You've decided to play through a game series you like. After the third game, you start to notice a pattern: Some of these guys look or act similar to a boss from the last few games. You have discovered the Recurring Boss Template.
This is when a game series seems to reuse a boss in some way, but with something changed, often repeatedly throughout the series. It may have more attacks than the last time, or it may look different, but at the core it's still the same Cosmic Horror
you faced two games ago.
Similar to, but not to be confused with Recurring Boss
and Legacy Boss Battle
, which are simply one character, machine, creature, or species of creature that gets the boss spot more than one time.
- The Kirby series seems to love using either limbless cyclopean Eldritch Abominations or Teleport Spam wizards as the final bosses.
- Super Smash Bros.., which was also made by HAL Laboratories, also uses this pattern with Master Hand, Crazy Hand and Tabuu.
- House of the Dead commonly uses a Final Boss that takes a humanoid form, and floats around throwing energy at you, often named after the most sinister sounding tarot cards.
- The Mario & Luigi series for the Nintendo handhelds take pride in using ghostly, (most of the time) purple final bosses. And Bowser getting possessed/mind controlled/fused with/whatever else by the Big Bad.
- The Legend of Zelda has frequently bosses that either:
- Gradius games tend to involve Recurring Bosses, but near their ends they have variations on a "gun wall" boss, variations on a boss whose legs the player must duck and weave through, and variations on the organic Anticlimax Boss.
- And let's not forget how similar those bosses at the start of Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy V, Final Fantasy VI, and Final Fantasy VII were. You know, the ones where you have to refrain from attacking halfway through the battle?
- Tutorial bosses could be exempted. Those are designed to teach people to wait despite being turn based.
- Final Fantasy is really the king of this trope, from the Demon Wall to Bahamut to those giant eye-balls with bat-wings (usually called Ahrimans), pretty much every game will have at least a handful of bosses that are (at the very least) homages to recurring types or specific enemies of previous games.
- IV, V and VI all have bosses who rely heavily on Quake and may have abiltiies to remove Float (The White Dragon, Catastrophe and the Dirt Dragon, respectively).
- IV has several bosses in the form of "main boss and two flunkies," such as Baigan, the Magus Sisters, and the CPU. For these bosses, it is unwise to kill off (both of) the flunkies first: not only will they be revived to full health by the main boss, but in the case of the CPU, said revival is accompanied by a devastating attack. VIII takes the formula and changes it up a bit: in fights such as the NORG Pod and Mobile Type-8, the flunkies are invulnerable, serving mainly as sources of Muggable items and Drawable magic for the player in addition to whatever they do for their bosses.
- Mega Man. Doctor Wily. Big, two-stage mecha with Teleport Spam second stage.
- Mega Man X. Sigma. Two- to three-stage boss, first with a robot body with lightsaber/twin claws/a spiked throwing shield/energy scythe/whatever, then more on the level of One-Winged Angel variants.
- Mega Man Zero and Mega Man ZX. Various characters. A human form, followed by a One-Winged Angel. Reversed for Omega and Albert.
- There's quite a variety of Devils to be seen throughout the entire series. Whether they're Yellow, Green, Black, or Rainbow, they are all able to split themselves into globs to launch at you and form into various weapons. They also tend to be That One Boss; the exception is in Mega Man X: Command Mission, where they're demoted into regular enemies. That being said, if you purposefully beef them 2 of them up by hitting them with the attacks of their own element, they not only get healed but become stronger as well at the benefit of increased experience and FME: the effect is cumulative and once you power the experience-increasing variety to the point where killing one will practically guarantee a level-up for the entire cast, they can easily kill anyone in 1 hit and get a boatload of turns to easily do so as well. Although usually at that point, they rarely if ever take advantage of their massively powered up status and actually attack you and instead opt to run away on their next turn, taking the EXP with them.
- Metroid games have a few examples of this. For example, the final bosses of Metroid: Fusion and Metroid: Zero Mission have a eary similar attack pattern (walk slowly forwards, stop, swing their claws in a huge arc) and weak spot (in the chest), although the one in Zero Mission spices things up a bit by also firing missiles and lasers.
- Metal Gear games are guaranteed to end with a melee battle. You can try to shoot The Boss in Metal Gear Solid 3, but she'll deflect your bullets, strip you of your gun and force you into CQC.
- Its not just the final melee battles(Liquid Snake\Solidus Snake\The Boss\Liquid Ocelot), Metal Gear has this with every boss battle in the series in a same yet different way. There is almost always the following;
- Battle against a giant robot that must be taken down with missles(Metal Gear Rex\Metal Gear Rays\The Shagohad\Metal Gear Ray)
- Battle where you use a sniper rifle(Sniper Wolf\Vamp\The End\Crying Wolf)
- Battle against someone in a maze like area(Vulcan Raven\Fatman\The Fury\Raging Raven)
- Battle against an opponent who can hide from you and attacks from above(Gray Fox\Vamp\The Fear\Laughing Octopus)
- The first boss battle in a Raiden game is usually against a duo of machine, with one appearing slightly before the other.
- Several boss's gimmick(s) have actually been reused in different expansion packs in World of Warcraft. Such as, for example:
- Mind control. Mostly used by Jammal'an and first by Arugal.
- Gruul petrifies the party and shatters them if they're too close. Later in Wrath, another boss does the same thing. In Cataclysm, Ozruk does the same thing again.
- Brutallus and Argaloth share the same model and a very similar Meteor Slash mechanic (an attack that must be absorbed by several people stacking up to split the damage, then switching off after a while), albeit with Argaloth being a considerably simpler fight.
- Sapphiron's ice bomb mechanic and the required LOS cover is reused in the Sindragosa encounter. The two also happen to be reanimated blue dragons.
- Kingdom Hearts has several of these, most notably the giant "leader" boss who summons lesser foes from the ground and the "armor" boss who's made up of mechanized limbs that attack both together and separately.
- Major Stryker has three templates, each used once in each episode, though with differences.
- Castlevania has several:
- First off, Dracula himself. Aside from his varied One-Winged Angel forms, his first form always uses Teleport Spam while throwing fireballs.
- His aide, Death, often uses different tricks from game to game, but he always summons mini-sickles out of thin air to hunt you down.
- Contra has quite a few.
- The Gun Wall boss of the original game is reused many times in the series, usually as a early-game boss or a minor obstacle.
- The Final Boss of the original Contra, a giant heart with mook-spawning capsules, is a good contender for the most-reused boss in the series.
- The Final Boss of the arcade Super Contra (a skeletal dragon-thing with snake-like arms) is a close runner up.
- The Darius series has two of them:
- (Insert Word Here) Fossil, a coelacanth. Starting with King Fossil from Darius. Usually the first or second boss in the game, and appears in almost every single one of them.
- Great Thing. A sperm whale with a load of cannons attached to it, and often the Final Boss in every Darius game he's appeared in. Not to mention he's usually incredibly difficult in each game he's in. In Darius Twin, he's an optional second-to-last boss, and is the only boss to have his own specialized music separate from the normal boss music.
- Sonic the Hedgehog usually has one of two things for a final boss (though not necessarily the True Final Boss), either a giant walking robot, as seen in Sonic2, Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic Heroes, Sonic Rush and Sonic Advance 2 (though there it can't move), or the final boss is a flying serpent like robot as seen in Sonic Adventure, Sonic06 Sonic Unleashed and Sonic Colours.
- The True Final Boss is usually a fight where you use Super Sonic. As such you are always invincible, and you merely need to chase/get to the boss while keeping hold of as many rings as possible. These bosses generally involve merely dashing forwards and slamming either yourself, or one of it's own attacks into it, regardless of whether it's one of Eggman's machines, or an Eldritch Abomination.