Some video games feature a Boss Rush
, which is when you have to fight several bosses in quick succession. Boss Games take this to the next level: The whole thing is nothing
but boss battles with sometimes the occasional breather segment in between. The polar opposite is Mooks but No Bosses
, and the extreme end of Easy Levels, Hard Bosses
. Boss-Only Level
is a Sub-Trope
, in which only one
level is just a boss (or bosses are just separate from the main levels).
Boss Games come in three flavors:
- Type 1: An original game with a main focus on fighting bosses: There may be "fodder" enemies (or at least pauses) between each fight, but those segments are easy and very short.
- Type 2: The entire game is one continuous battle against a single opponent, usually one who changes depending on the performance of the player. These games tend to be rather short but intense, and are almost always 2D Shoot-Em-Ups.
- Type 3: A "special" edition/port/hack of a normal game with everything except the bosses removed, similar to a Boss Rush.
- Alien Soldier. There are more bosses than levels if you count each form of Seven Force separately, and it even holds the current world record for "Most boss battles in a run and gun game" with 25!
- Contra: Hard Corps and Shattered Soldier.
- Aero Fighters 3
- Shadow of the Colossus — interesting because they are all Puzzle Bosses, and, appropriately, Colossus Climbs.
- Radiant Silvergun. In some cases, there's only a short segment of normal enemies between bosses and after stage 5, there are no normal enemy segments between bosses.
- In a similar case, Sin and Punishment and its sequel features many boss encounters, and even the few re-occuring (mini-)bosses like the Mole Seemer have different patterns.
- King Of The Monsters 2 (The Neo Geo original; the SNES version has longer levels and the Sega Genesis port is more of a straight one-on-one fighter.)
- The Windows Touhou games are loose examples of type 1. The stages aren't exactly short due to the fixed scrolling rate, but depending on the difficulty, boss fights can take five to six times as long as the stage (or more than ten times if the bosses have attacks that render them invincible for a duration). The PC-98 games had better developed stages and don't fit this trope as well.
- Special mention goes to the 9th game, Phantasmagoria of Flower View, which is 100% boss fight, with random Mooks flying around in order to allow you to build up your Spell Cards and attack your opponent.
- Stretch Panic
- No More Heroes. Especially the sequel, where everything but the boss battles (and the short levels leading to them) became optional.
- Chaos Field. The original game consisted entirely of boss battles, while the Expanded mode in the GameCube version has waves of cannon fodder enemies between bosses.
- Spawn: In The Demon's Hand, an arcade and Dreamcast beat 'em up game, has Boss Attack as its main mode, where you fight a boss in each stage, though most of them are accompanied by mooks, and you'll often have to take out a few to get the boss to appear.
- The Monster Hunter series is an interesting example, as your character is essentially just one of thousands of hunters who gets paid to go out hunting wild animals; it just so happens that virtually everything in their ecosystem is huge. A typical hunting mission calls for the player to go out hunting a (singular) monster, which are functionally boss fights. While there are more Mook-level monsters in the game, they tend to pose almost no danger to the player and probably get ignored by players 90% of the time.
- Ragnarok Odyssey and its enhanced remake, Ragnarok Odyssey ACE: essentially Monster Hunter meets Ragnarok Online.
- Blood Will Tell
- Fraxy. You have a choice of either choosing what boss you wish to fight, or letting the game choose for you. Be warned, however, that the game will sometimes pit you against That One Boss.
- Every Fighting Game is basically this. This is especially noticeable with older games like the original Street Fighter or the first Fatal Fury, which had a much more limited choice of player characters.
- The first Fatal Fury was very obviously an action game with a fighting game setup (one punch, kick, and throw button, clear demarcation between the heroes and the enemies, 2-against-1 mode).
- Monster Maulers, Metamoqester, and Red Earth are rare examples of boss-based fighting games made after Street Fighter II.
- Forbidden Forest and Beyond Forbidden Forest for the Commodore64. A relatively short game which is more or less a Boss Game, the second more so than the first. Notable for the fact that you play as a Bounty Hunter who's been paid to make a hit on a god. Yowza.
- Kingdom Death: Monster pits human survivor miniatures against giant boss miniatures. Some monsters are easier than others, but none are ever a sure kill.
- The Arena game in Kirby Super Star, and the Helper to Hero and True Arena games in the Updated Re-release Kirby Super Star Ultra. In the second of the three, you play not as Kirby, but as a helper-fied mook.
- Clean Asia: Two of the three stages are a sequence of bosses, and are timed. The other stage plays like a normal vertical shooter, finishing in a boss fight (but no completion time is given).
- The flash game Bosses!. (One of them is Mega Man (Classic) in all but name, and you in fact play as a Mega Man Expy with the same attacks.)
- Banana Nababa is a throwback to 8-bit, Nintendo Hard bosses. Mercifully, if you die you only have to repeat the boss you died on and not lose your entire progress.
- Gundemonium (Recollection) and GundeadliGne
- The Punch-Out!! series, essentially boss-only vertical scroll shooters with fists instead of bullets.
- Creature Shock is a Full Motion Video example of this. After the Rail Shooter opening, the whole game consists of a simplistic adventure game broken up by light-gun fights against alien creatures, all of them completely unique.
- Kageki. Arcade was bosses-only; Genesis port had a few token mooks. Interestingly, the arcade cabinet made a half-baked attempt to pass it off as a boxing game with "Three knockdowns = TKO (Technical Knock Out)", this despite the fact that only three foes in the game require that number of knockdowns.
- Yie Ar Kung Fu. The hero (Oolong) was a little bitty sprite who used a bunch of chopsocky moves against a series of increasingly tougher opponents, also little bitty sprites. The reason the game required so much empty space above the combatants was that Oolong could jump about 40 feet high, and in fact lots (and lots and lots and lots) of jumping was key to beating most of the opponents.
- Power Stone 2, especially the Pharaoh Walker and Dr. Erode fights.
- Urban Reign. There are a few characters that qualify as flunkies, but for the most part, you're up against various combinations of big bosses, lieutenants, Elite Mooks, Quirky Miniboss Squads, and the occasional Worf. Many of the stages allow you to have a partner.
- Endless Frontier and its sequel may be considered this. The mooks are mostly weak and easy to go through, while bosses take a while and there's tons of them (and often you face them twice). The sequel even has hunting a bunch of Bonus Bosses as a Side Quest.
- Street Fighter 2010, despite its name, is a platformer (that also has nothing to do with Street Fighter) with very short stages. The meat of the game is the boss fights, and Capcom knew it. Many bosses don't even have a stage preceding them, and you're immediately thrust into the fight.
- Krazy Ivan. There are randomly-spawning mooks, but most of the game is spent in one-on-one shootouts against unique enemy mechs.
- rRootage. 30 non-random stages * 5 bosses per stage * 4 modes = 600 boss battles.
- Battle Clash and its sequel are light gun games that consist entirely of boss battles with Humongous Mecha.
- EverQuest II, especially when it comes to the raid dungeons, has been getting steadily more like this.
- Castlevania Fighter, a homebrewed game developed using M.U.G.E.N, is a humongous boss rush where you choose a character, choose a difficulty level, then take on just about every meaningful boss from the series that has a sprite which wouldn't clash with those of SotN-styled characters. Oh, and most of them have even more attacks than they did in their original games.
- Death Duel. Notable because it's an early Light Gun Game (... without the light gun).
- Strider 2. There's actually a wide variety of fodder enemies, but the levels are very short and often end with a mid-boss battle.
- Bomberman Quest. Every enemy is a miniboss with some HP, different attacks, weaknesses, and a battle theme playing while they're not yet defeated.
- Star Wars Episode III. The levels get shorter and shorter, and increasingly focus on you vs. one enemy, to the point of being a Fighting Game with a few short hallways between arenas.
- In Malicious, the focus is on defeating a giant boss in each area, but all the while you're being attacked by hordes of Mooks that can be farmed for Aura, which can be used to heal yourself or power-up your attacks for a brief period of time. Which you'll need to do, as, particularly in the early game, you simply aren't a match for the bosses without the boost to attack and defense.
- Find Mii or StreetPass Quest. The whole game is nothing but fights against either enemies, mini bosses or bosses, there's never any walking or travelling around involved.
- Protoganda: Strings, Protoganda II, Fractal Fighter are all Bullet Hell games with nothing but bosses.
- Lemegeton has mook sections that generally aren't all that dangerous (although some enemies, like the Wood Men, can be rather obnoxious). Bosses, on the other hand, are just about everywhere—every third or fourth room, on average. The first episode had ten bosses, the second episode eleven. There's two more episodes planned.
- As befitting the source material, the video game based on part 5 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure features dozens of bosses and no mooks of any kind. Save one chapter involving avoiding the boss, and another that's just a cutscene, the game is simply multi-stage bosses, with some even spanning two or three chapters.
- Kirby's Pinball Land can be seen as this, as the gameplay consists of nothing but playing each table for the purpose of fighting the corresponding boss.
- Sky Serpents has a series of bosses across fifteen levels. Beyond a brief intro section, you spend the game fighting them.
- Cuphead has a strong emphasis on boss battles—the developer is going for a Guinness World Record of 30 bosses for a run-and-gun game, with more released later as downloadable content.
- Evolve. There are smaller Mooks in each level and one huge monster as the boss- killing it allows the hunters to win. The catch is that the boss itself is playable.
- The flash game Level Up!
- Warning Forever
- Ultimate Crab Battle
- A game on Neopets is appropriately called 'The Neverending Boss Battle'.
- The obscure arcade game Omega Fighter consists entirely of a battle against a giant enemy warship, with each stage corresponding to a different part of the ship.
- The indie Xbox360 game You Will Die
- You Have to Burn the Rope. This one is a major nutbuster.
- The old Vector Game Star Castle, though from an era when it was not common for video games to have levels to explore or varied stage design, has the one big enemy to destroy always present.
- ZHP advertises itself as such. The intro says that the whole game is nothing but one long epic battle...which is sort of correct. The big bad, Darkdeath Evilman, is continuously trying to kill you and Super Baby, he just punts you into orbit away from the action every level, and you have to fight through a random dungeon just to get back to him (and get your ass thrown into outer space again). So this is invoked meta-wise if not gameplay-wise.
- The upcoming game Endless Boss Fight.
- The (very rare) Comiket 74 release of the "Boss Rush-only" edition of Ether Vapor that strips the game down to nothing but its boss battles.
- Destroy The Godmodder is an extremely lengthy one of these, probably helped because the godmodder tends to summon minions to help him out.
- Darius Alpha, a rare variant of Darius Plus in which you fight all of the bosses of Darius Plus one after the other.
- Ketsui: Death Label on the Nintendo DS (with the "Extra Course" being the sole exception by virtue of being a full-length stage with a special version the game's True Final Boss at the end of it).
- Touhou 9.5: Shoot the Bullet is a straighter example. Since the objective is to take photos of the various residents of Gensokyo, each stage consists solely of Aya vs Boss. Also true of its sequel, Double Spoiler.
- The Sonic the Hedgehog 2 ROM hack Robotnik's Revenge is a boss rush of all 17 bosses from the first two Sonic the Hedgehog games.
- A cheat code for Kirby's Pinball Land will turn it into this, eliminating the main pinball stages and instead sending you straight to the boss battles.
- There are two different passwords in Xexyz that allow you to play against only the bosses (one for the odd-numbered ground stages, and another for the even-numbered flying stages).
- The Mega Man 2 fan game Rockman 2 Neta, which allows you to fight the 8 Robot Masters of said game all at once.
- Reallyjoel's Dad mode in Hero Core is a parody of this that's supposed to be impossible to beat. It consists of a single room that contains every single boss in the game.
- The Super Mario World ROM hack Brutal Mario/Super Kituku World by Carol
- Most of the later Ys games have a "time attack" mode where you fight all the game's bosses one after another.
- Mega Man: The Power Battle and the sequel The Power Fighters masquerade as fighting games, but are actually a selection of Robot Master battles (without the preceding stages) from the main series strung together.