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Shielded Core Boss
Break down that wall!

The EYE is protecting Exor!!
Super Mario RPG informing us why we can't hit the boss's weak spot yet.

A type of Video Game Boss whose weak point is protected from your attacks by some kind of regenerative shielding or armor that you must destroy before he'll take any actual damage.

We use the term "shielding" loosely here: In most cases it really is literal shielding or armor plating, but the concept can extend to almost anything the boss uses to block, deflect, or otherwise nullify your attacks.

Unlike the Tactical Suicide Boss, you cannot simply dodge and evade the boss's attack patterns until he leaves you an opportunity to strike. Nor can you depend on something within the room to give you an opening either. Violence is the Only Option when facing a Shielded Core Boss — you must actively attack and destroy this shielding to expose his weak point, then attack again to damage his Life Meter before he can put the shielding back up. Expect to have to take out his shielding multiple times throughout the battle before he is finally defeated.

Some of these bosses can be very difficult, depending on how much damage their shielding can sustain before it is disabled, and how quickly the boss regenerates it. In some extreme cases, damaged (but not destroyed) shielding may even regenerate on its own, requiring the player to not only inflict damage to disable it, but to inflict damage quickly and continuously. On the other hand, some are simply tedious if destroying his shield takes a long time and he doesn't otherwise pose much of a threat; in many such cases a player may opt to take some damage if it means getting some extra hits on the core while it's exposed.

Distantly related to the Puzzle Boss, since the boss cannot be damaged directly as long as his shielding is in effect; but where a Puzzle Boss will rely on some other, indirect means to take him out, here you must attack the boss just the same.

If the armor does not regenerate throughout the battle, the boss merely has Destructible Armor (and will very likely Turn Red once his armor is destroyed), and a savvy player can use it to calculate their progress towards defeating the boss.

See also Flunky Boss, where the boss is protected by independent Mooks, who may need to be destroyed before you can engage the boss directly, and Cores and Turrets Boss, in which the boss's presence is reduced to its (no pun intended) core elements: Something that attacks you, and something for you to attack.


Examples:

  • In Ape Escape, in the true final battle against Specter (achieved after capturing all apes scattered throughout the game), he is protected by a white energy shield, which the player must strike multiple times to disable before they can actually land a hit on Specter himself. The shield regenerates each time the player actually hits Specter, as well as on its own.
  • Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter has a variation with the Regents and their "Absolute Defense". From a gameplay standpoint it simply absorbs a set amount of damage from the party's attacks, requiring them to string together Combos long enough to overcome it; but it is visually depicted as a Beehive Barrier absorbing each hit until it shatters.
  • Epic Mickey:
    • All Beetleworx enemies (yes, all of them, even though only one is an actual boss) have a layer of Paint armor that you must dissolve with Thinner before you can deliver a damaging attack. They regenerate their armor after taking each hit.
    • When Petetronic Turns Red he delivers a Shout-Out to TRON by surrounding himself with rotating energy shields as you deflect his homing energy discs back at him.
  • The Final Boss battle of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles takes place in the sky, with only the boss's tail within attack range. Damaging his tail eventually brings the boss down to your level to strike directly, but only for a limited time.
  • The desert Bonus Boss "Kurt Zisa" in Kingdom Hearts only takes damage when he is stunned, but to stun him you have to attack and defeat the spells he's cast in battle first. Complicating matters is that each time his barrier is defeated he alternates to another attack pattern: One where he casts Silence on your party and attacks exclusively with his massive swords, and another where he's protected from physical attacks by a magic barrier and attacks exclusively via magic.
  • Ever since The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, most boss battles typically consist of using a newly-acquired weapon/tool from the latest dungeon to "stun" the boss and expose its weak point to ordinary sword strikes before the boss recovers from it; the entire process is generally repeated three times before the boss dies.
  • Two examples in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword:
    • Ghirahim is the quickest example: In his final battle, you destroy the armor surrounding his core with Fatal Blows. Once he summons a large claymore as his weapon, the only way to finish him off is to chip away and shatter his weapon with repeated sword strikes, then deliver a thrust attack to his exposed core. Get thrown off rhythm and Ghirahim will simply repair the blade with a snap of his fingers.
    • Koloktos covers its weak point by various means, and the battle proceeds primarily by using the whip to strip them away before striking the core. It goes up a notch when he Turns Red, with Koloktos wielding six gigantic swords while shielding its weak point with an iron grate. One strategy is to detach three of its arms with your whip, then pick up one of those giant swords to knock off its remaining arms, legs, and then smash through the grate and strike its core, which itself must be repeated three times to win the battle.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, when facing the Final Boss, you must destroy its hands and head in order to expose (and strike) its heart; the hands and head quickly regenerate, requiring you to repeat this process throughout the battle. There's also the fight against Fawful prior to it, which is a simpler case, as he starts off hiding in an invention of his that's completely impervious to damage, but landing enough hits will provoke him into using a powerful attack that overheats the machine, forcing him to leave it temporarily.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, a younger Princess Shroob cannot be damaged until you destroy the shield protecting her. The elder Princess Shroob extends this pattern one step further: You cannot damage her until having destroyed her crown, but you can't strike the crown without attacking her feet to knock her down first. In all cases, the princesses recover after taking a few hits, forcing you to start the process over.
  • Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story:
    • The giant wiggler. It can only be damaged in the head after all its segments have been turned yellow (you do so by attacking the segments), but it will turn back to red in a short while, forcing you to repeat the process.
    • The final boss also follows in the footsteps of the previous games, but takes it Up to Eleven, having Bowser fight against Dark Bowser until he knocks the Dark Star Core/Fawful out of him, after which he needs to vacuum it up so the bros. can fight it. This in turn requires them to first destroy both of its glasses' lens so they can destroy its three legs (As the boss simply retract them if the Bros. attack while he can see clearly), then they can finally attack the core and deal some lasting damage. Failure to destroy it in a few turns requires you to repeat the entire sequence beginning from Bowser's part, but thankfully, its HP isn't that high.
  • Mario & Luigi: Dream Team:
    • The Pillodium takes little damage until its two wings have been destroyed, after which it'll drop to the ground and suffer from an attack/defense debuff until its wings have been completely repaired by its bits. This process can be slowed down by attacking the partially repaired wings.
    • The final boss, Dreamy Bowser, will shield his head if the Bros. try to attack it while his right arm is still functioning. Though you can aim for his body with certain attacks, his head takes significantly more damage. Annoyingly, unlike the previous boss, any amount of healing will make his arm function again, and he can start healing himself whenever he wants to, which also forces you to eliminate a mob of his minions before he'll come back and fight you again...
  • The Final Boss in Mega Man X8 protects himself with multiple layers of shielding that must be broken to damage him, but as the battle wears on and he reveals his ultimate Desperation Attack, the player must do so within a time limit to win the battle.
  • From the Metroid Prime series:
    • The Emperor Ing in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes provides two examples in one long battle: In its initial form, Samus must destroy its tentacles to expose its weak point for damage; in its final form, hitting its weak point with enough firepower prompts the boss to shield it with either Light or Dark energy, at which point the player can actually damage the boss with the opposite energy weapon.
    • The gigantic war golem "Mogenar" in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has four Phazon cores (in various locations) shielded by red energy orbs; the player must blast through the shielding and then deliver a strike at the core with their Hyper Beam. Mogenar can regenerate the energy orbs using fixtures located along the edge of its Boss Room, and regenerates all of them whenever any core is destroyed. It is considered one of the game's most difficult battles.
  • From the final chapter in Odin Sphere, the "King of the Underworld" is a gigantic undead Cerberus. Unlike the still-living cerberus you defeated before him, after destroying his three heads you must attack his exposed heart before he regenerates the heads and the process repeats.
  • A penultimate boss in Psychonauts uses Telekinesis to protect himself with several rings of debris, and the player must use Raz's own various powers to break holes in each layer and deliver a strike, while the boss is simultaneously using his own psychic powers to repair each breach.
  • In Persona 4, the boss of the "Void Quest" dungeon resembles a newborn child, who starts the battle by surrounding itself in a shell resembling a pixelated, 8-bit RPG character sprite. You must destroy the shell to expose the boss itself, although the boss is by no means defenseless while regenerating its shell.
  • A few boss battles from Pokémon Pinball. In the first game, Mewtwo protects himself from the player's attacks with a ring of rotating psychic orbs; he regenerates them every time the player succeeds in inflicting damage, although as his HP drops, the barrier becomes progressively weaker, allowing some attacks to slip through.
    • Groudon from Pinball Ruby And Sapphire works similarly, frequently executing a shockwave attack that surrounds himself by pillars of flame that block the player's attacks until they can take at least one of them out.
  • A late-game boss battle in Super Mario RPG is the gigantic sword known as Exor. His weak point is the skull on the hilt, but the game informs you that it is protected from attacks by his two eyes. You have to attack and disable at least one of the eyes before you can inflict damage on his weak point, and the eyes revive after a few turns. Due to a Good Bad Bug the removable protection includes the ability to use Geno Whirl on the boss.
  • In Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Robotnik pilots a large stone golem as the boss of Sandopolis Zone Act 2; although it only takes one hit to dislodge the armor and expose Robotnik to a strike, the armor quickly snaps back into place, resulting in a limited opportunity to strike.
  • The Area 6 boss in Star Fox 64 requires you to shoot three energy balls surrounding its energy core before it will take damage. After a short window of opportunity, it generates three large metal tendrils and closes its shell entirely; you must shoot and destroy the tendrils to open the shell, then repeat the process all over again.
    • The Reactor Boss in the first Star Fox game requires you to deactivate its shields before you can damage it. The second version can regenerate them.
  • The early-80s Vector Game Star Castle (pictured above) consisted entirely of piloting an Asteroids-like spaceship to take out an enemy ship surrounded by three layers of rotating barriers. If one layer was completely destroyed, the enemy ship would counter by generating a new layer, and could also fire its own weapon at the player if it had an open line of sight between the openings.
  • A few examples from Devil May Cry series:
    • Leviathan's Heart is encased in a hard shell that opens up for a short time when one of two adjacent organs is destroyed. They regenerate quite quickly and you are also constantly swarmed by mooks who make taking a good slash at the heart quite a pain.
    • Nevan has an electrical shield that drops when all of the bats surrounding her are destroyed. And then you must instantly attack her at least once or else she'll immediately regenerate the shield to full.
    • Sanctus has a regenerating force field you must destroy to damage him and constantly floats away when you try to close the distance. Overlaps with Tactical Suicide Boss, because the probes that spawn and orbit around him can be grabbed and used to pull yourself towards him - although sometimes he tries to rectify this by making them explode when you're near them.
  • The final boss of Dark Messiah summons a skeletal dragon to fight you while he remains in an indestructible forcefield. Killing the dragon makes him lose the shield for a few seconds; then he summons another one, rinse and repeat.
  • Absolute Defender from G-Darius- you have to destroy his (regenerating) shield generator in order to damage him, but once you do so, you can hit him anywhere in order to damage him.
  • The Final Boss of Mega Man ZX Advent is like this, you have to damage his forcefield enough for it to disappear, then quickly get your hits in before it get put back up again.
  • Helicopter bosses (such as the Warm-Up Boss) from Night Striker have a forcefield that can take quite a few hits. Once it's down, you have to hit the heli or else it'll put its shield back up in a short time (and if you do hit it, it regenerates the shield). The good news is that these helis have only three hit points, unless it's the Final Boss of stage R, which has more.
  • The Big Core ship and its many variations in the Gradius series generally has a series of shields you must shoot through to reach the core.
  • In Yoshi's Island, Sluggy the Unshaven's heart is an obvious weak point (despite Kamek's Suspiciously Specific Denial), but hitting it requires getting through the surrounding ectoplasm, which regenerates.
  • Mass Effect 2 has a couple of these: the Reaper core in the Derelict Reaper mission and the rogue VI in the Overlord DLC. In both cases, you have to shoot things around the core first to make it vulnerable.
  • Doc Ock in Spider-Man is protected by a sort of electric field that must be shut off in order to get close to him and do damage.
  • The last phase of Rez's third boss.
  • In the NES version of Section Z, the Final Boss, L-Brain, is protected by twin shield generators in front of it which can regenerate in a few seconds.
  • Resident Evil 4 has this with the Queen Plaga/Salazar/Verdugo chimera; you have to shoot Verdugo's eye so the creature opens up to reveal Salazar, who is its weak point.
  • In Digital Devil Saga, the last form of the Final Boss Onmyo Harihara is surrounded by six different orbs. Five of the orbs cause her to be impervious to a different element, and the sixth orb reflects physical attacks. You need to strike down the orbs to even start hurting her, but she automatically restores one for free every turn. If you don't have something that does Almighty damage to wipe out all the orbs at once, you're looking at an uphill battle.
  • In the final stage of Pokémon Snap, Mew floats around in a bubble of psychic energy that prevents you from getting a clear picture. You have to hit the bubble a few times with Pokemon Food or Pester Balls in order to knock Mew out of it, then hit her as well to get her to stop chasing after it long enough for you to try and get a decent shot. Then she teleports back into the bubble to start the whole process over again until you reach the end of the stage.
  • In Transformers: War for Cybertron Soundwave sends his cassettes to fight while he stays behind an energy barrier.
  • Chrono Trigger: In the final battle, you'll think that the main body is the centre 'pod'. It's not. The right-hand pod is the true core; when it dies, the others do. Thing is, you have to destroy one of the other pods first to get it to lower its defences (all attacks on it are ineffectual otherwise) while it tries to resurrect the dead pod.
  • The Goronzoran from from Phantasy Star Online 2 is an extremely fat humanoid dragon who rides in a hoverchair, shielded by a magical barrier. The barrier can be removed by destroying the four crystals that orbit around it, after which you'll get a short period of time to freely attack the boss while he struggles to get his chair floating again.
  • A squicky example in Action 52 Owns's Non-Human. Gustav (a horribly mutated thing) is normally invulnerable to damage, but attack him enough and he'll cough up his innards. Hit those innards to deal damage before they're swallowed back. Don't stay near when they come out, though, or they'll drag you in and Gustav will eat you.
  • In the Wii version of Punch-Out!!, King Hippo becomes this kind of opponent in Title Defense. He uses a manhole cover he finds in an urban street to cover his belly during his fight against Little Mac. The cover is attached by three pairs of duct tapes, and to disjoint each pair the player has to stun Hippo after countering an attack and then land three hooks. When the cover is dropped (hitting one of Hippo's feet in the process), then the fight proceeds as a regular one.

In other media

Film
  • In TRON, the Master Control Program protected its weak point from Tron by summoning a layer of energy shields; Tron could take out individual shields easily with his disc, but the MCP rotated the shield layer too quickly for Tron to make a successful shot; it was Flynn's Heroic Sacrifice that paralyzed the MCP and allowed Tron to land a clean strike between the shields.

Pinball
  • In Sega Pinball's Star Wars Trilogy, Darth Vader's target is hidden behind a set of TIE Fighter dropdown targets.
  • Stern Pinball's Striker Xtreme (and its Americanized remake, NFL) has four linesmen dropdown targets that must be struck down before the player can shoot for the goal.
  • In Avatar, the AMP Suit can only be attacked after first knocking down a three-target bank in front of it.


Scoring PointsOlder Than the NESShoot 'em Up
Sheathe Your SwordBoss BattleSkippable Boss

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