Follow TV Tropes


Play as a Boss

Go To

The Boss Battle is a standard in several video games, where the player has to fight against an enemy that's far stronger than a basic enemy, and perhaps the player themselves too.

This, however, takes the concept of the boss battle and turns it on its head. Instead of playing as the weaker opponent, the player gets the opportunity to play as a boss or a boss-like character, with all the cool array of devastating powers or weaponry to go with it. Most enemies would easily crumble before the player's power in a Mook Horror Show.


Most examples of these will either be pitted against a Zerg Rush of numerous opponents, an enemy whose AI and/or powers rival that of a skilled Player Character, another boss-like character, or a coordinated team — perhaps one made of other player-controlled characters — to either whittle away at the player's health or fight on their level. Unless the playable boss is made to be Purposely Overpowered, these can be a very real threat.

Sub-Trope of Perspective Flip, as well as of Promoted to Playable. Super-Trope to Role-Reversal Boss, where the player is suddenly given control of a boss instead of playing as the heroes, and does not account for situations where the player controls a boss-like character from the get-go. Contrast Boss Game, where most of your opponents are bosses. For bosses that become playable after you defeat them, see Defeat Means Playable.



    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventure 
  • In a good deal of the LEGO Adaption Games, you can play as the bosses upon their defeat. You can also hack the game to gain access to playing as giant bosses like the Destroyer, Sauron, and the Omnidroid.

    Beat 'Em Up 
  • The Ninja Warriors Again: The remake introduces the unlockable character Raiden, a Humongous Mecha that dwarfs every other character in the game including the bosses. Not only is he Immune to Flinching against many attacks, he also sports a huge amount of powerful attacks that mow down enemies with ease, and he can turn into a walker with devastating ranged attacks. His main weaknesses however are his large size and slow movement which makes him easy to damage.
  • In Punishing: Gray Raven, certain hidden chapters include an opportunity to play from the perspective of bosses like Berserk/Dark Kamui and Roland. The former example eventually became Promoted to Playable as Camu.
  • Streets of Rage 3 allows you to play as mid-level boss Roo, and as penultimate boss Shiva. The latter is very much a game breaker. Streets of Rage 4 has retro Shiva (from the 2nd and 3rd games) and Roo (unlocked with paid DLC) returning as playable boss characters. The Mr. X Nightmare DLC has (modern) Shiva, (modern) Max, and Estel as playable boss characters.

    Fighting Game 
  • Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Galactus Mode allows you to play as Final Boss Galactus who comes with all of his powerful attacks, facing off against teams of the regular fighters.
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • Mortal Kombat 3’s 16-bit console re-releases allow you to play as Goro, Kintaro, Motaro, and Shao Kahn via cheat code. Sadly, none of them have any endings. All four were made playable properly in the disk versions of Trilogy, but Shao Kahn and Motaro still require cheat codes in the Nintendo 64 version, with the bonus of having their own Fatalities.
    • Mortal Kombat 9: Challenge Mode allows you to briefly play as Shao Kahn, Motaro and Goro in a few of the missions.
  • Boss characters made for M.U.G.E.N are fairly common, and most of them barring the AI-only ones can be selected and controlled by the player just like any other fighter.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy:
    • The series lets you play as the main antagonists from the mainline games of the franchise, many of them having altered versions of their final boss forms as super modes.
    • In Dissidia 012, you can also unlock an amped up version of Chaos called Feral Chaos (albeit with heavy restrictions like higher AP costs to equip skills and being unable to gain Assist or EX meter normally), though his normal form remains unplayable.
  • Them's Fightin' Herds: After fifteen minutes in a multi-player Salt Mines run, one of the fighters transforms into an overpowered Huggles that has to "devour" the remaining ungulates by beating them in a fight. Being how strong the Huggles is, it requires several regular players to take them down, or run until the remaining time runs out.
  • In Jump Force, the final boss Prometheus is made playable after an update.
  • Gundam Versus has a random bonus round in between matches in its Arcade mode, one of which lets you play as the Big Zam against an AI team or against other players if online. The Alvaatore itself originally debuted as a boss before being made playable as DLC and is even able to dock with the Alvaron.
  • The Crystal Raid mode in Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 is this, not only allowing you to play as any character that appeared as a Raid Boss and even play as final bosses like Demigra and Mira's Final Form but you can also choose to put your own character in the role of one. You can also obtain super attacks based on those raids to use exclusively for this mod.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • In Evolve, four players control the hunters who hunt down the Monster as a coordinated team with different abilities. The fifth player controls the Monster themselves, who has not only far more health and devastating skills, but can also evolve in order to become even stronger.
  • Left 4 Dead and its sequel's multiplayer mode allows the players to play as the special infected. If one player is lucky enough, they can spawn in as the powerful, fast, and durable Tank to wreak havoc on the survivors.
  • Primal Carnage: This is the main gimmick of the Tyrant class dinosaurs (Tyrannosaurus, Acrocanthosaurus, and Spinosaurus). They have immense health pools, One-Hit Kill attacks, each have a Mighty Roar that gives a Status Buff to all nearby dinosaurs, and only one or two are allowed in the arena at one time.

    Hack and Slash 
  • Hyrule Warriors: Later in its life as DLC, the game gives players a new gameplay mode called "Ganon's Fury". In it, players take control of Dark Beast Ganon, the Final Boss of the game, to fight even greater numbers than normal Warriors-style games, as well as more of the giant boss enemies to face off against.
  • All the bosses of Hours (2020) can be unlocked, complete with all their abilities and stats.
  • Shinobi (2002) lets the player unlock Moritsune after getting enough Oboro coins. While he's stronger and faster than Hotsuma, he simply reuses his moveset rather than using a new one entirely. His Yin gauge also drops faster.
    • Rectified in Nightshade (Kunoichi) where Hisui is unlockable and features her own moveset and style distinct from Hibana's, even having unique visual effects for her Ninjutsu attacks.
  • Vergil is this for the Special Editions of Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening and Devil May Cry 5 where he's the final boss in both and has an expanded moveset distinct from his boss version in the latter.

  • Heroes of the Storm:
    • Cho'Gall is a hero with one of the highest health pools in the game, able to withstand ultimates, and whose multitude of attacks all deal powerful damage. This does come with a price, however — he is controlled by two players, meaning that the team with him only has four bodies on their side.
    • Ragnaros' trait allows him to become this temporarily. He can take over an allied or destroyed fort, growing to massive size and replacing his skills with devastating empowered versions. However, he is stuck as a Pivotal Boss in this form, just like he was in the Molten Core.
    • Deathwing is essentially a playable Raid Boss with huge amounts of HP, high damage output and Contractual Boss Immunity against crowd control such as stuns, slows, and displacement. His downside is that he also cannot be affected by any allies' abilities, including buffing and healing.

    Platform Game 
  • The Azure Striker Gunvolt Series has an interesting version of this. In Luminous Avenger iX 2, you can fight Kirin, the main heroine of Azure Striker Gunvolt 3, as a DLC boss. Kirin in this game has a ton of Secret A.I. Moves that the actual playable Kirin can never use, such as the ability to throw 3 talismans at once, creating shadow clones to attack Copen, using a Ground Pound to cause giant blades to erupt from the ground, and having a unique Limit Break. In Gunvolt 3, however, the Version 1.1 update added an unlockable "Kirin XX" feature, which replaces normal Kirin when toggled on and gives her all of her moves from Luminous Avenger iX 2, allowing you to properly play as the boss version of Kirin from the previous game.
  • Blaster Master Zero III: The final battle in the game gives the player a choice to play as Jason, the protagonist of the series, or Kane, who's more of a Hero Antagonist. Choosing to play as the latter pits you against Jason, who's akin to a really tough Bonus Boss. Choosing to play as Jason on the other hand gives you a significant advantage as your tank grossly outclasses Kane's. Even if you find yourself low on health, Eve will come and restore it, much like she does when Jason is the boss.
  • Iji: In part of Sector X, Iji can take control of an Annihilator, if it has previously been unlocked with a switch in Sector 8, and use its weaponry to clear out one corridor — or just walk back and forth until the Komato kill themselves with their own Splash Damage when firing at it. Unfortunately, the Annihilator is just too big to keep using it for the rest of the sector, and you can't take it to the boss fight either.
  • Kirby Star Allies gives us Dream Friends, many of which are Promoted to Playable bosses from former games. Most of them have several moves from their boss fights still in tact. Played straightest with The Three Mage Sisters, who have every single move from their boss fights.
  • Nefarious has you play as the princess-kidnapping villain Crow, who pilots a different boss machine at the end of nearly every level to fight against the heroes trying to rescue their princesses. The first fight for example, gives you a small round ship with a ball and chain.
  • Skylanders:
    • In Trap Team, you can trap the bosses fought throughout the game and play as them. This even includes the Big Bad himself, Kaos.
    • Superchargers allows players to capture and play as boss racers upon defeating them. Playing as Kaos, however, requires the player to own the Kaos Cup toy.
    • Imaginators has some of the bosses from Trap Team playable, having done a Heel–Face Turn sometime between the two games. Kaos also gets a figure, but since, as always, he's the Big Bad, this Kaos is mentioned to be a clone. Additionally, players can remake the Doomlander bosses once they are defeated, with the final class, the Sentinel, being unlocked after the final boss fight.
  • Sonic Mania: The boss of Hydrocity Zone Act 1 involves the Screw Mobile, the boss battle of Hydrocity Zone's Act 2 from Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Except this time around, the player character is the one piloting it, attempting to suck up Eggman using its water vortex capabilities.
  • Super Mario Odyssey: Bowser becomes playable thanks to Mario using Cappy on him after the final boss battle, and he has the size and strength to go with it.
  • Shantae: Half-Genie Hero: The Pirate Queen's Quest DLC allows the series main villain, Risky Boots, to be playable and she has several moves from her boss fight in the base game.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days: Its mission mode is an odd example, as it allows you to play as many Organization XIII members who were bosses in previous games, but in this game they aren't, and it doesn't allow you to use most of the overwhelming attacks they had in those games either. It also allows you to play as Saïx, who is a much more standard example due to being fought in Days in a fight where he has roughly the same capabilities he has when playable, mostly relying on his Limit Break. Xion and Riku are also playable in this mode while being Bosses in the main campaign, but they suffer from more Redemption Demotion than he does.
  • Live A Live: If you choose to play as Oersted for the final chapter, then instead of the normal finale, you spend the whole chapter in a chamber and summon each of the chapter bosses one by one to take on their respective heroes, undoing their victories if you succeed. If you are ever on the verge of losing, then you can straight up end the world, a power none of the other bosses have.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age: The console version features "Evil Mode", a bonus mode where you can replay every major fight, but controling the bosses and fighting against your main party.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, Bowser is one of the main characters who plays separately from Mario and Luigi. He sports much more HP and attacking power, allowing him to easily defeat enemies that the bros would have trouble against — he can defeat weaker enemies by simply bumping into them, instead of going to the battle screen the bros would have to — but as a single character, it means it's Game Over if he goes down. He becomes even more RPG boss-like once he gets the Intruder Fangs equipment at level 40, which gives him two moves per turn.
  • Pokémon: Most games allow you to capture the game's Cover Legendary (in some, it's mandatory to do so) and use them in any following storyline battles, with their high levels and all the powerful stats, moves, and abilities that come with being a legendary.
  • In Suikoden III, there are several Hopeless Boss Fights. If you recruit all of the Stars of Destiny, then you unlock a bonus story after beating the game where you see the story from the perspective of the villains and get to play those Hopeless Boss Fights as the very powerful bosses.
  • If you choose the bad ending in Breath of Fire IV, you turn into a dragon and fight your own friends. Due to the camera angle being the same for all battles, while your party is in their usual spot, you're in control of the giant hulking dragon that's facing them.
  • A Fridge Horror example in Undertale's Genocide Route. This trope plays part of the meta-narrative of the Final Boss Fight. Sans has powers only the player should have such as attacking first, a privilege only the player has everywhere else, dodge attacks and fake spare you. The player meanwhile is the one with superior stats, is faced by Sans the way a Climax Boss would be faced and is in a Big Bad Duumvirate with The Fallen Child. The conclusion of many. You and Chara are the Big Bad Duumvirate of Sans's Game, and he's fighting against both of you.

    Shoot 'Em Ups 

    Stealth-based Game 
  • Carrion has you play as a fast, powerful, and ever-growing shoggoth-like Eldritch Abomination fighting against and consuming the squishy humans who have imprisoned it in a research facility. The humans, however, can deal tremendous damage to it if it is out in the open, so caution and stealth is still highly advised.
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: In Metal Gear Solid, you fight the name-giving Humongous Mecha Metal Gear Rex as the final boss. In Part 4, you are finally on the receiving end by making you control the Metal Gear Rex near the end. You get to just stomp over the Gekko robots that are usually a pain to bring down. And you even get to defeat Metal Gear Ray that was specifically designed to beat Metal Gear Rex!

    Survival Horror 
  • Dead by Daylight has four players as the survivors being hunted down by the fifth player, who controls the far more formidable Killer based on slasher movie villains — some of whom are legitimately famous ones like Michael Myers and Ghostface.
  • Friday the 13th: The Game features the player being able to play as Jason Voorhees and try to kill the other players, who are counselors at Camp Crystal Lake.
  • In Silent Hill: Downpour, the Post-Final Boss has you fighting Officer Cunningham as the Bogeyman.