you think the whole idea is silly. Regardless let me know in the comments, now if you excuse me I’m going to go back to getting my ass handed to me by Gabriel Celeste in Star Ocean V.

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