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Reactor Boss

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In some cases, the final battle in a video game will consist of you trying to blow up the enemy base's main reactor, typically guarded by automatic turrets, an endless swarm of Mooks, and occasionally emissions from the reactor itself.

This is usually done as an attempt to have a climactic action sequence while avoiding having an obvious Final Boss battle, either because it wouldn't fit with the tone of the game, or because the design team's philosophy is that "boss battles are stupid."

When done well, it can give an action game a satisfactory final confrontation without having to rely on dropping in a 50-foot tall Giant Space Flea from Nowhere, or having the enemy General inexplicably turn out to be Made of Iron and capable of surviving a few dozen rocket launcher shots to the face.

When done badly, it can be an extremely unsatisfying and anticlimactic conclusion to an otherwise exciting and action-packed game of blowing crap up. Can often be considered an Anticlimax Boss.

See also Cores-and-Turrets Boss. Very common in a Shoot 'Em Up. Also a common justification for a Load-Bearing Boss.


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  • In Tomb Raider: Underworld, instead of a straight-out duel, the "final battle" is basically Lara running around the building-sized Lost Superweapon dismantling it keystone by keystone, while the invincible Big Bad Natla flies around tossing fireballs at her.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • The final "boss" of the First-Person Shooter Area 51 is the alien spaceship's main reactor. It puts up slightly more of a fight than the Half Life 2 reactor, but not by much.
  • In BattleZone II, the final ISDF mission has you entering the depths of the artificial planet, Core, to destroy the Scion's central control computer. Destroying it causes the world to begin to break apart - with you still in its tunnels, leaving you precious little time to get to the extraction point before you're left behind.
  • The final battle against Nexus in Breakdown is in many ways a Reactor Boss fight, since he's essentially a giant red ball in the center of the room (which you punch to death after breaking out of a hallucinary LSD sequence it tries to send you into).
  • The first three levels of each planet in Descent II, and all but two of the levels in Descent featured reactor "bosses"; after destroying them you had a limited time to find the exit and escape. However, these battles were hardly anticlimactic: as there was generally a huge number of guard robots in the same room as the reactor, and the reactor itself wasn't defenseless, as it fired powerful energy blasts of its own.
  • Your final mission objective in F.E.A.R. is to destroy the Origin Facility's main reactor. However, there's a final "confrontation" with Alma shortly after this.
  • Gang Garrison 2 has an original gamemode not in Team Fortress 2 (which it is a demake of), where the goal is to destroy the enemy team's generator while defending your own.
  • Half-Life 2 ends with you blowing up the Citadel's main teleporter. It's a Timed Mission because you're trying to prevent Breen from teleporting away, and two gunships come in to shoot at you, but the teleporter itself does not move or defend itself.
  • Halo:
    • Halo: Combat Evolved's final battle consists of you trying to destroy the 4 cooling vents in your starship's engine room, in order to make the ship's reactor melt down and obliterate Halo. Meanwhile, Flood and Sentinels are attacking you the entire time you're running around the engine room trying to do this. In an oblique way, the final battle is against Guilty Spark, since he and his Sentinels are in the engine room trying to stop you, and defeating him is the reason you're trying to nuke Halo in the first place.
    • Similarly in the penultimate level of Halo 3, you have to destroy the reactor of the Flood-infested High Charity, setting off a chain reaction to destroy the massive ship. Could be considered as a fight against the Gravemind itself, as the ship is literally covered wall-to-wall in Flood biomass.
  • Resistance: Fall of Man ends with you and a squad of British commandos attempting to destroy the Chimera Master Tower's main reactor. This is actually one of the better Reactor Boss fights out there, as it involves a small war between the British commandos and a small army of Chimera Advanced Hybrids, a couple Titans, and even an Angel or two.
  • The South Park game for the N64 had one of these for the third level featuring the Visitors. You go to the center of their spaceship and try to destroy the core. The room is zero gravity and the core will shoot out lightning at you.

  • Inverted in City of Heroes where the final mission of one trial requires you to defend the reactor for 30 minutes. Generally considered one of the most boring missions in the game.
  • The objective of Guild-VS-Guild gameplay in Ragnarok Online is to destroy the enemy guild's Empirium Crystal, which is the core of the castle.
  • In Star Trek Online, when you attack the Voth Fortress Ship, there are two Reactor Bosses. First a Sub Power Core to open the way and then the main reactor for the end. And of course you must make the usual timed escape before it explodes when you kill the big one.

  • The Batman game for the NES had the Machine Intelligence System and the Dual-Container Alarm as the bosses of the second and fourth stages, respectively.
  • Bionic Commando: "So you think you can destroy the main system? You have no chance!"
  • Kirby Super Star and its remake have the Halberd's Reactor as a boss. Defeating it requires getting it to shoot lasers at itself.
    • And in Milky Way Wishes, there's the Heart of NOVA/Galactic Nova Nucleus, which is "fought" at the end of an Unexpected Shmup Level. The heart doesn't actually fight back directly, but you're required to fly through and destroy a rotating ring of pylons surrounding it, and accidentally crashing into them as they pass by hurts a lot.
    • Revisited in Kirby's Epic Yarn with the Halberd reactor and the Shmup level at the same time.
    • Kirby: Planet Robobot has one of these as its True Final Boss, which is actually an on-foot version of the aforementioned Heart of Nova fight. You need to lower the shield around the core by destroying the pylons around it, but once that's done, the core itself will come after Kirby and proves to be far more threatening than its outer defenses.
  • The first boss of Prison City is Tech Engine: A two reactor cores that shoot at the player.
  • Even though Ratchet: Deadlocked has a guy literally called Reactor that serves as a boss, he is not this trope. There are however three Dreadzone Station generators that have to be destroyed during subsequent quests before you get to fight a Final Boss. Each is protected by lasers and huge armies of local Demonic Spiders.
  • The boss of Sonic Adventure 2 level "Eternal Engine" is the power generator of the space colony ARK, which you fight as Tails riding his missile-equipped mecha.
  • Super Star Wars, Super Empire Strikes Back and Super Return of the Jedi had the Tractor Beam Generator, Carbonite Freezing Chamber and Endor Shield Generator as bosses.
  • The first two Xargon games literally had a reactor guarded by swarms of Mooks as the "final boss." The third & final game looked like the reactor was the final boss, but then you got to keep walking and face Xargon himself.
  • X-Men 2: Clone Wars on the Sega Genesis featured this on the second level (The Sentinel Factory). There was even a conveniently placed emergency exit that you passed halfway through the level.

    Rail Shooter 

    Role-Playing Game 
  • The Mammon Machine from Chrono Trigger, which is an Optional Boss fought in the Black Omen. It's a bit of a pushover, though...
  • The final Gummi Ship mission in Kingdom Hearts II, "Assault of the Dreadnought", has you flying inside a huge battleship and destroying the core. You don't actually need to destroy the core to finish the stage, but it does gets you bonuses.
  • The derelict Reaper mission in Mass Effect 2 ends this way.
    • The final mission is initially presented this way, before the human-Reaper turns out to be able to move around and hit things.
  • Might and Magic VI plays with this trope. The final quest is to enter the main Kreegan hive, destroy the reactor, and (preferably, though you can skip this step and get an alternate game-over video for the trouble) perform a ritual that'll keep the resulting explosion from destroying the world rather than merely the hive. You fight through hordes of Kreegan and their confusing architecture, destroy the Kreegan reactor in a suspiciously easy battle... and are promptly teleported to right in front of the Kreegan Hive Queen, the actual final boss of the game, backed up by a horde of lesser Kreegan.
  • The final boss of Chapter 5 of Mother 3 is Mr. Genetor, which is Thunder Tower's generator.
  • In Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army, there's a rather odd variant: the titular hero must stop a rampaging Transforming Mecha, but cannot directly confront it. Instead, loyal Non-Human Sidekick Gouto must board a rocket along a demon to reach the satellite powering it from space, defeat the automated defenses, and destroy it.
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Accepting White's proposal results in a fight against the Yamato Perpetual Reactor. It's a Zero-Effort Boss, and attacking it enough times causes all reality to get destroyed by a black hole.
  • The Final Boss of Xenosaga Episode I is a giant reactor fused with a giant gnosis. Defeating it is necessary to shut down the Proto Merkahba and save the planet of Second Miltia from it.
  • The final battle in Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim is against the core of the titular Weather-Control Machine.

    Shoot 'Em Up 
  • Air Fortress on the original NES required you to fight one of these for every level. Miniature versions were also scattered throughout.
  • In the final stage of Andro Dunos, you have to blow up the reactor core, which is protected directly with a spinning shield and indirectly with a corridor-spanning laser sweeping back and forth in front of it. Naturally, it turns out to be a Load-Bearing Boss.
  • The sixth boss of Chimera Beast has your eater character attacking humanity, culminating in a fight against a nuclear reactor. From the outside.
  • The Final Boss of Fester's Quest is the spaceship's core, which is defended by several turrets, as well as the core itself firing homing bullets.
  • Gate Of Thunder had the reactor of the enemy space station as the Final Boss.
  • In Gunstar Heroes, you destroy one after docking with the spaceship.
  • The fourth stage of Ikaruga takes place in and around the flying fortress Misago, and the end boss is the ship's core.
  • The Raiden series has a Crystal-powered fortress as the Final Boss of most of the games.
  • RayStorm has the final boss. Beating it causes the colony to explode and drop into the gas giant it orbits, destroying any threat of the Secilian Empire... and killing loads of innocent lives in the process.
  • One possible path in R-Type Final has you facing off with the source of all the enemies in the game: a stationary generator which can spontaneously create every single type of enemy and object in-game.
  • Star Fox 64 had a Reactor Boss late in the game, with the Bolse satellite. (Any remaining members of the Star Wolf team — all of them, if you didn't take a route through Fichina — would also appear.) This reactor would eventually start fighting back, as any panels on the core that were blown up would start firing lasers. Arguably, the mothership Saucerer from Katina also might count, since it doesn't directly attack, instead just releasing Mooks and then revealing its core after you destroyed the four hatches or took too long, at which point you had all of one minute to destroy said core. (Yes, it would eventually reveal the core even if you didn't shoot the hatches, presumably to keep you from running up the score. Which was annoying, since it was tough to hit the medal total before this happened.)
    • Its predecessor, Star Fox, had two reactor bosses. One in the Space Armada and one in Sector Z, which was twice as hard. Macbeth's boss could also be seen as a reactor boss.
    • Star Fox 2 has several of these, taking place at the end of Battleship Raids, attacks on planetary bases, and during the final stage.
  • The Final Boss of Twin Formation is a literal nuclear reactor.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • Chapters 15 and 16 of Kid Icarus: Uprising (i.e. the Aurum chapters) feature these. Pit even lampshades the lack of a traditional boss. Chapter 17's counts too, but with a twist: you're technically fighting the Aurum Brain, but Pyrrhon is controlling it. Or is it controlling him...
  • Many levels of P.N.03, other than those ending with true boss battles or Multi Mook Melees, have you destroy CAMS's energy cores, which are usually guarded by a number of sentry guns.

    Turn-Based Tactics