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Early-Bird Boss

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A frequent form of Boss Battle that tends to appear in RPG or Metroidvania games.

This quick riser shows up well before you've acquired most of your standard abilities, Heart Containers, or sources of healing, and has to be fought with the bare minimum of firepower and health. The boss may or may not actually be all that powerful in-and-of-itself, but followers of this trope are made more threatening by your character's lack of all but the most basic abilities/equipment/party members.

If only it showed up an hour later, you'd have the upgrades to beat it handily (and an hour later, you just may). For now, however, be prepared to either dig in your heels to battle Knight of Slight Peril with your Pointy-Stick-Of-Mild-Discomfort or to run back to your save file. But don't worry, things will get better.

However, if you luck out and find a Disc-One Nuke (or you're determined enough to level grind for long enough), the early bird boss will be about as difficult as an ordinary mook, or possibly even The Goomba.

Often overlaps with Wake-Up Call Boss, but this isn't always the case: an Early Bird Boss may become pathetically easy once the player learns the Outside-the-Box Tactic to overcome them, while the Wake-Up Call Boss remains challenging even when the player has all the tools necessary to defeat them. The former tests the player's resourcefulness, the latter their handling of advanced techniques.

The narrative equivalent to this trope is Token Motivational Nemesis, in which an otherwise unremarkable Starter Villain leaves a lasting impact on the hero, due to the latter not having the strength, experience; etc. to fight back in that one crucial moment. This in turn motivates the hero to develop their abilities to fight villains on a more equal level.

Sub-Trope of Early Game Hell.


  • ANNO: Mutationem: The Training Boss at the end of the tutorial segment is an Open Ended fight where Ann is only able to use her starting equipment before accessing any of her later skillset acquired from the Skill Tree. It is entirely possible to defeat it, but with its high attack and defense, the overall starter weapons will make it a challenge.
  • BioShock:
    • In BioShock, the Big Daddies are at their hardest at the beginning of the game, when you have fewer, less upgraded weapons and plasmids. These fights get much easier upon obtaining more of these, to the extent that the crossbow (with trap bolts), grenade launcher (with proximity mines) and trap plasmids mean that you may not even have to directly fight them at all.
    • BioShock 2 downplays this by giving you Trap Rivetsnote  for the Rivet Gun at the beginning of the level where you first encounter enemy Big Daddies.
  • Skies of Arcadia:
    • The ship battle against Admiral Belleza. There are only two ship fights (both of them easy as hell and meant for figuring out the system) up to this point, along with little ship weapons and armor available to buy; this fight is tough because beforehand, there is a required Hopeless Boss Fight against Recumen that can leave your items and healing magic depleted and your health dwindled. As if those weren't enough, Belleza's ship has high health, is evasive, and can cast attack magic, which the player cannot do at that point in the game.
    • The Legends "Wanted" boss battles, as well as the Optional Boss fights against Piastol are all difficult. Both Piastol's first battle and the "Wanted" boss battle against Rupee and Barta are available early on, and both are hell for players who don't prep beforehand. The former has the Eterni instant death spell, an absurdly powerful S-attack, and is assisted by a hound-type creature who can cast Noxus (mass-poison spell). The latter is a standout example of ''not'' shooting the medic first — Rupee exists to heal and buff Barta (himself ridiculously powerful), but if you try to take out Rupee first, he'll literally go berserk and use an S-move that will instantly kill you unless you're guarding. Worse yet, unlike the other bosses in the game, Piastol and the Wanted battles increase their levels along with yours. It's actually a better idea to take them on as early as they're available, because they level up right with you.
  • Elden Ring has some infamous ones, though they are more designed to teach you to explore the open world.
    • The Tree Sentinel is literally the first enemy you will see upon leaving the tutorial dungeon. You may think you have the tools to take him on at this point. You would be wrong. If you try, you be greeted with an incredibly mobile, hard hitting boss with a big health pool for your non upgraded weapon. The boss seems to be there to teach you that you can avoid strong enemies if you’re not ready to fight them yet. Once you get Torrent to deal with his mobility, more healing flasks, reinforced weapons and some levels he isn’t too big of a deal.
    • The path the game gives you at the start leads directly to Stormveil Castle… which is guarded by Margit the Fell Omen. So you may think you should go straight to him without first exploring Limgrave, levelling up, and getting better weapons. You would be in for a world of hurt. You’ll be met with a fast, hard hitting, tanky boss, complete with seemingly never ending combos on top of very delayed attacks to bait your panic rolls. Who is actually considered by many to be harder than Godrick, the boss he’s guarding! If you come back after getting to about Level 30-40, exploring a lot of Limgrave, getting some better reinforced weapons, more healing flasks, maybe some Spirit Ashes to take aggro, and learning the combat system of the game more so you take advantage of his very safe openings, and you’ll fare a lot better.
  • Persona:
    • Persona 4:
      • The Shadow Yukiko battle qualifies in a few ways. Decent Persona at this point require a good amount of metaknowledge (that is, Guide Dang It! or previous experience with SMT games) to gain. You cannot level up efficiently because you can't heal SP outside of rare items and Arcana Chance events without wasting a day (a finite resource in the entire game) at this point in the game. You have no real healer yet unless you know what you're doing and get the MC a Persona able to do itnote . Unfortunately, doing this also relegates your most potent damage dealer to pure support. Also, she turns into a bird, making this a literal example of an early bird boss. Luckily her and fellow Early Bird Boss Shadow Kanji were made much easier in the Golden remake.
      • Another good example of this trope is the optional boss for Yukiko's Castle, the Contrarian King. If you, as many players do, attempt this boss directly after beating the dungeon for the first time, the combination of your relatively low party level, his high HP, and, most importantly, his usage of the (heavily overpowered) Rampage physical attack (hits whole party, three times, for a ton of damage) will generally lead to you being hideously maimed. On the other hand, if you come back after completing the next dungeon, he's a good deal more manageable, though you're still basically fighting the Random Number God and hoping he doesn't Rampage twice.
    • The Queen of Hearts in Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth is one, though not nearly as extreme as the above example. At the time you fight here you only have access to either the P3 or P4 cast, meaning only half the game's playable characters. But mainly, you fight her when you have no access to SP restoration, and she has no weaknesses to give you Boost status (no SP cost on your next turn) and that combined with her large amount of HP and summoning Card Soldiers as shields can easily lead to you getting worn down if you don't use your attacks wisely. In fact, running you out of resources in a battle of attrition is her main strategy, which wouldn't work nearly as well later in the game.
    • The first boss of Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth is Super Kamoshidaman. It starts with two cannons — one is very fast and deals heavy single-target damage, while the other is slower, inflicts lower area-of-effect damage, but this also means it's great for disabling Boost which has been keeping your skills free. Once his guns go down his weakness gets exposed but he is quick to cover it with Fire Screen if you use an All-Out Attack. Between all these features, you also have to struggle with the fact that your battle options are quite limited — your healing items and equipment won't do much against the damage he doles out, and you don't have much capacity in sub-Persona skills or variety to find something useful.
  • Pokémon:
    • In the initial versions of Pokémon Red and Blue, Brock can turn into this, especially for players who pick Charmander as their starter, as you have very few options as far as your Pokémon go (your starter and Com Mons for the most part), and even fewer able to exploit his weakness. Yellow and Fire Red/Leaf Green both fix this with new additions, such as Mankey on Route 22, the rearranging of Nidoran's level-up learnset,note  and giving Charmander an early Steel-type move that will also be super-effective.
    • Falkner in Pokémon Gold and Silver can also be like this, as many of the early Com Mons are weak to Flying and there are no super-effective attacks to be found unless you do an in-game trade to get an Onix or level-grind a Geodude — and Falkner has Mud-slap for that (super-effective against Rock-types, and screws their accuracy).
      • However, he's not as difficult as his predecessor because, unlike Rock-types, Flying-type Pokémon are not resistant to Normal-type attacks that will be the majority of the moves in the players arsenal at the time, nor do they have high defensive stats. The best antidote, oddly enough, was to fight his Flying-types with other Flying-types, as they would be able to avoid the (Ground-type) Mud-Slap attack that his Pokémon used.
      • He's still this way in the Gen IV remakes, particularly if you start with Chikorita, which is weak to Flying-types. Then he hauls out his Pidgeotto with constant use of Roost to heal half of his current health points, which makes things even harder. It definitely pays to get the aforementioned Geodude or Onix.
    • The Striaton Triplets are this in Black and White... no, not because of their elemental monkey, which is basically just a glorified tutorial on compensating for your starter's weaknesses, but their Lilipup. At this point nothing you have access to resists Normal or hits it for super effective damage (barring a ridiculously over-grinded Tepig), and Lilipup happens to have a stat boosting move that can result in a Total Party Kill if it gets going. Of course, after this gym you have access to Fighting types, which make all future Lillipups a joke.
    • Rival battles early in Pokémon games can sometimes tend to lean towards this due to the rival always using whichever starter Pokémon has a type advantage versus the player's starter combined with a lack of wild Pokémon of the types the rival's starter is weak against available for the player to catch early in the game, as well as have late and powerful moves for his underleveled Pokemon, like Blue's Gyarados in Lavender Town's Ghost Tower in the originals, which is around level 30 or so and already knows Hydro Pump. They were especially hard the first time through just because you don't know when or where they are gonna happen and will probably keep bumping into them at the very worst moments. "Finally, made it out of Mt Moon. Let's go straight to the Pokémon Center... just after exploring this most harmless bridge to the north...".
    • Pokémon Colosseum also has Early Birds in the form of Mirror B and Skrub. The first comes after a grueling dungeon and the latter has strong Pokémon. The common factor: your Shadow Pokémon are locked in the experience levels that you captured them at until after you defeat Skrub, so Pokémon that seemed good early in Pyrite Town are, well, not at this point.
    • Early Bird Bosses tend to be the hardest of all encounters in rom hacks designed to be more difficult than the canon games. One such edit pits the player against Falkner, the very first gym leader in the Johto based games, using an entire team of well rounded flying types, with movesets almost appropriate for the end-game. There are only a handful of weak and/slow Pokémon available to use at that point with attacks that will cause heavy damage to flying types.
  • Spikey Tiger in Secret of Mana — He is the last major boss you have to fight without magic. Magic can be a Game-Breaker in this game, but this boss has it and you don't. Magic makes the caster invincible while he is casting, it cannot be dodged or blocked, and it holds the target immobile while it is being damaged. This boss can hop on a ledge where it can't be hurt by anything but a precise arrow shot, then repeatedly cast magic spells consecutively. Since it can't be hurt while it's casting all these spells...better hope it doesn't do that.
  • Children of Mana is a cakewalk with only two parts that are remotely challenging, but those can be very tough. Which ones? The last boss and... the first.
  • In the Kingdom Hearts series:
    • The first fight with Leon in Kingdom Hearts comes right before Sora gets the Dodge Roll ability that lets the player evade most physical attacks with proper timing. Naturally, most of Leon's arsenal would be much easier to avoid by rolling than by running around. Depending on your weapon choices at the beginning of the game, the player is most likely not going to have Guard (and Counterattack) at their disposal unless they grinded something fierce back on Destiny Islands. Thus, the player will need to rely on well-timed attacks to parry/redirect Leon's (a skill that helped during the sparring matches on the Islands), all the while employing hit-and-run tactics to prevent themselves from being on the receiving end of his Gunblade: Leon isn't particularly aggressive and moves around with the urgency of a sloth, but when he connects, you will feel it. Fortunately you don't actually have to win that fight, though you do get an extra item if you manage it.
    • The battle against Clayton on the Stealth Sneak applies too, especially if the player hasn't spent much time leveling up. After you defeat him and learn Cure, bosses becomes so, much, easier.
    • Kingdom Hearts II:
      • Twilight Thorn, because you don't have magic. Being able to heal or shoot him with Blizzard or Lightning when he's out of reach of your keyblade would be nice.
      • Twilight Thorn's Heartless brother, Darkside, is far from a pushover on the highest difficulty. On lower ones, the two potions you're likely to have are more than enough to help you survive his attacks, but you'd better try your damned hardest not to get clipped by anything on Proud/Expert mode or you're gonna be in a world of trouble.
      • The Assault Rider is a fairly well known Boss in Mook Clothing that forces you to not carelessly approach until you create an opening. Even if you know how to do all that, encounters with it would be much easier if you had any means of quickly closing the distance the moment an opportunity to combo arises. So of course the way to get the ability, Slide Dash, that does exactly that is to progress through the world that requires you to fight multiple Assault Riders until a specific encounter with two at once gives it to you after you beat it.
      • Thresholder likes to fire swarms of homing, unblockable projectiles after you've done some damage to him. This would be fine at any other point in the game, but you cannot acquire quick run, dodge roll, aerial dodge or reflect to give you the invincibility you need to dodge them. On Level 1 runs many people tend to beat Olympus Colosseum first (which requires dealing with the assault rider example above) to use the invincibility and high damage on Trinity Limit for Thresholder. This is subverted if you decide to play as Mickey in this fight though, allowing you to take a few deaths without being unable to progress.
    • When you guard certain attacks in Kingdom Hearts III you can get Guard Broken, which leaves you vulnerable and unable to move for a short time. Around halfway through the game you acquire the Risk Dodge ability, allowing to use a Guard Broken state to your advantage as the ability can only be used when you're guard broken. The Chaos Carriage is fought much, much earlier than you normally get the ability and has multiple moves that can Break your Guard, are hard to dodge instead and that he can potentially follow up on to guarantee damage on you, forcing you to deal with consequences of getting guard broken before you're able to use it to your advantage. However, this is completely averted on Critical Mode where, despite the higher difficulty, you start the game with Risk Dodge turning this fight into a tough-but-fair boss instead of this trope.
  • The Final Fantasy series offers quite a lot of early bird bosses:
    • In the original Final Fantasy, Astos shows up before you're able to protect against his One-Hit Kill Deathnote  spell or revive your party mid-battle.
    • The first two bosses of Final Fantasy II, the Sergeant and the Adamantoise, have enough Defense to reduce melee attacks to Scratch Damage (if even that).
    • The Land Turtle and Djinn from Final Fantasy III DS are fought before the job classes open up, thus limiting you to physical attacks and magic. In the DS version, you face the former with only a single party member, making him especially dangerous.
    • Garula in Final Fantasy V. At that point, you only have the first six jobs and the first-tier attack and healing spells. Garula can counterattack with two hits and can use a powerful attack that inflicts Sap, a status that rapidly drains small amounts of HP. While the status is nigh-harmless later in the game with higher HP, at this point in the game Sap is horrifyingly effective and can easily finish off anyone it hits with Charge before you can heal them, especially if they're on the receiving end of both counterattacks. The difficulty of Garula can be allayed somewhat by using the Knight's Guard and Cover abilities, and totally broken by the Blue Mage's Pond's Chorus/Frog Song, as Garula is susceptible to the Frog status.
    • The Guardian Beast in Final Fantasy X-2 is considerably difficult for one of the first bosses encountered in the game. Typically, its difficulty rating will be four stars out of five. It's a good idea to grind before this fight.
    • The Lord of the Flowsand in Final Fantasy Tactics A2 would probably not be so difficult if it weren't fought at a relatively early point in the game where you don't have access to most of the abilities each class can get, mainly due to the Randomly Drops nature of getting new weapons and armor. A lot of the classes will be off-limits to you at this point, as well — it's also impossible to have any Seeq or Gria units (both the better direct damage dealers). When you fight the thing again in a latter optional mission, he is much easier despite vastly higher HP and strength.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Aquamentus takes six direct hits with the wooden sword to kill, and he spits energy beams that can't be blocked without the magical shield. Once you've got either the white sword or magical shield beating him becomes easy (having both makes it near effortless), but with the starting equipment he can be a brick wall. It's possible to get the white sword before entering the first dungeon by collecting hearts hidden in the overworld, but a first-time player wouldn't know that.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past has a slightly later example than most: the third boss, Moldorm, takes six hits from the Fighter's Sword regardless of whether you use regular or spin attacks (which deal double damage, equivalent to a regular attack from the Master Sword), and he goes into a rage mode where he moves even faster once he's down to one HP. Given that the major challenge of the battle is avoiding a Ring Out, which resets his HP, it'd be so much easier if you had a stronger a spin attack from the Master Sword, which you can obtain immediately after defeating him, or the Hammer, located in the first Dark World dungeon. He is refought in the final dungeon and is considerably easier there as a result of your upgraded sword.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: First-time players are in for a surprise when they face Odolwa, the first dungeon boss. He's fast, hard hitting, and his arena tricks you into thinking you should use Deku Link (which instead leads to a darned near One-Hit KO). Many gamers only do that dungeon far enough to get the bow and move on to take down the second dungeon Snowhead, so they can come back to rock Woodfall and give Odolwa what-for with the Gilded Sword, Fire Arrows, and an extended healthbar. Subverted in the 3DS version, which changes him to more of a Puzzle Boss (he blocks everything with his shield unless you use Deku Link to fly above him and stun him), so having better gear won't help as much.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks: Fraaz, the Snow Temple boss, is unusually tough in spite of only being the second boss in the game. Fraaz's attacks increase in frequency as the battle goes on, he can split himself in two, and once he's destroyed the torches in his chamber, you have to run suicidally close to his attacks in order to reflect them and stun him. The player only gets one free heart container before him; it's possible to get more, but they involve scraping up a lot of Rupees and a Boss Rush challenge.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: The Skyview Temple battle with Ghirahim mixes this with Wake-Up Call Boss. When you fight Ghirahim, you only have your default 6 hearts of health and little else in equipment. You'll have to rely on your sword and shield abilities to get past the boss' defenses and know when to strike.
  • Okku in Neverwinter Nights 2 Mask of The Betrayer can approach this if the player is not playing a tank or can't otherwise avoid damage (e.g. hiding in plain sight), as your only party member is a Squishy Wizard who has barred conjuration (the magic school that allows you to summon disposable meat shields). You can find a Guest-Star Party Member golem to join your party, but while strong enough to help with mooks, it will quickly fall to Okku (amusingly, Okku can join your party later and be the best tank in the game). You also lack a healer, but as most healing is best done out of combat, this isn't as big an obstacle.
  • Geyzer of Dragon Quest VIII could be seen as this, since you fight him with only two characters, and your levels are likely too low to have any skills capable of making the battle easier. The fact that he hits pretty damn hard when only your main character is likely to have the game's first healing spell doesn't help at all (Yangus can learn it too, but it requires several points in his Humanity skill, and it's unlikely he'll earn enough for it even if you dump all his skill points into Humanity).
  • Dungeons & Dragons: In the module Keep on the Shadowfell, Irontooth definitely falls into this category. The fight here is the first experience players have with "waves" of monsters, as to get to Irontooth you need to fight a whole encounter's worth of monsters to get into the lair, and then another whole encounter's worth once there. Parties who know how to marshal their tactics and conserve their resources find this a tough but beatable encounter. Those who just rushed into the lair without taking a short rest or who blow all their abilities before Irontooth shows up 3 rounds in will take a brutal beating, and this is where the majority of TPKs for new parties happen in this module.
  • Lost Odyssey has the huge gryphon boss at the top of the rainy mountain very early in the game, who ends up being difficult primarily because the player doesn't have access to any decent recovery or defensive skills yet. Magic is the only way to effectively damage him enough to kill him before he kills you; but due to an unfortunate glitch in the programming, he will attack the squishy magic user exclusively until he dies, and returns to attacking him the second you revive him, and if the A.I. Roulette feels like spamming his attack that hits all characters, it's not very likely you'll win. Level Grinding is also a bad option, since it doesn't take long for the enemies to start giving only 1 exp a piece, which makes it far too tedious and time-consuming this early in the game.
  • Dark Souls, being... well, Dark Souls, throws the first boss, the Asylum Demon, at you while you are armed with only a useless sword hilt with no blade. You're supposed to run away from it and then come back when you get your starting equipment, but if you beat it during this first encounter, you get its weapon, the Demon's Great Hammer, as a reward. Though it sadly ends up not being much of one.
    • The actual fight against the Asylum Demon once you've acquired your gear, on the other hand, is more of a Warm-Up Boss as long as you can grasp how to dodge his powerful but slow and telegraphed attacks. Same goes for The Last Giant in Dark Souls II, who is even easier as he comes some way into the game after you've had opportunities to level grind and upgrade your gear. Iudex Gundyr, the tutorial boss of Dark Souls III on the other hand, is no joke. Compared to the Asylum Demon or Last Giant, he's smaller, making him faster, but still has jaw-dropping reach with his bardiche and ability to make massive leaping attacks, and rather than single huge swings or slow stomp attacks, he attacks aggressively and ferociously, even using combos to force you to dodge repeatedly. And halfway through the fight, the Pus of Man erupts from his body and completely changes his moveset. Even series veterans have been taken off-guard by the Gundyr's surprising difficulty.
    • Dark Souls II also has the Pursuer, who will ambush you on a random rooftop in the Forest of Fallen Giants, probably well before you would encounter the proper first boss, the Last Giant (unless, of course, you've already played the game or are using a guide). That being said, you only have to fight him the first time you go to that rooftop; after that, he obligingly waits in his boss arena if he kills you (as he probably does at that stage).
  • Castlevania
    • Castlevania 64 features a boss minutes into the game; seriously, you probably won't even have figured out the combat system by the time the fight starts.
    • In Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness the first boss is a hydra which has attacks that are very difficult to avoid, even if you know what to do. The next few bosses are a lot easier.
  • The B2 Brawler in Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, though optional, is an absolute nightmare when fought with only early-game weapons, (and worse still. there's a Skill Point for beating it without taking damage!) but falls VERY easily to the stronger ones you get later. The Lock-On mod is also a huge help which, you guessed it, isn't available when you first get to fight the Brawler.
  • Metroid / Metroid Prime Trilogy:
    • The Hive Totem in Metroid Prime gave many new players more trouble than almost any other boss. It's a stationary mech at one end of the room that periodically releases wasps. The wasps fly in circles around your tiny platform, occasionally stopping to ram you in sync. The room is flooded with Grimy Water, which is almost impossible to get out of once you get knocked in, and the weak point on the boss is only attackable for a few seconds; if you don't realize that it's there immediately, you'll have to fight additional waves of wasps. It wouldn't be such a hard fight if you had anything but your default Power Beam and 99 energy (and you might get there with even less than that)!
    • The Alpha Splinter in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, a giant bug that sits in the center of the circular arena you fight him in and lunges at you. It's harder than it sounds, since his jumps are extremely quick, hard to dodge, and take off sizable chunks of health — and this is a point when you have 99 health and five missiles... if you made it through the five Dark Splinters beforehand without getting hit once. Amusingly, after he Turns Red and becomes the Dark Alpha Splinter, he actually gets easier, because he stops timing his charge and mixes it up with an incredibly-easy-to-dodge projectile attack.
    • Mogenar of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption is one of these, by virtue of him being the first Leviathan guardian. You've only got a scant few energy tanks by this point, and to beat him you need to use Hypermode several times, each time probably eating up a full tank. If you could fight him even a few hours later, when you have access to more tanks, he wouldn't be That One Boss.
  • The first hunter fight in [PROTOTYPE] occurs well before Alex Mercer has a chance to upgrade his capabilities; as such, you'll probably have a rough time against them (after you kill one hunter, you gain your first offensive power, the claws; but they are not especially useful against hunters). By endgame, however, you've upgraded yourself so much that they pose only a mild threat.
  • The Krogan Battlemaster on Therum in Mass Effect. Technically, you can come there later, but Therum is where you recruit Liara T'Soni, so it is a natural first choice. Due to his biotic barrier, high damage shotgun, and ability to come back from the dead unless you burned, iced, melted, or otherwise disposed of his corpse, he is a nightmare for the low level player. Come back after a few missions, though, and he's a cakewalk.
  • Mega Man:
    • Technically, every Robot Master in the Mega Man (Classic) series is this if you choose to fight them first. You'll lack the weapons they're weak too, along with any potential upgrades that make Mega Man more powerful.
    • Unless you choose Chill Penguin's stage for your first area in Mega Man X, you'll have to fight at least one boss without the dash ability. Not a pleasant experience, especially if that boss happens to be Storm Eagle, who has a wind gust attack that can blow you off the stage to your death if you can't dash through it.
    • Mega Man Zero:
      • Mega Man Zero pits you against the Golem for your first boss who is ridiculously easy even for that part in the game, but then cruelly surprises you with Aztec Falcon immediately after. He moves quickly in a small arena, and his attacks can be pretty hard to dodge, especially when you're still getting used to the game, making it fairly difficult to land any form of a counter-attack with your Z-Sabre, the only weapon in your arsenal that deals moderate damage to him. Add to that the fact that he appears before you have the chance to familiarize yourself with the controls or rank up your weapons, unless you either tell Ciel you won't help the Resistance (giving you the option to go back to the intro stage and grind there) or waste time grinding during that first level (which will ruin your rank). Oh, and speaking of rank, you have to kill him in 1 minute 15 seconds if you want to rescue the reploids in the garbage compactor below the arena, making wearing him down with your Z-Buster from a distance a luxury you don't have.
      • Mega Man Zero 3 is this for the first boss, no matter which of the 4 available you pick first. Fighting each of them at the end of the game is a cakewalk in comparison due to the player having access to things like a Mid-air jump and elementally enhanced weaponry to do more damage. On top of that, you've got to get through a grueling level of enemies (Again, no powerups like a Mid-Air jump) with maybe 2 or 3 lives to your name to get you through the level and defeat the boss. And if you blow them all, it's back to the beginning of the level.
    • In Mega Man ZX, you fight the first boss before you get even one Biometal.
      • In ZX, you have Model X before you even get control of your character. Fighting in your base form would've been impossible, since Vent and Aile lack a gun in that form. Grey and Ashe, however, have to play the entire first stage and beat the first boss in their base form while using only a regular gun.
      • In Advent. The next two bosses also feel like this. The first one because you fight it literally 3 rooms after obtaining your primary biometal, Model A (so new players will still be feeling out the controls). The 2nd boss you have a choice on, but in either case, you'll get to him before you can get your first subtank.
    • Mega Man Legends:
      • The Marlwolf. Up until now you've faced the laughable Hanmuru Doll, and the tricky but still rather easy rush of Marathon Bosses when defending the town and City Hall. The Marlwolf is no joke. It introduces the player to the homing huge-hitbox shield breaking energy orb that bosses love to use, and your means of attacking it is hoping you can jump onto it's back and fire into the hatch when it opens to launch attacks. The only easy way to take down the Marlwolf is to find the Machine Buster arm (the only worthwhile special weapon at this point in the game, and it's easy to miss) and spend lot of time grinding to boost it's stats.
      • The very first Bonne boss fight in Mega Man Legends 2 that you run into is Yakuto Krabbe piloted by Tron Bonne. At this point, you probably only have the fire extinguisher (doesn't do damage), the machine gun arm (on the same island as the boss so you literally only just got it), or the homing missile (again you only just got it and it's energy and attack upgrades are ludicrously pricey), this means that you'll mostly be relying on your buster gun to take on a robot that's running all over the field and taking pot shots at you as it goes. It also has solid health for that point in the game and strong machine gun turrets both on the front and back plus it becomes immune to all weapons when it Turns Red and starts bouncing off the walls like a pinball.
  • Half-Life 2:
    • The Hunter-Chopper is a somewhat easier fight than a Gunship by the numbers, but your encounter with it limits you to only the airboat gun to kill it, and the airboat is tough to maneuver even in its element and offers very little usable cover.
    • Hunters in Episode 2. The first one you encounter is unkillable because you have only the Gravity Gun. The first real fight with them is difficult, with you mostly restricted to plain gunfire for killing them. In the finale, though, Hunters are limited to escort roles, and you're rife with ways to kill them — pulse rifle alt-fires, SMG grenades, the RPG, the crossbow, the car... Ironically, the Gravity Gun is the best choice for killing Hunters, in that physics objects do the most damage next to the rare AR2 alt-fire, and they can easily sidestep your car, with most of the difficulty coming in figuring out that weakness for yourself.
  • The first mission boss Ace Squadron in Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War can be very frustrating on the first playthrough, since they are pitted against the player as early as in mission 3, long before the player has a chance to unlock a decent plane and money to actually buy it. Additionally, since there are no tutorials in this installment whatsoever, you may not even be fully familiar with the controls and dogfight tactics when you encounter them... in a New Game Plus, however, these bosses become moderately challenging, at best.
  • In the Diablo series:
    • The Butcher in Diablo (1997) counts as this. Early level players will get, well, butchered the first time they fight the dude, although fortunately you don't actually have to kill him the first moment you see his lair and you can wait until you're some levels higher. He can even be literally impossible for some characters when they first meet him, as he regenerates health too fast to kill.
    • One of the first uniques in Diablo II is a shaman who not only can resurrect the Fallen Ones under his command, but can also resurrect the shamans who can resurrect the fallen ones. Upon being defeated, he, like Fire Enchanted monsters, explodes and damages anyone in melee range. Another Fallen unique, Rakanishu, can be this for melee-focused characters who haven't lucked into some Lightning-resist gear.
    • Diablo II's Blood Raven is this. Honestly, unless you intend to grind past the quest (since it's optional) or play a fully populated game (simulated or actual) from scratch, it's unlikely you'll reach levels high enough to make those level 1 or 6 skills effective enough for Blood Raven nor acquire equipment significantly contributing to survival without twinking, as soon as the quest becomes available. By the time you are able to hire mercenaries without killing Blood Raven, you're probably high enough a level to be on comparable, if not greater footing with her anyway.
  • Lufia & The Fortress of Doom. The first real boss (not counting the Hopeless Boss Fight with one of the Big Bads) has you fighting multiple, upgraded Mooks that you normally wouldn't fight quite yet. A party member joins you as soon as the battle begins, but you are not given the opportunity to get him a full set of armor or put him in the front row (he's a warrior) nor do you have the opportunity to put your mage in the back row (she's in the front, given you only have 2 party members prior to this point).
    • On top of this, the first Lufia game only let you target groups, not individuals. This battle involved four minibosses in a single group; attacks and single-target magic would pick one of them at random as the target. Oh, and the bosses can cast Mirror. Hope you get lucky.
  • Knuckles in Sonic Battle is fought with Emerl when he has only a handful of moves and abilities. Although Knuckles turns out to be slow and bulky, his attack range is much better than yours at the time and his healing ability is the second best in the game next to Cream's which definitely makes up for it.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout 2:
      • The game opens with a series of headaches: in order to prove yourself worthy of searching for the GECK, not only do you have to make it through a very tough dungeon, filled with enemies that can poison you with a very limited amount of healing items at your disposal, but then you have to defeat a local tough guy at the end. Make it past that? Well congratulations, now you get to go fight geckos... which are no pushovers either. However, a pacifist can talk their way into being given the key for the door without a fight, though starting as a pacifist out of the gate makes the rest of the opening this...
      • The real early-bird bosses in mook clothing in Fallout 2 are the raiders between The Den and Modoc – groups of 10+ punks with rifles, handguns and melee weapons, good HP and basic armor while you only have a leather jacket (or leather armor at best) and maybe a .44 revolver able to down 2 raiders a turn if you have maximum agility and some luck with criticals. Not to mention that one would probably be around level 6-8 at this time, which is not much in the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system of Fallout.
    • In Fallout 4, the first boss fight of the game is against a Deathclaw. You'll have access to a suit of power armour and a minigun by this point, but the armour is damaged and of poor quality, and the minigun is simply not up to the task of killing it, requiring a minute or so of sustained Scratch Damage to bring it down. Most Deathclaws are in the southern part of the map, and by the time you get down there you should have vastly superior gear and perks needed to take them on properly.
  • The Level 7 boss in Descent. By then, the most powerful weapons you have are only Quad Level 4 Lasers and Homing Missiles, while the boss can Teleport Spam and massacre you with barrages of Smart Missiles, and is backed up by Homing Missile Hulks and Class 1 Drillers. The first boss of Descent II also qualifies, although you may already be well-enough armed by then.
  • Fighting Skelter Helter in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle is literally the first thing you do after the opening cutscene. Hell, the game even tries to teach you the controls mid-fight. Fortunately, if you've played the first game already and have a good handle on the controls, he shouldn't be too hard...unless you're fighting on Bitter Mode. The game still goes through the tutorial, even on Bitter, though. This can actually mess players up...
  • In the Devil May Cry series:
    • Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening features the Hell Vanguard in Mission 2. On your first playthrough, the real difficulties of this fight come from the playable character's lack of upgrades as early as this point, and the Hell Vanguard's gimmick of parrying your own melee attacks to execute a Counter-Attack on you (which deals significant damage). That being said, they later on become just another elite enemy, spawning along other enemies and even along other Hell Vanguards. Once Dante does re-encounter them, he's got plenty of arsenal and upgrades with him, and will generally dispatch of them more easily. However, the higher difficulties and Bloody Palace instead turn them into bosses in mook's clothing, especially when you have to fight against three of them at the same time, as in Bloody Palace.
    • Devil May Cry 4 features Berial, again in Mission 2. Aside from Dante, the player has only fought against Scarecrows until that point. Berial is not only incredibly big and resistant, but has MANY attacks at his disposal, and the lack of upgrades and skills for Nero really turns him into an incredibly hard boss the first time you fight him, even in Human Mode. However, there's a catch to his fight; the houses in his boss arena give you Green Orbs if they're destroyed, which can be a lifesaver for the newbies.
  • Ninja Gaiden Sigma on PS3 has Doku in chapter 2, who is also a Hopeless Boss Fight. Apart from the fact he wields the Black Dragon Sword, he is more or less the same boss you fight ten chapters later, except you have only a level 1 Dragon Sword and a very small lifebar at this point, making him extremely difficult (though not impossible) to beat.
  • The Baten Kaitos series sports two examples:
    • The Nunkirantula from the first game. Only the third boss in the game, he would be cake except you can only fight him with one character, and he frequently buffs his defense, which can really stall the fight when you only have one character. What would normally be an average fight turns into a drawn-out slugfest as you gradually whittle down his HP. With only one character, you're entirely reliant on luck to get healing items, and if all your healing items get shuffled to the bottom of your deck, then you're just screwed.
    • Giacomo in Baten Kaitos Origins. His main attacks hit hard, easily taking out half of Sagi or Guillo's health as well as knocking them down for long periods of time, and his special, Thrashingale, can take off half to two-thirds of your health by itself. Since Origins is Nintendo Hard, that's all to be expected. However, he's the second boss, so you have three specials, no EX Combo options, and a sparse handful of weak weapons. Just to top it off, your healing options are limited to Low Potions, which are already becoming borderline-useless. It's telling that when Giacomo returns later in the game for rematches, he's actually pretty easy.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Lord Godfrey in the normal mode of Shadowfang Keep has all the abilities his Heroic counterpart does. These include putting a Curse on the party that must be interrupted, dispelled, or healed through (when it's highly unlikely that players have abilities, or are familiar with them, to interrupt spells or remove curses), summoning adds mid-battle, and firing a Pistol Barrage that essentially kills anyone who stands in it for more than a second or two. These are all abilities that bosses generally don't use until later. However, these actually do acquaint new players with a taste of what will come later.
    • His predecessor, Archmage Arugal, was potentially worse prior to being nerfed. He had high HP, indefinite mana, teleported about the room, mind-controlled party members, and was capable of dealing upwards of 600 unmitigated damage per void bolt every 1.5 seconds (when most players doing the dungeon at the intended level are barely breaking 1500 HP at that point). He was a threat to parties up to 8 levels higher then he was unless they were extremely well geared and skilled. If not for the fact that Arugal dropped some of the best gear for that point in the game — especially for spellcasters, most players would have opted to skip him. And this was back when Rare quality items were extremely good for players; you were lucky to find any gear with decent stats before endgame level content, especially if its uncommon quality or worse.
  • In Tales of Graces, Cedric could be considered one. Other than Richard, none of your characters likely have any blast calibers of their own and he has his... as much of a letdown as his blast caliber is.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Shin Megami Tensei if... has Vine in the Domain of Pride. You're not ready for Zionga and Mazionga at this stage in the game, and even if you do manage to acquire Elec-resistant demons, that doesn't prevent him from simply obliterating the protagonists, who don't get Elec-resistant equipment until the next dungeon.
    • Shin Megami Tensei NINE has the fight with Green Bear and Titan in Chapter 2. They're the first boss with access to combo skills. The one they happen to use is Mega Strike, which hits the entire party and deals a lot of damage for this point in the game. This one attack is enough to turn what would otherwise be a straightforward Dual Boss into an RNG-fest, where the main strategy is to pray that the A.I. Roulette doesn't pick the combo skill.
    • Part of what makes Matador That One Boss of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne is the fact that you fight him fairly early on, at a time when you might not have any demons that resist or nullify Force element spells. In addition, you may not have any spells that heal the entire party yet, which is needed to survive his Andalucia attack. And you only gain access to the Demon Compendium (which makes fusing demons much easier) in the area immediately after him.
    • Wendigo in Devil Survivor. He's Level 17 when your characters are lucky to be Level Eight, deals 50 damage with his regular attack (while your characters barely have 100 HP), and has a multi-hit ice attack. He's also flanked by two Moh Shuvuu, which give him a massive movement radius. You do have a place to grind, but it rapidly becomes ineffective. And you don't get access to Demon Fusion until after you kill him... in a game where Demon Fusion is vital to having any sort of power.
    • Giten Megami Tensei has the second fight with Dantalian. He's Level 25 and has spells that deal triple-digit damage, at a point in the game where your party is around Level 10, and might have about 100 HP. To make matters worse, your best grinding spot is on the wrong end of a Point of No Return, the demons you can recruit are still fairly weak, and Demon Fusion isn't available for a while. The only reason this fight is even remotely possible to win is the fact that all of the aforementioned spells are single-target, potentially buying you enough time to debuff him before he vaporizes your entire party.
  • A lot of the early bosses in Super Robot Wars games owe their difficulty to the fact that your roster may be lacking their Midseason Upgrade, or upgrades to their stats and weapons, or Spirits (self-buffs) that allow your units to dodge/tank attacks better.
  • In Heavy Weapon, it's Twinblade that's this in the Boss Blitz mode. To put it, you (probably) got at least one power, rapid fire, Spread Shot, and some Nuke and Shield upgrades during the first level before fighting it in campaign mode. In Boss Blitz, you don't do the level and thus you fight it with only one level of shield, and nothing else whatsoever. Without the Power, Rapid Fire and Spread Shot upgrades, you effectively deal about 1/6 the damage you would normally have dealt at the end of the first level. If you can't makes its missiles misfire or shoot them down in time, you're toast in 2 hits.
  • If you have the Slingshot DLC for XCOM: Enemy Unknown, you will encounter Mutons with full Plasma Rifles well before you get the Laser Rifles and Carapace Armour you usually need to take them down reasonably.
  • Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters: The Minotaur, whose main difficulty comes from having a greater range of attack than Pit without upgrades, which he is unlikely to have when you reach him. At best, you can have one that will be lost with a single hit.
  • Baldur's Gate:
    • Tarnesh is a level 5 mage you fight at a point in the game where you, if sticking closely to the main questline, are likely still level 1 and therefore almost guaranteed to die to his third spell (a triple magic missile), have never fought a mage before, and have at most four party members with their starting equipment. You meet more higher-level mages with scarier spells scant hours later, but beating Tarnesh at that stage of development is more or less a Luck-Based Mission: If he gets to this third spell (which he will always aim at the main character), you're dead.
    • There are also a couple of opportunities right at the start to get ruined by the common brown bear. With just another level or two and a full set of equipment under your belt (it doesn't even have to be enchanted), you'd never have to blink twice at a solo encounter with a non-magical animal.
    • Depending on party composition and your party's luck with magical weapons, the vampiric wolf can be this. Several of these can be found near Beregost (at the "Temple at Beregost" and "North Nashkel Road") and besides being able to drain your party's health and paralyzing party members, it's also completely immune to non-magical weapons, making it (possibly) unkillable if you run a party that's low on magic users (or if you just fall short killing it with spells). Get your hands on some magical weapons, however, and it becomes significantly easier to kill.
    • While not in the original game, the Enhanced Edition had the encounter between Neera and Ekandor in Beregost. This encounter initiates upon running into Neera north of The Burning Wizard and throws you into a fight without warning (unless you have Edwin in your party). In this fight, your party (and Neera) have to deal with two Thayan bodyguards (who try to rush your mages) and a Thayan Wizard (who sports offensive spells such as Melf's Acid Arrow and Flame Arrow, which could easily one-shot most of your party at low level (and occasionally even your tanks)). Complicating matter further is the fact that you have to protect Neera (a level 1 mage with 4 HP), unless you want to lose her as a companion indefinitely. Attempt this fight with some levels (and some magical gear) under your belt, as well as an invisibility spell for Neera, will make this fight significantly easier (although not as trivial as any of the previous encounters).
  • Mario & Luigi: Dream Team:
    • Smouldergeist(s). Later in the game when you have hammers, bros attacks, badge effects and good items, these creatures would be insanely easy to beat due to low health. As the first boss? Not so much, especially given how you need to dodge their attacks successfully to even make them possible to hit due to them being covered in flames and you having no way of damaging enemies you can't jump on. Although to be fair, jumping on them WILL extinguish the flames and only deal you 1 HP of damage.
    • Dreamy Mario is this even more so, you have no real opportunities to level grind so you'll at most be fighting him at a single level higher than when you faced Smouldergeist. However, unlike the first boss which has simple, easy to dodge patterns so you can get used to the controls, Dreamy Mario doesn't hold back. He has seven times the HP that Smouldergeist had and hits harder, he created a bunch of clones of himself, and you have to hit the real one. Hit a clone and it'll fly up and launch at you with a meteorite attack that is fairly difficult to dodge. You also have to only jump on the real one when they Zerg Rush you, and avoid them entirely during the "Get Back Here!" Boss segment since they're invincible (while not getting confused by the purple cloud created to obscure vision). And just like in the previous boss battle, you have no weapons except the basic jump attack. He also serves as a Wake-Up Call Boss, letting you know you're in for a Nintendo Hard world of hurt if you don't master the gameplay. This battle would be made much easier with a Luiginary attack where you could hit both the clones and the original at the same time, as well as deal tremendous damage, but all you have to rely on are jumps.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef of Destruction has Rebecca Hawkins, who appears in the very beginning when your cards are even more limited than usual.
  • Donkey Kong 64 has Army Dillo, the first boss. Sure, he's not exactly difficult, but given that you only have one melon of health, and this is your first boss battle of any kind (there are no mini-bosses you face beforehand, you need Lanky to fight the level's only mini-boss), this battle can definitely feel like this. He's much easier in the world 6 rematch despite learning new moves because you have three melons and can take 12 hits instead of 4.
  • Demon's Crest actually begins with a boss fight against Somulo, an undead dragon who takes up about 3/4 of the screen and is an Advancing Boss of Doom. At this point, the only things you have are a rather weak fire breath and a very limited hover ability.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Duelists of the Roses has Rex Raptor. He's fought on the Wasteland terrain, which increases his monsters' strength by 500 points. At this point in the game, the only other opponent you'd be able to defeat would be Weevil, whose forest creatures are weakened by Wasteland terrain. If you start with Fairy King Truesdale, whose deck is almost all insects, your only hope is judicious use of the Forest magic card and Acid Trap Hole. On later tries, Rex isn't nearly as bad when you have more variety in monsters.
  • The World Ends with You has Vespertilio Canor. At this point, it's still early in the game and the player doesn't have as large a collection of Pins and Threads and is probably still trying to get used to fighting on both screens. Vespertilio Canor is the first enemy that utilizes unique mechanics for both screens. The boss is invincible in the dark and exploits this by sending Mooks to the top screen to drain the power for the lights while attacking Neku on the bottom screen. The goal is to have your partner take out the mooks on the top screen to restore the lights while Neku tries to avoid dying until the boss is vulnerable. However, the player likely won't know this and foolishly try to retaliate while the boss is invincible or not realize that they need to control their partner. A tougher version of the boss is fought later. However, the player should now know what to do and how to fight and have better Pins and Threads.
  • Nemesis, The Heavy of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. He's the toughest son of a bitch in the whole game relative to speed and attack power. He takes 30 handgun shots per half of each tussle, and he can down Jill to orange health in three strikes. The first time you get to face him, you have at best 70 pistol bullets, 12 shotgun shells, a first aid spray and three herbs total, and that makes him one of the top 3 toughest boss fights in the entire series. As early as the second encounter, when you have access to a lot more supplies plus the Grenade Launcher or the Magnum, he's a great deal more manageable. Sure, you can run from him and avoid most of the pain, but aside from him dropping some outrageously good items, where's the fun in that?
  • EarthBound (1994):
    • Frank, both this and Wake-Up Call Boss. Fighting him is the first real objective in the game. Ness is your only Party Member and you barely have any PSI to speak of, and yet you still have to fight him. His knife attack does high damage and he even debuffs you. To make matters worse, when you manage to defeat him you end up having to fight his robot Frankeystein Mark II without any chance to heal in-between fights. Unless you're significantly fast at flipping through menus, exploiting the rolling HP meter to heal when mortal damage is dealt instead of beforehand is also tough because Ness' low HP means you have mere seconds to get your turns out. Better have packed a lot of food.
    • The Titanic Ant comes not long afterward, and has hard-hitting attacks and two flunkies, meaning that he's far from an ideal opponent for a solo Ness.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC has the Spear Jaeger from the prologue. To wit: your party has only two characters through the entire prologue and limited resources to heal with, and had to walk through two areas full of monsters beforehand, including another boss. One of your characters has no ranged capabilities beyond Arts (which she's not very good at anyway). While the levels carry over from FC, your Orbments are reset and therefore you have no access to Arts from the FC endgame. In comes a boss that boasts a base attack with incredible knockback (to render said melee specialist all but useless), a possible OHKO ranged attack, a hefty self-buff to STR and DEF and a heal that restores 1000 hitpoints a piece (at around the time where your party can deal around 1100-1200 points of damage a turn with the right circumstances), which he can use as he pleases. The fight's rightfully decried as one of the hardest ones in the entire trilogy, if not the hardest, especially on Nightmare difficulty.
  • Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams has a fight against Danemon. He is a Palette Swap of the Genma Generals you'll encounter much later in the game, only much weaker. However, he is in the second level, before you had a chance to adapt to the battle system (even if you played the previous games, as it changed quite a lot) and grind your weapon or armor, meaning he can be difficult to fight. Jubei Yagyu, the Action Girl that comes in the level after might count as well due to her aggressive fighting style.
  • In Xenosaga Episode I, the battle with Margulis on Pleroma is this to the point where it's considered a Hopeless Boss Fight by the game itself. He's still very beatable though.
  • In Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, there's the Oggdo Bogdo fought early on Bogano. He's got very tight windows for dodging, can kill Cal in two hits on Jedi Master, and can be first encountered right after the tutorial concludes by going off the beaten path at the beginning of the planet long before you have time to upgrade Cal's abilities. Fortunately, he's also an Optional Boss, so you can run away and come back later if you can't beat him.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon has Gomer, the boss of Chapter 2, and Hyman, the boss of Chapter 3. On Normal, they're relative pushovers, but on the highest difficulties, both men have insane Strength and Speed allowing them to kill nearly your entire party in one round of combat; only Ogma (against both), Barst, Cord, and sometimes Jagen (against Gomer), and Navarre (against Hyman) can survive combat with them with their base stats. In addition, they have Hand Axes which allow them to attack at both 1 and 2 range, meaning using ranged attacks to cut them down from safety like you could with the Chapter 1 boss Gazzak is not an option.
    • Henning from Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade is the boss of chapter 8x. He's a promoted unit with high speed and decent durability standing on a throne that boosts his evasion and resilience even further (+3 defense and an insane +30 avoid, which doesn't go well with this game's low weapon accuracy). He'll double your units if you're not careful, possibly killing them. There are no weapons that deal extra damage to his class, and your prepromotes Marcus and Zealot will probably not fare very well on their own. If he showed up one chapter later you could use the mighty Durandal against him, but he is guarding the damn weapon (luckily he won't use it against you). At this point in the game you probably won't have any promoted units beyond the aforementioned Marcus and Zealot, either. Rutger has decent accuracy against him, and with the killing edge he can deal meaningful damage, but he's squishy and has a non-trivial chance to get crit by Henning. You can use the rescue and drop commands to attack and retreat to safety, but even then you might just spend a lot of time chipping at him if you're unlucky. This problem is worse in hard mode, where he has even higher stats.
  • The first boss of Shining in the Darkness, the KaiserKrab, is the only boss in the game you have to face before you're joined by your two companions, Pyra and Milo. And since you're a Magically Inept Fighter, your only strategy is "hit it while it's hitting you and hope you can kill it before you run out of healing items", so your only way to improve your odds is to grind for EXP and gold to buy better gear (which can take ages). It's also immensely more powerful than any common enemy you've met before it, doing 15-20 damage per hit where lesser enemies will (as long as you've been keeping your armour up to date) only be doing 1-3 damage. Worst of all, it jumps on you without any warning as you're proceeding down an ordinary-looking passage in the Labyrinth, so it's pretty much guaranteed to wipe you out on your first play through the game when you have no idea it's coming.
  • Dragon Age: Origins: The Ogre at the top of the Tower of Ishal. With your limited equipment and stats early in the game it's a challenging fight, but Ogres become a much more manageable foe later on.
  • Hollow Knight:
    • Hornet's first boss fight wouldn't be too bad, except that you fight her before you get any abilities whatsoever, including dash, which is required to reach the Charm Shop. Also, unlike the previous large, lumbering bosses, Hornet is fast, aggressive, and has multiple moves to watch out for.
    • The Mantis Lords can be battled as soon as you get to Mantis Village, before getting any ability but the dash, any of the weapon upgrades, or likely a single mask of extra health. However, compared to all of the bosses you have faced up to Fungal Wastes, they're ruthlessly fast and give you very few chances to attack them due to their rapid movement and aggression, all of which gets taken up a notch in their second phase when you battle two of them at once. If you return to them after upgrading your nail and gathering a couple more charms and possibly another Heart Container, they'll be a lot easier to manage, going from Lightning Bruisers to Fragile Speedsters.
  • The Battle Cats:
    • The Hippoe in Japan. Up to this point, all the enemies you've fought have been barely threatening, but Hippoe has much more HP, has hard-hitting attacks that can hurt multiple cats, and doesn't get knocked back until it dies. What really makes it this trope is that, when it's encountered in Japan, you'll only have access to four cats — and of them, only Gross Cat can safely hit the boss, with the rest being meatshields. Easy if you know it's coming, but it can still catch new players off guard if they're mindlessly spamming everything and not saving up money for ranged attackers. Of course, after you beat this level, you'll get access to Rare Cat Capsules and stronger ranged attackers, which make all future Hippoes a joke.
    • The fourth level of Hidden Forest of Gapra, possible to play as soon as you’ve cleared Empire of Cats, introduces the first Behemoth boss, Casaurian Ahirujo. At the early point in the game when you fight it, your cats might not be able to wear down its high HP pool, take its powerful rapid-fire melee attacks, or contend with its support. However, once you’ve farmed a few behemoth stones, you can hatch Ancient Egg: N101 and unlock Courier Cat, which eats Ahirujo for breakfast and reduces it to a source of free money in later encounters.
  • Dwarf Fortress: For attackers to come by your fort, especially those that come to lay a proper Siege, you need to have passed certain population and wealth thresholds. Necromancers and their legions of undead can almost completely ignore these restrictions if you've embarked close enough to one of their towers, and thus can show up before the first year is even over, when you might not even have a military at all. Sure, their numbers are still restricted by wealth and population, but even three walking corpses with weapons and armor can slaughter an expedition all by themselves.
  • In the Bloons Tower Defense series, the basic MOAB is the first MOAB-class bloon to show up. While far weaker than the ones that show up later, to the point of becoming a Degraded Boss before round 80, it can still be a threat when it first shows up, since MOABs require different tactics and tower types to handle than regular bloons.
  • The Positron Task Force in City of Heroes is a bit of an Early Bird Raid, but it still has players fighting against what might be their first 'Elite Boss' ranked foes. It's also one of the more grueling and frustrating mission sets due to its lower level (synced down to 15 at max) precluding most players from having their stronger powers or, for that matter, many of the Enhancements which would make it faster. Hence, even the 'mere' Elite Boss (a step down from Archvillain) can still chew you up if you're unprepared. Most players will complete it once to get the badge, and then never again.

Non-video game examples:

  • Experience Boost: The Alpha Gopher, the level 2 boss. The battle takes place early in the story, and to properly gear up for it, Keran and Vedrana have to go into a populated area to find a crafter that can make them good gear.


Video Example(s):


The Iron Dogfish

Serving as the game's first boss is the Iron Dogfish, a large dog-like fish.

How well does it match the trope?

2.8 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / EarlyBirdBoss

Media sources: