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Boss Arena Urgency

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Can you please stop punching holes in the flooring!?

"You must fight your way through without falling off any of the crumbling platforms. Shooting about carelessly is not advised. Taking fire can also be very dangerous. Watch your step and try to remember the locations of the sturdy crates."
C.Q. Cumber, Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion

So you're at the boss, and his weapon doesn't seem that efficient. The last guy you fought had a giant magma cannon, and this guy merely has a hammer that swings so slowly even a turtle could dodge it in its sleep. WHAM! Ha ha, you missed!

But wait a minute — did that part of the floor just crumble away and reveal a Bottomless Pit underneath it? And did the boss just do that attack again? Argh! Forget your HP meter, if he takes out the floor, you're history!

This is a Sub-Trope of the Time-Limit Boss, in which there doesn't need to be any actual timer counting down to zero — the time limit is measured implicitly, e.g. by how much of the arena remains that the boss hasn't destroyed yet. The more damage he causes, the less room the player has to work with, and if it drags on long enough the player will inevitably fall off the arena entirely and lose the battle anyway. (If there is an actual timer presented, it is basically irrelevant, as chances are the boss will have finished destroying the arena long before the time in question has expired.)

The difficulty of these bosses is directly proportional to how long it takes to defeat them: If you've played the game repeatedly or are quick enough to get a few attacks in early, the boss is hardly a challenge; but if the fight drags on for a long time, he'll become a nightmare to defeat — if it's still possible to defeat him at all.

The boss may either execute his arena-smashing attack at regular intervals (making the time limit easy to measure) or choose to execute it randomly (in which case the battle could end quickly or last forever, depending on the Random Number God). For a real Luck-Based Mission, try taking on a Tactical Suicide Boss that attacks randomly and isn't vulnerable while they're smashing the arena.

Sometimes the player will have to perform some measure of planning and strategy to beat this boss, to prevent the situation from becoming completely hopeless. For example, the player may be able to direct the boss's attacks to a specific portion of the arena that has been previously destroyed, as a way to protect the intact portions from further damage, extending the amount of time available.

Note that many bosses will become progressively tougher and switch to stronger attacks as the battle wears on; while this trope may overlap, this isn't always the case. For example, if this progression only occurs after inflicting specific amounts of damage, then this is simply because the boss Turns Red; this trope occurs if this progression takes place independently of the player's actions.

Compare Time-Limit Boss, Stalked by the Bell, and Increasingly Lethal Enemy. Contrast Boss-Arena Idiocy, Ring-Out Boss, and its close cousin Hoist by His Own Petard.


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     Action Game 
  • Apocalypse have at least two of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Plague's final phase has her trapping you on a wide platform and pursuing you, leaving behind an acidic puddle everywhere she goes, and you'll need to defeat her before running out of space. There's also War, who turns into an Advancing Boss of Doom with a dead end; you must kill it before reaching end of the path.
  • In Azure Striker Gunvolt, when you bring the final boss Nova's HP down to one-third, he uses a super attack that causes a meteor to come down directly above you, lowering your room to maneuver. If you touch it by taking too long to win the fight or jumping into it, you die instantly, and have to fight the boss' previous form all over again.
  • In the NES Mission Impossible game, there's a boss in a room full of tiles that crumble to nothing the longer the player stands over them, so you need to move constantly. The kick though is if you happen to crumble away a perimeter of tiles, everything in between them also crumbles. This includes walking around the entire room. Although if you can make a perimeter around the boss while he's inside it, it's an instant win.

     Action Adventure 
  • Bastion: Some of the larger enemies wield giant pickaxes that they attempt to hit you with. Sometimes they'll show up in the more unstable areas and take out chunks of the floor with each hit. They have low enough health that it's rare for them to take out an entire fighting space, but those holes they punch make it much harder for you to move around when you're being swarmed by smaller enemies. Most of whom can hover right over the holes no problem.
  • In Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future, the final boss is the alien queen's heart. During the fight, blood rises from the bottom. If you don't defeat it quickly, Ecco will drown in the blood. Which makes sense, because blood doesn't have air in it, and dolphins, being mammals, cannot breathe in any liquid whatsoever.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: The fight against Ganondorf takes place in the top room of a tower, with Ganon in the middle and you standing on platforms along the edge. One of his attacks will knock some of the platforms down, but the platforms in the corners are permanent. Downplayed, in that falling off simply sends you to the ground below from which you can climb back up.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages has the second miniboss do this: it flies around and tries to Ground Pound you, knocking tiles out wherever it lands. However, it's not that hard to defeat him, and there's a border of unbreakable tiles.

     Action RPG 
  • Monster Hunter 4: Say hello to Dalamadur, the only boss in the Monster Hunter series to destroy the arena you are fighting him in to limit your movement. In this series, that is a very bad thing.
  • In Dark Cloud, Dran, the first boss, will destroy sections of the floor whenever he uses his fire-breath attack. However, the ring of different-colored stone and thin paths within the inner circle are permanent, preventing an Unwinnable situation. If Toan or Xiao falls into the pits, they suffer heavy damage.
  • A common tactic used by endgame bosses in Path of Exile. Many of them have some auxiliary attack that leaves behind an area that deals significant damage over time, and you need to prevent it or at least lure them away or have them overlap with each other. It's particularly nasty with the Shaper, where you have to avoid detonating a volatile orb over the safe zone for his Bullet Hell attack at all costs.
  • Ys:
    • Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished ~ Omen, every time you hit Dark Fact, a piece of the platform drops out. If you're standing on said piece, you die instantly. If you aren't leveled up enough (in the TurboGrafx-16 version, that is; in others you'll already be at the cap), you'll end up with too many holes and become trapped and killed.
    • Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim: Ud-Meiyu's common attack is a jumping stomp. This stomp knocks out the floor panels over the deadly lava under the arena.

  • In Return to Zork, a board-game makes up one of the puzzles. There's two characters: the wizard, who can only move as a knight does (two vertical and one horizontal, or two horizontal and one vertical) and the space that it moves from vanishes. The other character (Cannook) can move to any spot on the board, and attempts to prevent the wizard from moving. If the wizard can't move and there's still more than two spaces (on which the characters are standing), then Cannook wins (as the wizard cannot move). If the Wizard has made all but two of the spaces disappear, the wizard wins (as Cannook cannot move). The first time you play the game, you play as Cannook, and it's startlingly easy to win. The second time you play, you're playing as the wizard, and the difficulty spikes very hard.
    • Unless you learn that the wizard can skip a turn, which turns the games into figuring a path that takes you to every spot on the board and skipping whenever Cannook is standing on the spot you need to move to.

  • The final boss of Snow Bros arcade is a very interesting example. There are two giant stone heads on each side of the screen, a small platform surrounded by flames in the middle, and a descending ceiling full of spikes right above that. The heads continuously blow bubbles which can have enemies or power-ups inside, and these pop if they touch the spikes. The player has very little space to move, and the more the ceiling goes down, the faster the enemies can get him… of course, this also means that he can throw many more snowballed enemies at the heads, but he is forced to think and act much more frantically.

     Beat Em Up 

  • In Indie Pogo, the game’s final boss is Crow, whom you fight on the deck of his airship. When attacking you, Crow will occasionally slam down on the deck. The deck will also sustain damage if one of Crow’s bombs hits it. If he does this enough, the floor beneath will break to reveal electrical wiring. You have to beat him before he smashes too much of the deck and makes it impossible for you to stand on it. And just in case you’re wondering, no, the electricity doesn’t hurt him, it just hurts you.

     First Person Shooter 
  • The Star Wars game Jedi Knight uses this in the final duel. Jerec must be defeated before the two statues at the edge of the valley reach the center, or he becomes too powerful.

     Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game 
  • In Chains of Promathia, the second expansion of Final Fantasy XI, you have the fight against Diabolos. In addition to the standard time limit for any boss fight, you also have to contend with a floor that falls away, except for a number of panels that never do. The pit below isn't bottomless, it's simply filled with giant spiders.
  • World of Warcraft often features this trope as a form of "soft enrage"note  that applies a time limit to the boss.
    • Professor Putricide in Icecrown Citadel in the 3rd phase of the fight. The room slowly fills with poisonous slime, reducing the amount of space there is to move around.
    • The Lich King had something similar in his second and third phases. His Defile ability created pools of corruption that would get larger the longer people stayed in them.
    • And from the Cataclysm expansion: Commander Ulthok in the heroic dungeon Throne of the Tides creates permanent growing void zones on the floor that must be avoided. Groups with low damage will eventually find themselves with nowhere to stand.
    • Also from Cataclysm, Sinestra summons adds that, when killed, will create voidzones. Any add that is killed in a voidzone will be revived.
    • Mists of Pandaria brought us Jin'Rokh the Breaker, who would target one-quarter of the arena he stands in and fill it with electrified water. Players would then have to move to a clear section of the floor to continue the fight. (Especially annoying if he charges two opposite quarters rather than consecutive ones…)
    • Warlords of Draenor had Blackhand. In the first phase, there was a gradually encroaching ring of molten metal, while in the third phase, there were craters left behind by the slag bombs he put on players.
    • Also from Warlords, there's Xhul'horac. Various abilities can create green fel flames and purple void pools that cover the arena. Not only do these abilities cause damage on their own, but if the green and purple areas touch, they will cause an explosion that severely damages the players and clears some of the voidzones.
    • In Legion, the second part of the Fallen Avatar fight has the players fighting the Avatar on a rocky platform over a pool of fel lava. The Avatar will use Rupture Reality to destroy parts of the floor until it dies, or until the raid runs out of room and dies in the lava. A key part of this fight is positioning the Avatar so that it destroys small pieces of the platform at a time.
    • In Battle for Azeroth Greed targets players with a debuff that causes them to drop puddles of damaging gold when it ends. These puddles are permanent and spawn throughout the final phase, eventually completely covering the platform if placed incorrectly.
    • Also from Battle is Lady Ashvane on Mythic difficult. She performs a slam ability which leaves a circle of razor sharp coral which damages anyone standing in it. On lower difficulties the patch fades, but on Mythic it persists and gradually cuts down on available safe space.
  • Final Fantasy XIV
    • The final boss fight of the Stormblood expansion, Shinryu. While initially, the arena is quite safe to stand on, once the boss starts his second phase, he pulls the players onto an entirely new arena of three-by-three squares. While the middle square is indestructible, any of the other squares hit twice by his tail-slap (which hits two squares) will be destroyed. Two problems arise from this; firstly, it's entirely random where Shinryu will decide to strike with his tail, meaning you can have two entirely fresh sections take damage, one take damage and one crumble, or both crumble; and the fact that a great many of his attacks have a very wide range, meaning that occasionally, dodging can become outright impossible. To make matters worse, one of his attacks has a radius much wider than a single square, and is a knockback, fully capable of sending the party falling to their doom.
    • The final dungeon boss of Shadowbringers, an Eldritch Abomination called Therion, has an ultimate Wave-Motion Gun attack that covers the entire arena except some tiny little outcrops on the edge. However, every time it executes this attack, one of those outcrops shatters and falls into the abyss, and if you take too long to kill it, you can run out of them. This is made worse by the boss charging forward after the first two uses of that attack — while it won't go so far as to push you off the back edge, it still means you lose hiding places faster than you normally would.

     Platform Game 
  • The first boss of Amazing Princess Sarah destroys a floor every three attacks, and the last floor is over a Bottomless Pit.
  • In the 3rd Ape Escape game's true Final Boss, Specter does this to you, passively. Why? To have you drop out of your super form.
  • Downplayed in Beard Blade when you battle Titan Din, a lava Krakken. Titan Din attacks by destroying the stone platforms in the area trying to make you fall in lava, but each time you damage him, a new platform appears so you can jump on. The entire boss battle have you trying to damage it before it destroys too many platforms.
  • Midway through the second fight against Dogadon in Donkey Kong 64, he throws a tissyfit and stamps repeatedly on the platform you're fighting on. In response, it starts to sink into the lava. If you're too slow to finish the battle, you're toast. Literally.
  • In Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, during the battle with Jafar, Jafar will use his snake form to destroy platforms held by Genie hands. This example is slightly subverted, considering it is a Nintendo 3DS game where you can re-draw the hands to make the platforms re-appear.
  • Mega Man examples:
    • In Mega Man 4, one of the attacks from Mothraya is to punch holes in the floor using its spike. Though it won't destroy the entire flooring, the added threat of Bottomless Pits certainly will not make the battle any easier.
    • Mega Man 10 apparently thought we missed this gimmick and combined it with perennial That One Boss the Yellow Devil. This game's version, the Block Devil, forms itself out of wall and floor tiles (with nothing below them). It gives back the tiles after a while, only to relocate and repeat the process.
    • In Mega Man X2, when Wheel Gator Turns Red and starts executing his drill attack, whatever sections of the wall he hits are ground down into damaging spikes, which gradually prevents you from climbing the walls to evade his other attacks.
    • In X4, there's the mid-boss of Split Mushroom stage, Tentoroid. The player's on a series of platforms over a spike pit where the miniboss resides, and it'll jump up to destroy a platform while exposing itself to harm. Thankfully, it only takes a few charge shots to destroy, but if you're going for a no charge shot run like a certain dragon and his X-series equivalent Kevvl do, it's pretty tough to land enough shots before spiky doom. Kevvl did pull it off, though.
    • Subverted in Mega Man 2 against the second Wily Stage boss, Picopico-kun. It only appears the boss is making holes in the arena, but they're perfectly solid. Interestingly, they were going to be real holes until the programmer insisted this would make the fight too hard. (Pity he didn't speak up about the Boobeam Trap that required the use of the Crash Bomber...)
  • In Taito's Panic Restaurant, the boss of the refrigerator level is a giant evil ice cream who breaks the ice-cube floor with its cone.
  • In Ori and the Will of the Wisps, the Big Bad and Final Boss Shriek periodically smashes out sections of the arena platform, along with Spikes of Doom appearing on the edges of the remaining pieces, then destroys what's left once she Turns Red at 20% HP, turning the fight into a High-Altitude Battle. Later patches make it possible to defeat her before she completely destroys the platform.
  • Popful Mail:
    • When Venuncio traps you in a room with the Happy Flames of Death, the platforms will slowly decay, so you have to finish them off before you have nothing to stand on but the lava.
    • The Final Boss shot orbs that turned the floor into spikes. At least you do have an item that allows you to walk on spikes… but it lowered your jump height, leaving you vulnerable to his Rocket Punch grab move.
  • In Purple, the final boss will occasionally send down bolts of lightning that destroy the floor.
  • In Snoopy's Grand Adventure, during the final battle with the Marble Pianist, whenever the Marble Pianist hits a key, it creates a dust cloud that will hurt Snoopy above that key. However, this is also the method of defeating the Marble Pianist, as hitting the piano key will also hurt it by making it crack.
  • The Sonic The Hedgehog series has several.
    • Spring Yard Zone's boss has a spike on its base, and one by one removes the bricks that make up the floor of the arena; this continues until you defeat the boss, or lose all your footing and fall down the Bottomless Pit below.
    • The boss in Sonic 3 & Knuckles's Sandopolis Act 2 will slowly make its way from the right side of the room to the left. If you take too long, the boss will pin you against the left wall and make the fight unwinnable.
      • Playing as Knuckles? Enjoy the boss moving about twice as fast, which also means that much less time to use his hand as a platform. Actually quite tough, though you can exploit Knuckles' gliding to stunlock the boss once you can get up there.
      • The Carnival Night Act 1 mid-boss encountered earlier in the game also applies, as the elevator you're on gets broken up by the spinning top the boss deploys when you enter the room. You need to hit the boss (preferably when it's not electrocuting itself) to expose it's core for the top to damage it (it only takes four hits rather than six or eight).
    • Sonic the Hedgehog CD's semifinal boss fight has Sonic and Metal Sonic race. If you're too slow, you get hit by the only instant-death laser in the entire Genesis era, and if Metal Sonic wins the race, you're doomed.
      • And while it is very hard to invoke such a thing, this can also happen in Tidal Tempest's boss. As the screen is totally submerged and the only source of air is the barrier around Eggman's machine, if the air barrier is totally depleted, Sonic must defeat Eggman to drain the area of water before he drowns.
    • Sonic Adventure's Egg Viper will, near the end of the fight, start destroying the flooring. This happens when it's taken five hits; before then, you can take as long as you want. After that, though, you'd better have at least two platforms left when you beat it, as it'll make a suicide dive for where you're standing that will destroy at least one of them.
    • Sonic 2006's Egg Wyvern tries to emulate this, but it tends to only destroy parts of the arena after reaching certain damage thresholds, making it more of a case of Turns Red instead.
      • There's also the final fight with Iblis, at the end of Silver's section. Thanks to the game's hideously broken A.I. Roulette, it's entirely possible for the boss to not invoke its tactical suicide enough times for you to deplete its health bar before it completely destroys the stage, sending you plummeting into the lava below and requiring you to restart the whole fight.
    • The True Final Boss of Sonic and Knuckles, and some of the 3D games (including the aforementioned Sonic Adventure), are like this. You don't have an actual timer, but you start the fight as Super Sonic. If you run out of rings, you turn back to normal, and in the boss fight, this causes you to die. This makes sense in S&K, as the fight takes place in space, but makes less sense in Sonic Adventure, where you could, hypothetically, run out of rings on a floating piece of road, but the game assumes you fell into the water and drowned regardless.note 
    • Another Sonic example: the Egg Golem from Sonic Adventure 2, which will repeatedly punch the floor and eventually destroy it.
      • Also the second Sonic vs. Shadow fight — the runway you fight on is not infinite, and if you run far enough, you'll end up back where you started. Which has plummeted into the Earth's atmosphere roughly 10 minutes ago.
    • Sonic Rush and Sonic Rush Adventure's penultimate fights both end with this. After your Free-Fall Fight with Eggman/Nega in the former sinks below the clouds, he'll ram his mecha into the stage, destroying it if you don't hit him. After hitting the Ghost Titan enough times in the latter, he'll instead fire two extremely powerful lasers that close in on you. If you don't hit him when he gets close enough, you'll be obliterated.
    • Sonic Mania's first major boss, the Death Egg Robot, will steadily chase you to the right, deforming the ground. You're supposed to use this to hit it. If you haven't beaten it in about 90 seconds, though, it'll chase you off a cliff.
    • The first act boss in Sonic Mania's Flying Battery Zone takes place in a trash compactor that periodically closes in and crushes the player character if not beaten in time. Interestingly, it's also Boss-Arena Idiocy, since the boss is initially too high to reach, but the trash rises up higher as it gets compacted, allowing the player to get in range of it.
    • In Sonic Forces, if you take too long while battling Metal Sonic or Infinite for the final time, then he will escape and the player will be overtaken by a wave of red cubes.
  • In Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!, the final boss Ripto during the third and final phase, he uses the robotic pterodactyl and turning the arena floor into lava pool.
  • The Super Mario Bros. games feature several examples.
    • Bowser's boss room in Super Mario Bros. 3 has a floor of breakable blocks, except for the solid sides. He repeatedly tries to ground pound on top of Mario, so the player is supposed to make Bowser land on the breakable blocks until he eventually falls through the floor without Mario also falling in. Bowser is also susceptible to Kill It with Fire (or hammers).
    • Super Mario World:
      • Reznor, the fortress bosses, are fought on a bridge which, after two hits, rapidly collapses from the middle. To survive, it's imperative to jump on the boss' rotating platform. Unless you're really fast, in which case the end trigger in which Mario doesn't fall anymore goes off before the end of the bridge (which you'll probably be on) can collapse.
      • The Big Boo which is the secret boss of one of the Ghost Houses can only be defeated by tearing blocks out of the floor of the Boss Room, which creates a danger of falling through.
    • In the final battle with him in Super Mario 64, after you score two hits on him, he smashes the platform, turning it into a smaller star-shaped one. Before this point, flinging him off the platform but missing the bombs around the edge will result in Bowser simply leaping back up, which can knock off one of the pieces that would otherwise fall after the two hits.
  • Wario Land has a couple examples.
    • Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 has the boss of Stove Canyon, a giant head that shoots rock boogers out of its nose. It also extends its tongue out to crack the rocks that form the floor, eventually destroying them piece by piece.
    • In her second-to-last form, the Golden Diva of Wario Land 4 starts smashing the floors of her arena. Miss too many chances to damage her, and you'll have nothing to stand on but spikes. Which are painful.
  • Yoshi's Island: The final boss will start off by occasionally dropping boulders near where Yoshi stands, leaving sizable gaps. When he's about to die, he bum-rushes the arena to destroy all platforms and knock Baby Mario out of the saddle while Yoshi plummets. Pretty much screwed either way.
  • Mike Tyson destroys your platform in I Wanna Be the Guy.
  • The True Final Boss of Demon's Crest throws orbs that steadily turn parts of the walls and floor into damaging spikes. Your character can fly, but midair maneuverability is very limited.
    • On the other hand, in order to encounter this boss, you must first acquire the ability to spit a type of fireball onto wall spikes that makes them temporarily safe to land on, so it's still merely inconvenient rather than inevitably lethal.
  • Shovel Knight examples:
    • The fight against Polar Knight is on a snow covered field with oodles of spikes underneath. Occasionally he digs away at the snow, though random snow drops from the ceiling can cover these back up.
    • Both rounds with the final boss involve floors that aren't always there. The first round's floor is particularly dangerous — not only will the boss destroy parts of it, you're at risk of doing so yourself with shovel drops.

     Real Time Strategy 
  • In a rare Real-Time Strategy example, the final mission of Starcraft II Legacy Of The Void has god-like superbeing Amon periodically annihilating parts of the map... namely, the resource deposits you build your bases on. You'd better have mined them out before he gets there, because once they're gone, they're not coming back. Take too long, and you'll have no resources left at all to complete the mission.

     Run And Gun 
  • Alien Soldier had "Back Stringer". You fought this Giant Spider on the wings and body of its dinner, a decapitated giant fly. Small destructible spiders would come up from the bottom of the screen and pull the fly down the big spider web (each additional one making it sink faster). If the fly platform disappears off the bottom of the screen, expect to die — you'll keep falling into a health-draining bottomless pit OVER AND OVER AGAIN!!!
  • Just before the final boss battle, Don Ramiro of Maldita Castilla must destroy a giant cauldron that drops corrosive acid globs on the floor. Take too long and the acid will completely corrode the floor and make Don Ramiro fall in the bottomless pit below.

     Third Person Shooter 
  • While fighting The Beast in Apocalypse, the pillars that serve as the boss arena collapse one by one as you damage him.
  • Max Payne 2: The final boss fight against Big Bad Friend Vladimir Lem takes place in the rafters of a high ceiling, with him up in the overhang and out of direct reach of Max, who is on the ledge hugging the square top of the tower. His attacks include chucking timed blocks of dynamite at Max — if Max doesn't get hurt by the explosions, they still damage the ledge Max is on, which will crumble away in sections given enough hits and expose a long drop to the ground floor. If Max falls off, he instantly dies, so it becomes a race against time to shoot out the supports above him before there's too many holes to be able to dodge away from his dynamite attacks.
  • Control: The entity/boss creature FORMER leaves holes in the weird rock-platform you stand on when he attacks, making it harder to dodge without ending up falling into the eternal void below.
  • Two stations in Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion — namely, Breakdance Station and Footloose Station - take place on platforms made entirely out of destructible crates.note  Rather than a traditional, singular boss, each of the tests pit you against three waves of increasingly dangerous enemies. Interestingly, this is a rare example where the player's attacks can also destroy the floor. While this does mean you'll need to be more cautious, it also means you can effectively turn this trope on the enemies, and shoot the floor out from beneath them.