By 25 March 2014 | Categories: feature articles


We’ve all been there, you’re merrily making your way through a new game without a care in the world and the next thing you know, you’re face to face with a video game boss ready to tear your character’s head clean of its shoulders. So you you decide to tackle it head on and come up trumps. No problem, just take a short break and that will do the trick. Re-energised from your power nap, you attempt to battle this boss once again, but sadly still no luck. After a couple hours of frustrating failure, a terrifying and soul wrenching thought starts to enter your mind… Is the computer trying to make me lose? Am I part of some larger video game conspiracy? No, it couldn’t be… could it? Suddenly you begin to contemplate using a walkthrough guide or even worse, a cheat.  

This is our roundup of the toughest video game bosses, we have ever encountered. They range in gender, species, ability and size, with one being an inanimate object. Please note that TechSmart is in way responsible for any depressive relapses or painful reminders as a result of reading this list. Enjoy.  

Queen Larsa, Mushihimesama Futari (Insect Princess Duo) (2006)

Cave on Arcade, Xbox 360 and iOS

Mushihimesama Futari, which roughly translates “Insect Princess Duo”, is a bullet hell shooter that ranks among one of the toughest the genre has ever produced. making its way to Japanese arcades in October 2006. The game then made the jump to Xbox 360 in November 2009.

Although simple in its gameplay style, this game is one for the toughest you will ever come across for one reason, Queen Larsa, a boss you will face in stage five of the game. What makes this boss so difficult to go up against, is that there is no out and out strategy when battling this boss.

Queen Larsa fires an intricately designed set of purple ‘blobs’ at your character, which are impossible to read and punishingly hard to maneuver through. If by some stroke of genius you can handle that, you also have to inflict enough damage to her to win. This in itself is quite the task to accomplish, as it takes a full five minutes of constant fire to bring this boss down.

The only way to defeat the Queen is with a buddhist monk-like level of concentration and plenty of luck. Many an agonising evening and online forum post has been dedicated to this most unholy of bosses. For those skilled few able to defeat her in ‘God Mode’, we salute you.          

Tabuu, Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008)

Sora Ltd on Nintendo Wii

On the face of it, Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Nintendo Wii looks a fairly innocuous and simple gaming title, but you’d be sorely mistaken. This is all down to one character, Tabuu, who assumes the role of the main antagonist, leader and final boss of the Subspace Army.

For gamers unfamiliar with this title, players can choose a four-character tag team to fight against the Subspace Army, all of which are drawn from the Nintendo universe.

What makes this boss so difficult to overcome, is the sheer array of offensive attacks he possesses, all of which can defeat your characters in two fell swoops. This is added to the fact that gamers are given little to no time to produce combination attacks, which means very little damage can be inflicted upon him. Tabuu is also extremely fast and elusive, as he can teleport in an instant, further making combination attacks hard to pull off.        

A good tactic to adopt when facing Tabuu is to choose characters with great speed, this should provide players with the ability to effectively dodge and avoid the devastating attacks from this boss. Next is patience, if you can hold out for long enough, you just might have a chance of toppling this formidable boss.  

Ultimate Alma, Ninja Gaiden (2004)

Team Ninja on Xbox

This boss should be familiar to those gamers who purchased the original Microsoft Xbox, and is still widely considered the toughest boss of the entire Ninja Gaiden franchise. Ultimate Alma was once a kind-hearted young girl who hunted fiends along with her sister Rachel. Alma was lured by Doku (Lord of the Greater Fiends and Vigoor Empire) and transformed into a Greater Fiend (one of five total), taking on a demonic form, and posing the greatest threat to the player’s main character, Ryu.

The attributes that make Ultimate Alma such a daunting boss was her lightning fast speed and ability to counterattack most attacks. Other tools in her arsenal include a barrage of fireballs that are extremely difficult to out manoeuvre, as well as a tractor beam that if grabs hold of your character, cannot be escaped. Added to this is Alma’s ability to fly, which makes her an elusive target to land a telling blow on.

The most effective tactic to employ against this boss is to dodge as many attacks as possible and bide one’s time, striking only when she is powering up for major assaults. This approach requires a combination of endurance and quickness in order to overcome this insanely tough boss.

Technically speaking, players cannot defeat Alma, only injure and cause enough damage for her to retreat and make an appearance later on in the game. Her demise comes through sacrifice, as she rediscovers her true human identity and lays her life on the line in place of her sister, Rachel.       

Dragonslayer Ornstein and Executioner Smough, Dark Souls (2011)

From Software on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3

We all know that Dark Souls is one the most brutally tough games to be played in recent history. But it’s pretty to hard to pinpoint one specific aspect as the most difficult part of the game, however one boss battle seems to pop up again and again amongst gamers. The battle that pits players against two bosses, Dragonslayer Ornstein and Executioner Smough, is believed to be the toughest in the game itself.

The reason for this battle’s demanding nature is the fact that Ornstein and Smough compliment each other so well. Ornstein, is the unofficial leader of the Four Knights of Gwyn, armed with lightning-wielding longspear and immense speed and agility, forcing players to approach with caution. Smough conversely moves a lot slower than the Dragonslayer, but handles a giant hammer capable of inflicting massive amounts of damage to players.

This beguiling mix of speed and power is demanding on gamers and requires a firm choice to be made on one of the two bosses to target first. Because Smough is slower, it makes him an ‘easier’ option, but you have to be wary of the fast movement of Ornstein and his lightning spear. Added to this boss battle is the fact that it has two stages, the first requiring you to kill at least one of bosses. The second stage has both bosses health fully restored and forces players to try and repeat the feat.

We will have to wait and see whether or not the newly released Dark Souls II is equally testing of gamers skill.         

Psycho Mantis, Metal Gear Solid (1998)

Konami on Playstation

The boss battle in Metal Gear Solid with Psycho Mantis will go down as one of the most original and freaky in gaming history; this is why he ranks as one of the toughest bosses and most memorable adversaries in the MGS franchise. Psycho Mantis was a member of FOXHOUND, imbued with advanced telekinetic and psychic abilities. This added up to a formidable challenge for gamers, requiring some out-of-the-box thinking in order to get the best of him.

Players’ encounter with Psycho Mantis was so unforgettable for a number of reasons, the main one being his innovative gameplay, bordering on the creepy. Among Mantis’ many fighting tactics, he had a blackout power which created a black screen with the word ‘HIDEO’ in the top right hand corner.

Another weird gameplay feature was the Mantis’ ability to ‘read’ player’s memory card data, making comments about how many saves have been made as well as referencing specific titles previously played. The most impressive though was his ‘power’ to activate the vibrate feature and disabling gamers controllers. The only way to counteract this, lied in changing ports to continue fighting.

This was unprecedented in gaming and players that were able to figure out how to defeat him without any assistance, wore it proudly as a badge of honour.           


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