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Bosses are are big, scary, and typically await you at the end of each level. Gameplay wise, they serve as the ultimate challenge of skills the player has learned so far. In the story they are typically villains or other opponents that antagonize The Hero is a specific story segment.

But not all bosses are like this; some you just don't get to fight normally. Sometimes the developers want the player to have something else to do and challenge themselves with extra fights. It can be a good opportunity to add some worldbuilding with side-quests and problems irrelevant to the Myth Arc. The player doesn't have to solve every trouble the townsfolk have, but it's often encouraged. The reward can be just extra loot to help yourself (especially in Forced Level-Grinding), a Disc-One Nuke, or an unlockable secret.

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    Action-Adventure Games 
  • Aquaria has a number of optional bosses, but many consider Simon Says to be the most interesting. He's well-hidden, and you don't actually fight him — instead you play, well, Simon Says, with a very useful third cooking slot as your reward for playing well.
  • Castlevania series:
    • Castlevania 64 has the demon Renon, who's been running the Dungeon Shop throughout the game. If you haven't used his services too much, he appears near the end of the game to say he's leaving for better business opportunities elsewhere. But if you've spent more than 30,000 gold at his shop, instead he invokes the fine print in the "contract" on the scrolls you've been summoning him with to try to claim the player character's soul, at which point he turns into his true form and attacks.
    • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia gave you the option to fight the Chinese vampire, Jiang Shi, in the Large Cavern bonus dungeon. He's not very hard, though, seeing as how proper use of Melio Scutum and any slashing Glyph would easily reduce his 6000+ HP down to nothing. Though this boss is interesting in the fact that when he dies, a seal is placed on his face, but if you break it off with an attack, he comes back to life, allowing you to fight him again as many times as you want. Not worth the attribute points though (30, 60, or 120).
    • The Whip's Memory, an image of Richter Belmont in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, is part of a ritual to unlock the true power of a weakened Vampire Killer whip. Unlike the rest of the game, you can only battle this boss with Jonathan. Thankfully, "dying" in this battle just boots you out of the battle with full HP and MP instead of yielding a Game Over.
  • Illusion of Gaia has Solid Arm, a boss originally from the first game in the series, SoulBlazer, who's only fightable if you collect all fifty Red Jewels.
  • Ittle Dew has one at the end of the Master Cave. Oddly, it's the one boss you beat through brute force rather than some kind of puzzle.
  • The Updated Re-release of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening for Game Boy Color featured a Bonus Dungeon based on color. The boss of the dungeon wasn't more difficult than the other bosses, but you could only enter the dungeon if you knew the color of the stalfos' clothes at the entrance. There were also a number of color-based puzzles that would be frustratingly difficult if you managed to get in anyway.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: The Champions' Ballad DLC is an involved quest administered by one of the Sheikah monks, mirroring your journey in the main game by adding new trials to the key areas on the map. After going around Hyrule and completing several tests, a new dungeon opens up. The monk, Maz Koshia is at the end, and looks like any of the other inanimate mummified monks, giving the typical speech once Link reaches the end of a shrine. But then he starts moving, tells you he has a final test, and teleports you both into a boss arena—he is your opponent. Maz Koshia turns out to be the most challenging boss in the game (more than Calamity Ganon), borrowing from many previous bosses and tough enemies while adding tricks of his own. For a shriveled mummy, he's pretty strong, with a lot of health, hard-hitting attacks, and multiple phases that keep you constantly on your feet. Hearts, armor, food buffs, and the upgrades to your Champion powers obtained during the DLC certainly help, but even so, they still don't make him easy.
  • Super Gear Quest: As Starter makes his way up Mt. Mokula, he repeatedly hears voices from a random assortment of characters telling him to follow them. Eventually, the voices will attempt to lead him away from where he's supposed to be going. If he decides to continue following them, despite being warned not to do so, he will end up finding himself face to face with a Khraosis Entity known as Dimula. Considering that the only other Khraosis Entity he fights in the game is the True Final Boss, he's in for a difficult fight.
  • Tribal Hunter has four optional bosses spread out over the latter half of the game: Laura, who you find at the end of a passage way in the Jungle filled with ko'd pirates, Wave, who you meet in the Hive in a not so hidden passage that ends in a room with him and a bunch of boxes and chests, The Queen Bee, who's arena is to the right of the exit to the mountain top, and The Alpha, who's arena is in the mountain top area, it's entrance in the same room as where you first find the wolf enemies.

    Action Games 
  • Metroid: Other M has the Metroid series's first bonus boss. If you play the post-credits sequence for 100% and the extra ending, you have to butt heads with Phantoon from Super Metroid, who not only has new powers, but is also much scarier-looking than before. For technical reasons (namely the absence of items and thus the impossibility of a Playable Epilogue), the Phantoon fight was intentionally left out of Hard Mode.

    Beat 'em Ups 
  • Via Asura's Wrath DLC, two optional bosses that have nothing to do with the main game story are Ryu and Akuma, who become Evil Ryu and Oni respectively.
  • The Red Dragon features as an optional boss in both of the Dungeons & Dragons Beat Em Ups.
  • No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle has Kimmy, a school girl with an unhealthy obsession over Travis. You only fight her if you don't go back to the Motel between fights with Charlie and Matt, making her the only assassin in the series who's optional.
  • In River City Ransom, Benny and Clyde are the only bosses that you don't have to defeat in order to access River City High School. Once inside, you can also skip Tex as well, since only Otis has to be defeated in order to fight the Dragon Twins, and then Slick, who is actually Simon.
  • Yakuza: Virtually every main game in the series has a coliseum where you can fight various enemies that you can't fight otherwise, including members of the aformentioned Amon clan, other protagonists, the masters who trained you, bears and tigers, and real-life professional wrestlers.
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    Card Games 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef of Destruction: If you visit Italy at a specific part of the game, you'll duel Jean-Claude Magnum a second time, who has a better deck than the first time. Second, at another part of the game, Tea is standing at the town square. If you talk to her, you'll have to deal with Johnny Stepps and then Krump, one after another.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX Duel Academy there is an event where you can challenge and duel Pharaoh, Dr. Banner's cat. To do so, you must be a member of the Slifer dorm, and have defeated Jaden, Syrus, Chumley and Banner three times each. If you then talk to Banner on a Saturday, you can duel Pharaoh, and get a card afterwards. (Panther Warrior for winning, Bone Mouse for losing, and Outstanding Dog Marron for drawing).

    Puzzle Games 
  • Dr. Mario 64 has two optional bosses with similar conditions; if you get through Story Mode on Normal difficulty or higher without losing or restarting a match, then upon defeating Rudy, whichever character you're not playing as will challenge you one last time for the rights to the Megavitamin bottle. If you're playing as Mario, then Wario will power up into Vampire Wario; conversely, Wario will have to contend with Metal Mario. Defeating them first try will unlock them in Versus Mode, where they're not only playable but also have the hardest AI.
  • Collecting all 24 tickets in Pony Island changes the ending to Hopeless Soul telling you that he now understands that you want a satisfying reward for getting full completion and fighting you in a three-stage boss battle using different gameplay segments to supply that reward.
  • Puyo Puyo: Carbuncle has played the role of optional boss twice in the series. To wit:
    • In Puyo Puyo Sun, he can be fought in Schezo's story without using a continue.
    • In the first Puyo Puyo Fever, he can be fought either by reaching Accord on the Hara Hara route without continuing (while ensuring that Fever mode is used either less than four times or more than twelve) and defeating her or by continuing with a multiple of 7 when defeating her.
  • Puzzle Quest 2 has five optional bosses: Kurak the polar bear, the Yeti, the Cave Ogre, the Arch Lich, and the Green Dragon. They're unlocked automatically as you level up, so you can tackle them at your leisure or not at all. Since the rewards they yield aren't any better than most high-end enemies in the game, they aren't worth the effort to beat, unless you're a completionist, an achievement hunter (which you don't even get, depending on the platform) or for the bragging rights.
  • Sutte Hakkun has the Purple Makkun, an odd-colored Makkun that hides within specific crevices in certain stages in every world, serving as the replacement for the Bonus Stages of the Satellaview versions. He's the only character in the entire game that attacks you in any form: upon finding him, he'll scoop you up and challege you to a race in one of his ten Battle stages (which have the same level of difficulty as the regular stages). Beat him, and you'll get a segment of the Solution code to write down.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • 'Pikmin 3 Deluxe features a new boss at the end of the "Olimar's Comeback" sidestory: a golden mix between a Shaggy Long Legs and the otherwise-absent Raging Long Legs from Pikmin 2. Since it's not part of the main game, it lacks a Piklopedia entry and thus goes unnamed.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Bug Fables: There are multiple criminals and hostile bugs fought as mini-bosses in sidequests or by exploring, the Mother Chomper, encountered in an optional dungeon, the Broodmother in the power plant sidequest, and the five Bounty Bosses you can take from Underground Tavern's side quests that are a major step up in difficulty compared to the storyline bosses.
  • Final Fantasy IV: There are four optional bosses that become Eidolons once you beat them: Asura, Leviathan, Odin, and Bahamut. Only one of these was particularly difficult. The others required very specific strategies rather than a high-leveled party to defeat, making them closer to Puzzle Bosses than anything else. This was fitting, as the battles were intended to be tests of your skill.
  • Final Fantasy VIII: The Brothers are optional bosses, as are the Jumbo Cactaur, Odin, Tonberry King and Bahamut.
  • Final Fantasy X-2:
    • The Experiment, a Machina the Machine Faction in Djose Temple are working on throughout the game, which can be upgraded with parts the player obtains from digging in the Bikanel Desert. It is completely optional, and you only have to fight it for two points in the 100% Completion: the Djose Temple Episode Complete, and the Annihilator Blue Bullet.
    • Angra Mainyu, a gigantic snake-like Fiend slumbering in the Bikanel Desert. It can be encountered as early as Chapter 1 during digging sessions if the player is unlucky, but to actually fight it in a proper battle, the player must complete a long sidequest first, one that begins in Chapter 3 and can only be concluded in Chapter 5.
  • Super Mario RPG has three:
    • Tiny martial arts master Jinx, who you can fight three times after defeating his apprentice, Jagger, each fight harder than the last. The boss lives in Monstro Town.
    • Mokura, a green cloud miniboss that may appear in Land's End or Belome's Temple, dodges the player unless they track the boss down, and has two forms.
    • The game's Superboss: the Final Fantasy Shout-Out Culex, a powerful magic-using entity from another dimension who attacks using four elemental crystals and is harder than the game's Final Boss. It too lives in Monstro Town.

    Simulation Games 
  • Lots of missions in the Ace Combat games feature enemy aces whose defeat is not necessary for mission completion. They're not really harder than the compulsory aces. On the other hand, there is a more traditional one in Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War: Mobius One and his Raptor are encountered in an Ace difficulty run of The Gauntlet if you do well enough. Similarly are Scarface One and ZOE Commander in a certain mission in Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception.
  • Two optional bosses are available in the combat sequences-filled Dating Sim Mitsumete Knight : Zeelbis the Bloody and Salishuan the Spy of the Eight Generals of Valpha-Valaharian, the main enemy squad of the game. While not a storyline-related boss unlike the other two, Sparkster of the Rocket Knight Adventures series is also an optional boss.

    Visual Novel 
  • Lux-Pain zigzags between regular optional boss and Skippable Boss. Most bosses have to be fought as part of the game, but some can only be encountered by following the right events (or even sequences of events) that only become available at certain points and lock again afterwards (hence the zigzag - there is no 'default' way through most of these sections, so whether you encounter them or not is just down to where you looked when you had the chance). This includes battles with the SILENT in the minds of Honoka, Sakai and even Mint the ghost cat.
 
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Alternative Title(s): Secret Boss, Bonus Boss

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Yozaru

After Sora defeats Master Xehanort and saves Kairi, Sora faces against Yozaru, a man who he initially thought was just a fictional character. Not only that but he claims to not actually be Yozaru and that he has heard of Sora.

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