aka: Timed Boss
"The boss disregarded you. No reward. You lost half of spirits and half of dead revived."
Sometimes your greatest foe is not the Giant Enemy Crab
standing in front of you — it's the countdown right above his head.
Basically, a Time-Limit Boss
is a combination of Timed Mission
and Boss Fight
, and involves bosses which have to be beaten within a certain preset period of time (either seconds or turns), or bosses that have to be beaten before they unleash a Total Party Kill
. This can often turn an enemy that wouldn't normally be difficult to defeat into That One Boss
in many Shoot Em Ups
are timed, usually to prevent you from infinitely "milking" a boss by shooting down projectiles and support enemies without killing it
. After the time limit runs out, the boss usually escapes or self-destructs, allowing you to proceed to the next level anyway, though often you will be penalized by getting reduced end-of-stage bonuses.
In a turn-based game, the time limit can be substituted with a turn limit for the equivalent effect.
A specific inversion includes battles where victory is achieved when the time runs out and you are left standing
. Compare Boss Arena Urgency
for the times when a boss will make the fight Unwinnable
if you take too long. Also compare Exact Time to Failure
- Many Fighting Game bosses fall under this:
- For example, in The Subspace Emissary, the fight with Meta-Ridley is accompanied by a two-minute time limit.
- The fight with Ragnarok in Arcana Heart 3 has a 60 second time limit. If you time-out with a life lead, you get the bad ending and can't continue.
- The summon Odin in the Final Fantasy games, particularly in IV, V, and VIII, will usually give you a time limit of one minute or thereabouts, before he kills your party off. In some games, the countdown starts before the battle, meaning you have to reach him first.
- Let's just say Final Fantasy series loves this, and has given these to bosses like Plague from Final Fantasy IV and the Updated Re-release of Final Fantasy VI.
- The Demon Walls which will eventually crush you.
- You better kill the Tonberrys before they get close enough to one-shot everyone.
- Optional boss Gogo the Mimic in Final Fantasy V, in an unusually psychologically cruel variant on the trope. Gogo lives in a sunken tower, guarding a unique and valuable treasure (The Mime Job Class), so your party only has seven minutes to get in, get to the bottom, kill Gogo, get the treasure, and get out. Upon reaching Gogo, the player's instinct is to start unloading everything they have on him, most world-killy first. However, he'll counter EVERYTHING you do with something that hurts even more — even if you can deplete his HP this way, you won't have enough time to make it out alive. The trick? Do nothing. Sit there as the counter ticks closer to Critical Existence Failure and do nothing but pray Gogo decides to wander off soon enough to allow you to leave alive, several minutes, usually. It's utterly nerve-wracking.
- Another reason why the Final Fantasy series loves this trope: Emerald Weapon in Final Fantasy VII, a Bonus Boss with a preset time limit of 20 minutes for the player to beat it (which can be circumvented by equipping the ridiculously obtuse Underwater materia).
- Overdrive Sin from Final Fantasy X and Vegnagun from Final Fantasy X-2, which must be defeated before they charge up their One-Hit Kill attacks.
- The Eidolons in Final Fantasy XIII cast Doom at the beginning of the fights with them, effectively imposing a time limit. Major bosses such as Barthandelus will also use Doom if the battle stretches on for too long.
- Zalera in Final Fantasy XII has a five minute time-limit before you're forcibly thrown out of the arena. He's invulnerable to damage as long as he has flunky skeletons, then he spams level-specific ailment skills (not blockable if your party members are the same level as the spell), which essentially limits the levels you can fight him efficiently to 49, 77, and 91. note Good thing he's undead...
- Hard Mode Chaos Aeronite in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, is the unholy combination of this trope and Damage-Sponge Boss. The fight itself is a standard Time-Limit Boss Battle, in which, within an allotted, invisible time limit (approximately 3 minutes), the player must inflict Stagger to the boss. Not once, not twice, but four times, and that's just to deal any meaningful amount of damage. The boss is also known to throw extremely strong attacks, and even when the player can endure it, many fails in even denting its massive HP pool. To add insult to the injury, if the time limit is passed, the boss will simply fly away, and the next time the player fights it again, it will have regenerated all of its HP. While its HP is sizable enough in Normal Mode, Hard Mode bumps it up, but the crown example is when in Hard Mode, Aeronite enters a Chaos Infusion, which gives it even more HP on top of a regenerating effect. Its HP? 57,750,000.
- To put this into perspective, it possesses the second-highest HP out of all Final Fantasy Bonus Bosses ever fought, beaten only by Yiazmat of Final Fantasy XII (and even then, Yiazmat is "only" the poster-boss for Marathon Boss because it doesn't actually have a time limit, and in that game, the Party can leave and continue where they left off).
- In Sonic Adventure, Egg Viper eventually becomes one of these when it starts destroying one of the six platforms with each of its attacks. If you don't defeat it quickly enough, Sonic will fall to his death with nothing left to stand on.
- The giant sphinx boss of Sandopolis Zone in Sonic 3 & Knuckles will crush you against the far left wall if you don't beat him in time.
- In Donkey Kong 64, Dogadon eventually becomes one of these in his second appearance — take too long to kill it after it starts to make the platform sink, and eventually the lava will kill you. The Final Boss is a more direct example; it's set up as a boxing fight in which the player has 12 timed rounds (3 minutes apiece) in which to K.O. King K. Rool. K. Rool has five "forms" (actually, more like tactics) - one for each of the playable Kongs to battle - and the defeat of one form will cause the fight to move on to the next round, bringing in the next Kong (and recharging the player's health.) But if a round's timer expires before K. Rool's current stratagem has been beaten, the next round will begin with the player fighting the same form as before, with as much health as he had as the previous round ended; K. Rool, on the other hand, will be fully healed. If all 12 rounds pass before the player has beaten all five tactics, the player loses the fight, regardless of his or her remaining health.
- In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, the later fights against the Koopa Kids have them accompanied by Bob-Ombs that will explode after eight turns. You have to beat them before then.
- Every single boss in the Gauntlet in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story has to be beaten within a turn limit, which is aggravating against Dark Star X, and plain cruel when you have to beat every boss in order in 35 turns straight.
- In terms of regular bosses, there's the Fawful Express, which will send Giant Bowser plummeting to his doom if not beaten before the train crosses the bridge.
- Also done semi-interactively in the battle against the Elder Shrooboid in Partners in Time. He sends out a UFO halfway through the battle that gives you four turns to defeat him, but by deflecting one of his attacks, you can hit the UFO and reset the counter.
- Done in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team with the Battle Ring bosses (which all have a turn limit). Bad enough again the normal ones (Antasma X is virtually impossible to kill if you fail to counter properly, since if it puts you to sleep, you miss one whole turn in the process), worse in Hard Mode against Giant Bosses. Why? Because they give you the EXACT amount of turns needed to win... assuming you do everything perfectly. As in, get max damage on every turn and counter every single projectile. Even Drilldigger, the first giant boss can be That One Boss under these conditions!
- Pi'illodium also counts as this. Not at the start (unless you're in the Battle Ring, where it ALSO has a turn limit), but near the end, it activates a self-destruct timer, giving you just thirty seconds in real time to finish it off. The good? It doesn't attack at all during the countdown, giving you as many turns as you can get through in that time. The bad? If you're too slow/have failed to lower its defences beforehand and let it explode, you can pretty much expect a Total Party Kill. There's a reason it can easily count as That One Boss...
- In Metroid Fusion, the True Final Boss appears at the end of a Load-Bearing Boss sequence. You'll probably have only a minute or so left to beat it for good.
- Also, in Metroid Prime 3, you only have so long on the opening planet to beat Ridley before you fall to your doom.
- Metroid Prime 2 gives you eight minutes to fight the final boss (Dark Samus for the third time, and it is cheap, as she stalls... a lot).
- Since Prime 2 also has the whole concept of taking constant damage in the Dark World unless you're in the safe zone, two bosses, the Boost Guardian and Quadraxis, are fought in arenas where there is no safe zone, basically making it a timed fight where you get more time when you get pickups and lose time when you get hit.
- There's also the final set of bosses in Corruption, who are at the end of a long path where your health is constantly being drained, to put it simply.
- Quite common in World of Warcraft, where most raid bosses have what is called an enrage timer. When the timer goes off, they get a massive buff that results in them killing the entire raid. Depending on the encounter design, the timer might be pretty lenient on an otherwise difficult boss or might be the only factor that makes the boss hard (this type of boss is commonly referred to as "dps race".)
- Some bosses (or even entire sections of a dungeon) may also have a timer on additional rewards.
- Oftentimes the bosses themselves are not on a timer, but there is another mechanic that becomes increasingly dangerous as time passes by. Some of them (like, say, Professor Putricide from the Icecrown Citadel raid) drops something on the ground that deals damage, and the area covered increases by time so that you eventually run out of space. Another example is Beth'tilac from the Firelands raid, who has an area of effect spell that gradually increases in damage every time it's cast, until it completely overwhelms the healers. Here, it is not a so-called hard enrage, where the boss will pound you to the ground after a set amount of time; better equipment can help you survive longer.
- Other bosses cast a spell that kills the entire raid when they run out of time. In the Brawler's Guild, failing to kill the opponent within two minutes results in a flaming meteor shower going from one end to the other, and instantly killing any players it touches.
- Since Pit's short-lived ability to fly is a plot point in the game, all bosses met in aerial battles in Kid Icarus: Uprising are these. If you go over the time limits, Heedraw gets blasted away by Palutena, the Underworld Guardian is knocked out by Dark Pit, and the Devourer of Sous runs away.
- Bosses and elites on the Inferno difficulty in Diablo III have acquired enrage timers as well, one of many factors that has led to the current Broken Base of the game.
- Old King Coal in Banjo-Tooie. You get two and a half minutes before the boiler you're fighting in reaches "maximum temperature", where it will stay on permanently and quickly deplete your air, and then your health.
- In yet another example that starts out untimed but eventually becomes timed: During the final battle, after taking enough damage, Gruntilda floods the arena with poison gas. After that, the player gradually loses air, and when the air is all gone, health is gradually lost instead (and the arena contains limited sources of health replenishment).
- Portal: The final boss is the only explicitly timed puzzle in the game, wherein GLaDOS pumps the room full of poison gas, setting a time limit before you die.
- It's also present in Portal 2, where the entire facility is about to go down in a nuclear meltdown due to Wheatley's gross incompetence. The point of the battle is to corrupt him enough via personality cores so that he can be replaced with GLaDOS so that she stops the meltdown.
- The Early Bird Boss in Mega Man Zero has a time limit before the platform you are on would crush a bunch of hostages.
- Speaking of Zero, his Maverick form in Mega Man X5 is effectively this, even though there is no countdown. Take too long in fighting him and he'll start spamming an almost-undodgeable One-Hit Kill attack until you die.
- Iuz in Temple Of Elemental Evil qualifies. If you want to win the Hopeless Boss Fight (hard, but doable), you have three turns to kill him before Saint Cuthbert comes and hauls him away.
- Star Fox 64 had a couple of examples. At Katina, the player had a limited amount of time in which to defeat the mothership before it destroyed the defense post; at Fortuna, the player had a limited amount of time in which to defeat Star Wolf before a bomb in the base exploded.
- You also get more points for beating the boss as fast as possible.
- Also Macbeth, where the train boss kills you if you don't beat him before he reaches the supply depot.
- In Dark Cloud 2/Dark Chronicle, the True Final Boss gives you five minutes to defeat him before the moon falls and kills everything on earth.
- The Touhou games have time limits on all of the bosses' patterns. Technically, passing these limits is actually a victory condition (except in the Bunkachou gaiden game), but you don't get any points or other rewards for doing so, which can be a very bad thing in some of the games. It also tends to be rather difficult to do, as the timers are generally much longer than is necessary for even the weakest character to beat them, and several get worse with time, rather than damage.
- In the fangame Concealed the Conclusion, the Final Boss fight has a time limit based on how much Hakurei points (the game's special mechanic) you have collected. This timer is basically how much time remains until the Dream Apocalypse, and if it runs out, the game simply fades to black and you get a Bad End.
- In Comix Zone, the final boss has this — sorta. You can still win even if the timer runs out, but you'll get the 'Bad' ending, since the timer is essentially your girlfriend drowning in rocket fuel.
- In Shadow Hearts: Covenant, most fights with Great Gama have an implicit time limit, whereby if you don't beat him within X rounds, he unleashes a giant attack on you which is almost guaranteed to kill you. The same happens when you fight the Peach Bat, except that she cheats and does it one round early.
- Similarly, Gold Bat in the first game gives you a certain amount of rounds before he kills you. However, he takes pity on you and gives you one round more than stated.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, once you reach the top of Clock Tower and challenge Skull Kid, you have five minutes to beat him before the moon crashes. Since beating him involves playing one song on your ocarina, however, this isn't too difficult. And then the real battle begins...
- In Skyward Sword, you have no less than three fights with the Imprisoned, who ignores Link entirely and attempts to get to the top of the arena, at which point you'll suffer a Non-Standard Game Over.
- Kingdom Hearts II has Luxord. It's done in a kind of weird way; both the player and the boss have time bars, and they go down more through taking damage.
- Every single boss in Wario Land 4, made harsher on Super Hard difficulty.
- Every boss in Ikaruga. Like the Touhou example above, this is a victory condition. It just robs you of points. In the final battle, your weapons are disabled and the only thing you can do is Hold the Line and dodge bullets for a minute.
- The final boss of The Revenge of Shinobi is like the Comix Zone one. Fail to beat Zeed in time, and your fiancé is crushed by a Descending Ceiling. You can actually freeze the "timer" by throwing shuriken into a slot in the right wall.
- The Final Boss of Prototype has a time limit because the city is about to get nuked.
- Final Hazard from Sonic Adventure 2 is timed to about five minutes before it hits the planet. (That is, if your rings haven't run out by that point.)
- In the second Sonic/Shadow duel, the runway you are sprinting across seems to stretch on into infinity... until you allow 10 minutes to pass. Then the road collapses in front of you.
- An odd version of this occurs in Gradius V; the first boss will actually leave if you take too long to beat it. Played straight with the Blaster Cannon Core and a few other series bosses, which will crush you against the left side of the screen when exiting after time-out.
- Every boss in Radiant Silvergun has a time limit, after which the boss self-destructs and you don't get bonus points.
- A lot of difficult shoot-em-ups use this sort of time limit, which could be seen as either preventing you from milking a boss for points by hanging around and shooting down the endless stream of popcorn enemies, or just encouraging you to fight quickly. A seasoned veteran player might intentionally go through the levels without shooting anything, even waiting out the bosses' attacks until they either self-destruct or get bored and leave. An example of one such pacifist run can be found here.
- Every boss battle in Guitar Hero III must be won before the arrow reaches the skull. If you can't beat them before then, they get one last solo while your health drains automatically at a steady pace. A Self-Imposed Challenge is to see how far into the rival's final solo you can get before finishing them off with items.
- You're given eight minutes to get through Persona 3's second full moon operation, which includes a boss fight.
- Also, most bonus bosses have a "turn limit" before they fire off a 9999 Almighty spell.
- Shin Megami Tensei IV has the DLC Bonus Boss, Masakado's Shadow. You have only ten turns to beat him before an ICBM destroys all of Tokyo.
- Virtual-ON has a final boss like this, sort of. Losing to the boss lets you continue as normal. Winning by time out kills you, and you get the very unspectacular bad ending. Strangely, this means that trying to hurt or kill yourself is important if you have more health left than the boss, but don't think you can kill it in time. To defeat it normally, try shooting it when it turns gold and fires its Sun Cannon.
- Infogrames' "remake" of Combat. After destroying the final boss UFO, you're taken to a small platform in the (falling-apart) base, and it becomes a small gunship that you need to destroy in sixty seconds. If you don't, instant game over, no matter how many lives or how much health you have. Hope you enjoy doing the last 10 levels over again.
- Sonic the Fighters requires you defeat Dr. Robotonic in just fifteen seconds. It's generally pretty easy to do, assuming he doesn't block excessively, but fail and it's off to the bad ending with you.
- Resident Evil 4 has Krauser, who sets up time bombs on the tower on which you're fighting. Obviously, you need to defeat this boss before the tower goes boom. Before that, there's Verdugo, who you can either fight with the aid of liquid nitrogen, or hold out against until the elevator arrives.
- Almost every final boss (not counting some others) in the main series has a time limit before the structure will self-destruct or until a missile strikes.
- In Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2, any Speedy Comet mission where you fight the boss with a time limit added.
- Then there's Throwback Throwdown Speed Run from 2, the Boss Blitz Galaxy's Prankster Comet mission... a Boss Rush where you have to beat five bosses from the first game in about 2 minutes at most.
- In Kirby's Adventure, you battle Nightmare's first form while falling from space. If you don't kill the star orb quickly, he flies away (off of the scrolling screen) and you die by smashing into the ground.
- Kirby's Dream Land 2 ends with fighting Dark Matter. Its final form is fought on an Auto-Scrolling Level, and when it reaches the bottom, it gains a new, unblockable, undodgeable attack that comes out instantly and deals 2 (out of 6) damage. You need to finish it off before it attacks again.
- While all Ace Combat missions are timed, final bosses frequently have a separate, much shorter, timer for the last stage of the fight. Other missions frequently require the player to take down a bomber or flying fortress before it exits the map.
- Margulis in Xenosaga Episode II. Once you get his health down far enough, you'll be given a number of turns until forced H Stop, which is an instant Game Over.
- The Legend of Dragoon: The Super Virage boss in the Forbidden Land has eleven lives, and each turn, it loses a life. If you're unable to kill it before the time is out, he will die, releasing a super powerful energetic attack on the whole party. Still, you can simply defend when it has few lives left and call it a day.
- In Border Down, you get bonus points for killing a boss as close to 0 seconds as possible, with the maximum bonus being 3 million points. The timer will continue to run down to -30, but after -10 seconds, you start losing points, all the way up to -6 million points.
- Metal Gear:
- Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake has Running Man, who you fight in a corridor of four rooms filled with gas. You have to defeat him by planting mines over his path before your O2 gauge depletes.
- The hand to hand battle against Liquid Snake Metal Gear Solid. You have to defeat him within 3 minutes before the bomb he placed nearby detonates.
- Fatman in Metal Gear Solid 2 is a different case. He plants time bombs during the battle, forcing you to deactivate it with coolant spray.
- Metal Gear Solid 3: In the first battle against Volgin, you're given a time limit because Snake had planted C3 on the liquid fuel tanks.
- In the final battle against The Boss, you're given ten minutes to defeat her because she ordered two MiGs to bomb the area.
- All the bosses in Hellsinker are this. When the timer runs out, they move on, and the game tells you that they lost interest and halves your Spirit, Kill, and Token counts.
- Rex Cavalier inverts this trope at first, then plays it straight for its Spirit Kernel form. If you time out the Spirit Kernel form while on your last life, this results in a Nonstandard Game Over.
- The pre-Final Boss, Unnamed 290, is a mix of this and Hold the Line. The battle ends only when time expires / the background music ends, but in the meantime you must fill the Satisfaction Gauge by shooting 290. Failing to bring the gauge to level 1 or higher before time runs out results in mission failure.
- Garland, the level 3 Final Boss, follows a similar format to Unnamed 290; the battle only ends when time runs out, but you must fill the inverted Life Meter by shooting Garland before time runs out so you can fight the True Final Boss, Lost Property 771.
- In Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, if Crash takes too long to defeat Cortex in the final battle, he will escape through a tunnel and Crash will be forced to start the fight over.
- In Over Blood, the final boss is timed due to a Self-Destruct Mechanism, and you do still have to fight it again and again as it follows you.
- Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia has this for the DLC boss fight against Dialga. If you take too long, he uses Roar of Time, and you have to start the entire mission over again (although all the Target Clear obstacles mercifully do not reset.) To avoid this happening, make good use of Poké Assists, and you should have no trouble. Also occurs in Guardian Signs for the past bosses for the remaining time. The boss you will have trouble with is Lucario, who, in this case, rages twice during the boss when you think you're going to beat it. When this happens, simply avoid the attacks and place your Pokémon AWAY from Lucario's wake, and then, if you're fast enough, you can finish it off before time reaches to 0.
- MONOCULUS! in Team Fortress 2 only appears for 90 seconds.
- Merasmus must also be defeated in 90 seconds, made worse by his ability to hide and heal himself, wasting precious time.
- All the bosses in Einhänder have an invisible time limit of sorts. If the time limit is exceeded, the boss just runs away and you don't get any points. Except the Final Boss Hyperion. If you run out of time against it, it fires an unavoidable Wave Motion Gun at you!
- Godzilla: Monster of Monsters for the Nintendo Entertainment System will eject the player from a one-on-one monster battle after about forty seconds, with no warning whatsoever.
- Each hunt in the Monster Hunter series gives you about an hour to track down and kill each monster (or pair of monsters). If you know the monster's moving habits, this is usually more than enough. But gathering items, recovering from damage, and interference by other large monsters that sometimes wander into the area can combine to eat up a lot of time.
- Conversely, most Elder Dragons, which thankfully you usually don't have to look for, give you only thirty minutes. If time runs out, they usually retain whatever damage you do to them into the next battle.
- The fight against Koru in Legend of Legaia. You have four turns to defeat him, and then... BOOM! Koru explodes, vaporizing half the region, dealing 9999 damage to each of your characters, and instantly giving you a Game Over.
- Subverted in Duel Saga with the fight against the Mighty Balken. The fight is played up to be a timed fight against the drawbridge closing. Even if the time runs out, when you defeat Balken, he collapses and the shock of his fall opens the drawbridge and allows for your escape.
- Streets of Rage III has this in the final battle if you are on the path to the good ending. You have 3 minutes to beat the Final Boss. If time runs out, you still have to beat the boss, but you learn afterward that all the bombs in the city went off, getting you a bad ending.
- In Neopets: The Darkest Faerie, you only have three minutes to defeat the titular final boss. This is not helped by the fact you must first break her shield.
- Terraria has bosses which run away when the sun comes up. Skeletron Prime, however, chases you faster than you can run with an accessory that doubles your running speed and kills you in one hit. On multiplayer servers, this had resulted in him slaughtering hordes of (constantly respawning) players for several minutes.
- ALLTYNEX Second has the the Area 2 midboss, the Omega Javelin, a Wave Motion Gun that charges up and blows you and the rest of the human fleet away for a Nonstandard Game Over if you don't destroy it in time.
- The battle with the Blacker Baron in Anarchy Reigns becomes one of these in the last leg. When the Baron reaches about 25% health, a cargo plane explodes in mid-air, threatening to squash everyone around it. Failure to beat the Baron in the ensuing time limit will cause an instant mission failure, regardless of remaining tries.
- In the Super NES game The Peace Keepers, during the boat stage (The Crazy Horse), you have 60 seconds to destroy the white Orbot. If you don't defeat him in time, then he will sink the ship and escape.
- Star Wars Trilogy Arcade: Vader's TIE in the Battle of Yavin, the Wampa in the Battle of Hoth, and the AT-ST in the Battle of Endor part 1 all have a time limit. In the case of Vader's TIE, failing to neutralize him will result in a loss of bonus points. In the case of the latter two, failing to destroy them results in failing the stage, which doesn't cause a Game Over (that will probably be caused by life loss instead) but instead deprives you of score and shield bonuses.
- Batman: Arkham Origins: During the final battle, TN-1!Bane must be defeated within 10 minutes. Otherwise, the TN-1 takes full effect and he becomes impossible to defeat.
- Twitch Plays Pokémon Crystal imposed this on Red. Once the viewers got to Red, they had 7 days (though unlimited retries) to successfully defeat him. Failure would've resulted in the Twitch Plays Pokémon admin refusing to start Twitch Plays Pokémon Emerald. The viewers won, allowing Emerald to take place.
- The 'Final Boss' of Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall is an encounter to goad The Dragon to fight you personally so you can kill him, take his key-card, and initiate emergency shutdown on the Big Bad's doomsday weapon with a ten combat round time limit. Fortunately, Deckers (or just diverting characters towards physically interfering) pauses the countdown.