Follow TV Tropes


Time-Limit Boss

Go To

"The boss disregarded you. No reward. You lost half of spirits and half of dead revived."
Hellsinker, after timing out a boss

Sometimes your greatest foe is not the Giant Enemy Crab standing in front of you — it's the countdown right above his head.

The Time-Limit Boss is a combination of Timed Mission and Boss Fight, and involves bosses which have to be beaten within a certain preset period of time (either seconds or turns), or else the boss escapes, turns invincible, or unleashes a One Hit Total Party Kill. This can often turn an enemy that wouldn't normally be difficult to defeat into That One Boss.

Boss battles in many a Shoot 'Em Up are timed, usually to prevent you from infinitely "milking" a boss by shooting down projectiles and support enemies without killing it. After the time limit runs out, the boss usually escapes or self-destructs, allowing you to proceed to the next level anyway, though often you will be penalized by getting reduced end-of-stage bonuses.

In a turn-based game, the time limit can be substituted with a turn limit for the equivalent effect.

A specific inversion includes battles where victory is achieved when the time runs out and you are left standing. Compare Boss Arena Urgency for the times when a boss will make the fight Unwinnable if you take too long and Increasingly Lethal Enemy for when taking too long just makes the fight even harder. Also compare Exact Time to Failure.

If a Time-Limit Boss has a short fuse before ending the fight, it may be considered a Rush Boss as well.


    open/close all folders 

    Video Game Examples 
  • Many Fighting Game bosses fall under this, as all fights are timed to begin with. However, boxing games like Punch-Out!! in its NES and Wii versions allow you to claim victory if you perform well enough against your opponent and the referee reviews it. No such luck in Super Punch-Out!! and Arm Wrestling: You have to knock out your opponent (technically or instantly) or you'll lose.
  • Absented Age: Squarebound: Beating the boss of an Arcade dungeon isn't mandatory to clear the level, but if the player wants to do so, they have to win within the time limit like all the other floors, or the game will automatically teleport them to the exit floor.
  • While all Ace Combat missions are timed, final bosses frequently have a separate, much shorter, timer for the last stage of the fight. Other missions frequently require the player to take down a bomber or flying fortress before it exits the map.
  • Agent Hugo: RoboRumble: Geekdorph has to be defeated within four minutes.
  • ALLTYNEX Second has the the Area 2 midboss, the Omega Javelin, a Wave-Motion Gun that charges up and blows you and the rest of the human fleet away for a Non Standard Game Over if you don't destroy it in time.
  • The battle with the Blacker Baron in Anarchy Reigns becomes one of these in the last leg. When the Baron reaches about 25% health, a cargo plane explodes in mid-air, threatening to squash everyone around it. Failure to beat the Baron in the ensuing time limit will cause an instant mission failure, regardless of remaining tries.
  • The fight with Ragnarok in Arcana Heart 3 has a 60 second time limit. If you time-out with a life lead, you get the bad ending and can't continue.
  • Banjo-Kazooie:
    • In the first game, it is possible to have a rematch against Boss Boom Box and/or the Zubbas during the Pop Quiz minigame run by Gruntilda. However, unlike the original fights, these will be timed. You'll have 70 seconds for Boss Boom Box, and 30 for the Zubbas. It is recommended to use the Gold Feathers against them in this case.
    • In Banjo-Tooie, there's Old King Coal. You get two and a half minutes before the boiler you're fighting in reaches maximum temperature, where it will stay on permanently and quickly deplete your air, and then your health.
    • During the final battle in Tooie, after taking enough damage, Gruntilda floods the arena with poison gas. After that, the player gradually loses air, and when the air is all gone, health is gradually lost instead (and the arena contains limited sources of health replenishment).
  • Batman: Arkham Origins: During the final battle, TN-1!Bane must be defeated within 10 minutes. Otherwise, the TN-1 takes full effect and not only does he become impossible to defeat, but he'll also kill you instantly if he attacks you even once.
  • In Border Down, you get bonus points for killing a boss as close to 0 seconds as possible, with the maximum bonus being 3 million points. The timer will continue to run down to -30, but after -10 seconds, you start losing points, all the way up to -6 million points.
  • In BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm, Wolfram BETA has a self-destruct timer of five minutes. If you can’t shut it down before then, it'll explode and wipe out the whole party, along with the enormous airship you’re fighting on.
  • In Breath of Fire II, the fight against Trubo has to be completed within three rounds—Trubo even gives the exact number of turns you have. Further complicating things is that it's a Duel Boss...with a party member you may not have been using...past a Point of No the beginning of That One Level.
  • Dr. Tea Water from Captain Commando needs to be defeated within 40 seconds, or else he escapes. Then again, he's a weak, "Get Back Here!" Boss who dies rather easily.
  • All bosses in Clicker Heroes are like this. There's a 30 second timer that counts down, and if the boss isn't beaten by then it regenerates.
  • Infogrames' remake of Combat. After destroying the final boss UFO, you're taken to a small platform in the (falling-apart) base, and it becomes a small gunship that you need to destroy in sixty seconds. If you don't, instant game over, no matter how many lives or how much health you have. Hope you enjoy doing the last 10 levels over again.
  • In Comix Zone, the final boss has this — sorta. You can still win even if the timer runs out, but you'll get the 'Bad' ending, since the timer is essentially your girlfriend drowning in rocket fuel.
  • Fighting Master Contra's second-to-last form in Neo Contra if you have an A or S rank has you trying to take out the boss by shooting his cores with lock-on weapons in 30 seconds. Failure to do so will result in an instant Game Over.
  • In Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, if Crash takes too long to defeat Cortex in the final battle, he will escape through a tunnel and Crash will be forced to start the fight over.
  • In Dark Cloud 2/Dark Chronicle, the True Final Boss gives you five minutes to defeat him before the moon falls and kills everything on earth.
  • Dauntless has two separate timers running. The first is the airship fuel, which is what allows the airship to stay in range long enough to pick you up and get home; this is fixed at thirty minutes for a standard hunt or fifty for an Escalation hunt, and if it expires, you fail the mission. The second timer is the Danger meter, which gradually rises throughout the hunt; it cannot be diminished by any means unless the Behemoth flees the battle, and it increases faster with knocked-out teammates (resuscitation takes back some of the meter, but only to a point). Once the Danger meter hits 100%, you lose the ability to resuscitate your teammates, and have to rely on a limited number of stims to keep yourself in the fight. A retreating Behemoth brings the Danger meter down to 75% in this instance, and killing all Behemoths in an Escalation stage resets the Danger meter outright.
  • Destiny:
    • The game typically gives its Raid bosses special "enrage timers", forcing players to kill them before they activated. The first one would constantly summon Praetorians to attack the players when the Enrage timer activated, while the second one would constantly spam the Oversoul, which would quickly result in a Total Party Kill. To make matters worse, the latter was preceded by an Flunky Boss whose Liturgy of Death would do the same thing. Later Raids would introduce even more bosses with even more Enrage Timers, most of which would boil down to the same thing, but a few (like Golgoroth) could be surmounted and the boss killed, albeit with great difficulty.
    • On a lesser scale the Kill Target Public Events which have both a countdown timer and (if all players are dead or the enemy is sufficiently injured) the enemy will run away through a series of checkpoints and escape. If they reach the final checkpoint they disappear and you fail.
  • Bosses and elites on the Inferno difficulty in Diablo III have acquired enrage timers as well, one of many factors that has led to the current Broken Base of the game. Thankfully, the enrage timers have since been removed.
  • In Dicey Dungeons, Cornelius is a late-game enemy who has one single move: Nightmare, which has a massive Countdownnote  of 99, but deals an equally massive 99 damage, in a game where almost everything deals single digit damage. He also rolls an extra die each turn, so the longer he lives, the faster he can reduce the counter.
  • Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness: Episode 8 ends with a boss fight against the Krichevskoy Group's chosen warrior, Barbara, as they attempt to hole themselves up in a specially made bunker to escape the encroaching Yuie Flowers spreading across the Netherworld. Unfortunately, the magical systems keeping the bunker operating begin breaking down, giving the player 5 turns to defeat her team. Exceeding this time limit will trigger the Bad End known as "The Collapse of the Netherworld".
  • In Donkey Kong 64, Dogadon eventually becomes one of these in his second appearance — take too long to kill it after it starts to make the platform sink, and eventually the lava will kill you. The Final Boss is a more direct example; it's set up as a boxing fight in which the player has 12 timed rounds (3 minutes apiece) in which to K.O. King K. Rool. K. Rool has five "forms" (tactics) — one for each of the playable Kongs to battle — and the defeat of one form will cause the fight to move on to the next round, bringing in the next Kong (and recharging the player's health). But if a round's timer expires before K. Rool's current stratagem has been beaten, the next round will begin with the player fighting the same form as before, with as much health as he had as the previous round ended; K. Rool, on the other hand, will be fully healed. If all 12 rounds pass before the player has beaten all five tactics, the player loses the fight, regardless of his or her remaining health.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • Dragon Quest III: The first wish from Xenlon only requires that you beat him. In order to get a second wish, however, you have to beat him in 25 turns. Every wish after that requires you to beat him in only 15 turns.
    • Dragon Quest VI has a Secret Ending where defeating the Superboss within a set number of turns results in him not only acknowledging your superiority, but also unleashing a complete and utter Curb Stomp on the Final Boss, laughing all the while. Of course, if you're leveled to the point where you can beat him that fast, said Final Boss isn't exactly difficult, either.
  • All the bosses in Einhänder have an invisible time limit of sorts. If the time limit is exceeded, the boss just runs away and you don't get any points. Except the Final Boss Hyperion. If you run out of time against it, it fires an unavoidable Wave-Motion Gun at you!
  • Remi from Faraway Story manages to combine this with Marathon Boss. She has quadruple digit magic resistance and decently high physical defense, in addition to abilities like reflecting 25% of physical attacks, regeneration, and a Super Mode that increases her defenses further. The player characters are in a hurry, so they establish a time limit of 10 minutes to beat her before resorting to a backup plan.
  • Epic Battle Fantasy 5: Superboss Matteus inficts the Stoned status effect at the start of the fight, giving you 15 turns to defeat him. Fail, and Matteus will kill the entire party instantly.
  • Etrian Odyssey: In Area V of Gladsheim in The Millennium Girl remake, an unwavering M.I.K.E. must be fought along the path to stop Gungnir from destroying Etria, making him this. The time limit from the moment the main characters enter Area V is 50, and decreases by 1 every time they take a step out of battle or a turn passes in battle. As a result, efficiency is key to defeat the boss quickly enough.
  • Downplayed with the Final Bosses of Project Zero 2: Wii Edition; they're not actually timed, but how fast or slow it takes to beat them (along with whether or not you fulfilled other conditions beforehand) determines which of the game's Multiple Endings you get.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Attack of Darkforce: While most fights have a soft turns limit that simply makes bad end more likely when exceeded, the fight against Ran Ran and En has a hard cap of ten turns. To avenge Master Wu, she has called out Fei Huang Rong and has summoned a tornado that will touch down if neither of them are defeated in time.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Odin, particularly in IV, V and VIII, will usually give you a time limit of one minute or thereabouts, before he kills your party off with the Zantetsuken. In some games, the countdown starts before the battle, meaning you have to reach him first.
    • The Demon Wall is a recurring boss which slowly moves towards the player party. If the Wall gets too close, it uses a "Crush" attack that instantly kills the target.
    • You better kill the Tonberrys before they get close enough to use the Chef's Knife, which either hits the damage cap, or does so much damage that it might as well be instant death.
    • The optional boss Plague from Final Fantasy IV casts Doom on every party member, giving you only a certain amount of time to defeat it. Winning nets you the Ribbon, though, so it might very well be worth it.
    • Optional boss Gogo the Mimic in Final Fantasy V, in an unusually psychologically cruel variant on the trope. Gogo lives in a sunken tower, guarding a unique and valuable treasure (The Mime Job Class), so your party only has seven minutes to get in, get to the bottom, kill Gogo, get the treasure, and get out. Upon reaching Gogo, the player's instinct is to start unloading everything they have on him. However, he'll counter EVERYTHING you do with something that hurts even more — even if you can deplete his HP this way, you won't have enough time to make it out alive. The trick? Do nothing. Sit there as the counter ticks closer to Critical Existence Failure and do nothing but pray Gogo decides to wander off soon enough to allow you to leave alive, several minutes, usually. It's utterly nerve-wracking.
    • Vargas in Final Fantasy VI leaves only Sabin standing with a countdown timer on his head during the second stage of his battle. You have to perform a single Blitz move in order to win. The time limit is no big deal if you know what you're doing, but the Blitz command can be rather tricky to use for first-time players (especially since this is the first instance that you get to control Sabin at all).
    • Another reason why the Final Fantasy series loves this trope: Emerald Weapon in Final Fantasy VII, a Superboss with a preset time limit of 20 minutes for the player to beat it (which can be circumvented by equipping the ridiculously obtuse Underwater materia).
    • Overdrive Sin from Final Fantasy X and Vegnagun from Final Fantasy X-2, which must be defeated before they charge up their One-Hit Kill attacks. In Vegnagun's case, it's less One-Hit Kill and more Downer Ending, since his attack isn't just a Total Party Kill, it wipes out all of Spira. There's no amount of Phoenix Downs anywhere that can bring you back from that.
    • The Eidolons in Final Fantasy XIII cast Doom at the beginning of the fights with them, effectively imposing a time limit. Major bosses such as Barthandelus will also use Doom if the battle stretches on for too long.
    • Zalera in Final Fantasy XII has a five minute time-limit before you're forcibly thrown out of the arena. He's invulnerable to damage as long as he has flunky skeletons, then he spams level-specific ailment skills (not blockable if your party members are the same level as the spell), which essentially limits the levels you can fight him efficiently to 49, 77, and 91. note Good thing he's undead...
    • Hard Mode Chaos Aeronite in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, is the unholy combination of this trope and Damage-Sponge Boss. The fight itself is a standard Time-Limit Boss Battle, in which, within an allotted, invisible time limit (approximately 3 minutes), the player must inflict Stagger to the boss. Not once, not twice, but four times, and that's just to deal any meaningful amount of damage. The boss is also known to throw extremely strong attacks, and even when the player can endure it, many fails in even denting its massive HP pool. To add insult to the injury, if the time limit is passed, the boss will simply fly away, and the next time the player fights it again, it will have regenerated all of its HP. While its HP is sizable enough in Normal Mode, Hard Mode bumps it up, but the crown example is when in Hard Mode, Aeronite enters a Chaos Infusion, which gives it even more HP on top of a regenerating effect. Its HP? 57,750,000. It possesses the second-highest HP out of all Final Fantasy Bonus Bosses ever fought, beaten only by Yiazmat of Final Fantasy XII (and even then, Yiazmat is "only" the poster-boss for Marathon Boss because it doesn't actually have a time limit, and in that game, the Party can leave and continue where they left off).
    • Various extreme trial and raid bosses in Final Fantasy XIV will enrage and bust out an unavoidable One-Hit Kill move if not defeated quickly enough.
  • In the post-release content update of Five Nights at Freddy's World, you only have three minutes to kill Chica's Magic Rainbow before she goes There Is No Kill Like Overkill on your party. And she launches smaller versions of herself that kill in a single hit and is one of the biggest Jerkasses in modern gaming history.
  • Frantic 3: Each boss has a short time limit, to prevent stalling and let you beat them without weapons.
  • An odd version of this occurs in Gradius V; the first boss, a heavily-modified Big Core Mk.1, will actually leave if you take too long to beat it. Played straight with the Blaster Cannon Core and a few other series bosses, which will crush you against the left side of the screen when exiting after time-out.
  • Granblue Fantasy:
    • All multi-player raid boss battles in the game are timed, with each raid lasting up to a maximum of 90 minutes. Failure to defeat the primary target in a raid will result in a loss, leading to no rewards earned.
    • Death imposes a 13-turn limit (in addition to the above 90-minute time limit, but you'll almost certainly hit the turn limit first) when you fight it in Arcarum and in the final quest before recruiting Nier. Death is a Glass Cannon, but it starts with a 90% reduction on all damage to compensate for this. This reduction can be lowered to speed things up, but doing so requires letting your party members die.
  • Godzilla: Monster of Monsters! will eject the player from a one-on-one monster battle after about forty seconds, with no warning whatsoever.
  • In the arcade game Grid Seeker Project Storm Hammer, the Final Boss must be destroyed within a hidden time limit. If you do not destroy it fast enough, it will escape and you get a Bad Ending.
  • Every boss battle in Guitar Hero III must be won before the arrow reaches the skull. If you can't beat them before then, they get one last solo while your health drains automatically at a steady pace. A Self-Imposed Challenge is to see how far into the rival's final solo you can get before finishing them off with items.
  • In A Hat in Time, halfway through the Conductor/DJ Grooves boss fight, the boss straps a bomb to you and gives you 80 seconds to damage them enough before the other director can disarm it. It shows up again in the Death Wish version when you fight the two directors at the same time, except you now have 3 minutes to end the fight.
  • Hearthstone contains a few adventure bosses who, if you don't beat them in certain number of turns, begin spamming combos and cards that are guaranteed to end you.
  • All the bosses in Hellsinker are this. When the timer runs out, they move on, and the game tells you that they lost interest and halves your Spirit, Kill, and Token counts.
    • If you unlock the Scarlet Queen's secret form, you have fifteen seconds to destroy her. Doing so nets you a 1-Up for your trouble.
    • Rex Cavalier inverts this trope at first, then plays it straight for its Spirit Kernel form. If you time out the Spirit Kernel form while on your last life, this results in a Non Standard Game Over.
    • The pre-Final Boss, Unnamed 290, is a mix of this and Hold the Line. The battle ends only when time expires / the background music ends, but in the meantime you must fill the Satisfaction Gauge by shooting 290. Failing to bring the gauge to level 1 or higher before time runs out results in mission failure.
    • Garland, the level 3 Final Boss, follows a similar format to Unnamed 290; the battle only ends when time runs out, but you must fill the inverted Life Meter by shooting Garland before time runs out so you can fight the True Final Boss, Lost Property 771.
  • Every boss in Ikaruga. Like the Touhou example above, this is a victory condition. It just robs you of points. In the final battle, your weapons are disabled and the only thing you can do is Hold the Line and dodge bullets for a minute.
  • Illusion of Gaia features the Vampire husband and wife. They're located in a late stage area, the sunken city of Mu, which is a The Maze with a Down the Drain design. A slog to get through. And when you've finally figured out the design of the stage you are confronted by a Dual Boss who have tied up one of your friends to a literal time bomb complete with a display of how many minutes you have left to save his and your life. For many this boss doubles hard as a That One Boss.
  • Since Pit's short-lived ability to fly is a plot point in the game, all bosses met in aerial battles in Kid Icarus: Uprising are these. If you go over the time limits, Hewdraw gets blasted away by Palutena, the Underworld Guardian is knocked out by Dark Pit, and the Devourer of Souls runs away. This is played straight during the aerial fight with the Chaos Kin.
  • Kingdom Hearts has Phantom, a Superboss who also shifts what he is vulnerable to around. In a subversion of the trope, you fight him in front of the clock tower which ticks down the counter towards removing your characters from the fight. The counter seems impossibly fast, until you realise you can target the clock hand itself and you have a spell that stops time.
  • Kingdom Hearts II:
    • Luxord. It's done in a kind of weird way; both the player and the boss have time bars, and they go down more through taking damage.
    • Demyx with his water clones. Whenever he spawns them, you have a time limit to destroy them all, and if any are left when the timer runs out, you instantly lose.You will hate this guy and his "Dance Water Dance".
  • Technically, all bosses in Kingdom of Loathing are timed bosses, considering that you instantly lose if you don't defeat the monster after 30 turns. However, a few bosses have either shorter time limits, or an attack that get constantly stronger each round. On the other hand, the limit resets if the boss has multiple forms, and the Naughty Sorceress gives you 50 turns per form.
  • Kirby:
    • In Kirby's Adventure, you battle Nightmare's first form while falling from space. If you don't kill the Power Orb quickly, he flies away (off of the scrolling screen) and you die by smashing into the ground.
    • Dark Matter's final form in Kirby's Dream Land 2 is fought on an Auto-Scrolling Level, and when it reaches the bottom, it gains a new, unblockable, undodgeable attack (i.e. Kirby burning up in the atmosphere). You need to finish it off before it attacks again.
    • In Kirby: Planet Robobot, the third phase of the Final Boss involves it slowly counting down from 5 (which it utilises as an attack). Once it reaches "GO!", it launches several "FATAL ERROR" screens towards you that are so deadly that they bring a full health bar to around one point (anything lower, and you're done for). You can avoid them, however, and if you manage to survive, it begins the countdown anew.
    • The Team Kirby Clash games main schtick is a Boss Game. Every single battle is timed and if the enemy isn't defeated before the timer hits 0, you lose. You can spend Gem Apples in later games to increase the timer by another 30 seconds should that happen, but every time you run out of time after that, the more apples you'll need to gain more time back.
    • The same logic applies to the Story Mode in Kirby Fighters 2, not just for bosses but also for the rounds against regular opponents. If you get lucky to get an Extension Sticker or two in-between battles, then you'll have 30 extra seconds of time for all battles going forward, which can be stacked the more of the stickers you obtain.
  • The Legend of Dragoon: The Super Virage boss in the Forbidden Land has eleven lives, and each turn, it loses a life. If you're unable to kill it before the time is out, he will die, releasing a super powerful energetic attack on the whole party. Still, you can simply defend when it has few lives left and call it a day.
  • Legend of Legaia:
    • The fight against Koru. You have four turns to defeat him, and then... BOOM! Koru explodes, vaporizing half the region, dealing 9999 damage to each of your characters, and instantly giving you a Game Over.
    • Subverted in Duel Saga with the fight against the Mighty Balken. The fight is played up to be a timed fight against the drawbridge closing. Even if the time runs out, when you defeat Balken, he collapses and the shock of his fall opens the drawbridge and allows for your escape.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • In Majora's Mask, once you reach the top of Clock Tower and challenge Skull Kid, you have five minutes to beat him before the moon crashes. Since beating him involves playing one song on your ocarina, however, this isn't too difficult.
    • In the final dungeon of The Minish Cap, you need to reach Vaati before the bell tolls three times. The first two are predetermined, but before the third, you need to go fight a trio of Darknuts and defeat them in about two or three minutes, lest that Vaati extracts all of Zelda's life force and give you a Non Standard Game Over.
    • In Spirit Tracks, you need to chase the Demon Train across a set of rails in another dimension. If you take too long, you reach the end of the line and crash.
    • In Skyward Sword, you have no less than three fights with the Imprisoned, who ignores Link entirely and attempts to get to the top of the arena, at which point you'll suffer a Non Standard Game Over.
  • Lie of Caelum: In the Silk Road, the GU-12: Fortress boss has both a real time limit of 6.5 minutes before self-destructing and a turn limit of 15 before it uses its Extinction Protocol to wipe the party.
  • An inversion occurs a few times in Lufia: the Legend Returns . Certain boss battles end automatically after three turns, but don't result in a loss if time runs out. In fact, beating the boss within that time limit gets you powerful unique equipment.
  • Luigi's Mansion 3: The fight with King Boo turns into one after landing two hits on him, for he summons a giant painting that will consume the entire hotel with Luigi inside in four minutes unless you deliver that final blow.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, the later fights against the Koopalings have them accompanied by Bob-Ombs that will explode after eight turns. You have to beat them before then.
    • Every single boss in the Gauntlet in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story has to be beaten within a turn limit, which is aggravating against Dark Star X, and plain cruel when you have to beat every boss in order in 35 turns straight.
    • In terms of regular bosses, there's the Fawful Express, which will send Giant Bowser plummeting to his doom if not beaten before the train crosses the bridge.
    • Also done semi-interactively in the battle against the Elder Shrooboid in Partners in Time. He sends out a UFO halfway through the battle that gives you four turns to defeat him, but by deflecting one of his attacks, you can hit the UFO and reset the counter.
    • Done in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team with the Battle Ring bosses (which all have a turn limit). Bad enough again the normal ones (Antasma X is virtually impossible to kill if you fail to counter properly, since if it puts you to sleep, you miss one whole turn in the process), worse in Hard Mode against Giant Bosses. Why? Because they give you the EXACT amount of turns needed to win... assuming you do everything perfectly. As in, get max damage on every turn and counter every single projectile. Even Drilldigger, the first giant boss, can be That One Boss under these conditions!
    • Pi'illodium also counts as this. Not at the start (unless you're in the Battle Ring, where it ALSO has a turn limit), but near the end, it activates a self-destruct timer, giving you just thirty seconds in real time to finish it off. The good? It doesn't attack at all during the countdown, giving you as many turns as you can get through in that time. The bad? If you're too slow/have failed to lower its defences beforehand and let it explode, you can expect a Total Party Kill. There's a reason it can easily count as That One Boss...
    • King Bob-omb in Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam also counts. You have four (three in the Boss Battle Ring) minutes to defeat it, or he'll explode for massive damage and wipe out your entire party (even if you reach the Absurdly High Level Cap!). However, you can add one minute to the timer by successfully countering one of its attacks, and it's possible to extend the timer by another 5 minutes by using a specific Battle Card.
  • Mega Man Zero
    • The Early-Bird Boss in the first game has a time limit before the platform you are on would crush a bunch of hostages.
    • The series' Big Bad and Final Boss at the end of Zero 4. You only have two minutes to beat Dr. Weil.
  • Zero's Maverick form in Mega Man X5 is this, even though there is no countdown. Take too long in fighting him and he'll start spamming an almost-undodgeable One-Hit Kill attack until you die.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake has Running Man, who you fight in a corridor of four rooms filled with gas. You have to defeat him by planting mines over his path before your O2 gauge depletes.
    • The hand to hand battle against Liquid Snake Metal Gear Solid. You have to defeat him within 3 minutes before the bomb he placed nearby detonates. Oh, and Liquid spends the first thirty seconds taunting you and telling you that you'll die if you fall off of REX, so you actually only have two and a half minutes to beat him, though if you lose and continue, he doesn't repeat that dialogue, giving you the full three minutes.
    • Fatman in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is a different case. He plants time bombs during the battle, forcing you to deactivate it with coolant spray.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater:
      • In the first battle against Volgin, you're given a time limit because Snake had planted C3 on the liquid fuel tanks.
      • In the final battle against The Boss, you're given ten minutes to defeat her because she ordered two MiGs to bomb the area.
  • Metroid:
    • The Post-Final Boss of Metroid Fusion, the Omega Metroid, appears at the end of a Load-Bearing Boss sequence. You'll probably have only a minute or so left to beat it for good.
    • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes has some examples:
      • You have eight minutes to fight the final boss (Dark Samus for the third time), and it is cheap, as she stalls... a lot.
      • Two bosses, the Boost Guardian and Quadraxis, are fought in arenas where there is no safe zone that protects you against the harmful effects of Dark Aether's atmosphere, making it a timed fight where you get more time when you get pickups and lose time when you get hit.
    • In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption:
      • You only have so long on the opening planet to beat Ridley before you fall to your doom.
      • The final set of bosses, located in Phaaze, who are at the end of a long path where your Phazon gauge fills up due to the planet's atmosphere. If it fills, it's the end for Samus.
  • Monster Hunter:
    • Each hunt in the series gives you 50 minutes to track down and kill each monster (or series of monsters). If you know the monster's moving habits, this is usually more than enough. But gathering items, recovering from damage, and interference by other large monsters that sometimes wander into the area can combine to eat up a lot of time.
    • Most Elder Dragons, which thankfully you usually don't have to look for, give you only 30 to 35 minutes. If time runs out, they usually retain whatever damage you do to them into the next battle (though a few, like Kirin and Dalamadur, have to be defeated in one go, which is why you do have a full 50-minute period for them).
    • Alatreon specimens found in the New World have a special gimmick present when fighting them. It performs a special move called Escaton Judgement every 3 minutes. You have to deal enough elemental damage to it to topple it, which weakens its Escaton Judgement to the point you can survive, otherwise it'll cart everyone in the area instantaneously.
  • In Neopets: The Darkest Faerie, you only have three minutes to defeat the titular final boss. This is not helped by the fact you must first break her shield. That said, it's surprisingly more than enough time for you to succeed.
  • In NieR: Automata, Emil can be fought as a level 99 Superboss. Twice. The first time is set to his trademark jingle, and if you haven't beaten him by the time the piece ends, he fires off a One-Hit Kill EMP. This can come completely out of the blue, especially after a couple of defeats, if you fail to recognize the not exactly obvious connection between the music and the end of the battle. The second, much more difficult (and well-hidden) battle then gives you ten seconds to finish him off during a specific phase of the fight. Failing to do so unlocks one of the game's almost 30 endings, described as Emil's self-destruct system blowing up the whole planet.
  • All bosses in the NiGHTS games are these, as NiGHTS is invulnerable from all damage but is threatened via the host waking up (and thus ending his/her existence until the following night). However, the bosses DO try to attack NiGHTS for the most part, as getting attacked will cause the countdown to skip seconds.
  • OMORI: If Something in the Dark isn't defeated within 10 turns, it will inflict 143 damage to Sunny and cause a game over. In the Hikkikomori-route exclusive rematch with it, it'll try to drag the battle out for as long as possible by boosting its own defense and lowering the party's attack.
  • In OverBlood, the final boss is timed due to a Self-Destruct Mechanism, and you do still have to fight it again and again as it follows you.
  • Paper Mario: Color Splash:
    • The final battle does this differently, where you have at least 11 turns to defeat the Final Boss. "At least" because the turn count only drops whenever Mario blocks attacks using Huey; Black Bowser's attacks all have a Life Drain attribute, which allows him to replenish all the health he lost since his last turn, and this effect is negated whenever Huey blocks an attack, since he was designed explicitly to contain the same black paint that Bowser uses in his attacks. Should Huey break before Bowser's final attack is absorbed, the battle becomes unwinnable.
    • Larry will kill you if he does not go down in 10 turns.
  • In the Super NES game The Peace Keepers, during the boat stage (The Crazy Horse), you have 60 seconds to destroy the white Orbot. If you don't defeat him in time, then he will sink the ship and escape.
  • Pinball has two versions of timed boss battles:
    • Many tables have timers for modes where battling adversaries takes place, sometimes as a way to prevent players from abusing the modes' point bonuses and sometimes for added challenge.
      • Every Ring Mode in Lord of the Rings runs on a roughly 30-second timer (actually longer than that), and all of them represent a battle found in one of the three books. If the player runs out of time, the opponents win.
      • "Alien Invasion" in The Simpsons Pinball Party, where the Simpsons family must defeat Kang and Kodos, gives the player between 30 and 99 seconds for each stage of the mode, depending on how many TV Modes were cleared up to this point. If the player fails to complete each stage within the time limit (or drains the ball before then), the player must play all seven TV Modes before "Alien Invasion" can be played again.
      • Four Martians will attack when the Spelling Bonus of M-A-R-T-I-A-N is completed in Attack from Mars. The player is given 30 seconds to shoot the ball at all four Martians to start Martian Multiball.
      • Due to the nature of its source material, the pinball machine for 24 has every single confrontation set to a timer of some sort. The best example is the Sniper Duel, where you are given approximately 20 seconds to shoot the Sniper before he snipes you.
      • In Junk Yard, your showdown with Crazy Bob runs on a timer of roughly 5 seconds for each Firework earned through playing. As this battle is set in outer space (the Fireworks are the means of propulsion), if the player runs out of Fireworks, the scrappy inventor Player Character will perish.
      • In Who Dunnit?, once Spade determines the correct suspect, he will then chase and apprehend him or her. He must catch the culprit in 20 seconds, or he or she will get away.
    • Pinball, due to its points-based gameplay, will also sometimes have a variant of this trope where the player must keep playing until time runs out to complete the mode. This is significantly rarer due to the ease of exploiting such a mode by holding the ball on a flipper the whole time; modes like these tend to be either multiballs, where catching the balls is much more difficult than single ball play; Wizard Modes, which are intended for milking of points; or will provide large bonuses later on and will thus provide minimal points for the risk-averse.
    • Midnight Madness in Sorcerer's Lair, where the objective is to survive the Sorcerer's onslaught of monsters for 60 seconds (that is, between midnight and 12:01 AM), after which the Sorcerer is depowered and defeated.
    • In Star Trek (Stern), Level 1 of "Klingon Battle," and if the cutscenes are any indication, Level 1 of "Destroy the Drill" give the player 30 seconds, though the game counts it as cleared regardless of what the player has done in the meantime. The player is encouraged to score points though, not only because a lot of points can be had through these modes, but progress in these modes increase point values in Kobayashi Maru Multiball.
  • Pokémon Ranger: Shadows of Almia has this for the DLC boss fight against Dialga. If you take too long, he uses Roar of Time, and you have to start the entire mission over again (although all the Target Clear obstacles mercifully do not reset.) Also occurs in Guardian Signs for the past bosses for the remaining time. The boss you will have trouble with is Lucario, who, in this case, rages twice during the boss when you think you're going to beat it. Also happens with Arceus due to it raging twice. Either way, when this happens, and you have at least a few more seconds left, you're completely screwed.
  • Portal: The final boss is the only explicitly timed puzzle in the game, wherein GLaDOS pumps the room full of poison gas, setting a time limit before you die.
  • In Portal 2, the entire facility is about to go down in a nuclear meltdown due to Wheatley's gross incompetence. The point of the battle is to corrupt him enough via personality cores so that he can be replaced with GLaDOS so that she stops the meltdown.
  • The Final Boss of [PROTOTYPE] has a time limit because the city is about to get nuked.
  • Every boss in Radiant Silvergun has a time limit, after which the boss self-destructs and you don't get bonus points.
  • Resident Evil 4: Krauser, who sets up time bombs on the tower on which you're fighting. Obviously, you need to defeat this boss before the tower goes boom.
  • In Resident Evil 5, Wesker gives you seven minutes to try and beat him and Jill Valentine. Beating him before the time limit earns you a diamond that can be sold for a lot of money but otherwise the cutscene is still the same if the time limit is up.
  • The final boss of The Revenge of Shinobi is like the Comix Zone one. Fail to beat Zeed in time, and your fiancée is crushed by a Descending Ceiling. You can actually freeze the "timer" by throwing shuriken into a slot in the right wall.
  • Sakura Wars:
    • In Sakura Wars (1996), the chapter 2 battle will consist of the demons trying to attack Tokyo Tower. If the demons aren't destroyed fast enough in chapter 2, they will destroy the tower and force you to restart the level.
    • In Sakura Wars 2: Thou Shalt Not Die, Kasha sets up a bomb with Orihime and Ogata trapped in the house where the bomb is located. If you don't destroy it in time, Orihime and Ogata will be killed, forcing you to restart the level. Later, if you take too long to kill Tsuchi-gumo aboard the Mikasa, she enters the central vent and kills everyone aboard instantly. Taking too long to protect the seven Mikasa engines will also end with the the ship exploding.
    • In Chapter 7 of Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love, the mooks launch an assault on the Littlelip Theater. If all of the generators aren't destroyed fast enough, the theater's barrier will be obliterated and will trigger an immediate game over. Later, if you take too long to protect the Ahab's engines from the demons, the ship will be destroyed, killing everyone instantly.
  • If you take too long to defeat a boss in SATAZIUS other than the Final Boss, you won't get a new weapon at the start of the next stage.
  • In Shadow Hearts: Covenant:
    • Most fights with Great Gama have an implicit time limit, whereby if you don't beat him within X rounds, he unleashes a giant attack on you which is almost guaranteed to kill you. The same happens when you fight the Peach Bat, except that she cheats and does it one round early.
    • Gold Bat in the first game gives you a certain amount of rounds before he kills you. However, he takes pity on you and gives you one round more than stated.
  • The 'Final Boss' of Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall is an encounter to goad The Dragon to fight you personally so you can kill him, take his key-card, and initiate emergency shutdown on the Big Bad's doomsday weapon with a ten combat round time limit. Fortunately, Deckers (or just diverting characters towards physically interfering) pauses the countdown.
  • Shin Megami Tensei series occasionally pepper you with bosses that you have to kill fast.
    • You're given eight minutes to get through Persona 3's second full moon operation, which includes a boss fight.
    • Most bonus bosses in Persona 3 have a "turn limit" before they fire off a 9999 Almighty spell. In Persona 4, the ultimate bonus boss also does the same.
    • Persona 5 imposes a 30 minute time limit on you for the fight against Shadow Okamura. Its obligatory bonus boss is also timed, though in a different manner: Every few turns you must deal enough damage to them, failing which they'll get bored of fighting you and end things on the spot with an unavoidable Total Party Kill instead of continuing the battle.
    • Shin Megami Tensei IV has the DLC Superboss, Masakado's Shadow. You have only ten turns to beat him before an ICBM destroys all of Tokyo.
    • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse has each of the Fiend battles in Twisted Tokyo. You have ten turns to beat the target before you're taken out of the dungeon automatically. Fortunately, this does not result in a Game Over, and any damage you dealt will carry over to the next encounter with them.
  • Slay the Spire: The secret final boss, the Corrupt Heart, after a certain number of turns will give itself so much strength that not even the maximum amount of block possible can resist its attacks.
  • Sonic the Fighters requires you defeat Dr. Robotonic in just fifteen seconds. It's generally pretty easy to do, assuming he doesn't block excessively, but fail and it's off to the bad ending with you.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic Adventure, Egg Viper eventually becomes one of these when it starts destroying one of the six platforms with each of its attacks. If you don't defeat it quickly enough, Sonic will fall to his death with nothing left to stand on.
    • The giant sphinx boss of Sandopolis Zone in Sonic 3 & Knuckles will crush you against the far left wall if you don't beat him in time.
    • Most of the True Final Boss fights qualify for this: you are in Super Mode, and if you don't defeat the final boss under the limit of 50 rings, you'll die instantly. Thankfully, most of these let you pick up more rings during the battle, but these tend to either be finite in quantity or barely appear regularly enough to offset the countdown.
    • The True Final Boss of Sonic Adventure 2, the Finalhazard, has an additional time limit on top of the Super Mode limit, as it's currently initiating a Colony Drop on Earth. If Sonic and Shadow don't kill it within five minutes, it's game over.
    • In the second Sonic/Shadow duel in Adventure 2, the runway you are sprinting across seems to stretch on into infinity... until you allow 10 minutes to pass. Then the road collapses in front of you.
    • Played With in the final battle against Emerl in Sonic Battle. Sonic has to win ten rounds of combat against him that in gameplay terms can take as long as the player needs to though damn, you'll need it. In-story, however, these ten rounds of combat are taking place in a span of 30 seconds, since that's all the time Sonic has to win before the Earth gets destroyed by a giant laser.
    • Sonic Mania's Green Hill Zone Act 2 boss, the Death Egg Robot, is an Advancing Boss of Doom and you only have 90 seconds to destroy it before you run out of ground and are forced into a Bottomless Pit.
  • In Stage 4 of Sol Cresta, when you confront Garaka as a Mini-Boss, he will be armed with an antimatter cannon poised to take out the Yagatarasu. Fail to defeat him in the time limit results in an instant Game Over.
  • In Splatoon 3, players have a limit of 100 seconds to defeat a King Salmonid on the occasions when it does appear, but failing to defeat one doesn't count as a failed shift.
  • Star Fox 64:
    • At Katina, the player has a limited amount of time to defeat the mothership before it destroys the defense post. If this happens, the player will not lose a life, but proceed to the easier Sector X mission, rather than being given the opportunity to choose the more difficult Solar mission.
    • At Fortuna, the player has a limited amount of time to defeat Star Wolf before a bomb in the base explodes. The stakes are the same as in the Katina mission, but any surviving Star Wolf members will return on Bolse if the player reaches that stage.
    • At Macbeth, the train boss kills you if you don't beat him before he reaches the supply depot.
    • Golemech on the "Easy" Venom route also counts, as if you take too long to defeat him, you'll hit a dead end and continously ram into pillars until you're out of energy and die.
  • In Star Fox Adventures, Fox has to catch, and get rid of, the three SharpClaw Riders that are trying to flee away from him in the underground vault of CloudRunner Fortress before the fuel of his vehicle runs out. They're the ones holding the second SpellStone (the others are held by larger, non-wolfpack bosses). In the other chase sequences, Fox drives a vehicle with unlimited fuel.
  • In the original Star Soldier, if you take too long to defeat any of the end-level Star Brains, they escape, forcing you to start the entire level over.
  • Star Wars Trilogy Arcade: Vader's TIE in the Battle of Yavin, the Wampa in the Battle of Hoth, and the AT-ST in the Battle of Endor part 1 all have a time limit. In the case of Vader's TIE, failing to neutralize him will result in a loss of bonus points. In the case of the latter two, failing to destroy them results in failing the stage, which doesn't cause a Game Over (that will probably be caused by life loss instead) but instead deprives you of score and shield bonuses.
  • Streets of Rage III has this in the final battle if you are on the path to the good ending. You have 3 minutes to beat the Final Boss. If time runs out, you still have to beat the boss, but you learn afterward that all the bombs in the city went off, getting you a bad ending.
  • In Super Lesbian Animal RPG, at the beginning of his fight Clintson afflicts the whole party with a form of poison that will take 15 turns to kill them. The only way to get the antidote is to defeat him.
  • In Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2, any Speedy Comet mission where you fight the boss with a time limit added. Then there's Throwback Throwdown Speed Run from 2, the Boss Blitz Galaxy's Prankster Comet mission... a Boss Rush where you have to beat five bosses from the first game in about 5 minutes at most.
  • Super Mario World: Piranha Island: The first phase of the Piranha Wizard battle in Piranha Castle involves dodging projectiles from him and his cronies for 70 seconds.
  • In The Subspace Emissary of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the fight with Meta-Ridley is accompanied by a two-minute time limit. All other bosses in that mode are fought without a time limit.
  • MONOCULUS! in Team Fortress 2 only appears for 90 seconds. Merasmus must also be defeated in 90 seconds, made worse by his ability to hide and heal himself, wasting precious time.
  • Bomb-kun, the fourth opponent in Teleroboxer is a bomb robot that proudly displays a 50-second time limit on its chest, so, unlike most opponents where you can go up to five rounds of fight, this one will blow up once its timer is done and it counts as a loss for you. When the timer gets to ten seconds, it will even stop fighting and just stay there with its arms outstretched while the timer starts sputtering menacingly and loudly beeping for each second passed.
  • Iuz in Temple of Elemental Evil qualifies. If you want to win the Hopeless Boss Fight (hard, but doable), you have three turns to kill him before Saint Cuthbert comes and hauls him away.
  • Terraria:
    • Many bosses have to be defeated before sunrise, or they will run away. Skeletron and Skeletron Prime will try to instantly kill you instead. The Wall of Flesh will travel from one end of the map to the other as you fight it, and will instantly kill you if it reaches the other side, which has the side effect of the "time limit" being different depending on the size of your world.
    • While not exactly a time limit, do be careful to not lure Plantera to the surface or outside of the Underground Jungle. If you do, it won't take kindly to it and rip you to shreds. As of 1.3, the same goes for Duke Fishron if you lure him outside the Ocean.
    • The Pumpkin and Frost Moon events have the major boss-level enemies fleeing extremely quickly at 4:30AM, while it is possible to catch lesser mobs remaining as they do not flee as quickly.
  • Touhou:
    • The games have time limits on all of the bosses' patterns. Technically, passing these limits is actually a victory condition (except in the Bunkachou Gaiden Game), but you don't get any points or other rewards for doing sonote , which can be a very bad thing in some of the games. It also tends to be rather difficult to do, as the timers are generally much longer than is necessary for even the weakest character to beat them, and several get worse with time, rather than damage. There is, as an exception, one boss you should not timeout; and this video is at 15 Frames Per Second for the record.
    • In the fangame Concealed the Conclusion, the Final Boss fight has a time limit based on how much Hakurei points (the game's special mechanic) you have collected. This timer is basically how much time remains until the Dream Apocalypse, and if it runs out, the game simply fades to black and you get a Downer Ending.
  • Twitch Plays Pokémon Crystal imposed this on Red. Once the viewers got to Red, they had 7 days (though unlimited retries) to successfully defeat him. Failure would've resulted in the Twitch Plays Pokémon admin refusing to start Twitch Plays Pokémon Emerald. The viewers won, allowing Emerald to take place.
  • Under Defeat puts every endboss on a timer. You get 1,000 points for each whole second left on the clock once the boss is defeated.
  • Virtual-ON has a final boss like this, sort of. Losing to the boss lets you continue as normal. Winning by time out kills you, and you get the very unspectacular bad ending. Strangely, this means that trying to hurt or kill yourself is important if you have more health left than the boss, but don't think you can kill it in time. To defeat it normally, try shooting it when it turns gold and fires its Sun Cannon.
  • Every single boss in Wario Land 4, made harsher on Super Hard difficulty.
  • In the arcade game Warriors of Fate, the final boss, Akkila Orkhan (a fictional version of Cao Cao) is pathetically easy to kill with only a small health bar and a minor thrown bomb attack. However, if you don't kill him within the fifteen second time limit he escapes and you get the Bad Ending.
  • Quite common in World of Warcraft, where most raid bosses have what is called an enrage timer.
    • When the timer goes off, they get a massive buff that results in them killing the entire raid; this is typically called a "hard enrage". Depending on the encounter design, the timer might be pretty lenient on an otherwise difficult boss or might be the only factor that makes the boss hard (this type of boss is commonly referred to as "DPS race".)
    • Some hard enrages are not linked to timers but the abilities used by the boss. Once a move has been performed a set number of times the boss enrages and wipes the group; usually a mechanic exists to prolong the fight by delaying the use of the offending move.
    • Some bosses (or even entire sections of a dungeon) may also have a timer on additional rewards.
    • Oftentimes the bosses themselves are not on a timer, but there is another mechanic that becomes increasingly dangerous as time passes by. Some of them (like, say, Professor Putricide from the Icecrown Citadel raid) drop something on the ground that deals damage, and the area covered increases over time so that you eventually run out of space. Another example is Beth'tilac from the Firelands raid, who has an area of effect spell that gradually increases in damage every time it's cast, until it completely overwhelms the healers. This is typically called a "soft enrage"; unlike a "hard enrage" where death is all but certain, better equipment or player performance can help you survive longer.
    • Other bosses cast a spell that kills the entire raid when they run out of time. In the Brawler's Guild, failing to kill the opponent within two minutes results in a flaming meteor shower going from one end to the other, and instantly killing any players it touches.
    • Algalon the Observer, the superboss of Ulduar, not only has an enrage timer, but when you open the door to his lair, an hour-long timer starts counting down. If you fail to defeat him before then, he will leave and be unavailable until the next week.
  • Margulis in Xenosaga Episode II. Once you get his health down far enough, you'll be given a number of turns until forced H Stop, which is an instant Game Over.
  • Compile's shooter Zanac has this for all boss battles except the last.

    Non-Video Game Examples 
  • Destroy the Godmodder: Several. The ACNTT had to be defeated before the godmodder went back to full health, and Lord English had a four-round charge attack that would have supposedly given a game over.
  • One Piece: In the Dressrosa arc, Donquixote Doflamingo becomes this when he starts making the Birdcage (a giant dome of Razor Floss of doom, for the uninitiated) shrink and close down; If Luffy doesn't defeat him in an hour, the Birdcage will close and slaughter everyone but Doflamingo and his crew. It's only through the efforts of everyone on the island - pirate, civilian, soldier alike - that they manage to halt the Birdcage just long enough for Luffy, Law, Rebecca, and Viola (at various points) to defeat Doflamingo.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Timed Boss, Timed Boss Battle, Three Minute Fight


Final Fantasy V

Odin must be defeated within a rather stifling time limit of one minute, though he warns the party before the fight.

How well does it match the trope?

4.5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / TimeLimitBoss

Media sources: