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Easy Levels, Hard Bosses

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"Because while the regular enemies are a breeze to kill, the bosses will bend you over and *bleep* with mayonnaise, and just shove their hand up *bleep* with their fingers out *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* *bleep*, and trust me when I say you'll never look at a pencil the same again."

Some video games have bosses that are disproportionately hard compared to the levels before them. Regardless of whether the levels are simple or Nintendo Hard, the bosses are more difficult compared to the skill and effort needed to reach them.

Reasons for this can vary. Perhaps the developer wanted to make a dueling game against a boss, pumping up the Just Here for Godzilla factor. Sometimes the normal enemies exist to show the player character's power; the bosses are the real challenge. Others simply include a large amount of bosses in their games, such as in Role Playing Games.

A Sub-Trope of Boss Dissonance.

These patterns are Acceptable Breaks from Reality for Boss Games. See also SNK Boss and Rank Scales with Asskicking.

Contrast Hard Levels, Easy Bosses and Mooks, but no Bosses.

Try to avoid giving examples of That One Boss here.


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    Action Game 
  • In La-Mulana, once you have a healthy number of Life Jewels, the Body Armor, and the EXP-doubling Scripture, it's nearly impossible to die unless you do so on purpose. That is, until you face a boss...
  • Green's level in Gunstar Heroes. "Gee, that was a short level, and this boss doesn't seem that tough... wait, what?" Like most bosses, he fights more aggressively and does more damage on higher difficulties. Unlike most bosses, he also takes on more forms depending on the difficulty, further tipping the scale for this level on hard and especially expert.
  • Most arcade-styled Bomberman games are notorious for having very easy levels and absolutely brutal bosses. Especially as poor play can result in any boss being a potential That One Boss. Most bosses drop not one single powerups, meaning if you reach the boss with little to no powerups whatsoever (which is very possible if you died or used a continue prior to the boss), you are in for a miserable time.
  • The metroidvania Super Panda Adventures (from the same author of GunGirl 2) lets you upgrade your character to the point that he's either almost invulnerable to normal enemies or able to destroy them with almost no effort... however all bosses have a ton of health points, attacks that are both very damaging and hard to avoid, and some of them are an example of Tennis Boss in that the only way to defeat them in a reasonable time is to reflect some projectiles back at them. Final boss is an example, and its bubbles need to be bounced back five times to actually hurt it, and they get faster each time!
  • Alien Soldier's levels aren't too bad, and are mainly there so you can refill your health and your ammo. It's the bosses that will absolutely slaughter you, especially until you get to grips with the game's somewhat esoteric control scheme.

  • Climbing the tower in Spud's Adventure isn't nearly as tough as defeating the bosses, as while enemies can swarm you, they have set respawn points, and you can grind enough EXP to max your HP fairly easily and restore any lost health. Bosses have no such luxury, hit hard, and most of all have huge hitboxes and erratic movement patterns, making them very easy to die or get a Game Over to.

    Beat Em Up 
  • Altered Beast: Guardian of the Realms: Most of the levels are painfully easy. The bosses, on the other hand, are just painful.
  • No More Heroes: The game lets you slice up mooks with relative impunity. The first boss will tear you up if you rush him the same way. It just gets worse from there.
  • Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage: The game has simple levels that involve beating up rioters. The boss fights are either introductions to Elite Mooks or pit you against super villains with powerful attacks who are hard to beat unless you know their Assist Character weakness (even then, you're still in trouble if you screw up or forgot them); Shriek's the only one who isn't immune to being snared by webs. And then there's Muzzoid, who is very difficult to beat without an exploit.
  • Streets of Rage: All of the bosses were better off taken out with the specials than losing lives over, which made the Boss Rush at the end even worse, when specials are disabled.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game: The game is notorious for this. Most of the levels are pretty standard until you reach the boss, who feels like they have more health than all of the enemies in the level combined. Bonus points for the last level which has THREE tough bosses at the end and the last two have to be beaten consecutively without healing.

    Fighting Game 
  • Soulcalibur 3
    • The Chronicles of the Sword mode is like this, with mostly easy battles against random soldiers and difficult battles against difficult AIs with powerful weapons and stage effects stacked against you. The final battle is particularly trying, as it is only hard because you fought a whole slew of enemies without a chance to heal, and the stage you fight in eliminates your blocking ability (plus your enemy has Soul Edge).
    • Of course, all the "real-world" fighters show up as optional minibosses, typically tough because they're always Level 60. Then a random dude named Ende fills that role in the final stage, even though Nightmare's hanging out there as that stage's Lv. 60 canon fighter. While Nightmare's presence might foreshadow about the boss to come, Ende is not explained.
    • Go back to a normal fight after the final battle chronicles. Just do tales of souls. It is one of the more screwed up feelings in the world to go from sliding across the floor on your teeth, even if you are using the cheapest moves known to man, to the unrecognizable feeling of actually being able to hit the enemy.
    • For the most part (except for Aege 2, Girardot 2 and Abelia 2, who are endgame-ish bosses with super armor, and even then some), all fights can easily be won by spamming A.I. Breaker moves.
  • Boss fights in the entire Street Fighter series are hard. Akuma in Super Street Fighter II Turbo easily takes the cake as the hardest, although Street Fighter Sagat, Street Fighter Alpha 3 Final Bison, Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Gill, and Street Fighter IV Seth are also very hard. The fights before them are cakewalks, mostly.
  • Azazel from Tekken 6 is probably the best example. The rest of the fights are a breeze. He is almost impossible to beat.
  • Super Smash Bros. for the 3DS/Wii U's classic mode becomes this at higher difficulties. Players can tear through fighters pretty easily, but at higher difficulties Master Core gains more HP and more forms, turning the fight into a marathon.

    First Person Shooter 
  • The 2012 Syndicate remake. The levels are more challenging than most other games, but not too bad once you get the hang of the gameplay mechanics. The bosses, however, are completely insane even on the "Normal" difficulty setting. The final boss in particular is on par with the likes of General Raam in terms of frustration.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution:
    • The game is like this if you're trying to go for a Pacifist Run. While the bosses are easier if you've heavily specialized in combat, try to face down even the first boss carrying little more than a stun gun and the pistol you picked up from some mook and you're in deep trouble. Unlike the rest of the game, which allows for many different play styles, Violence is the Only Option in boss fights. This was one of the most common criticisms of what was otherwise a heavily acclaimed title, with many people feeling that it went against the rest of the game. The inverse is true if you specialize in combat; the distressingly common frag mines and gas grenades are usually more than enough to drop most any boss.
    • The first, second, and fourth bosses have resources or alternate options on hand to let you beat the boss if you specialized in stealth or hacking if you take the time to look, leaving only the third boss (the one where directly applied violence really IS the only option) for you to deal with. Even then, a hacker can find the third boss easy to defeat with a minimum of effort by carrying turrets from the beginning of the level into the fight with you.
  • Team Fortress 2 has shades of this. While it's possible for an individual player, or at most a small group, to complete a map's objective on their own, the bosses (particularly Merasmus, certain Mann vs. Machine robots, and the playable bosses from the Vs. Saxton Hale Game Mod) have dozens of times more HP than a normal player has, can deal devastating damage if not a One-Hit Kill, and are immune or resistant to many techniques and status effects, including backstabs. Teamwork is virtually the only way to even have a chance at taking them down.
  • ULTRAKILL usually has bosses that are significantly harder than the arena fights. The game recognizes that and features boss difficulty override options in the major assists menu.

    Hack And Slash 
  • In Dynasty Warriors, Samurai Warriors, and spin-offs, expect to kill mooks as if they were ants, but if anyone with a name shows up, you're in for a boss fight. Depending on difficulty, it can range from a Curb-Stomp Battle where you are the stomper to one where you are the stompee.
  • Sengoku Basara, being an Alternate Company Equivalent of Samurai Warriors, works the same way. Well, with the exception of Naoe Kanetsugu, who is billed as a boss, has a health bar, an intro, and can be duelled in the third game, but has the health and damage of a regular mook. He's never anything more than a Mid-Boss, though.
  • Diablo III is a particularly bad offender. Normal mode is a joke, with the bosses being the only real possibility of dying, but this never really changes until the highest difficulties. Oddly, the hardest enemies in the game are not the actual bosses but rather the elite monsters that randomly spawn in the higher difficulties, which are an order of magnitude harder than anything else in the game.
  • Torchlight II is often this for melee-oriented characters. Due to melee weapons having Splash Damage, you can knock down all but the largest packs of enemies like so many bowling pins. However, with the bosses, they're able to squash you with a few well-placed attacks, since you don't have the benefit of having a bunch of allies to back you up and distract the boss.

    Platform Game 
  • Kirby:
    • Seen in a few of them; some Kirby games have easy stages, in most of which it's a breeze (or a Spring Breeze) to either avoid all enemies or simply suck them all up, and bosses which are comparatively hard. In general, though, the difficulty of bosses in the series depends heavily on what power you bring with you — with the right one, most bosses are much easier than their level, while without one they tend to be comparatively hard.
    • The challenge mode in the first game is a shining example of this considering that while the levels are tougher, but still manageable, most of the bosses go from Breather Boss to That One Boss, with the third boss Kabula being the most prominent example. This makes the Boss Rush at the final level Mt. Dedede that much more difficult.
    • Miracle Matter of Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards is one of the more infamous examples due to making Copy Abilities near worthless. This is all coming after Breather Level Ripple Star. He's so hard that he makes the True Final Boss into a Post-Final Boss at the same time.
    • And, by extension, the Subspace Emissary portion of Super Smash Bros.. Brawl, with fairly standard stages (barring a slew of Goddamned Bats and Demonic Spiders) and absolutely brutal bosses, especially Tabuu.
  • Spyro: Year of the Dragon has rather easy levels. The boss of the first world is standard, the second is That One Boss, and the third is both a Breather Boss and a Climax Boss at the same time.
  • Most of the obstacles you face in regular levels of Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time are nothing to brag about, but the bosses will have you die at least a few times.
  • Iji plays this pretty straight; unless you're trying to get some of the Unlockable Content, playing on Ultimortal difficulty, or trying out a Self-Imposed Challenge, you can get through most levels in your sleep. The later bosses, though, ramp the difficulty up to the point where even a maxed-out Normal difficulty Iji can have trouble with the likes of Sentinel Proxima or General Tor. (On the other hand, Elite Kroteora isn't particularly hard, and Annihilator Iosa is an Anticlimax Boss once you know what to do.)
    • On the other hand, Proxima isn't that hard if you just use the environment to kill it. Its armour only becomes a nightmare if you try to kill it without using the environment for that, and many players are tempted because of the bonus you get for doing it the hard way.
  • Wario Land 4, Wario World, and Wario Land: Shake It!. 4 just had slightly more difficult bosses than the easy levels, Shake It! had about one easy boss and four that to some fell into That One Boss. World was made by Treasure, and it shows, having more bosses than levels. It managed this by having four worlds, two levels per world, one boss at the end of each level, one at the end of each world and a mini boss fought up to three times per level. And the bosses were pretty complicated.
  • Freedom Planet has stages that are fairly simple to speed through, while providing a decent but fair challenge, especially since the game doesn't have Collision Damage. The bosses are uniformly very hard, with special mention going to the Final Boss. The boss has multiple different forms, each one faster and hitting harder than the last. He was so hard that his difficulty had to be toned down multiple times through patches, because the developers found the sheer number of deaths on the last boss unacceptably high.
  • Mischief Makers: Some of the stages can be frustrating, but most are fairly simple matters. The bosses, however? Especially the late-game ones? Don't worry, we'll have the comforting tea ready for you when you inevitably get your behind handed to you over... and over... and over again. This is even worse if you're trying to get an overall grade of A on your record and all of the gold gems, which for boss fights come from a No-Damage Run. To top it all off, you actually need get these things if you want to see the best ending.
  • Metroid:
    • Most of the 2D games are of this kind: the levels are huge and filled with enemies that die in a few hits while the bosses themselves have heavily damaging attacks and later bosses having attacks that are very hard to avoid. This is taken further with Metroid Dread, whose areas are usually gentle, but the bosses (including the EMMI when you're fleeing from them at first) are brutal. Although the first game is the opposite.
    • Metroid Prime: Retro Studios themselves confirmed that the bosses are meant to provide the game's challenge while the rest of the game is meant to be easier, in order to keep the player from feeling too intimidated to explore the world freely. This has the added benefit of significantly toning down the game's FPS elements and making it feel like a true entry in the Metroid series, which has since followed a similar design philosophy for nearly two decades.
    • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption was developed with the same modus operandi: Most of the game is somewhat simple (with the exception of some scripted instances of high action that involve large numbers of normal enemies, usually Space Pirates of some kind), but the bosses - especially the Leviathan Guardians - can be very difficult to beat. This leaves Metroid Prime 2: Echoes as the only game in the trilogy that averts this, due to it being Nintendo Hard both level-wise (especially because of the presence of Dark Aether) and boss-wise.
  • Mega Man Zero has relatively easy levels. Thing is, they're very short so you can get the real challenge: the bosses. This game is infamous for its difficulty, and for good reason.
  • Mega Man & Bass changes between this and Hard Levels, Easy Bosses depending on which character you choose. Playing as Bass makes the levels a breeze, since he has a Double Jump, dash, and the ability to fire in seven directions rapidly. However, his arm cannon can't charge up, meaning that bosses are a good deal harder since you deal very little damage per hit. Also, the rapid fire is completely useless there, since bosses have Mercy Invincibility.
  • Pizza Tower: In all but a few of the main platforming levels, you can't really lose until you deal with escaping the level, and the enemies usually go down pretty easily to Peppino's abilities. A lot of the difficulty associated with them is mainly about fully completing them and getting the best rank, rather than just completing them in the first place. In the boss levels, however, you have a limited amount of Hit Points before you lose the fight and have to start all over again, and the bosses themselves are fast-paced, have more hit-points than you, and a gradually expanding array of moves. With that said, if you're going for S and P ranks, the trope gets flipped.
  • Jazz Jackrabbit 2 has much easier levels than the first game. If you play the character Jazz it's often possible to skip large parts of the levels with the helicopter-ears and even if you play through them it is a piece of cake. The Bosses however can be as tough as in the first game. Most play with Puzzle Boss in that they have some kind of shield you have to destroy first, and the later do even double damage (that is nasty in game with Mercy Invincibility).
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
    • Sonic the Hedgehog 2:
      • The Game Gear version is notorious among the Sonic games for having this trope due to not providing rings at all in the boss acts, which are always Act 3. The first zone, Underground, is a blatant offender, which has That One Boss thanks to awkward bouncing bombs, a slope, and the small Game Gear screen, but Green Hills Act 3 and the final boss count too.
      • In the Genesis version, the Casino Night Zone boss is the first difficult boss in the game, after the game's biggest Breather Level.
    • Tails and Knuckles in the classic Sonic games work like this, depending on the boss. Their flight and gliding/climbing abilities respectively let them breeze through and Sequence Break levels in ways Sonic can't (and in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, some of Knuckles' levels are drastically shortened). However, only the top of Tails' tails cause damage while he's flying, and Knuckles has the shortest jump height of the cast (with most bosses designed for Sonic's and Tails'), which can make bosses tougher.
    • Sonic Superstars: The general take is the levels themselves are pretty standard difficulty-wise by classic Sonic gameplay standards. The bosses, however, are markedly a step up from previous Sonic titles both classic and modern, to the point that the Final Boss of the main campaign, the Final Boss of Trip's campaign, and the True Final Boss are considered some of the most difficult fights in the entire franchise.
  • The third instalment of the LittleBigPlanet series starts off with levels that are simple enough. Then the first boss comes, and it's difficult for people who played a game in the series before. Then the second boss is a marathon with a character you just unlocked.
  • Rabi-Ribi has generally simple platforming segments and somewhat tough Mid Bosses. The main bosses, on the other hand, will make you see the continue screen again and again due to having steady amounts of health coupled with punishing Bullet Hell attacks.
  • The levels in Blender Bros tend to be fairly short and easy. Most of the platforming is simple and most of the enemies go down easy. The bosses, however, are extremely challenging, having ludicrous amounts of health and attacks that are very difficult to dodge if you don't master the somewhat tricky timing of the Ear Bounce maneuver. Though having the right Mini Bro can make them easier, especially the health-sucking Cyupy.
  • While the difficulty from collecting Pagies in Yooka-Laylee ranges anywhere from simplistically easy to fairly challenging, the bosses are very likely to trash players who haven't fully adapted to the game's mechanics and controls. This is especially true with the later half of the game, since the bosses found there utilize a couple different playstyles.
  • The regular stages in New Super Lucky's Tale will rarely put up much of a fight, but the bosses, by comparison, pull no punches. Master Mittens, the first boss of the game, will send Bullet Hell quantities of projectiles at Lucky, and it only goes up from there. Somehow, this applies even when the boss characters directly interfere with Lucky in the regular stages—their difficulty climbs up tremendously whenever this happens.
  • The browser game Diamond Hollow II features relatively easy levels. The end-of-level bosses, on the other hand, all blend together constantly-spawning enemies, Invincible Minor Minions, and near-Bullet Hell levels of enemy projectiles together to create the point where most (if not all) of your deaths will occur.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • While clearing maps in the Dawn of War II campaigns is not necessarily easy, especially if the enemy have a lot of Elite Mooks or vehicles (or worse, a way to replenish their forces), they pale in comparison to the bosses. These things tend to be Damage Sponge Bosses and Flunky Bosses, with at least two special attacks that can kill entire squads if they're in the wrong place and, unlike every other enemy, they don't become easier to kill with each level, some of the later-game bosses being even more difficult to kill at level 20 or 30 than the ones fought at level 5.
  • Heroes of Mana:
    • Standard enemy monsters are about the same strength as your units. Type matching will almost always win the day against regular enemies. However, boss enemies are a different story. About 1 in 3 levels have bosses. Most are actually not that bad. However, some of the recurring bosses become extremely powerful later on in the game. Take Celestan, for example, the most frequent Recurring Boss in the game. His attacks do a very large amount of damage, first of all- he can kill most units in three hits in his later appearances. Also in his later appearances, his attacks have a 100% chance of confusing the unit it hit, which makes them simply wander around uselessly. His range is also obscene, reaching across 5 blocks or more. On top of that, his HP level is enormous- in the 3000s, compared to the average unit's 300-400. The only way to effectively defeat him is to summon lots of units and simply swarm him. Even surrounded by hordes of other units, it sometimes takes him minutes to die.
    • Never mind the final boss. After going One-Winged Angel on you, she is the only creature on the stage. This should be fairly simple, but the boss will. not. die. The only real course of action is to summon all the units you can and swarm her. This would be fine except her attacks do enormous damage, and she also occasionally causes a massive explosion that heavily damages everything within a large radius of her. "Heavily" as in, either kills the units or puts their HP so low that another attack will instantly do them in. Also, by this point in the battle, you will likely have harvested all available resources, so if too many units die you will too. Not only that, but at the end, you have to send the main character in to attack. If he dies, it's game over, so all you can do is bring him in and hope you can kill her before she uses an enormous attack.

    Role Playing Game 
  • World of Warcraft:
    • It fits in both the categories, but since the "Wrath of the Lich King"-expansion, it's veered more toward harder bosses. Most "trash" groups can be handled by just using area-of-effect attacks (since both AOE threat generation and AOE damage got a large boost) and become little more than speedbumps to slow the players down between the bosses. There are occasional trashmob groups that do require proper tactics, but they are a minority. One of the stated goals in the Cataclysm expansion was to make Crowd Control relevant again, to prevent players blowing through trash groups. This worked for a while, until higher gear levels outdated the mobs involved.
    • To almost every player between level 20 and 25... Shadowfang Keep. The trash mobs are a joke, since they're pretty widely spaced out. And then you get to the endboss, Lord Godfrey. If you don't stand in front of his Pistol Barrage, he's pretty easy, but since this is probably only the second or third instance dungeon you've been in at this point, you probably will. It will hit the group's tank (heavily armored guy that serves as the damage sponge) hard, and will probably One-Hit Kill the healer.
    • In Mists of Pandaria, this applies to most scenarios, especially on Heroic difficulty going for the bonus objective (which is in most cases to kill the last boss quickly).
    • In Legion, the Mythic Keystone dungeons, which increase in difficulty based on the level of the keystone, can be this if the "Tyrannical" affix is added to a high-level keystone. In it, the bosses gain 40% additional health and up to 15% more damage on top of what the keystone already gives them, thus making the bosses significantly harder than they are normally.
  • Romancing SaGa 3 seems to be infamous for this. Oftentimes, dungeon monsters will be destroyable without even having to expend any significant amounts of resources, leading the player to believe that they are overpowered, only to encounter a boss fight wherein they may be forced to use all of their item/magical resources, and still end up losing.
  • Po Po Lo Crois is pretty much like this; plenty of boss fights have nearly ten times the HP of a random trash mob and will take plenty of time to kill if you don't use focused attacks, especially when you get multi-hit attacks that total to over a thousand damage, which makes them go much quicker than just having some spike damage while some party members (and summonable espers) constantly put pressure on the boss's HP.
  • Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth can squarely fall into this. Enemies are weak. The bosses? They are durable, can use buffs and debuffs, hit like trucks, and may use skills that you can't get if you happen to make their party member versions. You can barely survive if you use Rock–Paper–Scissors.
  • Tales of Vesperia falls squarely into this. Regular fights tend to not be much of a problem after you've gotten your party's healer, unless you get ambushed or end up in a massively linked encounter. The bosses, though, especially the ones following Gattsuo, can be out-and-out murder the first couple of times you attempt them.
  • A number of EarthBound (1994) bosses could be considered this; the Summers area is fairly easy and enemy-free, but if you attempt leaving it to go to the desert, you encounter the Kraken, who will be more than happy to completely tear your party apart with his tornado attack. The Giant Step cave is fairly easy, seeing as how all the enemies are basically vermin, but the giant ant at the end will (quite literally) chew you up and spit you out.
  • Mother 3 plays this straight; despite a few difficult parts, the mooks in most areas can just be plowed through with a minimum of thought. The bosses, on the other hand, will be more than happy to smash you into dust if you try to brute force them; you have to learn each party member's respective role or you won't make it past the first four chapters.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Strategy hardly matters at all unless facing a boss (and then there's several candidates for That One Boss). This is not true in Expert mode (especially pre-Cure spell) but even then the boss fights are far and away the harder part of the game.
    • Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories is particularly extreme. Not only does the above apply, but several Sleights enable you to tear through enemies, but relying too much on sleights against bosses can leave you vulnerable as you use up the first card you put into a sleight.
  • Pokémon is pretty prominent in this area, with most gyms and dungeons being easy to moderately difficult at best to manage through, and then the inevitable boss battle which makes most players scream out in rage for one reason or another.
  • Lufia: The Legend Returns makes it quite simple to steamroll through random encounters in the dungeons, especially if you're thorough in killing monsters. Bosses, on the other hand, often possess a ton of HP and powerful attacks, requiring careful usage of abilities and healing to prevail.
  • Chrono Cross. Because your magic is refreshed at the beginning of each battle, you can safely use every spell you have every time, including your healing magic. You're even given the option to use any healing magic you have left after a battle to heal you to full health. So not only is each battle pathetically easy, but the battles don't wear down your health. The bosses, on the other hand, are much harder because there's no easy way to refresh your magic mid-battle — and as such, the bosses can outlast your resources until the battle simply becomes brutal.
    • Also, Chrono Trigger. Most enemies in the game are relatively unremarkable, with some exceptions (e.g. foes that can only be damaged by techs or magic), so battles won't drain your resources too much. The bosses, however, are significantly more complex and challenging, often using damaging multi-target attacks and special mechanics.
  • Ys: The Oath in Felghana has this; most of the dungeons are relatively simple (although things toughen up towards the end), but bosses throughout are capable of slaughtering you within seconds if you aren't prepared.
  • In Treasure of the Rudra, you'll rarely find a regular enemy that can give you any kind of trouble. Then you get to the boss, who can wipe out your whole party in 2 shots.
  • Nearly all of the bosses in Last Scenario can qualify as That One Boss, and although the rest of the level is generally not easy, it's still much easier than what it leads up to. And it's possible to get items that prevent Random Encounters, making the difference that much more obvious.
  • Kingdom of Loathing:
    • It's bosses tend to be substantially more difficult than the mooks surrounding them, at least in terms of combat. Getting access to the bosses may require solving puzzles or gathering items however.
    • Conversely, at the higher-end speed levels, once players have sufficient skills/familiars/items/knowledge, bosses become quite easy to defeat and the rest of the area becomes the major challenging factor, as for the experienced player, every battle is an almost guaranteed win, but the trick is to make it through the area as fast as possible with minimal expenditure of resources.
  • Arc Rise Fantasia has battles that make you feel as though you're ten levels higher than the enemies of the area. But you have to fight loads of them in order to Level Grind to a state you can reasonably take on the bosses.
  • Persona 3 although being a SMT game normal battles can wipe you if the enemy gets first attack or you aren't aware of their attacks/weaknesses, It's the TOWER bosses (not the Full moon bosses) that can truly give you trouble. On both the Journey and The Answer, Tower Bosses comes in groups of 3 or as one major enemy. These enemys have massive health bars, often no weaknesses, party hitting attacks way before you do, self-buffs and party-debuffs, and incredible attack power. While normal fights can be summed up as "Get first attack, attack each enemy with weakness, All-out attack", Boss fights are a grueling affair of barely keeping above death, chipping away at boss health, keeping up with a buff/debuff cycle (especially party defense and -enemy attack, so everyone doesn't get one shot on a single turn), and watching your main character die for We Cannot Go On Without You. And let's not even talk about hard mode.
  • This is one of the trademarks of Shin Megami Tensei. While enemies will quickly kill you for making mistakes, bosses are usually orders harder than the surrounding mooks, the earlier parts of Persona 4 and the entirety Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne are standout examples due to the sheer prevalence of Those Bosses.
  • Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth falls into this category while its prequel was the opposite. Due to magic not being as useless as it was in the previous game and generally weaker enemies, you aren't likely to die during dungeon exploration. Even FOEs are a step down compared to the first game. And then you reach Super Kamoshidaman, who hits so hard he'll one-shot your party members if you haven't been Level Grinding, and the bosses only step up from there.
  • Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean has fairly easy mooks, but, hoo boy, are the bosses tough. One bad hand in the wrong place can screw you over big time. There's a half-dozen bosses that could easily be That One Boss, and most of the rest are no slouches. Baten Kaitos Origins, meanwhile, is just straight-up hard.
  • While the levels in Dark Souls are genuinely hard, they're pretty manageable once you've mastered the basics of the game's combat system. The minibosses and bosses, on the other hand, are the primary source of (frequent) player deaths.
  • Ni no Kuni tends to have rather easy encounters, but the bosses tend to have hard-hitting attacks that can wear down your health unless you learn how to defend against them. Thankfully, Drippy usually helps players exploit an enemy's weakness during a boss battle, and it is fairly easy to Level Grind in said game.
  • Endless Frontier is explicitly this trope; each dungeon has at least three bosses and each boss is a challenging escapade of multi-hitting attacks and Forced Evasion, whereas enemies are literally there for gaining levels.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim tends toward this in gameplay. Most of the enemies in a particular dungeon will be spawned as "easy" encounters, with a few stronger but not impossible foes mixed in here and there. Bosses, however, will usually be marked as hard or extremely hard enemies, and will often have ten times as much health as their minions, along with resistances and inflict massive damage with their weapons.
  • Mario & Luigi: Dream Team. The normal mode fits this trope, with the enemies and environmental puzzles mostly being fairly easy and the bosses mostly being fairly difficult. Goes double for the Ulti-Bed quest, where only one 'real' boss (except a bunch of weak enemies with boss music and a Palette Swap of an earlier boss) is fought (and the second part of that fight is mainly for catharsis) and the puzzles are mostly things you can do in minutes, but where Earthwake is arguably That One Boss. Even more so for the final dungeon.
  • Sometimes, Final Fantasy does this.
    • In the fifth game you may end up having a hard time beating the bosses, specially Ex Death. Without a guide, you can spend HOURS trying to figure out how to beat them, and then turns out the boss had the lowest Magical Defense, or could be weakened by destroying his sidekicks first, or by just exploiting their One-Hit-Kill weakness to a certain element paired with a technique.
    • Orphan First Phase, as well as many other bosses, in the 13th game. He would, more than often, cast DEATH on the leader, giving you an instant Game Over.
    • Fairly noticable in the mobile Record Keeper spinoff with almost every boss. You'll easily plow through most normal fights with ease, with healing drops negating what little damage you'll take, and then the boss shows up. Each boss even has additional scoring requirements (for more EXP and affecting the overal rating for bonus rewards), and good luck figuring them out in advance (though knowledge of the original games can help).
  • In A Witch's Tale, regular battles can be challenging if the player doesn't spam Liddell's Ancient Magic—which most players tend to do. The bosses, however, are designed with this in mind and are a lot harder.
  • The bosses in Terraria are orders of magnitude harder to beat than anything a player will have seen up to that point. Fortunately for the player, most of them have a specific trigger event and won't show up unless you deliberately summon them, or at least until you do something you shouldn't be able to do until you're reasonably well-equipped, though you can easily break that if you choose to prioritize making better tools over making better armor and weapons, and some bosses are very hard to beat without either specific gear or an arena specifically designed to neutralize some of their advantages. A good example is the Eye of Cthulhu, the first boss in the game; it can fly and travel through solid objects, so early game characters are likely to have a hard time even hitting it, let alone killing it.
  • In Spectrobes Origins, the bosses are much harder than the random enemies; some enemies do have attack patterns and some defend but most of them die to simple attacks and aren't hard to beat. The bosses in the game are MUCH bigger and have lots of complicated attacks and you need to target their specific weak points to do a lot of damage to them. They can kill all of your Spectrobes (monsters), meaning you have to fight with just the heroes Rallen and Jeena, and if you don't have Spectrobes all the boss attacks will hit for massive damage. You can do Level Grinding and this will work for some of them but they're still pretty hard.
  • In Undertale, most enemies can be killed/spared in at least two turns and won't drastically change how you play the game. The bosses, on the other hand, employ Bullet Hell attacks, have tremendous amounts of HP, change up how you dodge their attacks and have significantly more complex ways to spare them. Even the minibosses take at least five (but often much more) turns to defeat. Exacerbated in No Mercy or Genocide runs, where Level Grinding makes you so powerful as to be completely immune to the game's regular enemies and all but two of the bosses, but those two get immensely stronger.
  • Similarly to Undertale, the enemies in Deltarune only take a couple of turns to spare, and attack with simple patterns, whereas bosses can take up to 20 turns to defeat, while launching difficult and powerful attacks.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel falls into this category. Regular enemies rarely pose a threat for most of the game, and healing items are plentiful so it's easy to heal up after a battle. Bosses, however, are a different story. Not only do they have a ton of health and attacks that can do 80-100% of your HP, sometimes to your entire party at once, but a few cases of Unstable Equilibrium become apparent if party members start falling. Firstly, KO'd characters lose all their CP (required to use special moves), so anyone who gets revived is going to have to spend at least a few turns being next to useless. Second, less active party members means less turns for your party and more turns for the boss, meaning the boss will often take your remaining members down faster than you can revive them.
    • Even by the game's usual standards, the haunted castle dungeon stands out. Most of its basic enemies are such extreme Glass Cannons that you're likely to wipe them out before they even do anything, so they're nothing to worry about. But when the same enemies are fought together with dungeon's the main boss? Now that's a different story. He summons them endlessly, and it's often difficult to take them out while also dealing with the boss.
  • The fourth game in the Epic Battle Fantasy series can have this thanks to mid-game adjustable difficulty (you can change difficulty anytime outside combat), achievements for beating bosses on Epic mode, and no Easy-Mode Mockery aside from one NPC comment.
  • In 7th Dragon III: code VFD, the Random Encounters become cakewalks before long, taking two or even a single turn tops to kill. The on-map Dragons might give you trouble, but nothing that necessitates coming back later with 10 more levels gained. The bosses, on the other hand, especially the True Dragons, will break you unless you prepare well.
  • Bravely Default: It's easy to abuse the Brave/Default system to end most common battles in one turn. The "Brave" command allows a character to have an extra turn, with the caveat that in the next round they will have to wait one turn for each turn they get thanks to that command. With that command, a character can act as far as four times in a row. There is no downside to having everyone Brave four attacks in the first turn when you're certain you can end the battle with it and steamroll the random encounters — though if you fail, you're effectively giving the enemy three free turns in a row. However, using this tactic against a boss is a recipe for disaster. One of the earliest lessons in this comes from Ominas Crowe (the game's second boss), who will Fire and Poison your party into oblivion with his free 3 turns if you try to bumrush him like a normal encounter. In general, unless you're vastly overleveled, you'll have to think strategically and deduce the bosses' patterns to defeat them.
  • Bravely Default II: The average mooks go down quickly just like the first game. But no matter how hard you grind, if you don't put in the proper strategy on attacking or defending when the enemies Default (or if they spam their abilities via Brave as well), you will EASILY lose against the bosses. And you will still lose if you are unlucky against them. It doesn't help that a lot of bosses have countering skills that can deal heavy damage or throw various status ailments to the entire party. Every single time the counter is activated.
  • Dragon Age: Origins: Large crowds are rare, and most regular enemies are easily dispatchable, especially by magic. Bosses are, on the other hand, extremeley resistant, if not outright immune, to the majority of spells. And Status Effect spells generally have massively shortened durations against them if they even work at all.
  • While some of the normal battle puzzles in Paper Mario: The Origami King can be difficult, most enemies can be dealt with easily regardless of position. Boss battles require much more persistence and patience, especially the Vellumentals, where Olivia's transforming abilities are required to weather heavy attacks.
  • Most of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 falls into this. While there are Guide Dang It! moments, the bulk of each chapter is simple once you get the hang of the battle system. The story bosses, however, are quite a bit more difficult than what you've faced so far. It's not just higher stats or levels, but also that they frequently have buffs or debuffs that you usually haven't dealt with or didn't know existed yet. It's not unusual to have to shuffle around your party or change how they're outfitted to specifically match the boss, then change back to their better overall strategy right after. The main exception to this is chapter 7, which does have the hardest bosses in the game, but is That One Level from beginning to end.

    Shoot Em Up 
  • Blast Works is like this. The earlier bosses actually become easier if you manage to hold on to enough firepower, but the later bosses especially obliterate in bulk.
  • The Touhou Project games. It ranges from cases where a player skilled enough to beat the game is unlikely to ever die on the stages (Imperishable Night, Subterranean Animism) to bosses just being the leading cause of death (Mountain of Faith, Undefined Fantastic Object).
  • Silent Scope series, most of the time.

    Simulation Game 

    Survival Horror 

    Tabletop Role-playing Game 
  • This can happen in any table top RPG. Some examples below.
    • The Carrion Crown adventure path from Pathfinder opens up with a few very easy encounters and concludes with a Five Boss Rush, each boss increasing notably in power. The Paizo forums were peppered with discussions on whether the last two in particular were even fair for a low-level party, and some players stated that the Final Boss could only be defeated due to DMs deliberately giving him the Villain Ball. As a genius level wizard and ghost, if he was played with optimal tactics the party would have little chance to defeat him. Details spoilered out: The fight pits a 3rd level party against an 8th level wizard ghost who has just hit them with haunts and has only an offensive spell list memorized. He should be able to simply exterminate one player character per round, starting with whoever is holding his Achilles' heel to prevent it from being used. Instead of focusing on the biggest threats, he spreads the pain around and refuses to use his devastating ghostly touch attacks.
    • The entire Jade Regent adventure path by Paizo loves this trope, with mooks filling the dungeon of the day until a suddenly much-more-difficult boss appears. In one case, a dungeon full of joke monsters like Dire Corbies brings down an out of nowhere fiendish tentacles horror designed for a party three levels above the PCs. In another, mook ninja give way to a flying, magic-using oni attacking in a room literally set up for her benefit.
    • Mutants & Masterminds basically runs on this trope. Mooks rarely stay in the fight after a single hit, and need very high rolls to have a chance of even hitting the players. Their primary threat comes in letting the GM roll enough attack dice that a few hits, and maybe some damage, gets through to wear the heroes down some. By contrast, the villains of a game session will often be at least as powerful as the heroes and, being a game that embraces comic book tropes wholeheartedly, are often fated to do quite well against the heroes early on. One notable example is the Time of Crisis adventure that was included with the 2nd Edition GM's Screen. It's intended for starter characters and the final boss is Omega, the setting's expy of Darkseid or Thanos. Even if the optional weakened version of him is used, he's strong enough that he can easily knock out or kill a PC in a single blow.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • Jet Force Gemini is notorious for having easy-ish levels... until the bosses. And they are brutal.