Early Bird Boss
A frequent form of That One Boss
that tends to appear in RPG
This quick riser shows up well before you've acquired most of your standard abilities, Heart Containers
, or sources of healing
, and has to be fought with the bare minimum of firepower and health. The boss may or may not actually be all that powerful in-and-of-itself, but followers of this trope are made more threatening by your character's lack of all but the most basic abilities/equipment/party members.
If only it showed up an hour later, you'd have the upgrades to beat it handily (and an hour later, you just may
). For now, however, be prepared to either dig in your heels to battle Knight of Slight Peril
with your Pointy-Stick-Of-Mild-Discomfort
or to run back to your save file
. But don't worry, things will get better.
However, if you luck out and find a Disc One Nuke
(or you're determined enough to level grind for long enough), the early bird boss will be about as difficult as an ordinary mook, or possibly even The Goomba
Companion trope of Wake-Up Call Boss
of Early Game Hell
- In BioShock, the Big Daddies are at their hardest at the beginning of the game, when you have fewer, less upgraded weapons and plasmids. These fights get much easier upon obtaining more of these, to the extent that the crossbow (with trap bolts), grenade launcher (with proximity mines) and trap plasmids mean that you may not even have to directly fight them at all.
- BioShock 2 averts this a bit by giving you Trap Rivets for the Rivet Gun—which function like weaker versions of the previous game's Trap Bolts—at the beginning of the level where you first encounter enemy Big Daddies.
- Skies of Arcadia
- The ship battle against Admiral Belleza. There are only two ship fights (both of them easy as hell and meant for figuring out the system) up to this point, along with little ship weapons and armor available to buy; this fight is tough because beforehand, there is a required Hopeless Boss Fight against Recumen that can leave your items and healing magic depleted and your health dwindled. As if those weren't enough, Belleza's ship has high health, is evasive, and can cast attack magic, which the player cannot do at that point in the game.
- The Legends "Wanted" boss battles, as well as the Bonus Boss fights against Piastol are all difficult. Both Piastol's first battle and the "Wanted" boss battle against Rupee and Barta are available early on, and both are hell for players who don't prep beforehand. The former has the Eterni instant death spell, an absurdly powerful S-attack, and is assisted by a hound-type creature who can cast Noxus (mass-poison spell). The latter is a standout example of ''not'' shooting the medic first - Rupee exists to heal and buff Barta (himself ridiculously powerful), but if you try to take out Rupee first, he'll literally go berserk and use an S-move that will instantly kill you unless you're guarding. Worse yet, unlike the other bosses in the game, Piastol and the Wanted battles increase their levels along with yours. It's actually a better idea to take them on as early as they're available, because they level up right with you.
- Persona 4:
- The Shadow Yukiko battle qualifies in a few ways. Decent Persona at this point require a good amount of metaknowledge (that is, Guide Dang It or previous experience with SMT games) to gain. You cannot level up efficiently because you can't heal SP outside of rare items and Arcana Chance events without wasting a day (a finite resource in the entire game) at this point in the game. You have no real healer yet unless you know what you're doing and get the MC a Persona able to do itnote . Unfortunately, doing this also relegates your most potent damage dealer to pure support. Also, she turns into a bird, making this a literal example of an early bird boss.
- Another good example of this trope is the optional boss for Yukiko's Castle, the Contrarian King. If you, as many players do, attempt this boss directly after beating the dungeon for the first time, the combination of your relatively low party level, his high HP, and, most importantly, his usage of the (heavily overpowered) Rampage physical attack (hits whole party, three times, for a ton of damage) will generally lead to you being hideously maimed. On the other hand, if you come back after completing the next dungeon, he's a good deal more manageable, though you're still basically fighting the Random Number God and hoping he doesn't Rampage twice.
- The Queen of Hearts in Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth is one, though not nearly as extreme as the above example. At the time you fight here you only have access to either the P3 or P4 cast, meaning only half the game's playable characters. But mainly, you fight her when you have no access to SP restoration, and she has no weaknesses to give you Boost status (no SP cost on your next turn) and that combined with her large amount of HP and summoning Card Soldiers as shields can easily lead to you getting worn down if you don't use your attacks wisely. In fact, running you out of resources in a battle of attrition is her main strategy, which wouldn't work nearly as well later in the game.
- In the initial versions of Pokémon Red and Blue, Brock can turn into this, especially for players who pick Charmander as their starter, as you have very few options as far as your Pokémon go (your starter and Com Mons for the most part), and even fewer able to exploit his weakness. Yellow and Fire Red/Leaf Green both fix this with new additions, such as Mankey on Route 22 and the rearranging of Nidoran's level-up learnset.note
- Falkner in Pokémon Gold and Silver could be like this, also, as many of the early Com Mons were weak against Flying and there are no super-effective attacks to be found unless you do an in-game trade to get an Onix or level-grind a Geodude - and Falkner has Mud-slap for that (super-effective against Rock-types, and screws their accuracy). However he is not as difficult as his predecessor because unlike Rock-types, Flying-type Pokémon are not resistant to Normal-type attacks that will be the majority of the moves in the players arsenal at the time, nor do they have high defensive stats. The best antidote, oddly enough, was to fight his Flying-types with other Flying-types, as they would be able to avoid the (Ground-type) Mud-Slap attack that his Pokémon used.
- And he's still that way in the Gen IV remakes, particularly if you start with Chikorita, which is weak to Flying-types. Then he hauls out his Pidgeotto with constant use of Roost to heal half of his current health points, which makes things even harder. It definitely pays to get the aforementioned Geodude or Onix.
- The Striaton Triplets are this in Black and White... no, not because of their elemental monkey, which is basically just a glorified tutorial on compensating for your starter's weaknesses, but their Lilipup. At this point nothing you have access to resists Normal or hits it for super effective damage (barring a ridiculously over-grinded Tepig), and Lilipup happens to have a stat boosting move that can result in a Total Party Kill if it gets going. Of course, after this gym you have access to Fighting types, which make all future Lillipups a joke.
- Rival battles early in Pokémon games can sometimes tend to lean towards this due to the rival always using whichever starter Pokémon has a type advantage versus the player's starter combined with a lack of wild pokemon of the types the rival's starter is weak against available for the player to catch early in the game, as well as have late and powerful moves for his underleveled Pokemon, like his Gyarados in Lavender Town's Ghost Tower is around level 30 or so and already knows Hydro Pump. They were especially hard just because you don't know when or where they are gonna happen (at least the first time you play through) and will probably keep bumping into them at the very worst moments. "Uff, finaly made it out of Mt Moon. Let's go straight to the Pokémon Center... just after exploring this most harmless bridge to the north...".
- Pokémon Colosseum also has Early Birds in the form of Mirror B and Skrub. The first comes after a grueling dungeon and the latter has strong Pokemon. The common factor: your Shadow Pokemon are locked in the experience levels that you captured them at until after you defeat Skrub, so Pokemon that seemed good early in Pyrite Town are, well, not at this point.
- Early Bird Bosses tend to be the hardest of all encounters in rom hacks designed to be more difficult than the canon games. One such edit pits the player against Falkner, the very first gym leader in the Johto based games, using an entire team of well rounded flying types, with movesets almost appropriate for the end-game. There are only a handful of weak and/slow Pokémon available to use at that point with attacks that will cause heavy damage to flying types.
- Spikey Tiger in Secret of Mana — He is the last major boss you have to fight without magic. Magic can be a Game Breaker in this game, but this boss has it and you don't. Magic makes the caster invincible while he is casting, it cannot be dodged or blocked, and it holds the target immobile while it is being damaged. This boss can hop on a ledge where it can't be hurt by anything but a precise arrow shot, then repeatedly cast magic spells consecutively. Since it can't be hurt while it's casting all these spells...better hope it doesn't do that.
- Children of Mana is a cakewalk with only two parts that are remotely challenging, but those can be very tough. Which ones? The last boss and... the first.
- In the Kingdom Hearts series:
- The first fight with Leon in Kingdom Hearts comes right before Sora gets the Dodge Roll ability that lets the player evade most physical attacks with proper timing. Naturally, most of Leon's arsenal would be much easier to avoid by rolling than by running around. Depending on your weapon choices at the beginning of the game, the player is most likely not going to have Guard (and Counterattack) at their disposal unless they grinded something fierce back on Destiny Islands. Thus, the player will need to rely on well-timed attacks to parry/redirect Leon's (a skill that helped during the sparring matches on the Islands), all the while employing hit-and-run tactics to prevent themselves from being on the receiving end of his Gunblade: Leon isn't particularly aggressive and moves around with the urgency of a sloth, but when he connects, you will feel it.
- The battle against Clayton on the Stealth Sneak applies too, especially if the player hasn't spent much time leveling up. After you defeat him and learn Cure, bosses becomes so, much, easier.
- Twilight Thorn in Kingdom Hearts II - again because you don't have magic. Being able to heal or shoot him with Blizzard or Lightning when he's out of reach of your keyblade would be nice.
- Twilight Thorn's Heartless brother, Darkside, is far from a pushover on the highest difficulty. On lower ones, the two potions you're likely to have are more than enough to help you survive his attacks, but you'd better try your damned hardest not to get clipped by anything on Proud/Expert mode or you're gonna be in a world of trouble.
- The Final Fantasy series offers quite a lot of early bird bosses:
- The first two bosses of Final Fantasy II, the Sergeant and the Adamantoise, have enough Defense to reduce melee attacks to Scratch Damage (if even that).
- The Land Turtle and Djinn from Final Fantasy III DS are fought before the job classes open up.
- Garula in Final Fantasy V. At that point, you only have the first six jobs and the first-tier attack and healing spells. Garula can counterattack with two hits and can use a powerful attack that inflicts Sap, a status that rapidly drains small amounts of HP. While the status is nigh-harmless later in the game with higher HP, at this point in the game Sap is horrifyingly effective and can easily finish off anyone it hits with Charge before you can heal them, especially if they're on the receiving end of both counterattacks. The difficulty of Garula can be allayed somewhat by using the Knight's Guard and Cover abilities, and totally broken by the Blue Mage's Pond's Chorus/Frog Song, as Garula is susceptible to the Frog status.
- The Guardian Beast in Final Fantasy X-2 is considerably difficult for one of the first bosses encountered in the game. Typically, its difficulty rating will be four stars out of five. It's a good idea to grind before this fight.
- The Lord of the Flowsand in Final Fantasy Tactics A2 would probably not be so difficult if it weren't fought at a relatively early point in the game where you don't have access to most of the abilities each class can get, mainly due to the Randomly Drops nature of getting new weapons and armor. A lot of the classes will be off-limits to you at this point, as well — it's also impossible to have any Seeq or Gria units (both the better direct damage dealers). When you fight the thing again in a latter optional mission, he is much easier despite vastly higher HP and strength.
- In the The Legend of Zelda series:
- Aquamentus in the first game. He takes 6 direct hits with the wooden sword to kill, and he spits energy beams that can't be blocked without the magical shield. Once you've got either the white sword or magical shield beating him becomes easy (having both makes it near effortless), but with the starting equipment he can be pretty tough. (Subverted in that it's actually fairly trivial to get the white sword before entering the first dungeon once you know which walls to bomb, but a first-time player wouldn't know that)
- First-time players of Majora's Mask are in for a cruel surprise when they face Odolwa, the first dungeon boss. He's fast, hard hitting, and his arena tricks you into thinking you should use Deku Link (which instead leads to a darned near One-Hit KO). Many gamers only do that dungeon far enough to get the bow and move on to take down the second dungeon Snowhead, so they can come back to rock Woodfall and give Odolwa what-for with the Gilded Sword, Fire Arrows, and an extended healthbar. Subverted in the 3DS version, which changes him to more of a Puzzle Boss (he blocks everything with his shield unless you use Deku Link to fly above him and stun him), so having better gear won't help as much.
- Fraaz, the Snow Temple boss from The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, seems to fit this description, being unusually tough in spite of only being the second boss in the game. Fraaz's attacks increase in frequency as the battle goes on, he can split himself in two, and once he's destroyed the torches in his chamber, you have to run suicidally close to his attacks in order to reflect them and stun him. The player only gets one free heart container before him; it's possible to get more, but they involve scraping up a lot of Rupees and a Boss Rush challenge.
- The first battle with Ghirahim in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is this trope and a Wake-Up Call Boss. When you fight Ghirahim, you only have your default 6 hearts of health and little else in equipment. You'll have to rely on your sword and shield abilities to get past the boss' defenses and know when to strike.
- Okku in Neverwinter Nights 2 Mask of The Betrayer can approach this if the player is not playing a tank or can't otherwise avoid damage (such as hide in plain sight), as your only party member is a Squishy Wizard who has barred conjuration (the magic school that allows you to summon disposable meat shields). You can find a Guest-Star Party Member golem to join your party, but while strong enough to help with mooks, it will quickly fall to Okku (amusingly, Okku can join your party later and be the best tank in the game). You also lack a healer, but as most healing is best done out of combat, this isn't as big an obstacle.
- Geyzer of Dragon Quest VIII could be seen as this, since you fight him with only two characters, and your levels are likely too low to have any skills capable of making the battle easier. The fact that he hits pretty damn hard when only your main character is likely to have the game's first healing spell doesn't help at all (Yangus can learn it too, but it requires several points in his Humanity skill, and it's unlikely he'll earn enough for it even if you dump all his skill points into Humanity).
- In Dungeons & Dragons
- In the module Keep on the Shadowfell, Irontooth definitely falls into this category. The fight here is the first experience players have with "waves" of monsters, as to get to Irontooth you need to fight a whole encounter's worth of monsters to get into the lair, and then another whole encounter's worth once there. Parties who know how to marshal their tactics and conserve their resources find this a tough but beatable encounter. Those who just rushed into the lair without taking a short rest or who blow all their abilities before Irontooth shows up 3 rounds in will take a brutal beating, and this is where the majority of TPKs for new parties happen in this module.
- Lost Odyssey has the huge gryphon boss at the top of the rainy mountain very early in the game, who ends up being difficult primarily because the player doesn't have access to any decent recovery or defensive skills yet. Magic is the only way to effectively damage him enough to kill him before he kills you; but due to an unfortunate glitch in the programming, he will attack the squishy magic user exclusively until he dies, and returns to attacking him the second you revive him, and if the A.I. Roulette feels like spamming his attack that hits all characters, it's not very likely you'll win. Level Grinding is also a bad option, since it doesn't take long for the enemies to start giving only 1 exp a piece, which makes it far too tedious and time-consuming this early in the game.
- Dark Souls, being Dark Souls, throws the first boss at you before you get any weapons whatsoever, and you're meant to run away from it. Beating it during this first encounter a weapon nets you its awesome-looking weapon as a bonus, although by the time you have the stats to use it, you'll probably have better weapons.
- Castlevania 64 features a boss minutes into the game; seriously, you probably won't even have figured out the combat system by the time the fight starts.
- In Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness the first boss is a hydra which has attacks that are very difficult to avoid, even if you know what to do. The next few bosses are a lot easier.
- The B2 Brawler in Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, though optional, is an absolute nightmare when fought with only early-game weapons, (and worse still. there's a Skill Point for beating it without taking damage!) but falls VERY easily to the stronger ones you get later. The Lock-On mod is also a huge help which, you guessed it, isn't available when you first get to fight the Brawler.
- The first Mega Man 1 game has an interesting variation on this in the form of the Yellow Devil, which qualifies for this in the entire series, considering that you don't have E-Tanks (Mega Man 2), the slide ability (Mega Man 3), or the charge shot (Mega Man 4) which turns him into That One Boss for the first game, but becomes significantly easier in later games where you have to fight him again.
- Mogenar of Metroid Prime 3 is one of these, by virtue of him being the first Leviathan guardian. You've only got a scant few energy tanks by this point, and to beat him you need to use Hypermode several times, each time probably eating up a full tank. If you could fight him even a few hours later, when you have access to more tanks, he wouldn't be That One Boss.
- The Hive Totem in Metroid Prime gave many new players more trouble than almost any other boss. It's a stationary mech at one end of the room that periodically releases wasps. The wasps fly in circles around your tiny platform, occasionally stopping to ram you in sync. The room is flooded with Grimy Water, which is almost impossible to get out of once you get knocked in, and the weak point on the boss is only attackable for a few seconds; if you don't realize that it's there immediately, you'll have to fight additional waves of wasps. It wouldn't be such a hard fight if you had anything but your default Power Beam and 99 energy (and you might get there with even less than that)!
- The Alpha Splinter in Echoes, a giant bug that sits in the center of the circular arena you fight him in and lunges at you. It's harder than it sounds, since his jumps are extremely quick, hard to dodge, and take off sizable chunks of health — and this is a point when you have 99 health and five missiles... if you made it through the five Dark Splinters beforehand without getting hit once. Amusingly, after he Turns Red and becomes the Dark Alpha Splinter, he actually gets easier, because he stops relying on his charge and instead mixes it up with an incredibly-easy-to-dodge projectile attack.
- The first hunter fight in [PROTOTYPE] occurs well before Alex Mercer has a chance to upgrade his capabilities; as such, you'll probably have a rough time against them (after you kill one hunter, you gain your first offensive power, the claws; but they are not especially useful against hunters). By endgame, however, you've upgraded yourself so much that they pose only a mild threat.
- The Krogan Battlemaster on Therum in Mass Effect. Technically, you can come there later, but Therum is where you recruit Liara T'Soni, so it is a natural first choice. Due to his biotic barrier, high damage shotgun, and ability to come back from the dead unless you burned, iced, melted, or otherwise disposed of his corpse, he is a nightmare for the low level player. Come back after a few missions, though, and he's a cakewalk.
- Many, MANY enemies in NetHack and many other Roguelikes, by the games' very nature. The early game in Nethack is considered far more dangerous than the endgame, because while you aren't facing minotaurs and demons and liches, you are facing housecats and large dogs who can move faster than you, attack multiple times per round, have good armor class, and may even have more hitpoints than you. The cake goes to the giant ants, though, who attack in huge swarms that all move faster than you and are the statistically most frequent cause of death in the game. Or killer bees, which are the same but trade hit points for poison and being almost impossible to hit. Go Team Ant!
- Mega Man Zero pits you against the Golem for your first boss who is ridiculously easy even for that part in the game, but then cruelly surprises you with Aztec Falcon immediately after. He moves quickly in a small arena, and his attacks can be pretty hard to dodge, especially when you're still getting used to the game, making it fairly difficult to land any form of a counter-attack with your Z-Sabre, the only weapon in your arsenal that deals moderate damage to him. Add to that the fact that he appears before you have the chance to familiarize yourself with the controls or rank up your weapons, unless you either tell Ciel you won't help the Resistance (giving you the option to go back to the intro stage and grind there) or waste time grinding during that first level (which will ruin your rank). Oh, and speaking of rank, you have to kill him in 1 minute 15 seconds if you want to rescue the reploids in the garbage compactor below the arena, making wearing him down with your Z-Buster from a distance a luxury you don't have.
- Mega Man Zero 3 is this for the first boss, no matter which of the 4 available you pick first. Fighting each of them at the end of the game is a cakewalk in comparison due to the player having access to things like a Mid-air jump and elementally enhanced weaponry to do more damage. On top of that, you've got to get through a grueling level of enemies (Again, no powerups like a Mid-Air jump) with maybe 2 or 3 lives to your name to get you through the level and defeat the boss. And if you blow them all, it's back to the beginning of the level.
- Half-Life 2:
- The Hunter-Chopper is a somewhat easier fight than a Gunship by the numbers, but your encounter with it limits you to only the airboat gun to kill it, and the airboat is tough to maneuver and offers no cover.
- Hunters in Episode 2. The first one you encounter is unkillable because you have only the Gravity Gun. The first real fight with them is difficult, with you mostly restricted to plain gunfire for killing them. In the finale, though, Hunters are limited to escort roles, and you're rife with ways to kill them - pulse rifle alt-fires, SMG grenades, the RPG, the crossbow, the car... Ironically, the Gravity Gun is the best choice for killing Hunters, in that physics objects do the most damage next to the rare AR2 Alt-fire, and they can easily sidestep your car.
- Depending on the AI Director's mood, Tanks in Left 4 Dead can be this way when it appears while you only have tier 1 guns, which include pistols, pump shotguns, and sub machine guns. It's not impossible to kill a Tank with weak guns, just takes longer and runs greater risk of him throwing a car at your head.
- The first mission boss Ace Squadron in Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War can be very frustrating on the first playthrough, since they are pitted against the player as early as in mission 3, long before the player has a chance to unlock a decent plane and money to actually buy it. Additionally, since there are no tutorials in this installment whatsoever, you may not even be fully familiar with the controls and dogfight tactics when you encounter them... in a New Game+, however, these bosses become moderately challenging, at best.
- In the Diablo series:
- The Butcher in the first Diablo counts as this. Early level players will get, well, butchered the first time they fight the dude, although fortunately you don't actually have to kill him the first moment you see his lair and you can wait until you're some levels higher. He can even be literally impossible for some characters when they first meet him, as he regenerates health too fast to kill.
- One of the first uniques in Diablo II is a shaman who not only can resurrect the Fallen Ones under his command, but can also resurrect the shamans who can resurrect the fallen ones. Upon being defeated, he, like Fire Enchanted monsters, explodes and damages anyone in melee range. Another Fallen unique, Rakanishu, can be this for melee-focused characters who haven't lucked into some Lightning-resist gear.
- Diablo II's Blood Raven is this. Honestly, unless you intend to grind past the quest (since it's optional) or play a fully populated game (simulated or actual) from scratch, it's unlikely you'll reach levels high enough to make those level 1 or 6 skills effective enough for Blood Raven nor acquire equipment significantly contributing to survival without twinking, as soon as the quest becomes available. By the time you are able to hire mercenaries without killing Blood Raven, you're probably high enough a level to be on comparable, if not greater footing with her anyway.
- Lufia & The Fortress of Doom. The first real boss (not counting one of the Big Bads) has you fighting multiple, upgraded Mooks that you normally wouldn't fight quite yet. A party member joins you as soon as the battle begins, but you are not given the opportunity to get him a full set of armor or put him in the front row (he's a warrior) nor do you have the opportunity to put your mage in the back row (she's in the front, given you only have 2 party members prior to this point).
- On top of this, the first Lufia game only let you target groups, not individuals. This battle involved four minibosses in a single group; attacks and single-target magic would pick one of them at random as the target. Oh, and the bosses can cast Mirror. Hope you get lucky.
- Knuckles in Sonic Battle is fought with Emerl when he has only a handful of moves and abilities. Although Knuckles turns out to be slow and bulky, his attack range is much better than yours at the time and his healing ability is the second best in the game next to Cream's which definitely makes up for it.
- Fallout 2:
- The game opens with a series of headaches: in order to prove yourself worthy of searching for the GECK, not only do you have to make it through a very tough dungeon, filled with enemies that can poison you with a very limited amount of healing items at your disposal, but then you have to defeat a local tough guy at the end. Make it past that? Well congratulations, now you get to go fight geckos... which are no pushovers either. However, a pacifist can talk their way into being given the key for the door without a fight, though starting as a pacifist out of the gate makes the rest of the opening this...
- The real early birds bosses in mook clothing in Fallout 2 are the raiders between The Den and Modoc – groups of 10+ punks with rifles, handguns and melee weapons, good HP and basic armor while you only have a leather jacket (or leather armor at best) and maybe a .44 revolver able to down 2 raiders a turn if you have maximum agility and some luck with criticals. Not to mention that one would probably be around level 6-8 at this time, which is not much in the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system of Fallout.
- In Fallout 4, the first boss fight of the game is against a Deathclaw. You'll have access to a suit of power armour and a minigun by this point, but the armour is damaged and of poor quality, and the minigun is simply not up to the task of killing it, requiring a minute or so of sustained Scratch Damage to bring it down. Most Deathclaws are in the southern part of the map, and by the time you get down there you should have vastly superior gear and perks needed to take them on properly.
- The Level 7 boss in Descent. By then, the most powerful weapons you have are only Quad Level 4 Lasers and Homing Missiles, while the boss can Teleport Spam and massacre you with barrages of Smart Missiles, and is backed up by Homing Missile Hulks and Class 1 Drillers. The first boss of Descent II also qualifies, although you may already be well-enough armed by then.
- In Mega Man ZX, you fight the first boss before you get even one Biometal.
- Ditto in Advent. The next two bosses also feel like this. The first one because you fight it literally 3 rooms after obtaining your primary biometal, Model A (so new players will still be feeling out the controls). The 2nd boss you have a choice on, but in either case, you'll get to him before you can get your first subtank.
- In ZX, you have Model X before you even get control of your character. Fighting in your base form would've been impossible, since Vent and Aile lack a gun in that form. Grey and Ashe, however, have to play the entire first stage and beat the first boss in their base form while using only a regular gun...
- Fighting Skelter Helter in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is literally the first thing you do after the opening cutscene. Hell, the game even tries to teach you the controls mid-fight. Fortunately, if you've played the first game already and have a good handle on the controls, he shouldn't be too hard...unless you're fighting on Bitter Mode. The game still goes through the tutorial, even on Bitter, though. This can actually mess players up...
- In the Devil May Cry series:
- Devil May Cry 3 features the Hell Vanguard in Mission 2. The real difficulty of this fight is the fact that Dante's not going to be particularly leveled at this point and the Hell Vanguard does have a pretty nice hit to him. That being said, they very quickly become just another enemy, even spawning along other enemies and even along other Hell Vanguards, as once Dante does re-encounter them, he's got half of hell's arsenal with him and will generally dispatch of them more easily. However, the higher difficulties and Bloody Palace instead turn them into bosses in mook's clothing, specially when you have to fight against 3 of them at the same time, as in Bloody Palace.
- Devil May Cry 4 features Berial, again in Mission 2. Aside from Dante, the player has only fought against Scarecrows until that point. Berial is not only incredibly big and resistant, but has MANY attacks at his disposal, and the lack of upgrades and skills for Nero really turns him into a incredibly hard boss the first time you fight him, even in Human Mode. However, there's a catch to his fight: The houses in the area you fight him give you Green Orbs if they're destroyed, which can be a lifesaver for the newbies.
- Ninja Gaiden Sigma on PS3 has Doku in chapter 2, who is also a Hopeless Boss Fight. Apart from the fact he wields the Black Dragon Sword, he is more or less the same boss you fight ten chapters later, except you have only a level 1 Dragon Sword and a very small lifebar at this point, making him extremely difficult (though not impossible) to beat.
- The Baten Kaitos series sports two examples:
- The Nunkirantula from the first game. Only the third boss in the game, he would be cake except you can only fight him with one character, and he frequently buffs his defense, which can really stall the fight when you only have one character. What would normally be an average fight turns into a drawn-out slugfest as you gradually whittle down his HP. With only one character, you're entirely reliant on luck to get healing items, and if all your healing items get shuffled to the bottom of your deck, then you're just screwed.
- Giacomo in Baten Kaitos Origins. His main attacks hit hard, easily taking out half of Sagi or Guillo's health as well as knocking them down for long periods of time, and his special, Thrashingale, can take off half to two-thirds of your health by itself. Since Origins is Nintendo Hard, that's all to be expected. However, he's the second boss, so you have three specials, no EX Combo options, and a sparse handful of weak weapons. Just to top it off, your healing options are limited to Low Potions, which are already becoming borderline-useless. It's telling that when Giacomo returns later in the game for rematches, he's actually pretty easy.
- World of Warcraft:
- Lord Godfrey in the normal mode of Shadowfang Keep has all the abilities his Heroic counterpart does. These include putting a Curse on the party that must be interrupted, dispelled, or healed through (when it's highly unlikely that players have abilities, or are familiar with them, to interrupt spells or remove curses), summoning adds mid-battle, and firing a Pistol Barrage that essentially kills anyone who stands in it for more than a second or two. These are all abilities that bosses generally don't use until later. However, these actually do acquaint new players with a taste of what will come later.
- His predecessor, prior to being nerfed, was potentially worse. He had high HP, indefinite mana, teleported about the room, mind-controlled party members, and was capable of dealing upwards of 600 unmitigated damage per void bolt every 1.5 seconds. He was a threat to parties up to 8 levels higher then he was, unless they were extremely well geared and skilled. If not for dropping some of the best caster gear for a long time, most people would've rather just skipped him. And this was back when Rare quality items were just that, you were lucky to have uncommon gear with reasonable stats (mostly just Spirit and stamina though). Starting characters in the game now have it much easier in many ways.
- In Tales of Graces, Cedric could be considered one. Other than Richard, none of your characters likely have any blast calibers of their own and he has his... as much of a letdown as his blast caliber is.
- Part of what makes Matador That One Boss of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne is the fact that you fight him fairly early on, at a time when you might not have any demons that resist or nullify Force element spells. In addition, you may not have any spells that heal the entire party yet, which is needed to survive his Andalucia attack. And you only gain access to the Demon Compendium (which makes fusing demons much easier) in the area immediately after him.
- A lot of the early bosses in Super Robot Wars games owe their difficulty to the fact that your roster may be lacking their Midseason Upgrade, or upgrades to their stats and weapons, or Spirits (self-buffs) that allow your units to dodge/tank attacks better.
- Unless you choose Chill Penguin's stage for your first area in Mega Man X, you'll have to fight at least one boss without the dash ability. Not a pleasant experience, especially if that boss happens to be Storm Eagle, who has a wind gust attack that can blow you off the stage to your death if you can't dash through it.
- Strangely for a simulator game, MechWarrior 3 has two. Towards the end of campaign one, the player will be in a medium 'Mech, and tasked with attacking and killing an Orion, which has half again their weight on them. The addition of an ally in that mission helps, but the Orion has two cronies of similar weight to your ally. Oh, and the Orion has both long range missiles and a powerful close range gun that often knocks down targets. Even kiting away the minions doesn't keep you from getting pummeled by the Orion in the meantime.
- The second comes at the end of campaign two. The game's first assault 'Mech appears as a boss, fighting you and two allies in a tightly enclosed underground space. This boss has four of the aforementioned powerful guns with knockdown capability and can easily chew up your allies or you in one or two salvos. Worse still, if you decide to throw everyone at the behemoth, appropriately named the Annihilator, you'll discover there are two Pumas with him. Pumas are small Glass Cannon designs, but they like to get into your rear quadrant to attack the lighter rear armor.
- Both the Orion and the Annihilator go from nervewracking boss battles to the Degraded Boss later on, as the player gathers more 'Mechs and weapons that can face them. It gets to the point that the game will put together three or four Annihilators and expect the player to defeat them.
- In Heavy Weapon, it's Twinblade that's this in the Boss Blitz mode. To put it, you (probably) got at least one power, rapid fire, Spread Shot, and some Nuke and Shield upgrades during the first level before fighting it in campaign mode. In Boss Blitz, you don't do the level and thus you fight it with only one level of shield, and nothing else whatsoever. If you can't makes its missiles misfire or shoot them down in time, you're toast in 2 hits.
- If you have the Slingshot DLC for XCOM: Enemy Unknown, you will encounter Mutons with full Plasma Rifles well before you get the Laser Rifles and Carapace Armour you usually need to take them down reasonably.
- The Minotaur of Kid Icarus: Of Myth And Monsters, whose main difficulty comes from having a greater range of attack than Pit without upgrades, which he is unlikely to have when you reach him. At best, you can have one that will be lost with a single hit.
- Tarnesh in Baldur's Gate is a level 5 mage you fight at a point in the game where you, if sticking closely to the main questline, are likely still level 1 and therefore almost guaranteed to die to his third spell (a triple magic missile), have never fought a mage before, and have at most four party members with their starting equipment. You meet more higher-level mages with scarier spells scant hours later, but beating Tarnesh at that stage of development is more or less a Luck-Based Mission: If he gets to this third spell (which he will always aim at the main character), you're dead.
- There are also a couple of opportunities right at the start to get ruined by the common brown bear. With just another level or two and a full set of equipment under your belt (it doesn't even have to be enchanted), you'd never have to blink twice at a solo encounter with a non-magical animal.
- Magus in Chrono Trigger is an unusual example in that he comes in in the middle of the game rather than near the beginning, and is in fact a Climax Boss, but he still qualifies. He's the Trope Namer for Barrier Change Boss, and defeating him requires relying on elemental magic (specifically, hitting him with the magic he's using). However, if you aren't in a New Game+ and haven't engaged in serious Level Grinding, then by the time you meet him, your magical abilities are likely to still be a bit underdeveloped and you'll probably lack the devastatingly-powerful Double Techs that you develop later in the game, making for a challenging fight.
- Smouldergeist(s) in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. Later in the game when you have hammers, bros attacks, badge effects and good items, these creatures would be insanely easy to beat due to low health. As the first boss? Not so much, especially given how you need to dodge their attacks successfully to even make possible to hit due to them being covered in flames and you having no way of damaging enemies you can't jump on. Although to be fair, jumping on them WILL extinguish the flames and only deal you 1 HP of damage.
- Dreamy Mario is this even more so, you have no real opportunities to level grind so you'll at most be fighting him at a single level higher than when you faced Smouldergeist. However, unlike the first boss which has simple, easy to dodge patterns so you can get used to the controls, Dreamy Mario doesn't hold back. He has seven times the HP that Smouldergeist had and hits harder, he created a bunch of clones of himself, and you have to hit the real one. Hit a clone and it'll fly up and launch at you with a meteorite attack that is fairly difficult to dodge. You also have to only jump on the real one when they Zerg Rush you, and avoid them entirely during the "Get Back Here!" Boss segment since they're invincible (while not getting confused by the purple cloud created to obscure vision). And just like in the previous boss battle, you have no weapons except the basic jump attack. He also serves as a Wake-Up Call Boss, letting you know you're in for a Nintendo Hard world of hurt if you don't master the gameplay. This battle would be made much easier with a Luiginary attack where you could hit both the clones and the original at the same time, as well as deal tremendous damage, but all you have to rely on are jumps.
- Wendigo in Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor. He's Level 17 when your characters are lucky to be Level Eight, deals 50 damage with his regular attack (while your characters barely have 100 HP), and has a multi-hit ice attack. He's also flanked by two Moh Shuvuu, which give him a massive movement radius. You do have a place to grind, but it rapidly becomes ineffective. And you don't get access to Demon Fusion until after you kill him... in a game where Demon Fusion is vital to have any sort of power.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef of Destruction has Rebecca Hawkins, who appears in the very beginning when your cards are even more limited than usual.
- Donkey Kong 64 has Army Dillo the first boss. Sure, he's not exactly difficult but given that you only have one melon of health, and this is your first boss battle of any kind (there are no mini-bosses you face beforehand, you need Lanky to fight the level's only mini-boss), this battle can definitely feel like this. He's much easier in the world 6 rematch despite learning new moves because you have three melons and can take 12 hits instead of 4.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! The Duelists Of The Roses has Rex Raptor. He's fought on the Wasteland terrain, which increases his monsters' strength by 500 points. At this point in the game, the only other opponent you'd be able to defeat would be Weevil, whose forest creatures are weakened by Wasteland terrain. If you start with Fairy King Trusedale, whose deck is almost all insects, your only hope is judicious use of the Forest magic card and Acid Trap Hole. On later tries Rex isn't nearly as bad when you have more variety in monsters.
- Averted with Roland in Fleuret Blanc. Unlike every other member, he starts with only one technique, and it's the exact same one as yours. This doesn't prevent him from being a Wake-Up Call Boss for a lot of people, though.
- Played straight with Le Neuvieme. There are a number of good techniques to use against him (Stoic can prevent him from getting ahead in style points through Balestra, and his own Balestra is a good counter to Broken Time) but you don't get access to them until after his trophy bout.
- The World Ends with You has Vespertilio Canor. At this point, it's still early in the game and the player doesn't have as large a collection of Pins and Threads and is probably still trying to get used to fighting on both screens. Vespertilio Canor is the first enemy that utilizes unique mechanics for both screens. The boss is invincible in the dark and exploits this by sending Mooks to the top screen to drain the power for the lights while attacking Neku on the bottom screen. The goal is to have your partner take out the mooks on the top screen to restore the lights while Neku tries to avoid dying until the boss is vulnerable. However, the player likely won't know this and foolishly try to retaliate while the boss is invincible or not realize that they need to control their partner. A tougher version of the boss is fought later. However, the player should now know what to do and how to fight and have better Pins and Threads.
- Nemesis, The Heavy of Resident Evil 3. He's the toughest son of a bitch in the whole game relative to speed and attack power. He takes 30 handgun shots per half of each tussle, and he can down Jill to orange health in three strikes. The first time you get to face him, you have at best 70 pistol bullets, 12 shotgun shells, a first aid spray and three herbs total, and that makes him one of the top 3 toughest boss fights in the entire series. As early as the second encounter, when you have access to a lot more supplies plus the Grenade Launcher or the Magnum, he's a great deal more manageable. Sure, you can run from him and avoid most of the pain, but aside from him dropping some outrageously good items, where's the fun in that?
- The Cyberdemon in the original Doom may qualify, as you encounter him before you have access to the BFG 9000, and he's actually tougher than the final boss.