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Level in Boss Clothing

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In many games, the normal levels have you navigating a large area, evading obstacles and fighting Mooks, while Boss Battles take place in a much smaller arena where the focus is entirely on fighting a singular enemy.

Some bosses don't follow this rule, and refuse to limit themselves to a tiny arena. They still have a health bar that you need to deplete to move on, but the fight takes place over the course of a full-size level. This means that during the fight and between boss phases, you'll have to contend with the usual enemies and environmental hazards of other levels. The boss therefore acts more like a timer for the level, Hold the Line-style.

Related to Battleship Raid, Colossus Climb, and Flunky Boss, but is distinct from each — a Battleship Raid or Colossus Climb keeps the focus on the boss, and the things you have to destroy and the parts of the level you have to traverse are generally part of or ejected from the boss, while a Flunky Boss generally keeps to one room. There are also the Advancing Boss of Doom and "Get Back Here!" Boss tropes, where a boss may be chasing you or you may be chasing the boss, respectively, but in those cases, the boss is often a clear goal (most often in the case of the latter) that must either be avoided or found.

Compare Boss in Mook Clothing. Do not confuse with Boss-Only Level.


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    Action Adventure 
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum:
    • All three encounters with The Scarecrow are this. After a few minutes of horror, you have to navigate a giant, fragmented landscape as a giant Scarecrow tries to spot you. At the end, shining a spotlight on him will dispel the illusion.
    • Killer Croc in the same game. His "fight" consists of sneaking around his lair trying to collect plant samples without alerting him to your presence, and knocking him back into the water if he finds you.
  • Batman: Arkham City: Some side character battles can play like this. Folks like The Riddler, Deadshot, or Zsasz can't stand to go toe-to-toe with the Bat, but have advantages like hostages or powerful guns, so their battles consist of getting close enough to them to perform an instant takedown without alerting them to your approach.
  • The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon: The Destroyer's "boss fight" is more of a level than an actual fight, as you climb around its mountain-sized body and search for dark crystals to destroy in order to damage it.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: The "battle" against Divine Beast Vah Rudania is actually more of a Stealth-Based Escort Mission. Link must guide Yunobo to the various cannons dotted around Death Mountain, using them to launch Yunobo at Rudania. All while avoiding (or destroying) the search drones that it deployed.

    Action RPG 
  • Dark Souls 3: The first boss of Archdragon Peak is a giant wyvern with a health bar that each of your attacks chips away a few pixels from at most, if you engage it directly. You're instead supposed to dash past it and fight through a gauntlet full of mooks, while avoiding its fire breath attacks, and then One-Hit Kill it with a plunging attack onto its head from above.
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance: Galactus is less of an enemy and more of an incentive to move really fast as you fight your way through the rest of the stage he's encountered in.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Unlike in the main Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the only boss in The Missing Link, Burke, has no Contractual Boss Immunity or any abilities that make him fundamentally different than a normal enemy. Your confrontation with him is really about getting through the gauntlet of soldiers to the room he's holed up in.
  • Halo:
    • The level "The Flood" from Halo Wars. There's a giant alien brain on the other side of the level that you're supposed to kill, but it has no direct combat ability (although it is surrounded by Flood turret equivalents) and most of the threat to your units is typical Flood units. There are five Flood bases you can kill to weaken it, which eventually respawn, and if all five go down so does the boss without you even touching it.
    • The Scarab Walker from Halo 2, which was more of a platform or level segment than an actual boss. They became legitimate bosses in Halo 3.
    • The Kraken from Halo 5: Guardians, a giant floating squid mecha that you have to board and destroy.
  • The 1000 - THR "Earthmovers" in ULTRAKILL are centauroid Humongous Mechas that double as cities. When you first meet one as the boss of Violence, the only thing that stops it from atomizing you is another Earthmover miles away smacking it with a Wave-Motion Gun. The ensuing battleship duel is the only reason you can slip into its Deflector Shield and destroy its brain from the inside.

    Hack and Slash 
  • Devil May Cry 4: The Savior in Mission 18. You really spend more time jumping around on floating platforms to avoid its attacks or waiting for opportune moments to destroy its weak spots than actually fighting it directly.
  • Ghostrunner has Tom as the first proper boss, a stationary robot shooting laser beams all over the place. It only takes four hits to beat it, the real challenge being to climb all the way to its weak point, making it more of a platforming challenge than a fight.
    • The Final Boss could also qualify though the game doesn't really treat him as a boss.
  • The fourth level of Xena: Warrior Princess, the Isle of Kronos, where right at the beginning of the level Xena will get assaulted by a huge cyclops who hurl rocks at her from a distance. After dodging the flung rocks and making her way inland, Xena will have to climb up a small hill, surviving a landslide started by the Cyclops and make her way to the top of the hill where she confronts the Cyclops one-on-one. The level ends when Xena made the cyclops fall to its death.

    Light Gun Game 
  • The House of the Dead:
    • The fight against Death in 3 takes place across two full stagesnote , with the boss itself only making sporadic appearances to attack and let you whittle down its health before you return to blasting other zomb- err, mutants.
    • The fourth chapter in 4 has you fighting a very fat, building-sized zombie called Temperance that cannot be damaged at all. At best, Lisa and James can halt the monster's current attack cycle by draining its cancel meter. It chases you through the whole level and the level ends when the pair drop a giant clock on its head.

  • The fight with Ironhead in Cave Story takes up the entire level "Main Artery". However, Ironhead itself merely swims back and forth through the screen, occasionally shooting three puny shots at you. The level is mostly about fighting the swarms of Pufferfish that flood the screen, and dodging the blocks flying across the screen that deal Collision Damage.
  • The various E.M.M.I.s from Metroid Dread. Entering their chambers forces you into a Stealth-Based Mission. Once you defeat the Central Unit and obtain the temporary power-up needed to destroy the robot, when you return to the main chamber the E.M.M.I. will be in permanent Pursuit Mode, and you have to choose a good spot on the map to wail on the E.M.M.I. as it approaches you.

    Party Game 
  • Mario Party 10: After the first boss fight in Airship Central, Team Mario flies into a giant storm cloud, where they are attacked by Bowser's airship. The airship follows them throughout the storm, taking aim at specific spaces on the board. After each player rolls their Dice Block, the ship will fire Bullet Bills at the spaces they aimed at, and if Team Mario gets hit, the current Captain loses half of their Mini-Stars. Once Team Mario gets out of the storm, they get a chance to turn the tables by landing on Cannon spaces to fire cannonballs at the ship. The player that fires the winning shot gets ten Mini-Stars, but there are still Unlucky spaces that cause players that land on them to get shot at.

  • The Final Boss in Aero the Acro-Bat: A good half of the battle is spent chasing him upwards and upwards through the floors, tiers, and rafters of his laboratory.
  • The level Aerial Combat from Bugdom is completed by destroying the beehive at its centre, identical to how Queen Bee and King Ant are completed. The beehive cannot actually attack you, however, and the threats in the level consist of flying bees and various terrain hazards on the ground.
  • The boss levels for the video game version of A Bug's Life are like this, as you have to collect 50 grain, find all the FLIK letters, and kill all the enemies with a gold berry in order to fully complete them, just like any other level. The fights against the Bird and Hopper are particularly good examples, as they take place in level-sized maze/canyon areas that involve a lot of climbing.
  • Boss stages in Jumper games are generally normal levels with additional danger in the form of an enemy who is usually defeated as a result of progressing through the stage. The Boss in Jumper Two, however, gives a genuine boss fight in which he is defeated by reflecting energy orbs back at him.
  • Marsupilami: Hoobadventure: The game's boss levels involve you chasing the boss through various autoscrolling platforming gauntlets while he does nothing but point and laugh at you when you take damage. The closest thing to fighting the boss happens at the end of those levels, in which he stops to catch a breath, and you give him a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown by Button Mashing the attack button.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic & Knuckles, Lava Reef Zone, Act 2. The fight with Robotnik begins with a forced-scrolling segment, then the meat of the fight involves dodging mines while leaping between moving platforms in lava. You don't directly damage Robotnik; you just survive until Robotnik destroys the machine with his own mines.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog CD has the Collision Chaos boss, a pinball machine
    • Sonic the Hedgehog has the Labyrinth Zone boss. While you can hit Robotnik the pre-requisite eight times, it's entirely unnecessary, and the level ends once you reach the top of a vertical shaft filled with obstacles that is slowly flooding with water.
    • In Sonic Rush Adventure, we have the Ghost Whale, which you must enter, then work your way through an obstacle course to reach its core.
    • The first part of the Dark Gaia fight in Sonic Unleashed is half piloting a Humongous Mecha made out of temples and half this, with Sonic running down the aforementioned mecha's arms to hit Dark Gaia's weak spots.
    • The fights with Captain Jelly and Admiral Jelly in Sonic Colors, though you do still have to hit the boss in between the level-like segments (which can be done in one hit with a yellow Wisp in tow and some good aim).
    • In Sonic Generations, Perfect Chaos plays out this way. Mind you, this is fairly similar to how Perfect Chaos worked in the original Sonic Adventure; despite the fact that you don't have Super Sonic for the fight, the Generations boost mechanic works in almost the same way, so the only real differences are the addition of 2D sections and the method of scoring the final hit.
  • Spyro the Dragon (1998): The boss levels are more-or-less normal levels that happen to have a weak "Get Back Here!" Boss in them that only takes a few hits to defeat. None of them are required to beat the game, they only exist for extra collectables. The only reason to defeat the bosses themselves is because they drop gems. This changed in later games, which made bosses a lot stronger and gave them each a Boss-Only Level.
  • The third Bowser battle in Super Mario 3D World as he transforms into Meowser, and then Double Meowser, running around you and attacking at multiple points. However, getting to the end is really all that's needed.
  • The first, third and final bosses in Super Meat Boy play out like normal levels with a few extra hazards.

    Puzzle Game 
  • Maze Burrow has boss levels where you face the moles who took over your burrow, but they play very similarly to regular levels. The only difference, aside from the boss music, is the presence of mole enemies, who have to be tricked into shooting each other with rocks or otherwise helping you clear the level.
  • The fourth boss of Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz is an absolutely massive robot dinosaur. The fight is unique from the other boss battles in the game, since instead of facing the boss in an arena and hitting its weak spot to bring down the health bar, this boss has you move across the boss's back, fighting through enemies and obstacles to reach its head and shut it off.

    Racing Game 
  • Similar to the above, the boss races in Crash Team Racing are simply one-on-one races on a normal track, the only real gameplay addition being the opponent having unlimited items.
  • Any of the bosses of the Sonic Riders games, purely by virtue of the fact that it's a racing game. This works out, however, as it doesn't take any wild changes of the mechanics to get the fights to work in the context of the game.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has Hag's End, the third and last part of the Deepwood Redoubt dungeon. While the game tends to blur the line between regular enemies and bosses, the Hagraven is the strongest enemy in Hag's End. She teleports deeper into the ruins each time you take out a quarter of her health, leaving you to fight your way through the witches that inhabit the place and otherwise make your way through the dungeon. You even get a new word of power before the last part of the battle, which takes you back outside where she summons a pair of ice wraiths to back her up and spams destruction magic until you can get to her and shave off the last of her health.

  • Balrog's stage in Street Fighter X Mega Man has Balrog at the far left side of the screen, occasionally jumping forward to attack. Mega Man can't damage him; he just needs to make his way past all the obstacles until Balrog steps on a shaky bridge and falls.

    Shoot 'em Up 
  • Cloud Cutter have at least three of them; the Hovercraft Amphibious base, the TG-660 Prototype Jet and the Final Boss, a Spider Tank larger than skyscrapers. The whole stage have you fighting them and some occasional mooks until they go down.
  • Eschatos's third stage (Areas 12 through 15) is spent fighting against a space station, and you deplete its health over the course of the stage, occasionally pulling away to fight waves of Mooks. The boss music doesn't play until the final area, when the station's been severely damaged leaving only the core and is down to the last of its three health bars.
  • Most of Radiant Silvergun Stage 5 is a boss fight against SBS-133. However, unlike other boss fights, you also have to deal with an onslaught of Mooks, and color-coded ones no less so you have to chain enemies for score during the already difficult boss fight (that is, if you care about having reasonably-powered weapons).
  • Star Fox has its alternate Final Boss, the Slot Machine.
  • Star Fox 64 has "the Forever Train", which causes trouble for you all throughout the Macbeth stage. Near the end it will deploy its secret weapon, the Mechbeth, for a traditional boss battle, but you can avoid having to deal with Mechbeth by simply switching the track to send the train crashing into the weapons factory.

    Strategy Game 
  • The Xel'naga Temple in the Starcraft II mission "The Dig" is presented in this way, with its own nifty health bar frame. Your objective is solely to dig your way through the temple's door with a giant mining laser. Because it's a temple, it can't move or fight you in any way, and the difficulty of the stage lies in its fanatical guardians. Note that in this case, you are encouraged to use the mining laser to help defend your base as well as unlock secondary objectives, which does make tunneling through the door take longer; therefore the mission is slightly shorter if you're confident enough in your base defenses not to need it.
  • The Cydonia alien base on Mars in X-COM: UFO Defense has a big alien brain that needs to be destroyed in order to beat the game, but it doesn't do anything and thus the level is really more like a standard alien base assault mission.

    Survival Horror 
  • The Final Boss of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is about trying to bring power to a railgun by inserting three batteries dotted around the area into their sockets then lure the Nemesis into the weapon's line of fire, while avoiding contact with Nemesis itself. Its remake changes Nemesis' final form into a gigantic Stationary Boss and the railgun into something relatively smaller but three of the batteries dotted around the arena still need be manually inserted in order to give it power.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • Splatoon 2: The final boss of the Octo Expansion is like this. You have to splat an entire statue in ink, before the time runs out. The statue doesn't attack you, and no enemies spawn, so your only threat is the incredibly tight time limit.
  • Syphon Filter:
    • In the third level, you chase Mara Aramov through a a DC Metro subway tunnel while dodging trains. You can either snipe her while she's running, or you can chase her to the end and take her down there. The final stage involves chasing and evading the Immune to Bullets Big Bad Rhoemer while fighting off his henchmen until you find the gas grenades to defeat him.
    • The second game has the C-130 Crash Site, in which Logan fights through a gauntlet of Elite Mooks to stop Steven Archer from escaping with the data discs, and the Ancient China Exhibit, where the boss, Dillon Morgan, is equipped with a Dead Man Switch, so you first have to escort Teresa while she disarms his bombs, only after which you can kill him.
    • In The Omega Strain's Carthage Mall mission, the French terrorist boss Masson is constantly shooting at you and the trapped SWAT officers from the overhead walkways, but can't be killed until you complete the other objectives.

    Tower Defense 
  • Dr. Zomboss from Plants vs. Zombies plays almost exactly like a normal conveyor-belt level, with a few differences marked by Zomboss' presence; he'll occasionally lean down to fire a projectile at your plants, and the level will not end until he's defeated by lowering his health during these periods.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Speed Buster in No More Heroes plays like this. What makes her different from the other bosses is that she is at the end of the level, and that Travis has to make his way while avoiding her dreaded laser cannon. To win, Travis has to knock down a telephone pole to destroy her BFG, then make his way to Speed Buster herself to win. This break from the normal boss structure apparently causes her to not be included in the game's score attack mode, a Boss Rush mode that allows players to fight a ranking fight of their choosing.