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These Are The 5 Best Boss Battles In Video Game History

Boss battles are often the crux of a video game, making or breaking the entire experience in one white-knuckled showdown with the main antagonist. After decades of releases, which boss battles stand out above the rest?

Here are five of the best boss battles ever.

Abyss Watchers (Dark Souls 3)

Before you jump down my throat for picking a very new boss from the illustrious series and not Dragon Slayer Ornstein and Executioner Smough, consider the precedent of the latest release. DS3 has attracted more players than its predecessors, both experienced lieutenants of mayhem and baby-faced recruits.

That being said, even more seasoned DS fans found the Abyss Watchers to be a serious test of their skills — and patience.

At its core, the fight isn’t complex: The boss uses the same rotating move set, which you can memorize and anticipate. But, when you add in other Abyss Watchers who effing resurrect themselves to fight you, the stakes get raised much higher. Toss in a second phase involving flaming weapons and you get a recipe for fury.

While you’ll find plenty of gamers claiming to beat this boss in one or two tries, many viewed the Abyss Watchers as the first true test against the Lords of Cinder.


Hitler (Wolfenstein 3D)

Released in 1992, the game that defined a generation of run-and-run shooters had countless memorable sequences. From shoot-’em-up chain guns to secret passages filled with gold, Wolfenstein 3D established what it meant to capture the minds of gamers everywhere.

But, toss in a final battle against King Asshole himself, Adolf Hitler, and you’ve got the classic boss battle you’ve been waiting for.

Hitler’s appearance starts with him wearing a spooky black cape, floating around the screen while he screeches some German at you. You can gun him down, but it’s clear this isn’t his final form. Next comes a freaking mechanical suit, followed by the Führer in a his military garb, stalking after you in an enclosed room.

He’s fast and takes insane amounts of damage, but once you make him say auf wiedersehen, he melts into a crazy pool of meat and bones as you hoot and holler in victory.


Psycho Mantis (Metal Gear Solid)

Hideo Kojima’s magnum opus series is packed with memorable villains and subsequent showdowns, including a one-man battle against dozens of Metal Gears in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. But, it’s the Psycho Mantis battle from the first MGS that takes the top spot.

A powerful telekinetic being, Mantis was downright creepy in his own right. The gas mask and BDSM leather outfit were far ahead of Rihanna’s attempts at edginess. Yet, it was the imaginative gameplay in the fight that defined this battle as one of the best of all time.

Mantis was able to read the contents of your memory card and judge the number of games you played. Once the real fight began, he easily anticipated your every move — until you realized you had to plug your controller into the second port to avoid his powers. While he became pretty beatable after, many attempts were foiled by this tiny, but creative wrinkle in the game.


Mike Tyson (Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!)

The classic boxing game on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was filled with quality fights, but none could ever top the final showdown against Mike Tyson.

I mean, the man was already terrifying enough as a human being when he was introduced as the final boss that player-controlled Little Mac had to face.

Previous opponents always had small tells that gave away their next moves if you were quick enough to catch them. However, Tyson’s hints were few and far between, leaving you sweating throughout the entire match. Couple that with unparalleled speed and nearly unstoppable power, and you’ve got the makings for an epic boss battle with “Iron” Mike.


Dracula (Castlevania)

Is there a more classic series packed with innovative level design and an unforgettable battle against the king of vampires himself, Count Dracula? I think we all know the answer to that question.

Although Dracula has appeared in multiple releases since the original Castlevania, it’s the first battle that everyone remembers the best. Only his head is vulnerable to attack as he flies around the screen, surprising you at every turn with some well-launched fireballs. He even changes into a gray demon as his second form.

What makes it suck the most is knowing Dracula will come back again, over and over and over…

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Liam Feldstein

Freelance Contributor

Liam Feldstein is a Boston-based writer, who also writes video game features on The Kind. He's a big rap fan, a gamer and a movie lover. Liam enjoys short walks through empty parking lots and drinking cold beer at inappropriate times. Follow hi ...
Liam Feldstein is a Boston-based writer, who also writes video game features on The Kind. He's a big rap fan, a gamer and a movie lover. Liam enjoys short walks through empty parking lots and drinking cold beer at inappropriate times. Follow hi ...

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