This page is about the hardest and most powerful bosses in the Final Fantasy series. Hope you have enough Phoenix Downs.
Note: Final Bosses and Wake Up Call Bosses are not allowed unless they're overly difficult by their standards. Bonus Bosses are not allowed; they're optional and have no standards for difficulty.
Final Fantasy I has Astos. Granted, he doesn't cast his RUB (Death) spell that will instantly kill a party member all the time, but gamers should be expected to assume that he will cast it on anyone immediately, even in a situation where you get through the fight without anyone instantly being killed (which is possible). What's worse, Astos can expect to use RUB on as many as three of your party members. To make matters worse, on the earlier versions, your only hope of reviving the party member who is killed is to wait until after the battle and head back to the nearest sanctuary, which is a very long walk away in Elfheim, and you don't have access to Life spells until after you defeat That One Boss or Phoenix Downs that can revive a fallen member which are obtainable in the GBA and PSP versions.
The Lamia Queen. Most of the theoretically difficult bosses in this game can be killed in just one or two turns once you get your hands on insta-death spells and/or the Blood Sword, but the Lamia Queen shows up before you can get any of these. Moreover, it'd be a horribly annoying boss even if you did have them, because it has powerful attacks that also make your characters go to sleep, can charm your party members and make them attack each other, and is nearly invulnerable to physical attacks. If you're one of those players who chose to make a party focused purely around physical attacks due to the game's rather esoteric magic system, then you can pretty much kiss your ass goodbye.
To a lesser extent, the Behemoth, who also appears before you can get your hands on any boss-smiting items. This one doesn't have any nasty tricks like the Lamia Queen... just high defense stats, tons of HP, and brutally powerful attacks. Making matters worse, while you faced the Lamia Queen with the fairly competent Leila as your fourth party member, you end up having Gordon in that slot during the fight with the Behemoth. Being that Gordon starts the game as the weakest PC, guest or non, and players can choose to just fight with him dead in the earlier segment where he's available if they don't want the hassle of dealing with him...it can effectively mean that unwise (or just inexperienced) players are a man down in this battle.
The DS version has Garuda. He's weak to Dragoon abilities, but you've just gotten access to dragoon gear, so there's a lot of level-grinding involved. He has the Lightning attack; a ridiculously strong attack that hits your entire party for high damage. When you fight him, it's very much a luck based fight; even if you come prepared, he might still just go first and wipe your party with Lightning. The only real strategy is just trying to rush down his health with jump attacks before he kills someone.
There is also Doga and Unei, who are faced in immediate succession, and Doga likes using hard-hitting elemental spells while Unei can turn you to stone, requiring the party to be quite strong to last long enough to defeat both of them.
For added fun, the latter can also hit the whole party with the Tornado spell, which has a chance of dropping each party member's HP to single digits. If the boss does this to your healer and then chooses to attack said healer...well, sucks to be you.
The fight against Salamander comes right before getting the second jobs, just when your first jobs are obsolete; and he's happy to remind you why they're obsolete, particularly when he spams a party-wide fire breath attack that'll knock every character down nearly half their HP. He also comes after a brutal dungeon requiring you to wade through lava, which chops off huge amounts of health.
Hein, who comes after getting the second jobs. For starters, Hein requires you to have a Scholar in your party to scan for his weakness; without a Scholar, you'll just be chipping away. Entering Hein's Castle locks you in until he's been defeated, so you can't do any grinding. Working your way through will quickly cut down your supplies. There is a trick that makes Hein easy, but it's a hell of a Guide Dang It. The Scholar class can use items for double effectiveness; this includes attack items. However, this little tidbit is only mentioned by the old NPC in the inns, who you'll probably talk to once and then never go near again. It's also in the manual, but if you've lost your copy... or, if you have a Geomancer or two (and they have been a Geomancer since you got the job), you don't really need to bring a Scholar at all. Possibly only in the DS version, but a good Geomancer can do quite a bit of damage to him.
Any boss requiring you to be miniaturized. Physical attacks hit you for ridiculously high damage, and your physical attacks do single points of damage. Again, this reduces strategy to just trying to rush down the boss' health before he kills anyone.
The battle with Golbez in the dwarven castle; at first it's a Hopeless Boss Fight, and one by one he picks off your party members, leaving only Cecil. Then, after a cutscene leaves you with two people (or potentially three, in the earlier versions, if you get Kain to jump at the beginning—this was "fixed" for the DS version), one of whom is the Glass Cannon, he starts throwing every unfair trick in the book at you: shifting his elemental weakness constantly, becoming immune to everything else, cramming third-level magic down your throat with a status effect chaser... And if Cecil is still dead after exorcising the dolls from hell, you only have a brief moment to throw a Phoenix Down at him before Hold Gas (Freezing Cold in the DS version) guarantees a Total Party Kill.
The Demon Wall. Capping the irritating Sealed Cave, it has no tricks. It simply pummels you into the floor, then begins to nail you with unavoidable One-Hit Kill attacks once enough time has passed. It's a massive stumbling block in normal gameplay; many a Solo-Character Run has come to an untimely end on meeting the Wall. In the DS version, he has much more HP than the other versions, the whopping quantity of 99.999 HP.
The Boss fight against the CPU in the DS version. The Attack Node spams Laser Barrage, which causes a lot of damage to all your party members. If you don't do the opposite of the thing that Fusoya said to you (attacking the Attack Node instead of the Defense Node), then he will kill you quickly, by spamming said move. Note that the Attack Node only needs to use Laser Barrage twice to kill off 80% of the party, and a third casting will handily remove the remaining straggler. And that's with overleveling. But if you can survive that, you then have to not do the logical thing and kill the other small node that heals the big node. If you do that, said big node will start nailing you with One Hit Kills...and if you somehow survive that, it resurrects the Attack and Defense nodes, essentially restarting the fight.
The DS version makes Scarmiglione one. During the second battle he uses a Gas counter attack that causes several status effects, his attack takes a considerable amount of HP and his other counter slows you down, making it harder to defeat him. Not to mention that three out of four members of your team have rather low HP and Cecil, the only member of your team that can take more hits, can't do him much damage since he is strong against dark attacks.
Also in the DS version, Dr. Lugae got some new tricks. Specifically, Reversal Gas. It's pretty simple, yet brutal - damage heals, healing damages. Considering he's got both powerful healing and attacking abilities, this may seem bad. Now, remember that every action in FF IV takes a while and Lugae can get a turn JUST before you finish your spell casting. ...Yeah, you can end up literally killing your team or healing Lugae to full HP. Sure, there are some ways to help you, though it can easily backfire with another use of Reversal Gas.
Final Fantasy V had Archaeoaevis, who had multiple forms, each with various resistances to the elements (the only notable weakness is Aero, which you can get from the local wildlife if you choose). Despite its relatively low HP at that point, its high defenses make attacks mostly futile; however, Lv5 Death works on him: the problem is learning the skill.
Far worse than Archaeoaevis was Atomos. If all of your party members were alive, he would spam the defense-ignoring, high-damage Comet spell until someone was dead, then gradually suck all your dead allies into his mouth. Anyone sucked in was removed from the party for the rest of the battle. He also had permanent Haste, and would periodically cast Graviga and Slowga on your party, and apply the Old status effect, further crippling your damage. Beating him was pretty much a race against time with the deck stacked thoroughly against you. Unless, of course, you had a Blue Mage cast Dark Spark to halve his level, followed by the aforementioned Lv5 Death.
The Advance version has the reborn Holy Dragon from the Dragon's Den. All the Eight Dragons have a gimmick. Holy Dragon asks for "Aid from Heaven". What this means is that he constantly casts Curaga on himself, for devastating high amounts of healing. He has a widespread Holy attack called Saintly Beam, in addition to Holy; Holy being the hardest element to defend against. Oh, and he can counter attacks with Heartless Angel, which he will often dualcast with Saintly Beam, which is an OHKO for the entire team.
From the original, there's the Storm Dragon in Mt. Zozo. He has tons of HP, a brutal physical, and spells that both hit the entire party and are of the hard-to-defend-against Wind element. Oh, and because of in-game nudging, you're most definitely going to be hitting up his dungeon right near the beginning of the World of Ruin.
Atma/Ultima Weapon on the Floating Continent is usually very challenging for first-time players. The boss uses powerful magic, like Flare Star and Quake, that can deal significant damage to the entire party; it likes to follow this up by finishing off a weakened target with Flare for 700 (when generally most people won't break over 1300 by this time).
WrexSoul, for being a Guide Dang ItPuzzle Boss. During most of the fight, WrexSoul will "possess" one of your party members. To make him reveal himself so you can damage him, you have to kill your own party members until you happen to kill the one he's hiding in. You can kill him with X-Zone, but then you don't get the item drop.
Number 128 at the end of the Magitek Research Facility may qualify due to his placement. He immediately follows five waves of forced encounters between which you cannot heal, you have to fight him with 3 characters because you just lost your fourth (the only one who naturally learns Cure). And while the preceding events gave you a lot of new magicite, you don't have time to learn their spells because you're locked in and can't grind. On top of all of that, he's a difficult boss in his own right, with three targets that attack independently while also carrying an extremely rare, and powerful, item that may take many tries to successfully steal, prolonging the battle.
Death Gaze / Doom Gaze. The guy is your standard Marathon Boss, but...he runs away all the time. Thankfully, he can't restore his HP. Not that dangerous, just frickin' annoying if you're trying for a "nothing broken" challenge.
Ultros, the first time you fight him. His tentacles mean business. Plus, whenever you hit him with fire, your one attack magic spell, he automatically counters. This can take Terra out of commission fast, leaving you to spend a turn reviving her. Oh, Banon has Health so I should just have him spam it, right? True, until Ultros decides you no longer need to live and tentacles the whole group. Then, without giving you time to get a word in edgewise, he will throw a tentacle at Banon and, without power-leveling Banon, it's game over. However, Ultros' tentacle impact is significantly lessened if you put Terra and Banon in the back row, as Fire's damage isn't affected by Row position, nor is Banon's Health/Pray HP recovery amount. In fact everybody except maybe Sabin should be in the back row during that battle.
The tentacles in Figaro Castle, also a Goddamned Boss, simply from one single attack: Seize. If Seize is used on a character afflicted with Slow, the character is grabbed by the monster and cannot act while getting his HP sucked away, AND healing the boss for every point it drains! To add to it, the tentacles have two attacks that cause Slow: Seize and Entangle (which hits one whole side). And at that point in the game, you can have three characters max, if you didn't miss one, which first-time players might. It gets worse; these critters have a nasty habit of poisoning you too, meaning that when your characters are being leeched off of by the boss, the poison is draining them even further.
Chadarnook, the demon in Owzer's house in Jidoor. Aside from his 30,000-some HP and powerful lightning attacks, he also has one nasty gimmick up his sleeve; he can take the form of the goddess in the picture he's possessing. The lady has close to 60,000 HP, and can inflict nasty status ailments on your party: Whole-party sleep, Doom, the ever-popular Charm, and one that cannot be removed and slowly whittles away at your HP. And as you chip him down, it gets harder and harder to hit him; he'll stay in goddess form for several turns, then switch back to his original form just long enough to Bolt3 your entire party, then back to goddess. Even worse, every time he changes form, the screen blinks obnoxiously all during the transformation. Considering how often he switches, and how damn long the fight can drag on, good luck not ending up with a terrible headache.
The Tunnel Armor. Ok, so you've got two characters - Locke and Celes. It knows magic and Celes has to stand by and use her Runic ability to draw away the magic. This leaves you with Locke. You've got no magic at this point in the game, and Locke doesn't have any super-special abilities like Blitz or Throw to do tons of damage without magic skills. This means you've got to do all your healing and attacking with one character - if you decide to have Celes skip a turn of Runic, this allows the boss to use its magic on you, which means you're going to be going down very quickly - if it single-targets, a magic spell can put down a character at full strength; if it multi-targets, it's still gonna royally hurt. All in all, it's a Luck-Based Mission.
Goddess. Not only can Goddess use decently powerful spells, she has one particularly dangerous attack that is nigh impossible to block called Overcast/Cloudy Heaven. What it does is it sets a Doom timer on the whole party, but instead of killing afflicted characters, it turns them into Zombies. If an afflicted character dies by other means, they still become a Zombie, who attacks the party. If all of your characters are Zombies, you lose. The worst part is that it ignores Ribbons, which block status ailments (normally including Zombie), but Ribbons work both ways: your status is unable to be altered, meaning the Zombie status is incurable.
Carry Armor. Not only is Lapis Laserhorrifyingly powerful (to the extent of taking off half your normally-leveled party's health per cast), but his arms can grab party members and remove them from combat, smashing them against the floor and only returning them once they're dead. And as you wear Carry Armor down, he uses Lapis Laser more and more, often using Arm Grab to kill off two members and Lapis Laser-ing the last one. Thankfully, taking out the arms will neutralize the threat of Arm Grab.
Also the Demon Wall from the Temple Of The Ancients. It has some powerful magic and some nasty status effects, along with staggering magical defense and a mountain of health. This wouldn't be a problem, but you have to bring Aeris along to this dungeon, whose primary role is to use support magic most of the time. Hopefully you found her last Limit Break by this time, because it makes this fight significantly easier, although finding it is a challenge in itself.
Schizo at Gaea's Cliff. It has two heads that you need to attack separately, and when you kill one, it will unleash a nasty attack that can wipe out your entire party if you're behind with your healing. It gets even worse if you kill both of the heads at the same time.
For some, the Guard Scorpion at the start of the game is this due to a bad translation on how to fight it. The gap between Cloud's lines is at the worst possible place, it makes it sound like he's telling you to attack while the tail's up, which of course gets you a faceful of laser. They really should have stuck a don't in front of the attack.
Cloud: Barrett! Attack while the tail's up!
Cloud: It's gonna attack with its laser!
Let us not forget the three-form Hojo towards the end of the game!
Arch Azul from Dirge of Cerberus has a horrendously stupid gimmick. He's immune to projectiles. This includes bullets. Dirge of Cerberus is a third person shooter. A boss that can't be hurt by bullets, in a game where bullets are your primary means of dealing damage. What were they thinking?
Oil Boyles, two slug like bosses fought in Balamb Garden. You can spam fire attacks to kill them quickly, but their high power attacks can also take you out quickly as well. They will do their damage no matter how you tackle the battle.
Adel. She has a lot of HP, and uses nothing but non-elemental spells like Meteor and they are all fairly high-damaging. Your attack options get limited because you can't use attacks that damage all enemies, because Adel's holding Rinoa hostage and occasionally drains Rinoa's health to restore herself. If Rinoa's HP reaches zero, it's an instant game over. To top it all off, unless you took the time to steal from the boss, defeating her yields no after-battle spoils. Not even AP.
In nearly all Final Fantasy games, you have the distinct advantage of outnumbering bosses 4-to-1, occasionally being thrown a 1-on-1 against the main villain. But never a battle where you're outnumbered by bad guys. That is, of course, except for the battle against Black Waltz #1 and the Sealion. The protagonist has to fight them alone. The Black Waltz goes down pretty easy, but the Sealion had a ton of HP, hits hard, and even gets stronger the less HP he has. He can also heal the Sealion at any time, and if you somehow manage to defeat the Sealion before the Black Waltz, he'll just summon another one. Also take into account that you need to waste turns healing yourself with your ever-dwindling supply of potions— turns which could've been spent dealing damage. The best part? This is the second boss battle in the game.
The other frustrating thing about this boss is that it has great equipment to steal, so it becomes a balance between keeping Zidane alive, stealing what you want, and doing damage. It's still do-able, but succumbing to the temptation of that Mythril Dagger will make the battle that much harder.
The second-to-last boss of the first disc, Gizmaluke, is no slouch either. He has a Water spell that can hit for huge damage, and an attack that can hit the entire party for equally large amounts of pain. To make matters worse, the boss will also constantly inflict Vivi, your only damage dealing magic user, with Silence, preventing him from using magic at all.
If you don't know what you're getting into and aren't well-equipped for the fight, the Earth Guardian can be one hell of a boss. You're stuck with a character most people haven't really worked with (because said character has been gone for about 70% of the story up to this point), and while it's possible to win the fight with Zidane alone, it makes for a long and difficult fight if you can't snag a Trance in a pinch.
Nearing the end of the game, the party has to fight three bosses in a row, each one harder than the last— Silver Dragon, Garland, and Kuja. Two of those are also the game's main antagonists by the way. Anyway, all of them can do huge damage, and Garland can cast "Stop", which renders an ally motionless, unable to attack, and is basically counted as KO'd (meaning that if they're the last one alive or un-Stopped, you still get a game over). But what makes this battle (or series of battles) so difficult is that you can't even heal in-between them, it's just one right after the other. Throwing salt into the wound, right before you beat him, the now Trance'd Kuja decides to reduce the party's HP to 1 with Ultima and stop the battle.
The amount of successful steals that Zidane has powers up his Thievery technique, which in turn makes it very profitable to steal all the items from the bosses. However there are several bosses that will make this feat an absolute pain to accomplish:
The aforementioned Black Waltz and Sea Lion fight, for reasons mentioned above.
Hilgigars has a weapon that is very useful at that point in the game. Unfortunately, it must be stolen, with a 1/256 success rate. You can use Steal two times per minute at best. This can go on for hours.
The Tantarian. Yes, it's a Skippable Boss, but it belongs here because while defeating is simple enough when you know what to do, stealing its items and defeating it in the same try is a whole different story. Considering that it has a great piece of armor that it just doesn't want to be stolen can make this fight drag on much longer than it should, which makes the boss fight that much more dangerous.
The absolute worst fight in this category is without a doubt General Beatrix Round One, hands down, no contest. This is a Hopeless Boss Fight, so you would think all you have to do is heal when she attacks you and refrain from damaging her until you steal the items from her, but this not the case at all. After a certain amount of turns she loses her patience and ends the battle regardless of her overall health. Like Hilgigars, she also has a weapon that has a 1/256 chance of being stolen, and that must be stolen in approximately 8-10 turns, otherwise you have to retry from the last save point and watch a very long cutscene before the battle to try again.
Sinspawn Gui can easily be one of the hardest bosses in the game compared to the overall levels of your characters at this point. He attacks with gratuitous amounts of poison, hides his weak spot with two of his other limbs, regenerates those limbs SHORTLY after every time you destroy them (sometimes in the turn directly after if you're really unlucky, most of the time he'll give you one or two turns but never more) and has a nasty tendency to charge up his most devastating attack as soon as you expose his weak spot, forcing you to direct some of your attacks at the limb generating the attack rather than his weak spot in order to prevent it from reaching completion and seriously screwing over your party. This boss is absolutely murder on your party if it's your first playthrough, and even on later playthroughs he is a notoriously difficult boss to defeat if you don't over-grind beforehand. He is, however, (unlike some other TOBs) well foreshadowed, as the random encounter enemies in the area preceding him are distinctively harder to beat.
Gui is more of a Wake-Up Call Boss combined with a Beef Gate, as defeating him is fairly simple once you understand the underlying mechanics of the game. It takes a while, but it can be easily accomplished. Essentially the preceding areas could be considered an extended tutorial, with Gui being your test to make sure you've actually learned everything you need to know to take on the rest of the game.
Evrae. You can't use Aeons, you pretty much have to keep your distance to prevent Poison Breath from destroying your party (and even if you do, he'll just fly back over to you and use the deadly move Swooping Scythe), and he has resistance to all elements. The only saving grace is that the airship you're fighting from can shoot three missile barrages, which just barely take off 10% of the enemy's HP. Also make sure you have plenty of Softs, because Evrae has a nasty habit of inflicting petrification with his Petrifying Stare. Hopefully you've been leveling Wakka a lot.
See all those horrible things that make Evrae That One Boss material? When he hits half HP, he immediately uses Haste on himself, even if it's not his turn. Don't even think of trying to Slow or Dispel him, because he'll just throw Haste right back up again without needing to waste a turn.
Defender X is a golem with far more HP than the previous boss Seymour Natus (28,000 HP more to be exact) and far more strength. He is resistant to normal attacks unless you use a technique on him and he uses Haymaker, an attack so powerful that will kill a party member party instantly, and that's without mentioning that he counters physical attacks with Blast Punch that will halve your current HP, making Haymaker even more deadly. Then when he is nearly dead he summons Mighty Guard, making your attacks half as powerful, and uses Slowga on your party to make them get less turns.
It's possible to render Defender X an utter joke with one spell: Provoke. Provoke will cause him to only hit the one who used it, and only with Blast Punch. The half damage means, with occasional healing, that character will never die. You're then free to wail on him all you want.
Seymour Flux. He usually starts using Lance of Atrophy to put a party character in Zombie status. Then the thing Seymour is on, called Mortiorchis, will use Full Life on that character. After a few turns Mortiorchis will use Cross Cleave, dealing about 2,000 damage to the whole party, while Seymour will cast Protect and Shell on himself to halve the damage you do. He'll also cast Reflect and then Flare on himself to make the spell be reflected on you (even if you have Reflect, a spell won't be reflected twice). If that is not enough, if you delay a bit in killing him, he'll start charging Total Annihilation, which will kill you unless your party is properly buffed and at full HP. Did we mention that he also dispels any summon after a turn, making them almost useless? There's a reason some people started dropping the L out of the word "flux".
On the flip side, Seymour Flux is brutally vulnerable to Poison if you can stick it to him which causes him THOUSANDS of damage every turn for the rest of the battle. Also, since he one-shots aeons, if you charge all your aeons' overdrive bars before the fight and know exactly when Total Annihilation will hit, you can make each of your summons eat one to extend the fight whilst dealing massive damage.
The Sanctuary Keeper that guards the entrance to Zanarkand definitely counts. It has powerful physical and magical attacks as well as a huge amount of HP, and access to pretty much every status condition in the game. If you thought you could win just by using your overdrives in the beginning of the battle, think again, because it can use the Curse status affect to prevent you from using them, which makes the fight a lot longer. It can also heal itself if you damage it enough, so yeah, this fight is to show the player that just attacking over and over again won't be enough to win, and that you actually have to use strategy to win battles from here on out.
The Spectral Keeper is fought on six floating platforms surrounding it. It has a powerful counterattack which it will use against any party members in front of it, and the fact that one of its attacks will inflict Berserk doesn't help matters. You need to use a Trigger Command to keep moving around and avoid taking counterattack damage, which will slow you down. It also has glyph mines which it may use to instantly kill any party member who is standing on the right platform, but these mines will also instantly kill any summon after only one turn.
Yunalesca, whom NOBODY likes. She has three phases to get through, and only the first one is even remotely forgiving. In phase one, she counters physical attacks with a blinding spell, special abilities (i.e. Steal and Lancet) makes her put the offending party member to sleep, and black magic gets repayed with a silence effect (and in case you were thinking of getting clever, she's immune to all three, so Reflect's sole use is to save you Echo Screens, Eye Drops and Remedies). Once that's done, she gets a new ability called Hellbiter, which Zombifies the entire party. She then proceeds to cast Cura, Curaga and Regen on you, and fires off Hellbiter every 3-4 turns. In phase three, it gets even better when she casts Mega-Death, a spell that kills everyone in the party who's not a zombie.note What's that, your armor has Deathproof on it? That's cool. See how the description for Deathproof is "almost completely protects against Death"? Welcome to the "almost" part: Mega-Death ignores Deathproof. Those two abilities alone are frustrating as hell. And it's really too bad, because one of the greatest scenes in the entire game is the setup for this fight. Takes away from it if you're forced to watch it ten times, though.
Made even more fun because, in a move that can only be considered supremely dickish, her third form's free counterattacks may not do very much damage, but they do strip Haste off your characters. Someone was really proud of that cutscene.
Her third form also has a very high chance of pulling out a move that damages all party members, and as if that weren't enough, it has a chance of inflicting Confusion on them too.
Overdrive Sin. You only have 16 turns to kill Sin before he uses his Limit Break Giga-Graviton, which destroys the airship for an instant Game Over. The fact that he has 140,000 HP doesn't help at all. Plus, you have to use magic - only Wakka can hit it with melee. This unfortunately can leave you in an unwinnable situation if you haven't trained Lulu or Wakka, as Kimahri, Tidus and even Yuna don't come in very handy here.
Azi Dahaka, which is a powerful optional boss that only appears if you try to pass through the barrier rings in The Farplane without hitting the right notes on the various pianos interspersed throughout the final stretch of it all. When you get to the end of the Farplane, it's difficult to stay away from an encounter as there is no piano for the notes. Instead, you have to climb on certain platforms in the right order, and the game does NOT make it easy, although you can reset the sequence at any time. He boasts the most HP of any boss in the main storyline (146,200), his normal attack drains the same amount of damage from your own HP (if it does 3000 damage, he's healed by that), he'll cast Curaga on himself occasionally and has a high damage attack called Bated Breath. But the most annoying thing is an attack called Damocles Photon which hits all the characters and knocks 50% off their HP. That's max HP, not current, meaning if the characters are below half their HP then it's bye bye. This boss has a tendency to recover its HP faster than you can damage it.
Should you be able to defeat the Azi Dahaka, you can also encounter it in the Via Infinito, as a random encounter. Sadly, he's still quite dangerous, even for a party that can manage to make it down to floors 70-74, where he appears.
Angra Mainyu fought in the Cactuar Nation on Chapter 5 which has over 333,000 HP. It is flanked by two Mooks, one immune to physical damage and the other to magic damage. The Perdition's Flame attack hits everyone and is not very nice if your levels are low. It also inflicts a lot of status effects and casts spells that lower your characters' stats. It can literally take hours to beat if you come unprepared. There are a few tricks to beating him, such as draining all on his MP or careful application of a pair of Dark Knights using Darkness. He prioritizes using Full-Life to revive his mooks above any other action, so if you kill the mooks and/or wipe out his mp supply he's basically helpless.
The Dark Magus Sisters, the second-last set of Aeons the player has to fight. You of course have to fight them all together at the same time and put up with Cindy casting buffing spells to give her sisters positive status effects. Mindy may have the least HP but her Passado attack is a real pain since she can hit all characters with it and it hits about twelve times which means plenty of Chain damage. Not even mentioning that they're so fast than an average leveled party will get like one turn to their five gajillion. Their Delta Attack takes the cake by reducing everyone's HP to 1 and their MP to 0. The good news is that they can only do it if they're all alive.
The Guardian Beast in Chapter 1 can either be this or a nasty wake up call. He has the highest HP of any enemy in the game at that point, and his defense is pretty high. So high that you'll barely be chipping away his high HP if you aren't of an adequate level. He also possesses an attack that not only deals heavy damage, but inflicts Curse. Curse means you can't change job classes. Didn't stock up on Holy Waters? Sucks to be you. Fittingly enough, the Azi Dahaka above is a Palette Swap of this boss.
Three dungeons in the expansion called Promyvion have bosses that like to use all the worst status ailments such as sleep, curse or just plain high damage are required to even start that particular storyline. While, with the right party set-up, strategy and preparation, all three can be beaten in one evening, assembling a party willing and able to follow a strategy is a feat in itself, especially if everyone in your linkshell has already beaten the story and is too lazy to help out and you are dependant on pick-up parties more often than not consisting of people who just started playing.
The four magic pots right before the final battle of the main storyline.
Tiamat is considerably more powerful than the last boss that the party fought, making her very difficult for a normally-leveled party. It's arguable whether she or the Elder Wyrm (which comes up a short time later) is That One Boss of this game, but because the Elder Wyrm is skippable, Tiamat gets the credit.
Not quite. Tiamat's big gimmick is Disablega, which is frustrating but avoidable if you spread your characters out enough. The Elder Wyrm, by contrast, has Sporefall, which inflicts a multitude of status effects. They can get Poisoned, Sapped, and Confused in one turn, meaning they'll happily kill off other party members while slowly dying themselves. And this attack might hit everyone. Sure, all of these effects are curable with Esuna - provided one of your characters survived Sporefall without Confuse - all of them except Oil, that is, which will allow the Elder Wyrm to one-hit kill you with Fireball. It can cast a few other status effects, hits pretty hard, comes flanked by two Treant lackies and has half again the HP of Tiamat. If Larsa hadn't been in your party this fight would have been impossible. Oh, and the route that allows you to skip this boss takes you through a good portion of the Feywood, a region where the monsters are easily twice your level and will kill you in a few hits. It's impossible to have the Feywood map at this point, and the Mist jams your map for a good portion of it anyway. It's only a viable option if you've had a lot of practice at the art of fleeing in FFXII.
Neither of the Demon Walls are any picnic either. The optional one is pure murder, but offers a nice blade that counts as a Disc One Nuke. The mandatory one isn't as hard, but is still a nightmare unless you've done some serious Level Grinding. Though if you return at a higher level later in the game, the optional Demon Wall is much easier.
Not quite to the extent of the bosses above, but the mandragoras in Sochen Cave Palace are pretty obnoxious. There's five of them. They can run faster than your characters. Most of them can cast annoying status effects, and two of them can cure the others. It becomes a game of keeping track of the damn things, chasing them down and beating them about the head a few times before they hit you with status effects, heal and run away. You're not likely to lose this fight unless you royally screw up - and unlike the above fights, you have no Larsa or Vossler to help you - but you will be controller-chewingly frustrated the first time you face them. (And that's nothing compared to the second group of mandragoras that you can encounter in the Feywood, which double their level multiple times and hit VERY hard. Thankfully, you can easily avoid those ones, since the method of spawning them requires killing every enemy in the rather large zone.)
The Shiva Sisters don't count, as Snow's by himself and the tutorial tells you how to win. However, their sole purpose is to get you to understand how Eidolon battles work - the Eidolon slaps the character they're associated with (always rotated into the role of party leader) with the Doom debuff, giving you three minutes (five and change on Slow) to fill the Gestalt meter or else you die, resulting in an instant Game Over. Get used to these rules; there's five more where they came from, and they pull no punches. Vent all your frustrations before facing one; you may build them back up in short order. Here are the rest of the Eidolons:
Odin, who is hard thanks to unrelenting attacks that can take out Lightning in the very first chain with no chance of healing. In addition, Lightning and Hope are the two characters with the lowest Max HP. Compounded with the aforementioned rules, players taking more than 10 tries to defeat Odin is not unheard of. Did we mention he's the second Eidolon you face?
Brynhildr. Her attacks aren't powerful enough to one-shot you, but they can be incredibly annoying, as they take off a good chunk of your health. Your party, as with the Odin fight, has only two people. Those who don't make copious use of Tide Turner (Sazh as Synergist and Vanille as Saboteur) will find themselves in serious trouble.
Then comes Bahamut. He has a three-hit combo of doom, which knocks whoever it hits into the air, making them unable to act for the entire duration of the combo. The combo can hit everyone in its radius, and if it hits Fang twice in a row before you can heal, Game Over.
The very next boss fight (literally) is Alexander. Your party consists of Hope, Lightning, and Fang. Hope's HP is the lowest of the three. Alexander's first attack has a wide enough radius that it will probably hit all three of your party members, knocking them down in the process. His second attack comes fast enough that your party will barely be standing up again, meaning you haven't had a chance to heal, so it will very likely kill Hope. Recover the instant this attack is done.
Finally, there's Hecatoncheir, who not only hits crazily hard, but has a very difficult-to-fill gauge, almost requiring Haste to be able to get enough attacks in. However, neither Fang nor Vanille will have access to Haste at this point without an absolutely ridiculous amount of CP grinding, meaning if you want to beat the fight sometime this century, you'll have to rely on the extremely rare Aegisol. Having to fight him with only two party members way after the point when the game lets you pick your own party doesn't help much. If you haven't gotten used to Vanille much after all this time, prepare to be creamed.
Cid has incredibly powerful attacks that can hit your entire party, as well as cast negative statuses on them all at once, and can erase all of your power-ups like Faith and Bravery in an instant, meaning that all the damage you do will be negated by the time he heals himself. He's also the only boss in the game that, like your party, can change combat roles at the drop of a hat, meaning that he will have a counter for almost every single strategy you throw at him. Oh, and did we mention that he has a ton of HP and is insanely fast? The words "mismatched" and "outclassed" don't even begin to explain the situation considering your maximum strength at this point in the story.
Dahaka. At first, he doesn't seem so bad, but then he breaks out his powerful elemental attacks, which will absolutely trash you if you're a bit underleveled. If you can tank through these, then eventually he breaks out the big guns in the form of Aeroga and Diluvian Plague. Aeroga hurts like holy hell, and Diluvian Plague dispels all your buffs and inflicts every status ailment on your party.
Enlil and Enki. You fight them with only Sazh and Vanille in your party. One at a time, they wouldn't be bad at all, but together, they're infuriating.
The second form of Barthandelus. He has a grand total of three attacks: first is the laser attack, which has a chance of inflicting Fog or Pain (disabling magical and physical abilities respectively) that he spams CONSTANTLY. There is no point during the battle where he isn't spamming that attack unless he's using one of the others. Next is Apoptosis, which does a fair amount of damage to everyone, removes all your buffs and all his debuffs. Then there's Thanatosian Laughter, which hits the entire party for for MASSIVE DAMAGE. Did we mention he has around 3.3 million HP? Good luck five-starring that, even with Level 8 Crystarium maxed out for all party members. And finally, if you take too long in beating him, he casts something nasty (read Doom, AKA instant, unavoidable death once the time counter that appears runs out) on your party leader.
Showing up around a third of the way into the game, Aster Protoflorian will find out if you've really got this game's battle system figured out. He finds out by wrecking you if you haven't. His regular attacks are powerful enough, then he starts swapping out his elemental weakness and following up with Efforescence, which will most likely hit both your party members with a powerful physical attack. Oh, and your party members for this fight are Lightning and Hope, the two characters with the lowest max HP in the game. Have fun trying to juggle healing, buffing, and attacking between two characters.
The first fight with Caius, in Oerba 200 AF. He's not too bad at first, but if you can't take him down during his first stagger period, then he'll inevitably cast Brave, Faith, and Regen on himself. Brave and Faith can be dispelled, but Regen can't, and if you're underleveled, you won't be able to outdamage the health regeneration. And you probably won't know that Poison overrides Regen, either.
For quite a few, the primal Titan counts. The major problem is his arena is over a fatal fall and many of his attacks involve pushing you off the edge. Also, when every third or so of his HP is gone, he'll initiate an area attack. The catch here is you must stand as far as possible, but not outside the attack's range. Everything in the arena not covered in the attack's range will crumble and shrink the arena. And the attack does more damage the closer you are to the center. And since you absolutely need more or less a full party, if someone falls off the edge, the fight pretty much needs to restart. You also have 90 minutes to do this, and you may have been waiting all day to start the instance.
The most absurd fights in the Game Boy game Final Fantasy Legend II/SaGa 2, are with the "Tian Lung" and "Fenrir" mini-bosses you encounter in the dungeon between Apollo and Arsenal. Winning either of these fights is essentially a Luck-Based Mission, because depending on the whim of the Random Number God, the battle may be against as many as eight copies of the monster. They almost always act before your characters, and their "Tornado" attack hits every member of your party for more than 600 damage in a game where the Max HP cap is 999. An encounter with two or more is basically impossible to win.
Final Fantasy Legend III/SaGa 3 is possibly even more brutal with its content than its predecessor's sudden difficulty spikes. Agron takes the role of That One Boss fair and square. You think several other bosses like Chaos and Ashura are rather large difficulty spikes? Agron not only comes very late in the game, but for the past five or so hours of the game (Depending on how much you spent leveling in the Purelands), you had a Guest Star Party Member with you, either Faye or Dion. Without powerleveling, this boss turns into a luck-based battle. He begins with an "Unexpected Attack" (??) which is basically "Agron casts White" (around 600 damage, or 2/3rds your health) followed up (in his next turn) with a non-elemental hit-all that does even MORE damage. Or he'll just Petrify one of your characters and make you waste a turn healing them instead of healing your party or attacking him.
Medusa can paralyze and petrify the party. Now, there is an item that cures all status ailments... but this is counterbalanced by how your party is two people. If she's faster than you are and hits you with petrification, you're done.
Pazuzu can uses Psychshield to reflect magic. If he goes first after you order a spell, or if you just plain don't know what it does yet, Psychshield will reflect the spell. And odds are you're casting Aero to hit his weakness, so the reflected attack will do over 1000 damage to you resulting in an instant kill. A small mercy is that he can occasionally attack with the Psychshield, removing it from himself. Later on Pazuzu's reincarnation, Zuh, also has Psychshield, along with an Instant Death attack. Goodie.
The very first Behemoth can kill you if one of your attacks misses, or one of its attacks critically hit. Keep in mind that this is the first fight of the game.
The battle against Marquis Elmdor and the Assassins on top of Riovanes Castle is an exercise in restraining the urge to snap the controller in two. First, Rafa has a tendency to blindly charge into the Assassins' range and get herself instantly killed by Stop Breath — which has an abnormally high accuracy rate for a no-cost, no-strings-attached ability that causes instant DEATH. But it's Rafa - who cares? Well, the game does; and if she goes down on this particular level (not as in crystal, as in HP reaching 0), then it's GAME OVER. And there are TWO assassins - both of whom are ungodly fast and will likely move before anyone in your party. Their abilities: the aforementioned Stop Breath, a spell that can inflict Charm, Shadowbind (which causes your character to be unable to move, attack, or defend, and is nearly 100% accurate), and Ultima. You put this battle anywhere in the story, and it's a challenge. But this fight is the last of a series of three with only save points in between (which you will do in a separate slot if you're smart), and directly after— you guessed it— the infamous Wiegraf, thereby turning Riovanes Castle into FFT's That One Level.
Unless you know what you're getting into, the solo fight between the aforementioned Wiegraf and Ramza is a good way to force you to restart the game. Wiegraf's got an at-will blast attack that deals just under half your HP if you're a tank class, the ability to heal, height advantage, and the "generosity" to fight you in a small, cramped arena where you can't run from him to heal up and swing back. And no, you can't go back and grind or even shop because you're locked into the next mission. Oh, and if you win, you get to fight a powered up version who has a gigantic, area-affect summon and minions who can use one of the strongest spells in the game at will.
It says a lot about how maddeningly difficult the Duel Boss part of the battle is that most people consider the second portion a touch easier.
The fight at the Golgorand Execution Site fits here nicely as well. You get to fight Gafgarion, tough by himself as he damages you and gets HP back with his signature attack that doesn't cost any MP, and other enemies, specifically two Time Mages which will happily status effect your people. You also start out divided into two groups, the second group popping up right in range of said Time Mages. At least there is one (one) random encounter map open because that fight blocks your access to the rest of Ivalice. If you are not prepared, be ready to get to know that map very well.
The subsequent battle with Gafgarion is no fun either because it can quickly turn into a Duel Boss situation. The enemy on the outside isn't that strong, but because of that annoying HP-absorbing ability, you'd need quite a bit of luck to win going one-on-one against Gafgarion with just the main character. This is worsened by the fact that, if the hero dies in the wrong place, it's very tough to try to revive him, which leads to him turning into a crystal and then game over.
The second battle against Balk/Barich isn't quite Wiegraf, but it still really SUCKS. Why? Because some of your staple melee tank classes are almost useless due in large part to the gargantuan chasm that's right in the middle of the stage. He, on the other hand, has a gun (one that turns your characters to stone), not to mention dragons and other terrible beasties, all of which can hand your ass to you from right where they're standing. A certain monster good at transporting can save you some trouble, but due to their overall lack of abilities, most players don't think to have one in the party.
Given a basic grasp of game mechanics and making things easier on yourself with certain choices like prioritizing beating the Corpse Brigade in the level where Argath shows up, the first few fights shouldn't give you that much trouble. But if you know what's good for you, you'll swallow your pride and do some Level Grinding before setting foot in Dorter. This level pops up very early on (it's the fourth storyline battle), and it's the first map that you deal with enemy Archers and Black Mages. There are a couple of each, all conveniently placed just far enough away for it to take more than one turn for you to reach them, but just close enough for them to move forward and attack you. The worst are the two archers sniping your party from the tallest building on the map. You have a couple of guest characters that usually default to going up there and taking care of them first, but the building's tiles are laid out so that they take about 2-3 turns to navigate into attack range, during which the Black Mages and Archers can riddle them (and the rest of your hapless party) full of holes. And to add to the whole mess, there's a well-outfitted Knight guarding the Black Mages, and he will slap the ever-loving shit out of any unit that tries to beat up the Mages in melee. This battle is Final Fantasy Tactics' way of telling you it won't pull any punches; not now, not ever.
Taking on the Marquis inside Limberry Castle isn't much fun, either. You don't have the ridiculous conditions of the last battle, but Celia and Lettie are still...well, Celia and Lettie, except at a higher level. Not to mention Elmdore himself, who's basically a higher-leveled version of himself (i.e. a samurai on steroids) that makes use of Master Teleportation - basically, the Teleport skill that may or may not be available to some of your characters at this point - minus any sort of failure rate. note the normal 'Teleport' skill theoretically allows a character to traverse the entire map. Except that the farther you try to move said character, the higher the chance of the ability not working.Oh Crap. If there's an upside to this battle, it's the fact that: 1: You only have to bring him down to 20% to win the battle, and 2: he's got a full set of really badass armor that you can rip from him - provided you've got a skilled pilferer and the Zodiac Stones to try it.note And as if to slap the player in the face, the PSP Updated Re-release removes that second upside by making his equipment unstealable.
On a parenthetical note, the Marquis and his two assassins go One-Winged Angel after this fight.
Less dramatic, but the Bariaus Hill battle from chapter 2 is no fun at all, and that's mainly because of the two summoners that are off the edge of the hill (and yet still horizontally close enough to cast spells at your own team, who are more than likely still bunched together. It's a good thing the BGM for this level is pretty good; you may be hearing it more than once.
Adrammelech has a powerful attack hits anything in a line between him and the edge of the arena, which is especially bad given that the arena is a long, narrow one, with your party and his group on opposite ends. He also comes with three dragons who are quite powerful, and it's difficult to kill him without killing them first. A few levels, the right Law card, the right party setup, and a moogle with full JP will take this fight from "outright impossible" to "ludicrously hard". However, the big problem is finding out how to block that line attack, and to learn that spells that are one square attacks elsewhere are multiple square attacks there.
Fighting Llednar the second time you meet him. His fight comes after a somewhat tough fight inside the Bervenia Palace and is made worse due to the fact that it is a Duel Boss fight between himself and Marche. Unless Marche was raised as a melee fighter for high HP and Defense (and assuming you are not purposely using one of the many game breakers the game has) the fight will become a nightmare. You cannot damage him at all due to plot reasons and you have to stall for several turns until another character shows up to end the fight. Llednar has one ability that can put you under Doom status, inflicting KO on Marche in a few turns. Another ability can damage and Poison you so you get worn down. Llednar's signature move, Omega, can instantly defeat you with its massive damage unless you seriously level grinded. If you lose this fight, you'll have to do the previous battle again just to get back to this part.
Admittedly, this has a lot to do with the fact that many enemies in general in 4HoL are rather gimmicky, and bosses often require a very specific set of skills or equipments that are completely not obvious at all until you're wiped out, forcing you to claw your way back through an entire dungeon (which gets very frustrating later in the game) after grabbing the one thing that you needed to take out the boss efficiently. This happens a lot outside of battle as well....
Doppelganger. An evil version of your party, except they get twice as many turns as you, have between two to four times the max hp of your tankiest character, and are in a 2 rank formation, so you can't kill the casters easily. Oh, and they heal. Frequently. And that properly equipped black mage you've been using to obliterate every boss in the way? Now his Doppelganger turns that power on you. Cue Angrish in response to (multiple) TotalPartyKills. Hope you weren't planning on using those gems to upgrade any crowns that might have helped you beat the boss.
Asmodeus inflicts widespread status effects. You could have 4 ribbons by this point, but probably won't. Added annoyance is that the game's auto-target system doesn't prioritize petrified or paralyzed characters over less debilitating status effects such as poison. You lose to auto-target as often as you lose to him, unless you invest in certain classes or spells which can remove ailments from everyone.
To elaborate further, Asmodeus has four main attacks, and can use two in each round. Firaga hits everyone, but it's Fire-element and it's not hard at that stage to have fire resistance shields. His basic attacks are low-damage Earth-element, and earth-resistant cloaks aren't too hard to get. That's the good part. As for the bad: the big one would be Sidewinder, which inflicts virtually every status effect in the game except Petrify. Confusion? Sleep? Poison? Blindness? Yes to all of the above. And it hits everyone for quite substantial amounts of damage. Oh, and it's spammable. And the fourth? Break. Which inflicts, you guessed it, Petrify. It's somehow appropriate that he's named after a demon, given the extended list of profanities and shouts of "Jesus Christ stop using Sidewinder twice a round" he induces.
Belphegor is a rather difficult fight, given his annoying ability to continually change elemental resistances. Oh you thought his weakness was water? Now its wind. Or is it fire? Guess wrong and you'll end up healing him. Not to mention, unlike other bosses, he has three cronies to back him up, each of which shares his resistances and can all pack quite a punch. Hope you brought an Elementalist.
When you challenge him again in the star chamber, he's significantly easier though, since you now possess the Desolater spell (and if you still use the Black Mage, Magic Might as well) which is a powerful non-elemental spell that'll bust through him and his cubes in no time. You'll still need that Elementalist though.
Heck, most of the bosses in the second half of the game could potentially qualify.
Final Fantasy Tactics A2 gives us the lovely Flowsand Lord. It shows up early in the game out of the blue- the mission you take to fight it is about foraging for pearls, for goodness' sake- and will completely pulverize anyone who hasn't level grinded. First is its ludicrous stats- low speed and low magic, and an inability to move, but these don't matter at all because it has no magic attacks and has nearly 800 HP with the offense and defense of something double your level. It has 3 attacks straight off the bat- Gravity Flux, which deals roughly 75% of your current HP to all your party members, Stun Crush, which heavily damages all units next to it and inflicts Immobilize (and without being adjacent to it your melee attackers can't do anything) and, in an ultimate show of AI cheapness, Consume, which has a range of 10 tiles (read: most of the arena), deals damage enough to push you into HP Critical, moves you right next to it for a Stun Crush finisher, and restores its HP by the amount it deals, leaving one round's permanent damage at about 40 HP. The arena itself is inverse conical, meaning some routes are inaccessible to units with low Jump stats, and at that point in the game you can't camp in the corner and spam illusion spells because you don't have the Illusionist class yet. The Law itself is a nightmare, forbidding special actions by Nou Mu- your main damage dealers and spell casters- and while it would seem that you could just ignore it and spam the odd level 2 spell, the Squishy Wizards will get hammered by Consume, and, as the Law is invalidated, you can't resurrect your dead. Even worse, the boss has two tough Antlion lackeys that infinitely spawn, and, because you'll be facing the Lord, can spam paralytic attacks on your back for massive damage and debuffs. And the worst bit? After defeating it, you don't get any special rewards like you would from the optional bosses like Cerayn and Magick Weapon Mk2, and you have to beat it as it is a story mission. On another note, as a story mission you cannot quit it once you start it, and when you lose (which you will) you get a game over instead of a simple "oh well, try again". Flowsand Lord's only weakness is to Air spells, but at this point in the game the only access to an Air attack is a Bishop with Aero. Given that Bangaa have pretty low magic and the Bishop is a Bangaa only class, it's not even strikingly effective. It also casts 14 MP, so unless you manage to boost your Bishop's MP before his turn, you get to cast it once every 2 or 3 turns, thanks to the MP system of the game.
All three hard versions of the primals in Final Fantasy XIV, not only does each one cast three times more spells that are three times as deadly than their normal counterpart, they require perfect execution of tactics.
Titan is the last of the three and takes the cake by being about a factor ten harder than anything before that. Executing a spell every six seconds of which most kill you or reduce you to a sliver of health. When you finally think you got those down, which is the easy part, you're going to enjoy the timed damage dealing phase blocking the entry to the final phase. It consists out of all previous abilities used but executed each four seconds. They also become increasingly more effective as time goes on, acting as a soft enrage. One of the abilities used during the fight deals a zonewide damage pulse consisting of two to nine hits hitting for 20 to 25% of your health each, with less than a second between each pulse. I hope you have good healers and an iron will, you'll be here for a while.
The first fight with the Coelacanth in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates. To start with, most of the stage is underwater and everyone has Super Drowning Skills. The only places to stand are a narrow ledge that only covers two walls and some platforms that the fishy can dunk while you're standing on them. For the ledge, it can use vacuum breath to drag you into the water, which deals damage. When it's out of the water, it has its pick of a tracking bubble attack (damages and stuns, immobilizing your character for a few critical seconds), a wide-range breath attack, or a very powerful energy blast. Otherwise, it's underwater and out of reach. Its Achilles' Heel is positioned so that it's very hard to reach when emerged, and of course since it's at the edge of the water, it's easy to fall in by mistake. And since this is theoretically supposed to be Meeth's battle, the game gives you some element vents on the ledges—you know, in case you want to take an extended break to mix up some magicite while the fishy is doing any of the above things to everyone.