- Multiple "moles" pop up, and only one can be hit for damage. Hitting the wrong mole may provoke counter attacks in order to de-emphasize Area of Effect attacks. This type often happens with Doppelganger Spins.
- The monster that you must kill is above ground but cannot be hurt, and only hitting the "mole" will allow you to attack it directly.
- There are no holes. The monster just pops up in a random spot. Usually done by monsters that teleport.
- In RPGs, all the holes can be targeted, but only one contains the monster. These holes will almost always invoke counterattacks when hit, and your targeting does not track the monster should it move.
- You can't kill the monster. You have to seal up the holes instead.
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- The Legend of Zelda has used plenty of variations:
- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link: The Dragon in the hidden palace pops out of holes in the floor to spit fire at you. You need to stab him in the head on the way up/down.
- Extremely literally for Volvagia, in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. You even hit him with a hammer as he pops randomly from a number of holes dispersed through the arena. Less literally, Phantom Ganon, also from Ocarina of Time. Substitute "hole" for "picture".
- Non-boss example: Wizrobes in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. They can create illusory copies of themselves and pop from warp point to warp point. The trick is to pay attention to the solid one. Finding the one that's gearing up to attack you helps too.
- The first boss in Beyond Good & Evil has so much resemblance to Volvagia that it might as well be a Shout-Out.
- Star Fox Adventures features monsters like this in the "Crater" area. But it isn't enough to whack them over the head — you have to stun them to expose their weak point first.
- Ōkami has a minigame like this that does feature moles. There's a ring of holes, and you need to headbutt the leader three times. You can predict where he'll pop up by the dirt clouds he sends up as he travels underground, but he's also got two or three henchmen doing the same thing to throw you off. And they speed up every time you make a successful hit. Fortunately you only ever need to do this once to fulfill a sidequest.
- The giant snake Jormungandr in Magicka behaves similarly, but has no predictable pattern. If anything, he has a habit of popping up directly under one of the players.
- In Bugs Bunny's Birthday Blowout, after clearing one of the first five worlds, Bugs gets to play the "Willy the Weasel" minigame, wherein he has to hit as many Willy the Weasel targets as he can with his hammer within the time limit.
- A variant occurs in Super Metroid. Botwoon is a snake-like miniboss that pops up from holes in the wall. To damage it you must shoot it in the head when it peeks out of one of the holes to spit projectiles at you.
- In Metroid Prime, to expose Flaahgra's weak points, you must circle-dash around the arena and deactivate all the solar mirrors before it can reactivate any of them, stunning it with weapons fire if necessary.
- Traditionally, the first form of Dracula in most of the 2D Castlevania games is an example of a teleporting mole.
- Monty Moles in Super Mario 64's Tall Tall Mountain level, and by extension in Mario Kart 64's Moo Moo Farm level (although in that version, you can't fight them).
- You DO get to play a Whack-a-Mole type mission with the Moo Moo Farm moles in Mario Kart DS though, in mission mode. Another variant later in the same game has you do the same with Stars and Rocky Wrenches in the Airship Fortress level.
- Lemmy and Wendy in Super Mario World pop out of pipes along with two fakes.
- Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. Pipe Vault. Whack-a-Goomba minigame.
- In Luigi's Mansion, Luigi has to win a "Freeze-a-Jarvis" game before he can catch Jarvis.
- Hilariously inverted in Mario Party 7 with the Minigame Monty's Revenge: The players have to pop their heads out of the holes for as long as possible without getting whacked by the moles.
- In New Super Mario Bros. there is a Whack-a-Monty! minigame.
- In New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Roy Koopa's battle in the world 2 castle is an inverted version of this, with him moving around via pipes on the ceiling and dropping down to attack. You have to jump just before he hits the ground to avoid the shockwave, and then jump on him, otherwise he blasts Mario with magic while Mario can't run or dodge.
- Sonic the Hedgehog:
- The first fortress boss in Mega Man 8 acts like this. Four parts of the ceiling, and the boss appears in one of them, along with three dummies. What makes it worse is its weakness: the Mega Ball, which is always fired at an angle. When its health goes low, it can also summon a special dummy that looks like himself, that if attacked, will instead fall to the ground and release a massive explosion that'll hurt you. Its name, Atetemino, is a pun on "atetemina!" ("try hitting me!")
- Several Mega Man (Classic) games have mooks that fly up from the Bottomless Pits and then fall back down, in a similar fashion to a whac-a-mole. In this case, however, it's better to ignore them and jump over them; their real purpose is similar to Ledge Bats, i.e trying to make you fall into the pits.
- Volteel Biblio, one of the bosses of Mega Man Zero 3 goes like this. His boss room has 4 holes, and he starts the battle hiding in them. He'll poke out his head at one hole and his tail at another, which will fire a homing electric projectile. Once his health go low enough, however, he'll get out of the hole to deal with you personally.
- The Mole Train boss in Donkey Kong Country Returns has segments like this where you have to whack Mole Miners (and their leader) off the banana-filled mine carts they hide in. Bonus points for the enemies being moles.
- Tiny Toon Adventures games:
- One of the Mini-games in Babs' Big Break for the Game Boy involves your character hitting as many Montana Max and Roderick Rat targets as they can within the time limit. Each character wears different attire and whacks with a different object; Buster is dressed as Biff Vanderbunny and whacks with a cane, Plucky is dressed like a superhero and whacks with a hammer, and Hamton is dressed in his normal attire and whacks with a frying pan.
- Acme All-Stars has a Montana Mash mini-game as well. You get points for every Montana Max target you hit, and lose points for every Elmyra Duff and Dizzy Devil target you hit. Look out for Gogo Dodo, who tosses bombs. Getting hit by one of his bombs will stun you for a few seconds.
- Garfield: Caught in the Act has a mini-game like this if you find the hammer. The game has six holes and thus requires the six-button Genesis controller to playnote . You must hit every character except the one shown at the beginning in order to win a continue.
- In Ori and the Blind Forest, the first boss in the Ginso Tree is a King Mook version of the slime-spitting slug enemies that emerges from multiple holes in the floor and ceiling.
- Pin and Scolex in The Binding of Isaac are worm-like creatures that pop out of the ground in a random spot, arc through the air, and burrow back into the ground. They make a beeline for the player's last known location when they land, making them Bullfight Bosses in a way.
- Eagle Island has two kinds of enemies (one of which is a boss) that can burrow into the ground and then jump out to attack the player.
- Ultros from Final Fantasy VI, during the opera house battle. Ultros regains hitpoints when he switches locations, requiring you to whack one mole as hard as possible.
- Some mole noises in The World Ends with You have the ability of digging away and pop up in either of the two screens. Normally it changes screens when you manage hit him before it leaves a bomb and hides again.
- You don't really find any holes for them in Final Fantasy XI, but when those black Antlions do pop up, they hurt like hell. They also stay above ground after the ambush. The brown Antlions always stay above ground, however. Of course, the game also has worms, which only move through popping in and out of the ground.
- Chrono Trigger had the Son of the Sun, which is surrounded by a circle of flames. Most of them provoke counterattacks, one is the boss' weak point, and they rearrange themselves on a regular basis. It's possible to attack the boss itself, but that really isn't recommended...
- One boss in Persona 2 creates 3 mirrored illusions of herself. The illusions reflect all damage thrown at them. Also she casts berserk on the party to incite them to attack blindly. Hopefully you'll get lucky and someone will crit on her, short circuiting the battle altogether.
- The fire dragon boss in Ys V, similar to the aforementioned Barbagia/Volvagia.
- The Holey Moley dream eater in Kingdom Hearts 3D. Being a dimension warper, it can pop out of any surface in the room it's fought in, even the thin stage props and scaffolds.
- In Fallout: New Vegas, one branch of the Brotherhood of Steel's quest "Still in the Dark" has you play whack-a-mole with a computer virus by attempting to isolate it in three random terminals before it jumps again.
Shoot 'em Ups
- The Caterpillar boss from the first game, which pops up in random spots.
- Plants vs. Zombies has a stage that lets you do this, with graves as holes. You also have the option of removing the graves/holes with a special weed.
- One NES Powerpad game was essentially whack-a-mole with a different skin. In Eggsplode, you were a dog who had to protect a hen house from foxes that would try to blow up the chickens with a bomb. Points for stepping on the Powerpad where a bomb was, loss of life for stepping on a chicken that had laid an egg. Came as a multi-cart with Short Order.
- Pinball examples:
- The gofers Bud and Buzz regularly pop up in No Good Gofers, and the player is encouraged to hit them with the pinball.
- The trolls from Medieval Madness, who block your entrance to the castle. The "Smack-A-Troll" mode even has them alternating popping up and down, as per the trope.
- Jersey Jack Pinball's The Hobbit has four such monsters — an orc, a goblin, a warg, and a spider — to menace the player at various times.
- In No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, Million Gunman's boss fight functions in this way, even if not visually. You fight him in his bank vault, with many doors lining the walls leading to hallways and elevators. You can't go through the doorways, but he can, and his battle strategy involves popping out of a random door, shooting at the player character, and retreating back in.
- The Arcade Game Butasan has a buta-tataki ("Whack-a-Pig") Mini-Game as a Bonus Stage.
- In Stardew Valley, you may encounter mole-like monsters called Duggies in early levels of the dungeons. Duggies appear in dirt patches on the cave floor and pop out of the dirt where ever you step to deal contact damage. They're fairly easy to avoid, but you can't use the hoe to dig in the dirt where their holes appear.
- A traditional whack-a-mole minigame named "Veggie Guardin'" is featured in Wii Play: Motion.
- One of the mini-games in Tweety and the Magic Gems for the Game Boy Advance is "Hit The Ghosts", wherein Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Western Animation/Porky Pig, Sylvester, Yosemite Sam, and Marc Antony have to whack as many moles and ghosts as they can. Each mole is worth one point, and each ghost is worth two points.
Non-video game examples
Anime and Manga
- Parodied in episode 29 of Smile Pretty Cure!. The Akanbe are the moles and Majorina gets to play the game normally. Cure Happy, on the other hand, had her set of moles either block, dodge, retaliate, or refuse to come out at all. So, she settles to do a Pretty Cure Happy Shower to force them out, stun them, and hit them until time runs out. See it here.
- Subverted in Ah! My Goddess with the Angel Eater: when it's thrown in a portal that will bring it back to hell the monster grabs the edge and refuses to go, putting himself in this position, so Urd and Skuld grab the hammers (and Peorth grabs a whip) to do this... at which point the Angel Eater, realizing what's about to happen, lets himself fall through the portal.
- Whack-A-Mole, of course!