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Wake-Up Call Boss
"You'll be having a really good time...and then all of a sudden this boss will kick your fucking nuts out through your nose."
Noah Antwiler of The Spoony Experiment on Persona 4's Shadow Yukiko.

Wake Up Call Boss is more or less a boss that symbolizes a massive Difficulty Spike, or at least symbolizes the point where the game stops going easy on you. At this point, everything you've learned but haven't really considered yet will be severely tested: Everything before was just getting you used to the controls, this is where the challenge begins.

Due to this, they usually appear early on, but can appear from early to early-mid game. They definitely shouldn't appear late. And it's not really That One Boss so much as it's very brutally drilling into you how to play: like a boss in a beat-em-up designed to very easily beat anyone who thinks they can button mash through the game.

Sister Trope to Early Bird Boss, a version of a Wake Up Call Boss that relies on the player's lack of key items, spells, or metaknowledge early in the game in order to provide a challenge.

Compare with That One Boss, though this trope is specifically for bosses that appear early in the game and are merely a sample of the rest of the game's challenges. Also compare with Disappointing Last Level and Early Game Hell (for when not just the first or second boss is difficult, but also the early levels or chapters as well). Contrast with Warmup Boss, a first boss that frequently is impossible (or at least very difficult) to lose to. See also Hopeless Boss Fight and Final Boss Preview. Compare Skill Gate Characters, which are PvP characters/factions/whatever that serve a similar purpose in separating newbies from the experienced.

Compare the non-video game term Threshold Guardians.

Examples for the series below:

    open/close all folders 

    Final Fantasy 
  • Final Fantasy I is a cakewalk for most of the early game: Garland hits hard, but nothing major, Bikke's pirates are jokes that even the black mage can kill with one hit (and if you know about putting them to sleep, well!), and even the tough wizards/piscodemons can be beaten by a properly prepared party. Then you meet Astos, the first magic-using enemy in the game. Guess what the first spell in his cycle is? RUB. Since you don't have a way to guard against it yet, it will probably kill one of your party members immediately, and due to the lack of revival items in the NES version, that means fighting the entire battle with one character dead. Astos also has a defense of 40, which is quite high for this point in the game, so if you've been too reliant on your physical attackers (or just happened to lose your only Black/Red Mage to RUB), you'll struggle to damage him, while he blasts you with FIR2 and LIT2.
    • It gets worse in the Earth Cave. If you thought Astos was a piss-weak sorcerer, then you meet the Lich. His first spell is ICE2, which deals devastating damage at this point in the game. Even if you have AICE at your disposal, he can still take his turn before your mage and blast you anyway, leaving your party on the verge of death. And unlike Astos, he can't be rendered impotent with a Useless Useful Spell. He's after a rather long and tiring dungeon also, though at least his HP is low enough you could rush him to death and hope for the best.
    • Kary/Marilith is devastating to an unprepared party. In addition to having to make it through the lethal-floor filled Volcano, Marilith doesn't have any elemental weaknesses (not even ice, which would make too much sense, we guess), and can land upwards of eight hits, enough to seriously injure a heavily armored Warrior and more than enough to kill a squishy mage. Unless you're willing to try a Useless Useful Spell (which is truly useless in the original NES game because it doesn't work), you're in for a very tough battle.
  • The Giant Rat in Final Fantasy III was only beatable by magic due to the party being forced to explore its dungeon with the Mini status effect. This meant a forced loss of physical attack power and defence, meaning an all-Fighter/Monk party would not have even gotten to the rat, due to melee hitting for single points of damage (When enemies at that point have around 75-125 HP) while shrunken down and then getting hit for large amounts of damage for that point in the game, due to the nature of the status effect also doubling damage taken (including magic damage). Not sitting in the back row as a party of mages (and trying to rush down the boss' meager 450HP before he kills anyone) here is madness.
  • SNES-era Final Fantasy games frequently feature first bosses with the potential to thrash the party if attacked in the wrong way: The Mist Dragon in Final Fantasy IV and the Whelk/Ymir in Final Fantasy VI were both there to teach the player about the Active Time Battle system, i.e., that the battle kept moving even if you did nothing. Sure, the games tell you when to attack and when not to, but no tutorial can keep a character's already targeted attack from hitting the boss when he retreats at the worst time. The trend continued in Final Fantasy VII with the Guard Scorpion, but thanks to the party's enhanced Hit Points (they start out with 300 instead of 50 as was typical in Final Fantasy before), they usually survive the boss's retaliation. However, a confusingly-written battle dialogue in the English version looked like it was advising the player to attack while the tail was up (until the second line of it appeared), which is exactly the opposite of what you should do.
    • The second battle with Scarmiglione in the DS remake of Final Fantasy IV can be seen as one of these. While some bosses up to this point may have been somewhat difficult, this is the first boss that introduces you to the fact that major boss characters in this game have whole-party counters which trigger when you try to exploit their weaknesses or use the same tactics from the SNES/GBA versions of the game, and really forces you to start thinking more strategically.
    • Final Fantasy V has Liquid Flame. While it comes quite a bit later than is typical for a Wake-Up Call Boss (about 4-5 hours into the game), it's the first boss where you need to actually prepare, and where just mashing Attack repeatedly is suicide. It's a very brutal lesson that, no, you can't just use Barehanded to win the whole game.
    • Final Fantasy VI: Number 024, fought in the Magitek Research Facility. It's a cakewalk if you know what to do. However, for newer players (to the game or the series) or if you don't pay attention to its Barrier Changes, it's going to be an uphill battle. The fight teaches you why it's important to cast Scan/Libra for bosses' weaknesses.
    • Final Fantasy VII had a wonderful lesson in the form of the Demon Gate. While there are wake up calls much earlier in the game than this, it still is a common, though less so, brick wall for players who haven't grasped some strategy in the game. It's heavily resistant to magic, making players who use a lot of magical attacks unable to hurt it. Also, buff/debuff spells in this battle are almost a necessity, as failing to raise your own party's defense, and slow the boss results in very quick, crippling attacks that crush weaker parties, resulting in many frustrating moments. Coupled with the difficult Red Dragon beforehand, many players found the temple of the ancients to be a very frustrating experience.
  • Final Fantasy VIII has Elvoret. He is just the third boss in the game, and you have to fight him right after the Biggs and Wedge boss fight, who are more than your average Galbaldia soldiers. He has good health for the time, has spells that tempt one to grind, and an attack called Storm Breath that can wipe out your party in two hits, meaning keeping low health for Limit Breaks is unsafe. The player can easily die if not careful.
  • Final Fantasy IX has the Plant Brain, which uses blinding attacks on your mostly melee-oriented party and does some pretty bad damage. Luckily, there's a free health and MP restoring spring in the room before it.
  • Final Fantasy X has Sinspawn Gui. It's fitting: since Operation Mi'hen was something of a Wham Episode for the game, the gameplay follows suit with a boss that makes the player realize for the first time how much consideration you must give to the CTB system in your tactics. If you just spam your overdrives, you let Gui get more turns to abuse your team with poison. You have to be careful about who's using their turn for what and against which part of its body.
    • Also Evrae at Beville. If you've been neglecting to grind for the sphere grid up until this point, the wyrm is a huge punch in the gut. Powerful, fast (and can make itself even faster by casting haste on itself) and sometimes it flies out of range meaning some of your mainstream characters like Tidus or Auron may well become useless in the battle. And you have to kill her again, except this time she's an undead zombie. On the other hand, because of the zombie thing, you can take her down with literally no more than two Phoenix Downs. Evrae becomes very manageable if you have at least been doing a little bit of grinding, and then you only need to worry about poison breath.
  • Final Fantasy XII has both Ba'Gamnan and Judge Ghis early on. Ba'Gamnan is a Flunky Boss who you are supposed to run away from. If you choose to fight him for whatever reason, be prepared to take a heavy beating from him and his flunkies. Judge Ghis comes a little while after this. Don't let his low HP total fool you. He possesses some devastating attacks for this point in the game, such as Aero, which can hit your party for over 100 damage. At this point in the game, you probably have somewhere between 300-400 HP unless you level grinded. And one of your party members most likely has inadequate equipment for this point in the game, which means she dies faster.
  • Final Fantasy XIII
    • Aster Protoflorian exists to make sure that the player gets the new battle system, Essentially every single facet of it is necessary in this fight. Don't bother or know how to take advantage of elemental weaknesses? You die. Don't optimize class roles to boost chain bonuses? You die. Don't know how to switch classes on the fly for sticky situations? You die. Don't believe that buffs are necessary? You die. This boss is so unforgiving while enforcing the nuances of XIII's battle system that to some players it approaches That One Boss territory.
    • Odin is the choke point of a lot of people playing Final Fantasy XIII, as the Vile Peaks dungeon is where the game requires you to think your way through battles rather than pound the X button. Specifically, you have to figure out that Odin is going to attack Hope, and only Hope. And Hope is not good at taking attacks. If you Libra Odin, you'll find that he "Yields to those who amass chain bonuses" and "Yields to those who heal the wounded." By the second one, you'd think simply switching to Medic and keeping Hope alive would do it. The problem is this is a Time-Limit Boss, and if you focus only on healing, you'll run out of time. You need to focus on both healing and attacking simultaneously. Plus, a big part of the battle is figuring out how to balance your Paradigm Shifts between Commando/Ravager and Ravager/Ravager to take advantage of both the slowed Chain Gauge drain a Commando provides and the boosted chain bonus of two Ravagers.
    • Earlier than that, though, is the warmech in Lake Bresha. He is there to teach you how to Paradigm Shift (FFXIII's main combat wrinkle, basically shifting character roles on the fly to cope with that situation). He teaches you Paradigm Shifting by killing you dead if you do it wrong. He's not nearly as brutal about it as Aster Protoflorian above, though.
    • When you arrive to chapter 12, ground up from all the sidequesting in chapter 11, it looks like all the enemies you encounter are cakewalk - -for a while. And then, without any advance warning, you are pitted against Adamanchelid, one of the monstrosities you did so well to avoid on Gran Pulse, who kills your party with four stomps. Until you learn to spam Daze on it like no tomorrow, you just die, again and again.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has three :
    • Ifrit, the first Primal is piss-easy for a party made of people who don't have their heads up their butts or just got the basics of their class. Sure, he'll require you to dodge some AoE attacks now and then, but nothing too crazy. Then when he reaches 50% of it's HP, something called the Infernal Nail will pop in the middle of the arena. Fail to destroy it in time or flat out ignore it since it doesn't do anything ? Total Party Kill. That was Professor Ifrit lesson about "Paying attention to your surroundings if you want to live".
    • Following the main quest of the game, you'll have to go through a lenghty string of Fetch Quests, dungeons and whatnot until you can face Titan, the second Primal. Consider everything before was your school year and Titan is your final exam, testing you on everything such as AoE dodging, item level and such; rather simple if you know how to play, merciless if not. He has an AoE attack that can shove you out of his arena (instakill) and another arena-wide that can either kill you or shove you out of the arena unless you get in a specific spot. Later during the fight, he'll trap some people in rocks (which makes them unable to do anything) until someone breaks the rocks and Turns Red. And all of that is if you can start the fight, as several player will flat out leave the boss arena if your gear isn't up to snuff.
    • Garuda, the 3rd major boss in the storyline, is there to make sure you learned your lesson against Titan and mess you up eleven ways to Friday if not. She has one attack that will target one player no matter how far away they are and it hits hard enough to take off at least a quarter of their HP. The boss' other attacks don't hurt too much, but for every interval of HP she loses (about a quarter), she will fly up, move somewhere else, and unleash a powerful attack that can either kill your party instantly or bring you down to critical health unless you hide behind some rocks. Don't assume the rocks will always save you because Garuda will also summon at least six monsters to destroy the rocks and if the rocks are heavily damaged, then they can't provide proper cover. If you somehow get past that, Garuda then unleashes a super move that covers almost the entire battlefield and that will instantly kill you if you get hit.
    • Naturally in MMOs, losing the fight means those will recover all of their HP. and you only have 90 minutes to beat the boss to boot.
    • The game has a number of different fights throughout the main story and the class/job quests that could qualify as this for varying reasons. Copperbell Mines could be seen as a Wake Up-Call Dungeon, as its Slime mid-boss is one of the first to require a specific trick and some coordination between party members to defeat. An early Gladiator quest pretty much requires that you've learned to dodge special attacks, or it's unlikely you'll survive.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics
    • The fourth scripted battle, the Dorter Slums, is a Wake Up-Call Battle. This is the first battle where your enemy has a specialized setup, with a knight, two black mages (which, if you're unlucky, will take advantage of the rain and use Bolt), and 3 archers, one of them at the highest point of the stage (though oddly enough, one of them is unarmed). This battle tends to be a wall for many new players, and seems like it's telling you that future battles won't be messing around, either. And they don't ease up.
    • There's also Wiegraf, early in Chapter 1 at Fovoham Windflats. Granted, you did get to see his Holy Sword attacks demonstrated by Agrias in the prologue, but he's the first encounter you have with an enemy who can use abilities that the main character cannot learn, no matter what. It's softened only by the fact that the battle ends when he's taken down to about 20% health or so. Wiegraf has, for all intents and purposes, the Divine Knight's moveset, and boasts arguably two of the set's most sinister ranged techniques, Judgment Blade and Northswain's Strike (Stasis Sword and Crush Punch in the original). Not only do both of these abilities do massive damage, but they also have a slight chance of inflicting Stop (which essentially turns your character into an inanimate dummy that can't do anything) and instant KO. And, of course, this being the computer, those extra statuses will trigger nearly every other time. (And, yes, Wiegraf has a support staff.) The situation isn't helped by the fact that Wiegraf's probably about 5-6 tiles away at the start of the battle - practically spitting distance for a strategy RPG. If you're extremely unlucky, two of your 4 characters (excluding guest Delita, who is - perhaps understandably - extremely reckless in this battle and tends to die in the first turn or two) will be dead before anyone lays a finger on Wiegraf. The battle also serves as a Chekhov's Gun in this respect, since he becomes That One Boss later in the game by being incredibly tough, one on one, and a Sequential Boss to boot.
    • At least until Thunder God Cid (his in-game name) shows up about 2/3 the way through.
    • There's an earlier Wake Up Call Battle, though it's more for the naive or the reckless: Algus (Argath in the remake)'s rescue. If you choose to save him, he becomes almost suicidally reckless, and if he falls, it's game over. The best option here is to callously disregard Argath's situation and choose to kill all the enemies, at which point he becomes almost ridiculously cautious, running from battles as much as possible, but making you a jerkass in the process.
    • FFT has a nice few of these. If you're underleveled and don't know what you're doing (e.g. just rushing through the required battles with the starting classes or without any good abilities), you can easily get killed during your first battle at Dorter. Knights coming at you from the front, with Black Mages backing them up and firing AoE spells at your party, while a pair of Archers are stationed up at the top of a building that's several stories high and takes about three turns to climb. And your party is at the bottom, just at the edge of their attack range — which means your Squishy Wizard (if you brought one) can be on the ground very quickly if you deployed him/her in the wrong place.
    • Another good example is Queklain, the first Lucavi boss. He's by no means the hardest of the Lucavi, but by the time you fight the harder ones, you'll at least have something of a handle on the way that Lucavi break the rules.
  • The Flowsand Lord in Final Fantasy Tactics A2 is a pain in the ass to fight and is fought fairly early on in the game where players are most likely not going to have access to the better jobs or equipment. During the fight, the boss can use an attack that hits the whole party no matter where they are standing, which will wreck units quickly if you don't keep up in healing them. Then it has another attack where if someone is standing too close, it will suck them in and absorb their HP. On top of this, its antlion minions will keep spawning no matter how many you kill. Players will have to quickly learn to pay attention the winning conditions so the battles end faster and to abuse elemental weaknesses monsters have.
  • Dissidia: Final Fantasy Duodecim manages to have two in a row in story mode:
    • After a relatively easy mid-boss fight, the boss of Chapter 1 is Kain, a specialist in air combat who extensively uses the Chase mechanic, something that first-time players haven't even been told about, and enough HP to require landing several HP attacks, unlike the Manikins you've been fighting up until now.
    • And again in Chapter 2, with the boss fight against Kefka. The player is just getting the hang of dodging anything when they're suddenly pitted against the game's master of Confusion Fu, who has enough different moves equipped to keep you guessing. Victory is a hard-earned trail-and-error process until you learn how to dodge his unusual attacks.
  • The first few boss fights in Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light although fairly challenging, are nothing rage-quit worthy. That is until you battle Arbaroc. Arbaroc is the first boss to possess the slightly unfair ability of having multiple turns in a row and if you're not prepared, can very very easily curbstomp your team with his hard-hitting elemental spells and bucket-loads of status effects. This is the point in the game where you learn just how important it is to organise the right gear for the boss fight.

  • Pokemon Red And Blue:
    • Brock. Although he's far from being the most powerful Gym Leader, Brock is still unexpectedly strong enough to catch most off guard. Firstly, most if not all of the Pokémon catchable before the battle (Bug, Normal, Flying, Poison, and Electric types) are weak/powerless against his Rock/Ground Pokémon, leaving the starter to be the one to do most of the work. However, if the player powers through Viridian Forest without bothering to grind, only fighting the pretty easy bug catchers in the forest, then their starter may not be strong enough to stand a chance against his stronger Pokémon, especially if they didn't learn the type-specific move that the starter learns after a few levels and which can be used to super-effective him to death. In addition to that, since several fans thought that the fire-breathing Charizard was way cooler than the rest, they had the additional problem of having their starter being weak to Brock's Rock-type attacks as well with no recourse other than Level Grinding (or to "teach Butterfree Confusion and take Brock to school"). Pokemon Yellow fixed it by allowing a Mankey (Fighting) to be caught early on in Route 22, which can deal super effective damage against Rock types, as well as rearranging the movesets on the Nidorans from the same areas so they learned Double Kick (a Fighting attack) at level 12 rather than level 43. Mankey also appears here in the remakes, FireRed and LeafGreen. In addition, Charmander can learn Metal Claw in Generation III, a Steel-type move.
    • Lt. Surge is the first Gym Leader who acts as a nice reminder you can't always rely on super effective Pokemon to carry you through the game. His Raichu's high Speed will easily allow it to Mega Kick your Rock/Ground Pokemon before you can even react and instead must rely on attrition wearing the enemy Pokemon down.
  • Pokémon Yellow: Weirdly enough, Misty serves as the wake-up call in this one. They added several nifty tricks to help you get past Brock (which is necessary, as every one of his mons are immune to everything a reasonably leveled Pikachu can throw at it by this point). Most players will go into Cerulean City Gym with a spring in their step, ready to wipe the floor with Misty's Water-types using their juiced up Pikachu. They are in for a world of hurt. Misty's Pokemon are ludicrously over-leveled. Her Starmie in particular has ridiculous numbers of hit points and can soak 3+ super-effective Thundershocks while sweeping your entire team in one shot apiece. Beating her without specifically leveling up an Oddish expressly for this purpose is a Luck-Based Mission.
  • Pokémon Gold and Silver:
    • Gold/Silver had Falkner. Up until this point, you've probably curbstomped every trainer you've fought. Your Rival? The Sprout Tower? Those are easy. If you picked Chikorita as your starter, it's got a natural disadvantage against his Flying-types. Picked Totodile, nobody has an advantage. Picked Cyndaquil, or using Geodude/Onix/Mareep? Mud Slap will hit hard and screw your accuracy.
    • Falkner serves this role again, but in a different way, in HeartGold and SoulSilver. This time, he serves as an alarm clock for veterans re-playing the game who expect everything to be the same. Up until Falkner, there have been a few changes from the originals, but when you reach him and realize his Pidgeotto took a level hike — from 9 to 13 — and then watch Pidgeotto heal itself using Roost, you realize the game is broadcasting a big hint with the subtlety of a megaphone: "Boss fights in this game aren't going to be retreads of the original."
  • Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire: Ruby/Sapphire has Roxanne. If you picked Mudkip, you'll be fine. Torchic, on the other hand, will be destroyed instantly, and Treecko, despite the type advantage, won't fare much better. For starters, Roxanne's Nosepass is a pure Rock-type, instead of a dual Rock/Ground, so your damage is only doubled. Doubling is still good, but the only Grass move you'll probably have at this point is the weak Absorb (unless you picked up the Bullet Seed TM), and Nosepass has better stats than Treecko. Fortunately, you can pick up some Water and Grass types before this Gym, and trade for a Fighting-type Makuhita, or you can evolve your starter and stand a better chance (even if it's Torchic, because it gains the Fighting type when it evolves).
  • Pokémon Diamond and Pearl: Pick up Chimchar note  in Diamond/Pearl and try to beat Mars the first time. Unless you deliberately overlevel Chimchar,note  her ridiculously underleveled Purugly (level 17 or 18 depending on the game, less than half the level Glameow is supposed to evolve at) will wipe your party.
  • 5th Generation games:
    • Pokémon Black and White has the Striaton Trio (Cilan, Chili, and Cress), WakeUpCallBosses who are designed to screw you over, no matter WHICH starter you chose! Each one has a signature Pokemon that will have the type advantage against your starter Pokemon (Pansage for Oshawott, Pansear for Snivy, and Panpour for Tepig). This is also where you first run into the new game mechanics for certain abilities this gen, as their Lillipups will use the Retooled Pickup ability to heal themselves with the berries your Pokemon was just holding to heal itself if you gave it the Oran berries you won from Cheren.
    • Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 has Cheren, the first gym leader. His Pokemon love to use Work Up, which raises their Attack and Special Attack (the latter of which is useless for him, though). His Patrat isn't too big a problem, but his Lillipup is a whole different story. It's faster, and if it sets up Work Up a few times, you're as good as dead. There are a few okay countermeasures, though, namely to get a Mareep in the Flocessy Ranch (which have a chance of triggering Static to paralyze him if he attacks, or surviving by chance and managing to get in Thunder Wave), to use the X Defend that a student in the Trainer's school gives younote , or if you're incredibly patient, to get a Riolu and get it to evolve into Lucario, which, as a Steel-type, resists Normal-type attacks. It's also worth mentioning that in Challenge Mode, he gets a Pidove with Work Up and Quick Attack, and paralyzing it won't do you much good. (And if you were expecting to walk all over him with your newly downloaded Genesect, you get in there and find out it won't obey you without that first badge.)
  • In Pokémon X and Y, Viola is a Bug-type specialist, so anyone who picked Chespin is already at a disadvantage. However, you can easily blaze through her team with a Fennekin or by catching a Pansear in Santalune Forest or Litleo on Route 22, right? Not so fast. Viola is surprisingly Genre Savvy, as her first Pokemon is a Surskit, a Water/Bug-type that is neutral to fire attacks, will use Water Sport to make your fire attacks even weaker, and then will wash them away with Bubble. (And if it's not doing that, it's getting the jump on you with Quick Attack.) note  At least if you can get past Surskit, all you have to deal with is a Vivillon... that is likely faster than anyone on your team, mind you. (Interestingly enough, the best Pokemon to catch for this battle is Pikachu, as both Surskit and Vivillon are weak to Electric).
  • Pokémon Colosseum:
    • Miror B. is annoying, but his Ludicolo squad lacks any real offensive power or levels to be a real threat. The second and third bosses, however, are both ready to prepare you for the game in their own way:
    • Cipher Peon Skrub will tank with Clamperl and Wynaut (the latter of which will return fire like the Game Breaker it is) while thrashing your team with Geodude's Magnitude and his Shadow Hitmontop. You can't rely on pure power to overcome Clamperl or Wynaut, because if you do, Geodude and Hitmontop will make you suffer. Hitmontop in particular is the first time in the game where an opponent's Shadow Pokemon can really wreck your team, forcing you to play strategically, especially if you plan on enduring attacks while trying to Snag it. Did we mention that your Shadow Pokemon don't gain levels until you beat this guy?
    • Dakim. His Earthquake+Protect combo will decimate an unprepared team, and then the player realizes he has a Shadow Entei. Dakim teaches players the following: First, that since every battle in Colosseum is a double battle, you need to keep an eye on both your Mons. Second, that bosses will use actual strategies against you, and you'll need to do the same or get used to whiting out. And third, that enemy Shadow Pokemon are really dangerous and that you stand a legitimate chance of them fainting (either from recoil due to Shadow Rush, or as collateral from the nature of double battles) before they are Snagged.
  • There's the battle between Gurdurr and Scraggy in Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity. It's essentially the first major boss, but at this stage in the game, they can easily wipe you. They're both very strong, you've got only two team members, and if you're too reckless, you won't last long unless you keep healing up. There's also nothing you've got that's super-effective against any of the two, leaving you to chop away with regular-powered moves. If you chose Tepig or Pikachu as your character/partner, watch out; if Gurdurr gets burned or paralyzed as a side-effect of Ember or Thundershock, his Attack will skyrocket, and he'll easily destroy you in three, if not two hits. Plus, Scraggy has surprisingly high defenses. It's difficult enough that later on, when Gurdurr fights alone, it's much easier since it's a two-on-one battle. But still, this is enough to warn you of what's to come in this game's bosses.
  • Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia has Drapion. First off, you have to fight it directly after two Ryhorn and three Stunky. Secondly, the only nearby Pokemon with an assist that's super effective against it at the time is Drowzee, which may or may not help. Third, it hits HARD. However, what really makes this fight difficult is that is has a nasty habit of leaving poison puddles, limiting the area you can circle it and latter starts spamming a poison cloud attack, limiting the time you can circle it.

    Super Mario 
  • Wendy O. Koopa from Super Mario Bros. 3. Unlike her younger brothers Larry and Morton, Wendy's projectiles actually bounce off walls instead of disappearing, making her extremely hard to defeat.
  • Super Mario RPG
    • Croco serves as a wake up call to players that haven't used all available options in battle properly. Mallow is too physically weak to damage the boss, and spamming Thunderbolt will quickly drain your FP and leave none for Mario to use his special attacks, since the party shares FP instead of having it individually. Croco also introduces attacks that CAN'T be blocked with button timing and uses an item to heal himself. Unless the player uses the defend command for Mallow and learns how to ration FP and items, they will be in for a very rough fight.
    • Mack has an infinite supply of respawning Mooks, which makes the player have to use Mallow's Thunderbolt to off them as he will have 5 attacks to your two if they are left unchecked. Also each of them use Drain, which is a common attack by later game enemies.
    • Bowyer also serves as a wake up call gimmick boss. After depleting some of his HP. Bowyer will randomly lock out your battle commands (Attack, items, and abilities), and he will utterly destroy you if you don't quickly adapt to having an option taken from you.
  • Hooktail from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door can be one of the hardest bosses in the game... even if you have that badge on. On the other hand, that badge is easy to find and the game heavily hints that you should wear it, so maybe that's a player problem.
  • The Tower Power Pokey of Paper Mario: Sticker Star is this even for those who could beat the Megasparkle Goomba without realising the game's bosses are actually all Puzzle Boss battles. Disregarding the facts of his massive attack potential and ability to crumple Mario (leaving him unable to heal, or block - death is virtually guaranteed in this case), he has 300 HP. Trying to use normal tactics, you will simply run out of usable attacks while he still has 150 HP left to burn. Then you can't miss the alert that the game wants you to puzzle him to death instead.
  • Finding Mario & Luigi Dream Team easy so far? Well there are two bosses in this game that act as a nice wake up call to show you how more difficult things will soon get.
    • The first one is the Bowser/Antasma team fight in Dream's Deep. Not only do they get two turns in a row to attack, but they also have a ton of hard hitting, difficult to avoid attacks. With Mario having paper thin defenses by comparison. Additionally, even IF you had fought every enemy you came across up to this point, it wouldn't change the fact that Bowser's attacks deal really large damage and he's likely to mop the floor with you if you don't start reacting to split second attacks. This boss also is one of the first bosses that requires you to have to turn around during countering to hit back, but you'll likely find that out only after Bowser punches you. Better have those healing items ready!
    • In the giant battles, you've got Mount Pajamaja, the living volcano boss. Prior to now, giant bosses (or at least, the first one you fought) were kind of simple, almost more like an interactive cut scene than a strategic battle. Not here. Nope, not only do you need to actually use strategy to weaken the boss' sky high defences, but you have to counter much harder to dodge attacks, use the right moves in his second phase to avoid him healing and generally wear him down over time. It's a nice hint that the giant battles are not a walk in the park this time round.

Other Examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • Waka in Ōkami, because before that, you can just hack n' slash your enemies to bits close-range. Not Waka: he throws his sword(s) at you repeatedly, and you have to deflect them back at him with some skill to beat him. The Spider Queen may come as a nasty surprise to new players as well, especially since she can stomp on you.
    • The Cutters, if you have been using weapons other than the disc class weapons, you will have a tough time killing them You have to defend with the disc when they attack to do an automatic counterattack.
  • The Devil May Cry series featured some nasty first bosses, including the Phantom in the first game, Bolverk in the second, Cerberus in the third, Berial in the fourth, and the Hunter in Dm C.
    • Not too long after those fights, the games respectively throw Nelo Angelo and Agni & Rudra your way (in both cases, a mere two missions after Phantom and Cerberus) to handily punish any lingering thoughts that strategy has no value in these games. Any particularly difficult boss after that doesn't really qualify for the Wake-Up Call Boss label, but they will keep you on your toes.
    • Not long into Devil May Cry 4 they throw Credo at you. Up until now Button Mashing has been more than sufficient to defeat bosses, with maybe a health item just in case. Try that on Credo and he dodges, runs right in, and kicks the living crap out of you. It's not particularly difficult, but it's the first fight where you need to actually use Nero's attacks and combos properly.
  • No More Heroes: So you just got dropped into the game a few minutes ago, the controls on the High/Low thing are still shaky, and most of the Mooks you've fought have made you wonder what the blocking and emergency evading are for. You've probably only charged your Beam Katana manually once or twice so far, in safety after clearing a room. Then you fight Death Metal, who seems to block everything that isn't a counter hit, has a metric crapload of HP, and attacks with huge combos that burn through your battery — if you're attentive enough to block. And halfway through, he produces two clones of himself who also have his BFS. Needless to say, once you learn Dark Steps and get better at the recharging, he's cake, but until then... ouch.
    • The real wake up call comes when you battle the notorious Shinobu, the first boss where you have to carefully dodge, chase and wait for an opening. And demonstrates that bosses can pull out really strong attacks when they turn red. (The attack isn't a One-Hit Kill, but if you've taken any damage, you're still going to die.)
  • No More Heroes Desperate Struggle. If Skelter Helter didn't mess you up for the tutorial, then the 50th ranked assassin, Nathan Copeland, most definitely will. If you haven't learned how to evade attacks, say hello to a rocket to the face. If you haven't learned to dodge when danger signs flash, say hello to a metal fist in the face. Plus, his arena becomes more and more dangerous as the fight drags on, forcing you to get used to being very attentive to your surroundings. And blocking his attacks will, once again, burn through your battery like nothing else.
  • Murai in the Xbox version of Ninja Gaiden is the boss for the "tutorial level". If the mooks haven't taught you anything yet, then Murai will teach you not to button mash wildly, or he'll block and counter with a throw. So you might think turtling works — WRONG! He'll teach you not to stand around aimlessly blocking with another throw. Start learning to roll and attack at the right times if you want to get past.
    • Alma also makes an appearance to just start smacking you down when you thought the game was done throwing curve balls at you. Doku, the Zeppelin Boss, your evil twin, and the second fight with Murai all qualify as re-wake up call bosses, to make sure you aren't falling asleep yet.
    • In Black, the game just rubs it in your face. So you finally beat the game? Good job, now go beat these three new harder difficulties!
    • Same deal with the first one from the Xbox 360 version of Ninja Gaiden II.
    • The Act III boss of the NES Ninja Gaiden. The Act I boss has a huge hitbox and is easily disposed of. The Act II boss has a big hitbox for his attack, but once again mashing the B button makes quick work of him. But the third boss? Mindlessly Button Mashing in hopes of doing damage won't save your ass; you now have to strategize if you want to deplete at least 75% of his Life Meter before Ryu bites it.
  • Viewtiful Joe is full of these kind of bosses, which can be very difficult if you don't know the tricks behind your character's abilities. This will eventually becomes clear once the bosses you fight suddenly start constantly reappearing. For example, the Helicopter, which will chew you up and spit you out if you don't know that, in slow mode, you can dodge and reflect bullets. In particular, if you don't already know you can knock the chopper's bullets back at it, you'll probably instead try to jump on top of it, right into the most dangerous part of the boss, and get a couple high risk, low damage hits in before jumping off to avoid injury. This makes the battle much, much longer than necessary and will generally lead to death. If you didn't get it the first time, then you'll probably have a really bad time stopping the chopper when two of them show up at once.
    • Also the fourth level boss Another Joe, who's basically an evil super-powered version of Joe that fights you in area with additional enemies and spike pits. Even if you made it through the other levels easily just by messing around, you actually have to know how to use your powers perfectly at this point to win.
  • In God Hand, Gold and Silver, the Macho Camp duo that serve as the first Mini-Boss fight, quickly establish the rules for boss fights in that game — that they will suck royally for the player. Elvis, the actual level boss, later serves to cement that fact.
    • A case could be made for the randomly-appearing Demons to be the first real wake-up call, as the first one appears well before Gold and Silver, is nightmarishly difficult without using multiple God Reels, will be appearing at random, and are, ostensibly, a basic mook.
  • Many, many early bosses from Capcom's brawlers qualify:
    • In Captain Commando, the second boss, Shtrom Jr., teaches players to use quick attacks (due to his cunningly quick and long jumps) and that just mashing the punch button in front of bosses doesn't work if they break the combos so easily.
    • Scully, the first boss from The Punisher definitely qualifies. The slow and weak mooks do absolutely nothing to prepare the player for the vicious onslaught Scully pulls out - he moves around quickly, delivers lightning-fast flying kicks and elbow and headbutt charges, and blocks the player's attacks time after time (and you would think a battleaxe swing to a blocking jeans-clad knee would be a bit more damaging). But if the player takes the vicious onslaught to Scully (preferably with weapons or grenades, which do great damage if not blocked), he will drop soon enough. Nowhere near a Glass Cannon would fall, mind you ...
    • Razor Claws, the second boss in Alien Vs. Predator is a similar example, with great move and attack speeds, huge damage and a reach much longer than the player's. You may have already found that the Aliens mooks are no pushovers themselves, but a single mistake against this boss will cost you dear. And never, never push him off-screen and move away afterwards in hope of a breather. He will jump right into your face no matter the distance and follow up with a claws charge. Say goodbye to half of your health bar if both these attacks connect.
  • The Lizard Seemer stonewalls a lot of new Sin and Punishment players, since you have to use the projectile reflecting technique on him, which many players probably haven't even tried up until now. Trying to kill him with regular attacks will inevitably result in time running out.
    • Brad. Either get good at timing or look up how to turn on auto aim.
    • The Heart Seeker gives almost every player trouble. It's a giant missile that you have to shoot down before it hits the intended target, and no, it doesn't just explode like you'd expect an explosive to do, so you have to maximize your damage output and accuracy. The target then begins shooting at the Heart Seeker, but misses. You will probably get hit, though. This is also the first boss where manual aiming is mandatory. Using automatic aiming, you simply cannot do enough damage to it to destroy it in time. But many players who sets-and-forgets to auto-aiming don't know that right away.
    • Sin and Punishment: Star Successor has Orion Tsang, the Stage 1 penultimate boss, who puts the "Punishment" in "Sin and Punishment" and shows you that the Nebulox battles are going to require some serious practice. For most of the battle, he shields himself so you can't damage him (in fact, it's very easy to time him out the first several times).
    • Also, Hibaru Yaju, third of the Nebulox. She's tough mainly because she's the first boss that actually requires melee attacks to fight. For a lot of players, this is the first time they have to seriously use their melee attacks for something other than deflecting projectiles.
  • The first few minutes of Prototype give you A Taste of Power. The first boss fight with the Hunters afterward teaches you that you'll have to earn your God Mode powers. And if you underestimate Specialist Cross because he's a mere mortal, he will educate you, with an electrical staff enema.
  • Souther, the second boss in Streets of Rage, who swipes at you with his Freddy Krueger glove with ridiculous speed and who can't be jump kicked.
  • Streets of Rage 2 has Jet, the stage 2 boss, who is hard to defeat unless you spam jump attacks. Souther and Jet reappear TOGETHER in a later stage, making them a twofer.
  • The first boss in Streets of Rage 3 is Shiva from Streets of Rage 2. Oh yeah, and the difficulty only goes up from there.
  • If you haven't gotten proficient with BloodRaynes harpoon, the Sewers begin your Wake Up Call with charging suicide bombers, and ends with Playing Tennis with the Boss. Even if you are good with your harpoon, it's still That One Level.
  • The massive fire-breathing boss Bi Xie in Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce is not only a Wakeup Call boss for the game, it's arguably a Wakeup Call boss for the entire series. It's not too hard once you know what to do, but if you go in expecting to do the classic Dynasty Warriors mindless hacking and slashing, you're probably in for an unpleasant surprise. Even if you're reasonably capable of handling Lu Bu, Zhang Liao and Diao Chan as they go in and out of Fury mode and gang up on you, as well as the swarm of tigers that first greets you when you enter the area, AND finally the giant boss itself - it's actually very easy to time out if you don't accomplish all this quickly enough.
    • The Qiaos tend to be this in other entries, simply due to the fact that they are ridiculously fast compared to the most commonly encountered Notable Generals and juggle like crazy. Enraged Qiaos are even worse, but thankfully are rarely encountered in the core game. (They're more of a threat in the randomly generated empire building modes of XL and Empires.) Depending on which game, the worse of the Qiaos will change, since their movesets change a little every game. Huang Zhong may also count from 4 onwards, as while his guards engage you he will flee and spam his arrow shot special.
    • Gan Ning is notable for being a wake-up call boss and also the Butt Monkey. After a certain stage, usually around the fourth for any Shu or Wu character, the CPU begins to use his musou far lmore frequently. For any who don't play this series, he does a quick dash with his sword held to the side, and it does the most damage in a single hit of any in the game. Most other musous are multi-hit crowd clearers, that do incremental damage and if you are juggled can sometimes be escaped from, but not this one. It fires off instantly, there is NO WAY to block it unless you were already performing your own, and if it lasts long enough, he can drive around back and run you over a second time while you're still recovering. Once it touches you the damage is already done and it's immense—even with max-stat characters on Easy. In contrast, his normal attacks are almost all telegraphed and easily blockable. Essentially, if you always stay behind him, he is one of the easiest to take down, but the battle can turn against you without warning. Depending on your character, merely being touched can do anywhere from 25%-60% damage to someone using no items.
    • In the same vein, Himiko in Warriors Orochi 3 is this for having a killer musou which, unlike many other officer musou attacks, comes out of nowhere, can be moved around your character's block and can instantly shred even the highest-leveled character's HP down to nothing in seconds.
  • River City Ransom has Turk, who marks the point where the bosses start throwing more exotic special attacks at you. If you're unprepared, his Nitro Port will throw you for a loop when he suddenly disappears from view to teleport right up to you, jamming a knee in your face. If you haven't been blocking, or if you've been rushing fights a whole lot, expect to get kicked around a lot before finally getting it.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum pits the Dark Knight against Bane as the player's second boss and first true boss battle. If you're new or didn't get dodging and batarang throwing down with the Titan goon earlier as a taste of things to come, then Bane is rather difficult, since you not only have to dodge him, but the attacks of several Joker goons. This same method of defeating Bane applies to the Titan goons later in the game. The first Scarecrow nightmare segment is relatively easy for a stealth segment and is nothing that a new player hasn't done before when they were the ones giving goons nightmares, but the second one is tougher, with fewer places to hide, longer stretches without cover, and enemies to fight.
    • In the sequel, Solomon Grundy is the first boss, and subverts the expectations of players used to fighting big enemies from Asylum by throwing several attacks you need to dodge, while also planting explosives on electrified nodes to damage him. Titan-infused inmates, which appear earlier in the level, are also different from how they were fought previously.
  • Theseus may seem like normal boss fare for God of War II, but definitely serves as this your first time through Titan mode. He has attacks that kill in one hit and requires that you fight minotaurs while dodging those attacks. Up until that point, Titan mode is pretty intense, but the first time (of many) you fight Theseus, the game is just saying WELCOME TO TITAN MODE, MORTAL!!!! It's also of the 'trainer' variety, rather than the 'fake difficulty' variety. After learning the Titan mode musts of compulsive dodging and blocking, he's not too bad.
  • Bayonetta has Jeanne. Even in her earliest appearance, she's a Perfect-Play A.I., so needless to say, if you haven't got the hang of dodging (and therefore Witch Time) yet, she will hand you your ass on a silver platter. On Hard mode, she starts attacking from a distance by summoning Giant Feet and Fists Of Stomping without any warning and sometimes repeatedly, so you can't let your guard down for even a second. In Non-Stop Infinite Climax, she is even more GFS-happy and you can't use Witch Time! So basically, in each difficulty, she makes sure to be a Wake-Up Call Boss again and in a different way.
  • Bahamut, in Lord of Arcana. As the third boss, he is much more difficult than both the previous and next boss. Not only does he have a One-Hit Kill attack (notably, the at this point infamous "Mega Flare") when you first face him, if you have not learnt how to dodge and block well, you will die. Coupled with the fact that he has much higher health than any boss so far, the outcome of the battle depends on the idea that you know how to weaken him to stop some attacks and that you know how to heal yourself at the right time. Notably, unlike the last two bosses, in which the game outright tells you that they have destructible parts, Bahamut's hint can essentially be summed up as "Megaflare hits the center of the stage". The game also does nothing to inform you that Bahamut's wings are destructible, but most players might be able to guess that. His tail, on the other hand, is not so obvious, taking significantly less damage than the rest of him and almost encouraging you to avoid it. Bahamut is also the first boss in which players might find that, to their horror, enemy bosses can, and will, flee the battle if it goes bad for them. Most players don't have the resources to even attempt to fight Bahamut again, and the mission does not end once Bahamut has fled. Instead, he appears somewhere else on the map. Most players will probably restart their PSP's and try again later to avoid losing all their healing items. And to further compound problems, unlike the last two bosses, who were quite effectively crippled when their destructible parts were destroyed, Bahamut goes on to prove that he can continue to fight without half of his tail and shredded wings with no real loss in fighting prowess.
  • La-Mulana:
    • Good old Sakit is the boss of the Mausoleum of the Giants, and he's here to tell you that bosses aren't going to go down as easily as Amphisbaena did. He's only vulnerable to attack after using his Rocket Punch attack, he's immune to all subweapons, and his main attack fires large magic projectiles that deal way too much damage to your pitiful HP. For a veteran, it's child's play to skip around Sakit, but new players are likely to run straight into him.
    • Ellmac, the boss of the third area, is also no slouch to defeat, and unlike Sakit, can't be put off until much later because many areas are only unlocked after he's defeated.
    • Amphisbaena himself is this in the remake, despite being the (likely) first boss. In the original game, the only thing you had to do to beat him was stay on the floor and spam shurikens at his head when he approaches. He'd go down in a matter of seconds. In the remake, however, he uses a much different pattern of attack, requiring you to move quickly to avoid damage, and is a genuine challenge this time around.
  • Atlas from Astro Boy: Omega Factor. Attempts to go charging in, lasers blazing (like a first-time player might have done until now), will get you killed before you know what the heck happened. Atlas has jet-dashing punches, and a nastier version of Astro's Arm Cannon that takes up nearly the entire screen — and once he gets down to half-health, he replaces that move with a constant electric stream below him. He's not that difficult, but you'll need to get a good grip on battle techniques (dashing and knowing when to fire EX moves in particular), to stand a chance.
  • Beat 'em Up fans who played Final Fight for the first time will remember Sodom as a major wake-up call boss, in that simply punching him normally only took off a sliver of a fraction of his health with each hit, forcing you to rely on throws or to pick up one of his dropped swords to attack him; this wouldn't be so bad if not for the fact that he has a rushing attack that can take off anywhere close to one half of a full health bar and can be executed at unexpected moments, and also the fact that one chop from, his swords takes off just slightly more of your life than that. And the kicker? He's the SECOND boss, just one stage after Damnd, the first boss who you could basically curb-stomp into the concrete with little problem.
  • The massive, primal, dreadlocked monstrosity only known as Missing Link in Vendetta. You had your fun with the balding guy with the buzzsaw, at the end of the first level, and maybe you thought all the other bosses were gonna be pushovers, as well. Now you only have time to wet your pants, as they slowly lower this huge cage on you, before this abomination rips the chains off himself, and starts stomping on you.
  • "The Vanguard", who is the first boss of Gatling Gears after four relatively easy levels. It consists of 3 phases. The first is a Cores and Turrets Boss that spams strong projectiles, and periodically calls in annoying flamethrower units — thankfully, you can end this by defeating the middle turret. The second phase has a core that uses a 6-way flamethrower that forces the player to move around, and alternates with four turrets that use painful Macross Missile Massacre. The final phase is probably the game's first true instance of Bullet Hell, a giant house/train thing that can only be attacked when it's open and firing a massive Spread Shot of missiles. It also summons flamethrower units as well as bomber planes that drop damaging area bombs. And you don't get to heal in between any of these.
  • Ragnarok Odyssey has the Orc King. In the missions before it, you would be fine if you rushed in and hacked away at the enemies until they fell. Not so with this guy; he has far more health than you would be used to, and hits very hard as well, so if you try to rush him down, you'll fail the mission in no time. Destroying certain areas of the boss is introduced as well. It's at this point where the game spells out that you'll have to read the boss, learn the times you can safely attack, and position your attacks to maximize damage.

    Action-Adventure Game 
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda I had Gleeok from Level 2 in its second quest. Like the Genie, mentioned right below, you'll likely be ill-equipped and it teaches you that you have to stock up to survive later fights. And if you don't have the Blue Ring, its fireballs deal a full heart of damage.
    • The early morning receptionist for Link's Awakening is the Bottled Genie. He throws fires that also deal a full heart of damage which are hard to dodge, and the fact that you won't be used to his attacks at first (or at all) means that you'll get your power knocked out of you before long. On top of all this, he has a second phase.
    • Skyward Sword introduces you to Big Bad Ghirahim as the boss of the first dungeon. Up until then, you can get by OK just by flailing your sword around at most enemies. If you do that against Ghirahim, he will utterly destroy you. And talk smack at you for playing like crap. Ghirahim is an interesting case in that he's a decent Wake Up Call for newcomers to the franchise, but for Zelda veterans, he's the biggest alarm clock in the world as he shows you this is not like previous games where you can relentlessly hack and slash at a boss' weak point once it's exposed. Skyward Sword uses the motion sensor, and if the Skyview Temple's eye puzzles and new and improved Skulltulas didn't make that clear, Ghirahim is there to hammer the point home.
    • Ocarina of Time has Phantom Ganon. The previous bosses were Gohma, King Dodongo, and Barinade, all of whom were beaten easily provided you knew which tools to use (Slingshot for Gohma, Bombs for King Dodongo, and Boomerang for Barinade). But Phantom Ganon, your first "adult Link" boss, can't be beaten unless you know how to use more advanced game mechanics like reflecting his own attacks back at him, and he can easily defeat you if you don't adapt to the increased difficulty of Adult Link's dungeons quickly enough.
  • The first miniboss of Henry Hatsworth In The Puzzling Adventure, Weasleby's mech. Remember when, early on, it told you how to power up your projectiles using the puzzle mode? You're gonna need that; getting within melee range is very risky, and unpowered shots do pitiful amounts of damage.
  • In Shadow of the Colossus, it's generally agreed that one of the Colossi 3 - 5 is going to be this: Gaius is the first Colossus you cannot simply climb up and stab in the weak spot, Phaedra is the first that requires you to use the environment around you to your advantage, and Avion is the first Colossus who simply ignores you (and stays out of reach) unless you provoke it. Which one is the Wake-Up Call Boss depends on the specific player and the strategies they naturally employ.
  • In Goof Troop, the second boss, while genuinely hard on his own, is impossible to beat until you realize you can catch projectile attacks.
  • Belth in Demon's Crest is considered brutal for an early boss. He's durable, his size makes him difficult to jump over, and his attacks are both damaging and hard to avoid.

     Card Battle Games 

     Fighting Game 
  • First time players of Magical Battle Arena seem to have the same experience with it. "Great game, but Sakura keeps kicking asses with Fight and Firey in the second stage. Compounded if you picked someone like Nanoha, who doesn't fight well in melee. Note that Nanoha is the first highlighted character in the character select screen.
  • Soul Calibur IV only has one boss in the traditional sense, but after beating Story mode a few times, you feel like you can kill anything, so you move onto arcade mode, which is a wakeup call in itself (enemies in story mode are all the same difficulty, but in arcade mode they slowly get smarter), but then you run into The Apprentice, let out a little nerdsqueal, and then promptly get destroyed in a few seconds.
    • One thing that really makes Apprentice a wake-up call boss is the fact SCIV is mildly realistic, not counting the magicky-weapons, and then you come up against this smartass using projectile force-bombs and the like. Vader fights a bit like Mitsurugi with some fancy additional tricks, so you are REALLY unprepared for Apprentice the first dozen times or so, as nobody else in the game fights anywhere near close.
  • Mortal Kombat 9's first fight against Goro can be this. Up until that point, as long as you can learn a few of your character's combos and special moves, you can defeat most enemies without too much trouble. Then, all of a sudden there's a boss whose X-Ray takes away more than half of your health, who has several attacks during which he isn't staggered by your hits, and who, to top it all off, has twice as much health as you.
  • Hakumen of BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger is a rather vicious jump in difficulty compared to pretty much every character in the Story Mode, as he's probably the first battle you'll fight where you'll actually have to have some form of strategy and understanding of the game's fighting mechanics to even have a chance at beating him. Nu-13, the game's Final Boss, is almost a walk in the park in comparison, simply because Hakumen forces you to actually learn how to play the game and not make stupid mistakes.
  • Dead or Alive 4: The first scripted (non-random) character you fight (which varies depending on who you play as). You can beat the first three random encounters, who are Nintendo Hard but far from perfect, by attacking with basic attacks and blocking at the right time. Not quite just through button mashing, but fairly close. A decent player should be able to do this with any character. But then during and after the first scripted encounter, the enemies become much closer to Perfect-Play A.I.. Basic natural combos will get painfully countered. Hitlag will will be punished if you miss attacks. Inputting the wrong move will cost you at least a quarter of your health bar. You will need to use specific moves deliberately, and have at least some knowledge of how to not just play well, but play your specific character well, to proceed past the first scripted encounter without using tens of continues. And have fun fighting Alpha without a solid mastery of your chosen character.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 features Great Ape Gohan. Until this battle, you could easily beat pretty much everyone by mashing the attack button and keeping the enemies stunlocked long enough to outlast them. Great Ape Gohan is your first Giant-class enemy, and Giants cannot be stunlocked. If you rush him and try to combo him, he will effortlessly wipe the floor with you, meaning you will not beat him until you learn to fight at a distance. What's more, you fight him with Piccolo, who has a terrible primary Blast 2 distance attack (which is what some control schemes default to) but a reasonably good secondary Blast 2 distance attack, which teaches the player that they do need to learn to try out both distance attacks with the character they use if they want to succeed in the long run.
  • Double Dragon Neon's first boss fight with Skullmageddon can quickly curbstomp inexperienced players; his most devastating attacks are the Overhead Slash->Skeleslam combo, and his Hat Teleport Impalement, which is hard to avoid due to its randomly chosen path.
  • Punch Out:
    • In the NES game, King Hippo is effectively impossible until the player realizes that, no, you can't just mash the punch buttons to win - you have to be familiar with your opponent's patterns and their weaknesses. He's one of the easiest fights for a veteran, but newbies will wind up either trying everything, or consulting a walkthrough.
    • In the Wii version of the game, you'll learn plenty of tricks going through the minor, major and world circuit, up to defeating Mr. Sandman. After you finally manage to defeat him you're rewarded with Title Defense Mode, where you'll fight all the fighters again, but with added gimmicks. If you think you can rely on the same strategies as the first time, then you'll get a real nasty surprise the first time Glass Joe wipes the floor with you.

    First Person Shooter 
  • House of the Dead 2 had Judgment, which consists of Zeal and Kuarl, an imp and a giant suit of armor respectively, who fight together, and are extremely easy... unless you don't realize that you have to target Zeal the tiny flying imp (as the weak point) For Massive Damage, and not Kuarl the giant knight. Most first timers most likely saw a giant headless Dread Knight-esque monster lumbering towards them and, panicking, shot frantically at it, causing them to suffer like G did? It's an easy way to get wiped out in a minute or two, but it's a reminder to be accurate and precise instead of panicky. This is, of course, if you ignore the large picture that blatantly tells you to hit Zeal. Also, it is possible to take Kuarl down with rapid fire; you are even instructed to do so in a training mission in the PC version. Afterwards, though, it's still hard for even a trained shooter to hit Zeal without getting hit.
  • Hans Grosse in Wolfenstein 3D. Up until when you meet him, defeating enemies basically consisted of "aim in their general direction and keep the fire button pressed while standing still". If you try this on Hans, you'll be dead within seconds.
    • Olaric, the first boss in Return to Castle Wolfenstein, is very fast for his size, casts homing spirit attacks that do massive damage, and has unlimited zombie support. Best to attack him from a distance, and use your Holy Crosses to take out groups of zombies.
  • Metroid Prime:
    • In the first game, the Hive Mecha caused more trouble for some players than possibly all the other bosses combined. Here's the deal: you fight entirely from a circular platform in the middle of toxic water. The Ram War Wasps released by the Hive Totem circle you, and attempt to hit you. If they connect, you may very well fall into the water, which is hard to move around in (and therefore get out of), and which drains your energy extremely quickly. It also depends upon how good you are at quickly cycling between targets.
    • Prime 3's 5AM call from a swarthy hotel receptionist is Mogenar. Being the fifth boss of the game (after Ridley, for Pete's sake), yet still being the first Leviathan Guardian, Mogenar demands a canny amount of accuracy, athletics, and downright suicidal bombing runs on his feet. Heck, Mogenar descends into That One Boss territory for some people: Harder than anything that has come before, and a damn sight harder than anything that appears later.
    • In Prime 2, the Splinter fight in the Great Temple will wake your ass up. It's a three-stage Sequential Boss; the first form is five Dark Splinters, the second an Alpha Splinter, and the third is the Dark Alpha Splinter. The first and third fights are laughably easy if done right, but if you haven't mastered circle strafing and dodging, the second form of that fight will tear you apart.
    • Also in Prime 2, there's Amorbis, the fifth overall boss yet still the first of the Temple Guardians, and therefore the first of many Marathon Boss opponents you will face across the game. The reason for this is because you actually have to defeat six giant worms in order to score victory. And good luck figuring out the requirement of the Morph Ball to ultimately defeat them without using a guide.
  • The first few Big Daddy fights in BioShock are practically impossible on the harder difficulties; they're actually weaker than the ones you encounter in the later stages of the game, but at this point you have limited weaponry, ammo, and plasmids.
  • The Cyberdemon in the original Doom. If you haven't learned to strafe and circle-strafe effectively yet, you stand no chance whatsoever against his rocket missles.
  • The flashback battle with Metamoq in Zeno Clash. Although he's hardly the first difficult opponent you've faced, he's a significant jump up from even the hardest of those, and you'll have to use almost everything you've learned so far to have a real chance of beating him. He actually acts as the final boss for the demo, because of the significant difficulty spike.
  • The first boss of Descent I and the third of Descent II. Both launch instant-death Macross Missile Massacres, the former using Smart Missiles, the latter using Mega Missiles and a Phoenix Cannon, and like all bosses, randomly teleport, often directly in your face, launching a barrage just as they re-materialize. At least in Descent II you have more hiding places, but that game ups the stakes by giving the boss immunity to all energy weapons.
  • Paine, the first boss of Red Steel 2. Up until then, you've come across one miniboss which can shrug off attacks but telegraphs attacks so is easy to avoid if cautious, and other enemies have been unable to block and will go down to mutton-mask-esque wii-mote swinging. In contrast, Paine blocks attacks with few openings, will break your guard if given the chance, has a ton of health, some nasty specials, and can summon gun-wielding lackeys to chip away at your health from behind. May well qualify as That One Boss and Wake Up Call Boss.
  • If you are playing the silly story mode on Unreal Tournament, every single time you are randomly slated to meet Malcolm is this.
  • Longhunter in the original Turok. Also an absolute pain because he calls two hummers to assist too. Partially justified in that he IS a mercenary.
  • Agent Tatsuo from Syndicate (2012). If you haven't gotten around to using DART Overlay optimally, you're going to die a few times before you get around to killing him.
  • Barrett in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. He shows up before the first Detroit chapter is even finished, and is almost unreasonably hard compared to other bosses: he's extremely tough, has a very powerful minigun for an arm, has an unblockable melee attack that finishes by setting you up to get shot point blank in the face by it unless you manage to duck out of the way, and as he takes damage, he begins hurling HANDFULS of grenades around the arena so that you'll often need to run directly into his line of fire to avoid getting blown up. To make matters worse, it's entirely possible build your character to be focused on hacking and stealth, which in the original version was entirely useless while fighting him. The game did have extinguishers, canisters and weapons in side rooms that you could use, but for the unprepared or poorly equipped he was a nightmare.
  • Nine-Toes in Borderlands. While not too bad on his own, the two skags with him can be rather problematic if you've been coasting on firepower so far; they have a lot of health and are tough to take down without taking the time to aim for their weak points.
    • Borderlands2. Oh god, Wilhelm. Two levels higher than most players are if they've just cruised on the main missions (which would be enough for literally every mission so far), the first proper boss with a huge health bar on the HUD, creates 2 surveyors at a time which constantly charge his shield while they are alive, flips train segments to call more loaders, fires freaking homing rocket salvos at you.
    • Boom and Bewm could also count, as they're (A) the first (non-sidequest) unique enemies you fight that are noticeably tougher than garden variety mooks, and (B) one of them attacks you from atop a giant cannon, forcing you to actually use cover and formulate a strategy for dealing with them beyond "aim at the weak point and shoot a lot".
    • Another example is Captain Flynt. He's big, so he's just another Damage-Sponge Boss, right? Nope! You know that awesome pistol/rifle/whatever you found that sets enemies on fire so they take tons of damage? Well, guess what? Flynt's almost immune to fire damage. And he uses fire damage against you. Yikes. Even worse, he can intentionally set himself on fire, giving him massive damage resistance.
    • Bloodwing in True Vault Hunter Mode. Her first attack is a dive towards you which you can only really dodge if you move immediately upon seeing her start it. Her second is a ground slam which requires you to take cover under one of the very few pieces of cover in the area. Third, she lands on the ground and starts trying to roast and eat you alive. The visual cues for 1 and 2 are extremely similar, any of these can take out full shields and nearly all the health of a player using a Legendary shield and a health-boosting class mod, and while she's diving is the best time to attack her! Keep in mind that she progressively gains immunity to the various different elements in the game, and you've got what is easily the hardest TVHM boss.

    Mecha Game 
  • Armored Core games generally have a few. A good example is in For Answer, the end of chapter 1 boss, Spirit of Motherwill, is a walking fortress the size of a small city, and must be at least 1 kilometer tall. It's intimidating for newer players to see that, and realize they have to take it down, especially after the opening sequence where the player's AC has a rocket strapped to its back, is forced to dodge repeated cannon fire until they get close, and then has to worry about what can only be described as Bullet Hell in an Armored Core game. However, once you get over that element of fear, shock, and awe, SoM isn't actually that scary to defeat.
    • There's usually an arena battle (Werehound, Fixer, etc.) a few fights in that's a lot harder than its predecessors. These are generally guys with more aggressive AI, and often heat weapons, which will wreck most basic mechs.
    • The first time you face another AC outside of the Arena in the game. At the start, you can basically plow through the Mooks with your basic sword and gun without getting much into the customization aspect of the game. Then you get the message "Enemy AC Identified" from your handler.
    • Armored Core: Last Raven, being Nintendo Hard overall, had a ton of these. Each story path would usually have at least one. Special distinctions should be made for Triturate, whose linear gun arms are an effective endgame weapon for you. Rim Fire, who dual wields 4 barreled machine guns, with back mounted chain guns and comes on the heels of another boss. Thunderstrike, a heavy energy weapon specialist who has the lovely distinction of being the first mission on some paths. How's that starter mech treating you? This guy is tough with an imported endgame file — didn't play the previous game? Tough stuff, man.
    • Bullet Dragon from Armored Core 2 is basically Rim Fire with less fire control. You heard me. The nice thing is if you want to be a cheapass about it and want to exploit his ridiculously aggressive AI, just keep circling him and drawing fire. Pick either an arena with lots of cover or a big wide circular arena. He uses gun-arms so once he's out, he's out for good.
  • SLAI Steel Lancer Arena International makes your first ranker battle into this. Sure, you might spend a good few rounds with your basic SV, darting around and scoring kills on D-listers, maybe take a few moments to show off by shoving a chainsaw katana into someone's back. When you've scored at least one kill on everyone else, the D-ranker shows up, and suddenly it's not a shooting gallery any more. A ranker, even a D-ranker, is faster, tougher, and better armed than the rest of the pack, and leaping at them like you would any one else on the field will result in you paying a lot of money in repair fees.
  • The first three missions in MechWarrior 3 are relatively easy with the toughest enemy you face being a mech identical to yours, that being a 55-ton Bushwacker. Then mission 4 comes up and pits you against the first heavy mech of the game, a 75-ton Orion. Due to the fact that the Bushwhacker is not really a great mech and the rather weak weaponry you have this early in the game, if you have not mastered the art of "legging" (shooting out the leg of a mech to take it down quickly), the Orion will most likely tear you apart. They do it again in the next mission set, forcing you to defeat sizable foes (including several Thors) but always giving you a chance to engage enemies on your terms. And then for the mission finale you're forced into close combat with an Annihilator, a 100-ton kill-beast and bar none the most lethal close-range 'Mech in the game. It can and will kill you or one of your buddies with a single salvo. Learn to circle-strafe around it or die trying, Mechwarrior.

  • In Mega Man X, at the end of the intro stage, you face Vile. He is impossible to defeat, and he gives you an example of what you are in for in this game. There is no visible feedback to if you are actually hurting him or not, and you lose the fight within seconds of starting it.
  • Aztec Falcon, the first real boss in the first Mega Man Zero is known to be quite a shock for players of the previous Mega Man games, even if he's quite doable after being used to Zero's gameplay.
    • Another Zero example: In the fourth and last part of the series, you get to do four missions of your choice, and all are not particularly hard (for the series). Then, Forced Mission time, and the boss of that mission, Commander Craft, shows up, and God have mercy if you didn't get some subtanks or elf upgrades. He's fairly swift, has three life bars (as opposed to the usual two), has an attack that requires split-second timing to dodge, and generally has a variety of attacks requiring you to be on your toes.
  • The first boss in the Game Gear version of Sonic 2 is especially jarring, since the 16-bit Sonic games are traditionally pretty easy as exemplified by that Emerald Hill Zone digger thing. This is because the screen is narrower and it's harder to avoid the bouncing balls. On the Master System version, Sonic has enough space to easily jump over them until the boss destroys itself.
  • The boss of Chemical Plant Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and the prolonged section of platforming immediately before it, serve as a wake-up call after the player has breezed through Emerald Hill (which features the quintessential Warmup Boss) and most of Chemical Plant itself. The boss itself isn't too difficult to hit or avoid, and can be killed very easily in about 7 seconds if Tails stays out of the way (see below), but the real danger is the Bottomless Pits on either side of the arena: if you do get hit or you try to get over-clever with your attacks, there's a fair chance you'll be knocked right into one of these pits.
    • Casino Night's boss serves as a further wake-up call. Any attempt to attack it from below ends badly for Sonic, and the only way to get above it is to spin-dash up the walls (this being the quintessential Pinball Level). Furthermore, it drops projectiles every time you pass under it, so simply going back and forth at high speeds to get your attack opportunities can often have you rolling right into an energy ball.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 3's Angel Island boss. After the wussy miniboss, you face the act 2 boss, which can knock you into one of the bottomless pits easily. It's a lot easier if the fire shield is gotten, though.
  • Dullahan from Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin is quite hard thanks to a certain attack that kills you in two hits if you fail to dodge it. It comes in volleys of 4-6. This boss taught players that dodging things still counts in Metroidvania land.
  • In Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia:
    • The second boss of the game, the Giant Skeleton, is a massive spike up from the first, capable of killing an unprepared Shanoa in five hits. It teaches you to value safety over dealing damage and never allow yourself to be cornered.
    • If Giant Skeleton doesn't give you trouble, the Giant Enemy Crab in the later lighthouse level will. It's a long endurance match and you need to be on your toes to avoid all of its attacks, as well as utilising Magnes and general platforming skills quite quickly. It's all worth it for the finisher where you crush it with an elevator, though.
    • Finally, the tutorial level usually concludes with you fighting off four Skeletons. Simple. However, on Hard Mode, the skeletons are replaced by Skeleton Heroes, obnoxious mooks with projectile attacks from later in the game. The fight is quite winnable if you know what you're doing, but it's a surprise for a player who thought he could just coast through with New Game+ gear.
  • Castlevania: Rondo of Blood has the werewolf. The first boss (the wyvern) has easy to avoid attacks and can be spammed with axes for a quick win. Stage 2 is already a Difficulty Spike in and of itself, but the Werewolf is much faster than your character, unpredictable, and requires you to think fast or die.
    • The Werewolf battle is confined to a single screen. His being faster than you is virtually a non-factor. His penchant for Wall Jumping, bouncing all over the place, and launching energy blasts that move in a highly nonlinear fashion, on the other hand...
  • Castlevania: Harmony of Despair:
    • Puppet Master. He's there to teach you that doing more damage isn't everything, if you don't take the precautions necessary to defeat him before going after him, you will get your party killed.
    • Also, taking on Gergoth with the game's starter equipment is pretty difficult; not surprising, since he was That One Boss when he first appeared in Dawn of Sorrow.
  • Shahdee in Prince of Persia: Warrior Within can be like this. She's basically your first real fight in the game (up to this point, you've only fought a few random Mooks), and she can be brutally tough for getting used to the combat system.
  • The spiked Koopa boss from the original Wario Land game - the very first one, even! - certainly comes under this. Not only is he a generally tough boss with multiple attacks and overpowered attack methods, but he just happens to also be the most difficult boss in the entire game (that includes the final boss as well). The fact that the level was aggravating didn't help things either.
    • In the fourth game, depending on the mode you're playing, the first boss is either pitifully easy or this. Super Hard mode is the main offender - you have 15 seconds to defeat it.
  • Kirby 64: The third boss, Acro, ends the streak of Warm Up Bosses. His fast movement and projectile output is made more of a problem by the iffy underwater controls, and the fact that you won't be used to his attacks at first (or at all) means that you'll get your power knocked out of you before long. On top of all this, he has a second phase...that scrolls.
    • Kirby Triple Deluxe has Flowery Woods. Don't let his resemblance to Whispy Woods fool you. He attacks in an incredibly aggressive fashion for the first boss of the game, and his second stage starts assaulting you with attacks that fill up the entire screen. Although he still won't pose too much trouble to a skilled gamer, he can still put up a surprising amount of fight.
  • Donkey Kong Country 2:
    • The second boss, Krazy Kleever, is probably this. He starts out fairly simply, shooting a couple fireballs at you and slowly chasing you down a line of hooks, but after you hit him three times, he sinks into the lava, faking death for about half a second before he bursts out, lunges at you, and proceeds to chase you across the hooks (now at several vertical levels) at a much quicker pace. And now he flies. Not That One Boss (especially not compared to, say, K. Rool himself), but still dangerous enough to cost you a few lives the first time you fight him.
    • World 4 as a whole represents a Difficulty Spike in DKC2, but the boss, King Zing, drives the point home. Despite the fact that he's a mid-game boss, he represents an entirely different challenge than any boss in either the first or second Donkey Kong Country games. To wit, he's the first boss in the series that is fought while riding an Animal Buddy (namely, Squawks the Parrot; DKC3 would later have two bosses fought with Ellie the Elephant and Enguarde the Swordfish), let alone a buddy that had only been available for a few levels at this point, the only boss in the game that does not revolve around evading attacks until a convenient barrel or cannonball spawns, the first boss in the series that is invulnerable aside from one weak point (in this case, the stinger), and only the second boss in the series, second only to the K. Rool fight in the first game, that has multiple stages. While the second stage is decidedly easy, the first stage is highly irritating; hitting the weak point requires precision timing, aim, and positioning, as Hitbox Dissonance makes it difficult to hit the target while not crashing into Zing yourself. Worse, he becomes invulnerable every two hits and breaks his predictable flying pattern to chase the player while spewing an increasingly fast volley of spines in every direction. Fortunately, there's a Good Bad Bug that can allow the player to defeat the first stage without leaving the (mostly) safe corridor you start in, though this requires a good deal of patience.
  • Elite Krotera, the first boss of Iji, can easily wipe the floor with you. He's got powerful weapons, and the floor sprouts turrets that can eat through your armor like candy. On the plus side, he's a Skippable Boss. As the the creator's speedrun video shows, however, with the right skill loadout, you can kill him before he can get off a single attack. It's fun to watch.
  • Conkers Bad Fur Day has two examples, either of which can be the first boss depending on whether the player chooses to clear the chapters in order, or skips parts of them for a non-linear progression:
    • Haybot: At first, it seems like the characters (Conker assisted by Franky the pitchfork, in this case), simply have to hit the hay-covered robot three times while dodging its attacks. But then the boss breaks the floors out of rage and all of them fall into a sewer basement, where the battle turns into a nasty Didn't Need Those Anyway scenario. The boss loses parts of its body as Conker and Franky continue pressing the red button behind its body, which in turn can only be done after luring the boss into water (after, in turn, luring the boss's missiles into some pipes to break them). When Haybot is complete, it attacks by squashing the characters with both hands. When one of those hands is gone, it attacks by seizing them and then throwing them away. With both hands gone, it squashes against the characters, but with its own metallic base. With the rest of the body gone, the boss is simply defeated, but then Conker has to escape from there before it's too late.
    • The Great Mighty Poo: Thought its attacks are easy to dodge, the player has to know how to aim fast and precisely to throw the toilet papers to the boss to its mouth when he starts singing. As the battle progresses, the tempo of the increases and it becomes much harder to hit him succesfully. It can take several tries if, in the long run, the attacks end up depleting Conker's life bar.
  • In Claw you can pummel Le Rauxe in about six-seven seconds by mashing attack button. If you think you can do the same to Catherine, think again: she blocks much more frequently, can jump from one end of the arena to other in a flash and has a ranged attack. Once you know how to dodge she becomes much easier, but at your first try you're bound to get whipped with extreme prejudice.
  • "Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex": For being the second boss, Wa-Wa the Water Elemental will give you a lot of trouble if you're not careful. The reason: he sends out water waves that you have to jump over (if they're blue) or duck under (if they look like green fire) with really good timing. The first two hits aren't that bad, but starting on the third hit, he will send out bubbles in between the platforms. This sounds harmless until you see that the bubbles block your jumps and send you into the water. On his last hit, Wa-Wa will go nuts with the waves and bubbles. One more thing: the platforms sink if you stay on them for too long.

  • In Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords, most of the enemies you face can be defeated within a rematch or two (or on intentionally tough sidequests you can come back to later). Then you get to the first boss, Dugog, the two-headed ogre. Not only is he significantly stronger than any other regular enemy you can face up this point, he sports a spell (Double Roar) which can easily erase all your hit points and a weapon that randomly does near-triple damage. And you face his early enough that skill alone often isn't enough to take him down.
  • Lady D in Henry Hatsworth In The Puzzling Adventure. The game up to her is fairly simple, but Lady D herself can be quite a challenge to a player who's new to the game. Once you get the hang of fighting her and dodging her attacks, she's a piece of cake (pun intended.) The rest of the game gets MUCH harder pretty quickly, and while the second boss is a joke, the THIRD boss is pretty much That One Boss.
  • Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine has Frankly, the second opponent in the game. To newer players that aren't used to chaining yet, Frankly's stacking pattern is punishing, as uninterrupted, he will constantly get chains that will rain blocks on the player's side. The game only gets harder from there.
  • The Immoral Beast in Catherine is the second boss of the game, but it will take a player off guard. It is surprisingly fast, has a move that reverses the controls, and, more or less, is the first time a player really has to think on their feet. Making a wrong move can easily spell doom. Not only that, but there are trap blocks, which one can easily forget about and get skewered by.

    Rhythm Game 
  • in Guitar Hero III Tom Morello serves as a wake-up call boss, and not in a good way. He demonstrates how boss battles in this game will be determined by random chance. Surprisingly, though, he is actually easier to defeat on higher difficulties, seeing as in Easy and Medium mode the notes are simply stretched too far and few in between for players to be able to do significant damage by making him miss these notes.
  • DJMAX Technika:
    • In Popular Mode, each stage has a different songlist, with the minimum song difficulty getting higher with each of the three stages. If you're new to the game, you'll most likely pick "Jupiter Driving" as your stage 3 song. It's a level-4 song, is the easiest stage 3 song, and teaches you to handle patterns in which the timing line moves at double speed.
    • "Area 7" on the first stage is a song whose repeat notes look awkward. You'll need to understand their rhythm rather than just relying on the timing line in order to survive this song.
  • Dance Dance Revolution in its earlier years brought us "Paranoia" on Basic, a level 6 (on the pre-Dance Dance Revolution X scale). It's 180 beats per minute (which when it first appeared on DDR 1st Mix made it the fastest song in the game) and features a handful of eighth notes (including a nasty "jackhammer" note section at the end). If you can clear this song, you're on your way to taking on more difficult songs. Moving past the intermediate difficulty starts introducing higher usage of 1/8 notes and more complex patterns or other quirks to upset your rhythm.
  • Space Channel 5 has Morolina for Part 1, and Kin Kon Kan in Part 2.
  • "Canned Heat" in Elite Beat Agents on Cruisin' mode. The songs before it have relatively simple and consistent rhythms, but "Canned Heat" has a strange disco beat with syncopated rhythms everywhere. Because of this, most players mark it as the first song they ever fail. In Sweatin' and Hard ROCK! modes, it can happen as early as "Rock This Town".
  • Gitaroo Man has the first battle against Ben-K, which is purely guard phase (read: hitting a flurry of notes coming in from all directions). The notes come at you fast and thick, with a rather irregular rhythm, leading most rookie players to complete it with barely a sliver of health to spare if they pass it at all. In Master Play, it can happen as early as Flying O, which, mind you, is the second stage.

    Role Playing Game 
  • So you bought Demons Souls to see what the fuss was about. And, glory be, you breezed through the first levels like they were nothing. Then comes the Flamelurker, a fiery monstrosity with attacks that pierce your shield's defenses and BREAK them. And on top of that, they are impossible to dodge without a perfectly-timed roll with light equipment. The only way to survive this fight is to learn the importance of choosing your equipment to fit the mission better, eliminate extra weight to be able to roll, and to not depend too much on brute force and endurance.
    • Another example may be the very first boss in the tutorial level, which follows a level with very weak enemies that don't look too menacing and who are stopped in their tracks by your shield. Then comes this towering ball of muscles with a giant axe, huge range, broad swings, and the strength to crush you and your shield in one hit. And did I mention it takes about one hundred hits to kill? And, if you do manage to kill it (chances are you won't even touch it), you are then taken to another area which culminates with you getting punched to death by a monster five times bigger than the boss before. And then the game feels the need to cut down your HP to half till you beat another boss.
    • And then there's Phalanx, the first true boss of the game. She covers herself with shielded mooks, which are only vulnerable to fire and magic (both of which you'd only have if you started as a mage or a noble) unless you attack them from behind, which is fiendishly hard to do, and if you're a physical attack character, this means you're going to need to use some of the items you picked up in the level, or you'll just be engaging in futility. And you can't level up until after this battle, so if you used up all those fire bombs and turpentine you'd gathered through the level, save yourself a headache and start over, because those shielded mooks will own you, since in addition to the dozen that cling to the boss, there's a dozen more roaming the area, ready to make you a pincushion with their spears. They also have ranged attacks. Nobody ever said this game is easy.
  • How about EarthBound? Frank Fly might not seem so harsh to a beginning player... until they have to fight his "Frankystein Mark II" immediately afterward. This fight mostly serves to teach you about the rolling HP meter; without exploiting that, you're in for a world of pain.
    • Get past him and the Giant Step, you have to deal with the Onett Police Force, a massive Sequential Boss fight against five foes: four Cops, which immediately become Degraded Bosses after the fight, showing up in the area you gain access to after the fight, and then Captain Strong, who can guard and change his own stats. Strong isn't so bad; it's the fact you're dealing with five boss fights in a row with no healing in between, and each enemy has one attack that can deal around 30 damage to you, which, at this point in the game, is a lot.
  • For the above's sequel, Mother 3: Mr. Passion is generally the first boss where players realize just how vital debuffs, status effects, and item strategies are. Level Grinding and the Thunder Bomb trick will only get you so far here.
    • So, you breezed through Mr. Passion without too much trouble. Well, congrats. A couple chapters later, however, you're gonna meet the Jealous Bass, a tough Flunky Boss who works with his flunkies to hit Lucas and Boney multiple times per turn. Without finding the right combination of items and Lucas' limited PSI, you'll get stomped.
    • The very first chapter boss, the Mecha Drago, will let you know that bosses in this game won't tolerate being walked over. It can't even be hurt without using a turn to use the item that will reduce its defense to a high but reasonable level. It also is very strong and has a lot of health for that point in the game. Although you do have an NPC to assist, his role is mainly to give you some healing items. And you're still not done after taking it down - it will deal fatal damage to you after dying, which means you have to scroll through the post-battle text (and possibly a level-up) or die before actually succeeding.
  • In Might & Magic X: Legacy, Mamushi the Boss of the Lighthouse (either the second or third Boss you fight, depending on whether you choose to go there or the Den of Thieves first) is a nightmare. First of all, he has an ability that a lot of tough Bosses have called Retaliate, which lets him strike back hard if you hit him. That's the good news. The fight itself takes place on the top of a Lighthouse, and he has another ability that lets him push you backwards, potentially killing the entire party if your back is to the edge. Even worse, he moves very fast, switching to another place in the arena about every other combat turn, making it hard to avoid being in a dangerous spot and make a successful counterattack. Even worse, Bosses in this game share a common ability that makes them immune to most status causing effects that don't directly damage them, so a lot of strategies you've used up to now won't work.
  • Illusion of Gaia — Castoth, the first boss, is frequently cited as one of the game's most difficult. This is mostly because the player may be still be learning how to play the game tactically, and because the player character is still weak. In the final Boss Rush, Castoth goes down against a flurry of about half a dozen hits.
    • Castoth isn't really that difficult by Illusion of Gaia's boss standards — the Vampalso is, though at least his HP is low enough you could rush him to death and hope for the best.
  • Soul Blazer has Solid Arm as the first boss (who becomes the Bonus Boss in Illusion of Gaia). Until then, you can mostly just breeze through the first level, but then suddenly the boss is there and his triple-fireball attacks deal some heavy damage, are unstoppable, and fire almost non-stop. You need a decent tactic to get him when his guard is down. It also doesn't help because unlike Illusion of Gaia, it's possible to somewhat underlevel in Soul Blazer, making your task even harder.
  • In Terranigma, after four towers with pathetic excuses for bosses, the fifth tower has a sudden wake-up call in the form of Shadowkeeper, a giant demonic spider/crab hybrid thing. This monstrosity has serious HP and equally serious attacks to match, and going up against it underleveled is suicidal.
  • Lost Odyssey: The first real "boss" is just a kind of gryphon-thing named Grilgan, which really isn't very impressive — but considering your very limited selection of skills, weapons, characters, and spells at the time, he ends up wiping out most players the first time they meet him. And probably the second too. The main difficulty with this boss is that it pretty much requires you to make use of the Guard Condition mechanic, which is easily ignorable up until then. Going on the offensive is suicidal — the trick is to focus on defense and keep the Squishy Wizard alive long enough to do the real damage. The official strategy guide for the game even calls Grilgan "the hardest first boss you may ever face in a video game." It doesn't help that even if the player keeps his Guard Condition up, a bout of bad luck (such as Grilgan using its powerful "Downburst" attack twice in a row before you can heal up) can still wipe you out.
  • Mistwalker seems to love this trope, as the same thing is true of their other game, Blue Dragon. The first real boss is a dinosaur/dragon thing. If you've gotten the hang of combat and are sufficiently leveled, it's not too hard, but if you're not ready for it, it will absolutely slaughter you without compunction or remorse.
  • Suikoden I:
  • Secret of Mana,
    • You literally cannot lose against the first boss and the second is a piece of cake too. And then there's Spiky Tiger. Ow. Spiky is considered by many players to be one of the toughest bosses in the game. This is probably due to his ability to inflict the burning status on your characters (paralyzed and taking continuous damage) as well as knocking them out with a hard-to-avoid physical attack. He also regularly jumps to the raised platforms on the sides where he can only be hit with the two ranged weapons you have — which, being weaker than the melee weapons, you may not have bothered using them, meaning you won't even have unlocked the charge attacks. AND you don't have any magic of your own yet.
    • When you first get to the ice country, you'll encounter a mid-boss, Boreal Face. The wake up call here is that once you obtained magic, most bosses were about spamming it until it died. Boreal Face, however as an absurdly high magic defense, and the most you can do against it with magic is 20-30 HP and it has around 1100HP. By the time you absolutely run out of MP for attack spells, Boreal Face will have over half of its HP left.
    • Aegagropilon is another wake up call for those who use magic, but don't really spend time grinding it. The first thing it does is cast Lv. 7 Wall, which will take a long time to wear off. It can be dispelled, but if the player didn't grind the appropriate element, it won't work. And it's par for the course of being hard to hit at times and hitting hard.
  • Seiken Densetsu 3
    • At approximately the mid-point of the game, there is a series of seven god-beasts that need killin'. They are always of increasing difficulty, but the order is up to you. Regardless, the jump somewhere between the second and fourth god will always be HUGE. This serves to force you to attain or come close to attaining your first Prestige Class.
    • Genova. It has considerable spell firepower and two resilient mooks helping it. It can easily overwhelm a novice, but if you know how to control your fighters and bought power-up items in Byzel beforehand, it'll be a cakewalk.
    • Machine Golems. These will quickly teach you that direct damage spells are not the Game Breaker they were in the previous game.
  • Diablo features The Butcher, who is an extremely tough opponent for the part of the game he appears in, being very fast and capable of dealing huge amounts of damage in close combat. He quickly becomes That One Boss to lower level characters because the only way to beat him safely depends on the randomly-generated terrain spawning in such a fashion to let you plink him to death at range. Thankfully, he only has a 50% chance of appearing, and drops a nifty unique axe when he finally goes down.
  • Diablo II, had this at several points in the game, many of which were lethal on the Hardcore difficulty, and were designed to screw over those with poor gear or bad skill distribution.
    • Good luck taking down Blood Raven if you're a melee fighter. In fact, given her speed, powerful ranged attacks ,and the minions she calls up periodically to harass you, good luck period.
    • Duriel. So you're a ranged class and you've been running away shooting over your shoulder all the time, eh? You think you can kite or outrange every single monster in the game, eh? You think that hit points are useless because nothing comes close to you, eh? You think if you ever come close to dying, you can always run away, eh? And the game would never put you in an inescapable sardine can with a boss that will charge you for an instant kill if you get too far away and has an unresistable slow aura? Ha!
    • As of v1.13 at least, Duriel no longer uses the charge, but his (un)Holy Freeze aura pretty much makes you hardly able to retaliate effectively as he dices up your character in short order.
  • Diablo III, meanwhile, has two of these:
    • The Skeleton King is the very first boss you meet that uses teleport and hard-hitting attacks, in addition to summoning minions. You will need to use dodging, defense, and mitigation in order to take him down.
    • If you came into the Belial battle thinking you can just roll over him with your offensive abilities, you're going to die. The very nature of his attacks means you will have to use damage mitigation and movement to avoid being melted.
  • In Chrono Trigger, the first boss, Yakra, can quite easily be brute-forced even if you don't understand the complexities of the combat system. The Dragon Tank that comes about an hour later, however, is a Wake Up Call Boss. Its parts must be attacked in a specific order (head, wheel, body), and as it can heal itself, you have to proceed intelligently rather than keep attacking until it dies.
    • And then there's 2300 A.D. which is a whole Wake Up Call Area telling you "No, you can't just bash A to win".
    • And again once you reach 12,000 BC. Heck, there's a whole series of Wake Up Call Bosses.
  • Final Fantasy Legend II (aka SaGa 2) features several of these. It's possible to get pretty far with a weak party by relying on NPC guest characters, running away from battles, saving a lot, and sheer luck. Then the player runs into Venus, who will wipe the floor with any player that's been neglecting to upgrade the party's equipment and its stats. Much later, near the end of the game, the fight with Apollo presents another brick wall.
    • Gen-Bu from SaGa I was likewise a sudden jump in difficulty. And it was possible to save to the game's single save slot after triggering him, and just before fighting him, rendering your game borderline Unwinnable.
    • Chaos from SaGa 3 is none too easy either, he uses Quake which hits all allies for heavy damage.
  • The Mark VIII Salamander at the beginning of Rogue Galaxy has three stages to break through, and your party members force you to fight solo for the final phase. Hope you stopped to buy extra healing potions.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • The bosses in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne are generally Nintendo Hard, but Matador is the first boss that really gives you an idea as to what kind of lengths you'll need to go to in order to beat some most of the bosses in this game. Not only do you need to recruit and fuse a team that is specifically resistant to one element, but one of them needs to have learned a certain move to counter Matador's main ability, Red Capote. And God help you if you don't have a whole-party-heal spell yet.
    • In Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, Mitra, the endboss of the second sector, takes up this role. Two of his attacks are particularly devastating: The first is Light of Order, which instant-kills one demon without fail, forcing you to either swap in demons or waste time reviving and resummoning them (which are two separate actions, unless you have a Summon Stone by chance or certain spells that your demons won't have yet). The other is Mabufudyne, a third-tier ice spell that hits the entire party, when you're lucky to have Mabufu (ice, first-tier, all enemies) and Bufula (ice, second-tier, one enemy) at this point; having demons and armor that resist or are immune to ice is a must if you want to finish Mitra alive.
      • The boss of the fifth sector, Ouroboros is there to show you the meaning of true cheapness. He resists both physical and bullet attacks and has 3 spells, Wild Thunder is a unique hit all thunder spell, Disaster Cycle causes random ailments to you and your demons, and Mahama, a hit all light luck based instant death spell. Oh, and it also regenerates every round. Ouroboros will teach you 3 things. First, you NEED to to use buffs and debuffs to inflict more damage or his regeneration will drag the battle for too long. Second, You won't defeat him with any demon, if it's weak to thunder/light it will die, if it relies on physical/bullets attack it's useless. You HAVE to prepare a strategical team just for this boss (in this case, demons that can use buffs/debuffs, hit his fire weakness and heal status). And third, you PRAY when the boss uses his signature unblockable attack, cause if you are unlucky, his Disaster Cycle will cripple your entire team (Later bosses have even worse spells). Heck, if you are Born Unlucky he might even petrify the main character—an instant Game Over!
    • In Shin Megami Tensei IV it seems the Minotaur has taken this spot. Being the first "real" boss, it's attacks are much more varied and aggressive. It's War Cry attack can lower the attack and defense of your whole party, which he will immediately take advantage of by unleashing his strong physical attacks. Like Matador in Nocturne, you will die if you haven't gotten used to using buffs/debuffs yet.
  • World of Warcraft has wake-up call instances (dungeons). While the earliest just contain slightly tougher monsters, with bosses almost indistinguishable from the monsters around them, one of the first to step beyond this was Shadowfang Keep. Packed to the gills with monsters that drain life, summon allies, become magic immune, curse, stun, slow and silence. And has a boss that teleports around the room shooting at you, and transforms one of the party into his worgen slaves.
    • Lord Godfrey, Arugal's replacement, uses a Pistol Barrage that kills anyone that stands in it, puts DO Ts on random players with Cursed Bullet, and summons adds. He's arguably as hard as his Heroic version.
    • Another shock is the mid-level Zul'Farrak instance, where a bad pull will lead to half the dungeon coming down upon you. Much of the stereotype of Death Knights as bumbling idiots comes from the fact that they begin at a higher level than these instances, so the player hasn't taken the Death Knight into any instances at all when everyone else is supposed to be on the ball.
      • It should be noted that the difficulty curve for Zul'Farrak was made even more so due to the fact that by that point, tanks should be wearing plate, so all of the mobs hit even harder than previously. Uldaman had a similar dynamic.
    • Heroic dungeons in Cataclysm served as a wakeup to players whose experience with Heroic difficulty was in Wot LK. The difficulty spike was more akin to what players experienced in Burning Crusade.
    • This is Hogger's entire claim to fame.
    • Progression raiding is sprinkled with what are called "gear check" bosses; no matter how clever you think you are, you simply have to have a basic level of stats or these guys will pound you into the dirt.
      • The prime example of this being Patchwerk, from Naxxramas. He does only two things: Beat the tanks, and beat the tanks harder once he's below 5% health. He has a short enrage timer, though, after which he will mercilessly oneshot anything that happens not to be himself. So you are standing there, and the only thing you have to do is beat him hard, so he falls before the enrage is hit. He is meant to be a check, if you gear suffices to bring him down. If not, the rest of the bosses would have murdered you anyway.
  • Each time there's a new expansion, the new dungeon accesible immediately to the player has quite challenging bosses. In Burning Crusade, they give you Vazruden and Nazan in Hellfire Ramparts and Broggok in Hellfire Blood Furnace. And in Wrath of the Lich King, there is Keristrasza in Nexus.
    • Similarly, at max level (70 in The Burning Crusade, 80 in Wrath of the Lich King, and 85 in Cataclysm), characters may begin entering heroic dungeons, which are powered up versions of the standard ones, as well as raid dungeons intended for 10 or 25 players (the original game had 40-man raids). These are significantly more difficult than normal dungeons in terms of the level of gear needed to survive, the skill and coordination required of players, and often the challenge of getting a group together in the first place. Also, raid dungeons lock players into a particular "instance" of that dungeon for a period ranging from 3 days to a week, making consistent and prompt attendance essential. The result of this is that new players who have never tried to tackle endgame content face a brutal learning curve, especially if they can't get into a guild that's been raiding for a long time and can train them. In the original World of Warcraft, this dungeon was Molten Core; Karazhan served the function in The Burning Crusade, and Naxxramas is the Wrath of the Lich King equivalent, although Blizzard has made a conscious attempt to lower the bar to raiding by making the latter relatively easy.
      • Speaking of Naxxramas, the second boss of the Construct Quarter Grobbulus definitely qualifies, since players will often elect to face him early in the dungeon. Although previous bosses are designed to be beaten through sheer power, Grobbulus lays deadly patches of poison gas where he stands and summons additional mooks throughout the encounter, necessitating strategic movement and co-ordination. Gluth and Thaddius serve to drive Grobbulus's point home (although many guilds will elect to fight Gluth and Thaddius close to the end).
    • Almost every starting zone also offers a Wake Up Call Boss in the form of a quest requiring the player to kill an elite NPC that is significantly more challenging than the normal enemies the player has fought to that point. The most well known of these is Hogger, a level 10 mob in Elwynn Forest, who is so infamous for slaughtering newbies that he's become a Memetic Badass as well as a That One Boss.
    • Sunwell Plateau could be described as an entire wake up call dungeon, but specifically the first two bosses, Kalecgos and Brutallus, who were both significantly harder than Illidan (the final boss of the dungeon before SWP,) forced a large number of players to learn to play or go home. Countless guilds maybe scraped a Kalecgos kill or two but failed to make so much as a proverbial dent in Brutallus, causing them to give up (or perhaps even just break up entirely.) M'uru had a similar effect on the guilds that made it to him.
    • A late expansion example is the trio of dungeons released in "Fall of the Lich King", at a point where everyone got used to breezing through dungeons even on heroic difficulty on autopilot. Many of the bosses could be considered this, depending on how long it takes for the player to realize that they have to pay attention this time. The Devourer of Souls would be the first, often catching players off guard when he uses a new attack at low health, a wandering beam that swiftly kills anyone standing in it, as well as making people kill themselves with his mirrored soul spell. All of the bosses in Pit of Saron count to some extent as well.
    • The abominations, Festergut and Rotface, are this for Icecrown Citadel. The former is a DPS race that requires the party members with the spores to stand in the right place to spread them to the rest of the raid to avoid a wipe when he uses Pungent Blight. The latter requires players who get Mutated Infection to kite the slimes on them to the person with the large slime without running into anyone else's slime on the way, in order to control the rate at which large, explosive slimes form. In both of these, all the players have to know what they're doing in order to survive, and many Icecrown Citadel raids do not get further than these two.
    • One of the most notorious examples came pre-expansion in the form of Blackwing Lair. The very first encounter is Razorgore the Untamed, the second hardest boss in the instance. Note encounter, not simply first boss. Razorgore requires an unbelievable amount of guild coordination and several good tanks that can reliably hold off multiple enemies at once. If you manage to beat Razorgore, the very next room is home to Vaelastrasz the Corrupt, the hardest boss in the instance (including Nefarian). Vael requires so much fire resistance that he makes Ragnaros look like a cigarette lighter in comparison, and you only have a very limited amount of time to kill him, requiring the raid to do a huge amount of damage. Blackwing Lair was a notorious guild killer back in the day. Even with Wot LK and Cataclysm (20 & 25+ levels, and shiny new equipment), Vael is still not a trivial fight.
    • Razorgore becomes difficult for a different reason with a high level group. He has less than 500,000 HP (about what most heroic WOTLK 5-man bosses have and what Cataclysm 5-man trash mobs have), and is easy to kill, but many groups will try to kill him before destroying the eggs, leading to a wipe when he casts an instant-death spell on the entire raid upon dying. This serves as proof that players can't simply zerg their way though old raids.
    • Every boss in the early instances of Cataclsym will kill you in one hit if you don't obey their mechanics; this is meant to re-temper players after wrath content was made easy by the accessability of gear. Corla, as if you don't manage the stacking debuff, either one of your party members will turn into a drakonid and get mind controlled, or one of the cultists will, leading to a wipe.
    • All of the bosses in Blackrock Descent qualify. Rom'ogg binds the party with chains which must be broken before he one-shots the entire party. Karsh Steelbender has to be run through flames to remove his armor (which reduces all attacks to Scratch Damage) but also buff his damage, and if the debuff falls off the party is hit by an aoe for massive damage. Beauty regularly fears the party and will enrage if Runty is killed. Finally, Obsidius has three minions that must be kited (and which always attack the most recent aggro) and regularly switches places with one of them.
  • In a similar fashion, Guild Wars features Wake Up Call Missions. Probably the most egregious example is Zen Daijun from Factions. Minister Cho's estate was virtually a tutorial. When you get to Zen Daijun and face a whole HORDE of the Afflicted AND that horrible Miasma which spreads degenerations around your entire party (particularly bad if you're using henchmen, who don't know well enough to not stand in close formation and keep reinfecting each other) AND you have to bodyguard 2 (admittedly very high level) NPCs... prepare to die. And right after Zen Daijun was a brief time on Kaineng City, before Vizunah Square. While it was nerfed eventually, if you weren't at level 20 by that point then you would have a very hard time with it. Tahnhakai Temple similarly taught the player how to carefully pull and how to combat certain skills that enemies from then on would throw out with ease - if you can't pull, focus fire, or counter certain skills via enchantment removal then you will fall behind.
    • Nightfall also had these, however, one thing that was notable compared to Factions and Prophecies was the fact that the "Wake-up call" mission came much later in the game. (Zen Daijun, Vizunah Square, and Tahnhakai Temple are all early missions.) This mission was the Grand Court of Sebelkeh - By that point, the mission assumes that you know how to focus fire, crowd control, keep mobs in area of effect attacks (and have powerful AoE builds like Searing Flames.), to be able to keep your mobility up. and to watch the map . Even though the game does allow you to practice such skills in previous missions and on trash mobs, it's still likely to catch players off guard at the sudden combination of needing to do those skills, especially with how fast the mission can be failed. (It wasn't uncommon for people who didn't know what they were doing to fail within less than a few minutes.)
  • Legend of Legaia
    • Even Caruban, the first boss, is a decent challenge, as it has more than enough attack power to bring either of your first two characters to their knees in a single combo attack, and has a fire breath attack that can halve your party members' HP.
    • In Duel Saga, Elfin serves as a combination of this and Beef Gate. She is designed to be easy enough if you are at least level 9 and have four art blocks, but difficult to impossible otherwise.
  • Amorphes from Avalon Code will force you to see the monster description, or you won't be able to beat him.
  • In City of Heroes, Frostfire, the first elite boss players have the opportunity to face, fits this trope perfectly. He's fairly trivial compared to most later elite bosses, let alone archvillains, but he's much harder than anything new players have seen before him. On top of that, many veteran players avoid the Hollows, denying new players a source of advice.
    • Part of what gives Frostfire his infamy is that most players (particularly new players) go about the fight all wrong. Generally, players running through the Hollows content try to put together a full team of 8 to take him down. This means that the final room containing the man himself also contains 20-30 mooks, and the icy terrain makes pulling them away nearly impossible. With a team of two or three, however, the final room is much emptier, and it's far easier to grab him alone.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption had Mercurio, a Cappadocian librarian who was just a liiiittle bit overpowered, as he would chain-cast an area of effect spell that had good chances to affect both of your characters, deal major damage, and induce a frenzy (i.e. you lose control of the character, who just starts spamming powers and attacks at random). Compounded by the fact that, at this point in the game, you have likely not spent XP to upgrade your vampiric powers... He was, however, tweaked down in a patch and is now quite beatable.
  • Vampire: the Masquerade - Bloodlines features Bishop Vick, who you can fight very early on. Most of your boss fights up to now have been with melee fighters in areas with lots of cover to hide or disappear behind. Vick, on the other hand, is incredibly fast, wields a shotgun that he's very good with, and even if you run behind the scant cover, he can see through your invisibility power. He's a pushover if you wait to fight him until you've become more powerful, but he will absolutely shred a low-level character, and there's no warning given that he's going to be so hard.
  • The Hellhound at the end of Act I of The Witcher is one of these. The player can be easily stunned by it while its pack of barghests chomp away at their leisure, even with strong Group attack skills. One good blast of Aard can set up a one-shot kill, a feat impossible with later bosses. The battle also shows that some allies can be unkillable in battle. It also shows just how helpful alchemy is, as the right oils and potions can make the boss a walk in the park.
  • The sequel involves many different mid-bosses, who will clean the floor with you if you don't prepare before fights and learn fast:
    • The Kracken mid-boss is an unholy combination of giant stomping tentacles and nauseating venom. If you didn't do as a Witcher does and prepare before the fight, you have to learn to trap and dodge the beast's super-tentacles in mid-progression, and avoid its near-fatal and blinding poison. Even with the preparation, the fight is the first real enemy encounter in the game that is alien and overpowering.
    • Mid-boss Letho is one hell of a fight. By this point, you have to know how a Witcher prepares, fights, and improvises, because Letho will do the same. As his game description implies, Letho will make preparations with a mana shield to prevent slamming on his weak spots (becomes freaking invincible for about twenty seconds), and THEN charge in like a moron BECAUSE YOU LITERALLY CAN'T DEAL DAMAGE TO HIM, and will use 'frag grenade' bombs if you decide to run away and attack from a distance. He's a powerful fighter, and even if you play dirty he'll still be a major threat from a distance because of his mastery of elemental magic and bombs. You either have to be a good enough duelist to turn his preparations into s***, or be constantly alert for magic attacks and incoming grenades.
    • The optional boss in Act III will grind you alive if you decide to fight him. You've mastered everything except an attack by a freaking field commander. If you don't deal with the gargoyle reinforcements, he'll pummel you with fire magic. And all of this is considered a prelude to the giant dragon you'll have to fight as the final boss! ((xplaining would deal with spoilers).
  • Persona 4 has Shadow Yukiko at the end of the first dungeon. The game makes it hard enough to keep up with her damage output, especially her multi-target fire attack (to which one of your characters is guaranteed to be weak) on her own. You can make her minion skip half of its turns if you have a good understanding of the battle system, but if you don't, between its damage, buffs, healing, and status ailments... good luck. She got Nerfed in Golden, where it's her who becomes weak to Ice instead of her assistant.
  • In Choral Castle, Arietta the Wild and her friends from Tales of the Abyss. As most Tales games go, team boss fights are difficult, and as the first one in Abyss, she surely gave a wake up. While her Liger and Birdie (name escapes me) pummel you, Gloomietta buffs up their attack and defense along with nasty dark and light spells. As a pain as it was, it does teach you the wonders of Free-Run.
    • For those playing Unknown difficulty, the Rhinossus counts. It is the very first enemy of the game, which players can easily beat on their first playthrough...but on Unknown, it can take upwards of 10 minutes for the party to beat it to death, and that's assuming New Game+ benefits. This establishes very quickly just what kind of difficulty Unknown is.
      • Combine the two above facts, but this time, facing Arietta the Wild on Unknown. She has ungodly defenses despite being a little girl. Have fun dealing 1 damage unless you have pretty good C. Core growths.
  • The Tales of Vesperia fandom has nicknamed Gattuso, a large wolf and the third boss of the game, the "noob killer." It attacks quickly and ruthlessly, tosses the party around the battlefield like rag dolls, can poison with one of its attacks, and can charge from one end of the field to the other in two seconds flat. To add insult to injury, this was the boss of the 360 version's demo, meaning its brutality was several people's first experience with the game. Also, right after the battle, Adorably Precocious Child Karol goes "What the heck? It barely put up a fight!", infuriating many new players.
    • Zagi can also be this on Very Hard and Unknown. This gives you a taste of what the harder bosses in the game are like. It's ridiculous to level up in the castle without using equipment from the last game you played, meaning that you will most likely not gain very many levels, if any, before the boss battle. For a first boss, Zagi is tough, being fast, with annoying artes, and with Yuri being alone... until miss Princess steps in to help. She can heal, but, her AI is infuriating for most players, with her tendency to run up and attack, only healing when someone is about to die if they take one more hit. In higher difficulties, her running up to attack = instant death to the Princess. She's also slow as hell, so don't expect her to be able to get away from Zagi if he chases her. This battle teaches you how to "hit and run", and use Free Run though.
  • Jiao in Tales of Xillia. He's the first boss you have a healer for, and with good reason, as he hits about as hard as one might expect him to, being a towering fellow with a similarly massive hammer. As is the norm for a human boss, he can also do combos to further increase the pain he dishes out, and has a nasty area attack that'll wreck your melee fighters if you're not cautious. He also calls monsters onto the field periodically, who'll most likely start harassing the aforementioned healer if they're not dealt with.
    • Jude's first Duel Boss against Ivar comes as another one. If you haven't learned how to use Jude's Snap Pivot ability by now, Ivar will make sure you do. Proper use of it is the only way you're avoiding his long, brutal combos that inflict several painful status effects.
    • The sequel has Volt. His HP count is massive compared to any of the previous bosses, and he has a ton of attacks that can seriously injure if not OHKO your party members if they aren't blocked or avoided. He also has elemental minions which he'll start to respawn once his HP dwindles, which is also when he starts busting out his nastier attacks like Thunder Blade and a spinning laser sweep that hits almost the entire arena. Knowing how to take advantage of the weakness system so you can both keep him pinned down in combos and deal a high amount of damage is important, as you'll find yourself starved for healing if you take too long to beat him.
  • The first boss in Devil Survivor, the first real fight with the Wendigo. The first time you see him, Amane is there and makes short work of him. The second time... well, let's put it this way; according to the Death Clock and Laplace Mail, if nothing changes, he's supposed to wipe out the entire party, and they weren't kidding. Take some time to get prepared before you face him, or you'll regret it.
    • Bishamon, one of the Four Devas, can also count. Not only is his fight the second with Rangda enemies (which Repel Physical, making Atsuro and Izuna completely useless), his Hassohappa (which can deal 1000+ damage to the entire party) makes it almost impossible to approach him unless you at least Null Phys. And he has (respawning) allies that can heal his massive HP stores (making Hassohappa hit worse). While most battles so far were almost all affairs where you mostly attack and exploit weaknesses, this one puts emphasis on defense using passive abilities.
    • The fight against Beldr, in addition to being That One Boss, is the first "Bel" enemy you face and warns you that the others will also require specialized tactics to beat.
    • The first battle against other tamers teaches players the value of AUTO skills.
  • Mabinogi uses this. Being an MMORPG, which boss it is depends on how you play:
    • If you try to take Alby Dungeon Normal, you'll face the Giant Spider. While the enemies before this generally do single-digit damage even to raw newbies, the Giant Spider can kill you in two or three hits if you're not familiar with defensive tatics — an attribute which will be shared by both bosses and mooks going forward. It's also a Flunkyhat drain at least half of your SP each time the card activates, and at least a third of your HP, making healing yourself or even getting any skills in next to impossible, unless you have Roxis use a skill that removes some of the timecards.
  • Dragon Age: Origins's first "Red" (Boss) enemy is the Ogre. Up until this point, you've had some tough, but winnable battles, mostly against mooks, where some relatively simple tactics will generally win the fight. The Ogre, though... hooh boy...
    • The entrance to the tower is a Wake Up Call Level, too. You're running headlong into a trap fanged by a fireball-using Emissary and several archers. That teaches you to get in smart, fast, and take down the enemy before you get taken down.
    • The first boss in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening, The Withered, gives you a taste of being on the receiving end of the new high end talents available in the expansion. The moment you see all the damage dealt to him being reduced to zero thanks to "Carapace" is the moment you realize that the new abilities are not to be taken lightly.
  • Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden has the Ghost Dad. The first few bosses in the game were relatively easy to dispatch, and this boss, being a spectral Bill Cosby, doesn't seem like it would be any different until you actually fight it. Among his tricks are lowering your speed (giving him more turns), increasing his own power (which is already fairly high to begin with), and worst of all, inflicting the whole party with multiple random status ailments all at once. And he uses that last attack quite liberally, and it's even worse considering that there isn't a whole lot you can do about status ailments this early in the game. If you don't come into the fight prepared, he will wipe the floor with you.
  • Vagrant Story doesn't feature a single easy boss, but at least the first few don't require much skill beyond picking the right weapon type and not standing right in front of them when they try to hit you. Then, after around 3 hours of gameplay, you finally escape the first dungeon and reach the above-ground part of the city. Including the first human boss — a priest general — two screens away from the dungeon gate. For the first time, you're really going to need those armor spells, reaction abilities, and risk-reducing potions.
  • You can breeze through the first half of Atelier Annie quite easily by buying your raw materials instead of gathering and by ignoring jobs with attribute requirements. But then assignment 5 has you fighting a not-insignificant monster. If you've neglected to raise your exploration level, you're in trouble two ways. First, the monster will clobber you and you'll need either some level grinding or bomb items to win. Second, just beating him isn't enough for the Gold Medal — to get that, you must grind for a certain rare drop, trade it to an NPC for a specific weapon, find an item that makes a particular Supplement (which isn't even available unless your exploration level is at least 20), and then enchant the weapon with the right attribute using the supplement. Not too hard if you know it's coming, but if you don't, kiss the Golden Ending goodbye.
  • The first two Shining Force games have some rather nasty first bosses.
    • The first game has the Marionette, which can recover hit points, has Freeze 3 (which can kill up to five units at once), and has more than enough MP to wipe your party out. You need to coordinate your units, or else he'll destroy your troops and be back up to full health before back-up can even get there. If you promote your units too early, this boss is even more difficult.
      • Mishaela, much later in the game, serves a similar purpose with her stupidly-large-area Bolt 2.
    • The second game has the Kraken, which has eight strong legs, a pair of even stronger arms that can strike units at a distance, and the head itself, which has high HP and a bubble attack that ignores defense. To make matters worse, you have limited movement and of the two (three if you promoted Kiwi) flying units you can have at this point, Peter is the only one who can consistently and immediately do some damage.
      • The boss after that is Taros, an iron giant that can only be harmed by Bowie if he's equipped with the Achilles Sword. He can take a beating, deliver heavy damage to one unit with regular attacks or multiple targets with Bolt spells, and like every other boss, gets two turns to attack.
    • Before Shining Force, there was Shining in the Darkness, whose hard-hitting Kaiser Krab gave players their first real challenge.
  • Breath of Fire II:
    • Terapin, a giant turtle-like boss with a mind-control attack which forces you to attack your own party members. Both his fire breath and earthquake attacks do a ton of damage and affect the entire party.
    • Augus. He gets two turns every round, and one of his actions is to charge up his next attack to do extra damage. Charging up then attacking in the same round will one-shot Katt even at full health (and Ryu and Rand if they're not pretty close to full health). Oh, and he can heal himself.
  • Breath of Fire IV has Ymechaf, which is encountered roughly a quarter through the game. His attacks are fairly powerful, but his defense is sky high. In short, the boss is the game's way of telling you "You're gonna wanna learn some of that combo magic."
  • The Etrian Odyssey series contains many good examples of this, such as a F.O.E. on the very first floor of the game that will utterly destroy most mid-leveled parties.
    • Although unfittingly placed, the endgame can be considered a wake up call because anything but a well-planned team of high leveled, well-geared characters will get utterly slaughtered, whereas the rest of the game presented (relatively) little trouble.
  • Secret of Evermore has two bosses that will make you realize that yes, you do need to learn a bit more about this game's combat system if you want to reach the ending. The first is Salabog, the massive sea serpent in Prehistoria. He has 2000 HP (compare to the previous boss's 600), he spawns mooks that can hurt you by touching you (they're made of FIRE), and he only emerges to spring an attack on you and to make more mooks. If you haven't learned how to use charged spear attacks, or haven't leveled your spear up enough to throw it at all, you're gonna be in for a long, painful, and ultimately futile battle.
    • The second is the Verminator, one of the later bosses of the medieval times world. This guy sits on a pile of crates, and will never come down, making him the first boss that you encounter which cannot be affected by regular attacks. He relentlessly uses status effect spells and attack spells on you, and, again, if you're no good with spear throwing, you're gonna die, since you'll run out of attack spells well before you get anywhere near killing him. You need to not only be very good with your spear, but also good with alchemy so you can cure the status afflictions he causes and protect against his attack spells. If, through some miracle, you've made it this far without learning about charged attacks, you're never going to win. The fact that he's placed at the end of the forest maze, and the fact that the inn and save point are so easily missed, add to the aggravation.
  • Number 9 in Parasite Eve 2 serves as a wake up call boss. He has a paralyzing attack and a one hit kill attack. He also has massive amounts of HP to boot. If the player doesn't realize to use the electrical boxes on him, or fails to find the MP5 or grenade launcher, there's not a lot of hope to beat him.
  • Persona 3 gives us the Change Relic around 20% into the game. Up until now, any enemy that isn't easily pummeled to death by exploiting Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors is handled with little trouble by exploiting the party heal of the Cadenza spell. Change Relic has no elemental weakness, and its wind magic can hit every party member for a good chunk of HP, or just hit one target for a potential One-Hit Kill. Then there's Poison Mist, which poisons your entire party, putting you on a very fast clock if it hits early. This is the point at which savvy players realize that sometimes, there's no substitute for good old-fashioned Level Grinding.
    • Hard as that is, though, Change Relic is actually a blessing in disguise. There's a checkpoint immediately before it which takes you back to the dungeon lobby, so dying loses you five minutes of gameplay, tops. If you're stubborn and don't get the message there, however, the game punishes you with Emperor and Empress shortly thereafter. They're not especially difficult if you're adequately leveled and prepared, but they'll destroy you if you're not. And there's a series of lengthy cutscenes between them and the most recent save point.
    • And then there's Hierophant. It has a multi target attack that put your party members in Fear status. Fear causes them to skip turns, makes all physical attacks against them criticals, and makes them vulnerable to a One-Hit Kill from Ghostly Wail. He also attacks with Lightning magic, which one party member is weak against. Me Patra Gems help with the Fear effect, but it's still very possible to die simply because the Random Number God decided to be a dick.
    • The Rampage Drive is among the first four bosses in the game, and it is totally immune to physical attacks and also resists fire. To make matters worse, it has a very powerful physical attack that can wipe you out in one shot even if you're at full health, as well as an electric spell that hits the whole party (and one of the three starting party members is very susceptible to electricity). Bonus points for technically being a wake-up call sub-boss.
  • In Resonance of Fate, the first real boss "Tar Man" Will destroy your team repeatedly, until you pretty much master the combat system and learn that not every move needs to be a "Hero Action." Even then, he has a lot of armor and requires multiple death-defying passes to take down. To top it off, he will regenerate his health (but not his armor, thankfully) if you don't kill him fast enough.
  • The Marid King in Last Scenario is something of a rude awakening if you thought the game had been tricky up to that point. He serves to teach you that a) status effects in this game are pure evil and b) stealing from random encounters is not a waste of time. If you didn't grab an Alarm Bell or three from the kelpies, your entire party is going to wind up asleep. And, irritatingly, you can't backtrack from that dungeon to pick up more supplies. (You did keep a save file from before you left, right?)
  • Cla Dun: This is an RPG! doesn't have very many boss encounters, and most enemies can be dealt with through basic attacks. However, when you reach the last floor of the Monster House, you'll have to deal with a fire knight, who has an incredibly powerful Flaming Sword attack and has a shield that greatly reduces damage from frontal attacks. If you haven't been making good use of your Magic Circles and Upgrade Artifacts, you're going to get beaten down repeatedly, even with high-leveled characters serving as your support/shields.
  • In Inazuma Eleven, things will go very smoothly up until you meet Mikage Sennō Junior High (Brain Washing Junior High in the English anime dub). Unlike your previous opponents, MSJH have much better defensive and ball-keeping stats than your vanilla footballers, and their Killer Techniques, especially those used to steal and keep the ball, are much stronger than most of your team's. It doesn't help that they won't lose any TP during the first half, which basically guarantees that they'll have drained poor Raimon Eleven's energies, unless the player brings enough items to sustain the characters. Worst of all, MSJH have the tendency to play very defensively after scoring a goal (something that is reflected in an episode of the anime).
  • Dragon Quest games can be hard, and often pack a Wake-Up-Call Boss to let you know that.
    • Dragon Quest II doesn't have many boss fights but they're usually this trope. The Gremlins will really test your strategic ability before you can get the ship. Think you're ready for Hargon's Castle? Say hello to three mini-bosses in a row; the first one(Atlas) deserves particular mention as one that WILL kick your ass if you're not up to speed.
    • Dragon Quest III has Kandar. The first Kandar fight is a huge lesson in why party buffs are essential to survive.
    • Dragon Quest VII has Deathpal. He has tons of HP, gets two turns per round, can blind you, has a powered-up attack, and none of your magic works!!
    • Dragon Quest VIII has Geyzer, who is pretty tough for a first boss, but Don Mole has tons of HP, can call for backup, has an area-of-effect attack, and can confuse the entire party.
    • Dragon Quest IX has the Wight Knight. Did you recruit any allies at Patty's Place beforehand and level them up?
      • There's also the Ragin' Contagion later in the game, which teaches you why it's a good idea to have 1) an ally who can heal your party and 2) items that can cure status effects like Poison and Paralyze.
  • In Dungeon Fighter Online, the lightning Knoll is the first boss that legitimately can give you trouble. It's the first boss that posses powerful ranged attacks, and its moves can hit for a ton of damage. They also usually multihit, resulting in you failing a quest. Of course, he's easy relative to the later bosses.
  • In Golden Sun: The Lost Age, Badass Normal pirate Briggs is definitely this. He comes after you with two buddies for support, hits like a truck, uses both damage and recovery items, and will call more buddies if you take down the ones he starts with. Worst of all? It's way too easy to accidentally reach him far earlier in the game than you're supposed to, underleveled and underequipped.
    • Dark Dawn drops the Stealth Scouts on you in the Konpa Caverns, who also like damage/recovery items, team tactics, and add Standard Status Ailments (Stun Shuriken) and Mana Burn (Psy Grenades) to the menu. The last of these is a real terror unless you know how to exploit Djinn (and have collected them all!) or spam recovery items of your own, since it ruins the possibility of healing Psynergy.
    • The original Golden Sun was possibly the worst offender of this in the series. The player had likely fought a few bosses by the time they reach the Mercury Lighthouse. The bosses before it being a trio of bandits and (possibly) a possessed tree. Neither were exceptionally difficult. And then they must fight one of the game's main antagonists, who has a brutal physical attack, and plenty of hit-all Psynergy while you have no group heal spells or items. Oh yeah, and your recently acquired healer can die in one bad hit from him thanks to her elemental attribute. Have fun!
  • Qudamah the Jackal can be this for Two Worlds II players, as he's very easy to run into by accident while exploring and completing quests in the first act of the game and is considerably stronger than anything else you fought so far. The quest leading up to him is extra deceptive in that it makes you go after a bunch of weak Varns in a mine, lulling you into a false sense of security only to then throw this unholy canine-faced terror at you without warning. Hope you didn't saviring weapon such as Rynex-R's Thunder Sword.
  • The Rusted Dragon in Hellsinker is much harder than the bosses of the first three stages. Blowing off its parts, which normally weakens bosses, only serves to make it harder and more evasive. However, if the player is doing horribly, you can actually skip the entire boss fight.
  • The hardest of the first four bosses in Giga Wing is the battleship. Two people have this as their FIRST stage in the rotating stage lineup.
  • The Capra Demon in Dark Souls is the first taste of just how unforgiving the game is to the player.
  • In The Dark Spire, most of the early bosses range from only a bit harder than normal fights to actually easier than normal fights. Then you hit the first boss with a breath weapon. It can nearly One-Hit KO your party. Then the second one can One-Hit KO most of your party, and the third can One-Hit KO all of it. All of these are designed to teach you the importance of the Cast Quickly command. If you don't use it, you will die.
  • Magical Starsign has the first encounter with Master Chard. It's a long fight, so you'll have to get used to party members gaining and losing advantage based on the planet orbits and day/night cycle; next, he has a devastating all-party hit which is telegraphed several turns in advance, teaching you how to prepare for and recover from battle-defining boss abilities; and his HP pool is so massive that you are almost guaranteed to run out of MP, forcing the player to appreciate strategic item use, which is a must when it comes to surviving difficult encounters in this game.
  • Cerberus from Kingdom Hearts. The bosses before him are either simple enough, or difficult, but not necessary to win. Cerberus marks the point where bosses stop going easy on the player, sporting nasty attacks (particularly snapping at an attacking player), and more HP than anything else at that point. It's especially nasty if the player follows the difficulty levels of the worlds, since he or she won't have the Cure spell at this point. Fortunately, although it may not appear so, you don't have to fight Cerberus when you first see him. You can leave and come back another day. Specifically, return when you have the Glide ability and Goofy has MP Gift, which means you can fly onto Cerberus's back (meaning he can't damage you at all) and attack his heads using the Thunder spell (Goofy will replenish your MP with Gift).
    • Also Clayton from Deep Jungle, especially if you don't follow the recommended level order, and do Deep Jungle first. It's the first boss that requires a significant amount of focus, and use of the dodge roll, even on normal mode. Clayton hits like a truck, has a ranged, difficult to dodge attack, and when you get close to him, he jumps all the way across the boss arena. Then in phase 2, he summons a heartless to ride, who has a ton of health, and also hits very hard. Then the heartless and Clayton split, and you have to deal with phase 1 Clayton's abilities, and the heartless' abilities, plus a new ability for each, painful eye-lasers on the heartless, and a heal on Clayton if you don't keep him stunlocked. Luckily you only have to kill Clayton, but geez.
  • Baldur's Gate featured a tough early boss in Mulahey. Tarnesh — the mage in the Friendly Arm Inn — even more so. Beating him is something like a Luck-Based Mission: If you can successfully interrupt his initial protection spell, he is dead in seconds. If you can't, he's untouchable until he had the chance to decimate your party. His second spell makes its victims unable to fight back at all and sometimes it affects your entire party. There are several ways to deal with him (draw the much more powerful town guards into the fight so they can take care of him, just run into a building whenever he starts casting a spell to cause him to waste all his magic, etc.), but there's virtually no way a first-time player would ever think of any of them.
  • Air Man in Mega Man Battle Network 2 is pretty easy, and leaves you feeling pretty confident in your abilities. Then Quickman spends the whole fight jumping around so you can barely hit him, hits quite hard for that point in the game, and catches your bullets unless you nail him right before he throws a boomerang. It's your first real signal that BN2 is a bit of a Difficulty Spike from 1.
    • Flashman in Battle Network 3 serves to illustrate the fact that yes, enemies can use chips too, and quite effectively; one of his attacks brings up a pair of FlashLights in your area. In your first encounter, they have five Hit Points apiece, but failing to move quickly and destroy them both will result in an (at this point) unblockable stun (there's only one chip you can get at that point in the game that can block it, and the odds of getting it are slim). While you're stunned, he'll steal your front row and, in a move inspired by the AreaGrab+ Sword combo you used in the tutorial level, uses an attack that is guaranteed to hit at least once (since you're stunned) and leave your dodging room for subsequent attacks significantly reduced. As if that wasn't enough, his other attack is a fast attack that can move in either a homing pattern or a zigzag, and it's hard to tell which unless you have very good reflexes. The worst part is when the only other way to counter the attack is used (e.g. use an AreaGrab yourself); then the FlashLights become more spread out, and if you end up on any row but the back row and the lights go off, you still get hit. It completely fails if you just let them stun you on the back row, though.
    • Rogue in the 2nd Mega Man Star Force title. Unlike the previous bosses, he does not blatantly show off where he plans to attack with flashing panels, he moves quickly around the field, making slow attacks hard to connect, the window between planning for an attack and actually performing it is small (where the previous bosses could just be knocked out of an attack by all but a handful of attacks if the player was quick, or at least, they could get out of the way) AND he has an attack (that he spams) that requires dodging mid attack (as the delay after shielding leaves you open to the 2nd hit). This is one of the few times in games where you really will win by a thread like the plot suggests.
    • Unlike the preceding Bonne machines, The Marlwolf from Mega Man Legends will utterly Curb Stomp you if you're not ready. It's the first boss in the game that can use a shield-breaking move which not only homes in but has a huge hitbox, and you can only damage it by jumping on it's back and shooting through the door when it's open. It also comes early enough in the game that the only possible sub-weapons you can have are the useless grenade and mine arms, and the machine arm which only becomes useful after a lot of costly upgrades.
    • In Legends 2, the Giant Mammoth you fight on Forbidden Island more than qualifies. You have no offensive weapons at the time (except the fire extinguisher), and depending on what difficulty you're playing on, his health bar can get rather large. Add some hard to dodge ice shots, and you have one tough cookie to take down!
  • The Monster Marble in Tales of Symphonia can be a pain in the ass if you don't know your way around the battle system (and odds are, at this point, you don't).
    • She's the second boss of the game, by the way. And the third exemplifies this trope even more: Botta. He's the first Wolfpack Boss in the game (and in Symphonia, "Wolfpack Boss" is synonymous with "Difficulty Spike") and uses Stalagmite, a second-tier spell that the party can't even come close to learning yet. That spell alone can knock party members below half health from full, and the hitbox is wide enough to potentially hit two or more.
    • Similarly, the fight against Sylph is going to knock you good if you can't coordinate your party, as they're the first of only a handful of multi-part bosses where all enemies are of roughly equal strength, rather than being a Flunky Boss. While you're focusing on one, the others can easily sneak in behind and attack your back-row characters.
    • This is especially true if you elect to fight Sylph before the events at the Tower of Salvation, as you will not have many of the advanced techs needed for such a complicated fight, such as Raine's mid-range and advanced healing arts.
  • The first real War Sequence from Freelancer, when you end up in Bretonia, pretty much tells how the next storyline missions are gonna be.
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, the Twilight Thorn actually hits pretty hard. This can be bothersome, because it launches a number of attacks at you, and the reaction command function, which you're supposed to use to defeat it, has only just been introduced. The only target you can hit on it is several times higher than you can jump, it rarely puts that part close enough to you to attack, and you only have 2 potions to your name.
    • The first Kingdom Hearts has two other pseudo-Wake Up Call Boss enemies. Riku on Destiny Islands is very fast and strong for that part of the game, has a brutal counterattack, and can serve as a challenge even for those who already beat the game. Additionally, Squall Leon, the first boss of Traverse Town, is also likely to hand Sora his ass on a first-time playthrough. Luckily, losing to either one of the them has no effect on the storyline.
    • The Guard Armor in Traverse Town could also be considered a Wake Up Call Boss. Not only does it have five separate and powerful body parts that each complete with its own life bar, it also comes at a time when you don't have the Cure spell or that many items. Also, it is the first time you get to fight with Donald and Goofy and realize how generally useless they are. In addition, unlike Riku or Leon, you have to win.
    • Birth By Sleep gives us the first duel with Vanitas if you're playing Ventus or Aqua (Terra gets to play with Braig instead, who's highly annoying but not particularly hard); where all bosses before him are basically big mooks that can be spell or shotlock spammed from afar or stunned with a reaction command and wailed on endlessly, Vanitas has his own spells he can fire back, can't be stunned, and always teleports out of a combo before you can finish and hits you from behind. The trick is not to combo or spam him, but play it safe and get a hit in before running away and repeating.
    • Kingdom Hearts 3D has Rinzler, the boss of The Grid for Sora. He has a lot of HP, can easily escape your combos, and turns the screen upside down, reversing your vertical controls. Whereas all previous bosses could be easily defeated with flowmotion attacks or spells, Rinzler can easily escape flowmotion and hounds you constantly.
  • Many players seem to have problems with the Executioner on their first pass through Skies of Arcadia, but he's a breeze on repeated attempts. He's the first boss who can finish off your characters from even relatively high levels of health, and so he teaches players to keep their HP high at all times in boss fights. There's also the power of Increm.
    • A big part of what makes the Executioner a pain is that he comes almost immediately after another boss, Bleigock, whose main strategy is poisoning your party and is a bit of a wakeup call boss in its own right. The game gives no indication that the Executioner fight is coming, so if you don't already know about the Executioner, there's a good chance you didn't heal up and save after you beat Bleigock.
  • The afterling at Botean Lake in Baten Kaitos Origins is the first boss fought with control over a full party. As in the previous example, he teaches players that it's vital to keep your health up as much as possible and that you must revive fallen party members immediately.
    • The afterling in Olgan's mansion is the very first boss of the game, and is here to tell you just how brutal Origins' difficulty level is.
    • The Holoholobird is a mid-game example. If you just smashed your way through the first disc, going with whatever you drew, the Holoholobird will stomp you into the dirt. If you don't know about EX Combos, you'd better learn, because this is where the game stops messing around.
    • In the first game, you have the Nunkirantula and Giacomo as wake up calls. The Nunkirantula will constantly buff its defense, and if you don't know basic elemental alignments, you'll be dealing out Scratch Damage very quickly. Giacomo, meanwhile, is almost impossible to beat if you're lazy with leveling and deck construction.
  • Fairly early in the SNES game Metal Max Returns, you face a pair of bosses called Big Cannons. Between them opening fire on you as you approach them on the world map, having very high HP and armor when you do reach them, and dealing a good bit of damage to your tanks, it's very hard to win simply by using your main cannons. The battles thus teach the player to use part-breaking attacks, making the bosses miss their turns and allowing you to survive long enough to bring them down.
  • In Monster Hunter, most of the early quests involve you gathering items to slaying monsters that are as large as you are. Then comes Yian Kut-Ku, the giant pink wall for any prospective hunter. And it only gets harder from there. In Tri, there's the Barroth.
    • The Qurupeco is a real problem for the reason it can call for backup by imitating monster calls. Online, he becomes a real pain as in high rank quests he can call the Deviljho. This teaches the player to have Dung Bombs.
    • The Lagiacrus is definitely a Wake-Up Call Boss for the main story. The Current it generates has a chance of inflicting Waterblight, which chews through your stamina. Ceadeus literally fires a torrent of water as one of its main attacks.
  • The Macomb mission of Fallout Tactics — or more specifically, the barricade just before the library. The first three missions of the game you can just Rambo through, due to having better skills and weapons than your enemies. Then you start Macomb and the enemies now have better armor, aiming, and a knack for sniping you from the rooftops. It's still not too hard, but then halfway through, you open a gate and a random mook on the other side fires on you with a rocket launcher, while his pal crouching behind some sandbags tosses grenades at you. If you survive, you quickly get the message that it's time to put those stealth and ambush tactics they taught you in the tutorial to good use.
  • The Gnoll Chieftain, the boss of "The Decisive Battle" quest, is many Vindictus players' first introduction to just how tough the bosses of the game can get. If you try to take this guy like the rather easy bosses that came before him, you're going to get owned in short order. He is the first boss to make extensive use of smash attacks, which are more powerful than regular attacks, can lay you out with just one hit, and cannot be blocked with Fiona's shield without a special skill that you only learn after defeating him for the first time. His big-ass hammer takes off a LOT of HP with its smash attacks, often breaking your armor in the process (and trying to repair your armor with two tons of big red beast bearing down on you is no easy task!). He can also debuff your strength, reducing the effectiveness of your attacks and making it harder to pick things up and hurl them at him. Players taking this guy on must learn to read the boss's behavior in order to determine what's coming so that they can get the hell out of the way, as well as the use of things like spears and chains to stun the boss so that they can get off their combos and do damage before the boss recovers and brings the hammer to bear again. Needless to say, while you can solo him with difficulty, this guy is best taken with a party that knows what the hell it's doing.
  • In zOMG!, the first few zones (Barton Sewers, Village Greens, and Bill's Ranch) are fairly easy, as long as you've been collecting and leveling up your rings properly. The only time you'll really need to crew up is for the Gnome General boss. Where the Wake Up Call comes in is dependent on what the player chooses to do after they finish the "Ranch Hand" quest line. If players elect to help Ian with the "Denial of Service" quest line, they explore the rest of Dead Mans Pass, and fight the OMGWTF, who can decimate an unprepared crew. Players can instead elect to travel to Zen Gardens, in which Qixter and the dev crew remind you that just because this is a "casual mmo" doesn't mean it's an easy one. Zen Gardens stresses safety in numbers. Enemies in the southern area can either kill you in one hit, or Swarm you to death, while enemies in the northern half enjoy playing ping pong with you. But the real wake up call has to be Kat's Kokeshi Doll, the final boss of the zone. It's That One Boss for many players. Prior to the zone's revamp, defeating it was actually the first quest of the zone. And it wasn't instanced.
    • In a bit of irony, visiting the gardens is actually much more difficult if you fail to visit Dead Mans Pass, as you miss out on valuable Ring and Orb Drops. It's recommended that you take on OMGWTF before you head to the gardens. Your avatar will thank you.
    • Before the game's difficulty was lowered, She Wolf was this.
  • Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis has a rather mean one of these late in the game. If there are more than 3 timecards out on the field at any time, yours or your opponents, doesn't matter, the enemy will transform all of them into devastating attacks that drain at least half of your SP each time the card activates, and at least a third of your HP, making healing yourself or even getting any skills in next to impossible, unless you have Roxis use a skill that removes some of the timecards.
  • Silver Horn, third boss of Mega Man X: Command Mission. He has absurdly high defense, the ability to freeze one of your party members on the first turn, an attack that (while not very accurate, at least to me) can hit all three party members, and once you deplete enough of his health, he boosts his defense and attack power and starts using another powerful attack. This is only made worse by the fact that the new party member starts at level 1 and is weak to all elements. Fighting Wild Jango, the second boss, was more of just "heal and hope for the best" along with learning to use Spider. Silver Horn pretty much forces you to take element weaknesses into account to do anything.
  • Xord in Xenoblade serves simultaneously as this and That One Boss, being the only time in the game that you'll really have to knuckle your way through a Mechon fight without being able to use the eponymous MacGuffin to its full effect. If you are not properly leveled, and haven't mastered chain attacks, well, you'd better fix that, or you're not getting past the Ether Mine.
  • At the end of the battle on the ship in The Last Story (Chapter 12), you run into a giant terrapin-thing summoned by the ship's captain. While the earlier bosses are either Events or a Bullfight Boss, this one really forces you to think on your feet and learn its tells, because of a spinning-shell attack that will easily wipe out your part all at once, quickly depleting your supply of lives. There's also the Mystic Spider in Chapter 15: Its web attack can make it swallow party members, and if that happens to Zael as well, it's Game Over.
  • Due to it being a MMOG, chances are you will eventually stumble into one of these in Elsword. Those bosses will teach you that bumrushing isn't going to work. You'll have to be aware of automatic "super armor" which puts them into temporary no-flinch status once they've taken enough hits. Some of them also have super armor while executing certain attacks(usually the most powerful ones) and will be able to interrupt you mid-combo if you so much as hesitate.
    • Bereauk and Kayak are two bosses that will teach you how to pay attention to dodging. While the former is fairly forgiving as he does not do as much damage(but can drain you off mana easily with status effects), the latter has a homing magical projectile, devastating fire-based attacks and summons a previous boss once his health gets low enough.
    • Then there's Wally No.9, who, unlike other bosses faced so far, moves almost as swiftly as you, super armors at will and can take a potshot at you with no warning from across the map if you refuse to approach him. And you had to fight another boss just a minute earlier with no chance of recovery in-between.
    • And if any of those were not enough for you, Raven most definitely will be enough. He moves on exact same rules as player character and can combo you with impunity if you so much as let him hit you with his Nasod Arm.
  • The Epic Battle Fantasy series makes a point of having these in each installment beyond the first one:
    • 2 has the Guardian, whose Cognizant Limbs will regrow if you don't use the proper status effects, but will pummel you into the ground and bury you if you ignore them. This is where you learn there's no such thing as a Useless Useful Spell in this game.
    • 3 has the Wooly Mammoth, who does much of the same, except with a gigantic HP pool and some crazy hard strikes, with the summons acting as its medics.
    • 4 has the Praetorian, who also teaches you the exact same thing, except he uses an insane buff on itself that can get your party killed in one sweeping strike if you don't know what a dispel is.
  • Tharzog, the first boss in Lord of the Rings: War in the North is a nasty surprise for ill-prepared players. He's assisted by hordes of respawning mooks, has a huge amount of health and all his attacks are unblockable. If you haven't mastered dodging attacks and using your abilities then expect to die a lot. Worse still, once you enter the battle there is no way of escaping to buy supplies or repair equipment which can turn a rather tough fight into a gruelling That One Boss.
  • The first (and only mandatory) Super Mutant Behemoth encounter in Fallout 3 can get many a low level character pulverized by its fire hydrant hammer, and inexperienced players can easily blow themselves up with the Fat Man that is provided. Worse, if Broken Steel is installed, you may have to fight a Super Mutant Overlord or two beforehand.
  • Redrum in Xenogears is notorious for giving players grief, to the point of That One Boss territory if they haven't taken the time to not only invest the time in building their deathblows and the required grinding to gain access to them, using spells that increase resistance to elemental attacks and building the AP for the combo command. He has more health than the previous two bosses combined (and they were gear battles, to boot), but he also has an attack which can one-shot a party member and heal him for the same amount of damage he deals, a fire attack that hits the entire party (and heals him) and his physical attacks hit hard.
    • The gear fight against Dominia is kinder, but also pretty painful, as it is the first gear boss where healing the gears becomes possible, making it essential to not only equip the one you got onto Fei's gear, but learn how to balance Fuel for healing, damage and boosting the gear's speed, while taking her out and the add (which does heavy damage if you fail to, hence the boost). Fuel availability is still at a premium at this point.
  • The serpent Trio from Child of Light. It's a Wolfpack Boss with different elemental weaknesses for each head. The orange head deals moderate fire-elemental damage to both characters. The blue head does high water-elemental damage to one character. But the nastiest is the green head- it is incredibly fast, allowing it to interrupt Finn (the Squishy Wizard who uses elements effective against the heads) with ease, and also has a move that temporarily paralyzes a character. You'll be needing much healing in this fight.

    Shoot 'Em Up 
  • Big Core in Gradius also counts.
    • The original Big Core isn't that bad. Big Core Rev. 2.1 in the first stage of Gradius V is much more of a wakeup call boss. As is the Bubble Core(Stage 2), and maybe the Goliath(Stage 1), in the arcade version of Gradius III.
      • And the Yoragaton Chimera in the first stage of Gradius IV.
  • Fire Hawk has a not-too-difficult first stage, then the boss is borderline Bullet Hell and takes a zillion hits to kill.
  • Thunder Force V's Stage 3 boss, Armament Armed Arm (aka A3). The bosses of the other two initial stages can be beaten in about 5-10 seconds each by simply getting up close to them and spamming Free Range's Over Weapon, but that's not the case here. A3 has three forms and each starts using attacks right away; carelessly point-blanking it will most likely result in losing multiple lives (and possibly Free Range).
    • Its sequel, Thunder Force VI, brings us Gargoyle Perfect, the boss of the first stage. His flamethrower attack makes him a bit tricky to kill with a forward-firing weapon such as Rynex-R's Thunder Sword.
  • Touhou usually does this for stage 4 bosses, but special mention goes to Parsee Mizuhashi, the second boss of Subterranean Animism, who very quickly establishes that the bosses in this game are significantly harder than usual. Parsee has both shots that chase you around the playing field and a doppelganger attack; tactics normally reserved for late-game bosses. And the game's bosses do not get any easier from here...
  • The early levels in Bangai-O have fairly simple bosses that shouldn't give you too much trouble (especially since Sabu is fought in the first four). Then, you get to 86, level 8's boss. She uses reflective lasers like Mami's, forcing you to use EX attacks and keep your distance more effectively in battle.
  • The hardest of the first four bosses in Giga Wing is the battleship. Two people have this as their first stage in the rotating stage lineup.
  • Heavy Weapon has three, depending on your level of skill:
    • The first one is War Blimp, who has a Meteor Tractor Beam that makes meteors rain down on you. Sounds cool, but this is not as dangerous as its "Roto-Mines", which are basically homing mines that can take a lot of damage.
    • If you found War Blimp easy, then War Wrecker is this if you don't get down the strategy to avoid its One-Hit Kill wrecking ball (otherwise, he's a Breather Boss).
    • If you found War Blimp and War Wrecker pushovers, then it's Kommie Kong / Gorillazilla that will give you trouble. Getting stomped on is an easily avoided One-Hit Kill, but the Bursting Rockets it throws are a lot harder to avoid, especially in the PC version.
    • Surprisingly enough, Twinblade in Boss Blitz can be this. To put it, you (probably) get at least one power, rapid fire, Spread Shot, and some Nuke and Shield upgrades during the first level before fighting it. In Boss Blitz, you fight it immediately, with only one level of shield, and nothing else whatsoever. If you can't makes its missiles misfire or shoot them down in time, you're toast in 2 hits.
  • Enigmata 2 has the Mega-Goliath. The previous bosses weren't very tough if you upgraded your ships and weapons accordingly, but this guy is different- it takes up about 2/3 of the field (you have the bottom 1/3 of the screen to avoid everything), has a main body and four destructible turrets that spew loads of painful fire, and even if you destroy the turrets, the main body still has a megaton of hit points, much more than any other boss you've fought so far. It quickly turns into a battle of attrition from the get-go.
  • Star Fox 64, if you go to Fortuna, has the first encounter with the Star Wolf Team. Up until then, if you haven't become used to All-Range Mode, or if you tend to dilly-dally when your teammates need help, you'll be frantically spinning plates trying to keep yourself from getting shot and keeping your teammates from being shot down while chasing these blips that keep whirling around in circles on your radar. You either learn to be fast and decisive when fighting, especially in All-Range Mode, or you die...or more embarrassingly, fail the Timed Mission part of the level. Which is also the boss encounter. And up until then, the worst thing that happens if you stall in a boss fight is that you don't get that many points!

    Simulation Game 
  • The enemy ace squadron encountered in the player's first trip to the Round Table in Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War is the first major aerial enemy you face in the game and can be quite difficult to take down in starter fighters within the time limit, although with more advanced birds in the New Game+, they are a good deal less tedious. Most of the ace squadrons across the series, in fact, qualify.
  • Armored Core For Answer has White Glint, who is notorious for chewing through newbies to the game, using its overwhelming speed to dodge all of their attacks.
  • Gran Turismos 5 and 6 started putting in limits on what cars you can bring to certain events in the form of Performance Points, tire selection, and car type restrictions, typically after the first few cups you can participate in at the start of the game. Know what this means? You can no longer cheese certain races by bringing in a ridiculously overpowered hypercar or something with a turbocharger that could be mistaken for one of those steam turbines that power battleships while everyone else is puttering around in hatchbacks or by putting on soft slicks practically made of glue: you have to learn the art of tuning and car setup to squeeze out as much performance as you can rather than just showing up with more performance than the other guy.

    Sports Game 
  • The Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves, the first two teams you face in NBA Jam, qualify as these. In both the original and the tournament edition, the Mavericks are one of the fastest and most efficient shooting teams in the game; Jamal Mashburn (or Mike Iuzzolino) can easily make players' lives a living hell. The T'Wolves can slip up a careless player in the Tournament Edition due to the fact that Christian Laettner and Chuck Person sink 90% of their shots to end a quarter.
    • When you get to the Charlotte Hornets, the game pretty much tells you: "welcome to Hell." Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning are both Lightning Bruisers who can also shoot the lights out, while Hersey Hawkins cannot be discounted thanks to his own speed and shooting ability.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • Resident Evil 4 features a wicked and terrifying early encounter with the chainsaw-wielding Dr. Salvador. Aside from being horrifying, this nasty enemy probably killed 90% of gamers the first time they set foot into the opening village. Players can avoid this encounter by passing up the shotgun during the opening shootout, which given you have only a weak pistol and a couple of grenades is a sort of wake up call in itself. Of course, new players will have no idea that going into that house will result in them getting access to the shotgun.
  • Resident Evil 5 concludes the first level with the Executioner, whose hard-hitting reinforcements continually respawn until the timer expires, and who wields a gargantuan axe that will One-Hit Kill players on Veteran and Professional.
  • Vanquish's Bogey, despite only being the second boss, can be very frustrating, having high HP, fast flight ability making it difficult to hit with the heavier weapons, Roboteching beam spams just like the player's Lock-On Laser, EMP bombs that cause Sam's armor to overheat, a plasma Chest Blaster that can OneHitKill, and to top it off, a Press X to Not Die sequence at the end.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • In Super Robot Wars Original Generation, Maier V. Branstein is this to Kyosuke. He commands a battleship with 50,000 HP and an energy field that will negate weak attacks. To reach him you have to break through the Troye Unit (all of whom have support), some Barrelions, two other bosses, and two smaller but still resilient battleships. Use your best attacks too early and you're in for a slow agonizing defeat. Spend your Ammo, EN and SP wisely and you'll claim victory. EN drain the boss to disable his energy field and he'll be downright easy. Fridge Brilliance ensues when you remember that the Divine Crusaders' objective is to prepare humanity for the alien threat.
    • Bian Zoldark could also count for Ryusei. Mostly because this is probably the first time you have to face a boss that has a unique robot (as opposed to others which were mostly just stronger variations of Mooks). His Valsion hits like a truck and can easily one-shot your weaker units if you're not careful, and like the above example, has a barrier that can strongly reduce the damage he takes, causing you to try to drain his EN and hopping that the one or two mech you have it equipped to doesn't get shot down. You also have to eliminate a horde of turrets just to get to him, which thankfully aren't that difficult by themselves but it does allow him to take potshots at you. But again, the Fridge Brilliance from above applies. And that's not even getting into if you are trying to get the Battle Mastery and take on Shu as well.
    • In Alpha Gaiden, Gym Ghingham is a much higher step up from what you have been facing up to this point. With much higher stats than what bosses up to this point had, you will be forced to use your SP carefully so that you have enough to avoid his attacks, which are pretty much One-Hit Kill and to hit him as well. He also has a high percentage of regeneration to his health, and if that wasn't enough, at half health, he casts Guts, a spirit command that completely regenerates his HP and EN, and to top it off there is a 13 turn time limit, a few of which will be spent just getting to him. The only reason he is here and not just a That One Boss is that most if not all bosses after this point will employ similar tactics.
    • In Super Robot Wars Destiny you have stage 6 of the Earth Route. At the very start of the mission you have only Mazinger Z and Mazinger Z versus a bunch of Ruina Mooks.
    • In Dark Prison, you have Thomas Platt and his Guarlion Custom. Players may ask "So what? I've got Shu and the Granzon so how hard could this be?" First off, the battle mastery requires that players must shoot him down. Sounds easy, except the guy chooses to defend instead of counterattack, which then cuts the damage output. So players may go "eh, we'll just upgrade the Granzon then", except this happens as early as stage 3 so players won't even have any money to even upgrade any mech at this time. This is the point where players must figure out when to use an "Armor Breaker" from Shu's Granworm Sword and when to shoot down bosses via a Counter Attack. And that is just one of the many weird battle mastery requirements of Dark Prison.
  • It's practically a Fire Emblem tradition that after six to ten chapters of relatively easy bosses, you encounter a promoted boss who is much harder than any you've previously encountered; said boss is normally a General or a similar melee class, and often has a fairly high commanding rank among his nation.
    • Fire Emblem Jugdral:
      • Chapter 4 of Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 is a Wake Up Call Level. The first few chapters are your standard FE fare where you get to kill a few bandits and strom a castle. Then in chapter 4 you start out with a new party out of which 4/5 of your members are locked in a cell and don't have any equipment at all save for everything Leaf and Rifis brought with them but these are locked in chests all while one or two Soldiers come as reinforcements every turn. It's there to show that yes, this game will put you in sticky and disadvantageous situations like these often.
    • Fire Emblem Elibe:
      • Although it is a bit more difficult all-around compared to the other two GBA games in the series, the first few bosses in Fire Emblem 6 are either armor knights or social knights, meaning that they fall quickly to Roy's rapier. If you fulfill the easy conditions for the first gaiden chapter, however, you not only get a stage full of fireballs that can take out a member of your party at low HP, but the boss is a Hero! A promoted unit, when yours are likely level 16 at best, with such unbelievable evade that even Roy's rapier will only have a fifty percent chance of hitting him. He stacks the deck further by using a Hand Axe against ranged attackers and a Steel Blade to hit even harder directly.
      • While Batta "The Beast" from Blazing Sword is a Warmup Boss in Normal Mode - that you can't lose to thanks to being railroaded by a tutorial - notice that he whittles Lyn's HP down to almost nothing first. In Hard Mode, the training wheels are off, and you'll have to choose wisely when to press the attack or Lyn will die easily to the first boss of the game.
    • Fire Emblem Awakening:
      • Prologue boss Garrick on Lunatic mode. As if surviving the merciless enemies in the chapter didn't drive the point home, he serves to teach you that you better have some strategy, fully healed units, and pair them up when you take on enemies and bosses alike, or else you will get slaughtered!
      • A Wake-Up Mook appears in the very next chapter on Lunatic: a Fighter with a Hammer. Your Crutch Character Frederick, whom you had to lean on just to make it through the Prologue, is weak to that weapon and will either take massive damage or die if he hits, proving the importance of using Frederick wisely. (On Lunatic+, it's possible this Mook will randomly obtain combinations of skills that render the chapter Unwinnable!)
      • Masked Marth actually serves as this (no, he isn't a villain. You fight him in a Combat by Champion tournament). On the higher difficulties, his stats are considerably higher than anything you've fought so far, he moves, unlike most bosses, and the cheap tactic of wearing out the boss' weapons won't work because his Falchion has infinite uses just like Chrom's. (And unlike Chrom, he can use to heal himself, too!) If you haven't learned how to effectively use the Pair Up system, Marth will walk all over you.
  • In a way, Silicoid encounters in Sword of the Stars. If you can't clear them without losing a single ship, you don't have anywhere near enough PD to take on enemy systems.
  • The first battle with Mid-Boss in Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. While neither he nor his troops are unusually strong, the battle does mark the first time where understanding both throwing and geopanels (two things which you can breeze through the first few stages without using) are vital. Without these, it's likely that a first-time player will have half of his army blown away by the geopanel-boosted Archer and Mage before he gets to his fourth turn. That said, even if you lose you get to see a unique ending.
  • The first few missions in Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising pit you against Flak (the worst Black Hole commander) with characters like Andy and Max and in missions which are hard to lose even on purpose. Then you face Lash (the best commander in the entire game next to Sturm himself) with Sami (The weakest of the three Orange Star commmanders). The enemy gets a factory to deploy new units while you don't, and you only get seven days to win the battle. It's not overly hard, but a huge step-up in victory since if you do less than perfect, Lash will royally kick your ass.
  • ''Persona 2' Eternal Punishment has its wake up call with Joker Ulala. Up to that point you could generally bs your way through the game without a huge amount of difficulty, but if you were not learning how the system truly works and how to strategize as you went along, you were gonna die horribly, no ands, ifs, or buts about it, and that's even if you figured out the trick to Old Maid from the previous boss, which you might not have bothered doing thanks to the Crutch Character who joined you for the fight.
  • Energy Breaker has the SS System. If you haven't learned to use stat-buffing abilities such as Burning Arm and Windy Shoe, you'll be unable to do more than Scratch Damage to the boss. Also, while every battle in the game has a turn limit, this is the battle that hammers in its importance, as you must divide your party between attacking the main boss and fighting its flunkies, leaving little time to spare.
  • The mission where you face the Hell's Wall Unit from Front Mission for the Super Nintendo. Up until know you've been outnumbered by weak, nameless units that go down easy. This mission pits you against five overpowered units with custom wanzers who each have one or two Pilot Skills while you're lucky to have any and certainly haven't face any foes with them yet. You'd better pray you've figured out how to gauge weapon distances and movement ranges, or Hell's Wall will hand your ass to you.
  • While Basic and Advance aren't insanely challenging in Gungnir, Nightmare starts off easily enough, making one wonder if it will actually live up to its name. Then comes the Gate of Lament battle, where even your Crutch Character isn't enough to carry you through without really good tactics.
  • Genjuu Ryodan has maps that will force the player to rethink their strategies:
    • Map 7. This is the first map with terrain changes, path splits and the opponent fielding sea creatures which can move freely, gain defense bonuses in water and put units into sleep compared to most land units that cannot move well in shallow waters and immobile in deep waters that the player get when accessing the map for the first time. This map marks the importance of geo effects, unit condition's effect on combat, summoning the correct unit in response of opponent's moves and keeping tabs on opponent's routes which are vital in the following maps.
    • Map 13. The map is large, the enemy's summoning circles are spread out with three path splits on top of two of them hanging midair and the player's castle is surrounded with forest. If the player does not learn to step on enemy's summoning circles, keep units alive with backup support and keep important units in the summon list, there is no way the player can win this map.
    • Map 15. This map has low crystal count, the enemy has access to the phoenix which renders "all unit kills" victory impossible on top of very fast mana regeneration rate and the lava terrain forces the player to use air units to avoid lava damage while the enemy sends powerful anti-air units to deal with them. If the players do not understand how to quickly capture crystals and use mana generator units to boost mana generation rate, the enemy units will quickly overwhelm the players'.
  • Super Heroine Chronicle has the dreaded stage 28 where you fight off Riko Lupin and Jeanne d'Arc the 30th and their army of Mooks. Up until then, you usually would use characters who are very powerful and are comfortable using for the past 27 stages (and some players may even invest in leveling Claude to 99 in the process). Not so in stage 28 where you're forced to use characters that, chances are, you've never used before. Fortunately, the Free Stages are available at the menu though now you have to waste time and level up characters who you've never used before. And it never lets up after this stage where you're now forced to level up characters evenly just to keep up with enemies.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • The Turanic Raiders second appearance in the original Homeworld is all devoted to this. At first they still act like the pushovers you defeated the first time... Until a squadron of ion array frigates pops out of hyperspace near the Mothership, while their flagship (that this time will use her heavy weapons) and two other frigates are charging at you. If you survive this major Oh, Crap, you will take the rest of the game more seriously.
  • For Medieval II Total War, the Mongols. No amount of rebel settlements, brigand warbands and occasional warring with neighbours will prepare you for several stacks of elite units including horse archers, led by competent generals with lots of nice traits and high Dread ratings, causing some of your lesser units to turn and run at the sheer sight of them.
  • If you play as the Martians in Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds, for the first month or so even your basic Scout Machines will sweep away pretty much anything the Humans can throw at you. And then, at some point, you will encounter an ironcladnote . As the Humans, you may recover from the initial Curb-Stomp Battle, but then you'll come up against the novel's iconic fighting machines.
  • There are two in the original X-COM: UFO Defense game: Mutons and Ethereals. Mutons have heavy armor and are much more effective soldiers than the Sectoids, Floaters, and Snakemen you've been fighting up until now. Mutons shrug off anything less than a plasma rifle, and sometimes even that, with ease. Ethereals, on the other hand, are physically weak and easily taken down by plasma pistols, which you almost certainly will have at this point, but their psi powers will utterly wreck your soldiers time and again, proving that you can't just win through force of arms.
    • XCOM Terror From The Deep has Lobstermen, who shrug off every single ranged attack (with the exception of a thermal shok launcher, which you may or may not have at this point) and laugh at you before killing your soldiers. They are only vulnerable to melee weapons, giving you a heads up that, unlike the original game, you can't just carry the biggest gun and win anymore.
    • XCOM: Enemy Unknown, on the other hand, has multiple: the Sectoid Commander, who introduces offensive psi powers (and will likely result in the death of at least one of your soldiers); Chrysalids, who boldly declare that cover will not save you, and then make you pay for it horribly; Mutons and Heavy Floaters not-so-subtly nudge you to get laser and plasma weapons if you haven't already; Thin Men on Impossible will almost always One-Hit Kill when they first appear if you haven't learned from Classic to always keep your troops in full cover.

  • The first time the player encounters the titular Nemesis in Resident Evil 3 will show players why it's usually in their best interest to avoid this monstrosity. It can take a beating, and can throw Jill around like a ragdoll. It will also instantly kill her if her health is merely in caution as opposed to danger. The times you fight him in the city are a wakeup call because you have to A: learn his patterns, master the dodge mechanic, and use your gunpowder and reloading tool so that you have enough of the stronger munitions to take him out; and B: prepare for encounters with him that aren't optional. At this stage in the game, you are armed with the basic pistol and a shotgun, and if you want the drops he gives, you will have to take him out.

     Non-Video Game examples 
  • Bleach:
    • The point where the manga changed from Ichigo fulfilling Rukia's duties while he was borrowing her power, to a darker story dealing with the consequences of her lending him her power was the moment when Byakuya and Renji entered the storyline. Renji easily defeated Uryuu, followed by Ichigo and then dropped his guard giving Ichigo a chance to win. And then Byakuya ended the fight so fast Ichigo couldn't even see the blow the felled him. From that point on, the Myth Arc, which had been recently been introduced with Uryuu's arrival, was kicked up a gear.
    • The entire Soul Society Arc turned out to be nothing more than a warm up for the rest of the manga. Ichigo and his companions went through hell and high water to defeat the shinigami, rescue Rukia and almost dying in the process. Even Byakuya was finally defeated in the climactic battle that ended the threat to Rukia... and then Aizen revealed he was the Big Bad and that all the skills Ichigo had learned to that point were just a foundation for the real threats that were yet to come. The Myth Arc, which had been slowly unfolding with the introductions of Uryuu and Byakuya was now kicked off in earnest.
  • In episode 7 of the first season of Code Geass, Lelouch ends up fighting Cornelia for the first time. She deliberately sets up an attack that closely resembles the one from episode 2. At first Lelouch seems to have it easy, but then Cornelia starts changing tactics around which Lelouch can't counter easily, and he's nearly discovered by the Britannia Army CC shows up in his Zero costume, which distracts them long enough for him to escaple. Lelouch concludes that he needs to start developing new strategies in order to fight against the Britannians.
  • Kenichi from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple often fights foes who are usually tougher than him, although his first serious fight where he nearly got killed, or at least seriously injured, was against Shinnosuke Tsuji, who was able to evade and counter everything Kenichi had. Tsuji was then in the process of attempting to break Kenichi's legs when Takeda shows up to rescue him. With some help from Kensai Ma, one of his masters, who normally abide by Helping Would Be Kill Stealing, Takeda is able to get his friend out of there. Kenichi makes it up later by swiftly delivering a Curb-Stomp Battle to him the second time they fight.
  • Mazinger Z: Up to the episode 14, Kouji had got mostly easy, quick figths against weak robots and he had got overconfident. Then Spartan-K5 trashed him and humiliated him. Since that point the battles turned harder and the enemies more dangerous.
  • In High School D×D, while up to that point Issei hasn't had any real fights on his own yet due to being new and unfamiliar with his powers, when he first runs into Freed, a rogue exorcist, its clear he's outclassed. Only with the unexpected arrival of Asia who delayed the fighting by trying to plead for Issei's life (and nearly getting raped by Freed in the process), and more importantly, dropping the barrier which masked their presence, were Rias and the others able to show up and save him. Rias even apologizes to him for sending him out on what was supposed to be a mundane mission until Freed showed up to kill the person Issei was supposed to meet due said person's affiliation with the devils.
    • Kokabiel is much more of this trope than Freed, being able to curb-stomp the entire Occult Research Club all by himself. But then comes Vali to kick his ass.
  • In Pacific Rim, by the time the film started, the Jaeger pilots had grown complacent with how decisively they had won battles against the Kaiju. However, then the Kaiju started adapting and managed to destroy or heavily damage them in return, starting with Gipsy Danger, showing how they were escalating the threat. A mere five years later, the program is on the verge of being shut down due to the Jaegers being destroyed faster than they can replace them.
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons adventure Keep On The Shadowfell, the fight with Irontooth is this. Kot S was the introduction to 4e for many, many players, and the Irontooth fight is usually where parties have their first abject lesson in battling "waves." It's actually 2 encounters - the fight outside the lair at the waterfall, and the fight inside the lair, where the party faces a tough force of kobolds and THEN, 3 rounds in, has to deal with even more monsters. If the party let any of the kobolds escape from the previous fight to join this one, they will get butchered. If they didn't take a short rest before charging in behind the falls and into the fight in the lair, they will get butchered. If they haven't wiped out most of the initial force by the time Iroontooth and the rest of his cronies jump into the fight, they will get butchered. If they try tanking Irontooth instead of keeping on the get the picture. Parties who are experienced with the 4e rules (or have played through this part of the adventure more than once) tend to find this fight beatable but still tough. New parties, on the other hand...
  • In The Empire Strikes Back young Luke Skywalker - filled with confidence from his first bout of hands-on Jedi training - rushes into battle against the vastly more experienced Darth Vader. Even though Vader is pulling his punches, Luke barely escapes with his life; he takes his training more seriously from that point. Also an inversion of Warmup Boss, as Vader is the first Jedi Luke Skywalker confronts in battle.
  • Pokémon: Ash's battle with Lt. Surge. He's the first Gym Leader to make Ash earn a badge (and for once, compared to the earlier two Gym Leaders who gave him a badge for doing a random good deed, it was fair and square, no less). To beat him, Ash has to revise his one-note strategy of having Pikachu use electricity, especially since Surge's Raichu outclassed him in that regard, combined with finding a fatal flaw in his logic.
  • After recovering from a nasty bout of malaise, Batman returns to the fray in The Dark Knight Rises. His most pressing problem is a common street thug, Bane, who he expects to beat with his usual tricks of misdirection, stealth, and well-honed martial arts; and he cuts through Bane's henchmen without much difficulty. Unfortunately for Batman, Bane turns out to be a far trickier customer. He proceeds to give Batman one hell of a beat-down, eventually breaking his back and sending him into exile.
  • One Piece has Dracule Mihawk, one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea who shows up fairly early on in the Baratie Arc. He demonstrates this by cutting a galleon in half, gets challenged by Zoro in which he only uses a six-inch knife and curb stomps Zoro. It's also mentioned that he almost effortlessly single-handedly destroyed Don Krieg's armada, the strongest pirate fleet in East Blue (which, as Mihawk points out, has the fewest strong pirates).
    • The East Blue Saga also had Smoker, the first person to ever hand Luffy his ass. This is mainly because Smoker is a logia type and Luffy had no idea what haki was at the time. Then, during the Alabasta Saga, after fighting a bunch of other weaklings, Luffy ended up with Sir Crocodile, another member of the Seven Warlords of the Sea. It took Luffy three attempts to beat him, and even after he did, Luffy was on the ground, literally dying due to the poison in his system. After Crocodile, almost every villain from then was in some way a challenge to Luffy for the first half of the series.
  • Shinzo: Gyasa, a Medusa-like reptilian monster, was the first major villain whose plan spanned 3 episodes. He turned the heroine Yakumo to stone and chucked her in an acid lake. Fighting him required the first transformation of the three male leads into Mushrambo to win, and even then after he went One-Winged Angel, Mushrambo was barely able to win. The guy had a touch of Implacable Man since he could shed his skin right before death and return with no damage damage even stronger than before. And he was just so creepy.
  • Shultz in Space Battleship Yamato 2199 is this. Before attacking his base on Pluto, the protagonists had easily bulldozed through any Gamilas opposition they encountered, learning how to use the wave motion engine without breaking it and the Wave Motion Gun without overkill. Then they moved on his base... And the Yamato was nearly crippled by the first attack without even realizing how he hit them, and only survived and won because he was having a bad week and didn't think to check if he had actually destroyed them before reporting his victory.
  • In chapter 337 of Fairy Tail, Mavis notes that none of the Dragon Slayers were able to defeat a single dragon despite wielding the only type of magic that can even scratch them. Worse, none of those dragons were on Acnologia's level.
    • Prior to that, Eregor was the first wizard Natsu couldn't simply bash into a wall with raw determination.
    • Jellal Fernandez, in addition to being a Knight of Cerebus, was the first time any of the Five-Man Band had to go up against an opponent that was significantly stronger than they were. The previous Big Bads were all defeated by someone of similar power. (Natsu vs Eregor, Grey vs Lyon, and they had to wait for Makarov to recover to defeat Jose)
  • Char Aznable in Mobile Suit Gundam. In his first battle, Amuro had mopped the floor with two Zaku II thanks to the sheer power of the Gundam in spite of his lack of experience. When the White Base escapes from Side 7, Amuro faces Char with his custom-model Zaku, and is summarily trashed by the vastly more experienced enemy ace, surviving only because Char did not know how resistant the Gundam was and brought only the ineffective standard weapons.
  • The Dark Precure of HeartCatch Pretty Cure!. After about 8 episodes of Cure Blossom and Marine doing well against the Desertians, the Dark Precure shows up, beats them around, tanks their ultimate Combination Attack, then flattens them and leaves them on the ground and depowered.
  • In Saki, Saki and Nodoka go up against Yasuko Fujita, a professional mahjong player, early on in the storyline, who proceeds to defeat them easily. She then tells them that because Koromo Amae, the strongest player in the prefecture, defeated her, they have no chance of winning the tournament.
    • In Achiga-hen, Toki Onjouji is this for the Achiga team, after they easily won against Bansei on the prefectural level and repeated that in their first national match. Toki manages to hand a crushing defeat to Kuro, who otherwise had managed to win large amounts of points, ending with Toki's team in the lead with 140,000 points, and Kuro's team in last place with 60,000 points- the former retains its lead for the entire quarterfinals, while the latter only barely reaches second place.
    Kuro: Is this the true face of the nationals? What remains when tens of thousands have been eliminated on the road to the top...?
  • In Toriko, Tommyrod was the first Gourmet Corp Sous Chef Toriko fought for real. Starjun was operating a GT Robo that couldn't match his real power, and Grinpatch was just messing around. Tommyrod nearly kills Toriko during their brutal fight, and he is the first opponent in the series to actually defeat Toriko. Only Teppei's intervention saved Toriko.
  • Cucumber Quest: Splashmaster was a brutish Man Child whom the heroes beat by challenging to Limbo long enough to confuse him before Almond showed her skills and took him down. The next Disaster Master, Noisemaster, was a hammy hype-man dj who exposited at length about his partner's weakness. Noisemaster is leagues more focused and threatening, having lied about his partner's weakness to goad the heroes into a trap, where he routed them and nearly blew up a city, only The Nightmare Knight's intervention stops him.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, by the time Reality Warper Discord rolls in as a villain, Twilight and her friends have saved the world with the Power of Friendship once, and spent an entire season learning about friendship. As such, Twilight assumes that their friendship is an unbeatable and unbreakable bond that can see them through any challenge. Discord essentially shows her, quite painfully, that the simple trials they've overcome are nothing compared to a real challenge, and effortlessly separates and soils the friendship that an entire season had built up. Twilight had been taking her friendships for granted because it was easy, but was never faced with just how hard friendship could be. Only by learning that friendship isn't so easy, and sometimes you need to fight for it, is she able to reforge their bonds stronger than ever.

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