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Some video games feature a Boss Bonanza, which is when you have to fight several bosses in quick succession. Boss Games take this to the next level: The whole thing is nothing but boss battles with sometimes the occasional breather segment in between. The polar opposite is Mooks but No Bosses, and the extreme end of Easy Levels, Hard Bosses. Compare Boss-Only Level, in which only one level is just a boss (or bosses are just separate from the main levels).

Boss Games come in three flavors:

  • Type 1: An original game with a main focus on fighting bosses: There may be "fodder" enemies (or at least pauses) between each fight, but those segments are easy and very short.
  • Type 2: The entire game is one continuous battle against a single opponent, usually one who changes depending on the performance of the player. These games tend to be rather short but intense, and are almost always 2D Shoot 'em Ups.
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  • Type 3: A "special" edition/port/hack of a normal game with everything except the bosses removed, similar to a Boss Rush.


Examples:

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    Type 1 
  • Alien Soldier. There are more bosses than levels if you count each form of Seven Force separately, and it held the previous world record for "Most boss battles in a run and gun game" with 25; for the current record holder, see Cuphead below.
  • Banana Nababa is a throwback to 8-bit, Nintendo Hard bosses. Mercifully, if you die you only have to repeat the boss you died on and not lose your entire progress.
  • Battle Clash and its sequel are light gun games that consist entirely of boss battles with Humongous Mecha.
  • Bendy in Nightmare Run has one boss per "episode," fought in multiple acts. In each act, there are also mooks and gauntlet sections.
  • Bomberman Quest. Every enemy is a miniboss with some HP, different attacks, weaknesses, and a battle theme playing while they're not yet defeated.
  • The flash game Bosses!. (One of them is Mega Man (Classic) in all but name, and you in fact play as a Mega Man Expy with the same attacks.)
  • There was a Licensed Game released in the early 2000s based on Buzz Lightyear of Star Command released for Playstation, Nintendo 64 and PC (all ports are essentially the same but for control differences) which is a third person shooter with a twist: You're chasing and if possible, outrunning the boss into an arena where boss fight happens. If you made it to the arena before the boss, then the boss fight will be made easier as one of Buzz's sidekick weakens the boss.
  • Castlevania Fighter, a homebrewed game developed using M.U.G.E.N, is a humongous boss rush where you choose a character, choose a difficulty level, then take on just about every meaningful boss from the series that has a sprite which wouldn't clash with those of SotN-styled characters. Oh, and most of them have even more attacks than they did in their original games.
  • Chaos Field. The original game consists entirely of boss battles, while the Expanded mode in the GameCube version has waves of cannon fodder enemies between bosses.
  • Clean Asia: Two of the three stages are a sequence of bosses, and are timed. The other stage plays like a normal vertical shooter, finishing in a boss fight (but no completion time is given).
  • Creature Shock is a Full Motion Video example of this. After the Rail Shooter opening, the whole game consists of a simplistic adventure game broken up by light-gun fights against alien creatures, all of them completely unique.
  • Cuphead is a boss-centric run-and-gun game centering around 19 different boss fights, with each of the bosses being a Sequential Boss (with King Dice having as much as ten sequences, if you are particularly unlucky). None of these bosses has a level before them, but there are six run-and-gun levels which are nothing but fighting Mooks and platforming (though a couple of them have a Mini-Boss at some point in the stage).
  • Death Brade (a.k.a. Mutant Fighter), the spiritual sequel to Hippodrome, was a fantasy fighting tournament with a total of nine stages, each in its own unique arena (it also had a one-off versus mode). Playing with two players would cause the opponent to appear twice except for the Golem, Hydra, Demon, and Archmage (very unusual in the Golem's case because it was a normal selectable character unlike the other three). Running out of energy or time resulted in defeat, but if the player continued, all damage to the enemy remained (and the clock was fully reset), so this was more a wrestling-centric beat-'em-up than a fighting game.
  • Death Duel. Notable because it's an early Light Gun Game (... without the light gun).
  • Downplayed in Divinity: Original Sin II, which has a lot of non-boss enemies — but not a single mooks encounter. Since it has no Random Encounters, every combat is a hand-crafted event designed specifically to challenge players, in which every enemy (even non-boss one) is either just as dangerous as a Player Party member, or has a nasty trick up its sleeve that is hard to counter, even on regular difficulty. The end result that you have to approach every single fight like you would a boss battle in any other RPG.note 
  • A puzzle game that qualifies is Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine where the player (who has no character in the game to represent him) has to go through a gauntlet against Dr. Robotnik's robotic minions in order to save a city of sentient Beans. Each of the enemies face appears to scowl, gloat or snivel, in a window in the middle of the screen.
  • Endless Frontier and its sequel may be considered this. The mooks are mostly weak and easy to go through, while bosses take a while and there's tons of them (and often you face them twice). The sequel even has hunting a bunch of Bonus Bosses as a Side Quest.
  • EverQuest II, especially when it comes to the raid dungeons, has been getting steadily more like this.
  • Evolve. There are smaller Mooks in each level and one huge monster as the boss- killing it allows the hunters to win. The catch is that the boss itself is playable.
  • Every Fighting Game is this. This is especially noticeable with older games like the original Street Fighter or the first Fatal Fury, which had a much more limited choice of player characters. The first Fatal Fury was very obviously an action game with a fighting game setup (one punch, kick, and throw button, clear demarcation between the heroes and the enemies, 2-against-1 mode). Monster Maulers (a Beat 'em Up with no Competitive Multiplayer option in which enemies below Mini-Boss rank are practically absent for most of the game), Metamoqester, and Red Earth are rare examples of boss-based fighting games made after Street Fighter II.
  • Find Mii or StreetPass Quest. The whole game is nothing but fights against either enemies, mini bosses or bosses, there's never any walking or travelling around involved.
  • Forbidden Forest and Beyond Forbidden Forest for the Commodore 64. A relatively short game which is more or less a Boss Game, the second more so than the first. Notable for the fact that you play as a Bounty Hunter who's been paid to make a hit on a god. Yowza.
  • Fraxy. You have a choice of either choosing what boss you wish to fight, or letting the game choose for you. Be warned, however, that the game will sometimes pit you against That One Boss.
  • Furi alternates between fighting bosses in a hack and slash bullet hell hybrid and walking to the next boss while you get some exposition.
  • Gundemonium (Recollection) and GundeadliGne
  • Hippodrome pitted a sword-wielding gladiator against a series of exotic opponents, each with a unique fighting style. The other player could jump in at any time for a versus contest. Stylistically this resembled a cross between Yie Ar Kung Fu and the first Street Fighter.
  • As befitting the source material, the video game based on JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Vento Aureo features dozens of bosses and no mooks of any kind. Save one chapter involving avoiding the boss, and another that's just a cutscene, the game is simply multi-stage bosses, with some even spanning two or three chapters.
  • Jotun. Levels are relatively short and won't even necessarily have enemies (just stage hazards.) The huge, multi-stage fights with the titular Jotun are obviously the focal point of the game.
  • KaGeKi. Arcade was bosses-only; Genesis port had a few token mooks (all palette swaps of the first boss). Interestingly, the arcade cabinet made a half-baked attempt to pass it off as a boxing game with "Three knockdowns = TKO (Technical Knock Out)", this despite the fact that only three of the nine foes in the game require that number of knockdowns.
  • Kingdom Death: Monster pits human survivor miniatures against giant boss miniatures. Some monsters are easier than others, but none are ever a sure kill.
  • King of the Monsters 2 (The Neo Geo original; the SNES version has longer levels and the Sega Genesis port is more of a straight one-on-one fighter.)
  • Kirby:
    • Kirby's Pinball Land can be seen as this, as the gameplay consists of nothing but playing each table for the purpose of fighting the corresponding boss.
    • The "The Arena" game in Kirby Super Star, and the "Helper to Hero" and "The True Arena" games in the Updated Re-release Kirby Super Star Ultra. In the second of the three, you play not as Kirby, but as a helper-fied mook.
    • Kirby: Planet Robobot features a side mode entitled "Team Kirby Clash", an RPG-styled multiplayer mode where players team up against big enemies with one of four reskinned abilities. Every quest in the mode is a mid-boss/boss from a different Kirby game with beefed-up health. The standalone version, Team Kirby Clash Deluxe, includes many more returning bosses as well as a few new ones.
  • Knuckle Bash, a somewhat obscure arcade only beat-'em-up. Nearly every enemy appears in only one scene in the entire game. The only distinction the "bosses" (each announced with a "VS." screen) have is that they have more powerful attacks and can take more damage, and the difference isn't tremendous.
  • Krazy Ivan. There are randomly-spawning mooks, but most of the game is spent in one-on-one shootouts against unique enemy mechs.
  • Lemegeton has mook sections that generally aren't all that dangerous (although some enemies, like the Wood Men, can be rather obnoxious). Bosses, on the other hand, are just about everywhere—every third or fourth room, on average. The first episode had ten bosses, the second episode eleven. There's two more episodes planned.
  • The Modern chapter of Live A Live, one of the game's several self-contained adventures, uses the same turn-based battle system as the other chapters but replaces the typical wandering around the overworld with a Fighting Game-style opponent selection screen.
  • In Malicious, the focus is on defeating a giant boss in each area, but all the while you're being attacked by hordes of Mooks that can be farmed for Aura, which can be used to heal yourself or power-up your attacks for a brief period of time. Which you'll need to do, as, particularly in the early game, you simply aren't a match for the bosses without the boost to attack and defense.
  • Mega Man: The Power Battle and its sequel Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters masquerade as fighting games, but are actually a selection of Robot Master battles (without the preceding stages) from the first seven entries in the main series strung together. However they, for the most part, fight much differently than their games of origin with many new attacks, such as Gutsman punching a boulder that drops down to rain debris across the arena, and Wood Man rolling onto his side to bounce across the arena.
  • The Monster Hunter series is an interesting example, as your character is just one of thousands of hunters who gets paid to go out hunting wild animals; it just so happens that virtually everything in their ecosystem is huge. A typical hunting mission calls for the player to go out hunting a (singular) monster, which are functionally boss fights. While there are more Mook-level monsters in the game, they tend to pose almost no danger to the player, acting more like hazards than enemies. On higher-rank hunting quests, multiple monsters roam and all of them have to be hunted, and on rare occasions the only objective is to hunt an Elder Dragon in a Boss-Only Level.
  • No More Heroes. Especially the sequel, where everything but the boss battles (and the short levels leading to them) became optional.
  • Pit Fighter was a 10-stage fighting tournament where up to three players could compete at once and were always matched up against an equal number of opponents. The players had very short health bars and (except for a brief elimination fight near the end) never recovered any health, but could continue as many times as they wanted. Since the opponents never recovered any health either, this meant that anyone could get through the entire game...provided they were willing to spend...and spend...and spend.
  • Power Stone 2. The first, second, and fourth stages are 4-man battle royals which continue until two of the combatants are defeated; the third (Pharaoh Walker) and fifth (Dr. Erode) stages are standard boss fights.
  • Protoganda: Strings, Protoganda II, and Fractal Fighter are all Bullet Hell games with nothing but bosses.
  • The Punch-Out!! series act like boss-only vertical scroll shooters with fists instead of bullets.
  • Radiant Silvergun. In some cases, there's only a short segment of normal enemies between bosses and after stage 5, there are no normal enemy segments between bosses.
  • Ragnarok Odyssey and its enhanced remake, Ragnarok Odyssey ACE: Monster Hunter meets Ragnarok Online.
  • rRootage. 30 non-random stages * 5 bosses per stage * 4 modes = 600 boss battles.
  • Shadow of the Colossus — interesting because they are all Puzzle Bosses, and, appropriately, Colossus Climbs.
  • Sin and Punishment and its sequel feature many boss encounters, and even the few reccuring (mini-)bosses like the Mole Seemer have different patterns.
  • Sky Serpents has a series of bosses across fifteen levels. Beyond a brief intro section, you spend the game fighting them.
  • Spawn: In The Demon's Hand, an arcade and Dreamcast beat 'em up game, has Boss Attack as its main mode, where you fight a boss in each stage, though most of them are accompanied by mooks, and you'll often have to take out a few to get the boss to appear.
  • The game adaptation of Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars Episode III. The levels get shorter and shorter, and increasingly focus on you vs. one enemy, to the point of being a Fighting Game with a few short hallways between arenas.
  • Street Fighter 2010, despite its name, is a platformer (that also has nothing to do with Street Fighter) with very short stages. The meat of the game is the boss fights, and Capcom knew it. Many bosses don't even have a stage preceding them, and you're immediately thrust into the fight.
  • Street Smart, other than being bosses-only, was a beat-'em-up in every way that mattered. It was a multi-city fighting tournament starring generic street brawlers Karate Man (1P) and Crusher (2P). Each had three punches and a throw dished out by the same punch button, three kicks delivered by the same kick button, and a (largely useless) jump, all of which looked somewhat different but functioned exactly the same. Both the heroes and opponents could walk in 8 directions, with the opponents having a considerable speed advantage. Each credit bought a certain number of lives; losing all energy (which usually didn't take very long, especially in the later rounds) would cost one life. Each city had a preset first and second opponent, the second starting if both heroes started the match and running in if the second hero jumped in during the match. The opponents had no energy meters but would flash red when they were nearly beaten. They took a massive pounding before giving out but unlike the heroes had no extra lives. Most notably, it was not actually possible for the heroes to be defeated. Losing all lives simply brought up the continue countdown, and if the player continued, all damage to the opponent remained. Only running out of tokens or will could end the quest for the championship.
  • Stretch Panic has Linda's twelve demon-possessed sisters as the main obstacles. While there are four standard levels, they have no collectibles and the enemies in them are fairly harmless; they exist purely to grind points, which are used to unlock boss doors and to perform a special move that deals heavy damage to bosses and exorcises the aforementioned demons.
  • Strider 2. There's actually a wide variety of fodder enemies, but the levels are very short and often end with a mid-boss battle.
  • Sword Master borders on being this; while the odd-numbered stages generally consist of going through a few fodder enemies before fighting mini-bosses and bosses (including demoted ones), the even-numbered ones have Nintendo Hard platforming challenges instead.
  • Titan Souls has no regular enemies and every boss is a Puzzle Boss. However, both you and your opponents are technically One Hit Point Wonders, and the key to victory is finding an opening in which you can Attack Its Weak Point.
  • Touhou
    • The Windows games are loose examples of type 1. The stages aren't exactly short due to the fixed scrolling rate, but depending on the difficulty, boss fights can take five to six times as long as the stage (or more than ten times if the bosses have attacks that render them invincible for a duration). The PC-98 games had better developed stages and don't fit this trope as well. Special mention goes to the 9th game, Touhou Kaeidzuka ~ Phantasmagoria of Flower View, which is 100% boss fight, with random Mooks flying around in order to allow you to build up your Spell Cards and attack your opponent.
    • Touhou 9.5: Shoot the Bullet. Since the objective is to take photos of the various residents of Gensokyo, each stage consists solely of Aya vs Boss. Also true of its sequel, Double Spoiler, and fellow spinoff game Impossible Spellcard.
  • Urban Reign. There are a few characters that qualify as flunkies, but for the most part, you're up against various combinations of big bosses, lieutenants, Elite Mooks, Quirky Miniboss Squads, and the occasional Worf. Many of the stages allow you to have a partner.
  • Warning Forever pits the player's fighter ship against a sequence of ever-upgrading enemies.
  • Yie Ar Kung Fu. The hero (Oolong) was a little bitty sprite who used a bunch of chopsocky moves against a series of increasingly tougher opponents, also little bitty sprites. The reason the game required so much empty space above the combatants was that Oolong could jump about 40 feet high, and in fact lots (and lots and lots and lots) of jumping was key to beating most of the opponents.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! Capsule Monster Coliseum, Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Duel Stories, Yu Gi Oh Dungeon Dice Monsters, and Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories, the whole game is Yugi or the Player Avatar facing off against his friends, rivals, and enemies. There are segments where you can buy monsters and save, but the majority of your time will be spent in battle.

    Type 2 
  • Destroy the Godmodder is an extremely lengthy one of these, probably helped because the Godmodder tends to summon minions to help him out. In addition, many significant plot moments in a game occur when a major boss other than the Godmodder appears on the Battlefield, temporarily moving the spotlight away from the latter and towards the former.
  • The iOS/Android game Endless Boss Fight.
  • The (very rare) Comiket 74 release of the "Boss Rush-only" edition of Ether Vapor that strips the game down to nothing but its boss battles.
  • The flash game Level Up is a "Groundhog Day" Loop wherein every day ends with an encounter with the game's only boss. Losing to the boss resets the day and most of your stats, aside from a few permanent ones that let you level up stats faster for the next try.
  • A game on Neopets is appropriately called "The Neverending Boss Battle".
  • The obscure arcade game Omega Fighter consists entirely of a battle against a giant enemy warship, with each stage corresponding to a different part of the ship.
  • The old Vector Game Star Castle, though from an era when it was not common for video games to have levels to explore or varied stage design, has the one big enemy to destroy always present.
  • Trillion: God of Destruction. The titular antagonist is the only meaningful foe in the game, and can be challenged at any time. The entire rest of the game is an elaborate Training Montage to get your overlords powerful enough to have a fighting chance.
  • The indie Xbox 360 game You Will Die
  • You Have to Burn the Rope. This one is a major nutbuster.
  • Zettai Hero Project advertises itself as such. The intro says that the whole game is nothing but one long epic battle... which is sort of correct. The Big Bad, Darkdeath Evilman, is continuously trying to kill you and Super Baby, he just punts you into orbit away from the action every level, and you have to fight through a random dungeon just to get back to him (and get your ass thrown into outer space again). So this is invoked meta-wise if not gameplay-wise.

    Type 3 
  • Darius Alpha, a rare variant of Darius Plus in which you fight all of the bosses of Darius Plus one after the other.
  • DoDonpachi Daioujou: Death Label. At the end, you fight two Hibachis at once.
  • Reallyjoel's Dad mode in Hero Core is a parody of this that's supposed to be impossible to beat. It consists of a single room that contains almost every single boss in the game.
  • Ketsui: Death Label on the Nintendo DS (with the "Extra Course" being the sole exception by virtue of being a full-length stage with a special version the game's True Final Boss at the end of it).
  • A cheat code for Kirby's Pinball Land will turn it into this, eliminating the main pinball stages and instead sending you straight to the boss battles.
  • Left 4 Dead 2 has "Last Man on Earth" mutation which has only one survivor against only the Special Infected that is summoned periodically, one at a time.
  • The Mega Man 2 fan game Rockman 2 Neta, which allows you to fight the eight Robot Masters of said game all at once.
  • The Mega Man 5 ROM hack Rockman Cross X (not to be confused with Rockman X Over), which features entirely redone Robot Masters (two from each of the the first four games) and aside from one or two rooms before a boss, the hack is nothing but boss battles.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog 2 ROM hack Robotnik's Revenge is a boss rush of all 17 bosses from the first two Sonic the Hedgehog games.
  • There are two different passwords in Xexyz that allow you to play against only the bosses (one for the odd-numbered ground stages, and another for the even-numbered flying stages).
  • Team Fortress 2 has the Vs. Saxton Hale/Freak Fortress 2 Game Mod, which removes the normal team-vs-team gameplay and instead has a random player, who is selected to be a powerful boss character, fight against everyone else in the server.
  • Castlevania Fighter is a M.U.G.E.N game that plays like a Castlevania game with one notable change: you only fight bosses from the series.
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Alternative Title(s): Boss Only Game

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