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Puzzle Boss

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"Mario! The chain! Aim for the chain!"
Toadstool, Super Mario RPG

A boss that is beaten through trickery rather than brute force. This is usually enforced by making the boss completely invulnerable to conventional attacks, forcing you to find another strategy to defeat it — which usually involves one of the following two scenarios:

  • One is to make use of some convenient feature of the arena which may either directly damage the boss, or simply expose their weak spot so you can attack it conventionally. The first case especially raises the question of how the player's conventional rocket launcher/tripmine/lightsaber/fireball spells don't manage to do any damage no matter how many attacks you land, while the environment's (often comparably lame) hazards are so intrinsically fatal.
  • The other is to observe the boss and wait for some kind of opening that the boss's strategy deliberately leaves open for you to exploit. Like an attack that if successfully counteredAction Commands optional — leaves the boss temporarily vulnerable to conventional damage. (Obviously, for gameplay purposes, the boss will seldom learn from this mistake; even when it Turns Red, its new attack patterns will have similar vulnerabilities the player can exploit.)

A Sub-Trope of Convenient Weakness Placement. Not to be confused with a Trick Boss, which is more about the boss's place in the story rather than the method of the boss fight itself.

When the solution to the puzzle is to not actively fight the boss at all, see Sheathe Your Sword. The inversion to Puzzle Boss is Damage-Sponge Boss, which has no trickery at all and simply is worn down through brute force. Compare Kung Fu-Proof Mook, aka Puzzle Mook. This may often overlap with Broken Armor Boss Battle, particularly when a specific item or attack is needed to deal with the armor.

Note that a boss whose weakness is very difficult to figure out using the in-game information may qualify as a Guide Dang It!. Other times, the solution could be an Outside-the-Box Tactic, a possible oversight (or deliberate Easter Egg; nobody knows for sure) on the part of the designers.

Due to the nature of this trope, many of the examples below will be spoilers, and will almost certainly dampen the challenge if read. (Although if you're not the sort of player who likes difficulty, you probably won't care.)

Video game examples:

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  • In Devil May Cry 4, you're in for a very long fight against Agnus in Mission 6 if you don't figure out you need to throw the Gladius demons at the glass protecting him to do any more than mere Scratch Damage to it.
  • Legacy of Kain:
    • Almost all of the bosses in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver are some form of Puzzle Boss. Rahab, for example, can be beaten if the player shatters the windows of the chamber and lets sunlight in to fry him. In the case of Rahab, the game almost outright tells you to do this — if you bother to pay close enough attention to what the Elder God says when you come across the Drowned Abbey area, and a clue somewhere in either the game's voiceovers or manual, that of all the Brothers, Rahab is the most vulnerable to sunlight.
    • The same is true for Blood Omen 2: Legacy of Kain, but with a twist. The vampire bosses in that game alternate between puzzle and muscle stages. For example, in the first boss's first stage, he has to be fought, and the second stage, he has to be tricked. All the while, you're lowering his HP until he is defeated.
  • The LEGO Adaptation Game series as a whole has a number of bosses require doing extra steps besides just punching to damage them.
    • LEGO Star Wars:
      • The Original Trilogy does this with the Rancor, where you need to trick it into standing near two bombs to explode on it then under the cell gate to be crushed. Also done to an extent somewhat against Darth Vader in the first Cloud City level; the second time you face him, you have to use the gas vents in the carbon-freezing room to stun him before you can attack.
      • The Emperor in The Original Trilogy and Count Dooku in The Complete Saga have points where they're invulnerable to damage until they start zapping the player with Force Lightning, needing you to switch to the other guy and strike while he's distracted.
    • LEGO Batman: The Video Game has close to the biggest number of puzzle-based bosses in the series:
      • Clayface in "You can Bank on Batman" has you blasting objects in the area with bombs to damage him, and for the final hit you must use a batarang to hit the little targets above him to hit Clayface with toxic gas.
      • "Two-Face Chase" has you using the Batmobile to first shoot Two-Face's armored van to disable it, then tow the boss over to a spotlight to hurt him.
      • "A Poisonous Appointment" has Poison Ivy, who rides in a giant plant. To get her out, you must wait for the plants to spit up Lego pieces, and use said pieces to build a bomb to blow up the plants. After that, you will be able to hurt Poison Ivy successfully.
      • Man-Bat in "Zoo's Company" follows this to a T. After you beat him up a bit, you must construct a giant record player and play it to overload his hearing and bring him back down to earth, conveniently within melee range.
      • Penguin and Catwoman attack in tag-team style at the end of "Penguin's Lair." You have to construct a paddle to redirect his bombs to his machine, disabling it so you can hit it with batarangs and shock him.
      • Mad Hatter in "The Joker's Turf" is another obvious example; at one point you must hit switches to drop him into the toxic waste in the room, and at another, you must switch partners when he mesmerizes you to attack him.
      • "Flight of the Bat" features a battle against The Scarecrow, whom tails you constantly. You must snag him with the Batcopter's tow cable before switching to the Batwing and blasting it with a torpedo.
      • Killer Moth in "In the Dark Night" suffers the same glaring weakness as Man-Bat — only instead of a record player, you have a giant light bulb that you can turn on by building the generators in the room.
      • The Joker and Harley Quinn in "To the Top of the Tower" hide inside bells in the room, and can only be knocked free by ringing them. After you take down his Helicopter, you face him in melee, and like Mad Hatter, he forces you to switch characters when attacking because of his electrical joy buzzer.
      • Commissioner Gordon in "A Surprise for the Commissioner" — after you hurt him, he retreats and sends a police truck after you. You have to use the crane nearby to pick an exploding teddy bear (really) and drop it on the truck to get the boss to reappear.
  • Mole Mania has a number of these, as one might expect from a puzzle game, though the game more or less tells you exactly what you need to do prior to the fights and it's fairly obvious even if you manage to overlook the tips, thanks to Boss-Arena Idiocy.
  • The NiGHTS into Dreams… franchise has among the most cryptic bosses in video game history — as NiGHTS's only means of attack is the Paraloop, which is a circular vacuum attack done by tracing a full circle in the air, NiGHTS very rarely engages into direct combat. In addition, NiGHTS is invincible and can only lose by time running out, so the bosses tend to focus around stalling and wasting time rather than a blitz of powerful attacks.
    • In NiGHTS: Into Dreams..., the Sega Saturn game:
      • Puffy is a lagomorphic opera singer who must be thrown into a wall of crystalline spikes at the end of a long hallway, which instantly defeats her. She is invulnerable otherwise; the process of figuring this out may be long and hard for someone who doesn't already know where they are.
      • Gulpo, a fish swimming around a cylinder-shaped floating glob of water, sits outside of reach of the cylinder surface NiGHTS is normally restricted to. Instead, NiGHTS has to find fish who are pointed at Gulpo. The fish launch NiGHTS into the center of the cylinder to hit Gulpo via ramming.
      • Clawz is a black cat who plants dynamite sticks dressed like mice that hover in midair, then jumps around them. NiGHTS must neutralize the lit dynamite sticks before they explode by pushing them away. Normally, Clawz is very fast and can't be hit. Once there's only one dynamite stick left, Clawz is vulnerable.
    • In NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams, the Wii game, all of the bosses are fought through nonconventional means:
      • Donbalon plays very much like Puffy, except his arena is vertical instead of horizontal. The spikes lie at the top. Neither Puffy nor Donbalon deal any direct attacks; they passively wait for NiGHTS to run out of time.
      • Chamelan hides behind a veil that completely covers the background. The Paraloop will cause a circular hole in the veil the size of the Paraloop, but it closes over time. In order to find Chamelan, the player needs to identify rows of playing cards behind the veil in order of value; Chamelan will be hiding behind the ace that's transparent. There is a rematch later on where multiple rows of cards with aces pointing in different spots; the opaque aces trigger bombs with very large blast radii. Chamelan's disguise is blown when a Paraloop happens in front of him; he is defeated with a second Paraloop.
      • Cerberus is a pair, and in the rematch, a trio of dogs chained together. They can only take damage if NiGHTS grabs the center of the chain, marked by a yellow ball, and pushes the ball to ram the heads together. The third dog, which only shows up in the rematch, sprouts from this yellow ball whenever NiGHTS gets close, forcing NiGHTS to act quickly before it can fully transform.
      • Girania is a monstrous fish that can swim inside the ground. It must be pushed on the forehead when it leaps up in an attempt to swallow NiGHTS, which transforms it into a cloud of colorful spheres. NiGHTS must then use the Paraloop to suck in the spheres via the vacuum created through this attack. Girania wll eventually re-form itself, though the number of spheres left is directly proportional to its size. A sufficiently small Girania will be defeated through a Paraloop.
      • Bomamba is a witch with a lot of black cats. She creates a triangular platform with holes that NiGHTS can't reach but can tilt by pushing or pulling on one of its knobs. In order to defeat Bomamba, all of the black cats must fall into the holes in the triangular platform. This causes the platform to vanish and Bomamba to fall into her cauldron below. In the rematch, Bomamba creates a second and harder platform after the first one disappears, along with a second wave of cats.
      • Queen Bella is a giant spider dressed in gothic lolita who crawls above NiGHTS's reach. She goes above NiGHTS and drops balls of silk. NiGHTS needs to grab this ball and throw it at the platforms around the arena. A silk ball destroys any chunk of platform it hits and will bounce, potentially destroying more platforms like a wraparound Breakout. Queen Bella is defeated when she has no platforms left to stand on and falls into the lava below.
      • Even Reala, NiGHTS's rival, isn't defeated traditionally. In both fights, the arena is filled with balls the size of Donbalon. The only way for NiGHTS to damage Reala, and Reala to NiGHTS, is to launch one of these balls by throwing them and then hit the other Nightmaren.
      • Wizeman is the final boss of the game. He assumes three forms. One is set underwater and automatically changes NiGHTS into the Dolphin persona. NiGHTS needs to dodge the whirlpools and get to Wizeman to damage him. Another phase involves an asteroid field. Here, Wizeman is very far away and can only be reached in time if NiGHTS changes into the Rocket persona. The third phase involves fireballs and strong winds, where NiGHTS must use the Dragon persona, who's immune to wind effects. In each instance, pushing NiGHTS against Wizeman and dashing in an attempt to ram him isn't enough. Both Will and Helen, the two kids assuming the form and powers of NiGHTS, must ram into Wizeman at the same time to damage him.
  • The first boss battle in X2: Wolverine's Revenge is against a mutant who heals faster than you can kill him using normal attacks (and if you do get his Life Meter down to near zero, the computer will cheat to buy him healing time); you have to throw him against a fuel tank at one end of the room, which on the third iteration will explode, stunning him and letting you finish him off.

  • In Alone in the Dark, the stairway is blocked by a pair of Lovecraftian Nightgaunts, who are invincible to physical attacks and can only be defeated by their own reflections. Got either of the mirrors broken by a monster? Too bad!
  • Most of the bosses in Aquaria:
    • The Energy Temple boss can't be harmed by you (shooting him will only push him back). You can, however, damage him by shooting the trigger for a special energy beam generator while the boss is over the generator, thus sending a beam of pure energy straight through him. The catch is that the boss wises up to this after the first two times you hit him with the beam, and can't be lured over it again. The solution? Simply charge up your shot, then trick him into sending his arm out to claw you. The arm then comes lashing out at you, right into the path of the beam. Simply fire, and...
    • And again later in the game, when you fight Mithala (a beast 15+ times the size of the protagonist!) Your shots won't even push him back this time, and there's nothing that can damage the boss nearby. However, the boss regularly releases mermen that swim at you to attack you. If you lure the mermen down to a pit at the bottom of the screen, they'll turn into poisonous, bloated mermen that you can drag around. The boss regularly does an attack where he sucks in water with his mouth, dragging you in to try to swallow you. If you place bloated mermen so the boss will swallow them when he next draws in...
    • Topped once again even later in the game, where you fight two monsters: an unstoppable juggernaut with hammers for hands, and a wraith who hovers around (and comforts) the first monster. The juggernaut is invulnerable to anything you throw at him. However, he occasionally releases a special pink jellyfish from his head. If you eat this jellyfish in Beast Form, you get 1 special orange shot. It won't damage the monster, but it'll knock the wraith temporarily out of commission — then, your normal Energy Form shot will cause loads of damage.
  • Batman: Arkham City has a number of puzzle bosses, but none stand out more than Mr. Freeze — there are twelve ways to damage Mr. Freeze, and every time you use one of them, he makes sure to nullify it. Jam his freeze gun? He'll rewrite its coding to prevent it. Glide kick him? He makes sure the air's too dense to allow gliding. It goes into Nintendo Hard levels when you do this in New Game Plus, where you have to use at least eleven techniques to win.
  • BioForge: There are two or three of these. Though you must engage in actual combat with the cyber-raptor, you can't beat it until you knock it onto the Dilating Door on the floor and open the door, dropping it into a cryo tank where it will fight with another unbeatable monster serving as a Beef Gate. Later on, there is another acid-dwelling monster that you must blow up with a missile from a crashed dropship.
  • In Darksiders, similar to God of War below, all bosses are puzzle bosses instead of straight up brawls.
  • Every boss in the God of War series is this, starting with the Hydra, which you defeat by pinning the smaller heads to the deck before impaling the main head on a ship mast. Another is a giant Minotaur that is defeated by stunning it with Action Commands before using a cannon that fires flaming logs to break his armor. They show up frequently in the sequel as well, the greatest example of which involves trapping two of the fates in between dimensions by hurling them into a mirror and then shattering it, as well as pinning down Clotho's hands before using a pendulum to stab her in the head. There is also the Colossus of Rhodes, who is only defeated via draining Kratos' godly energy that had been transferred into it. The final bosses of each game, Ares and Zeus, are fairly straightforward fights, as are Theseus, the Barbarian King, and Eurayle in the second game.
  • In the battle against the Shadow Queen at the end of ICO, she does nothing except emit waves that 1-hit kill you (which only the spirit sword and the 2 movable statues can protect you from) while hiding behind her shield. Every time you attack her, the shield weakens but the spirit sword is knocked flying from your hands by the shock, forcing you to retrieve it using the statues.
  • Iji:
    • Iosa the Invincible is, well, Exactly What It Says on the Tin. You can damage her exoskeleton with your guns, but you're better off using the ceiling-mounted lasers against her. Once the exoskeleton is destroyed, you have to wait for an opening to knock her into the wall, which stuns her long enough to hack into and deactivate her nanoshield controller. Then the game cuts to black, and you hear the Shotgun firing.
    • The Sentinel is a spherical satellite-like robot that throws explosive bullets and missiles everywhere, continuously tracks you, and takes half damage from all of your weapons. The trick here is to kick it into one of the two electrical fences at the sides of the arena for massive damage (and a few of the next spoken lines change accordingly to how much damage you took and how soon you figured out the trick). Alternately, not using the electropods grants you a Supercharge, but you have to know how to juggle it to minimize its use of the Nuke, which blows five of your Health units straight to hell. The Velocithor does full damage to it regardless of all that armor, which makes it useful when the Sentinel's powering up the Nuke.
    • A few bosses can be skipped entirely if you're needing that pacifist run. But you need to figure out how to do that.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Several bosses require odd strategies and unique weapon usages to defeat them. Often, the boss's defenses have to be weakened with a secondary weapon or tool, usually the one you just got in the dungeon, before more conventional attacks can be used to deal actual damage (as with the Helmasaur King from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past; King Dodongo and Morpha from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time; the King of Ikana Castle in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, and Gohma from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker). Other bosses (Agahnim, Twinrova, Phantom Ganon, Ganondorf himself in some incarnations) have to have their attacks reflected before they can be damaged, sometimes resulting in Playing Tennis with the Boss before the blast hits.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages:
      • Head Thwomp, the boss of the second dungeon, the Wing Dungeon, is constantly rotating, and doesn't attack on its own. To defeat it, Link must wait for a specific face to come to the front and then toss a bomb in its hollow top. Head Thwomp will then slow to a stop and perform an action. If the red face was chosen, it takes damage and drops a healing item. Please note that the more you damage it, the faster its head spins. Moreover, if another face was chosen, it takes no damage and performs an attack, from the following: the angry green face fires raining Podoboos on Link from its hollow top as it usually would when it spins, the Slasher Smile blue face fires spinning fireballs from said hollow top around the rotating platforms Link has to use to reach him, and the angry purple face performs a ground pound like an ordinary Thwomp and crushes Link (if he is underneath it) and causes rocks to fall from the ceiling that could also crush him.
      • Smog, the boss of the fifth dungeon, the Crown Dungeon, turns its room into an increasingly complex puzzle in each successive phase of its fight, where Link must use the Cane of Somaria to create blocks with which to herd Smog's pieces together, while dodging their fireballs, in order to reassemble them into the original boss, who is less capable of defending himself than normal foes.
      • Ramrock, the stone golem boss of the eighth dungeon, the Ancient Tomb, has four forms, each of which has no obvious weak point and must be defeated via clever use of an item — a different item for each form. Fortunately, astute players may notice that the four obstacles blocking the door to his room are overcome with these same four items...
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: Ganondorf can only be defeated by having the computer-controlled Zelda bounce Light Arrows off your Mirror Shield and then immediately attacking with the sword.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks: At first, Fraaz can be harmed when Link uses the fire and ice torches in his arena to imbue his Boomerang with them and attack the elementally-opposite halves of the boss. Halfway through the battle, however, Fraaz destroys both torches, forcing Link to think outside the box and imbue his Boomerang with the elemental attacks performed by the boss itself.
  • Messiah: The first stage of the battle with Satan has you running around to trip four switches in order to deactivate the boss's forcefield, all while demon-possessed enemies are shooting at you.
  • Nicktoons: Globs of Doom does this with:
    • Danny Phantom: Cujo the Ghost Dog, who was defeated by tricking him into lowering four switches for you and then running around as he mindlessly trips on some electric lines while chasing you.
    • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: The mutated Girl Eating Plant. To quote Technus: "We have to find a way inside that plant!" (And that way is to get to a certain spot where it will swallow you.) And the plant adapts, as its giant roots will block the previous path you took to get to that area and leave open the next one after each round of whacking its innards. There's a reason why you have to get there in order to be eaten. (Hint: The name of the boss, the battle takes place in a mall, and you're stuck with SpongeBob SquarePants and Technus. Go figure.)
  • All bosses in Nightmare Creatures are puzzle bosses. One needs to have a ceiling dropped onto it before it becomes vulnerable. Another one is unreachable, and must be killed by setting off Exploding Barrels found in the stage. The final boss cannot be damaged, only stunned, and must be killed by decapitation while he's stunned.
  • Ōkami:
    • There's a spider boss which can only be harmed after tying its back to three floating hooks, a flaming skeletal monster that can only be damaged after the fires were put out, a kitsune that can only be injured by using lightning strikes against it, and a dragon that you have to get drunk.
    • The Final Boss, Yami. Chances are, you'll be using all of your brush powers as you get them back.
  • In inverse, one boss battle in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow requires that the players set fire to a ship's mast to cover their escape. Rather than using the arena to kill the boss, the players must use the boss to destroy the arena: The mast is protected by an indestructible (by them) steel plate, which the players can remove only by provoking the ship's captain into using his ultimate attack while nearby.
  • Prince of Persia has two, the first a battle against a single skeleton that springs to life when the Prince goes near it (all other skeletons seen in the game are merely 'decorative'), which cannot be injured by your sword in the conventional fashion. The only way to dispatch it is to batter it back towards the nearest ledge and knock it off into a Bottomless Pit. Later in the game, you encounter the ghostly copy of the Prince, which was earlier created by a magic mirror. It mimics your actions, so attacking causes it to strike you as well — additionally, there was a red herring 'pit trap' nearby; luring the boss into it (à la the skeleton) causes you to die as well. The only solution is to Sheathe Your Sword, with the copy doing the same.
  • In Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, the Armoured Warrior is a Nigh Invulnerable boss in full metal plate. He takes absolutely no damage from anything, and his armor is unremovable. You can damage his Posture, but even your deathblows can't kill him. The only way to kill him is to use your deathblow to push him off the bridge and have him falls to his Disney Villain Death.
  • All of the bosses in Shadow of the Colossus are defeated in this manner. All of them involve climbing onto the boss, though how you do this and what you do afterward varies by the boss.
  • Every fight in Solatorobo is usually straightforward: Just wait for the boss to leave themselves wide open long enough for Red to comfortably lift and slam down to the ground multiple times or for them to shoot out a projectile big enough for Red to Catch and Return. The Pris Sisters goes against that philosophy every time Red encounters them, as they are too high up for Red to grab normally and the bombs they toss out cannot be aimed directly at them. So instead, you have to wait for the bombs to cook a bit before tossing them near the Sisters and hope they get hit by the range of the explosion.
  • The Geb Queen from Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy is a particularly complex example. At most times, she is completely invulnerable, being surrounded by a glowing shield. There's an unreachable platform above her that contains two monster cages, holding Personal Space Invaders and a shielded crown. One of her attacks, however, is shooting blue magical spells that turn you into a frog. You have to be hit by said spells, use the frog's extra jumping power to leap up to the platform, and press the buttons next to the cages, releasing the Personal Space Invaders. They'll attack the queen in the way they do, leaving her vulnerable to a strike. In later rounds, the queen starts summoning mooks, who will kill the spiderlike enemies if you don't defeat them first.
  • Spider-Man:
    • The Rhino in a number of games is a Puzzle Boss — his skin/suit thing is too tough for Spidey to hurt, so defeating him tends to rely on directing his charging attacks into appropriately hard/zappy items.
    • In Spider-Man 2 – Enter: Electro for the PS1, the final boss is (surprise) a supercharged Electro. In order to render him vulnerable, you have to make him fire a bolt at a generator, damaging his power-up device. The fact that he doesn't stop falling for this is lampshaded by Spidey himself if the fight drags on for longer than necessary, and at the end, he simply quips "This goes to show that good wins because... evil is dumb."
  • Titan Souls is filled with this. Every boss in the game can be defeated in one hit if you strike their weak point — the challenge is finding the opportunity when they're vulnerable while dodging their attacks, as you're a One-Hit-Point Wonder.
  • Tomb Raider:
    • The original game has an alien boss which copies Lara's movements. Shooting at it causes Lara's health to go down as well, resulting in a simultaneous death. The only way to defeat it is to position Lara so that the alien, on their side of the room, walks into a pit. The Anniversary remake once again features the same boss, with the added complications of having to "cooperate" with the Doppelgänger in order to seal its fate.
    • The Dragon of Xian in Tomb Raider II, where have to incapcitate it so that you can take the dagger out from its belly so that it finally dies and instantly decomposes.
    • Sophia in Tomb Raider III, who is Immune to Bullets, and you must electrocute her by shooting the fuse box. Dr. Willard's One-Winged Angel spider form in the same game, which can only be temporarily stunned, until you have all the meteor fragments.
    • The ghost and statue boss in Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness. Finally, the first battle with the "unknown entity" in Tomb Raider: Legend, which involves a lot of switches, electrical orbs, and a Tesla gun.
    • Many bosses in Tomb Raider: Anniversary are puzzle bosses. An example is when you are fighting two centaurs that can turn you to stone. You must use a shield to reflect their spell and turn them into stone, then use the opportunity to attack them.

    Action RPG 
  • In the first Boktai, the only boss that this wasn't an option for was Hel. Every other boss had something in their arena that made their fights a heck of a lot easier; for example, the Count happens to have two skylights in his move path, Carmilla takes massive damage from her own petrification shots, etc.
  • The Crest Guardians in Brave Fencer Musashi seem to be specifically designed to be beaten by the elemental crest they guard: a fire monster guards the water crest, an ice monster guards the fire crest, etc. Apart from them, the Final Boss can only be defeated through a strategy that is rather annoying to figure out: while it is floating around between attacks, the player must throw the Fusion sword at it and "Assimilate" it, temporarily shrinking it into a small, attackable orb. Consider that its vulnerable period lasts for about a second or less, Assimilate has a charge time, and you'd probably never think to do it because assimilating an enemy usually kills it instantly, and like any Useless Useful Spell, would be expected not to work on bosses. Which, apart from this one battle, it doesn't.
  • The Virgin in Dark Devotion is immune to conventional attacks. She can only be harmed by praying at the statues on either side of her, with each completed praying taking off one segment of her health bar. Of course, those statues are within striking distance of her monstrous limbs...
  • The Bed of Chaos in Dark Souls will die from a single hit. The challenge of the fight is exposing its weak point. You must destroy the big obvious glowing orbs on either side of the boss to break its shield and then run towards the crumbling center of the room and land on the root leading to the boss' weak point. The Bed of Chaos gets progressively more aggressive as it becomes vulnerable: it attacks you using its huge branch arms, destroys the floor of the arena to drop you into bottomless pits, and rains fire on you.
  • Dark Souls II:
    • The Executioner's Chariot can be defeated in two ways. Pulling the lever seen in the cutscene will send the Chariot crashing into the lowered gate, which destroys the chariot and rider and leaves the demonic horse as a more conventional boss fight. Using spells and ranged attacks to damage the Chariot as it rides around the corridor is another option. The horse will become too injured to jump over the gap in the corridor. As the horse desperately clings to the edge, a few blows are all it takes to knock it down.
    • You fight Mytha like a regular boss, but she becomes much harder to fight if you don't solve a puzzle before entering her Boss Room: the room starts off being full of poison that constantly damages you while healing her, unless you get rid of it by taking a torch to the windmill that powers the pumps throughout the building.
  • Dark Souls III has the boss fights against Yhorm the Giant, the Ancient Wyvern, and High Lord Wolnir. All of them can be killed by hitting them with your sword, but it'll take forever. However, Yhorm takes extreme damage from the Weapon Art of the Storm Ruler, a copy of which is conveniently located in his boss fight room and another copy of which is located in the hands of your friend Siegward of Catarina, who will join you for the fight if you've been following his personal questline. Wolnir has three large and shiny bracelets; destroying them will take off a giant whack of health each, and finish him off when you've taken out all three. And the Ancient Wyvern's boss arena is a sprawling game of Snakemen and Ladders, at the top of which is an opportunity to leap onto the Wyvern's head and one-shot him with a lethal diving attack.
  • The entirety of the Deception series is puzzle bosses, as every enemy must be defeated with a number of available "traps" (environmental hazards). The hero of the first game gets a sword that does pin-prick damage, but it's all puzzles from there.
  • The Dragon God in Demon's Souls can only be defeated by taking advantage of the environment to avoid its attacks long enough to fire a pair of huge ballistas into its shoulders. Once that's done the near helpless dragon can be killed with a few blows to the face.
  • The Golem in the Cantlin chapter of Dragon Quest Builders can't be harmed by any of your regular weapons. Instead, you have to block its attacks with a large, mobile Cantlin Shield, and then bomb it with Wrecking Balls when it's vulnerable — one to knock it off its feet, and then another to deal damage.
  • Several boss monsters in Dungeon Siege 2 and especially in Dungeon Siege 2: Shattered World, including the final mega-boss.
  • Most bosses in Final Fantasy VII Remake have an obvious weakness and then hidden weaknesses that make the boss substantially easier, often requiring use of the Assess Materia and scrutinizing their resistances. The notorious Hell House in particular is an elemental Barrier Change Boss, which halfway through the fight starts activating God House Mode, which reduces all of your hits to Scratch Damage and causes all physical hits to bounce off. God House Mode wears off very briefly during or after an attack, giving only brief windows to attack it with the opposite element. However, Hell House's arms extend outside of the barrier, and Assess reveals them to be vulnerable to Stop magic when extended, which Hell House is normally immune to. Stopping the arms freezes Hell House entirely, and then breaking them instantly staggers it.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • In the original Kingdom Hearts:
      • Hercules is normally invincible during his one-on-one arena duel with Sora, but can be made vulnerable by tossing barrels at him.
      • Phantom, the superboss in Neverland, who is also a Time-Limit Boss. He can set a 12-second timer above your party members' heads. When it gets down to 0, they disappear for the rest of the battle, and you can't get them back. After killing both of your party members, he'll do it to you, too. The trick to beating him is to use Stopra on Big Ben. As an insult to injury, the prize for beating the Phantom is Stopga, the strongest Stop-spell, meaning you get the spell just after you could have really used it.
    • Kingdom Hearts II: Like Oogie Boogie (knock toys into the basket), Demyx (find a way to kill his clones fast), and Luxord (exploit your third-person perspective to cheat at cards). More may qualify, depending on how much you view use of Reaction commands as a requisite for being a puzzle boss.
    • Kingdom Hearts RE: Chain of Memories has Vexen, who is completely invincible by merit of his Big Freaking Shield... unless you perform a card break.
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance has:
    • The Kraken, which needs to be tricked into damaging one of four pillars surrounding it, followed by a QTE sequence that causes it to topple the rest of the pillar onto itself.
    • Iron Man's arch-enemy, the Mandarin. After whaling on him for a while, he retreats to a safe balcony; follow him through a teleporter and the Ultimo up there will send you back. To prevent this, you have to lure a spider bot to a teleporter, after which it will blow up on the Ultimo, allowing you to get up there.
    • Arcade's Humongous Mecha, which can only be defeated by luring him onto the giant target on the floor, then jumping through one of the trapdoors so you get shot out of a cannon onto his head, followed by button-mashing to push back his fist until he punches himself in the face.
    • The Destroyer Armor, which gets its ultimate attack charging up if you dare to attack it. You have to go through the four warps and defeat the Mooks inside, after which you will stumble upon Loki's frozen body. Trick the Armor into unleashing said move on him and they both die.
    • In a strange subversion (of sorts), MODOK's battle begins with him asking trivia questions. Right answers let you get closer to him, while wrong answers get you electrocuted. After you reach him (or he runs out of questions), it turns into a standard boss battle, though.
  • The Witcher has a stone golem boss which you have to re-animate and then kill using pillars surrounding it that generate lightning bolts (you can kill it very quickly this way). The monster can also be killed by conventional weaponry, but this will take a long, long, long time. A skilled player can keep hacking at it and dodging its attacks until it dies, so this makes it a Puzzle Boss or a Marathon Boss depending on how the player tries to kill it.
  • The World Ends with You:
    • Tigris Cantus is a major and overly elaborate case of this. You even get a phone message beforehand containing a cryptic hint at how to damage her. Initially, Neku can only harm her by knocking Taboo Noise into the static at the bottom of his screen, and keeping obstacles (which harm Beat) and regular Noise (which heal Konishi) off it, while Beat attacks her on the top screen. After being damaged enough, she teleports between both screens and is fair game to both characters, but is invisible in the top screen until right before she teleports. After being damaged further, she steals all of Neku's pins and can only be harmed by Beat, but Neku can help out by stepping into her shadow, causing one of the clones she uses to block Beat to disappear every time he does so; however, he has to keep her from touching his shadow with hers, which harms Neku. Eventually, she drops the Rhyme pin and turns almost completely invisible... except you can use Neku's shadow to estimate her position and make her visible by hitting her with the Rhyme pin.
    • Vespertilio/Pterupus Canor. In the beginning of the fight, the giant bat noise will be shrouded in darkness, invincible to normal attack. The strategy? Use your partner to trash the gabbabats blocking the lights on the second floor of the stage to illuminate the place. With said lights on, Verpertilio will become vulnerable and eventually stunned, ready for a pummeling.
  • In Ys IV: Mask of the Sun, Eldeel is invincible during the first phase of the battle. After dodging his attacks for a minute, you get a prompt to throw the Necklace on him to render him vulnerable. In his third phase, he gains nigh-impenetrable armor, and you must dodge him again until the Disciples break it for you.

    Adventure Game 
Examples by creator:
  • Virtually every LucasArts adventure game ends with one of those, which is obvious considering they are essentially entire puzzle GAMES:
    • Day of the Tentacle: Use the bowling ball on the tentacles, then trick old Purple Tentacle into shooting Dr. Fred.
    • The Dig: Retract the bridge under the Cocytan guard dog. This one also has three other puzzle bosses earlier in the game, first the sea monster, defeated through high explosives and a very Guide Dang It! skeleton puzzle, second the first guard dog you encounter, defeated by reviving his buddy, and third the giant spider monster, defeated by diverting a blocked up waterflow right into its web.
    • Full Throttle: Retract the machinegun. Can't beat a Corley.
    • Grim Fandango: Poison Hector's greenhouse's sprinklers with sproutella. Also, Domino is defeated by essentially distracting him from the gigantic coral grinders headed his way.
    • Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis: Trick Kerner and then Dr. Übermann into using the Atlantean god-machine on themselves.
    • Loom: Trick Chaos into teaching you the destruction draft, then destroy the loom.
    • Maniac Mansion: Turn off the mind control machine, put on the radiation suit, pick up the Meteor, lock him up in the car trunk, and send him off into space... or get the meteor a publishing contract... or call the meteor police in on him... Or...
    • Monkey Island:
      • The Secret of Monkey Island: Splash LeChuck with root beer. Additionally, Carla in the same game could only be beaten by mastering the game's insult sword fighting system and guessing the proper responses to her insults.
      • Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge: Make a LeChuck voodoo doll and use it against him.
      • The Curse of Monkey Island: Get LeChuck to blow up the rum barrel you carefully placed in a position to bury him under tons of snow. Rottingham in the same game is essentially defeated in the exact same way as Carla from the original.
      • The final puzzle of Escape from Monkey Island is disguised as a regular old boss battle against a giant stone LeChuck in the rock-paper-scissors-esque fighting minigame "Monkey Kombat." The player initially assumes that this fight has to be won in the same fashion as other Monkey Kombat games, but since both combatants regenerate health automatically, victory and defeat are both impossible. The one way to end it is to irritate the enemy into slapping his own head by drawing three times in a row, crushing Ozzie Mandrill, who happens to be riding atop LeChuck and controlling him with the Ultimate Insult.
    • Sam & Max Hit the Road: While not technically the game's last puzzle, Conroy Bumpus is defeated by locking him in a freezer.
Examples by work:
  • In Avalon Code, even though cleverness isn't always compulsory, it sure does help in most boss fights. But there are several bosses that will require a good brain to defeat. For instance, Guardian Torsol may seem like a Damage-Sponge Boss, but when he loses color and becomes immobile, he also becomes immune to your attacks. The trick? You push him off a ledge while he can't move, like you do with a boulder.
  • The Giant "Metal Gear" DomZ, the third boss of Beyond Good & Evil. A giant, bipedal cyborg, its only obvious weakness is too high off the ground to hit, and protected by a metal grate. It flinches if you attack its legs, but it seems otherwise imperturbable. But what's this you hear? Incoming Ham! Double H bursts in, and you can instruct him to attack its other leg. When you both attack its legs, it falls, and you can dish out the hurt.
  • The Archmage in the Flash game Inquisitive Dave is beaten by not fighting him. Since he was programmed into the game to fight you, just avoiding him gives him no reason to exist.
  • The final battle with Mordack in King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder! is a Shapeshifter Showdown requiring you to change into different forms to match your enemy.
  • A few boss battles in Sam & Max: Freelance Police are puzzles in which the player must trick the boss into defeating themselves. Examples include:
    • Brady Culture, defeated through a Duck Season, Rabbit Season-like puzzle.
    • Myra Stump, defeated by causing her to inadvertently move her microphone onto a wet patch on her desk, electrifying her.
    • In the final episode of Season Two, the Soda Poppers are defeated by causing them to blow out a candle, so the final puzzle involves the player having to bake them a birthday cake and placing the candle on the cake.
  • Every boss in Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure due to the nature of the game. Most of the time, aside from the giant monster, there's little distinction between the boss stages and regular stages.

  • Pious Augustus of Eternal Darkness can No-Sell normal attacks of Alex's weapons, so she needs to periodically find a break in the fight to enchant it in order to hit him. This step can be skipped if she acquired the Enchanted Gladius. Once Pious is hit, the essence of the Ancient he is serving is revealed, and that must be attacked. The fight continues back and forth until the essence is destroyed, which finally leaves Pious vulnerable enough that he can be struck down for good.
  • All the bosses in Haunting Ground. Fiona's only "weapons" are stun bombs and Hewie's attacks, and she can't outfight the stalkers this way, so she has to find a way to outsmart them after fleeing from them and reaching the spot where the Boss Battle occurs.

  • The "bad cat" in the original Mac game Glider. There's no way to harm it, and there's no way to get by it... (Only the former is true.)

    Beat 'em Up 
  • Three bosses in Mother Russia Bleeds have to be beaten this way: The level 3 boss can only be damaged by knocking her into the giant thresher that pursues you throughout the fight, the level 4 boss takes place on the tracks of a busy train station, and the boss has to be blinded with flash grenades so that he can't dodge out of the way of oncoming trains, the Premiere has to be repeatedly kicked off of a rope ladder before he can make his escape, and the first phase of the Nekro fight can only be defeated by throwing syringes at the walls of flesh closing in from either side of the stage.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time has a rare Beat 'em Up example — at least in the Super NES version. It's the Climax Boss battle against Shredder about halfway through the game. Rather than fighting you himself, as is his custom in the video games, Shredder instead battles you in some sort of Dimension X war machine thing. He himself is shown in the far foreground, and cannot be hit using normal attacks. Fortunately, he's also flooding the arena with Foot Soldiers, who the Turtles can actually throw into the camera, which in this case damages Shredder. Can be a slight case of Guide Dang It!, because this is the only point in the game where this skill does anything more than insta-killing the Foot Soldier for three points.

    Bullet Hell 
  • Touhou Project:
    • Every bullet pattern in the games can be dodged with enough sheer skill (or just bombing), but many spellcards have small tricks to them that allow for easier dodging. One of the most popular is Sanae's "Bumper Crop Rice Shower" spellcard; it's possible to stay at the bottom and dodge the random bullets that fall down on you, but it's much easier to place yourself directly on the spot from which Sanae spawns red bullets. If you angle yourself correctly, no green/yellow bullets will hit you, you can still damage Sanae, and you can easily rack up 2000+ grazes if you wait until it's almost over before finishing her off. The most infamous of these is Icicle Fall on Easy difficulty, which can be avoided entirely just by being right in front of Cirno.
    • Touhou Eiyashou ~ Imperishable Night gives us Mokou's "Honest Man's Death", which has an apparently unavoidable laser... until you realize that its hitbox doesn't materialize until it goes over your position when the laser first fires. Meaning you need to run towards the laser in order to avoid being hit by it.
    • Touhou Chireiden ~ Subterranean Animism:
      • Parsee. Several of her spells have gimmicks not usually seen until endgame, such as actively chasing you around the screen. However, her patterns are quite simple once figured out — her infamous "Green-Eyed Monster" can be thwarted by moving slowly upwards — leading to some players wondering why she has a reputation as That One Boss.
      • For direct attacks, Utusho can be goaded into giving you safe zones.

    Card Battle Game 
  • Various adaptations of the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game — often the World Championship series starting from 2006 — include Duel Puzzles, where the player must work with a preset layout to win the game in the given turn. At other times, the player is instead given a deck-building limitation or an objective to achieve in addition to winning the Duel normally — the puzzle now becomes building a competent deck within that limitation or a deck that can consistently achieve said objective.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • None of the Marine's weapons are effective against the Xenomorph Queen in Aliens vs. Predator (2010). Instead, you must avoid her attacks while triggering the mechanism that will open the bay doors to Space, then make it to a small room and close the door before the bay door opens so that you don't get sucked out into Space along with the Queen.
  • Revas in your second and final fight in Assault on Dark Athena. She's immune to any conventional attacks, but the SCAR gun can knock her back down. Beating her requires opening the doors of the elevator shaft behind her, and knocking her back enough times to make her fall in it to her death.
  • Some players approach the Big Daddy battles in BioShock like this (kind of a "DIY" Puzzle Boss). Rather than just fight the brutes head on and unload as much lead as they can muster, they will lay a long line of things to trap and damage the Big Daddy as it comes barreling at them. Explosions, electricity, and other objects on the land make for great Big Daddy roadblocks. It's all in how you set it up that determines how much damage can be done by the time he's made his way through your gauntlet of pain.
  • All of the bosses in Chasm: The Rift must be killed using non-standard methods.
  • A lot of the bosses in Clive Barker's Undying are invincible until they run out of juice. While you do fight Lizbeth normally, she eventually goes invincible with her Limit Break, and you have to wait for her to tucker out before you can take her head off. Ambrose gets all gigantimous, and you have to wait until he's distracted so that you can hit his weak point to stun him long enough for a decapitation. Aaron is invulnerable until one of his spears gets stuck, at which point you rush in and finish him off. Bethany likewise can only be decapitated after she becomes tired out from summoning a minion. In fact only Keisinger is fought as a straightforward boss fight with no puzzle elements.
  • A number of bosses in the Dark Forces Saga are this, notably the Psycho Serum-infused Rancor in Jedi Academy.
  • Destiny:
    • The raid activities have bosses that require coordination between 6 fireteam members instead of just shooting. Atheon, Time's Conflux is a giant invulnerable machine that requires a buff in order to damage normally, and an artifact to protect the party from its normally fatal attacks. Crota, Son of Oryx is a giant knight that is invulnerable to conventional firearms. The only way to damage him is to use a sword to strike him, but Crota instantly kills any party member who approaches him. The trick being that it's the job of the party to stun him in order to allow the sword user to attack Crota without fear of getting counter-attacked. Oryx, The Taken King is on another level.
    • The sequel takes this to another level, as the raid puzzles get more complex and require precise timing as well as good communication. Some of the regular bosses also have puzzles that enable the players to damage them, but most are pretty straightforward.
  • Doom³ has two such bosses. The first is the Guardian, which is blind and relies on small floating demons in the arena to see, so you have to kill all of them and the Guardian will spawn more, revealing his weak spot for you to attack. The final boss — the Cyberdemon — can only be hurt by the Soul Cube, and the only way to use it is to kill the enemies that constantly spawned around the arena while avoiding the Cyberdemon's rockets. Once you have killed a sufficient number of enemies, the Soul Cube is fully charged and can be used.
  • Half-Life:
    • The Tentacle requires you to explore the silo activating fuel lines and turning on the power generator for the rocket motor above the creature's head, and then burn it.
    • The first Gargantua has to be lured into a massive electricity generator and electrocuted, while later on in the game, another Gargantua has to be led into an open area where you then use a tactical map to call air-strikes on it. Gargantuas are susceptible to explosives damage, so if you are inclined to do so, a full supply of grenades and explosive packs is just enough to kill each of them. It's kind of a waste, though.
    • The Nihilanth battle requires you to destroy the energy crystals around it to prevent it from healing, then damage it enough so that its head peels open, allowing you to shoot its exposed brain.
    • Half-Life: Opposing Force has the fight against the Pit Worm, where you have to activate the drainage system of a huge septic tank to flush the monster away.
    • In the same game, the Gene Worm at the end must first be shot in the eyes with two conveniently placed crystal-enhanced laser turrets, and then shot in the stomach. And you have to do this same process multiple times.
  • Chapter 13 of Mega Man 8-Bit Deathmatch has the superboss Ra Devil, who fights like a regular boss at first but becomes invincible at three different points to put you through deadlier versions of the puzzles you had to solve to reach it. One requires a mobility weapon to get off of an electrified floor, one requires a shield weapon to tank multiple One Hit Kills, and one requires a screen-wide weapon to clear out hordes of Mooks before they overwhelm you.
  • In No One Lives Forever, defeating an otherwise invulnerable Inge Wagner requires the player to repeatedly electrify a pool of water and lure her across it (taking advantage of the moments when Wagner would burst into her much-dreaded singing, which temporarily disabled the otherwise endlessly spawning goons in the level, was an available if not crucial option in accomplishing the first part of this maneuver).
  • With the exceptions of Necrogiant, the bosses in Painkiller fall into this category. Detonating bubbles is needed to make Swamp Thing vulnerable, as is destroying Guardian's hammer. Alastor's statues can heal him and make him invincible — and can't be dealt with unless they're doing so. Then there's your tennis date with Lucifer. In the expansion pack Battle Out of Hell, all the bosses are of this category. For better or worse, in the follow-up Overdose, only the first of the three bosses is of this type.
  • Prey (2006) has two examples:
    • The Centurion takes minimal damage from conventional weapons; the way to defeat it is to hide in a corridor and wait for it to reach in to grab you, then activate the forcefield that will sever its arm as well as the cannon grafted on, allowing you to deal much more damage to the monster using its own weapon.
    • The final boss has an impenetrable shield, and the only way to hurt it is to launch mines from conveniently placed mine launchers around the arena and destroy them when the boss got near, momentarily disrupting her shield and allowing you to attack with conventional weapons.
  • Both bosses in the original Quake are Puzzle Bosses.
    • Chthon, the big lava monster you fight at the end of the first episode, is only killable by lowering two big pillars level with Chthon's head and then hitting the button that triggers a blast of lightning between the pillars and through his head. In easy modes, only one blast is necessary to kill him, but on the hard modes, you need three of them.
    • The final battle with Shub-Niggurath is particularly anti-climactic. There's a little pod thing that goes around the chamber dropping off monsters for you to kill and at one point passes through Shub's sluglike body. The transporter located at the very end of your path around this chamber drops you off wherever that pod currently is. Entering the transporter when the pod enters Shub's body warps you into said body and telefrags her.
  • Quake IV has the Stroylent creature that is immune to normal weapons. The way to defeat it is to run across its chamber, using the pillars as cover from its claw attacks. Pressing the button at the far end of the chamber causes a chemical spray to irritate the creature so that it breaks a window and opens the way to a control room. Using the "feed" button in the control room causes the creature's stomach to rupture, killing it. The released gastric juices burn a hole in the floor — guess where you're headed next?
  • Rainbow Six: Vegas 2, of all things, has one of these with a helicopter gunship. Being a helicopter, your weapons are entirely useless against it, so the best you can do is hide behind cover to avoid its weapons and worry about the guys on the ground who can flank you. You get a call not too long into the battle from Jo, the Mission Control for Logan from the first Vegas, telling you that they've hacked into local air defenses and can shoot down the helicopter for you if you can make it call for backup to give them something to lock on to. The trick is then to open fire on it just enough for it to panic and call for reinforcements, switching to the correct cover as necessary when it launches instant-kill missiles at you, then repeat this at the next set of cover until it opens a path into the tennis court it was hovering over so you can head in and take better cover inside a building. At that point it's simply a matter of holding out against a ridiculous amount of bad guys while hiding from the copter's weapons, until eventually the missile comes in and shoots it down.
  • Serious Sam:
    • The final boss of The First Encounter is a combination of normal boss and puzzle boss. Ugh-Zan III has a lifebar, and he can be damaged normally — until he is in the red, at which point he regenerates progressively faster the more damaged he is, making conventional weapons useless. The player has to bring his health down and keep it there while activating a large laser on the spaceship above, which does enough damage to kill Ugh-Zan before he can regenerate.
    • Ugh-Zan IV from Serious Sam 3: BFE is also a puzzle boss. He has regeneration much like the previous Ugh-Zan, which really kicks in if the player manages to knock him down past half his health. The trick is shoving metal poles into his back every time he loses interest in you and fights the sand whale instead. This attracts lightning to him, which does heavy damage and disables his regeneration for a short time.
  • X-Men: The Ravages of Apocalypse: Apocalypse starts out in his giant form, and you have to run around him activating pillars before you can damage him in any way.

    Horizontal Scrolling Shooter 

    Match Three 
  • Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes, besides having a puzzle-based battle system, also has some battles where the objective is to hit specific rows or in a certain order. The beginning of the fifth chapter has three battles that are impossible to win unless you figure out how: the first has a wall of fire that destroys all of your units before they can attack (you need to use Ghosts, which are invincible when charging), the second pits you against three linked, extremely powerful Rakshasa (you need to use Druids to de-sync them), and the third against a mage who weakens your charging units at every turn (you need an Angel to replenish their attack).
  • A few bosses in Puzzle & Dragons work like this, having special mechanics that need to be resolved in order to beat them.
    • Awoken Lakshmi who appears in "Alt. Ultimate Arena" is a particularly notorious one, able to shut down all your skills before lobbing you straight into a 5 turn long, very high-stakes sequence of Jammer puzzles. How high are the stakes? Leave even one Jammer remaining, and it's lights out for you.
    • The eponymous boss of "Beleth Descended!" is able to expand the playing field to 7×6 along with negating Skyfall combos, using it as a three-turn test of your skills. Mismanage the boards he gives you, and he'll get a major ATK buff for the rest of the fight that he will most likely use to absolutely bury you.
    • Downplayed in this case: The boss of "Gawain Descended!" spams a skill that lets him absorb a certain amount of combos every turn, with the fight opening on a very high-level 13 combo absorb. Like Beleth above, it's mainly a test of your skill to surpass that barrier, but if you have a Leader Skill that adds combos, it makes it a lot easier. But even these Leader Skills aren't a complete game changer; going into the second phase, Gawain activates a damage barrier absorb on top of his usual combo barrier (this time only at 10), at which point the challenge becomes managing your Orbs in the proper manner to hit him without pushing him back through that 50% HP gate where his Resolve reactivates.
    • Fights like Gilles Legato or Hexazeon in their respective "Descended" dungeons employ networks of damage voids that blur the line between Flunky Boss and Cognizant Limbs, and which usually must be resolved in a specific order. Overshoot the Augites' puzzle (id est, kill the Purple and/or Green Augite in one shot) in Hexazeon's fight, for instance, and you may very well find yourself with a pair of resurrecting Mooks that leave the fight temporarily Unwinnable by Mistake.
    • In this sea of crimson dungeons, Hanuman makes what amounts to a cameo appearance thanks to his blue dungeon "Hanuman Descended!" Although late-game units will be able to nullify his damage absorption barrier, which is still set at a somewhat generous 300 million damage, Hanuman plays a few tricks of his own, using attacks like Mahattva Tapaah and Aatma Yogah to drag out the bout. If you forgot to bring someone with Damage Absorb Piercer, but still have said late-game cards, have fun keeping your DPS on the down-low long enough to put an end to his monkey business.

  • Dungeons & Dragons Online features puzzle bosses for a few raid encounters, notably the Black Abbot and Stormreaver. The latter encounter is followed by a literal puzzle: a game of mastermind.
  • Final Fantasy XIV:
    • Some bosses during A Realm Reborn to Heavensward were basically puzzle bosses before they were reworked to more straightforward bosses:
      • The second boss of Copperbell Mines, Ichorous Ire, required the tank to attract a bomb-type enemy to blow up the blob to get it to split small enough for the DPS to actually do their job. Note this was typically the second dungeon players took on.
      • The last boss of Brayflox's Longstop, Aiatar, required the tank to kite the boss out of the pools of poison it vomits.
      • The trial Good King Moggle Mog required reworking twice, as it wasn't obvious how to do the second phase of the fight correctly and required the players to target specific minions rather than the Good King himself.
    • In one boss battle in the Stormblood, all of your abilities are disabled and you must pass the trial to proceed. Said trial involves avoiding attacks coming at you in different patterns. Get hit twice and you're bound in place until the next part of the trial. It's a total wipe if the entire party fails the trial at once.
    • Another boss from the alliance raids in Stormblood forces all players' HP into the single-digits, then tasks players with standing in number-marked circles to match their HP to a certain value (multiples of 3, square roots, etc.). Failure to match your HP to the required value twice will result in guaranteed death.
    • In Endwalker, the first Trial boss, Zodiark, is more focused on puzzle mechanics than mechanics that are strictly difficult to avoid - its main mechanic is creating phantom monsters that deal a single Area of Effect attack each before dissapearing - with the caveat that before the attack goes off, the boss will bind all of the players in spot, rotate the entire arena (which moves everything except the players) and then the attack goes off - making it so that players have to rapidly figure out where the attacks will not hit after the arena is rotated before and move there before they are binded.
  • Guild Wars 2: For the first few dungeons, the boss battles are mostly just harder encounters, but they quickly ramp up in complexity.
    • The first dungeon, the Ascalonian Catacombs, has the lovers, Ralena and Vassar. Both are surrounded by circles, and when they overlap, they gain 'Lover's Embrace', which significantly boosts their stats. Players either need to focus fire on one to kill them off quickly, use boulders to knock them apart or use the pressure plate door to separate them (sacrificing a team member in the process). This boss battle is especially devastating since it's among the first that new players will do.
    • Twilight Arbor features the final boss battle against Faolain, who summons illusionary copies of Destiny's Edge, then disappears. Players need to defeat a copy, prompting Faolain to return to the battlefield to revive it — unless she is damaged quickly enough, the copy comes back.
    • Happens more obviously against the Iron Forgeman in Sorrow's Embrace, which is impervious to regular attacks and deals massive damage. Players need to stay safely behind walls (although the Forgeman also pours lava onto these spots, so one has to keep moving) and defeat the flame jellies that are thrown out. These then turn into boulders which can be thrown for massive damage. It's possible for one skilled player to solo this battle, but it causes problems to those who don't know the technique to use.
    • The Citadel of Flame has two. The first is the flame effigy, which has a team of Flame Acolytes that are invulnerable to attacks. Players must attack the effigy first. Once it is down to 75% health, the Acolytes heal it, becoming vulnerable to attack themselves. The cycle has to be repeated several times before the effigy can be properly damaged.
    • Gaheron Baelfire is somewhat similar to the Iron Forgeman. Players must remain within Logan's shield while Gaheron rolls down flaming boulders, which break upon impact with the shield and leave molten hearts. Then they have to pick up the molten hearts (which cause constant damage while held) and carefully navigate along the platform while avoiding boulders until they're close enough to throw the molten heart at Gaheron, who returns momentarily to mortal form and can then be damaged by normal attacks. Once down to half health, Gaheron also summons molten barriers which have to be broken in order to approach him.
  • Kingdom of Loathing:
    • The majority of the battles in the Naughty Sorceress's castle. The Tower monsters can be OHKOed by a specific battle item with the exception of the Wall of Meat, though items relating to meat drops help. Then there's the shadow of yourself, which you must defeat by healing yourself every turn. Finally, there is the battle with the Naughty Sorceress herself, which comes in three parts, one after another without any saves or time to change equipment between stages. The third is either an automatic win or an automatic loss, depending on whether or not you have the Wand of Nagamar in your inventory. (Earlier, you had to have it equipped, but since it's a fairly weak weapon, this was changed so you can wage battle with a weapon of your choice.)
    • The Guy Made of Bees has ridiculous stats and will kill you after the first round unless you break an antique hand mirror to kill him instantly.
    • All of the bosses in the Mer-Kin Temple are a variation of this:
      • Shub-Jigguwatt has counters for almost any tactic that isn't inflicting purely phyisical damage through normal attacks; in particular, damaging him with anything else will be met with a progressively stronger counterattack. However, he has no counters against non-damaging items, and doesn't prevent you from spamming buffs before the fight starts.
      • Yog-Urt is a lot weaker, but makes up for it with a nasty debuff that locks your skills, inflicts a Percent Damage Attack on you each turn, and insta-kills you if the boss takes any damage. The solution is to use healing items to resist until the debuff wears off — and even then, you'll have to stock up on them, because you can only use 1 item of each type.
      • Dad Sea Monkee is vulnerable to one form of damage out of six — and it changes its weakness each turn. Its introductory message provides the clues to said weaknesses, but deciphering it is obscenely difficult without a guide. At one point, you have to convert previous weaknesses into numbers, and then put them into an equation.
  • RuneScape has several bosses that have to be defeated by exploiting a gimmick, or at least are much easier to beat by exploiting said gimmick. The best known and most obvious examples are the battles with the Daggonnoth and Gelatinnoth Mothers, which both display their current weakness through their skin color.
  • Wizard101:
    • Quite a few begin to appear after the first story arc. The most popular techniques are to punish the player with an interrupt casting (cast a spell free from pip cost and out of turn), a super-powered spell if the player doesn't play by the hinted (or unstated) rules, or make the boss have a shield that reduces any attack on them by 50-90% unless certain conditions are met.
    • Another puzzle used exclusively by the Jabberwock is that it triples the damage it takes for a single attack after using a super-powered meteor spell. This is almost required, since the Jabberwock has more health than the combined health of the two dragons that acts as the final boss for Avalon.
    • The worst of these is possibly teenage Morgan, since even months after the fight has been released, players still haven't solved all of the parts of the puzzle needed to prevent her from interrupt casting the most powerful ice spell in the game.
  • In World of Warcraft, raid bosses and more recent instance bosses can act like this, especially when groups are first encountering them and learning their abilities.
    • Ignis the Furnace Maker summons invincible golems. However, if they are first drawn through fire until they melt, then dragged into water, they become brittle and a single sufficiently powerful hit will shatter them. They do, however, explode when you do so...
    • Magmaw could theoretically be treated as a Damage-Sponge Boss, but with proper timing, that's unnecessary. When he slams his head down, you can mount his head and throw chains to pull him onto a spike, exposing his head and leaving him extremely vulnerable for a short time.
    • When fighting Anub'arak in his raid version, the biggest dangers are the abilities involving burrowing. The only way to prevent this is to shoot down innocuous floating ice crystals to spawn icy patches, preventing lesser mobs from burrowing and stopping the boss' spikes from chasing you.
    • In the second phase of the fight against Jin'do the Godbreaker, there are three chains binding Hakkar that must be destroyed, but are protected by a shield. To break the shield, you have to trick the berserkers into slamming onto the chains, and since the slams target players, the players must stand by the shielded chains.
    • Corla, Herald of Twilight in Blackrock Caverns is accompanied by a number of unattackable zealots. Once the fight starts, the zealots will start gaining stacks from beams of dark energy emanating from the back of the room. If any zealot reaches 100 stacks, then they will transform into an evolved monstrosity that will make things much harder for the tank, with multiple evolved zealots guaranteeing a wipe. Players can block the beams to prevent the zealots from becoming empowered, but if they do so for too long, then they too will gain 100 stacks and become hostile monstrosities. The solution is for each player to stand in a beam until they get about 80 stacks, then move out of the beam until their stacks drop, then move back into the beam before the zealot can get 100 stacks, and so on. It turned out that this required too much coordination and general awareness for the types of parties that resulted from the game's new Looking For Group feature, resulting in many of them falling apart when they reached Corla.
    • Dark Animus in Throne of Thunder was designed as one. There are 100 units of Anima that start out in small golems, and are transferred to other nearby golems once a golem is killed. When the boss comes out, it absorbs one unit of Anima from every active golem, and once it reaches 100 Anima, quickly wipes the raid. The goal is to delay it from getting to 100 Anima for as long as possible by consolidating the Anima in the largest golems (achieved by killing the smallest golems near them), resulting in the boss taking the longest time to get to full power.

  • Most bosses in The Adventures of Rad Gravity, and they also are often Guide Dang It!'s. EG, the Nigh Invulnerable "Twinbots" on the planet Vernia. You have to use the Crystal Bombs to keep them from winding each other back up, so they self-destruct. Then there's the shield-bearing robo-demon on Utopia, where you have to give Crystal Bombs to an ally to throw at its back. And the lava golem boss, where you have to shoot a pillar to make it launch lava bombs at him. The Final Boss, Kakos, takes the cake as That One Boss, where you have to zero-g maneuvers such as to trick his missiles into hitting him, like Sonic & Knuckles's Perfect Run Final Boss, but worse.
  • All of the bosses in the Wii version of A Boy and His Blob. That Boy's just a little kid; he can't attack. You have to find ways to use the bosses' tactics against them with the Blob's different transformations. It's also worth noting that the bosses won't just use the same, vulnerability-causing attack over and over again, they switch up tactics and force you to think quickly.
  • Braid has the player use time travel to see how many times they can drop the same chandelier on the same monster.
  • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia:
    • Attacking Wallman the conventional way will only cause him to eventually drink a Super Potion that restores all of his HP, which the game states he has 9,999 of, but he actually stops taking damage before he hits 0. The only way to kill him is to steal his Glyph, which becomes visible and absorbable when he retreats into the wall. Making this fight harder than it sounds is his Bomberman-esque bombs, which explode into four-way explosions that will interrupt Shanoa's glyph-absorbing animation if she gets hit.
    • You have to get Brachyura to destroy ceilings as you progress upwards through the lighthouse you fight it in, and at the top, you drop an elevator on it.
  • Commander Keen: The final Vorticon in the first episode (Marooned on Mars), is completely immune to your ray gun. The chain holding the giant stone slab directly above him on the other hand, only takes one shot.
  • Most bosses in Crash Bandicoot require you to send an opponent's attack back at him, launch part of the environment at him, or do something else to weaken him before you can actually launch a physical attack.
    • Crash Bandicoot (1996):
      • Ripper Roo spends most of his boss battle immune to direct damage. Defeating him involves timing TNT detonations against his predictable movement patterns in order to catch him in the explosions. Averted in the second game, as defeating him involves simply dodging the explosives he creates until he blows himself up, at which point he'll finally be open to a direct attack.
      • Cortex spends the battle shooting three different-colored laser shots at you: pink, green, and blue. You have to work out that you have to spin the green shots back at him. Other than the different color, there's absolutely nothing to clue you in that you're supposed to do something with those shots, and even then, because the rule throughout the rest of the game has been that laser shots will kill you, most players would never think to spin into them. Unless you've seen this boss beaten before, there's almost no way you'll ever figure out how to beat this boss aside from sheer luck or consulting a guide.
    • Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back: Tiny Tiger is completely invulnerable and chases the player over nine floating platforms. Eventually, several of those platforms turn red, and will drop after a few seconds. You have to make it so he's on the red one when he drops, or so he tries to jump a gap too big for him.
  • In Cuphead, one of King Dice's court members, Mr. Chimes, can only be beaten by winning a game of Concentration.
  • Donkey Kong Country:
    • Donkey Kong 64:
      • Mad Jack's arena has switches that electrifies the platforms. When he stops attacking, Tiny has to press the switch that stands on a platform whose color matches that of the platform where the boss is resting to electrocute him; if she presses the wrong button, she will be electrocuted instead.
      • Pufftoss from Gloomy Galleon can only be harmed when Lanky completes a boating course across star-shaped rings to activate lightning rods for each hit.
      • The final battle against King K. Rool is a hilarious 5-round boxing match, with a different Kong fighting him each round and a different tactic needed to beat him. Over the course of the battle, you'll end up shooting the spotlights above the arena so they'll fall on him, tricking him into slipping on a giant banana peel, and shrinking down so you can enter a hole in his shoes and beat up his toes.
    • A tactic involving Deadly Dodging in Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! will defeat Barbos — protected by two invincible spiny shields, the player must trick homing torpedos into hitting the shields.
  • Most of the bosses in Frogger Beyond are puzzle-based. A clearly given example is in the fourth world, where you must defeat a tank by making it aim missiles and destroy the forcefields by hiding beside them.
  • Every boss in Gish is of this variety, usually involving employing some manner of object in the arena to find a way to kill them. Such examples include tossing a block at a fragile ceiling to cause a giant block to drop down and crush the demonic cat chasing you, or finding a way of breaking a bridge to dump the pair of gimp-masked fleshy titans into lava pits. The bosses all die in one hit, too, so the battles tend to be either extremely drawn-out or very short.
  • Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams: Almost no boss can be directly harmed by Giana's attack; instead, she must use something to damage them.
    • Hansel & Gretel: A device which raises a spike as Giana swaps between her forms must be used to hit the boss's head(s).
    • Octor Freud: The only boss that actually can be harmed by Giana; however, only one part of him is vulnerable and the floor will change with Giana's form, forcing the player to be very careful while dodging his attacks to avoid dying instantly from the Bottomless Pits.
    • Gurglewocky: In order to gain a way to damage him, you must first let him spit a meteorite that homes at you constantly. When he uses the flaming breath around the room, change to the other form, "disabling" it, and then kick it to his face.
    • The Owlverlord: In order to hurt him, you must dodge his attacks until he throws a seeking projectile. Then you must survive both the seeking blade and the shots/ninja stars he fires at you until he changes form and then you must trick the homing projectile into him while still dodging all the stuff he throws at you.
  • Some of the Jak and Daxter games try this. In The Precursor Legacy, Klaww has to be defeated by dodging his thrown rocks and then using Yellow Eco to hurl fireballs into his crotch until he drops the massive rock he's creating on his own head, and then the process has to be repeated. All of Jak 3's bosses have some element of this in them: a Precursor mech, for example, is entirely bulletproof but can be downed by dodging multiple energy blasts and the lightsaber it is wielding, waiting for it to create pillars for no real reason, then climbing them to repeatedly shoot a mine cart to fall on its head.
  • Kirby:
    • Kirby Super Star:
      • Chameleo Arm can be harmed normally, but is invisible most of the time... unless Kirby inhales one of his attacks to gain the Paint power, which not only damages the boss, but also makes him visible for a while.
      • The Halberd's Reactor can only be damaged with its own "reflector lasers".
    • In Kirby & the Amazing Mirror, Mega Titan can only be harmed by two abilities... and pushing it into the walls of its arena.
  • Tomator in The Lost Vikings. He's invincible (shooting him only shocks him for a short period of time), so you have to bomb the platform he stands on. Later, you have to shoot him twice, then shoot some switches while he's shocked (and can't shoot at you). He still doesn't give up — the Vikings meet him two times more in that level before he's gone.
  • Mega Man:
    • Mega Man 2 has a shining example of a Puzzle Boss. Wily's Castle, level 4. The boss is a number of laser turrets, who can only be hurt by Crash Bombs, protected by walls that can only be broken by Crash Bombs. Yes, you could bullheadedly blast through all the walls surrounding the turrets, but if you do that, you'll run out of Crash Bombs before reaching the last turret and make the fight Unwinnable. The solution, of course, is to use Item-1 to float up past the big glaring open areas underneath or above the less-shielded turrets, thereby bypassing the shields. If you do it that way, then you'll kill the last turret with your very last Crash Bomb, so don't screw up.
    • Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge (don't remember it? It was on the Game Boy) gives you a weapon near the end of the game called the Mirror Buster, which does no damage on its own but can reflect projectiles back at enemies. Guess what the only way to damage the final form of the final boss is. Go on, guess.
    • In Mega Man 8, the first Wily Boss is dangling from the ceiling, far from the reach of any conventional weapon except Astro Crash. Which you only have four/five uses of, and it'll just leave scratch marks on the boss. So what do you do? Use that Not Completely Useless weapon, the Mega Ball. If you kick it upwards at the right spots, it'll hit the boss.
    • Mega Man & Bass:
      • It at first seems like Burner Man can't be damaged much by any weapon, including his weakness, the Ice Wall. However, if you push the Ice Wall into him, you'll notice that he'll be pushed by the Wall along the ground... and if he ends up being pushed into one of the spiked pits on either side of the arena by it, he's dealt massive damage.
      • There's also the first castle boss, whose weak spot is revealed when you stand on the platform.
    • Mega Man X6:
      • High Max is normally invulnerable to all damage. In order to damage him, you have to (as X) shoot him with a Charged Shot and then hit him with any of the boss weapons or the Nova Strike if you're using the Ultimate Armor (or if you're using the Shadow Armor, just keep hitting with the charged saber attack), or (as Zero) hit him with a boss weapon and then whale on him with the basic saber slashes. This leads to the awkward moment that if you fight him at the soonest possible opportunity in the secret area of any of the eight main stages (after defeating Nightmare Zero and unlocking Zero), you won't have the boss weapons or the special armors to hurt him and thus make the fight Unwinnable.
      • Gate can only be harmed by the fragments of his own energy spheres; you must destroy them at the appropriate time so that he is hit. As a side note, the fragments also destroy some of your platforms and there is a bottomless pit (instant death) at the bottom of the room (luckily, your character can climb the walls). It's a bit difficult, and makes the requisite battle against a weak and deranged Sigma afterwards rather anticlimactic. A charged Yanmar Option allows X to stay off to one side and let the bugs kill the balls of death for him, so it's mostly down to holding out against the stream of attacks.
  • Metroid:
    • Metroid II: Return of Samus:
      • Arachnus. While he's a pushover of a fight, it's up to the player to figure out that you can only damage him with the Morph Ball Bombs. The game gives a vague clue to it due to the Arachnus curling up and bouncing around like a Morph Ball.
      • The only way to damage the Metroid Queen's hide is with missiles, and she takes a really long time to kill, not only because it takes a lot of shots, but because she doesn't give Samus many openings to shoot. However, if you can hit her while her neck is extending enough times, she might leave her mouth open long enough for Samus to morph ball in and do some internal damage. Even then, the damage from bombs will be negligible unless Samus has enough energy to make it to the queen's stomach.
    • Metroid: Samus Returns' Diggernaut attacks in phases that require borderline-Guide Dang It! actions from the player. After damaging the head until it gets knocked down, one must spider ball into its grinders and bomb them to disable them. Once this is done, after dodging what it throws at you while being invulnerable, it requires jumping on its head and bombing three specific spots to finish it off.
    • Super Metroid:
      • Crocomire forces you to keep shooting at its mouth when it's open in order to force it back onto some crumbling blocks and send it falling into the lava. Particularly nefarious because there's no boss life meter, so it's hard to tell you're not really doing any damage, and because Crocomire keeps advancing towards you, essentially healing itself. Apparently, with some creative jumping, you can actually end up behind Crocomire, causing it to back itself up all the way to its death. Inversely, don't use Power Bombs against Crocomire. Crocomire does not like Power Bombs.
      • From the same game, Draygon is easily beaten by breaking one of the weapon turrets, letting Draygon grab you, and then shooting your grappling beam into the broken turret. There's a massive electrical discharge that hurts you, but fries Draygon a lot quicker. Draygon can be beaten a normal way, but this is much faster.
    • Flaahgra from Metroid Prime is the most unconventional boss in the game, as Samus cannot damage it with any of her normal weapons, although she can momentarily daze Flaahgra with enough shots. Instead, Samus must shoot a number of mirrors around the arena into position to reflect sunlight onto the plant monster, which stuns it long enough for her to destroy its access to the water supply with Morph Ball bombs. Only then does Flaahgra wither.
    • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes has a few bosses that fall decisively under the Puzzle Boss heading. The Spider Guardian, Power Bomb Guardian, and the second phase of the final boss all require you to navigate a morph ball course. Also, Dark Samus becomes invincible to conventional attacks in her last phase. You can only damage her by using the Charge Beam to absorb the Phazon energy she launches in a particular attack and launch it back at her.
    • Metroid Prime: Hunters: The final boss can only be beaten for real by using all the weapons you've collected to shoot the orb-lights around the room in a particular order, causing it to enter a second, more desperate form. Fighting the boss conventionally gets you a bad ending.
  • In Prince of Persia (2008), both The Warrior and The Concubine are these. The Warrior is nigh-invincible, which forces you to bait the Warrior to the edge of the fighting ground, which then spawns a QTE to try to topple him over and out. During the final confrontation with The Concubine, she traps Elika and creates multiple clones of her, forcing you to find the right one in order to proceed. Experimentation and some thinking will provide you with the correct answer. Protip: What's the one thing only the real Elika can do?. Answer: save the Prince from death, so hurling yourself off the arena will break the spell as Elika activates her powers to save you.
  • Pick a boss in Psychonauts. Any boss.
    • The Den Mother from the Milkman Conspiracy level jumps away when you get close. However, she throws exploding boxes of cookies (seriously), which you can pick up with telekinesis and throw at her. However, she turns out the lights, making the room go dark so you can't see her. What then? Well, she can see in the dark, as she brags. And you happen to have acquired a power in this level that allows you to see through the eyes of those you use it on. Voila! You see yourself through the eyes of the Den Mother, and attack her that way. Also, her eyes glow red in the dark.
    • The Hulking Lungfish, the game's halfway-point boss, is defeated by making it suck up nails in its first half. In its second half, you must trick it into attacking clams with its lure, which clamp down on it and hold it helpless so you can pummel it.
    • Jasper in Gloria's Theater floats high up in the sky, and can (again) block your Psi-Blasts. However, he really hates the light. If you can find a way to blind him, you can attack him... by using Levitation to ride a current of music from the orchestra pit, you can make your way up into the catwalks and use Pyrokinesis to light the candles powering the spotlights, which shine on his face and disorient him. Commence pummeling.
    • The Butcher is invulnerable all over his huge body, except for his tiny head. But his head is too high up to attack with anything, even your Psi-Blasts. However, when he swings his meat cleavers, they become trapped in the ground, and their broad, flat tops are just wide enough for a nimble acrobat to climb up them, up his arm, and attack his head. Raz just happens to be an acrobat... In his second form, his cleavers are on fire... But a nasty juggler in the background is throwing spiked, flaming clubs at you that just so happen to make great ammo.
    • The prototype Brain Tank is impervious to direct hits and Psi-Blasts, its only weak point being on its underside. And no, you can't get under it, it's much too small and close to the ground. The trick here is to watch it before it starts its attacks. Sometimes, it'll rear up enough for you to knock it right over with a blast.
    • Black Velvetopia's boss fights tend to be somewhat straightforward. No special tricks are required for the first three luchadores, though they make things a load easier. Then you get to the fourth one, who is invincible unless distracted with a confusion grenade. The first part of the Bullfight Boss is also fairly simple. Deadly Dodging doesn't even come into play and the only trick to it is that you can only damage the boss by telekinetically hurling the banderillas stuck around the ring at him. The second half of the fight adds complications when you find yourself having to protect the bull, yank out the spears, use confusion on the matador to make him think he's the bull, and commence skewering.
    • The Nightmare minibosses in the Milkman Conspiracy can take attacks in any way, but can only be killed by having a bomb thrown into a sort of mouth-thing that yawns open on their mid-bodies after they take enough damage.
    • The Mega Censor, who is mostly defeated through sheer firepower, must first be weakened by shutting down the censors' valves.
    • However, the truly final boss is taken down through raw firepower. Brand new shiny firepower that only works for a little while at a time, but raw firepower nonetheless.
  • Quack Shot has the "Riddle of the Sphinx," which has the boss music playing but threatens the player only with a Descending Ceiling, with a Control Room Puzzle for stopping it.
  • The final boss of Rocket Knight Adventures cannot be hurt at all, with Sparkster being bound up in an escape pod at the time. The boss is chasing after you in a High-Altitude Battle that literally ends in flaming glory as the computer that controls the Pig Army burns up in re-entry.
  • Exactly one main boss from each game in the Sly Cooper series: Muggshot in the first, Jean Bison in the second, and Octavio in the third. Muggshot is defeated with a strange setup involving mirrors and crystals which causes his guns to explode, Jean Bison must be lured into the inner workings of a logging plant, and Octavio is defeated by trapping him in tar, then punching him really hard.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog stayed away from this trope for the first few games, but after discovering it, the designers seem to have positively adored it ever since.
    • That is to say, the first game still wasn't completely devoid of them. Star Light Zone's boss is only reachable by standing on a seesaw as Eggman drops a bomb to launch yourself up high enough, or perhaps using yourself to launch the bomb. One of the missions in Sonic Origins removes the ground that you can normally stand in the boss arena, forcing you to stand on the seesaws.
    • The 2013 mobile version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 retroactively added one as the boss of the now completed (and also optional) Hidden Palace Zone: the main way to hurt Eggman is to trick him into going under homing bombs as it erupts. Doing so would knock him to the ground, where you can get to hit him a couple of times before he rises again to resume attacking. This, however, is a Zigzagged Trope — while this is the main method to attack him, playing as Super Sonic or Tails allows you to easily hit him without knocking him to the ground, and even without doing so, it's possible to take advantage of the water's buoyancy during the first phrase of his attack pattern in order to get enough height to reach and attack him.
    • Every boss in Sonic CD is a puzzle boss:
      • The boss of Palmtree Panic is Eggman riding a mech with bumpers on its arms, deflecting any attacks, so it has to be hit when its guard is down. It loses an arm with each hit, making it easier to attack, and goes down in only three.
      • The boss of Collision Chaos is a huge pinball board that you have to play to get to the very top, where Eggman is waiting in his mech.
      • The boss of Tidal Tempest is Eggman fought in an underwater mech, surrounded by Oxygenated Underwater Bubbles. It goes down in one hit, but you have to take away the bubbles first.
      • The boss of Quartz Quadrant is Eggman standing in a machine in front of a treadmill. You have to run on the treadmill to whittle down the machine until it breaks, while dodging the bombs it drops.
      • The boss of Wacky Workbench is Eggman in a mech that burrows through the ceiling, which drops debris that bounces up through the round's "bouncy floor" gimmick. You have to climb the bouncing debris to reach Eggman at the top of the room.
      • The boss of Stardust Speedway is a race with Metal Sonic, while avoiding the Advancing Wall of Doom that is Eggman firing a lightning wall.
      • The boss of Metallic Madness is Eggman in a mech with four spinning segments — you have to wait until the segments provide an opening to attack it, which knocks them off one-by-one, but causes the remaining ones to spin faster.
    • Sonic The Hedgehog 3 has the Carnival Night Zone Act 1 boss. Your attacks can't hurt it... but they do make it vulnerable to its own attacks.
    • Sonic & Knuckles is the Sonic series's king of Puzzle Bosses. Flying Battery Zone Act 2 had a mid-level "boss battle" that simply ended after it attacked several times, Sandopolis Zone Act 1 had a boss that had to be dumped into quicksand, and no fewer than four stages (Flying Battery Zone Act 1, Lava Reef Zone Act 2, the mini-boss of Death Egg Zone Act 2, and The Doomsday Zone) had bosses that were defeated by getting them to hit themselves with their own attacks.
    • Sonic Adventure required Amy to knock Zero into an electric fence during her final confrontation with the robot, and Sonic and Knuckles to freeze Chaos 6 by throwing an object into its mouth.
    • Sonic Adventure 2:
      • Technically, a mech walker battle had an explosive canister in the center that could be shot to damage anyone in its vicinity, but it rarely proved useful. You were allowed to just whale on the enemy. Since the lock-on system loves to target anything and everything, it was more likely that you would hurt yourself with said canister. And you pass through the middle a lot trying to get close to your opponent so that the Wave-Motion Gun isn't as hard to dodge.
      • All bosses of have weak points except for Eggman/Tails and Rouge/Knuckles. For Sonic and Shadow, it's their backs. For the walkers, it's their cockpits. Some have trickier ones, like jumping up platforms to strike the weak spot on the Egg Golem's head, or hitting an hourglass so that light fills a pyramid to cause King Boom Boo (a giant ghost who breathes fire) to turn into a shadow on the ground... and then, of course, you have to chase said shadow and then dig into him. Then, after you dig him out of the ground, you have to chase him again and then finally punch him. But then of course, there's the two incarnations of the final boss: You have to grind the tubes hanging from his mouth to strike the weakspot on his back, and then later you have to homing attack eggs just to reach it the final time. Then, when he becomes bigger and badder (as in he melds himself into a space station that is quickly falling towards Earth), his weakspot actually changes places as you fight him.
    • Sonic Unleashed:
      • The Dark Guardian in the hi-definition version of requires you to push boxes to an area, which will remove his invincibility temporarily and progressively nullify his regeneration. (In the Wii version, though, he's the only boss that amounts to a plain old fisticuff fight, no exposing weak points involved.)
      • For that matter, the Dark Gaia Phoenix required you to throw barrels of water at it, or trick it into flying into said barrels of water, in order to render it vulnerable. The Dark Moray had a similar mechanic involving freezing it with canisters of cold gas before being able to attack its weak point safely.
    • The 2D games have quite a few examples. Sonic Advance 2's Super Sonic fight entailed smacking missiles back into Eggman. Sonic Advance 3 has a boss which can be damaged by the platforms that fall as you jump off them as everything scrolls up, and also one where you hit balls to make them deadly to Eggman (the balls bounce around the room). In Rush, there is a scarab beetle boss in which you have to smack the ball, and make it hit the back of Eggman. And in Rush Adventure, there's a boss in which you must smack a pendulum based system with enough force to hit the weak point at the top. Both Rush games also have you knocking missiles into the Eggmen in the Super fights.
    • Sonic Mania features one of the most literal examples of this trope in the series: the boss fight of Chemical Plant Zone Act 2 involves challenging Eggman to a round of Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine/Puyo Puyo.
    • Sonic Frontiers has one with the revised Final Boss in The Final Horizon's Another Story path. THE END, now in control of the SUPREME Titan, will constantly be regenerating its health matter how many times Super Sonic depletes its HP, and will actually stop going down past a certain amount. What the player needs to do is Cyloop or break the umbilical cable attached to SUPREME's neck, then Cyloop the boss' rifle port to make it eject the weapon. Finally, the rifle itself needs to be Cylooped so Eggman can use it, all before THE END sends down a fresh cable. Once Eggman is in possession of the rifle, the player can beat THE END the conventional way.
  • The Erchius Horror in Starbound is this in addition to a Warmup Boss: its only attacks are lasers that slowly sweep the stage and summoning weak minions, but it's completely immune to damage from your weapons. The only way to defeat him is to platform around his lasers to activate the four power nodes around the room and blast him with the mining laser powered by them.
  • Super Mario Bros.: By now, one in fact has to wonder if Mario would even be able to beat Bowser were it not for Bowser's tendency to choose terrible arenas or attack patterns. Consider:
    • In the original Super Mario Bros., there are two ways to beat Bowser. If you have the Fire Flower, you can just throw fireballs at him until he dies; if you don't, you have to get past him (either jumping over him or running under him) and touch an axe sitting just behind him, which will cause the bridge he's standing on to withdraw and dump him in the Lava Pit.
    • Defeating Bowser in Super Mario Bros. 3 requires that Mario simply stay alive as Bowser smashes the arena, until he's destroyed enough of it that he falls through the floor to his demise (though the traditional strategy of hitting him with enough fireballs/hammers still works).
    • Super Mario 64 has you throw Bowser into bombs lining the arena. The bombs serve no purpose other than to hurt him, since he can't (or won't) throw you into the bombs himself, and you frankly have to be suicidal to run into them.
    • Super Mario Sunshine has you use FLUDD'S rocket pack to do ground pounds until the point that the hot tub Bowser is sitting in breaks apart. Other bosses in the game qualify, too. For example, King Boo is defeated by fooling him into eating Peppers, which appear when the slot machine lands on three cherries.
    • Super Mario Galaxy, perhaps in a throwback to Super Mario Bros. 3, has you defeat Bowser by having him smash into structural weak points on the artificial planetoid you're fighting on. This sets his tail on fire and causes him to run away from you; you have to run the other way to intercept him, then spin into him before he can turn around to knock him on his back and set him spinning around the planetoid. Spinning into him again will deal damage.
    • In Super Mario Galaxy 2, you have to use your Ground Pound to launch meteors into Bowser. The catch is that Bowser himself summons the meteors, and they can't be launched into him until he punches the planetoid and knocks them back into the air.
    • Mario Party 5: During his Final Boss battle in Story Mode, Bowser will attempt to Ground Pound you, and you have to trick him into breaking the floor this way, like in Super Mario Bros. 3. And then after that stage, the final stage has one of his attacks hitting the residue from another of his attacks to create something that can actually be used against him.
    • Mario Party DS: To defeat the boss Dry Bones, the challenger has to press the magical switches indicated in the touch screen, and do so in the hinted order. Doing this will activate a hex attack that will cause damage to Dry Bones. Which buttons have to be pressed varies in each battle, but the number of switches pressed is fixed: One for the first hit, two for the second and three for the third.
    • Mario Party: Island Tour: King Bob-omb, the fourth boss of Bowser's Tower, is a literal case. The boss throws a bomb at the player's character, who then has to move left or right the parts of the floor that have different patterns of conveyor belts. The idea is to build with them a circuit for the bomb to be transported at a cannon to shoot it at King Bob-omb, inflicting damage to him; the exact damage dealt will depend on whether the bomb is taken to the standard black cannon (small) or the golden one (big). The player has to hurry, or else they'll take damage when the bomb explodes close to them after 20 seconds. The tactic is repeated until the boss runs out of HP, though when it goes under half he'll enlarge the circuit's number of movable parts from three to four, and occasionally modify the non-movable part of the circuit to force the bomb to only go to the less powerful black cannon.
    • Most bosses in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island are like this; Mario can defeat the first two by pelting them with eggs, but others have some sort of trick to them.
    • In Super Princess Peach, defeating the bosses requires using Peach's Vibes in some way, and each is different. Bowser himself is a Final-Exam Boss where winning requires use of all of them.
    • In Luigi's Mansion, most Portrait Ghosts are impervious to Luigi's flashlight (which is required to stun ghosts so he can use the Poltergust 3000 on them) until he does something to make them vulnerable which is unique to each of them. Sometimes this involves interacting with the Portrait Ghost, and more often than not fulfilling the condition also enables them to attack Luigi.
    • Most bosses in Wario World are like this too. In most cases, defeating them requires stunning them and then using one of Wario's super-moves, but first you have to figure out how to stun it, which usually takes a different method than with common enemies (and some can't be stunned at all).
  • All bosses in Teslagrad are this, as the protagonist is a one hit-point wonder with no direct offensive abilities.
  • All the bosses in Vessel are puzzle bosses. Fitting, considering the game is a puzzle-based platformer. The first boss in the factory is made of lava, which needs a plumbing change to defeat. The generator at the orchard requires the player to exploit what happens when blue and red goo mix. The final boss is remotely controlled and needs the player to use their knowledge of how the Flouros in the control areas react to the light from the glow goo to mess with the boss's controls.
  • The original Viewtiful Joe plays this pretty straight in that all bosses and even many normal enemies will take trifling damage unless you work out how to stun them first. You can often still win by pounding away with your best attacks, but it will take about ten times as long. An example is the first boss, a giant bat who will evade all direct attacks by splitting into a cloud of normal bats. You can whittle him down by attacking said normal bats, but it'll take an agonizingly long time. You have to knock a stalactite into him to bring him down to earth before attacking to do any decent damage.
  • Every boss in Voodoo Vince is a variant puzzle boss, requiring you to find an environmental hazard to hit Vince with. As a magically animated Voodoo doll, he's immune to non-magical harm, and will redirect it at the boss.
  • The Grinning Colossus in You Have to Burn the Rope can only be defeated by burning the rope. Of course, this is the entire point of the game.

    Puzzle Game 
  • In The Fool's Errand, the challenge in "The Three Ships" is to click on the "?" button, but it always runs away from the cursor. The trick is to move the button by using secret key commands.
  • Head over Heels typically mixes up puzzle challenges with physical tests (Head's advanced maneuverability typically gets him the physical challenges, while Heels' bag lets him carry things around — which lends itself naturally to the Block Puzzle). The Crown rooms are the last vestiges of the original plan to have more combination problems (with both physical and puzzle elements; mostly ditched after playtesting showed that if people failed the physical part, they'd all-too-often think it was because they got the puzzle wrong), but Penitentiary — the Crown room and most of the rest of that planet — is clearly the most heavily puzzle-based.
  • Every boss in LIT (2009) is a Puzzle Boss where you most expose them to a light source.
  • Pony Island: Azazel.EXE, whom you fight by placing code blocks against.
  • Portal:
    • Defeating GLaDOS at the end of the original game requires you to redirect the missile turret fire with portals to hit her, and then to use the portal gun to shuttle the parts that fly off into a furnace. Then again, this is Portal, so a puzzle boss is expected, if a boss at all.
    • Portal 2's final boss works similarly, involving redirecting thrown bombs to hit the boss's weak point, then attaching a part to the boss to corrupt it.
  • Scribblenauts Unmasked:
    • It might seem like a fun idea to summon the Green, Blue, and White Lantern corps to fight your evil twin while the Joker battles Batman, but that just doesn't cut it, you have to do something specific to weaken him. Normal gameplay in this entry in the series, however, can be steamrolled if the player chooses.
    • The Final Boss, Brainiac, can only be defeated by summoning Alternate Continuity versions of the heroes (e.g., Red Son Superman, Batman Beyond Batman, and Flashpoint Cyborg).
  • Since you don't have any real mean to attack, every boss in Ugly requires alternative means to be defeated. Examples include: tricking the boss into attacking its own weakpoints, reaching a switch while avoiding the boss' attemps to repel you, and getting the boss drunk until it falls asleep.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Brütal Legend:
    • The initial bosses can only be defeated through application of otherwise optional skills.
    • The Giant Worm is killed by evading his smashing attack, so that his tongues become stuck in the ground, then ramming them with the Deuce.
    • Mittens is defeated by using the Earth Shaker move to drop coal onto him from above. In the second part of the fight, you must play a battle cry into his headset to save your minions from his minions.
    • The Metal Queen has to be stunned with the Shocker to expose her weak spot. Her small spider minions can only be fought off with an Earth Shaker.
    • Lyonwhyte and Drowned Ophelia, on the other hand, are head-on Stage Battles.
    • The final boss, Doviculus himself, once again is a puzzle one, who can only be defeated by forcing him into a temporarily invulnerable chained state, then breaking the chains with the Shocker or Pyro and repeating the process until the DECAPITATIIIIOOOOON!
  • Pikmin 2: The Ranging Bloyster's vulnerable point is at its backside, and it is quick to turn around so that its front is facing the active leader most of the time. The intended solution is to divide the two commanders and have them go on opposite sides of it, so that when it turns around to face one half of the squad, it leaves itself available for the other half to attack it. The game hints at this with the Hocotate Ship's message before entering the first cave it is fought in being a reminder of how splitting and switching leaders works, and that the Bloyster's eyes will flash a different color based on who is leading.

    Rhythm Games 
  • In Trombone Champ, you can't defeat the Final Boss simply by playing their song; you must also meet a number of conditions for the victory to count. After unlocking Trazom by repeatedly clicking on his card, then freeing him by using the Mysterious Keys you obtain from the Tootvessel and Turdvessel, he will challenge you to play "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (Champ Mix)". To truly defeat him, you must choose the Babi Mask as your character and the Champ Trombone as your character. You also need a power level greater than Trazom's, and in this world, power comes from hot dogs, which means having at least ten copies of the Hot Dog trading card (as that's the power level his trading card says he has). Lastly, you need to have chosen a baboon preference in the options menu, and set the baboon quantity to "Inferno".

  • Dicey Dungeons:
    • One part of Lady Luck's boss fight has her issuing commands to your party such as not using certain attacks or dice. Since you can only switch out your party members once per turn, you have to strategically switch out to follow the rules, or else she'll give you a penalty of damage, negative Status Effects, Fury for herself, or being instantly KO'd.
    • Exaggerated in the Witch's Halloween episode. Every enemy requires the player to set and cast spells in a specific order to kill them in one turn, otherwise they will fully heal and reset the Witch's spells. In Reunion, she's instantly pitted against the boss with only 3HP, and she must solve the puzzle to inflict Stun on them before they deal three hits worth of Scratch Damage on her.
  • The Single Spin Puzzles mod is the first official Game Mod of Luck be a Landlord. It has nine floors where you have to defeat the Landlord in one spin by adding a symbol to the set of non-randomized slots.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Absented Age: Squarebound:
    • The Dual Boss fight against the Oil Pit Squids is difficult to win through brute force, since the party is surrounded and each squid is powerful at close and mid-range. However, there's a fire hydrant in the middle of the arena that can be used to knock them back, allowing the player to control the distance between the bosses.
    • The boss of Park Driftworld Core, Ruin Warden, can only have its guard broken when it gets wet, causing it to short circuit. At first, there are water pumps to get the boss wet, but after it takes enough damage, the pumps disappear, forcing the player to find other means to drench it, such as spamming Foxtrot to push it into the water. It's also capable of using the surrounding water against the player in conjucntion with its electric skills.
    • The Final Boss, Karen Alias, is also immune to all normal attempts to break her shield. However, her shield will either take massive damage or become vulnerable if the randomly spawned field obstacles are used against her.
  • In Arx Fatalis, the Black Beast cannot be hurt by any attack and will constantly pursue the player once they enter the Dwarf ruins. The only way to kill it is by first using dwarf meat to lure it under a pneumatic hammer and then activating it to stun the Beast. This gives the player time to find a key which unlocks a lava pit, which the Beast must be lured into to kill it.
  • While the Post-Final Boss of Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean, Geldoblame, can be beaten normally and doesn't hit particularly hard, it takes a long time and there's an instant-kill method: using a Spirit Attack (a type of special Finishing Move that sometimes replaces one of the Magnus in your hand when you extend an attack combo to its maximum length using the main character). If you have a lot of defensive-only Magnus or other Finishing Moves in your deck, both of which end your attack combo when selected, getting an attack combo long enough to trigger the appearance of a Spirit Attack isn't actually as much of a given as you'd think... making this one of the few times other than trying to get some of the more esoteric combo Magnus where using a healing Magnus in an attack combo is actually a viable strategy.
  • Chrono Cross:
    • The final boss could be defeated by force; however, this results in a bad ending. Only by using spells of the six different elements in a specific order, then using a seventh, special element, could the boss be truly defeated. This proves to be quite difficult, because the boss's spells mess with the order, so you have to either hope that the boss uses elements that complement the sequence, or have characters fast enough to complete the sequence without being interrupted.
    • The superboss Criosphinx. To defeat him, you have to respond to his riddles with an Element of the proper color. The order of the colors to answer his riddles is the same order that is needed to activate the Chrono Cross to defeat the last boss. Of course, the game never directly tells you this, so it is still a massive Guide Dang It!. You can defeat him with brute force, but it's not easy.
  • Chrono Trigger:
    • Attacking Ozzie directly results in a counterattack against your entire party. To defeat him, the player must attack various switch mechanisms around the room until the last one opens a pit from under him. Or, if the player doesn't get the hint after a while, the switch will eventually become the only thing the player can target.
    • The next time you meet him, he subverts this by having the pit open up under your party instead, dropping you back a couple of rooms. Once you get back to him, he becomes an Anticlimax Boss — a kitten walks up and hits the proper switch, opening the pit under him. Down he goes.
    • Nizbel and Nizbel II have obscenely high defense until they are hit by Lightning-based attacks.
      • The same thing works on all dinos. What makes Nizbel special is that he will surprise you by "discharging electric energy" and zapping your entire team to get rid of the "shocked" status, so the real trick of the battle comes down to A: shocking him, and B: keeping the party prepared for his retaliatory shock.
      • Even a fair number of regular enemies get this treatment. Once you get magic, about half the enemies in the game will be heavily resistant to physical attacks, magical attacks, or magic apart from one element.
      • A similar tactic is required when fighting the optional boss Rentinite. Only this time, it's water-based attacks. Any other damage to it raises its defenses to nigh invulnerability.
    • There's also the optional boss Son of Sun, which consists of one large orb surrounded by five small ones. The main body is immune to any damage it doesn't absorb and counterattacks with powerful magic if attacked. The way to hurt it is to attack the correct small orb, which is indistinguishable from the others. Attacking the wrong one gets you a counterattack as well, and they get shuffled around repeatedly. Going into the fight with fire-absorbing armor makes the boss pathetic, though. You can also use Magus's otherwise-useless Black Hole spell to remove several of the wrong options each time.
  • The Fat Pharmacist in Citizens of Earth. Before even fighting him, you need to figure out that you need to get the Big Bertha donut from the bakery in your hometown. Then, you must return to him with the donut, and he will attack you. But if you beat him, he'll just complain about you hurting him and no progress will be made. Instead, you must use the "run away" command to make him chase you and lose weight. Keep running away and he'll shrink back to normal size and join you.
  • The first boss, Raditz, in Dragon Ball Z: Legend of the Super Saiyan for the Super Famicom. He is immune to damage due to having a much higher power level than Goku and Piccolo. Since the game follows the manga story, in order to defeat Raditz, you have to use the Gohan card received from Mr. Popo, which summons Gohan to weaken him. This opens up another command option to allow Goku to grab hold of Raditz from behind. Finally, you allow Piccolo to use his Special Beam Cannon to take them both down.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest V: Make sure the main character has Bianca's Ribbon in his inventory before fighting Saber, then use the Ribbon as a battle item to jog its memory. Without this, it absolutely cannot be beaten.
    • The first form of Rhapthorne from Dragon Quest VIII makes the party members all use an item in their inventories to "pray" to the Goddess Scepter. If all four of them do it, a spirit is summoned. The party has to do this for seven turns before they move on to fight Rhapthorne for real.
  • Rykard of Elden Ring has a colossal amount of HP and is surrounded by a pool of lava that deters a direct melee assault. However, right at the entrance to his boss arena is the Serpent-Hunter spear, which has amazing range and deals great damage (even when not upgraded) during this fight only. This also makes him a brick wall against Self Imposed Challenges that bar the player from using that weapon; he's not impossible to defeat using other means, just very tedious.
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has two stages to the fight with Big Bad Dagoth Ur. The first is pretty simple, in that you just need to kill him like any other enemy. However, with him being a legitimate Physical God, he respawns in the next room and is truly invincible without breaking the game. In order to beat him, you need to strike the Heart of Lorkhan, the source of his power, with the Tools of Kagrenac in the specific order Vivec told you.
  • Epic Battle Fantasy 4 has Rafflesia, to a certain extent. While the previous bosses had summoned mooks to back them up, they only did so once every few rounds at worst, making them easy to dispatch. Rafflesia summons one every round, and when it Turns Red, it starts summoning two per round, leading to an unprepared player getting quickly overwhelmed. The solution? Use nothing but Ice attacks — one of the mooks Rafflesia summons absorbs ice, while the other varieties are all weak to it. The one that absorbs Ice is by far the least threatening, and one of its attacks is Cloudburst, which is basically a total inversion of That One Attack — it does no damage, but makes everything on the field take heavy damage from Ice attacks. Including Rafflesia, who was already weak to Ice. Eventually, Rafflesia's field will be full of mooks that are actually helping you out more than Rafflesia, and because of the Arbitrary Headcount Limit, it won't be able to summon anything that poses a threat.
  • The beholder at the end of Eye of the Beholder was supposed to be defeated by using a special wand to push it onto a trap. Regular combat would kill it, but the beholder has several save-or-die effects that made it hard to do this before your whole party was gone.
  • Quite some Bosses (and even a couple of common enemies) from the Final Fantasy series are puzzle bosses.
    • A common enemy reappearing in various games is the magical pot. It talks and tells you to give him an elixir. Otherwise, it will either be simply undefeatable or it will knock you out in no time, if you try just to kill it. (Though, because it tells you how to beat him, you may argue how much of a puzzle it is.) In X, you can grab items from it by striking the correct eye (which is randomized), and in XII, you might very well not realize it's there in the dark levels until you piss it off and it sends a Flare (or something even stronger) at you — which isn't helped by all the undead.
    • In Final Fantasy III there are two enemies, which are either hard or undefeatable. Garuda can be defeated almost only by Dragoons — though there are hints by townspeople before fighting him. The final boss, Cloud of Darkness, can only be harmed after defeating her four guardians.
    • Final Fantasy IV:
      • There are several, most notably Asura and Bahamut. Both are very hard — Asura because she keeps healing herself, and Bahamut because his attacks are very powerful. However, both can be easily defeated by casting Wall, thus causing their moves to reflect onto the opposite side... At least, that's how it used to be. In the DS version, while Reflect is still required for Asura, Bahamut's Megaflare will ignore Reflect and leave you in a world of hurt, meaning that your entire strategy is going to need an overhaul. Because of this, the book describing him in the Eidolon's Library is changed to match, this time suggesting that no warrior could defeat him, except possibly one capable of "rising to the heavens to deliver the finishing blow". Hey! Guess who one of the final party members is? A dragoon knight that can jump really high!
      • If you attack Baigan's body with magic, he will cast Reflect on himself, deflecting any spells you cast on him. However, you can counteract this by casting Reflect on your own party members, then casting attack spells on them instead. By the same token, you can also cast healing spells on Baigan while he's using Reflect to heal yourself.
      • Dark Knight Cecil is most easily defeated by not attacking.
      • Calcobrena takes the form of six dolls, two sets of three. Defeat all of one set, and the dolls will combine into a giant, monstrous, and quite powerful enemy for a while, then turn back into the six dolls. If you don't feel like trying to wear down the big Calcobrena, you have to take out the last Cal and the last Brena in a fairly short interval without giving them a chance to become Calcobrena. It doesn't help that when you have one or the other down to one, they love to use Self-Destruct to suicide on you and give the others an excuse to turn into Calcobrena.
      • There is also Dr. Lugae who, in the DS version, releases Reversal Gas at random intervals. Reversal Gas causes healing items to hurt and anything which causes damage to heal. A second application returns things to normal. A quick way to beat him involves two Elixirs when under Reversal Gas. Otherwise, it is a very hard fight.
      • CPU is a giant sphere fought with two helpers, Attack and Defense Node. Killing both will reward you with CPU nailing you with Object/Globe 199, an unpreventable One-Hit Kill, before resurrecting both. The trick is to kill one of nodes and keeping other one alive while dealing with CPU. The node to kill is dependent on version of the game; in 2D games Defense Node should be taken out because it heals CPU for substantial amount while Attack Node's Piercing Laser's damage is manageable, but in 3D games the Defense Node's heal is pathethic but Attack Node uses Laser Barrage that will kill your party dead in two uses, so the latter should be taken out instead.
      • Odin gives you two minutes to defeat him before he uses a One-Hit Kill on the entire party. A book in the Village of Eidolons tells of how he has never lost a battle, "save once, when lightning struck his sword". Naturally, he has a massive weakness to lightning you must exploit to take him down in time.
    • Final Fantasy V:
      • There's a couple of puzzle enemies that can only be attacked in a certain state or such. Most notably is Gogo the mimic, who responds to regular attacks and spells with a powerful counterattack and the Flare spell, respectively. The solution is to simply wait, and he will eventually congratulate you for mimicking his doing nothing and surrender. Because he is at the end of a bonus dungeon with an instant-death time limit, the player is expected to be frantically throwing attacks at him in order to beat him and escape. Sitting around doing nothing with a clearly visible countdown timer is very counter-intuitive to most players.
      • Omega, a notorious That One Boss who'll wipe the walls with you no matter what level you're at, UNLESS you know the trick to beating him (the Stop status), which makes him almost pathetically easy.
    • Final Fantasy VI has some enemies that can be killed by draining all of their MP, like the Atma Weapon, energy given form with a ridiculously large amount of HP.
      • This is a good strategy for beating the Optional Boss at the top of the Fanatics' Tower if you do not have Life 3, due to the boss using Ultima when he is low on HP, usually killing your party. This strategy takes absolutely forever though, and should be combined with Berserk to make sure he doesn't attack much.
      • One superboss, the Skull Dragon in the Dragon's Den, must be defeated this way, or else he just regenerates.
      • A lot of the Dragon's Den bosses are puzzle bosses. The Red Dragon can't be killed, only survived against until he burns out all his life. Storm Dragon becomes nigh-unhittable, so bring characters with abilities that ignore evasion. And so on.
      • The first boss, Whelk, is a puzzle boss. However, not only is the trick easy to figure out, it is flat out given to you: "Right. So whatever you do... don't attack the shell!" Of course, you can ignore this and drain all of the shell's HP (with Fire Beam and Tek Missile; it doesn't absorb these) for an Elixir, but since Whelk will counterattack each blow you make, you need to heal every other turn. It's not worth it though, because you can find Elixirs in nearly every clock in the game.
      • Wrexsoul is another puzzle boss, and the game deliberately gives you a clue. At the beginning of the fight, he says "I'm gonna possess your body!" and vanishes, leaving behind two weak enemies that you can't get rid of because they endlessly resurrect themselves whenever they die. To make Wrexsoul appear again so you can damage him, you have to kill your own party members, one by one, until you've killed the one that Wrexsoul was hiding in. (Incidentally, the two weak enemies can't revive if you cast X-Zone/Banish and kill them both. This ends the fight, but you don't get Wrexsoul's item drop.)
    • Final Fantasy VII has two super bosses that punish you for trying to fight them normally. Emerald WEAPON has an attack that deals 1111 damage times the number of materia a party member has equipped; use 9 materia or more and it's instant death. Using less materia will reduce the damage done from the attack, but now you have to learn to tackle the boss with reduced fighting capabilities. Gravity attacks help, since it's not immune unlike most bosses. Ruby WEAPON starts the battle by removing 2 of your party members from the battlefield (with no way to get them back) and then summons a pair of tentacles for a pincer attack. You can counter this by starting the fight with 2 of your allies already dead so that the boss summons the tentacles, then you can revive your allies and fight as normal. Also, the fight's much easier if you inflict Paralyzed on the boss (doesn't work on the tentacles, unfortunately).
    • Final Fantasy VIII:
      • There are many bosses with special attack points or such which must be destroyed first. For example, the aliens on board Ragnarok come in four colors and must be defeated in order of color or they'll regenerate in no time.
      • There is also a pair of optional bosses who can rapidly recover from any attack due to the power of earth. Casting "Float" on them prevents them from healing themselves. note 
      • If you try to fight Diabolos like you've been handling the rest of the game, he's a rather nasty Wake-Up Call Boss. However, if you draw/cast his own gravity spells on him, you cut down his massive HP by multiple increments of halves, and he rewards you for doing this by casting Curaga on the one who used Gravity on him. This is also a way of showing how massively important the draw system can be.
    • Ozma in Final Fantasy IX is extremely difficult if fought head-on, due to using many powerful spells (one of which, Doomsday, heals it in addition to damaging your party), being out of reach of melee attacks, having good AI that prevents it from using spells that would be uselessnote , and getting a free turn whenever one of your characters acts. But there are various things you can do to make it easier. Completing a certain sidequest will make Ozma vulnerable to melee attacks and Shadow damage (the latter causing it to be damaged whenever it uses Doomsday, rather than healed). Inputting commands for your characters only while Ozma is casting a spell will stop it getting free turns. Choosing your party's equipment and abilities carefully will cause Ozma to use its less dangerous spells, reducing the likelihood of it using its more dangerous ones.
    • Final Fantasy X:
      • The Seymour fights, particularly Natus and Flux, are basically puzzle bosses because of his set attack pattern—there are specific counters to all of his attacks. Sure, you could try to strong-arm it, but that would require overleveling compared to the nearby monsters. The first battle is easier by using Nul spells to make your party immune to Seymour's elemental spells, and stealing from his flunkies to stop them healing each other and their leader. The second battle is also easier if you use Nul spells, though giving yourself Reflect can work even better, and inflicting Poison on him is also useful. The third fight is the most difficult, but Poison still helps, and Silence now works on him to seal away his spells. The fourth and final fight is once again easier if you use Nul spells (though by this point, you could instead equip armor to give your party elemental immunity/absorption), and you can attack the Mortiphasms behind him to control what spells he uses.
      • Yunalesca requires the player to keep the Zombie debuff in order to survive her Megadeath attack (as Zombies are immune to Death). However, this prevents you from being able to heal. Deathproof and Zombieproof is a viable, though expensive alternative.
      • Defender-X, the mech encountered at the base of Mount Gagazet. It has an array of very, very powerful attacks that can leave a player who hacks-and-slashes their way through tearing their hair out (especially since its HP is high and it is Armored, meaning it takes very little damage and thus you will have to survive a number of these attacks)... but there's a way to beat it very easily, though it's extremely counterintuitive. Have Tidus use his Provoke move, which will goad the monster into targeting only him — sounds incredibly stupid, given Tidus's low general survivability (seriously, why didn't they give that move to Auron instead?), but the catch is that once Provoked, the monster will also only use the move that deals percentage-based damage. That move is devastating combined with its other attacks, but if it's the only thing it uses, it means that it is actually incapable of killing even one party member, let alone the total party kills it is otherwise quite proficient at, turning the entire fight into a cakewalk.
      • Sanctuary Keeper is tough, hits hard and opens with a move that damages and inflicts multiple status ailments on your entire party. But it also follows a specific pattern, so you can usuallynote  predict what it's going to do next. The battle is also easier if you inflict status ailments on Sanctuary Keeper, but this is trickier than with most bosses because this one is capable of curing itself of statuses. You'll need to also give Sanctuary Keeper the Reflect status and—because it responds to this by giving one of your characters Reflect so it can bounce its spells off them—repeatedly remove Reflect from your own characters.
      • Also, the Post-Final Boss of X, Yu Yevon. He regenerates health if attacked but he only uses percentage based attacks that also hurt him until his HP gets low. You can hit him with attacks more damaging than he can heal, or hit the two pylons in the battle as well (which revive automatically) until Yevon's Health starts getting low from his own attacks. Or cast Zombie on him and let him take himself out with his healing.
    • Final Fantasy XIII:
      • The game features the battles with each character's Eidolon. You're supposed to fill a gauge above the Eidolon's head, then push square to end the battle. Theoretically, you could just keep hitting the thing until the gauge is full. However, these are timed battles, and mashing attack just isn't very efficient. Instead, you can use a Librascope item or the Libra technique to learn the Eidolon's weakness, which are generally kind of counterintuitive. For example, when fighting the Shiva sisters, you only have one party member, Snow. Snow can do some damage on his own, but he won't be able to stagger the enemy by himself. You are supposed to switch to the Sentinel role, which specializes in defense. Blocking the sisters' attacks fills the gauge more efficiently than attacking. Similarly, you're supposed to heal wounds during the Odin fight instead of attacking.
      • The Eidolon battles are intended to teach the characters a lesson. Snow's strategies are of the Attack! Attack! Attack! variety, with little concern for anyone else, and the Shiva sisters are trying to show him that just attacking isn't helping anyone. Lightning was about to abandon Hope, who was slowing her down, and Odin is trying to show her that only by helping others can she continue her journey. It's not always obvious, mind you, but it's an interesting take on Gameplay and Story Integration.
    • Final Fantasy XIII-2 has most of the DLC bosses, but Snow takes the cake. Go at him normally, and he'll constantly focus on a single character which makes him stronger the longer he's allowed to pound on the same target, eventually allowing him to use his Limit Break which causes a Total Party Wipe. Either have two Sentinels Provoke him repeatedly, causing him to switch targets constantly or let him KO the Sentinel, revive them, and have it re-aggro Snow.
  • Forever Home gives many bosses unusual gimmicks, like how the Chaw has a gender-specific counterattack and how the Final Boss can be weakened by killing his orbs. The Challenge section of the Arena is mostly filled with bosses that have to be beaten in specific ways, such as how the Sickness will can use Cleanse to kill any party member that isn't inflicted with a specific status effect.
  • Get in the Car, Loser!: The first boss, "Fuck You," can turn invisible and become untargetable, but Angela, who is strapped to its chest, is still visible. The player has to target Angela and spill her blood to make the boss visible, but this will also allow it to counterattack with a powerful laser.
  • Golden Sun:
    • Golden Sun: The Lost Age has the Serpent, (whose entire scenario seems to be a Shout-Out to the Susanoo legend in Japanese mythology), who you can reach upon beginning the dungeon. However, it has a nasty habit of regenerating ungodly amounts of Hit Points every turn. The solution? Scale the wall outside the entrance to get the Dancing Idol, which you can then use on the odd altar-slash-table things at the entrance, then go through the real dungeon (as opposed to the comparatively short puzzle involving identical rooms with a plant that you must cast Growth on to find the right direction to move) and use your Gale Psynergy to move plants off of holes in the ground to send beams of light down onto crystals in the Serpent's chamber. Each beam of light reduces its regenerative power one-third of its strength, with all four being needed to render the regeneration almost completely useless at 30HP per turn, as opposed to the 2430 per turn that it starts with — nearly seventy percent of its maximum health. Considering how weak your party is likely to be by that point in the game without Level Grinding, you'll need to have more than just one or two lights on or it'll be practically invincible anyway. Even with all four lights, it's still annoying as hell, though thankfully having all four lights on removes one of its turns, reducing it to two actions per round as opposed to three.
    • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn:
      • superboss Ancient Devil pulls off an interesting variation of this trope. While he can be defeated through brute force as normal, he will sometimes use Ancient Sign to take control of one of your party members so that they fight against you. Depending on who he possesses, the controlled ally could be disastrous if they know powerful healing abilities or other abilities to buff themselves and the boss with, or waste rare items like the full restore Potion. Even if you do knock them out, not only you have to revive the person you put down, but the boss will just take control of someone else. If you have any Djinn on standby, the possessed ally will summon them against your party. The puzzle here is to try and get the boss to take control of a party member that is either very weak or does not have many strong items or abilities so that the fight does not get any harder.
      • Dark Dawn's version of the Dullahan is arguably a version of this as well. While he's even harder than his That One Boss incarnation in the previous games and truly deserves the title of hardest damn enemy in the game to kill, there is a trick that reduces his difficulty from "nearly unbeatable" to "difficult". Dullahan has a distinct pattern to which moves he uses (not that you'd EVER figure it out without a frigging walkthrough or hundreds of tries), that allows you to predict when his stupidly lethal Djinn Storm is coming to wreck your strategy and leave your characters dealing Scratch Damage for god knows how long while the Dullahan regens most of his health back. Setting things up properly can allow you to use the Chasm Djinn to reduce his deadly Charon Summon's damage to less than 20 (and hopefully avoid the instant-death chance the summon has) followed by deploying either Doldrum or Ivy to stop Dullahan from using one of his three moves for the turn; if you exploited the pattern perfectly, you can lock Dullahan out of his Djinn Storm and typically weather all of his other attacks unless you're unlucky enough to be hit by his instant-death moves. Without Djinn Storm, Dullahan is much, much easier to defeat.
  • Granblue Fantasy: Scripted fights with pre-determined characters (especially Challenge Quests) will occasionally have these kinds of bosses. Being pre-determined characters, your party usually come in their base stats, without any weapons skills or summon aura to your advantage. Winning against these bosses requires trial-and-error, or you can simply consult a guide on what skills should be cast on a specific turn. Some bosses (such as Poseidon) are even scripted to obliterate the entire party if the player messed up using their character skills. Others can only go down if certain conditions or strategies are met (such as April Fools' Day Katalina's Charge Attack being the only one capable of one-shotting "Vyrn?" or timing Narmaya's Charge Attacks properly in order to defeat Okto in the former's final Fate Episode.)
  • Knights of the Old Republic:
    • The penultimate boss is six attack droids that continue to respawn until the player can destroy/reprogram the machines spawning them.
    • The Final Boss uses conveniently placed prisoner Republic officers whom the boss can full-heal from, 8 times — but you can do it too, if you have the Drain Life power. Even if you can't, you can still kill the prisoners by more conventional means. You more or less have to do one of these things, because you're very unlikely to win a battle of attrition against the guy otherwise. It's possible, but not likely.
    • The game also had a Rancor monster as an early boss in the sewers of Taris. It is almost impossible to kill conventionally, but it is possible to trick it into eating a grenade and blowing up from the inside. Or you can run your entire party to the other door and shoot the beast to death from a hallway which it can't get into.
  • The Last Story: While most bosses can be overcome with brute force, almost every boss has some kind of trick to making the battle easier. For example, the Queen of the Abyss in Chapter 24 can be weakened by making her swallow a bomb.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky has the Abyss Worms, the boss of SC's Chapter 2. They attack in a group of 5, so you'd think area-of-effect attacks would be the way to go. Try this, and you'll have all the worms unleash Earth Shaker, a full-party hitting attack, at once, which will almost certainly result in a Total Party Kill. The trick to the fight is realizing that Earth Shaker is a counterattack. If you don't attack a Worm, it will only use very weak, single-target moves. You're supposed to focus down the Abyss Worms one-by-one rather than attack them all at once, that way you only have to deal with one Earth Shaker at a time.
  • Lie of Caelum: The Drake has high defenses and takes too many hits to break its stance. However, its legs have their own HP bars, and depleting the HP bar of a leg causes the Drake to take massive damage and have their stance broken.
  • Live A Live has a few of them, but perhaps the most blatant (albeit optional) example is the fight with the spirit of Amakusa Shiro in the Ninja chapter. In order to confront him, you must attempt to rescue the prisoner, which gets you dropped into a room filled with ghosts. These ghosts have no way of attacking you, go down in two hits at most, and don't count towards your kills. However, after you clear the room of them, they all respawn after a short delay. If you try to leave, Shiro appears and blocks the exit, so you have to beat him in combat. You can try fighting him normally, but even if you beat him, he declares that he is immortal and absorbs all the ghosts in the room, healing him up. The only way to kill him off for good is to dispatch all the ghosts, then rush over to Shiro before they respawn, at which point you can fight him normally.
  • Mother:
    • Giygas, the final boss from EarthBound (1994), ends as a Puzzle Boss. His initial form must be attacked and weakened like any other boss, but in his final form, the numbers that show up on the screen when you attack him directly are a lie — to ultimately defeat him, you must repeatedly use the previously nigh-useless Pray command, which now does massive, genuine damage to the boss.
    • In EarthBound Beginnings, the final boss, Gieuge, can only be defeated by using the now-existent Sing command. Again, you can attack him, and numbers will show up, claiming that you're dealing damage, but the game is lying to you; Gieuge is completely immune to your attacks, so you have to make him not want to fight you anymore in order to win.
    • In Cognitive Dissonance, there are four ways to win the Final Boss fight with Giygas, each yielding a different ending — use Alinvar's PK Harmony to temporarily restore his sanity, use Niiue's Nightmare Empower to pull Gieuge out and weaken Giygas's defense enough for conventional attacks to fend him off (leading to an extra chapter after the end of the fight), use Niiue's Song to submerge into Giygas's psyche and fight his core, or use the ballpeen hammer to ignore Giygas's defense and beat him down. If you lose to Giygas, you get a separate ending, as your objective in the fight is to buy enough time for Buzz Buzz to escape to the past and kickstart the plot of EarthBound.
    • In Mother 3, you can only defeat the final boss (the Masked Man aka Claus) by not attacking him. A lot. At first Lucas just can't attack, due to a sort of Angsty Surviving Twin thing, but after that, if you do attack, Hinawa's ghost explicitly says "Lucas, you stop fighting first."
    • Mother 3 also has the Pig King Statue, a ludicrously powerful Optional Boss who also has an HP count of 99,999,999 (that's one HP short of one-hundred million, folks!) in a game where dealing 200 damage with a physical attack is doing really well for yourself. With the brute-force option out of the questionnote , there's only two ways to really hurt the thing: Hit it with a New Year's Eve bomb, which brings its HP to 1, and then hit it once, or attack it with PK Flash a few times, and watch as the attack causes instant death. The Statue is the only boss in the entire game vulnerable to those moves.
  • Virtually every boss in MS Saga: A New Dawn requires the player to memorize its attack pattern and use one of the game's shield spells to prevent it from using its strongest attacks. Doing so takes many bosses from virtually undefeatable to incredibly easy.
  • Neverwinter Nights has a series of tests to gain access to an exclusive spellcaster's club. This culminates in an arena fight with a giant golem who may well turn you into paste — apart from the fact that it will not attack unless attacked first, and that there is a table with four one-shot elemental wands in the arena. By deciphering the clues from the previous part of the quest, the player can use the wands in a certain order on the golem, making it crumble away without ever attacking. If the golem ever attacks, it's because you failed the puzzle — it remains passive as long as the player is making the correct choices, and actually recites a story to describe the elements as each wand is used.
  • Nocturne: Rebirth:
    • The Serpent Lord, Rock Mold, Shylphiel, and the Final Boss all have barriers that require specific elements or skills to break. Most of these barriers also allow them to counter certain actions until they're broken.
    • The first match against the superbossteam was clearly intended to be beaten with Eye of Illusion spam, otherwise a non-silenced Main will use Twilight to give his team a huge advantage.
  • OMORI has Mutantheart, whose battle gimmick is to instantly defeat any party member that doesn't have the emotion she requires. If the party members correctly get themselves the right emotions, she will not attack them.
  • RealityMinds: The boss of the epilogue, Ridgefern, has two minions, with one reflecting physical attacks and the other reflecting magic. This forces the player to pay attention to the types of moves they're using and avoid triggering any all-targeting chain skills, all while finding the best way to take out the minions one at a time.
  • In SaGa Frontier, the Ring Lord in Riku's scenario is only beatable if you rack up a combo score of ten; this becomes nigh-impossible once the Ring Lord gets bored with sitting around and starts stomping your party into the ground. Interestingly, the DSC counts as a combo for the purposes of the fight, so if you've got a character who can pull it off, they can rack up up to 5 points at a time by themselves.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Almost every boss in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne is one of these, though one of the most notable examples is Trumpeter. Every few turns, he'll alternate between either using Holy Melody to fully heal whoever has the least HP (including himself), or use Evil Melody to instantly kill whoever has the least HP (not including himself). You need to carefully balance the HP of him and your Demons to win the fight.
    • Digital Devil Saga has its Superboss the Demi-Fiend. After one of his Demons is killed, he uses Gaea Rage, which deals so much damage it's nearly impossible to survive. But one of his other Demons will always cast a full-party Sleep spell beforehand. This seems meaningless, until you realize there's a skill in the game that causes a character to always dodge attacks while they're asleep... The "puzzle" aspect of the fight is used to highlight how one seemingly weak member of the party, Cielo, is Not Completely Useless: his weakness to status ailments is actually a strength here, as you want to get hit with Sleep. To another degree is how you come into the fight; the Demi-Fiend is programmed to assume you're just another random encounter, and one of the tricks to beating him is to keep it looking like that; doing anything that makes you look like an actual threat, like starting the fight with immunities, will cause him to drop Gaea Rage and wipe you out on the first turn.
    • Persona 3:
      • In the endgame of the Portable re-release, Margaret (of Persona 4 fame) opens up a door in Tartarus wherein you can fight four puzzle bosses — for each one, your party, group of Personae, level/stats, and so on are set to a certain fixed thing, so grinding and such are useless; you have to figure out how to defeat each boss with what you're given.
      • Subverted for the Strength and Fortune Full Moon bosses. While you can beat the crap out of them the regular way, you have to utilise the Wheel of Fortune attack to your advantage, and (contrary to what Fuuka hints at), it's possible to control the wheel by letting it spin around a few times, then pressing X on the condition opposite the one you want. Also, this is the only time when Ghastly Wail can be used against a boss.
      • The superboss, Elizabeth or Theodore (the latter only being available in the Portable re-release and when playing as the Female Protagonist), is often considered to be an extremely difficult fight because of their ability to oneshot the player at any time and access to a full heal on top of being a Duel Boss. However, they will only use this ability if you break the rules that were were set, most notably being immune to an attack that they are attempting to use or use a particular ability that inflicts 9999 damage without defeating them. This means you can either just not use personas that are immune to anything or to cycle through them so that the one you're using isn't immune to the spell used on you. They also only use the full heal when below half HP and their HP is 20k, so if you track the HP yourself, you can pretty easily bust out that 9999 damage attack and end the fight fairly cleanly. Once you know the trick, she's actually not that difficult. In contrast, the P3P-exclusive superboss, Margaret, has to be faced by a full party and has a much more intelligent AI that is much harder to predict, meaning she has to be defeated the normal way and is consequently a more difficult fight.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario RPG:
    • While almost all other bosses and enemies are battled in traditional turn-based RPG style, Bowser is defeated by attacking a chain and dropping the chandelier he's standing on.
    • The rematch against Punchinello in the remake has him with defenses so high that any attack on him is Scratch Damage and not performing a perfect block when his bombs attack will instantly knock out that character. To get past Punchinello's defenses, you need to perform a perfect timed hit with your physical attack on a bomb to get it to turn around and blow up in Punchinello's face. Magic attacks won't turn the bombs around.
    • Paper Mario:
      • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, pits you against the Iron Adonis Twins — two Clefts made out of a metal that's literally impervious to all but an equally hard substance. You beat them by getting a Yoshi to spit one at the other until they're both KO'd.
      • Nearly every boss in Paper Mario: Sticker Star, although most of them could also be beaten the normal way. Most of them are Logical Weaknesses. The Megasparkle Goomba is comprised of numerous smaller Goombas and can be blown apart with the Fan; Tower Power Pokey's individual segments can be knocked away with the Baseball Bat (the boss arena kind of looks like a baseball stadium, providing a hint to this); your multi-hit stickers don't lose their multi-hit abilities in the later battles with Kamek where he turns everything into Sandals; Gooper Blooper's poison attack can be deflected back at him with the Sponge; the Big Cheep Cheep has to be reeled in with the Giant Fishhook (this one's absolutely necessary); Bowser Jr. in his second boss battle carries Bob-ombs over his head which can be knocked down into him with Hurlhammers; Big Boo can be vacuumed up; Mizzter Blizzard is extremely weak to fire and healed by ice; Bowser Jr. in his final battle has a dome shield that reduces almost all damage, but can be destroyed by batting his own missiles back at it with a Tail; Bowser's first form summons enemies from a hole in the wall that can be patched up with Tape; Bowser's second form uses a Whomp that can be sliced apart with Scissors; Bowser's third form attacks with Podoboos that can be frozen with Shaved Ice; Bowser's fourth form attacks with a Chain Chomp that can be batted back at him with the Tail; and Bowser's final form is Nigh Invulnerable until plot-related stuff happens.
      • Paper Mario: Color Splash does the same thing as Sticker Star, though there is at least a hint system the correct Thing can be used and only the Koopalings follow this format. Morton needs a Fire Extinguisher to put out his flaming hammer, Iggy rides chariots that can be taken out by the Chomp summoned by the Bone. Ludwig is made vulnerable with the Balloons while using a Camera as Wendy charges up an attack to immobilise Mario will make a photo of Mario get immobilised instead. When Larry uses the smoke of the train the battle takes place on, sticking a cork in the smokestack stops him, Lemmy's giant spiked ball can be popped with an Ice Pick after he is distracted with the Disco Ball and the battle screen can be cleaned up by the Washing Machine when Roy decides to throw paint everywhere. Outside the Thing Weakness system, Petea Piranha can counter jump attacks if standing and knocking him over makes him vulnerable if a certain attack is blocked and Bowser will regenerate health if his attacks are not blocked, which get more dangerous the more he was hit in one turn (and you can only block 11 attacks).
    • The Mario & Luigi series in general has quite a few Puzzle Bosses. The Final Boss of each game tends to have Cognizant Limbs which need to be attacked in a certain order.
      • A rather frustrating one is the Shroob-omb Battle in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, where the order you defeat the Support Shroobs is vital to winning, but with no indication of such, it became a real Guide Dang It! moment. Another Partners in Time example: Sunnycide has (probably) the highest defense yet in the game, until you free the Yoshis to make them push a boulder and knock him over. And the Swiggler from the Vim Factory. If you attack the doctor shroobs while they have mushrooms out, they would drop them into the Swiggler's drink and heal it when it gets its turn. Unless they were grey mushrooms, in which case they made it ill.
      • Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story has three bosses which generally follow this. The first is Alpha Kretin, who you have to defeat by turning all the segments of him blue (and they can only be attacked by the brother whose colour matches said segment) and then defeating in his next form. Dark Star is invincible, but has its defense lowered after you damage its two flunkies and then hammer them back at it. Dark Bowser/Fawful Bug requires you to hurt Dark Bowser (1000 HP), then hit his stomach when he becomes giant, then eat the Dark Fawful Bug/Star Core, then as Mario and Luigi kill the legs and glasses, then attack the core of that. Oh, and you get to finish off Dark Bowser with five more massive punches to the face after all this.
    • Most Mario hacks generally stick to the regular bosses, but the main feature of Brutal Mario is facing off against bosses from a host of different games, many of them Puzzle Bosses.
  • In Sweet Home (1989), the Final Boss Lady Mamiya can only be defeated by using the "pray" command in battle repeatedly along with four items deeply personal to her in the correct order. This will little by little help her realize her current situation and convince her to let go and fade away.
  • Tales Series:
    • Gnome's dungeon in Tales of Phantasia seems to like this. First, there are little mini-bosses called Clay Idols that can't be damaged in any way, save for one otherwise-useless spell. Thankfully, you can just run past them rather than engage them. Then there's Gnome itself, which splits into four bodies when anyone gets too close to it, making it immune to every attack in your arsenal and going ballistic on your team. The trick is to keep away from him, avoiding the usual strategy of having the Mighty Glacier Cless run up to the boss and whaling away at it. Either just sit back and let the casters destroy Gnome with their spells, or help them out with the long-range Demon Fang.
    • Tales of Graces Arc's Final Boss, Fodra Queen. At 6% health left, she will use one Hi Ougi after another, starting with Dual the Sol. What the player has to do at this point is press certain buttons during each Hi Ougi to prevent a full-party KO. Nowhere is it mentioned that you have to press buttons — as pressing buttons never did anything during a Hi Ougi beforehand — or which button to press, making this also a Guide Dang It! moment for a boss fight.
  • The Tiamat Sacrament: As the Final Boss, Ry'jin destroys all the runes in the party's inventory. However, the game intends for the player to use Xandra's ultimate palette to turn his respawning minions into three Omni Runes each, and then use those runes to activate devastating rune combos.
  • Shadap and Chekkit from Tomato Adventure are some of these. During their battles, unless their body parts are attacked to be changed into the form that the bosses hint to be their weaknesses, the boss itself will be immune to all damages.
  • In Undertale, all fights are technically puzzle fights if you choose to spare your opponents - the puzzle being finding a series of ACT commands that inspires your opponent to back down from the fight. Sparing bosses requires the player either to use the commands at their disposal in a way they never have before (Ex. For Toriel, you must repeatedly spare her; no other command advances the fight) and/or introduces a totally novel play mechanic (ex. Undyne immobilizes your soul but gives you a shield) to work around.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines has the Werewolf, an Implacable Man that can only be defeated by running away or by finding an extremely out-of-the-way switch and using it to activate the observatory doors of Griffith Park and crushing the Werewolf between the doors. There's also The Sheriff's One-Winged Angel form, which can be defeated a lot easier by turning on the spotlights in the final fighting arena, which stuns it and allows melee characters a chance to damage it.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader: A common boss type, even as early as the prologue. The boss at the end fully heals itself by killing one of its allies on the field, so you have to get rid of them first before focusing on the boss. Similar thing happens in a prison in chapter one, where you have to destroy a series of lenses on the field to stop the boss from teleporting there for a full heal when their health is emptied.
  • Wild ARMs:
    • Each of Alhazad's battles become this in the remake of the first game. He has two trios of drones that shield him from physical and magic attacks. Destroying either of the trios results in him simply regenerating them. The trick is to leave one of both Drones alive.
    • A ton of bosses in Wild ARMs 3 fall under this trope, and considering there are somewhere in the area of eighty story bosses, we do mean a ton.
      • The first major one is Trask, who halves all elemental damage and nullifies physical damage... until you cast a fire spell and then follow it up with an ice spell — since heating and then rapidly cooling something makes it brittle, this makes him incredibly weak to physical attacks now. Some of these do fall under Guide Dang It! (the spoilered method is referred to only in an easily-missed book in the preceding town), but for the most part, they're pretty easy and fun to figure out. Some other notable ones:
      • Melody, the first time you fight her, has powerful magic and poison attacks... but is constantly attacking Clive, because he just verbally ripped her a new one. Thus, if you manage to keep Clive alive, you can't lose. The rest of the time, she simply has a damage barrier that soaks up 350 points of damage.
      • Malik is so fast that he can't be hit by bullets... until you cast the Decelerate spell on him, making him extremely vulnerable.
      • In every fight against the Schroedinger family, you can set Todd's afro on fire, which acts like poison and quickly takes the most dangerous opponent out.
      • Janus, after absorbing a Guardian's power, seems incredibly quick, powerful, and downright impossible to beat... unless you cast the status-buff-nullifying Eraser spell, which erases all the status buffs the Guardian gave him and makes him pitifully easy.
      • Siegfried, being the game's main Big Bad for 90% of it, is of course incredibly powerful and can also use the Teardrop to heal to full HP if he takes too much damage... which you can easily swipe from him by using the Pickpocket spell.
      • The Hydra also has a heal-to-full-HP spell... which can be brought down to an eventual 0 if you continually cast the fire spell on it, "cauterizing" its necks like the original myth.
      • Then, of course, the final boss, Nega Filgaia, has a whopping ten forms, all of which require some kind of unusual strategy to defeat. Whew. You could always just Finest-Arts most of them to death, though.
    • In Wild ARMs 4, many bosses were Puzzle Bosses as well, especially the Brionac fights.
  • Xenogears has quite a few, especially in the Gear battles where each could only be feasible defeated at your level by fighting a certain way, but the first Deus battle is memorable in that every time you attack, he heals for all his HP. His HP is huge, and there is no way could you do enough damage to kill him in this way. The true method to killing him is by letting him keep using his only move, which halves the HP of everyone on the field, and then tearing into him when his health is low enough to kill in one turn.

    Shoot 'Em Up 
  • The Final Boss of Lethal Enforcers 1 will tank every single round you put into the fuselage of the helicopter until you first destroy the numerous guns and missile pods on each stablizer wing, at which point a life meter appears and you can finally start doing damage to the pilot.
  • R-Type:
    • The Final Boss of R-Type Final has elements of this. Specifically, the Bydo core cannot be damaged by any of the player's weapons. Instead, the player has to launch the Force, which in the rest of the game results in attacking for massive damage. This time, however, it sticks to the boss, as the Bydo attempts to absorb it. Then, the player has to use a fully charged Wave Cannon attack to make the Force explode, resulting in a massive wave of energy that still doesn't kill the boss, but does irrepairably damage the Wave Cannon. The trick at this point is to avoid the enemy projectiles while trying to charge the Wave Cannon, which takes fully 90 seconds and results in a blast that kills everything.
    • R-Type Delta had a similar final puzzle boss: the boss is totally impervious to everything, even the Force and Wave Cannon. You have to avoid it and the sperm (yes, really) it launches until it tries to absorb the Force device. Then you have to wait about thirty more seconds as your Dose Attack slowly builds (dodging stuff all the while), and fire it when it finally charges. This kills the boss, and blows up the supposedly invincible Force.
  • Sigma Star Saga has what is probably *the* most annoying Puzzle Boss ever designed, and it's only a miniboss. It's a light blue rock/crystal with an eye in the centre and six orbs floating around it (three purple, three blue). It shoots one slow-moving bullet at you every three seconds or so. In order to open the eye and make it vulnerable, you have to shoot the purple orbs once each, turning them blue in the process. Sound easy so far? Not when it fires another bullet at you for every ineffective hit made and most players, up to this point in the game, have equipped their ships with rapid-fire bullets, usually with some sort of spread. To make matters worse, there is no indication whatsoever (apart from the already-shot orbs reverting to purple if you hit a blue orb or the boss when its eye is closed, but how would anyone notice that if they're shooting every part of the boss at once?) whether or not you're doing it right; most players just shoot the boss repeatedly, hoping they're doing damage, and die in the cloud of counterattacks. In many cases, especially due to the possibility of having to use a large ship that can hardly move and (nigh) impossibility of hitting only the purple orbs and only once each with a Spam Attack weapon, the battle is utterly hopeless. In fact, it's one of the two main reasons why so many people have to use online help to beat this game, assuming the Game Breaking Bugs on the Forgotten Planet and ever-present probability a random encounter will get you killed in a ship that literally CAN'T fit through certain tunnels don't make them give up completely. (Incidentally, both "reasons" are on the Ice Planet.)
  • Star Fox:
    • Star Fox Adventures: King RedEye can only be damaged by tossing explosive barrels at him. To do this, it's necessary to stun him by landing the electric dose from the corridors' terminals with the right timing, at the moment his head is passing by.
    • Andross's first form in Star Fox 64 could be damaged without any tricky techniques, but would almost certainly win a war of attrition if the player merely aims for his weak spot and keeps firing. Either using Nova Bombs to counter his auto-hit inhaling attack or smacking his eyes would slow his rate of attack, and as a result one of the above tactics is nearly necessary.
    • The "auto-hit" attack could be dodged by holding R, steering all the way to the right, and spamming the brakes (which, for some reason, apply a backward force on the Arwing even if it's supposedly not moving forward).
    • While not technically necessary, Mechbeth certainly qualifies. You can face him straight up in probably the toughest boss battle in the entire game, while Mooks occasionally appear to harass your wingmen (which, unlike in most boss fights, actually do increase your score a little, but not enough to be worthwhile)... or you can shoot the eight switches to unlock the switcher box, then shoot that twice to open it up and switch the track, sending the entire train careening into the weapons factory and getting you a total of 51 points and a better path afterwards. Yeah, exactly.
    • Command has no less than 3 puzzle bosses. One has to be hit on the upper half to change its course into the lava, one hides in pots, and the last one is quite literally a puzzle (you need to shoot its 4 parts to match in the right color; matching another color results in attacks).
    • The original had one in the alternate final boss, the Slot Machine. You need to get Triple Sevens. Unlike most Puzzle Bosses, knowing the boss's weakness does not really speed up the process.

  • Trauma Center:
    • Triti starts out as a huge mass of triangles, held in place by thorns. Trying to remove one section at a time will send legions of them out into the organ. The key is to take the thorns out in certain patterns, to prevent any respawning that you don't want. Specifically, when you remove a triangle, if there are two thorns next to each other and on the edge of the set of triangles, a triangle will spawn there if there is room to respawn. With some planning, Triti in Episode X-3 of Second Opinion can be easily defeated in less than a minute and a half.* It doesn't help that the in-game hints are horribly vague and don't well describe how Triti regenerates.
    • In a more archetypal 'weak-point reveal' boss, a single Deftera is a pair of red and blue bodies that drift around the organ, creating tumors. While drifting, they're invincible. However, in the event that a red and a blue come in contact, they become a tumor and you can drain them. Rather simple, right up until every time after the first you come into contact with it when there's more than one of each color. At that point, two of the same color meeting will create another tumor as well as make the patient's vitals drop. In addition, even once a red and blue one meet, a third of either color getting involved will break them up before you can drain them. Solution? They can't cross Antibiotic Gel walls. Also, Deftera will not even attempt to meet with another Deftera body if they're not at the same strength, though they will still interrupt a pair.

  • The Punch-Out!! series makes frequent use of this trope. While most of the early fighters, like Glass Joe and Von Kaiser, can be defeated through brute force and the occasional block/dodge, the rest of the boxers have different fighting styles that prevent you from just whaling on them, such as Don Flamenco relying on you to strike so he can block/dodge and then counterattack. Except for Super Punch- Out!!note , figuring out how to earn star punches was also a puzzle itself — so difficult, in fact, that in the Wii remake, the designers decided to make Exhibition Mode challenges out of finding them. Good luck finding them on your own, as some of them are fiendishly difficult to either figure out or nail just right.

    Stealth-Based Game 
  • The Hitman games have optional puzzle bosses in the people you're sent to kill. Most of them can be killed in 'accidental' manners that will not alert their bodyguards to your position — poison their food, drop a heavy load on them, wire a generator to a sink that will fry them when they wash their hands... or you can just shoot them.
  • Many Metal Gear bosses need a special strategy to defeat.
    • Psycho Mantis in Metal Gear Solid will dodge most bullets and melee attacks if fought normally, but switching controller ports or blowing away reflective items first makes him a bit easier to hit. Thankfully, players will get a hint about this one after long enough.
    • The Sorrow from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. The key to beating him is the revive pill from Snake's inventory. Once Snake dies from the Fake Death Pill (assuming you kept it instead of using it like the ketchup packet to draw the guard in), making it to The Sorrow, being overwhelmed by the ghosts, or drowning, you can open your side inventory to find its still accessible for some reason. Welp, we have an unremovable Revival Pill...
    • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots:
      • Vamp continually regenerates from "death". If you remember where his Healing Factor comes from, you should realize you have a certain item that can nullify it. He starts boasting after a while, giving you a hint.
      • Screaming Mantis inherits many of Psycho Mantis's tricks, and the counters to them are different this time around.
    • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has the Man on Fire, specifically in the second encounter with him at the Devil's House. As he's able to shrug off attacks from your standard arsenal, you're forced to find another way to neutralize him; thankfully, the arena you confront him in conveniently provides a bunch of ways to douse him with water, though you can also use a vehicle to ram him off a nearby cliff.
  • In Sheep, Dog 'n' Wolf, you have a boss that you must defeat by first making him dizzy, and then turning on some spotlights to exploit his fear of light.
  • The Sly Cooper series has a few of those:
    • In Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus, Mugshot can't be directly harmed, instead you have to destroy his guns by reflecting light on them through hitting mirrors.
    • In Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, the first boss, Don Octavio, is too fast normally, but lure him into the tar and he will slow down, allowing you to beat him up.

    Survival Horror 
  • The final boss of Cryostasis must be defeated in a weird game instead of direct combat. On a circular arena with constantly spawning monsters, both of you are awarded points for killing (though in the protagonist's case this may count as saving) them, and the first one to get ten positive points wins the battle. It's obviously a bit more complex than that.
  • The Medium: Escaping the Bunker area requires getting past The Maw, by activating an environmental hazard. If you know the right method (hint: Out of Body Experience), this takes a few seconds. If you don't, then The Maw will kill you about as quickly.
  • Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi: The Count is immune to all your weapons. The only way to kill him is to pull all the levers scattered around the room to open up the roof, then lead him into the sunlight coming down through the hole.
  • Operator's Side: The first boss is Immune to Bullets; to defeat it, you have to tell Rio exactly when to throw a homemade Molotov Cocktail. Waiting too long causes the flame to burn itself out; if that happens, or if you have her throw it at the wrong time... sorry, Rio.
  • Peret em Heru: For the Prisoners has a strange variation. Two bosses (the Restrainer and Anubis) can be defeated normally by hitting them until they run out of health. However, there's certain actions that you can perform during their fights, which allows you to defeat them "properly"; this will determine whether certain characters will live or die.
  • Resident Evil:
    • In Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, Nemesis's final form is impervious to bullets, so you have to push in the three batteries to activate the Wave-Motion Gun, then lure him into its line of fire.
    • In Resident Evil – Code: Veronica, two bosses have a setuip where you need to weaken them with conventional firepower first, then turn to something in the environment to deliver the finishing blow, as otherwise they simply will not die. The first is the Tyrant in the plane's cargo hold; you can't kill it, you have to knock it out of the plane with the cargo launcher. The second is Alexia's final form, which can only be killed by using the newly unlocked Linear Motion to vaporize her.
    • Each of the Blob enemies from the Resident Evil 5 DLC "Lost in Nightmares" are essentially a Boss in Mook Clothing. In one sequence, you're required to find cranks to kill them, but you've lost all your equipment, so you're reduced to avoiding/hiding from them as well.
    • Resident Evil 6:
      • The super final form of the final boss of Leon's campaign is this, which was especially frustrating to some players, as there were a ton of battles with him prior. It doesn't help that it took most players a long time to figure out what to do, as it differed from the RE boss standard of shooting and dodge as it regenerated itself.
      • The final boss for Chris's story is especially annoying, both when running away from it and when facing its final battle phase of which the game literally gives no clear indication of exactly what to do when Chris and Piers manage to prematurely break its cocoon before it manually sheds it, with only Chris saying "Now's our chance, fire!", specifically assuming to keep firing on it, but that literally does nothing to help progress the fight forward and what one REALLY needs to do is use either Chris' Survival Knife or Piers' mutated arm to stab one of its multiple heart shards. Then and only then does it properly progress further into the boss fight, something that neither of the two nor any tutorial text specify whatsoever.
  • Silent Hill:
    • In the original game, to get the best ending, you have to throw the bottle of red liquid you collected in the hospital on Cybil to exorcise the Puppeteer Parasite from her.
    • Silent Hill 2:
      • Early in the game, James is trapped in a room with Pyramid Head. He's Nigh Invulnerable, but slow-moving. The correct response is to keep running away until he gets bored and leaves.
      • The Dual Pyramid Head boss, in which you must face two Pyramid Heads in a two-on-one fight. The truth, however, is that you don't actually have to attack them; the battle runs on an invisible timer, and attacking just helps to speed things up before they kill themselves for you. Once you've got that figured out, you can probably save most, if not all of your ammo for the final boss afterwards.
  • While most bosses in World of Horror can be defeated with good ol' fashioned brute force, some also have alternate means of being defeated that can, in some cases, lead to different endings for a mystery:
    • The Mad Janitor in "Macabre Memoir of Morbid Mermaids" can be defeated in three alternate ways. The first is to open a manhole cover, which is easier to do with specific items, and let the Mad Janitor get killed by a real mermaid. The second is to knock over an oil lantern, ending the fight immediately, but causing you to suffer burns while destroying the school in the process. The third requires your character to be under the "Insmasu Look" curse, which gives them gills on their neck.
    • The boss of "Horrible History of Household Hell" cannot be defeated in battle, since it is always out of reach. The only ways to survive the fight with it are to either run away, or sacrifice one of your companions to sate its bloodlust. You also have a limited window of time to end the battle before you succumb to its Brown Note.
    • The boss of "Curious Case of a Contagious Coma" can be weakened and defeated more quickly by unplugging its victims' life support, killing its prey and denying it its meal. This comes at the cost of your character's Reason.

    Tactical Role-Playing Game 
  • Shadow, one of the supervillains in Freedom Force, will keep regenerating, even if she is killed. The only way to defeat her is by destroying the pillars in her subterranean lair, thus collapsing the ceiling and exposing her to sunlight.
  • Mega Man Battle Network:
    • Mega Man Battle Network 2 brings us the Bonus Dungeon-only virus Protecto, the firewall to end all firewalls. In order to destroy them, you need to take down every one of them in one hit. Multi-hit attacks don't work (they instantly recover all of their HP after any non-lethal damage), so there's no taking the cheap way out and using Gater). Fortunately, another combo, Ultra Bomb, works quite efficiently — except against the Protectos that have 620 HP. You need Lifesword3 PA, Atk+20/30. And you have to kill them before their timer hits 0, or catch a devastating explosion to the face.
    • In Mega Man Battle Network 3: White and Blue, the new Puzzle Bosses are the "Numbers". You need to destroy all Number1s in one hit, then all Number2s in one hit, and finally all Number3s in one hit. This requires the right combo. Hit the wrong Number, though, and it'll nail you with a One-Hit Kill attack.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • Max Payne:
    • For the final battle against Vladimir Lem in Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne, you have to shoot the supports on the scaffolding he's standing on, followed by the supports of the spire over his head, in order to get him into a position you can actually shoot him from.
    • Max Payne 3 has Bachmeyer, who remains dug into cover behind a bulletproof railing for the duration of his fight. Defeating him involves destroying the ceiling tiles above him, which causes parts of the ceiling to fall onto him and forces him out of his hiding spot.
  • Many of the bosses in Splatoon have to this to some extent. Using some bosses from the first game as an example: Octostomp requires the player to bait it into trying to slamming itself on them before they have a chance to climb its back using ink; Octowhirl needs the player to lay down so much ink that it gets stuck in its tracks; and Octomaw has players break its teeth so they can Feed It a Bomb.
  • Syphon Filter:
    • Several bosses in the series, but most notably the final battle with Chance, The Mole, in Syphon Filter 2. He wears full body armor that not only makes him Immune to Bullets, but to the shrapnel and shockwave of grenade impact explosions as well (No One Could Survive That! in real life, even with a heavy-duty anti-bomb suit). And it doesn't hinder his movement, either. The only way to defeat him is to procure the UAS-12 auto-shotgun from the helicopter, and use its blast to push him backward into the spinning tail rotor, which his armor is useless against, resulting in a spray of High-Pressure Blood, although no severed limbs.
    • In the cutscene before the battle, Chance's head is uncovered (presumably to make him recognizable) and he isn't even shown donning his helmet. Why don't they just shoot him in the head then?
    • You have to use the same strategy with Rhoemer during a flashback sequence in Syphon Filter 3, except you push him out of a plane, and he happens to have a parachute.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • Blaze Union:
    • The final battle with Baldus in the canon route. Actually defeating Baldus is not the trick; it's getting him to join you — and that's easy enough as long as you bother to follow Nessiah's instructions to the letter. There are plenty of cases of players ignoring Nessiah and accidentally killing Baldus, though.
    • The final stage of the C route gives the boss a Protect lock — these prevent Morale from dropping below 1, and effectively confer invincibility — which cannot be broken except by moving a specific party member to a specific location during a specific stage of the fight in order to destroy the boss's power source.
  • The first battle with Mid-Boss in Disgaea: Hour of Darkness (which is also the game's first boss battle). Instead of going straight for Mid-Boss when the battle starts, what you should be focusing on is on the three Geo Symbols on the field (Laharl can take them out with one special move) as the two enemies who are affected by those symbols not only get to attack twice, but also do over 100 HP of damage to your party (and you'll be not very likely to have over 100 HP in one of your party members unless you Level Grind, have the right equipment, or are playing New Game Plus). An inexperienced player can easily lose all their party members and get a Non-Standard Game Over to Mid-Boss without actually damaging him.
  • The Battle with Jedah in Fire Emblem Gaiden and its remake Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. He can only be hurt every 4th turn in Gaiden or every 4th attack in Shadows of Valentia. You do get a slight hint in the Sage's Hamlet, but it is up to the player to interpret what the hint means and thus how to damage him.
  • The Abnormalities in Library of Ruina tend to be this, in contrast to the main story enemies. The main story enemies tend to have gimmicks, especially when you get further, but they can be brute-forced through. Abnormalities are basically all gimmick, and often this is a Call-Back to their original game. The Red Riding Hooded Mercenary and the Knight of Despair both need Sheathe Your Sword to some extent: The former needs to deal the final blow to the Wolf, so you cannot recklessly kill the wolf or otherwise she'll turn on you. The latter has its minions revive time after time and she herself cannot be targeted, except when a minion does not manage to land hits - in which it'll damage her instead. This way, you preferably don't want to 'kill' the minions but rather sustain their damage. Spider Bud and Singing Machine are both initially inert, and Alriune has it so that only a certain marked character can actually damage her. Queen of Hatred is infamous because she appears when one is likely not prepared, and she needs to be defeated by way of strategically losing clashes without dying. And even if one would brute-force them, their gimmicks still remain, so a little more care needs to be taken when going into an Abnormality fight.

    Visual Novels 
  • a letter of challenge: It's impossible to defeat the mysterious girl by fighting her, as the player doesn't have enough turns before she casts her spell and resets time. Rather, she is defeated by the player doing nothing for a certain amount of time, resulting in them skipping a turn. However, this doesn't become an option until the last time loop.
  • In Spirit Hunter: Death Mark and its sequel Spirit Hunter: NG, the spirits are beaten by reviewing all the information you have on them and puzzling what item to use on what location to either distract them (in order to fall back) or pacify/destroy them. Attacking them physically often has no effect.

Non-video game examples:

    Anime & Manga 
  • Every Orbital Knight Kataphract in Aldnoah.Zero. While in theory, they're centuries ahead of Earth's technology, they all have some glaring weakness that can be exploited to defeat them, often a direct consequence of their Awesome, but Impractical weaponry.
  • Subverted in Cardcaptor Sakura. Late in the first season, our heroes find themselves trapped in a magical maze. The "always go left" track doesn't work, if they try to cut the walls with their swords, they just grow back together, and if Sakura tries to fly above the walls, they just get infinitely higher. Just when it looks like all is lost, supporting character Mizaki-sensei appears, carrying a magical bell... which she proceeds to use as a hammer and bashes the walls down, one after the other, in a straight line to the edge of the maze.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has defined itself by this since the beginning, often pitting the characters against Nigh Invulnerable, super-intelligent, clever villains, although it became a much stronger focus after the introduction of Stands.
    • In Phantom Blood, each battle with Dio once he puts on the Stone Mask involves this in some way. In the first confrontation, Jonathan discovers that his vampiric regeneration makes most attacks useless, so he sets up a plan to get Dio into the heart of the inferno burning down the mansion, hoping that it will be enough to hurt him faster than he can regenerate. In their battle in Dio's castle, Dio is essentially untouchable thanks to his ability to freeze anyone solid in an instant, making the fight about Jonathan trying to come up with a way to get around that defense (as well as the vampiric regeneration). In the very final battle, Jonathan can't use much Hamon due to his throat being pierced, so he has to use his limited Hamon to save Erina and stop Dio. He has to use his last Hamon to blow up the ship, then hold Dio off enough to sink him to the bottom of the sea.
    • A notable example in Battle Tendency is Joseph vs. Esidisi, which ended in the two trying to Out-Gambit each other repeatedly with Hamon-powered Razor Floss and prehensile blood-vessels filled with 1000-degree blood.
    • The final battle in Battle Tendency might exemplify this the most, even with the unintentional nature of its resolution. Kars successfully completes his plan to become the perfect life form, granting him an Adaptive Ability that allows him to become immune to anything you use to kill him before it can finish him off. How do you defeat something that's literally invincible? (Accidentally) launch him into space, where his adaptation won't allow him to die, but doesn't innately give him a way to escape, trapping him for eternity.
    • With Stands, most of the fights consist of matches against a seemingly untouchable Stand user, with the main characters spending most of the time trying to figure out how their opponent's Stand works so they can combat it, often in very unconventional ways (i.e., a Stand that grants omni-directional defense to its user is dragged by the protagonists into water, until the Stand user runs out of oxygen and must disable the defense to breathe).
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, Negi finds himself having to fight the infamously difficult-to-injure Jack Rakan. He eventually manages by creating a technique that allowed him to appear to be fighting while in actuality he was setting up an enormous rune on the battlefield to allow him to absorb Jack's own power and shoot it back at him.
  • Jake Martinez of Tiger & Bunny is practically unbeatable in a one-on-one fight thanks to his telekinetic shields and mind-reading NEXT powers. Kotetsu lies to Barnaby about the true nature of Jake's power, since the only way to fool a mind reader is to fool the mind being read. Like other Puzzle Bosses, Jake goes down quickly afterwards, since he has very low pain tolerance.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Incredibles: Both fights against the Omnidroid, which can't be damaged by anything (except, Mr. Incredible realizes, itself). The first time, Mr. Incredible climbs inside the Omnidroid, and in its attempts to reach him, the robot punctures itself several times until it hits its power core and deactivates. In the rematch, the Incredibles are able to claim the Omnidroid's remote control, using it to launch a detached claw through the power core.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Invoked with the way evil ex #3, Todd, is defeated in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Being hopelessly outpowered by him (because, as we all know, being vegan makes you objectively better than everyone else), Scott has no choice but to be tricky and abuse his telepathy by thinking really hard that a coffee cup with half-and-half really has almond milk. He drinks it, and he loses his powers (not right away, mind you: a special vegan police shows up and informs him he has used up his three vegan strikes, and promptly de-power him), allowing Scott to go in for the kill.

  • In The Return of Zaltec, the only way to defeat the final boss is to solve a puzzle involving a certain sword, during the fight itself. Otherwise, the boss's stats make him too difficult to beat.

  • In .hack//AI Buster, The One Sin, the boss that made Balmung and Orca famous. For starters, The One Sin only attacked when players attacked it, so Balmung and Orca were able to buy time to come up with a strategy by staying their blades. Eventually, they realize that The One Sin matched its elemental affinity to whatever players attacked it with, negating damage in so doing, but briefly making itself vulnerable to the opposing element.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Some Dungeons & Dragons monsters can be this. Golems in some older editions are a good example — physically powerful and immune to virtually all spells (with a very few specific exceptions for each type) and all but powerful magical weapons, a golem that hits a poorly prepared party with no ready way to retreat can easily wipe it out. However, golems are also virtually mindless, and if encountered alone, almost always simply follow a set of "pre-programmed" instructions, which may allow the same player characters that could never defeat them in a stand-up fight to simply avoid one by figuring out in time just what their standing orders are.


    Web Videos 
  • In Half-Life but the AI is Self-Aware, the final boss the Science Team encounters, none other than Benrey, revealed to be an Eldritch Abomination in Xen, is completely invulnerable to all damage. To defeat him Gordon Freeman and co. have to teleport to specific places and destroy the items that keep him invulnerable, which are their passports that Benrey has collected during his tenure as a security guard. Unfortunately, the final item, Gordon's passport, was located back in Black Mesa, with them having no idea how to get back... until Bubby reveals his portal gun that would let him send Gordon back into the past to destroy his passport. After returning back into the present, Benrey was finally made vulnerable, with the Science Team giving it all to kill him for good.

    Western Animation 
  • Miraculous Ladybug: Some Akumatized villains have abilities that make direct confrontation dangerous to nigh-impossible (The Collector can trap anything in his book with a touch, Desperada can turn people into stickers by hitting them with an ax or sniping them from afar, Lies is a living Area of Effect that permanently paralyzes anyone who's ever told a lie in their life). Ladybug's Lucky Charm gives her an item that clues her into a weakness that allows her to defeat the villain in an unconventional way (a pedal to launch CDs at the Collector until he runs out of pages, a saddle to restrain Desperada from below, and a drone to lure a crocodile to Lies).
  • King Sombra in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episodes "The Crystal Empire — Part 1"/"Part 2"; his "fight" is a Race Against the Clock for the heroes to beat his Death Course to find his Kryptonite Factor before the shield blocking him falls.
  • In the Superfriends episode "Battle of the Gods", Zeus forces the heroes to go through several myth-based challenges.
    • Superman has to enter the Labyrinth and capture the Minotaur. In one chamber with a lit torch, his shadow comes to life and proceeds to kick the crap out of him. When he tries to fight back, his attacks go right through it. He defeats it by putting out the fire. Without light, the shadow disappears.
    • Aquaman has to find and take the Golden Fleece. It is guarded by an invisible ogre, who whales on him. Aquaman shakes a tree, causing the ogre to be covered with leaves. Now that he is visible, Aquaman takes him out with one hit and takes the Fleece.
  • In The Legend of Vox Machina, the party is issued a challenge by Kamaljiori the androsphinx to wound him, as he is seemingly impervious to physical harm and has never felt pain, but he easily bats aside all of their attacks. Scanlan succeeds by improvising a heartfelt ballad about the sphinx's mate Osysa, who he's been long separated from, and moving him to tears— fulfilling his demand by inflicting emotional pain.


Video Example(s):


Pig Waltz and Jive

Pig Waltz respawn and change colors when defeated and need to be changed to all the same color to win the encounter for good.

Pig Jive periodically explodes, dealing hefty damage to everyone around it, including the other pigs.

When both kinds spawn in the same encounter, it's extremely easy to win without actually launching an attack...

How well does it match the trope?

4.71 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / WinsByDoingAbsolutelyNothing

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