Boss-Only Level

This is basically the entire level.

"I'm ashamed of you, Rock. Teleporting straight to the boss rooms? I thought I had taught you better."
Dr. Light, Mega Man's Christmas Carol (which is actually a Boss Game)

A level that consists entirely of a Boss Battle. Usually, this is done for plot reasons, even in games which don't have much. Said boss is almost always the mid-game, penultimate, or final boss.

This trope has become increasingly more common in later platformer games with (slightly) deeper plots.

When taken to extremes this leads to a Boss Game, where every level is a Boss-Only Level. Compare Boss Rush, which is a level devoted to several previously-fought bosses. See also Battleship Raid.

The inverse of this is Mooks but No Bosses.


    open/close all folders 

    Action Game 

    Action Adventure 

    Beat 'Em Up 
  • Bayonetta does this with the Four Cardinal Virtues (similar to the Seven Heavenly Virtues...but as angelic monsters), although one of them has a few enemies before the boss fight.
  • This often features on final stages in Devil May Cry.
    • in Devil May Cry the proper fight with the final boss - Mundus The Prince of Darkness, occurs in the peniultimate stage which is just the fight. The last stage is mostly running away from the island where the game took place, but just before you get away you have one last match against Mundus which is much more short and easy.
    • In Devil May Cry 2 it's a battle against first Argosax the Chaos and then the Despair Embodied for Dante's scenario, and a battle against Possessed Arius/Arius-Argosax for Lucia's scenario.
    • In Devil May Cry 3 you fight your brother Vergil for the third and final time, on a shallow river in the bowels of hell.
    • in Devil May Cry 4 Nero fights Sanctus Diabolica, the Big Bad fully ascended. After that, he then fights the False Savior which is somewhat easier.
    • in DMC Devil May Cry you have Vergil as the final boss once again.
  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance does this with the fight against "Jetstream" Sam Rodrigues which counts as an entire chapter.
  • Stage 8 of The Simpsons is a boss fight against Smithers and Burns.
  • Quite a few of these appear in Asura's Wrath. Specifically, the fights against Wyzen, Kalrow and his Fleet, Augus, Olga's fleet, Wrath Asura, The final Deus Battle, the final Gohma Vlitra Battle, The Final Boss Preview battle against Chakravartin, The Final Yasha battle, and finally, the Last Chakravartin battle.
  • MadWorld has one of these in each of the first four areas, each acting as the final boss/stage of the area: Von Twirlenkiller in Downtown (though there's a brief motorcycle segment leading up to it), Yokozuna in Asiantown, Elise in the Castle, and Martin in Area 66.
  • The final boss of Abobo's Big Adventure, Little Mac, gets his own level in the style of his home game.
  • "Technodrome: The Final Shell Shock!" from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time is the Final Boss, Shredder/Super Shredder.
  • The Final Boss of Double Dragon II on the NES gets his own stage as well.
  • The sixth and final level of Black Belt/Hokuto no Ken for the Sega Master System is just a battle against Wang/Raoh.
  • The first Battletoads game has the Dark Queen fight taking up the entire last level.
  • X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse featured two Boss-Only Levels: Danger room fights against Omega Red and Juggernaut.

    Fighting Game 

    First Person Shooter 
  • The only opponent in Episode 1 Level 9 of Wolfenstein 3D was the boss, Hans Grosse.
  • There are some in the Metroid Prime series. These are a first for the Metroid series, as the bosses often reside at the end (or central part) of large zones.
    • The Sky Temple in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes.
    • The Leviathan Seed regions in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption.
  • Doom
    • The Tower of Babel (a fight against the Cyberdemon) and Dis (Spider Mastermind) from Doom.
    • Doom II
      • Icon of Sin (the final level) is this.
      • The second secret level, being a Call Back to the above Wolfenstein 3D level, is also technically this on lower difficulties (Hurt Me Plenty and above add SS Nazis to the level; there's also the four hanging Commander Keen's you have to kill to exit the level, but they're totally harmless).
  • The Lair of Chthon from the original Quake I. No points for guessing what boss you fight in there.
  • The Stadium, the last level of episode three in Duke Nukem 3D; a duel against the Cycloid Emperor on a football stadium.
    "It's down to you and me, you one-eyed freak!"
  • The final level in Batman Doom, featuring a duel against Bane in the ruins of your Batcave.
  • In Mega Man 8 Bit Deathmatch, all of the single player bosses are fought in "seperate" areas in a specially made map. This map, titled Unknown, is unplayable in normal multiplayer and any attempt to play on it will automatically redirect all players to Cut Man's stage.
  • Judge Dredd: Dredd vs. Death: The Smokatorium level is built entirely around defeating Judge Fire, the second boss.

    Hack And Slash 

    Platform Game 
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog series loves this trope. The trend started with the first game (which has the Final Zone), and really took off after The Doomsday Zone, with the final bosses of most games take up their own level, usually played while in Super Mode. In addition, the second game's Death Egg Zone was just two boss fights. Exaggerated in pretty much every Sonic game since Adventure, which all give bosses their own levels.
    • Sonic 3 D Blast gave each boss their own level as well.
    • The Wii and PS2 versions of Sonic Unleashed demote Mazuri to one of these, possibly to save space.
    • While Sonic Lost World mostly averts this trope, the Wii U version of Lava Mountain has this in Zones 1 and 4, while the entire level is this in the 3DS version.
  • Super Mario Galaxy series:
  • Kirby always does this, with the exception of the first game.
  • In general, Mega Man (Classic) games use this for the very last stages.
    • Mega Man 2's final level is short and only leads up to the final battle with the alien hologram.
    • In Mega Man 3, Break Man, and the Wily Machine get stages to their own as does Gamma. Break Man's stage is literally one room - that being the one you fight him in, of course.
    • The ascended fan-game Street Fighter X Mega Man has two stages like this. Balrog and M. Bison.
  • Mega Man X:
    • In Mega Man X4, the duel against Colonel is one of these if you're playing as X. (If you're playing as Zero, you get a cutscene instead.)
    • In Mega Man X5, the battles with Dynamo are this.
  • Earthworm Jim has "Snot a Problem".
  • In the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy, bosses have their own separate levels.
  • The original Spyro the Dragon trilogy gives bosses their own levels.
  • In the Wario Land series, the final boss of 3 has his own level. Every boss in 4 and Shake It! has their own level as well.
    • In Wario World, while there are bosses at the end of actual levels, world bosses are contained in their own level.
  • Donkey Kong:
    • The original Donkey Kong '94 did this, which likely set the trend for the series. Every four stages, you face DK in what is usually a dodging the debris kind of level, then the 8th stage is a fight against DK where you have to fight against him with barrels. The last six levels of the game are also this, where DK and DK Jr. try to harm you every stage and take you down, and it finally ends with a fight against DK, and then a final 9th level activates where you face Giga Kong.
    • Played With in the first Mario vs. Donkey Kong: while clearing the Mini-Mario Levels always leads players to facing Donkey Kong, after the first battle in any given world the Boss Battle itself is freely accessible afterwards, although not going through the MM levels first "punishes" the player with four Hit Points instead of the "usual" six, as it would be the case if all six Mini Marios are rescued. The sequels play it straighter.
    • Every single boss in every Donkey Kong Country game is in a level all its own, with the sole exception of the final boss of Donkey Kong Country Returns. In fact, the final boss of the original game isn't even placed in one of the game worlds; his "level" is just a spot on the overall island map.
  • Castlevania
    • In Castlevania for the NES, stage 12 is a short corridor leading to a Boss Battle, and stage 18 is the famous stairs leading up to an antechamber to the Final Boss room. The MSX2 version turns these into considerably longer levels.
    • In Super Castlevania IV, the final areas consist of a series of chambers housing nothing more than bosses. Slogra, Gaibon, Death, and finally Dracula must be fought in sequence with no mooks interfering.
  • The eighth level of Kid Niki Radical Ninja is really the second part of the Final Boss battle, where he starts running away.
  • Exaggerated in Mischief Makers, every boss has their own stage. Mini-bosses have their own stages!
  • Level 20 of the SNES version of Prince of Persia is just the Final Boss.
  • The Poseidome, the Industrial Park and the Chum Bucket Lab from SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom are this.
  • Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil has one of these for each of its bosses. Door to Phantomile has one for the Final Boss.
  • Stage 8 of Alisia Dragoon is not so much a stage as a showdown with Ornah and Baldour.
  • Every boss level in Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure, with the exception of the first battle against Montana Max in the haunted pirate ship level is this. These are the only types of levels in the game that cannot be revisited once completed.
  • Every boss in The Adventures of Lomax. It's downplayed in that there's a short platforming section before the actual boss fight.

    Role Playing Game 
  • In Freedom Force, the last battle against Time Master is just him and his time clones.
  • Dark Cloud does this with most of its boss fights. The sequel, Dark Chronicle, does the same.
  • Final Fantasy IX
    • This game features the Hill of Despair, where you fight the final boss, Necron.
    • Earth Shrine. A turning point in the plot, since it unlocks the passage to Terra, but the boss is a blend of Gimmick Level (you fight it with Zidane and Quina, of all characters) and Anticlimax Boss (unless you've neglected to learn Blue Magic).
  • Final Fantasy VII has the City of the Ancients (not to be confused with the Temple of the Ancients which precedes it in the plot). There are no random battles, just some items and gear to pick up, a massive plot development followed by a Boss fight, and then Disc 1 is finished.
  • A few examples from World of Warcraft
    • The Eye of Eternity instance only has the fight with Malygos.
    • Trial of the Crusader has five boss encounters and no trash.
    • Throne of the Four Winds only has the fights with the Conclave of Wind and Al'Akir.
    • Most of the holiday bosses have become this, despite taking place in dungeons (which are typically trivially easy for the maximum-level players fighting the boss), as queuing for a holiday boss results in you and your group being sent to where the fight happens, or given a direct route to the fight.
  • Dark Souls
    • The Sanctuary Garden in the Artorias of the Abyss DLC, which consists only of the Sanctuary Guardian's boss arena. When you come back later, there are two Degraded Boss Sanctuary Guardians.
    • The Demon Ruins comes close to being a boss-only level, as it has three bosses and most of the respawning enemies are also degraded bosses.
    • Quelaag's Domain consists of a colossal spider nest linking Blighttown to the aforementioned Demon Ruins. Aside from two Infested Hollows and Quelaag's little sister (plus attendant), there is only the titular Chaos Spider and a Bell of Awakening.
  • A huge chunk of disc 2 of Xenogears is narration, boss fight, narration, boss fight, repeat. Occasionally, you'll crawl through a dungeon before said fight. Occasionally.
  • In Ni no Kuni, the Ghost Ship is just two fights against a mini boss and a boss. Its counterparts, the Glimmering Grotto and the Vault of Tears, are complete dungeons with puzzles to solve and regular enemies to fight.
  • Each Elder Dragon in the Monster Hunter series is fought in one of these. Those places are always unavailable otherwise. In the case of the Underwater Ruins in Tri Ultimate, the lair of Ceadeus, it's also the battlefield to fight Gold Ceadeus and Abyssal Lagiacrus.
  • The final story mission in Dragon Age: Inquisition is a fairly small zone consisting of nothing but the Final Boss fight against Corypheus. Considering how large levels in this game can be...

    Shoot 'Em Up 
  • Famously, the third level of R-Type is essentially one long battle against a giant alien spacecraft.
  • Gundemonium Recollection and Gundeadli Gne do this in their final levels.
  • Zone M/Titanic Lance in Darius Gaiden. Special in that Zone M is right in the middle of the game, and Titanic Lance is generally agreed to be harder than most of the final bosses.
  • The first Bangai-O game has the duel with Sabu in level 26. There are no enemies at all, with the only obstacles being falling block generators.
  • Stage 20 of Alien Soldier consists solely of a Sequential Boss in 7th Force, notable for being the stage with the longest amount of given time to clear it.
  • Segment 3 Lead and Segment 7 from Hellsinker pits you against Sunken Bishop and Rex Cavalier respectivly for almost the entire duration of the stage.
  • The final stage of Steel Saviour has you play what seems to be a level with many "minibosses"... which are revealed to be the Final Boss's Cognizant Limbs. Finally, you fight the main eye at the end.
  • A secret stage in Abmneshi The Prophecy consists of one long fight against the Bonus Boss, Sirisai.
  • The final stage of the arcade version of Manga/Area88 is this, fighting the Project 4 fortress in an orange sky.
  • The final stage of Kamui consists solely of the boss battle with Xaffiquel.
  • Kamui's prequel RefleX
    • Area 4 pits you against Cancer.
    • Area 8, the final area, starts with a short cutscene followed by taking on ZODIAC Libra and two KAMUI units.
  • The last stage of Ray Crisis consists solely of the Final Boss, and if the conditions are met, the True Final Boss.

    Simulation Game 

    Third Person Shooter