An SNK Boss is an opponent in a Fighting Game who breaks the rules that enforce Competitive Balance to such an absurd degree that they are considered to be vastly superior to every other character in the game. The SNK Boss combines Nintendo Hard with The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard and takes them Up to Eleven. Powers may include:
- Complete Disregard for System Limitations: While you may have to switch between high and low blocking, the SNK Boss needs to only block one way. Where you have to crouch or be in a specific position to perform certain moves, the boss does not. Where you have a regular super meter, the boss either fills its super meter much faster than yours, has a regenerating super meter, or in extreme cases has no visible one, meaning it can use as many supers as it wants whenever it wants.
- Blatantly Overpowered Offense: A trademark of the SNK Boss. Where you have fireballs, the boss has full-screen lasers that come out faster than you can blink, deal damage equivalent to 1/4 of a health bar, and snuff out all other projectiles. If you have an invincible uppercut, the boss likely has one where he surrounds himself with lightning for more hits and damage, and can cancel out fireballs. These types of bosses sometimes, but not always, have a maximum level super where they show off their superiority by utterly annihilating you regardless of your current health, usually combined with Fingerpoke Of Doom for maximum insult.
- Blatantly Overpowered Defense: They may be the gameplay equivalent of The Juggernaut, being able to continue their attack startup against your own hits or possess features like a larger health bar, reduced block-stun, inability to get dizzied (or a shorter dizzy period), or they can interrupt your combos with its attacks or escape from a juggle via some sort of recovery/teleport.
If the boss is playable, such as upon defeat, they are significantly weaker and more balanced for actual play. A non-weakened playable SNK Boss is most certainly banned in any competitive tournaments where it would be a Game-Breaker for one human player to use on another.
In some fighting games, the Final Boss is a unique opponent in both design and ability (such as a 30-foot Eldritch Abomination) that is Purposely Overpowered and only appears in single-player/non-competitive game modes; it's slightly more sensible that such a boss would have those high-powered attacks rather than a human-sized villain. It can also feel pretty good for a player who manages to use an otherwise-mortal badass to beat the crap out of a godlike monster.
These bosses originate from the days of arcade machines, where the high difficulty level was used to separate players from their pocket change while attempting to register their initials in the top spot of the machine's High Scores table. In console games, side effects of continued exposure to an SNK Boss may include broken controllers and increased sales of GameSharks to "cheat back". Occasionally, these bosses may have an Achilles' Heel that utilizes special moves from characters that usually have limited utility. It is unknown whether these are intentional or not.
Is there an upside to this? Gameplay and Story Integration. Given that characters of this kind are frequently talked up in the story as being terrifying and powerful, if they fall into this category then at least the player doesn't feel like all the hype and drama was over nothing.
Takes its name from the company SNK, which seems to love making bosses like this and having each successive one top the last. This is also a case of Follow the Leader, especially with Arc System Works.
Subtrope of Fake Difficulty and The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard. See also Perfect-Play A.I., whose difficulty arises less from outright cheating, and more from a flawless battle strategy. Do not confuse with That One Boss, which describes a difficult boss as declared by a majority and technically fights on a much fairer level when compared to this trope.
While this trope primarily applies to fighting games, it can also apply to non-fighting games, provided they are similarly competitive and have similar ways of ensuring Competitive Balance. A Racing game, for example, may have a champion with an absurdly tricked out car and a knowledge of the track that combine to give it an advantage no mater which vehicle/racer you choose. If a game is non-competitive, such as platformers, RPG's, etc., bosses are not considered SNK bosses no matter how unfair they are. There are other tropes for that.
- SNK Playmore
- Arc System Works
- Midway/Netherrealm Studios
- Other Fighting Games
- Other Games