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A boss is an enemy-based challenge (and a computer-controlled opponent in such challenge) which is found in video games.[1] A fight with a boss character is commonly referred to as a boss battle.[2] Boss battles are generally seen at the climax of a particular section of the game, usually at the end of a stage or level, or guarding a specific objective, and the boss enemy is generally far stronger than the opponents the player has faced up to that point.[3]



Mothership from the arcade game Phoenix

The first interactive game to feature a boss was dnd, a 1975 computer role-playing 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][7]

The first arcade game to feature a boss was Phoenix, a fixed shooter developed by Taito in 1980.[8] Phoenix includes five levels ("Rounds") which pit the player against swarms of alien birds. During the first two Rounds, the player is assaulted by the pigeon-like "Scouts", whereas the more formidable "Soldiers" are introduced in Rounds 3 and 4. On disposing these enemies, a giant mothership appears in the fifth and final Round.[9]


Bosses are "super-powered" in comparison with regular enemies, and are usually found at the end of a level or area.[10] Most games also include a "final" boss, which is usually the main antagonist in the story, at the very end of the game. Some well known final bosses are Bowser (Mario series), Doctor Robotnik (Sonic the Hedgehog), King DeDeDe (Kirby), Dr. Wily (Mega Man series), and Ganon (Legend of Zelda). While most games include a mixture of boss opponents and regular opponents, some games have only regular opponents and some games have only bosses – for example, Shadow of the Colossus for the PlayStation 2 has no enemies other than bosses.[11] In games such as Duke Nukem 3D, the first boss even reappears throughout the game as an uncommon enemy, however they are weaker than the original.

Boss battles are typically seen as dramatic events. As such, they are usually characterized with unique music, and/or 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.

In some games, the final boss returns after being defeated, sometimes in a new form with alternate attacks, this can repeat a certain number of times before the player faces their final and most powerful form, after which they have beaten the game.

Some games also feature a sequence of consecutive boss battles as an extra challenge.


A miniboss, also known as a middle boss or midboss, is a boss smaller and usually weaker than the main boss in the area or level. Some well known minibosses are Dark Link (The Legend of Zelda series), Vile (Mega Man X series) and Bowser Jr. ([[Mario (series)]). Minibosses are sometimes encountered later in the game as normal enemies.


A superboss is a type of boss most commonly found in RPG games. They are considered optional enemies (i.e. the player is not required to fight the boss to complete the main game), although not all optional bosses are superbosses. They are generally much more powerful than the bosses encountered as part of the main game's plot or quest, and often the player is required to complete a sidequest to gain access to the superboss battle. Superbosses are intended to give the player a challenge, to demonstrate mastery of the game. The most well-known examples appear in the Final Fantasy series of games, and include the Ruby and Emerald Weapons in Final Fantasy VII, Ultimate Weapon and Omega Weapon in Final Fantasy VIII, Ozma in Final Fantasy IX, Penance in Final Fantasy X, and Vercingetorix in Final Fantasy XIII.


  1. ^ Burt, Andy (2008-4). "No More Heroes: The Killer Boss Guide", GamePro vol. 235., pg. 66.
  2. ^ Top 5 boss battles. MSNBC. Retrieved on 2008-03-25.
  3. ^ Thompson, Clive. (2006-05-08) Who's the Boss? Wired. Retrieved on 2008-03-22.
  4. ^ a b Gary Whisenhunt, Ray Wood, Dirk Pellett, and Flint Pellett's DND. The Armory. Retrieved on 2008-04-08.
  5. ^ a b dnd (The Game of Dungeons). Universal Videogame List. Retrieved on 2008-04-09.
  6. ^ The History of Computer Role-Playing Games Part 1: The Early Years (1980-1983). Gamasutra. Retrieved on 2008-04-07.
  7. ^ Dnd (computer game). Retrieved on 2008-04-03.
  8. ^ Sterbakov, Hugh. (2008-03-05) The 47 Most Diabolical Video-Game Villains of All Time. Gamepro. Retrieved on 2008-04-28.
  9. ^ Phoenix. Arcade-History. Retrieved on 2008-03-14.
  10. ^ Thompson, Clive (6 May 2004). "Tough Love: Can a video game be too hard?". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 1 March 2009. 
  11. ^ Roper, Chris (2005). "Shadow of the Colossus Review". IGN. Retrieved July 21 200. 

External links


Simple English

In video games, a boss is a powerful enemy which is much stronger than other normal enemies in the game. Usually a boss is unique, meaning there is only one of it, but sometimes it must be fought more than one time. Bosses are most often found at the end of a level or the game.


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