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Tennis Boss
aka: Playing Tennis With The Boss
Link answers Phantom Ganon's serve with a forehand smash.

"Pretty much all of them won by slapping their projectiles back at them like a game of interstellar Pong."

Alright, this is it. You're facing the boss, and it's a big one. He's charging up an energy attack, just getting ready to launch it at you. What do you do? Do you dodge out of the way? Block with your shield? Scream like a little girl?

Nope. Swing, batta batta, swing! That's right, smack that ball of destruction right back towards 'im! If you're lucky, he won't be ready for it, and it'll hit him, leaving him open for a few good whacks with your Weapon of Choice. If you're not, he'll hit it back and the game is on. For the extra-challenging variety, the ball will speed up each time you do this, so that eventually, you're furiously mashing the button to attack again and again and hoping that the boss misses before you do.

Sometimes, the boss will let out a different energy attack that can't be deflected. If you hit that projectile, it'll probably explode and you'll be damaged.

Incidentally, it doesn't really count as Playing Tennis if the boss's light-based energy projectiles are simply reflecting off your Mirror Shield - reflecting the attack must require timing and reflexes.

It also should be noted that the first time you encounter this trope, you usually have no idea what to do. It's really one of those things that only makes sense in video games.

Why the boss feels the need to use the one attack that can damage itself at all is unknown.

Despite the name, this is not solely restricted to bosses. However, bosses are much more likely to fall into this behavior.

See also Hoist by His Own Petard, Puzzle Boss, Beam-O-War.

For instances where you play a literal, friendly tennis match against the boss, see Go-Karting with Bowser.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventure 
  • The Legend of Zelda features this in many games. Fans of the games often refer to this trope as "Ganonball", while The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass gave it an official name, "Dead Man's Volley".
    • It originally appeared during the fight against Agahnim in A Link to the Past, which lets you use either the Master Sword or the butterfly net.
    • Link's Awakening featured a shadow version of Agahnim during the final showdown, complete with tennis-based battle strategy. This time, the Shovel also works.
    • Ocarina of Time first features this in the fight with Phantom Ganon in the Forest Temple, then repeats it for the main fight with Ganondorf. Following the rule of using silly weapons to defeat him, you can use empty bottles to hit his attacks back.
    • Oracle of Ages has one of these against an Agahnim clone — along with the first stage of the final boss in a linked game. Averted with the clone in Seasons.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker features this during the return to the Forsaken Fortress, as a fight against Phantom Ganon. As with Ocarina of Time, the use of the empty bottle for this purpose is still an option.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, Phantom Ganon returns, and if playing multiplayer, his magic will change colour as it's struck and can only be hit by a certain player.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess forces you to fight Puppet Zelda during the final boss run in this manner. As with Ocarina of Time and Windwaker, you can use an empty bottle in place of the sword.
    • Phantom Hourglass has you fight the Cubus Sisters this way. They even make a game out of it, coining the aforementioned name. Just a bit later, the first half of the boss battle against the Twin Dragon Gleeok works this way, although with an unique twist, using the rope from the Grappling Hook like a big slingshot.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword:
      • You have to do this during the last time you fight Ghirahim. As well, the attack is a spinning disc, which forces you not only to hit it back, but to use the MotionPlus controls to hit it back the right way.
      • It's also necessary against the Bilocyte boss fight.
      • There's one more place where this strategy can be used in Skyward Sword, and to great effect: against Demise. You'd probably never do it without knowing about it first, though, because you can't reflect Demise's electric discs with the sword unless you charge it up yourself; you can also swing the bug catching net!
    • In The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds the Final boss does this twice. First time the standard type of one ball, the second time he use two balls.
  • In the Zelda-based parody Legend of Princess, you have to fight one of the minibosses like this, but it degenerates to button mashing when it gets too fast.
  • This can also happen with regular enemies, such as in Ōkami, where an evil tree launches fruit at you and you send it back with Power Slash (though the game does have boss battles that feature this trope as well).
  • The Ghost Woman of Horo Temple, the first boss of Legend of the Mystical Ninja, requires you to bat her spinning energy disks back at her. Your normal weapons will have no effect, since she doesn't have a physical body.
    • In Ganbare Goemon 4, a Japanese-only sequel to the game, the final boss consists of a minigame where you have to throw a ball back to the sports-obsessed villain until he is crushed by it. It's painfully difficult. And in Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon for the Nintendo 64, the boss of the Festival Temple Castle, Tsurami, flings spinning plates at the heroes, who must slap them back at her to win.
  • The video game adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets had many battles like this in the form of magical duels. A Flipendo Knockback Jinx is volleyed between the player and their opponent with Expelliarmus, and the spell continuously becomes more powerful and harder to repel the longer the tennis match continues.
  • The PC and GBA versions of Harry Potter and the Philisopher's Stone have this during the Mirror of Erised Battle with Quirrelmort. You're stuck in the outer ring of the circular room, surrounded by pillars. You have to hide behind the pillars so that Quirrelmort would cast a spell at it to destroy it. When all the pillars are gone, you then use Flipendo to make the Mirror of Erised spin in place and face a different direction. Then carefully position it and yourself so that you'll use the mirror to reflect Quirrelmort's spell back at him.
  • The point and click PC game Disneys Villains Revenge has a Boss Rush variety for the final battle as you use the storybook to deflect Captain Hook's cannonballs, The Ringmaster's pies, The Queen of Hearts' croquet balls, and the Evil Queen's energy balls.
  • Dark Grotto bossnote  in An Untitled Story. He charges up a fireball and you have to reflect it with iceshot. He might will reflect it. How many times he will do it in a turn increases with amount of hitpoints left and with difficulty level.
  • In Franchise/Ys The Oath in Felghana the final boss does this, and also force you to dodge being sucked into a vortex with it shooting many projectiles all over the place.

    Action Game 
  • Even if it's not essential to defeat him and very risky to do, in the first Devil May Cry, you can swat back the fireballs that the first Recurring Boss, Phantom, spits at you, and this is also the solution to one of the (few) game's puzzles. Doing this to the Final Boss in his second form gets you a health power-up.
    • You can also do this to the pillars Beowulf throws at you in Devil May Cry 3. It's not essential.
    • Also in Devil May Cry 3, you also can reflect the Doppleganger's anti-light energy blasts.
    • The Gigapede in the fourth mission throws electric balls of energy at you that you can send right back.
    • In Devil May Cry 4, Nero can use his Devil Bringer to deflect the attacks of one of the bosses, as well as throwing a sword-shaped enemy at whatever's nearest. Additionally, some of the Alto Angelos can summon Bianco Angelos to stand next to them and fire a huge beam of energy at either character. They can promptly deflect it with any attack - including a single thrown rose from Dante - to destroy the entire group and get an instant SSS rank.
  • The final phase of the last boss of Playstation 2 game Alter Echo is fought using this mechanic. Notably, there is nothing like it in the rest of the game.
  • Monster Party starred a baseball bat wielding kid who could bat enemy's projectiles back at them. This didn't have quite the Guide Dang It aspect that this trope sometimes fosters, since this technique worked on practically everything that used projectiles, and you could generally defeat bosses by just pummeling them with the bat instead.
  • Done in Kendo Rage against a boss that literally, is playing tennis with little star shaped monsters.
  • In Goof Troop, any enemy that throws barrels and bombs, since you can catch them and throw them back. Most notably, cannons.
  • In Intrusion 2 the boss Maku will surround her self in a blob of energy and fire large grenades at you, the only way to damage her in this form is to shoot the grenades back at her. the missiles fired by Rifle mechs can also be deflected in this manner.

    Adventure Game 
  • In Epic Mickey, Mickey must do this with Petetronic's TRON discs in order to stun him long enough to hit him for real. While Petetronic does not attempt to hit back, he will put up deflector shields later on that automatically sends the discs back at Mickey, requiring Mickey to break a hole in the shields to get to Petetronic.

    Beat Em Up 
  • During the fights in the optional stages in Bonesaw: The Game, your opponent will spiral balls of green and yellow energy at you. The only way to defeat the boss is to hit the spiraling orbs with the titular weapon, which you need to charge from scratch as the boss uses YOUR Bonesaw energy to summon his own at the start of the fight.
  • Advance Guardian Heroes actually has this as a major fighting tactic. The best way to deal with pretty much any given attack is to parry it at the last second. In the case of projectile attacks, this sends it right back at whoever shot it. At the very end of the game, you have to knock back a Planet-killing blast, which requires perfect timing: Any parry that hits before the absolute last possible moment (the game is merciful enough to give you a timer) will be sent back at you, forcing you to do it all over again.
  • The Xbox LIVE Arcade version of Castle Crashers literally makes you play a game of volleyball with the boss of the Desert Sandcastle.
  • In Bayonetta, against the third-to-last boss, it's possible to catch a missile several times your size and throw it at the boss, who throws it back, so you throw it again, etc. The next boss tries to kill you with skyscrapers and a Colony Drop... Yeah.
  • In Dragon's Crown, one of the Ancient Dragon's attacks consists of flying into the background and firing magic missiles at stone pillars that are necessary for defending against one of its flaming breath attacks. The missiles can be attacked and sent flying back at the Dragon to damage it.
  • Not strictly an example, unless you played it with the Story Mode Final Boss as your opponent or something, but Tekken 3 (or at least bthe Playstation port) had the Tekken Ball game mode.

    Driving Game 
  • In Snowboard Kids 2, any projectile can be deflected back at the racer who shot it by doing a quick board grab. The idea is that the projectile hits the smooth, reflective surface of the snowboard. Deflected projectiles, however, can be deflected again, sending the projectile back at its target. This can be kept up until someone times it wrong or cannot do a board grab.

    Fighting Game 
  • Possible during the Super Smash Bros. series. Mario has a move which flings his cape (of Super Mario World fame) in front of him, doing one of two things: Turning an immediate opponent in the other direction or redirecting projectiles in the other direction. It's with this second possibility that the 'tennis' idea comes into play.
    • Other characters also have similar moves, and the Franklin Badge does this automatically for everyone. In Melee, it was also possible to reflect with the normal shield if you had frame-precise timing. But playing this with that technique is another matter entirely...
    • Ness can reflect Samus's blasts with his baseball bat. Of course, this can be a brilliant in-game move as most players expect Ness to absorb the blast to heal damage
      • Ness's bat (and Mario's cape, and the other reflectors) can knock back any projectile — this can get excellent against items that are "owned" by the thrower, meaning they can't get damaged by them, like banana peels, Poké Balls, and ROB's odd top weapon. If they don't notice you reflected them before they fell, they'll think they're immune to them, and assume they're still not a threat. Hilarity ensues.
    • Fox and Falco's reflectors are capable of the same thing, and is required to perform an infamous glitch in Melee.
    • It can't go forever though; reflected items get stronger each time. Eventually a tennis match will end when the reflected attack becomes so powerful, it destroys the reflector. Better watch out if that was a Red Shell you were reflecting...
    • Zelda's Nayru's Loves, Fox, Falco and Wolf's Reflectors, Dr. Mario's Super Sheet and Mario's Cape, Rob's spinning arms, Mewtwo's Psychic, Ness and Lucas' bats and Pit's Spinning sacred blades and Palutena's Mirror can all reflect projectiles. The latter most is notoriously broken about it, defending behind him when the shield is in front of him.
  • In The King of Fighters you can "serve" a fireball, then they'd ping-pong it back and forth with reflectors until one of the players messes up their timing.
  • Both the Dragon Ball Z Budokai and Budokai Tenkaichi games feature generic Ki Blasts as attacks. With the right timing, you can either deflect them away or back at your opponent. A few of them even feature mini games where the objective is to keep this going for a specific amount of volleys.
  • In Killer Instinct, the final boss Eyedol can smack your projectiles back at you. Use a cheat to play as Eyedol, and you can play tennis til the cows come home.
  • Lethal League has this as a core concept, although it's more baseball-themed that tennis. Your attacks cannot hurt your opponent, but there is a ball that you can hit to send it flying. If the ball hits your opponent, they lose a life. If your opponent hits the ball back, you must try to hit it back yourself, and so on.

    First Person Shooter 
  • Doom 3: Resurrection Of Evil's first boss was one of these. For that matter, you could kill virtually every other (non-boss) enemy in the game with one hit in this manner.
  • You can get into a semi-amusing game of this in the Star Wars game Jedi Academy, playing Force-push tennis with a launched rocket and Dark Jedi. Of course, the fact that they have more Force power than you makes this usually end with Jaden Korr splattered.
    • Except for the Korriban valley level. There's a dark Jedi standing on the top of some pillars in the middle who seems to have been placed there specifically for this purpose, as he's difficult to reach and rarely leaves his perch. Rocket tennis can be played with him indefinitely from several locations on the map, as he's far enough that the force regenerates before the missile comes flying back.
    • The same level has fights between light and dark force users in several places. You can fire a rocket at them and get them to play tennis against each other.
    • In Star Wars itself, one of the first tricks Luke learns is the ability to deflect blaster fire; in later movies we see Luke and other Jedi taking out Mooks by reflecting their own shots back at them (the main enemies, of course, use lightsabers of their own). In the movies, this is more about attunement to the Force than reflexes; in some video game adaptations (Lego Star Wars comes to mind) it comes back to player reflexes.
    • This tactic can be played straight with AT-STs and is one of the better ways to combat them.
    • An unintentional example could be pulled in the SNES game adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back during the final battle with Vader. By switching to a blaster, firing a shot, then switching back to the lightsaber, you could play a very pointless game of pong with Vader. He has perfect deflection reflexes, and won't move until the shot clears the screen (either by hitting you or being jumped by you).
    • LEGO Star Wars has some fun with this. It is possible to intercept blaster shots that have been deflected at a friend, and when you deflect them perfectly, they will go back to the first deflector, which will start a tennis match with no end unless you get yourself shot.
  • While very difficult, it is actually possible to reflect incoming fire such as rockets using Unreal Tournament impact hammer.
    • In Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict, you can reflect any weapons fire with your melee weapon, assuming you get the timing right. Rockets are fairly easy, unless you're too close, but sniper rounds are...difficult. If you get a kill by reflected shot, the announcer will say "Rejected", to make sure you know how badass you are.
      • It also says that when you get killed by one too, to make sure you know how badly you got owned. Also, sniper reflections tend to hit you in the head more often than not, which is especially aggravating since the AI can pull them off with ease.
  • Team Fortress 2 had an update which allows the Pyro class to use the alt fire on their flamethrower to deflect explosives. The newly released Flare Gun (a Pyro-only weapon) fires a deflectable projectile. As a result its possible for to Pyros to keep trying to deflect a flare at each other.
    • The Scout used to be able to deflect a Demoman's sticky bombs with his bat. This never happened with any other projectile, and was never implied in any game information provided by Valve, so it was likely a glitch (The bombs can bounce off character models; it was likely a combination of that and the ability to send the bombs flying after they land using a melee weapon).
    • The Scout weapons update also introduced the Sandman bat, which comes with a baseball projectile that Scouts can bat back and forth. Scouts can quickly "reload" a baseball by picking up one that they (or another Scout) left on the ground.
    • There's a custom game mode called "Dodgeball" that is less like dodgeball and more like tennis with player homing rockets and nukes and everyone forced to go Pyro to project rockets back with the compression blast.
    • The Pyro's air blast can affect Pyro flares, Demoman pipe bombs, Demoman sticky bombs, Soldier rockets, Scout baseballs, and Sniper arrows. Of those, flares, baseballs, and arrows can be reflected back and forth between two Pyros.
    • The absolute best thing about the reflection ability is being able to get headshots on enemy Snipers with their own arrows. The previous best thing about the reflection that there used to be a bug that stunning a Scout with his own reflected baseball and killing him resulted in him getting a kill assist point for assisting in his own death. This has unfortunately been fixed.
  • This is part of how you beat the last boss in Painkiller.
  • Happens with a couple of bosses in Metroid Prime 3, including the very first one.
    • Also happens (somewhat) in the Final Boss in Metroid Prime 2. Instead of bouncing it back, you catch some of it until you have enough and then throw it back at the boss. Easier than it sounds, especially due to the time limit you're under.
  • In Halo 3, the physics engine allows for some crazy examples of this, well timed explosions or gravity hammer swings can send rockets and grenades ricocheting back at the enemy.
  • Postal 2: You can kick grenades right back at whoever's tossing them. They explode on contact.
  • The boss fight against Ramon in Syndicate consists of Breaching his missiles (while he Breaches them back) to try and turn them around midair to hit him.
  • The main method of fighting Peach Wilkins in BioShock 1, since your weapons have been confiscated, is to throw his Molotovs back at him with the Telekinesis plasmid.

    Hack And Slash 
  • Final battle. God of War: Chains of Olympus. Textbook example.
    • In a rare moment of Genre Savvy, Persephone will sometimes refuse to use the one attack which can be reflected in this manner, often for far longer than would be statistically probable if her attack pattern was truly random. Sometimes she'll alternate use of her other two attacks for up to ten minutes at a time, before finally getting frustrated enough to use her reflectable attack. Sometimes, when playing on God Mode, the difference in timing (and player excitement that she's finally using the one attack you've been waiting for) will be enough to throw you off and let her win. ( it's probably just a bug with a missing AI trigger.)
    • There's also the battle with Lakhesis in God of War 2. This is, in fact, the primary way of dealing damage until that boss is weakened enough for you to grapple.
  • While not required to win the fight, Travis can do this (with a beam katana, no less) during the Rank 2 battle in No More Heroes. The disturbing part? The projectiles in question are guys in gimp outfits. And every now and then, the boss will return your return with the same weapon she used to launch them with. A baseball bat to the back of the head. To their credit, they seem to like it.
    • There are a couple of regular enemies (and bonus fights) that toss baseballs at Travis that he can also swat back.
    • Hardest to do, but most gratifying, in the Destroyman fight. His Destroy Cannon can be reflected, or used when he is flying to hit the switch knocking him back down to earth.
    • Also subverted earlier in the game with the Rank 9 battle cutscene. Travis tries to do this to Dr. Peace's bullet. Turns out the bullet explodes.
  • In the God of War-like Heavenly Sword for the PlayStation 3, you can deflect the daggers of the crazy mercenary and in the final battle the fire and lighting balls of the mad king.
  • In the spinoff Soul Calibur Legends, the Final Boss has attacks that you can swing your sword at and, if you swing the correct way, will hit them back into the boss, stunning him for a bit so you can whale on him. It's not required, but is much easier than trying to jump over or dodge them.
  • Inverted in Dm C Devil May Cry. The player can throw their ax head at enemies, and some late game enemies will hit it back if their defenses are up. If the player manages to time it right, they can then stun the enemy by hitting it back, turning this into one of the shortest applications of this trope.
  • In the SNES reformulation of Prince of Persia, the first phase of the battle with the Vizier has you deflect his One-Hit Kill magic bolts with your sword.

    MMORPG 
  • World of Warcraft has a few boss fights with variations on this.
    • In the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, there's a Volleyball Boss. Basically, big glowing bombs slowly drop into the room, and the only way to keep them from touching the ground, blowing up, and killing everyone is to shoot them with ranged attacks.
    • An even closer example was added in the Cataclysm expansion: Warlord Zon'ozz, more colloquially known as "the pong boss." He creates a glowing ball of energy and sends it roaming around the room. When it hits a player, it does moderate damage to all players nearby and starts moving in the opposite direction. When it hits the boss, the boss gets a Status Buff that eventually leads to an Area of Effect attack on the whole raid, but that attack also resets the ball. The problem is, if the ball ever hits the wall of the room, it's a Total Party Kill. So, basically, one or a small group of players spends the fight bouncing the ball between them and the boss but keep it from ever hitting the wall.
      • And did we mention that it does increased damage with each bounce?

    Party Game 
  • In Rayman Raving Rabbids and its sequel, nearly all bosses in the shooter levels were shielded and could only be defeated by hitting missiles they shot at you. No matter what angle you shoot the missile at, it somehow finds its way back to the enemy.
    • In the original Rayman platform game, Mr. Sax is defeated by punching his "sharp notes" back at him.
  • Wizzrobes in Nintendo Land's Zelda attraction launch a beachball-like projectile that can be hit back, in a nod to the Zelda series' tendency to include this. If you're playing as the archer though, they'll send Keese at you instead.

    Platform Game 
  • In general, after starting with Zelda, Nintendo loved using this trope everywhere. Donkey Kong Jungle Beat features several mini-bosses that, in a variation, shoot Homing Projectiles which return to you after you knock them away on their own. You must hit them back enough hard enough to hit the boss until they eventually break on the boss.
  • Super Mario Galaxy has this in a fight against King Kaliente, a giant, coconut-and-fireball-spitting octopus in a lava pit.
    • In addition to that, occasionally you will also find other vaguely octopus-like monsters that shoot coconuts.
    • Variation in Super Mario Bros. 2: Birdo spits eggs that you have to jump on and throw back.
  • A common occurrence in the Crash Bandicoot series — most notably the first game's final boss: The green blasts can be deflected back , but the red ones will harm you, and the blue ones will zig-zag back and forth across the screen also harming you.
  • In Wario World, there's Captain Skull, the second-to-last Boss. At first he's a pushover; all Wario has to do is punch him until he's stunned and then use a Piledriver or Power Throw. However, once Captain Skull loses half his health, he blocks all of Wario's punches with his cannon-arm, so this doesn't work anymore. To stun him from that point on, Wario has to pick up one of the cannonballs the villain shoots at him and Power Throw it at him. (Even then, that only stuns him; Wario then has to reach him and use one of his moves to reduce his health bar before he recovers. And he has to do that three more times.)
  • La-Mulana's final battle. But wait! Only one of your many weapons can reflect the projectiles! Which one, you ask? Find out yourself, says the game! It's the knife, if you're not interested in playing along.
  • Kirby's Dream Land 2 has you gaining the Rainbow Sword and go to the special area to fight Dark Matter. You can hit him directly with the sword (Which causes barely any damage), but a safer and quicker strategy is to keep your distance and wait for him to fire a certain attack, then thwack it with the sword back at him.
  • The True Final Boss of Sonic Rush Adventure shoots meteors and various other projectiles that can be reflected back at him—and probably should be, if you don't want the fight to drag on forever.
    • The sixth boss of Sonic Advance 3 must be beaten this way.
    • Similarly, the True Final Boss of Sonic And The Secret Rings can be damaged and stunned by deflecting its giant energy ball back at it. Since there's no other way to avoid this attack, this is a wise course of action.
    • The final boss of Sonic Pocket Adventure can only be damaged by dashing into the missiles it fires, sending them flying back at the enemy.
    • The first phase of Metal Carrier from Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II can be damaged by deflecting the cannonball it shoots at it.
  • The Resonance Reflector in the indie platformer Iji can reflect any weapon that isn't hitscan, letting you play tennis with everyone from mooks on up. Certain enemies have reflectors of their own, however, meaning that you can be on the receiving end as well. In particular, using the reflector on the final boss of the game is usually the easiest way to defeat himnote , as slowly chipping away at his health with your other weapons turns him into a marathon boss.
  • At the end of the 3rd level of Flintstones - Surprise at the Dinosaur Peak, there's a yeti boss which makes rocks fall from a sky which can be swung back at him with a club. Often though, yeti swings that rock back again, often resulting rock going back and fourth 5-6 times.
  • Zero can do this to almost any enemy shot in Mega Man X7. The Gaea Shield/Gokumonken from Soldier Stonekong can "bounce" Sigma's energy orbs back at him, the only thing to send Sigma into "hit stun." Strangely, this is also one of the very few games with a boss that has no hit stun from a weakness.
  • The second boss of Lyle in Cube Sector must be fought like a game of Breakout.
  • In NiGHTS Journey of Dreams the Reala battles are more or less a game of dodgeball with your evil twin.
  • This is required to beat the final stage of the final boss in Vexx: Revenge Is Unleashed.
  • The final boss fight in The Legendary Starfy ends with Mashtooth launching a whole moon at you. What do you do? Grab it and launch it right back at him...then he grabs it and launches it back at you again, and you have to launch it back again to finish him off, all with an obscene amount of Button Mashing.
    • Even before he does that, the primary way to damage him is by using your star spin to deflect asteroids he throws at you, back at him.
  • The final boss of the 2009 A Boy and His Blob has you smacking back energy spheres at the boss with your Humongous Mecha to weaken him for a physical attack.
  • Using the Mirror power to send back projectiles is the only way you can defeat Dr. Wily at the end of the original Game Boy Mega Man.
  • A literal example in BUG!. The boss is an octopus who throws fish at you, so you take a tennis racket and swat them back at his head.
  • In Spyro: Year of the Dragon, a Bonus Boss in the Spooky Swamp tosses bombs and the way to defeat him is to hit them back at him.
  • In the Viewtiful Joe series, eternal rival and recurring boss Alastor likes to unleash swords that float around independently and home in on you when you get close. Unfortunately for him, they switch their target to their creator upon a properly placed hit by Joe. There are also a lot of tank-riding mini-bosses who fire shells at you that you can punch back with your Slow power.
    • In Red Hot Rumble, one of the showdown mini-games that can pop up in the middle of a fight involves hitting a Bianky mook back and forth at increasing speed until one side gets smacked with it.
  • Drill Dozer has a boss that's based on catching the projectile the right way and timing it so it explodes at the right time, so its more like hot potato with the boss. Like one Zelda example, the boss will refuse to keep playing after its lost enough rounds, forcing a more direct approach.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), this is Silver's primary means of taking out everything. Since he has no way to attack enemies directly (aside from a psychoshock attack that can do a tiny bit of damage and allow Silver to grab them while stunned) Silver's primary means of attacking is to use telekinesis to grab any nearby debris or, if nothing else is around, the enemy's projectiles and throw them back at the target.
  • In Mega Man X 6, Gate is completely immune to your attacks. The only way to hit him is to attack the colored spheres he throws at you; they then split into pieces, which damage Gate if they hit him. And this battle happens in a room with a bunch of tiny platforms above a Bottomless Pit. Good thing your characters can climb the walls.
    • The first form of the Wily Machine No. 9 in Mega Man 9 spits out explosive dinosaur eggs (!). The eggs have to be shot back so they bounce into the boss's mouth.

    Puzzle Game 
  • The N64 game Mischief Makers had a level where you play dodgeball with a boss. It's in the middle of an Olympics-style event, against a cat with the same creepy haniwa face as nearly everything else in the game, while a Pretty Flower and green slime are also present on the court. And while you can cross the center line to directly beat the snot out of the cat, the crowd will gasp, and the cat will call you a cheater, and not give you hints for the next fight. If that wasn't I Am Not Making This Up enough for you, bear in mind that you also ride the cat on the next stage.
    • There's more. This is a boss fight where the cat that you are riding on is being chased by a giant motorcycle that looks like a dog, is armed to the teeth, and is ridden by an anthropomorphic wolf. You can also ride on the missiles it fires (while still riding the cat, of course). So... yeah...

    Role Playing Game 
  • Bonus Boss Ice Titan in Kingdom Hearts I requires you to hit his icicles back at him, as anything else you can hit him does absolutely nothing until you stun him with the aforementioned icicles. In fact, you can do this in all sorts of places. Most projectile attacks in the game can be reflected back at an opponent, often giving a nice XP bonus and stunning the enemy. This even includes the Lingering Will's BFG - it may fire an enormous ball of energy, but Sora's Block or Reflect will bounce it back same as everything else.
    • The last part of the final battle of Kingdom Hearts II requires this; great deal of button mashing, since it's not one powerful attack - it is a goddamn torrent of energy blasts. On the other hand, if you manage to hit most of them back, you'll have blasted off a good deal of his health bar. Really, it's Press X and Triangle simultaneously not to die.
  • Several Final Fantasy bosses, usually at least once per game since the Reflect spell was introduced, will cast Reflect on themselves and/or the party, and bounce damaging spell off itself onto you and curative spells off you onto it. The solution is of course to follow suit. The best example of this is Bahamut and Dark Bahamut in Final Fantasy IV. Bahamut spends five turns charging up Mega Flare, the only real way to survive is to Reflect it back at him. His cousin Dark Bahamut casts Reflect on himself and bounces normal Flares off himself, and if you summon say, Bahamut to pierce Reflect, he counters with Mega Flare, which you need to Reflect to survive.
    • Another FF 4 example that more or less requires Reflect would be Asherah, who occasionally heals herself by a ridiculously high amount, which would require you use Reflect on her in order to maintain lasting damage.
    • Exdeath in Dissidia: Final Fantasy, is technically just another playable character instead of a boss, but just take a look at this match. Watch the vacuum wave projectiles fly from shield to shield to shield to shield to shield...
  • Deflecting their flying sword spell back at them is the only way you can harm the Three Wise Men in Odin Sphere. Unfortunately, they also teleport away if struck by anything else, know a large variety of other spells that inflict Standard Status Effects on you (meaning said flying swords come out very seldom, and only following barrages of other spells), and is enough of a Mook Maker to keep you busy, which makes them That One Boss even by Odin Sphere standards.
  • The final boss of Ys: Oath of Felghana will not only employ this strategy in the last part of the fight, he makes it as nasty as possible. He sucks away all your energy to do it, and launches other attacks after launching the reflect-able energy ball, meaning you have to play Pong with him and dodge his attacks at the same time!
    • Orjugan in Ys VI requires you to deflect its bombs back with the Wind Sword, while also dodging its instant-kill Death Ray and Giant Hands of Doom.
  • The Earth Trolls in Fable will rip up chunks of the ground and hurl them at you with alarming regularity. They cannot be blocked, but it is possible to dodge them or knock them back at the troll. Of course, the latter requires twitch-reflex timing and more than a little luck (or the time-slowing spell).
  • Several Avatar battles in Dot Hack GU are exactly like this. They even have a label that says "Shoot" or "Slash". Most of the time, they even show you hints like "Slash x to (do) y!"
  • In Dragon Quest Swords, swatting a bodkin archer's arrow back at it is that only way that it can be killed, as they never get close enough for you to hit them. Likewise, you fight a scythe-wielding boss named Harvest Loon in Dragon Quest Heroes Rocket Slime with him over a pit, out of range. The only way to damage him is to avoid his large scythe and smack the smaller Castlevania-esque scythe projectiles into him.
  • Avalon Code (NDS) features a variation(?) of this called "Judgement Link," although it's less like tennis and more like "how long can you keep the ball from hitting the ground" — you smack the enemies into the air repeatedly, getting points and bonuses for long combos. In fact, there are two ways to do it: attack with one hand and send the enemies higher each time (which quickly gets insanely difficult); or alternate hands and keep them lower, but have to hit them faster (more challenging with heavier enemies).
    • You can also play Judgement Link against other NPCs, making it much closer to the trope.
  • In Dark Chronicle, Max is able to deflect certain enemy projectiles with his wrench.
  • In Terranigma, during the second form of Dark Morph boss, you have to deflect its attacks back to cause damage. The first form of the final boss applies too.
  • The hammers in the Mario & Luigi series give you the ability to smack projectile attacks back at most bosses (and some enemies).
    • The first game hangs a lampshade on it by having Larry Koopa pull out a tennis racket when he spits a fireball. You have to smack the fireball back and forth a few times until one of you miss.
    • The second game has a double boss fight with Bowser and Baby Bowser. One attack has Bowser hiding in his shell and spinning at you while Baby Bowser pulls out his own hammer. You end up hitting Bowser back and forth like a hockey puck until someone misses.

    Shoot Em Up 
  • Ikaruga allows you to absorb like-colored enemy fire and return it in the form of homing lasers. While this isn't technically reflecting fire, the game's second to last boss volleys homing lasers at the player at an ever increasing rate which are optimally returned the moment they are absorbed.
  • The Final Boss battle of Sin and Punishment features Ruffian Saki fighting a gigantic evil Earth firing lasers and asteroids at regular Earth in this manner, deflecting its attacks back at it using your own swords and lasers.
  • In Triggerheart Exelica, the final boss tosses all sorts of debris from the space station at you. The most optimal way to beat it is to use the Anchor System to grab that debris and toss it back.
  • In the original Reflection, Cancer uses a reflector shield very similar to yours. He continuously fires with it up, causing you both to deflect shots and lasers back at each other.
  • Every boss (and mook) in Arc Angle is this, since your character's only form of offense was to convert enemy attacks into homing bullets that attacked the shooter.
  • Enigmata 2 has the True Final Boss, the Entity. It has a ludicrous amount of health and will fire out a huge green energy ball that deals massive damage to your ship and can potentially destroy you in one hit. The optimal way to beat him is to use the Reflection Barrier skill to reflect said ball back at him to deal substantial damage to his health.

    Simulation Game 
  • Strong Bad Zone. The Wii version lets you permanently raise your shield, though.

    Survival Horror 
  • The second part of the battle against Leviathan in Dead Space is this. After you destroy its tentacles, it will start spitting huge festering balls of... something... at Isaac, who must use his kinesis to push them back at it. It always shoots five at a time, so the key is rebounding only the odd-numbered ones: the first and third ones will collide with the second and fourth ones, leaving the fifth ball to be shot back into its... mouth... or whatever the hell the Leviathan shoots those balls from.
    • Brutes in both games are Bullfight Bosses until you disable a limb, at which point they start spitting exploding balls of gunk at you. Grabbing them and flinging them back with Kinesis is an easy kill.
  • In Half-Life 2, the gravity gun can be sometimes used to catch enemy attacks and throw them back; Anti-matter orbs and objects stuck with hunter flechettes, for example. Also, grabbing a manhack (a flying sawblade robot) creates a chainsaw-like effect if held in the Zero-Point field, aside from the use of launching it at an enemy.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • In Blood Rayne 2, one of the earlier bosses is a giant who will throw mooks with explosives strapped to their chests at you. The only way to beat her is to harpoon them out of the air and throw them back when her belly is exposed.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • While not bosses per se, Ghasts and Blazes in Minecraft spit or throw fireballs at you, respectively. Time it right, and you can knock them back at them with your sword

Non-video game examples:

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Pokémon Special, Guile can reflect a Pokémon's attack back at its user using his sword.
  • In Angel Beats!! Otonashi and Noda do this... in a baseball game.
  • In a season one Sailor Moon episode, the Monster Of The Day is a camera-themed youma, Cameran, that's capable of trapping people in photographs with the beam it shoots from the eye in her palm. Left to fight Cameran by herself, Sailor Moon realizes that in order to weaken her, she needs to Cameran to take a picture of herself. The beam bounces off a mirror and hits Cameran, badly weakening her enough for Sailor Moon to destroy her and free the captive people in the pictures.
  • When YuYu Hakusho's Kuwabara develops his signature spirit sword, he at one point does it to a fireball thrown by an opponent. He is then curbstomped by said opponent (by way of a shrinking spell), who turns out to be the story arc's Big Bad.
    • It's later subverted with the second of the four legendary monsters. The beast shoots a ball of sound (don't ask) at Kuwabara. He's about to try to bat it back when the others tell him to dodge. He jumps to another pillar ... and the ball of sound obliterates the one he was standing on.

    Film 
  • The movie You Don't Mess with the Zohan features Playing Tennis With The Boss" literally through the use of tennis rackets and a grenade.
  • A scene in the Chinese movie Hero has two people using their swords to "play tennis" with a waterdrop.
  • In The Lost Empire (also known as The Monkey King), the protagonist uses his sword to reflect a villain's energy blasts, comparing it to a game of racquetball.
  • In Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, Godzilla and Ebirah play a round or two of this with a boulder. Neither of them manage to actually damage each other doing this, so after a while Godzilla basically says "screw it" and just shoots Ebirah with his atomic breath.
  • This trope, combined with Taking the Bullet, is the reason why The Fairy Godmother ended up defeated in Shrek 2. Basically, after Fiona's father revealed that he deliberately gave her regular tea instead of the one laced with a love potion, she tries to kill Shrek by firing a null-happily ever after spell at Shrek, Fiona's father intercepts the attack and gets hit with it instead, and since he was wearing armor at the time, it rebounded and hit the Fairy Godmother, which apparently disintegrated her into bubbles.
  • Done with a thrown knife rather than energy at the conclusion of Big Trouble in Little China.
  • In Kung Fu Panda 2, Po defeats Shen's battle fleet by catching and throwing back the cannonballs launched at him.
  • In Spaceballs when Dark Helmet shoots Lone Starr with a Schwartz beam, Starr manages to cover the target area with a mirror and reflect the beam at Dark Helmet's groin.
  • Eli tries to attack Joshua in Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest by hurling fireballs at him, but Joshua is currently holding Eli's evil bible in his hands so they just bounce back at him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Power Rangers RPM has an three-against-one instance of this in the episode "Not So Simple".
  • Inverted in Ultra Seven several times:
    • First seen when Seven fights Alien Iyros.
    • Seven briefly engages in this with Gyeron.
    • In the series finale while fighting Reconstructed Pandon, Seven hurls his Eye Slugger at him only for Pandon to catch it. With the timely intervention of the Ultra Garrison, just as Pandon re-hurls it, Seven redirects it and decapitate Pandon.

    Pinball 

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In Kickassia, Yanki J does this with one of Baugh's cannonballs.
  • In XIN, Andre and Finrak do this with a baseball, hitting it back and forth with bats.


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alternative title(s): Playing Tennis With The Boss; Dead Mans Volley
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