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Underwater Boss Battle

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If Sonic can get a bubble shield, Eggman can too.

Water based levels in games have an odd reputation. They can be the greatest thing ever, if handled well enough, or the worst possible section(s) of a game. The Oxygen Meter can often be a big problem if your character needs to breathe. Even if your character can somehow breathe underwater or doesn't need to breathe at all (e.g. if your character is a robot) things are often a lot trickier. In these levels, assuming the game itself generally has boss fights at all, the inclusion of water in the arena can radically change a boss battle and how it plays out. Nevertheless, underwater boss battles (or generally water based battles in general) have a LOT of different possible designs, and as can be seen via the examples below, have been a standard change to the traditional Boss Battle formula since the beginning of gaming in general.


Underwater Boss Battle

The entire arena is underwater, and the boss (as you can probably figure out) is an aquatic creature that cannot survive on land. How good or bad this is depends on how the game handles underwater controls; if the player moves too sluggishly underwater it can make the battle quite a bit tougher than it needs to be. Common types of enemies for this are usually sharks, eels, various forms of octopus, etc.

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     Action Adventure 
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Morpheel from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
    • Angler Fish, the boss of the fourth dungeon in Link's Awakening, is an underwater sidescrolling boss.
    • Plasmarine, the boss of the seventh dungeon in Oracle of Ages, is also fought underwater. The aforementioned Angler Fish also returns to serve as the mid-boss of this level, though for some weird reason even though the background suggests that you're underwater you control Link as if you were on land.
    • The second part of the fight against Gyorg, in the 3DS remake of Majora's Mask, plays entirely underwater.
  • Every boss in the Ecco the Dolphin series, but seeing as pretty much the entire game takes place underwater, this is hardly surprising.
  • Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin has Dagon, some kind of weird reptillian... thing. You fight him underwater, and one of his attacks even involves taking away all the water temporarily in order to use it like a weapon.
  • Jaws Unleashed for Xbox, surprisingly, the game only had a few bosses that actually were completely underwater. The most notable was the giant squid. The NES game has you fighting the shark underwater, like everything else.
  • An Untitled Story features DeepDragon, a static, ice-breathing sea serpent.
  • Shark from Clash at Demonhead. His base is underneath the sea on Route 22, which you'll need an Aqua Lung to reach (and survive).

     Action Game 
  • Bomberman Hero featured some levels with Bomberman turning into a vehicle. One of these was the Bomber Submarine. Essentially crappy shoot-em ups, they featured simple bosses at the end. The bad part: well, the boss rush at the end features an underwater re-encounter with a stone lion for no real reason. The weird controls added to a grand total of 5 health units made this battle a living hell.
  • Monster Hunter Tri is the first game in the series to add underwater fighting, and thus underwater boss fights. The final boss Ceadeus, the cause of the earthquakes, has no way to get onto land and is a giant, mobile monster on terms with the Jhen Mohran. The fight against it will only be under water, there is no active land to go on to, but there are some set up weapons to use against it. In Ultimate, Goldbeard Ceadeus is fought the same way, as well as Abyssal Lagiacrus, the game's final monster, fought in the same area. Fortunately, your Oxygen Meter is quite generous and can be refilled or extended in many different ways, or outright rendered a non-issue with the right skill points.

    Many underwater-capable bosses reappear in Monster Hunter Portable 3rd and Monster Hunter Generations. Since neither of these games have underwater mechanics, these bosses are fought on land, averting this trope.

     Beat Em Up 

     First Person Shooter 
  • The Alien Queen in Episode 4 of Duke Nukem 3D. Not only is she 2000 hit points tougher than the other bosses, you have to fight her underwater, she can give you a nasty zap, and she keeps laying more enemies!
  • The penultimate boss in Duke Nukem Forever, the Energy Leech. Easily falls under That One Boss thanks to Duke's slow swimming speed.

     Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game MMORPGs 
  • Maws, from World of Warcraft, is summoned out in the sea. The raid composition determines whether he's fought at the water's surface or underneath
    • Also from World of Warcraft is The Lurker Below, the second boss of Serpentshrine Cavern. While he's mostly fought on platforms (due to the fact that the water is hot and deals damage over time while you're in it), you're forced to go underwater every so often in order to avoid his Spout attack, which will knock you 100+ yards away into the boiling water, probably causing your death as you try and swim back to the platform.
      • Post buff and pre nerf a dedicated Shadowpriest could keep it's section of a raid alive and underwater the entire fight thanks to Vampiric Embrace shenanigans.
  • In AdventureQuest Worlds, you get to battle a Nessie as an underwater boss battle for the third boss fight in Arcangrove.
    • Similarly, the Deep Dweller is another underwater boss battle that also serves as a third boss fight in a different area, this one in Etherstorm Wastes.
  • Guild Wars 2 features a significant amount of underwater battles. A fight with a giant escaped shark being one of the earliest.

     Platform Game 
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • Donkey Kong:
  • The defence wall type minibosses from Wario Land: Shake It!.
  • The Hulking Lungfish in Psychonauts is an underwater enemy whom you fight from within an air bubble. Since Raz can't swim, you have to figure out how to damage her without leaving the bubble. Eventually, though, she leaves the bubble and starts attacking you as normal.
  • Banjo-Tooie has an anglerfish of the type 1 variety named Lord Woo Fak Fak. You can actually fight him as the submarine transformation in this level or as bear and bird.
  • Mega Man:
    • Many Robot Masters from the Mega Man (Classic) games, including the first-ever Robot Mistress, Splash Woman from Mega Man 9. Also Bubble Man from Mega Man 2 and Dive Man from Mega Man 4. Since the main effect of water is super-high jumping, they usually put insta-kill spikes on the ceiling.
    • In Mega Man X, Launch Octopus and Tidal Whale are fought entirely underwater.
  • In Mr. Nutz, the giant octopus boss is fought in an underwater room.
  • Doujin game RosenkreuzStilette has you fight Trauare Wrede underwater or above water depending on which path you take in her stage.
  • In Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc, the boss of The Land of the Livid Dead is a Hoodlum piloting a giant underwater mecha.
  • A few examples from the Sonic series include:
    • Sonic 1 (Game Gear/Master System), unlike the Genesis/Mega-Drive version, had its Labyrinth Zone boss fight completely underwater. And there were no rings. The game was kind enough to turn off drowning during that fight.
    • Sonic CD's Tidal Tempest fight against Eggman's Eggmobile. Eggman is kind of gentle to be surrounded by bubbles Sonic can breathe through...
    • Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble's Tidal Plant Zone against Knuckles (!).
    • Sonic Blast's fight against Robotnik's submarine in Blue Marine Zone. In order to get more air, Sonic or Knuckles must trick Robotnik into firing a harpoon at the ocean floor so an air bubble will appear from it.
    • Sonic Rush's Water Palace with Eggman's Egg Turtle is another example where you actually can't drown, though occasionally the water level will drop.
    • Sonic Colors's fight with Admiral Jelly in Aquarium Park.
  • Draygon/Botwoon in Super Metroid and Alpha Blogg in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. In the former, the Gravity Suit allows Samus to freely move as if she was on the surface.
  • Ty the Tasmanian Tiger 3 has you battle a giant green mutated crab while underwater. Notably, your air meter is also your Life Meter, and both are replenished by surfacing or swimming into jets of bubbles. Since there are five such jets in the arena, it is literally impossible to lose.
  • The hammerhead shark in Ristar. Hitting it would knock it into a cork which would lower the water level. After knocking out all the corks, all the water is drained and you win, but until that point it just gives you less room to swim around and dodge his attacks.
  • Drawn to Life has an anglerfish boss that is fought entirely underwater.
  • Kirby:
  • In The Itchy and Scratchy Game, the boss of the "The Pusseidon Adventure" level is Scratchy in a submarine. To defeat Scratchy, Itchy must open the hatch to the submarine to fill it with water and drown Scratchy.
  • In Wuppo, beneath Popocity's channel, you'll encounter the notorious Breevis - a ridiculously oversized kneft vermin prowling around a large underwater cave. The fight consists of avoiding his attempts to suck you into his mouth, instead filling it with paint from your Gumgumgun and forcing him to spit up segments of his own body.
  • Bug had Quaria's boss, a giant octopus who threw dogfish (fish with dog heads and collars) at Bug who had to swat them back with a tennis racket. While the whole world was underwater, the physics in the level are exactly the same as on dry land.
  • At the end of the second part of Stage 3 of Rocket Knight Adventures, the mini-boss is a robotic Giant Enemy Crab piloted by one of Emperor Devligus Devotindos' Pig Soldiers. Because it is underwater, Sparkster has to swim underwater to attack it.

     Role Playing Game 
  • King Kuraselache (boss of the First Epoch) and King Rogon (one of the bosses of the Fifth Epoch) in E.V.O.: Search for Eden, a great white shark and a Gillman respectively.
  • Kingdom Hearts
  • In Romancing SaGa, one of the Evil Minions of the Big Bad ambushes you after getting the Cosmic Keystone from the Underwater Temple
  • In Romancing SaGa 2, you actually fight Subier either underwater or on a boat depending on your actions. Killing Master of Ocean will always net you his second form and immediately after clearing the shipwreck
  • Final Fantasy VII has Emerald WEAPON, an optional boss who hangs out at the bottom of the sea. And you don't even fight him in your submarine. There's also a couple of underwater (though air-containing) areas.
  • All of the boss fights in the Atlantis mission in the first Marvel Ultimate Alliance game, including Tiger Shark, Attuma, and the Kraken.
  • The Giant Slaughterfish in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which you encounter during the Thieves' Guild questline.
  • Sinspawn Echuilles, Geosgaeno and Evrae Altana in Final Fantasy X. Shinryu, one of Final Fantasy's two recurring Bonus Bosses, is an Underground Monkey of Evrae Altana. All of these battles restrict you to the only three party membersnote  who can fight underwater: two blitzball players and one salvager.

     Shoot Em Up 
  • Star Fox 64:
    • The giant clam boss in Aquas, the underwater level, while piloting the submarine vehicle exclusive to the level.
    • The boss of Zoness is a submarine, though battled at the water's surface while in the Arwing.
  • Ultimate Crab Battle. The entire games takes place in a boss battle against a Giant Enemy Crab, who has a ridiculously high variety of special attacks mostly based on gadgets he pulls out of himself, hammerspace style.
  • In the Hunt has five of its six boss battles like this. Then again, your character is a submarine, so it's not surprising.

Above Water Boss Battle

The player is on a platform or more above the water. Usually, the boss is either in the water and attacks from there, jumps out of the water at the player from under the floor or, in rare occasions, IS the water.

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     Action Adventure 

     Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game MMORPGs 
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Maws is summoned out in the sea. The raid composition determines whether he's fought at the water's surface or underneath
    • The Lurker Below in Serpentshrine Cavern, must be fished out of a pool of water (it's a gigantic sea monster sort of thing) to initiate the battle. The raid's preparation determines whether the water around it is filled with flesheating bastardly fish (bad) or boiling (not as bad), so it's generally advised to stay on the solid ring around the boss' pool.

     Platform Game 
  • Cheepskipper from New Super Mario Bros.
  • Kroctopus from Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!.
  • Possibly Catbat from Wario Land 4.
  • Metroid:
    • Metroid Fusion has Serris. It jumps out of the water frequently, its entire attack pattern revolves around snaking in and out of the water while you either try and dodge from one of several platforms or hang on an overhead ladder on the ceiling and try and avoid from there.
    • The second B.O.X fight - This time you're on a overhead ladder across the ceiling while it stays in the water, electrifying it, while occasionally jumping at you and shooting missiles.
    • Nettori just kind of stands there above the water, but the water has deadly plants growing in there which eat you alive and make it difficult to get out of the water if you fall into it.
    • The Chykka larva from Metroid Prime 2: Echoes swims around in toxic water while you stand on a platform. You can attack it while it's swimming, though it's very hard to hit. He does occasionally jump out of the water and also occasionally jump onto onto the platform partially to try to eat you.
  • Fatty Whale from Kirby Super Star and its remake (Super Star Ultra) attacks either by bouncing atop the floating platform Kirby's standing on or by swimming around said platform while attack.
  • The grotesquely hideous Jinmen-Gyo (Man-Faced Fish) from the 4th stage of Contra: Shattered Soldier. It attacks by jumping out of the water, trying to eat the player from one of three floating platforms, as well as sucking the platforms into his mouth in a bid to swallow the player alive.
  • The Sonic series has examples of this type too.
  • The Stage 2 boss of Alisia Dragoon.
  • In the second part of Stage 1 of Rocket Knight Adventures, Sparkster flies through the air with his Jet Pack as a robotic Segmented Serpent lurks in the water below, occasionally jumping out of the water to try to attack Sparkster.

     Shoot Em Up 

     Stealth Based Game 
  • Vamp in Metal Gear Solid 2, kind of. He'll swim through the water in the room, but only attack you when above it.

Boat Based Water Boss Battle

Your character is riding in a boat or similar vehicle on the surface of the water while the boss attacks from the actual lake/river/whatever type. Also counts any races or events against water based boss characters that involve said boat or vehicle usage on the surface.

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     Action Adventure 
  • Bahamut from La-Mulana is of the boat-based variety, with the annoying caveat that you can fall out of the boat (which causes a lot of damage).
  • The boss battle against "Sapientia" has Bayonetta surfing on a piece of scrap metal in the middle of the ocean while Sapientia tries to attack from underneath her. During the last section of the fight, the battle is fought in a giant whirlpool.
  • Castle Crashers has the river rapids level where you surf on top of logs, rafts or even corpses against a giant Catfish.

     Action Game 

     Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game MMORPGs 

     Platform Game 
  • Donkey Kong 64 has the player, as Lanky Kong, motor around in a boat while navigating a maze of electrified bouys during the battle with a giant pufferfish.
  • Diddy Kong Racing features a boss race against an octopus.
  • The second boss of Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, the Kraken, is fought from a tiny raft.
  • Bug has the boss of Splot!, a swamp worm. Bug rides a platform floating on the water while the boss lunges out of the water or takes potshots at him. Once the boss takes enough damage, the platform sinks, and Bug has to Goomba Springboard on the boss' body onto an even smaller platform. Notably, it's the toughest boss in the game since getting hit will cause knockback, resulting in Bug falling into the water and drowning instantly, Mercy Invincibility be damned.
  • In Sonic Mania, The mini-boss of Hydrocity Zone Act 1 involves Sonic piloting the original Act 2 boss machine, attempting to suck up Eggman into the propeller blades as Eggman did to him in Sonic 3.
  • In Freedom Planet, the boss battle at the end of Aqua Tunnel has Milla on a raft drifting down the toxic waters of a water treatment plant as a giant anglerfish pursues and attacks her.

     Role Playing Game 

     Survival Horror 

     Third Person Shooter 
  • Gears of War 2 features the Leviathan, a Kraken/piranha mix that tried to drag your boat down, then eat it whole.

Character in Water, Boss Above Water

Your character is in the water, the boss is above the water.

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     Action Adventure 
  • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia has a boss with waist/ankle deep water. The boss floats on top of the water, and attacks you, sometimes summoning giant tidal waves.

     Platform Game 
  • Sonic the Hedgehog's Labyrinth Zone boss qualifies, though it is more of a race against rising water, so if you go fast enough, none of the battle will be spent underwater. Which is hard to do. Sonic the Hedgehog 4's Lost Labyrinth level, being based on the original Labyrinth Zone, also does this.
    • Both Hydrocity Zone bosses in Sonic 3. For Act 1, the water is deep enough to drown in, and the boss stirs up the water to knock you off your feet. For Act 2, the water is waist-deep, and Robotnik uses it to try and pull you into a whirling propeller.
    • Sonic Advance later featured a fight in Ice Mountain Zone where most of the arena is filled with water and Robotnik stays around the top of the screen, necessitating a stepping-stone strategy to reach him or simply catch a breath.
  • Jet Stingray in Mega Man X 4. His battle consists of half the area filled with water, and he normally floats above the water dropping stingray drones that move around the floor, but will also dive down to attack X or Zero.
    • Mega Man 3 has a Mook Maker that drops turtles into the pool Mega Man is in. Destroying the turtles destroys the boss.
    • The battle with Mega Water.S in Mega Man: The Wily Wars, though the opening of the battle gives you the impression that it would be a straightforward underwater fight.
  • The fight against Cookatiel in Super Mario Odyssey is a rather unusual case. For the entire fight, which takes place in a boiling stew pot, you are in control of a Lava Bubble and swim on the surface of the stew while Cookatiel flies above you. When she vomits lava into the pot, you have to take advantage of the Lava Bubble's liquid platforming abilities to climb up the stream she's spewing and hit her head.
  • The very beginning of Stage 2 of Rocket Knight Adventures has Sparkster come across a giant robot piloted by one of Emperor Devligus Devotindos' Pig Soldiers. The robot tries to attack Sparkster as he swims in the water below, and Sparkster has to jump or use his jet pack to reach it.

     Shoot Em Up 
  • In the Hunt has a stationary robot boss that hung from the ceiling above the water in its first phase. Thing is, your character is a submarine that can only travel about the water, so you had to surface and use your anti-air weapon to damage the boss.

     Stealth Based Game 

Multiple Cases

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     Action Adventure 
  • In the battle against the Living Core in Cave Story, the water goes up and down.
  • Octogon, the boss of the sixth dungeon in The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, moves its weak spot below the surface when hit from the platform and back above the surface when hit underwater.
  • It's possible to fight Gyorg of Majora's Mask entirely underwater in Zora form, though you can also fight it from the platform in the middle of the arena. The 3DS remake adds a second phase in which the platform sinks, forcing you to fight it underwater.

  • Bal Rodas in Phantasy Star Online 2 is typically fought in a water tunnel with the players taking on De Rol Le's Spiritual Successor on a boat. It can also be encountered in the Undersea Laboratory field, where it will fight players on land.
  • World of Warcraft, A LOT. It's practically mandatory to have at least one of these per raid. Usually, it's player on platform boss in the water. Sometimes it's in a flooded room where you can walk on the water (with magic). It's not always strictly speaking "water", sometimes the fluid is of a decidedly more gross (or ouchy) variety. The boss is not always an aquatic creature either: some demons and dragons are also likely to be encountered this way. The "water" is almost always a no-go zone (usually bottomless, sometimes damaging, occasionally insta-death). Though occasionally a boss subverts that too. There is also Vashj'ir which is a true underwater level: the entire questing area is flooded. There was also the Broken Shore scenario in the Legion expansion which featured a demon in demonblood-infused water. Another variant common in the game is a battle high in the air: which, from the point of view of the game's physics engine, is the same thing.

     Platform Game 
  • Demonic from Purple is normally a waterless battle, but he can raise water into the room in an attempt to electrify you.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Sonic Rush Adventure's Coral Cave boss, the Ghost Kraken, is mostly above water, but sometimes it drags you and the platform down to fight you underwater for a bit. Like the Rush example above, you can't drown.
    • Bizarrely, the first part of Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble's first boss, the Grand Motobug, has you underwater and the turtle boss above water, but you can jump out to hit him.
    • In Sonic Mania, the boss of Hydrocity Zone Act 2 involves you having to avoid obstacles while being blown through a water tunnel while trying to keep yourself from drowning and sending bombs into Eggman. Each bomb that hits Eggman provides an air bubble. Afterwards, you're sent into another area where you must fight his Whirlpool Machine (from Sonic the Hedgehog 3) to complete the level.
  • Mega Man:
    • The water level during the battle with Pirate Man in Mega Man & Bass starts fairly high, but steadily goes down. Once low enough, he will pull it back it up.
    • In Mega Man X7, both the player and Splash Warfly start off above water, but Splash Warfly's modus operandi is diving into the sea and reappearing from random locations to attempt a sneak attack. Trying to follow his example will get you killed.
    • Bubble Crab from X2 will raise and lower the water level randomly, sometimes making it low enough to be nonexistent.
  • In Rockman 4 Minus Infinity, the battle against Dive Man starts off this way, but he and Mega Man can jump up to the platform above the aquatic arena.

     Role Playing Game 
  • One of the early boss battles of Final Fantasy VI is against Ultros while riding a raft. The GBA remake also adds Leviathan as a Bonus Boss, who is fought underwater.
  • Monster Hunter Tri has, barring the underwater-only bosses fought in the sunken ruins of Moga Village, aquatic monsters that can be fought underwater as well as on land, such as Royal Ludroth, Gobul, Plesioth (added in '3 Ultimate'' alongside its subspecies; in past games it was only a land monster gameplay-wise despite being natively aquatic), and Lagiacrus.
  • Averted in the battle with the Dragon King in Bookworm Adventures, Volume 2. The Super Sutra, which was earned in the previous level, allows Lex & his companions to breathe underwater, and thus there's nothing different about the level's dynamics.
  • Chantelise: The Electric Jellyfish fight in the Aquan Ruins is fought at the bottom of a water-filled pool.

     Wide Open Sandbox 


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Underwater Boss Fight


Sonic Vs. Knuckles

Act 3 of Tidal Plant Zone takes place underwater. Knuckles, the boss of this stage, appears in a submersible, firing torpedoes and depth charges. Sonic must attack Knuckles while dodging his projectiles and minding his oxygen supply.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

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Media sources:

Main / UnderwaterBossBattle