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Wake-Up Call Boss

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"You'll be having a really good time...and then all of a sudden this boss will kick your fucking nuts out through your nose."
Noah Antwiler of The Spoony Experiment on Persona 4's Shadow Yukiko.

The Wake-Up Call Boss is more or less a boss that symbolizes a massive Difficulty Spike, or at least symbolizes the point where the game stops going easy on you. At this point, everything you've learned but haven't really considered yet will be severely tested: Everything before was just getting you used to the controls, this is where the true challenge begins.


Due to this, they usually appear early on, but can appear from early to early-mid game. They definitely shouldn't appear late. And it's not really That One Boss so much as it's very brutally drilling into you how to play: like a boss in a beat-em-up designed to very easily beat anyone who thinks they can button mash through the game.

Sister Trope to Early-Bird Boss, a version of this that relies on the player's lack of key items, spells, or meta-knowledge early in the game to provide a challenge.

Compare with That One Boss, though this trope is specifically for bosses that appear early in the game and are merely a sample of the rest of the game's challenges. Also compare with Disappointing Last Level and Early Game Hell (for when not just the first or second boss is difficult, but also the early levels/chapters are as well). Contrast with Warm-Up Boss, a first boss that frequently is impossible (or at least very hard) to lose to. See also Hopeless Boss Fight and Final Boss Preview. Compare Skill Gate Characters, which are PvP characters/factions/whatever that serve a similar purpose in separating newbies from the experienced.


Compare the non-video game terms Threshold Guardians and Wake-Up Call.

Games with their own sets of Wake Up Call Bosses:

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Other Examples:

  • Ōkami:
    • Waka, because before that, you can just hack n' slash your enemies to bits close-range. Not Waka: he throws his sword(s) at you repeatedly, and you have to deflect them back at him with some skill to beat him. The Spider Queen may come as a nasty surprise to new players as well, especially since she can stomp on you.
    • The Cutters, if you have been using weapons other than the disc class weapons, you will have a tough time killing them You have to defend with the disc when they attack to do an automatic counterattack.
  • The Devil May Cry series featured some nasty first bosses, including:
    • The Phantom in the first game, Bolverk in the second, Cerberus in the third, Berial in the fourth, and the Hunter in DMC. Not too long after those fights, the games respectively throw Nelo Angelo and Agni & Rudra your way (in both cases, a mere two missions after Phantom and Cerberus) to handily punish any lingering thoughts that strategy has no value in these games. Any particularly difficult boss after that doesn't really qualify for the Wake-Up Call Boss label, but they will keep you on your toes.
    • Not long into Devil May Cry 4 they throw Credo at you. Up until now Button Mashing has been more than sufficient to defeat bosses, with maybe a health item just in case. Try that on Credo and he dodges, runs right in, and kicks the living crap out of you. It's not particularly difficult, but it's the first fight where you need to actually use Nero's attacks and combos properly.
  • No More Heroes:
    • So you just got dropped into the game a few minutes ago, the controls on the High/Low thing are still shaky, and most of the Mooks you've fought have made you wonder what the blocking and emergency evading are for. You've probably only charged your Beam Katana manually once or twice so far, in safety after clearing a room. Then you fight Death Metal, who seems to block everything that isn't a counter hit, has a metric crapload of HP, and attacks with huge combos that burn through your battery — if you're attentive enough to block. And halfway through, he produces two clones of himself who also have his BFS. Needless to say, once you learn Dark Steps and get better at the recharging, he's cake, but until then he's a pain to fight.
    • Shinobu is the first boss where you have to carefully dodge, chase and wait for an opening. And demonstrates that bosses can pull out really strong attacks when they turn red. The attack isn't a One-Hit Kill, but if you've taken any damage, you're still going to die.
  • No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle. If Skelter Helter didn't mess you up for the tutorial, then the 50th ranked assassin, Nathan Copeland, most definitely will. If you haven't learned how to evade attacks, say hello to a rocket to the face. If you haven't learned to dodge when danger signs flash, say hello to a metal fist in the face. Plus, his arena becomes more and more dangerous as the fight drags on, forcing you to get used to being very attentive to your surroundings. And blocking his attacks will, once again, burn through your battery like nothing else.
  • Ninja Gaiden:
    • Murai in the Xbox version is the boss for the "tutorial level". If the mooks haven't taught you anything yet, then Murai will teach you not to button mash wildly, or he'll block and counter with a throw. So you might think turtling works — WRONG! He'll teach you not to stand around aimlessly blocking with another throw. Start learning to roll and attack at the right times if you want to get past.
    • Alma also makes an appearance to just start smacking you down when you thought the game was done throwing curve balls at you. Doku, the Zeppelin Boss, your evil twin, and the second fight with Murai all qualify as re-wake up call bosses, to make sure you aren't falling asleep yet.
    • In Black, the game just rubs it in your face. So you finally beat the game? Good job, now go beat these three new harder difficulties!
    • Same deal with the first one from the Xbox 360 version of Ninja Gaiden II.
    • The Act III boss of the NES Ninja Gaiden. The Act I boss has a huge hitbox and is easily disposed of. The Act II boss has a big hitbox for his attack, but once again mashing the B button makes quick work of him. But the third boss? Mindlessly Button Mashing in hopes of doing damage won't save your ass; you now have to strategize if you want to deplete at least 75% of his Life Meter before Ryu bites it.
  • Viewtiful Joe is full of these kind of bosses, which can be very difficult if you don't know the tricks behind your character's abilities. This will eventually becomes clear once the bosses you fight suddenly start constantly reappearing. For example:
    • The Helicopter will chew you up and spit you out if you don't know that, in slow mode, you can dodge and reflect bullets. In particular, if you don't already know you can knock the chopper's bullets back at it, you'll probably instead try to jump on top of it, right into the most dangerous part of the boss, and get a couple high risk, low damage hits in before jumping off to avoid injury. This makes the battle much, much longer than necessary and will generally lead to death. If you didn't get it the first time, then you'll probably have a really bad time stopping the chopper when two of them show up at once.
    • The fourth level boss Another Joe is an evil super-powered version of Joe that fights you in area with additional enemies and spike pits. Even if you made it through the other levels easily just by messing around, you actually have to know how to use your powers perfectly at this point to win.
  • In God Hand, Gold and Silver, the Macho Camp duo that serve as the first Mini-Boss fight, quickly establish the rules for boss fights in that game — that they will suck royally for the player. Elvis, the actual level boss, later serves to cement that fact.
  • Many, many early bosses from Capcom's brawlers qualify:
    • In Captain Commando, the second boss, Shtrom Jr., teaches players to use quick attacks (due to his cunningly quick and long jumps) and that just mashing the punch button in front of bosses doesn't work if they break the combos so easily.
    • Scully, the first boss from The Punisher definitely qualifies. The slow and weak mooks do absolutely nothing to prepare the player for the vicious onslaught Scully pulls out - he moves around quickly, delivers lightning-fast flying kicks and elbow and headbutt charges, and blocks the player's attacks time after time (and you would think a battleaxe swing to a blocking jeans-clad knee would be a bit more damaging). But if the player takes the vicious onslaught to Scully (preferably with weapons or grenades, which do great damage if not blocked), he will drop soon enough. Nowhere near a Glass Cannon would fall, mind you ...
    • Razor Claws, the second boss in Alien Vs. Predator is a similar example, with great move and attack speeds, huge damage and a reach much longer than the player's. You may have already found that the Aliens mooks are no pushovers themselves, but a single mistake against this boss will cost you dear. And never, never push him off-screen and move away afterwards in hope of a breather. He will jump right into your face no matter the distance and follow up with a claws charge. Say goodbye to half of your health bar if both these attacks connect.
  • Sin and Punishment:
    • The Lizard Seemer stonewalls a lot of new players, since you have to use the projectile reflecting technique on him, which many players probably haven't even tried up until now. Trying to kill him with regular attacks will inevitably result in time running out.
    • Brad. Either get good at timing or look up how to turn on auto aim.
    • The Heart Seeker gives almost every player trouble. It's a giant missile that you have to shoot down before it hits the intended target, and no, it doesn't just explode like you'd expect an explosive to do, so you have to maximize your damage output and accuracy. The target then begins shooting at the Heart Seeker, but misses. You will probably get hit, though. This is also the first boss where manual aiming is mandatory. Using automatic aiming, you simply cannot do enough damage to it to destroy it in time. But many players who sets-and-forgets to auto-aiming don't know that right away.
    • Sin and Punishment: Star Successor has Orion Tsang, the Stage 1 penultimate boss, who puts the "Punishment" in "Sin and Punishment" and shows you that the Nebulox battles are going to require some serious practice. For most of the battle, he shields himself so you can't damage him (in fact, it's very easy to time him out the first several times).
    • Also, Hibaru Yaju, third of the Nebulox. She's tough mainly because she's the first boss that actually requires melee attacks to fight. For a lot of players, this is the first time they have to seriously use their melee attacks for something other than deflecting projectiles.
  • The first few minutes of [PROTOTYPE] give you A Taste of Power. The first boss fight with the Hunters afterward teaches you that you'll have to earn your God Mode powers. And if you underestimate Specialist Cross because he's a mere mortal, he will educate you, with an electrical staff enema.
  • Souther, the second boss in Streets of Rage, who swipes at you with his Freddy Krueger glove with ridiculous speed and who can't be jump kicked.
  • Streets of Rage 2 has Jet, the stage 2 boss, who is hard to defeat unless you spam jump attacks. Souther and Jet reappear TOGETHER in a later stage, making them a twofer.
  • The first boss in Streets of Rage 3 is Shiva from Streets of Rage 2. Oh yeah, and the difficulty only goes up from there.
  • If you haven't gotten proficient with BloodRayne's harpoon, the Sewers begin your Wake Up Call with charging suicide bombers, and ends with a Tennis Boss. Even if you are good with your harpoon, it's still That One Level.
  • Dynasty Warriors:
    • The massive fire-breathing boss Bi Xie in Strikeforce. It's not too hard once you know what to do, but if you go in expecting to do the classic Dynasty Warriors mindless hacking and slashing, you're probably in for an unpleasant surprise. Even if you're reasonably capable of handling Lu Bu, Zhang Liao and Diao Chan as they go in and out of Fury mode and gang up on you, as well as the swarm of tigers that first greets you when you enter the area, AND finally the giant boss itself - it's actually very easy to time out if you don't accomplish all this quickly enough.
    • The Qiaos tend to be this in other entries, simply due to the fact that they are ridiculously fast compared to the most commonly encountered Notable Generals and juggle like crazy. Enraged Qiaos are even worse, but thankfully are rarely encountered in the core game. (They're more of a threat in the randomly generated empire building modes of XL and Empires.) Depending on which game, the worse of the Qiaos will change, since their movesets change a little every game. Huang Zhong may also count from 4 onwards, as while his guards engage you he will flee and spam his arrow shot special.
    • Gan Ning is notable for being a wake-up call boss and also the Butt-Monkey. After a certain stage, usually around the fourth for any Shu or Wu character, the CPU begins to use his musou far lmore frequently. For any who don't play this series, he does a quick dash with his sword held to the side, and it does the most damage in a single hit of any in the game. Most other musous are multi-hit crowd clearers, that do incremental damage and if you are juggled can sometimes be escaped from, but not this one. It fires off instantly, there is NO WAY to block it unless you were already performing your own, and if it lasts long enough, he can drive around back and run you over a second time while you're still recovering. Once it touches you the damage is already done and it's immense—even with max-stat characters on Easy. In contrast, his normal attacks are almost all telegraphed and easily blockable. Essentially, if you always stay behind him, he is one of the easiest to take down, but the battle can turn against you without warning. Depending on your character, merely being touched can do anywhere from 25%-60% damage to someone using no items.
    • In the same vein, Himiko in Warriors Orochi 3 is this for having a killer musou which, unlike many other officer musou attacks, comes out of nowhere, can be moved around your character's block and can instantly shred even the highest-leveled character's HP down to nothing in seconds.
  • River City Ransom has Turk, who marks the point where the bosses start throwing more exotic special attacks at you. If you're unprepared, his Nitro Port will throw you for a loop when he suddenly disappears from view to teleport right up to you, jamming a knee in your face. If you haven't been blocking, or if you've been rushing fights a whole lot, expect to get kicked around a lot before finally getting it.
  • Games based on Batman:
    • Batman: Arkham Asylum pits the Dark Knight against Bane as the player's second boss and first true boss battle. If you're new or didn't get dodging and batarang throwing down with the Titan goon earlier as a taste of things to come, then Bane is rather difficult, since you not only have to dodge him, but the attacks of several Joker goons. This same method of defeating Bane applies to the Titan goons later in the game. The first Scarecrow nightmare segment is relatively easy for a stealth segment and is nothing that a new player hasn't done before when they were the ones giving goons nightmares, but the second one is tougher, with fewer places to hide, longer stretches without cover, and enemies to fight.
    • In Batman: Arkham City, Solomon Grundy is the first boss, and subverts the expectations of players used to fighting big enemies from Asylum by throwing several attacks you need to dodge, while also planting explosives on electrified nodes to damage him. Titan-infused inmates, which appear earlier in the level, are also different from how they were fought previously.
    • Batman: Arkham Origins has Deathstroke, the third assassin fight in the game. Killer Croc was the first and, while tougher than normal enemies, is fairly easy to defeat as you can choose to take him head on (previous games had the big, muscular enemies as strictly Bullfight Bosses, unable to harm until you make them run into things). Electrocutioner was literally Shock and Awe, he looks intimidating and talks a good game but defeated in one strike. Deathstroke, however, has a skill set and collection of gadgets similar to Batman and forces you to watch for openings and counter his attacks instead of always pressing your attack, absolutely murdering impatient players who haven't mastered their counters.
  • Theseus may seem like normal boss fare for God of War II, but definitely serves as this your first time through Titan mode. He has attacks that kill in one hit and requires that you fight minotaurs while dodging those attacks. Up until that point, Titan mode is pretty intense, but the first time (of many) you fight Theseus, the game is just saying WELCOME TO TITAN MODE, MORTAL!!!! It's also of the 'trainer' variety, rather than the 'fake difficulty' variety. After learning the Titan mode musts of compulsive dodging and blocking, he's not too bad.
  • Bayonetta has Jeanne. Even in her earliest appearance, she's a Perfect-Play A.I., so needless to say, if you haven't got the hang of dodging (and therefore Witch Time) yet, she will hand you your ass on a silver platter. Unlike the angel enemies before her, you cannot just dodge any attack and spend a few seconds in the safety of Witch Time wailing on her: the only attacks that trigger Witch Time if dodged are her Wicked Weaves. On Hard mode, she starts attacking from a distance by summoning Giant Feet and Fists Of Stomping without any warning and sometimes repeatedly, so you can't let your guard down for even a second. In Non-Stop Infinite Climax, she is even more GFS-happy and you can't use Witch Time! So basically, in each difficulty, she makes sure to be a Wake-Up Call Boss again and in a different way.
  • Bahamut, in Lord of Arcana. As the third boss, he is much more difficult than both the previous and next boss. Not only does he have a One-Hit Kill attack (notably, the at this point infamous "Mega Flare") when you first face him, if you have not learnt how to dodge and block well, you will die. Coupled with the fact that he has much higher health than any boss so far, the outcome of the battle depends on the idea that you know how to weaken him to stop some attacks and that you know how to heal yourself at the right time. Notably, unlike the last two bosses, in which the game outright tells you that they have destructible parts, Bahamut's hint can essentially be summed up as "Megaflare hits the center of the stage". The game also does nothing to inform you that Bahamut's wings are destructible, but most players might be able to guess that. His tail, on the other hand, is not so obvious, taking significantly less damage than the rest of him and almost encouraging you to avoid it. Bahamut is also the first boss in which players might find that, to their horror, enemy bosses can, and will, flee the battle if it goes bad for them. Most players don't have the resources to even attempt to fight Bahamut again, and the mission does not end once Bahamut has fled. Instead, he appears somewhere else on the map. Most players will probably restart their PSP's and try again later to avoid losing all their healing items. And to further compound problems, unlike the last two bosses, who were quite effectively crippled when their destructible parts were destroyed, Bahamut goes on to prove that he can continue to fight without half of his tail and shredded wings with no real loss in fighting prowess.
  • La-Mulana:
    • Good old Sakit is the boss of the Mausoleum of the Giants, and he's here to tell you that bosses aren't going to go down as easily as Amphisbaena did. He's only vulnerable to attack after using his Rocket Punch attack, he's immune to all subweapons, and his main attack fires large magic projectiles that deal way too much damage to your pitiful HP. For a veteran, it's child's play to skip around Sakit, but new players are likely to run straight into him. The remake makes him vulnerable to special weapons in the second part of the fight, which is well and good because a jet of flame kicks you out of melee range at that time.
    • Ellmac, the boss of the third area, is also no slouch to defeat, and unlike Sakit, can't be put off until much later because many areas are only unlocked after he's defeated.
    • Amphisbaena himself is this in the remake, despite being the (likely) first boss. In the original game, the only thing you had to do to beat him was stay on the floor and spam shurikens at his head when he approaches. He'd go down in a matter of seconds. In the remake, however, he uses a much different pattern of attack, requiring you to move quickly to avoid damage, and is a genuine challenge this time around.
  • La-Mulana 2 has Kujata, boss of Annwfn. While the first boss, Fafnir, is fairly easy to beat, and the second, Vritra, is only marginally more difficult, Kujata represents a steep climb in difficulty due to his high health and the amount of things going on in his fight at once, with the falling lava rain, the rock eyes firing lasers at you, and Kujata's own eyes firing blasts at you.
  • Atlas from Astro Boy: Omega Factor. Attempts to go charging in, lasers blazing (like a first-time player might have done until now), will get you killed before you know what the heck happened. Atlas has jet-dashing punches, and a nastier version of Astro's Arm Cannon that takes up nearly the entire screen — and once he gets down to half-health, he replaces that move with a constant electric stream below him. He's not that difficult, but you'll need to get a good grip on battle techniques (dashing and knowing when to fire EX moves in particular), to stand a chance.
  • Beat 'em Up fans who played Final Fight for the first time will remember Sodom as a major wake-up call boss, in that simply punching him normally only took off a sliver of a fraction of his health with each hit, forcing you to rely on throws or to pick up one of his dropped swords to attack him; this wouldn't be so bad if not for the fact that he has a rushing attack that can take off anywhere close to one half of a full health bar and can be executed at unexpected moments, and also the fact that one chop from, his swords takes off just slightly more of your life than that. And the kicker? He's the SECOND boss, just one stage after Damnd, the first boss who you could basically curb-stomp into the concrete with little problem.
  • The massive, primal, dreadlocked monstrosity only known as Missing Link in Vendetta. You had your fun with the balding guy with the buzzsaw, at the end of the first level, and maybe you thought all the other bosses were gonna be pushovers, as well. Now you only have time to wet your pants, as they slowly lower this huge cage on you, before this abomination rips the chains off himself, and starts stomping on you.
  • "The Vanguard", who is the first boss of Gatling Gears after four relatively easy levels. It consists of 3 phases. The first is a Cores-and-Turrets Boss that spams strong projectiles, and periodically calls in annoying flamethrower units — thankfully, you can end this by defeating the middle turret. The second phase has a core that uses a 6-way flamethrower that forces the player to move around, and alternates with four turrets that use painful Macross Missile Massacre. The final phase is probably the game's first true instance of Bullet Hell, a giant house/train thing that can only be attacked when it's open and firing a massive Spread Shot of missiles. It also summons flamethrower units as well as bomber planes that drop damaging area bombs. And you don't get to heal in between any of these.
  • Ragnarok Odyssey has the Orc King. In the missions before it, you would be fine if you rushed in and hacked away at the enemies until they fell. Not so with this guy; he has far more health than you would be used to, and hits very hard as well, so if you try to rush him down, you'll fail the mission in no time. Destroying certain areas of the boss is introduced as well. It's at this point where the game spells out that you'll have to read the boss, learn the times you can safely attack, and position your attacks to maximize damage.
  • Hard Corps: Uprising has Arachne. A boss who teaches you that health won't protect you from falling. To put this in perspective, imagine you're riding on the top of a train car. Suddenly, you enter a tunnel, and when you come out of it the view has changed to you grabbing on the car for dear life as the camera switches vertically. Then this big mecha comes in, sending out mechanical BEES like his namesake. While it's doing this it's charging up a laser that causes the entire line of cars you're holding onto to explode. You need to dodge both the bees and the lasers while jumping to the set of cars opposite you. Woe to anyone playing Harley at this point.
  • Metal Gear Rising has LQ-84i, everything up to this point can be beaten by just running up and slashing at them, occasionally using blade mode. Not this boss. You HAVE to know how to parry properly to even stand a chance against it, otherwise it will absolutely destroy you.
  • The beginning of Ultimate Spider-Man perfectly demonstrates the nature of "super-powered person vs. non-super-powered one" type of fights. When you first play as Spider-Man, you only battle extremely non-challenging foes like random thugs and Shocker. Not only that, but then you get to play as Venom and discover a whole new set of abilities: you can jump high, whip out tentacles, throw stuff and even eat people to gain health! Can it get any easier than that? Overjoyed by your newfound powers, you grab the nearest bike and smash the window of a random bar... To find out that the bike, in fact, belonged to Wolverine and you just signed yourself up for the first actual boss fight of the game. Oops. While Wolverine isn't particularly hard in comparison with some of the latter bosses, he's still far above anything you've encountered before at that point: he can actually dodge and regenerate health, his attacks are all combos, oh, and that awesome health-gaining ability? You better not try it on him.
  • Gigant, the first boss of The Ninja Warriors Again doesn't fit this trope, as he was mostly a pushover who hit hard but had deceptively low HP, flinched from attacks, and could be easily thrown. However, in the Video Game Remake The Ninja Saviors: Return Of The Warriors he becomes this, as he still hits hard but is now Immune to Flinching from most attacks, cannot be thrown by most characters, and has a lot more HP this time round.

    Action-Adventure Game 
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda has several:
      • In the first quest, Aquamentus. Yes, he's the boss of the first dungeon, and yes, once you have a feel for the game mechanics he's pretty wimpy. Still, he spits unblockable energy balls that do a heart's worth of damage when you probably only have 3 and he's the first monster you encounter that you can't beat by just running up to it and stabbing. Either you learn the hit and run strategy you'll be using against tougher bosses like Manhandla and Gleeok, or you grind for heart pieces and better equipment, wait until you have the White Sword and Magical Shield, and then curbstomp him.
      • Manhandla in Level 3-1. He's incredibly hard to kill with just the Wooden Sword and basically exists to make sure you're being careful to get better weapons.
      • Gleeok from Level 2 in its second quest. Level 1-2 may have been tougher than level 1-1, but this is when the game makes it clear that the second quest is merciless. You'll likely be ill-equipped and it teaches you that you have to stock up to survive later fights. And if you don't have the Blue Ring, its fireballs deal a full heart of damage.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past has Agahnim. So the bosses have been fairly easy up to this point. Just a few swipes of the sword and it was over. And now you have a better sword: the Master Sword, the sword of evil's bane. Too bad directly attacking Agahnim with it hurts Link, not Agahnim.
    • The early morning receptionist for Link's Awakening is the Genie. He throws fires that also deal a full heart of damage which are hard to dodge, and the fact that you won't be used to his attacks at first (or at all) means that you'll get your power knocked out of you before long. On top of all this, he has a second phase.
    • Ocarina of Time has a few:
      • Even though they quickly become regular mooks afterward, the Stalfos mini-boss counts as one. All the enemies you've fought up until then either had an easily exploitable weak point or could be blade-spammed to death. The Stalfos marks the point when enemies start fighting the same way as Link; not only can they block (and face towards Link as they block, as if they were Z-targeting you), but they also have a jump attack that —just like Link's— does twice as much damage as a normal hit.
      • Phantom Ganon. The previous bosses were Gohma, King Dodongo, and Barinade, all of whom were beaten easily provided you knew which tools to use (Slingshot for Gohma, Bombs for King Dodongo, and Boomerang for Barinade). But Phantom Ganon, your first boss as Adult Link, can't be beaten unless you know how to use more advanced game mechanics like reflecting his own attacks back at him, and he can easily defeat you if you don't adapt to the increased difficulty of Adult Link's dungeons quickly enough.
      • For Child Link, Barinade isn't as hard as what comes later but still represents a big step up in challenge. The two prior bosses you faced moved rather slowly and gave ample time to simply dash away from their attacks, but Barinade is a much faster and more aggressive enemy, attacking you with a whirling shield of electrified jellyfish and intermittent blasts of well-aimed electricity from its upper appendages in the first phase. Once its jellyfish barrier is destroyed, it Turns Red and begins to spin around the boss chamber even faster, spewing much more precise electrical bursts at a frenetic pace. If you haven't yet learned how to quickly lock on, strafe and sidestep going into this fight, you'll have all three down by the time you win it.
    • Skyward Sword introduces you to Big Bad Ghirahim as the boss of the first dungeon. Up until then, you can get by OK just by flailing your sword around at most enemies. If you do that against Ghirahim, he will utterly destroy you. And talk smack at you for playing like crap. Ghirahim is an interesting case in that he's a decent Wake Up Call for newcomers to the franchise, but for Zelda veterans, he's a nuclear missile siren, as he shows you this is not like previous games where you can relentlessly hack and slash at a boss' weak point once it's exposed, or spam with the item you just got in the dungeon prior (the Beetle is worse than useless against Ghirahim; only your sword can damage him). Skyward Sword uses the motion sensor, and if the Skyview Temple's eye puzzles and new and improved Skulltulas didn't make that clear, Ghirahim is there to hammer the point home.
  • The first miniboss of Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure, Weasleby's mech. Remember when, early on, it told you how to power up your projectiles using the puzzle mode? You're gonna need that; getting within melee range is very risky, and unpowered shots do pitiful amounts of damage.
  • In Shadow of the Colossus, it's generally agreed that one of the Colossi 3 - 5 is going to be this: Gaius is the first Colossus you cannot simply climb up and stab in the weak spot, Phaedra is the first that requires you to use the environment around you to your advantage, and Avion is the first Colossus who simply ignores you (and stays out of reach) unless you provoke it. Which one is the Wake-Up Call Boss depends on the specific player and the strategies they naturally employ.
  • In Goof Troop, the second boss, while genuinely hard on his own, is impossible to beat until you realize you can catch projectile attacks.
  • Belth in Demon's Crest is considered brutal for an early boss. He's durable, his size makes him difficult to jump over, and his attacks are both damaging and hard to avoid.
  • Cave Story has Balfrog, beating whom requires having mastered the Vent Physics introduced a little earlier that very level.
  • Spider-Man 2 – Enter: Electro, while challenging, can still be doable if you know what you're doing... up until the first boss, Shocker. Let him be the gatekeeper standing between you and hell. He never flinches from your attacks, can knock you down with all of his, and your punches and kicks do jack all against him. The only way to deal significant damage to him is by using environmental hazards against him, whether by throwing oil drums at him or by web-yanking the overhead boxes onto him (which you can only select by using the newly added Lock-On button). And you gotta do it quick otherwise the fire surrounding you will get too extreme and the warehouse you're fighting in will explode. And as stated earlier, once you do manage to beat him, the game will only get harder from there.
  • Popful Mail has Muttonhead's Wood Golem. Whereas the Mad Bomber and Thrashmaster+ could be beaten with enough tenacity and slashing at them with your weapons enough times, the Golem is harder to hit and will try to bum rush you. Once you've destroyed its body, its head will pop off and bounce around, forcing you to destroy it before it rejoins with its new body, making you repeat the process until it's defeated. The fact that its head retains all of its damage every time it does this doesn't make the battle that much easier.
  • You think you're pretty tough for having taken out the massive sea monster that serves as the first boss in Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, but then in the next boss room holy hell here comes Zangetsu. He's a small hitbox, he's fast, he has a dozen or so attacks, has little to no telegraphs for his attacks, lights his sword on fire halfway through the fight, and he will rip your sorry ass apart if you think you can go wholly on the offensive the way you did against Vepar. To even have a chance against this guy you'd better have sat down and gotten a grip on Miriam's backdash and attack canceling, augmented some of your shards, and spent a bit of time with Johannes crafting some better gear and items.

     Card Battle Games 
  • Calculords starts you off on Fancybot, who has very little in the way of tactics and average cards. Then comes Stardog, who likes cards that come with a fair degree of health for their loose tier, plus lots of cards with healing and support abilities. Nothing too eccentric...but THEN comes Corporal Krak, who stacks up cards that spawn packs of units along with a ''very'' squishy signature unit that self-destructs when killed, dealing damage...oh yeah, and it comes in hordes, all tactics you've likely never seen before by that point. Unless you learn how to organize your deployment order, buffs and deck construction to counter holes in an opponent's deck organization, you'll be dribbling out units desperately trying to plug holes in the deluge thrown at you from the other side of the screen and never get the opportunity to recover. And then the next guy in line uses the exact same tactic you're likely to use to get past Krak, which you've also never needed to learn to properly counter up until that point.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Reshef of Destruction has Panik, and the Millennium Guardian shortly afterward. Both have pretty good decks, forcing you to use what little cards you have effectively and strategically to win.

     Fighting Game 
  • First time players of Magical Battle Arena seem to have the same experience with it. "Great game, but Sakura keeps kicking asses with Fight and Firey in the second stage. Compounded if you picked someone like Nanoha, who doesn't fight well in melee. Note that Nanoha is the first highlighted character in the character select screen.
  • SoulCalibur IV only has one boss in the traditional sense, but after beating Story mode a few times, you feel like you can kill anything, so you move onto arcade mode, which is a wakeup call in itself (enemies in story mode are all the same difficulty, but in arcade mode they slowly get smarter), but then you run into The Apprentice, let out a little nerdsqueal, and then promptly get destroyed in a few seconds. Note also that the game is mildly realistic, not counting the magicky-weapons, and then you come up against this smartass using projectile force-bombs and the like. Vader fights a bit like Mitsurugi with some fancy additional tricks, so you are REALLY unprepared for Apprentice the first dozen times or so, as nobody else in the game fights anywhere near close.
  • Mortal Kombat 9's first fight against Goro can be this. Up until that point, as long as you can learn a few of your character's combos and special moves, you can defeat most enemies without too much trouble. Then, all of a sudden there's a boss whose X-Ray takes away more than half of your health, who has several attacks during which he isn't staggered by your hits, and who, to top it all off, has twice as much health as you.
  • Hakumen of BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger is a rather vicious jump in difficulty compared to every character in the Story Mode, as he's probably the first battle you'll fight where you'll actually have to have some form of strategy and understanding of the game's fighting mechanics to even have a chance at beating him. Nu-13, the game's Final Boss, is almost a walk in the park in comparison, simply because Hakumen forces you to actually learn how to play the game and not make stupid mistakes.
  • Dead or Alive 4: The first scripted (non-random) character you fight (which varies depending on who you play as). You can beat the first three random encounters, who are Nintendo Hard but far from perfect, by attacking with basic attacks and blocking at the right time. Not quite just through button mashing, but fairly close. A decent player should be able to do this with any character. But then during and after the first scripted encounter, the enemies become much closer to Perfect-Play A.I.. Basic natural combos will get painfully countered. Hitlag will will be punished if you miss attacks. Inputting the wrong move will cost you at least a quarter of your health bar. You will need to use specific moves deliberately, and have at least some knowledge of how to not just play well, but play your specific character well, to proceed past the first scripted encounter without using tens of continues. And have fun fighting Alpha without a solid mastery of your chosen character.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2 features Great Ape Gohan. Until this battle, you could easily beat everyone by mashing the attack button and keeping the enemies stunlocked long enough to outlast them. Great Ape Gohan is your first Giant-class enemy, and Giants cannot be stunlocked. If you rush him and try to combo him, he will effortlessly wipe the floor with you, meaning you will not beat him until you learn to fight at a distance. What's more, you fight him with Piccolo, who has a terrible primary Blast 2 distance attack (which is what some control schemes default to) but a reasonably good secondary Blast 2 distance attack, which teaches the player that they do need to learn to try out both distance attacks with the character they use if they want to succeed in the long run.
  • Double Dragon Neon's first boss fight with Skullmageddon can quickly curbstomp inexperienced players; his most devastating attacks are the Overhead Slash->Skeleslam combo, and his Hat Teleport Impalement, which is hard to avoid due to its randomly chosen path.
  • Punch-Out!!:
    • In the NES game, King Hippo is effectively impossible until the player realizes that, no, you can't just mash the punch buttons to win - you have to be familiar with your opponent's patterns and their weaknesses. He's one of the easiest fights for a veteran, but newbies will wind up either trying everything, or consulting a walkthrough.
    • In the Wii version of the game, you'll learn plenty of tricks going through the Minor, Major and World Circuits, up to defeating Mr. Sandman. After you finally manage to defeat him you're rewarded with Title Defense Mode, where you'll fight all the fighters again, but with added gimmicks. If you think you can rely on the same strategies as the first time, then you'll get a real nasty surprise the first time Glass Joe wipes the floor with you.
  • As an old Capcom game, some might find Power Stone to be a little easy given the mechanics and ease of decimating your opponents when you get your super mode. But then Kraken shows up. See, Kraken just LOOOVES his super mode and will do anything to get into it. Each player starts with one power stone with the third appearing later. Meaning Kraken will spam attacks that deal both heavy damage and knock out your power stone if you have one or if he's waiting for the third to show up. Guns won't save you from air attacks here.
  • Teleroboxer has this as early as the second fighter. Pagero can be easily dispatched with basic punches and defense. Then you get to Spokong. At first it seems the whole thing is going to be the same... until the enemy's head relocates in its stomach. You'll have to learn to aim your punches and counterattack properly if you want to survive this tactic.
  • Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 hits you hard at the end of the Namek Saga. By the time you reach this point, you're probably a little on the overpowered side and most fights will seem like a cakewalk. As you prepare to fight Frieza on the critically wounded Namek, who should appear but Cooler, who decides to give Frieza a hand. Beat them up a bit and they decide to bring their A-Game, going 100% Full Power and Final Form respectively. Final Form Cooler, especially, is a real pain, as he'll happy attempt to plant a dumbass tree with you as the dumbass!

    First-Person Shooter 
  • House of the Dead 2 had Judgment, which consists of Zeal and Kuarl, an imp and a giant suit of armor respectively, who fight together, and are extremely easy... unless you don't realize that you have to target Zeal the tiny flying imp (as the weak point), and not Kuarl the giant knight. Most first timers most likely saw a giant headless Dread Knight-esque monster lumbering towards them and, panicking, shot frantically at it, causing them to suffer like G did? It's an easy way to get wiped out in a minute or two, but it's a reminder to be accurate and precise instead of panicky. This is, of course, if you ignore the large picture that blatantly tells you to hit Zeal. Also, it is possible to take Kuarl down with rapid fire; you are even instructed to do so in a training mission in the home versions. Afterwards, though, it's still hard for even a trained shooter to hit Zeal without getting hit (though hammering on Kuarl can cause happy accidents when Zeal flies right into the crossfire).
  • Hans Grosse in Wolfenstein 3D. Up until when you meet him, defeating enemies basically consisted of "aim in their general direction and keep the fire button pressed while standing still". If you try this on Hans, you'll be dead within seconds.
  • Olaric, the first boss in Return to Castle Wolfenstein, is very fast for his size, casts homing spirit attacks that do massive damage, and has unlimited zombie support. Best to attack him from a distance, and use your Holy Crosses to take out groups of zombies.
  • Halo 2: The boss fight against the Prophet of Regret can catch newer players completely by surprise, given that he's effectively Immune to Bullets outside of special circumstances. He's also packing the strongest ranged Covenant weapon in the game, which can easily one-shot a player on higher difficulties, and has constantly respawning mooks charging in.
  • The first few Big Daddy fights in BioShock are practically impossible on the harder difficulties; they're actually weaker than the ones you encounter in the later stages of the game, but at this point you have limited weaponry, ammo, and plasmids.
  • Doom:
    • The Cyberdemon in the original game. If you haven't learned to strafe and circle-strafe effectively yet, you stand no chance whatsoever against his rocket missles.
    • The seventh level of Doom II, "Dead Simple" is a Wolfpack Boss consisting of groups of two of the game's new high-level monsters, Mancubi and Arachnotrons. Mancubi fire in a difficult-to-evade spread pattern, while Arachnotrons pelt the player with plasma balls continuously. Both are deadly. Unlike the original Doom enemies, merely strafing around each fireball as it comes near isn't enough – you had to pay attention to your surroundings and to the enemies' attack patterns and move smartly if you want to survive. The appearance of Chaingunners and Revenants in previous levels hint that the simplistic shoot-and-strafe combat tactics that could get you through the first game won't work anymore, but "Dead Simple" hammers the point home.
  • The flashback battle with Metamoq in Zeno Clash. Although he's hardly the first difficult opponent you've faced, he's a significant jump up from even the hardest of those, and you'll have to use almost everything you've learned so far to have a real chance of beating him. He actually acts as the final boss for the demo, because of the significant difficulty spike.
  • The first boss of Descent I and the third of Descent II. Both launch instant-death Macross Missile Massacres, the former using Smart Missiles, the latter using Mega Missiles and a Phoenix Cannon, and like all bosses, randomly teleport, often directly in your face, launching a barrage just as they re-materialize. At least in Descent II you have more hiding places, but that game ups the stakes by giving the boss immunity to all energy weapons.
  • Paine, the first boss of Red Steel 2. Up until then, you've come across one miniboss which can shrug off attacks but telegraphs attacks so is easy to avoid if cautious, and other enemies have been unable to block and will go down to mutton-mask-esque wii-mote swinging. In contrast, Paine blocks attacks with few openings, will break your guard if given the chance, has a ton of health, some nasty specials, and can summon gun-wielding lackeys to chip away at your health from behind. May well qualify as That One Boss and Wake Up Call Boss.
  • If you are playing the silly story mode on Unreal Tournament, every single time you are randomly slated to meet Malcolm is this.
  • Longhunter in the original Turok. Also an absolute pain because he calls two hummers to assist too. Partially justified in that he IS a mercenary.
  • Agent Tatsuo from Syndicate (2012). If you haven't gotten around to using DART Overlay optimally, you're going to die a few times before you get around to killing him.
  • Barrett in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. He shows up before the first Detroit chapter is even finished, and is almost unreasonably hard compared to other bosses: he's extremely tough, has a very powerful minigun for an arm, has an unblockable melee attack that finishes by setting you up to get shot point blank in the face by it unless you manage to duck out of the way, and as he takes damage, he begins hurling HANDFULS of grenades around the arena so that you'll often need to run directly into his line of fire to avoid getting blown up. To make matters worse, it's entirely possible build your character to be focused on hacking and stealth, which in the original version was entirely useless while fighting him. The game did have extinguishers, canisters and weapons in side rooms that you could use, but for the unprepared or poorly equipped he was a nightmare.

    Light Gun Game 
  • The first Time Crisis have its Disc-One Final Boss, Sherudo Garo, a deadly Knife Nut that hurls throwing knives at you with lightning-speed. The fact that he's flanked by Elite Mooks doesn't help either. It takes nearly 10 shots to take him down, and compared to the first boss - Moz, a Mook Lieutenant ninja that dies after 3 hits and doesn't really have any ranged attacks, its a seriously huge spike in difficulty.

    Mecha Game 
  • Armored Core games generally have a few. A good example is in For Answer, the end of chapter 1 boss, Spirit of Motherwill, is a walking fortress the size of a small city, and must be at least 1 kilometer tall. It's intimidating for newer players to see that, and realize they have to take it down, especially after the opening sequence where the player's AC has a rocket strapped to its back, is forced to dodge repeated cannon fire until they get close, and then has to worry about what can only be described as Bullet Hell in an Armored Core game. However, once you get over that element of fear, shock, and awe, SoM isn't actually that scary to defeat.
    • There's usually an arena battle (Werehound, Fixer, etc.) a few fights in that's a lot harder than its predecessors. These are generally guys with more aggressive AI, and often heat weapons, which will wreck most basic mechs.
    • The first time you face another AC outside of the Arena in the game. At the start, you can basically plow through the Mooks with your basic sword and gun without getting much into the customization aspect of the game. Then you get the message "Enemy AC Identified" from your handler.
    • Armored Core: Last Raven, being Nintendo Hard overall, had a ton of these. Each story path would usually have at least one. Special distinctions should be made for Triturate, whose linear gun arms are an effective endgame weapon for you. Rim Fire, who dual wields 4 barreled machine guns, with back mounted chain guns and comes on the heels of another boss. Thunderstrike, a heavy energy weapon specialist who has the lovely distinction of being the first mission on some paths. How's that starter mech treating you? This guy is tough with an imported endgame file — didn't play the previous game? Tough stuff, man.
    • Bullet Dragon from Armored Core 2 is basically Rim Fire with less fire control. You heard me. The nice thing is if you want to be a cheapass about it and want to exploit his ridiculously aggressive AI, just keep circling him and drawing fire. Pick either an arena with lots of cover or a big wide circular arena. He uses gun-arms so once he's out, he's out for good.
    • Valkyrie from the original PS1 Armored Core. During what seems like an easy mission blowing up whatever you please (your income is based on the amount of destruction you cause) and then fighting off a handful of weak mooks, Valkyrie, the #2 ranked Raven shows up to put a stop to you. She introduces the fact that other mercenaries may have weapons or abilities that you can't use, showing it off with special rapid fire, shoulder-mounted gun that can easily stun-lock you and rip you apart if you're not careful.
  • Phantom Crash has rankers that show up from time to time (Not counting the one you have to beat in that day's rumble battle) to take on everyone, but the worst of them is a ranker by the name of Mitch. Mitch uses a Ventuno Scoobee with hover legs, two Grenade Shoulder weapons, and the worst part, two L50 Javelin arms (a Ventuno-only weapon arm that fires a laser. And to make matters worse, unlike in SLAI lasers in Phantom Crash don't use ammo). Her AI seemed hell bent on trying to find you (And her AI isn't dumb enough to not use the Grenades to find you if you use your Optic Camouflage) unless other Scoobees were attacking her and once she found you, she was relentless in her attack until you got away from her or you got lucky and someone else got her attention. Even in a D-rank rumble or a Free rumble if Mitch shows up, you better hope the other Scoobees can lower her armor enough for you to take her out or you better hightail it out of the match if your Scoobee isn't up to par or if its too badly damaged.
  • S.L.A.I.: Steel Lancer Arena International makes your first ranker battle into this. Sure, you might spend a good few rounds with your basic SV, darting around and scoring kills on D-listers, maybe take a few moments to show off by shoving a chainsaw katana into someone's back. When you've scored at least one kill on everyone else, the D-ranker shows up, and suddenly it's not a shooting gallery any more. A ranker, even a D-ranker, is faster, tougher, and better armed than the rest of the pack, and leaping at them like you would any one else on the field will result in you paying a lot of money in repair fees.
  • The first three missions in MechWarrior 3 are relatively easy with the toughest enemy you face being a mech identical to yours, that being a 55-ton Bushwacker. Then mission 4 comes up and pits you against the first heavy mech of the game, a 75-ton Orion. Due to the fact that the Bushwhacker is not really a great mech and the rather weak weaponry you have this early in the game, if you have not mastered the art of "legging" (shooting out the leg of a mech to take it down quickly), the Orion will most likely tear you apart. They do it again in the next mission set, forcing you to defeat sizable foes (including several Thors) but always giving you a chance to engage enemies on your terms. And then for the mission finale you're forced into close combat with an Annihilator, a 100-ton kill-beast and bar none the most lethal close-range 'Mech in the game. It can and will kill you or one of your buddies with a single salvo. Learn to circle-strafe around it or die trying, Mechwarrior.

  • Mega Man Zero:
    • Aztec Falcon, the first real boss in Mega Man Zero 1 is known to be quite a shock for players of the previous Mega Man games, even if he's quite doable after being used to Zero's gameplay.
    • In Mega Man Zero 4, you get to do four missions of your choice, and all are not particularly hard (for the series). Then, Forced Mission time, and the boss of that mission, Commander Craft, shows up, and God have mercy if you didn't get some subtanks or elf upgrades. He's fairly swift, has three life bars (as opposed to the usual two), has an attack that requires split-second timing to dodge, and generally has a variety of attacks requiring you to be on your toes.
  • Mega Man ZX
    • ZX: The Brainwashed and Crazy Girouette, in the third proper stage of the game. After dealing with the generally slow and easy-to-read bosses of the first two stages and even the two MiniBosses of this stage, Giro is a marked upswing as being both much faster and smaller than said opponents, and his attacks have decent coverage that require well-timed jumps and dashes to avoid being punished.
    • Advent: Buckfire, the first boss after obtaining the eponymous Model A. Unlike the tutorial boss, who's stationary with obvious weak spots and easily telegraphed attacks, Buckfire's easily as fast as Grey/Ashe, his projectile attacks require good timing to jump over, and the small size of the boss room in question makes Collision Damage a very real hazard given how much he moves around.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • The Marble Zone, the second stage of the original Sonic the Hedgehog. The level as a whole teaches you that speed without caution will kill you, the boss teaches you to be prepared for stage hazards while fighting bosses if you're not careful (the Chemical Plant Zone example above takes many cues from this, especially its' boss fight).
    • The first boss in the Game Gear version of Sonic 2 is especially jarring, since the 16-bit Sonic games are traditionally pretty easy as exemplified by that Emerald Hill Zone digger thing. This is because the screen is narrower and it's harder to avoid the bouncing balls. On the Master System version, Sonic has enough space to easily jump over them until the boss destroys itself.
    • The boss of Chemical Plant Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and the prolonged section of platforming immediately before it, serve as a wake-up call after the player has breezed through Emerald Hill (which features the quintessential Warmup Boss) and most of Chemical Plant itself. The boss itself isn't too difficult to hit or avoid, and can be killed very easily in about 7 seconds if Tails stays out of the way (see below), but the real danger is the Bottomless Pits on either side of the arena: if you do get hit or you try to get over-clever with your attacks, there's a fair chance you'll be knocked right into one of these pits.
    • Casino Night's boss serves as a further wake-up call. Any attempt to attack it from below ends badly for Sonic, and the only way to get above it is to spin-dash up the walls (this being the quintessential Pinball Zone). Furthermore, it drops projectiles every time you pass under it, so simply going back and forth at high speeds to get your attack opportunities can often have you rolling right into an energy ball.
    • Sonic the Hedgehog 3's Angel Island boss. After the wussy miniboss, you face the act 2 boss, which can knock you into one of the bottomless pits easily. It's a lot easier if the fire shield is gotten, though.
  • Dullahan from Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin is quite hard thanks to a certain attack that kills you in two hits if you fail to dodge it. It comes in volleys of 4-6. This boss taught players that dodging things still counts in Metroidvania land.
  • In Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia:
    • The second boss of the game, the Giant Skeleton, is a massive spike up from the first, capable of killing an unprepared Shanoa in five hits. It teaches you to value safety over dealing damage and never allow yourself to be cornered.
    • If Giant Skeleton doesn't give you trouble, the Giant Enemy Crab in the later lighthouse level will. It's a long endurance match and you need to be on your toes to avoid all of its attacks, as well as utilising Magnes and general platforming skills quite quickly. It's all worth it for the finisher where you crush it with an elevator, though.
    • Finally, the tutorial level usually concludes with you fighting off four Skeletons. Simple. However, on Hard Mode, the skeletons are replaced by Skeleton Heroes, obnoxious mooks with projectile attacks from later in the game. The fight is quite winnable if you know what you're doing, but it's a surprise for a player who thought he could just coast through with New Game+ gear.
  • Castlevania: Rondo of Blood has the werewolf. The first boss (the wyvern) has easy to avoid attacks and can be spammed with axes for a quick win. Stage 2 is already a Difficulty Spike in and of itself, but the Werewolf is much faster than your character, unpredictable, and requires you to think fast or die.
    • The Werewolf battle is confined to a single screen. His being faster than you is virtually a non-factor. His penchant for Wall Jumping, bouncing all over the place, and launching energy blasts that move in a highly nonlinear fashion, on the other hand...
  • Castlevania: Harmony of Despair:
    • Puppet Master. He's there to teach you that doing more damage isn't everything, if you don't take the precautions necessary to defeat him before going after him, you will get your party killed.
    • Also, taking on Gergoth with the game's starter equipment is pretty difficult; not surprising, since he was That One Boss when he first appeared in Dawn of Sorrow.
  • The Doppleganger in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is one not just for this game, but for the new Metroidvania style of Castlevania as a whole. He's quick, he's hard to hit, he spams attacks, and he'll be impossible if you just charge at him with your sword: you're going to need to use items or Dark Metamorphosis (taught to you by the manual) to replenish health and experiment with different equipment as a weapon having the highest ATK does not mean it's always the ideal weapon.
  • Shahdee in Prince of Persia: Warrior Within can be like this. She's basically your first real fight in the game (up to this point, you've only fought a few random Mooks), and she can be brutally tough for getting used to the combat system.
  • The Amazon boss of the SNES Adaptation Expansion of Prince of Persia is a major Difficulty Spike up from the mooks (and the skeleton) you previously fought. You learn the hard way that unlike mooks, bosses can not only counter your attacks like you were doing to the mooks, but can also counter your counter attacks. You have to continue the chain of blocking and countering until they mess up, showing a nice display of Flynning.
    • In Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, the first real boss you face is a giant in the arena. He is impossible to beat if you have just been brawling through the game thus far and not working on your timing for Speed Kills.
  • Wario Land:
    • The spiked Koopa boss from the original game - the very first one, even! - certainly comes under this. Not only is he a generally tough boss with multiple attacks and overpowering attack methods, but he just happens to also be the most difficult boss in the entire game (that includes the final boss as well). Only adding to this is the that the boss cannot be fought the way Mario fights koopas. The fire power up is a liability since the lack of a dash button means you have reduced Wario's speed and deprived him of an effective frontal attack. Even with running available Wario cannot adjust his speed in air and has to commit to his maximum jump height before leaving the ground, so the timing is still completely different from, say, a koopling. The fact that the level was aggravating didn't help things either.
    • In the fourth game, depending on the mode you're playing, the first boss is either pitifully easy or this. Super Hard mode is the main offender - you have 15 seconds to defeat it.
  • Kirby 64: The third boss, Acro, ends the streak of Warm Up Bosses. His fast movement and projectile output is made more of a problem by the iffy underwater controls, and the fact that you won't be used to his attacks at first (or at all) means that you'll get your power knocked out of you before long. On top of all this, he has a second phase...that scrolls.
    • Kirby: Triple Deluxe has Flowery Woods. Don't let his resemblance to Whispy Woods fool you. He attacks in an incredibly aggressive fashion for the first boss of the game, and his second stage starts assaulting you with attacks that fill up the entire screen. Although he still won't pose too much trouble to a skilled gamer, he can still put up a surprising amount of fight.
    • And then there's Clanky Woods from Kirby: Planet Robobot. Like Flowery Woods above, this guy has also proven to be more of a challenge than most players would expect at level one, once again showing off some pretty devastating attacks that could really give you a hard time if you're not prepared. While Flowery at least had the decency to remain in one spot most of the time, Clanky, on the other hand, does not want to stand still. Oh, and did we mention that he also gets first crack at you in the very first stage of the game? You can still defeat him even that early on, and get a nice rare sticker in return, but it's arguably even more of a pain than his actual boss battle with how little room and time you have. It's also rather easy to get crushed to death there. So yeah, Kirby's enemies definitely aren't playing nice this time around.
    • Parallel Woods from "Heroes in Another Dimension" in Kirby Star Allies. The Whispy Woods battle in Story Mode was just a Warm-Up Boss as usual, and even his stronger counterpart Yggy Woods was still manageable. But in this mode, if you haven't taken the increased puzzle complexity as a warning sign, then Parallel Woods' projectile spam will hammer in just how much the challenge has ramped up.
  • Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest:
    • The second boss, Kleever, is this. He starts out fairly simply, shooting a couple fireballs at you and slowly chasing you down a line of hooks, but after you hit him three times, he sinks into the lava, faking death for about half a second before he bursts out, lunges at you, and proceeds to chase you across the hooks (now at several vertical levels) at a much quicker pace. And now he flies. Not That One Boss (especially not compared to, say, K. Rool himself), but still dangerous enough to cost you a few lives the first time you fight him.
    • World 4 as a whole represents a Difficulty Spike in DKC2, but the boss, King Zing, drives the point home. Despite the fact that he's a mid-game boss, he represents an entirely different challenge than any boss in either the first or second Donkey Kong Country games. To wit, he's the first boss in the series that is fought while riding an Animal Buddy (namely, Squawks the Parrot; DKC3 would later have two bosses fought with Ellie the Elephant and Enguarde the Swordfish), let alone a buddy that had only been available for a few levels at this point, the only boss in the game that does not revolve around evading attacks until a convenient barrel or cannonball spawns, the first boss in the series that is invulnerable aside from one weak point (in this case, the stinger), and only the second boss in the series, second only to the K. Rool fight in the first game, that has multiple stages. While the second stage is decidedly easy, the first stage is highly irritating; hitting the weak point requires precision timing, aim, and positioning, as Hitbox Dissonance makes it difficult to hit the target while not crashing into Zing yourself. Worse, he becomes invulnerable every two hits and breaks his predictable flying pattern to chase the player while spewing an increasingly fast volley of spines in every direction. Fortunately, there's a Good Bad Bug that can allow the player to defeat the first stage without leaving the (mostly) safe corridor you start in, though this requires a good deal of patience.
  • Elite Krotera, the first boss of Iji, can easily wipe the floor with you. He's got powerful weapons, and the floor sprouts turrets that can eat through your armor like candy. On the plus side, he's a Skippable Boss. As the the creator's speedrun video shows, however, with the right skill loadout, you can kill him before he can get off a single attack. It's fun to watch.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day has two examples, either of which can be the first boss depending on whether the player chooses to clear the chapters in order, or skips parts of them for a non-linear progression:
    • Haybot: At first, it seems like the characters (Conker assisted by Franky the pitchfork, in this case), simply have to hit the hay-covered robot three times while dodging its attacks. But then the boss breaks the floors out of rage and all of them fall into a sewer basement, where the battle turns into a nasty Didn't Need Those Anyway! scenario. The boss loses parts of its body as Conker and Franky continue pressing the red button behind its body, which in turn can only be done after luring the boss into water (after, in turn, luring the boss's missiles into some pipes to break them). When Haybot is complete, it attacks by squashing the characters with both hands. When one of those hands is gone, it attacks by seizing them and then throwing them away. With both hands gone, it squashes against the characters, but with its own metallic base. With the rest of the body gone, the boss is simply defeated, but then Conker has to escape from there before it's too late.
    • The Great Mighty Poo: Though its attacks are easy to dodge, the player has to know how to aim fast and precisely to throw the toilet papers to the boss to its mouth when he starts singing. As the battle progresses, the tempo of the music increases and it becomes much harder to hit him successfully. It can take several tries if, in the long run, the attacks end up depleting Conker's life bar.
  • In Claw you can pummel Le Rauxe in about six-seven seconds by mashing attack button. If you think you can do the same to Catherine, think again: she blocks much more frequently, can jump from one end of the arena to other in a flash and has a ranged attack. Once you know how to dodge she becomes much easier, but at your first try you're bound to get whipped with extreme prejudice.
  • Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex: For being the second boss, Wa-Wa the Water Elemental will give you a lot of trouble if you're not careful. The reason: he sends out water waves that you have to jump over (if they're blue) or duck under (if they look like green fire) with really good timing. The first two hits aren't that bad, but starting on the third hit, he will send out bubbles in between the platforms. This sounds harmless until you see that the bubbles block your jumps and send you into the water. On his last hit, Wa-Wa will go nuts with the waves and bubbles. One more thing: the platforms sink if you stay on them for too long.
  • Super Star Wars is difficult, but manageable for the first four stages, but the Jawenko Lava Beast is the first taste players get of just how nasty this game can be. You have to fight it standing on a handful of very small platforms over a pool of lava which causes instant death if touched, and it attacks very rapidly and with an unpredictable and chaotic pattern making it very easy to get knocked from your perch. If you die, you'll go back to the half-way point of the stage and lose whatever blaster upgrades you had, potentially making the next round even harder.
  • Cuphead has two of them!
    • For the Run N' Gun style levels there's Cagney Carnation, who forces you to start paying attention to attacks coming from multiple fronts from the very beginning, and his attacks are harder to dodge than the bosses before him. During his last phase, he plants his thorns on the ground, limiting your movement to the three floating platforms.
    • For the plane levels comes Hilda Berg who rolls over you like a steamroller with everything from flunkies, untelegraphed moves, and attacks that require tricky timing to dodge. If you go in expecting an aerial version of The Root Pack to warm you up for the plane battles, Hilda will skin you alive.
  • Shantae Half Genie Hero: The first level and boss of the game aren't particularly difficult, and the second level has a bit more teeth, but is still fairly easy... and then you reach Giga Mermaid. Better pay attention to your movements, because over half of her attacks are lightning bolts of some kind with near instant launches. During her first phase, you had better be used to the platforming in the game, as you have to scale the moving scaffolding holding the boss prisoner while she continues firing lightning balls at you. Then when she's freed, she's angry and taking it out on you, and between raining lightning down, a deceptively large hitbox on her tail slap, and having to grapple up wreckage to jump and hit her at best once or twice per attempt, you're gonna have to learn how to dodge. If you think you've got her movement down pat and you're ready for hard mode, have fun with all of her attacks shaving 1-2 hearts off of your, at this point max 3 health, HP reserves while all of her attacks fire in significantly larger volumes and much faster. At the very least you can farm up gems to buy healing items and spells if you're absolutely stuck.

  • In Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords, most of the enemies you face can be defeated within a rematch or two (or on intentionally tough sidequests you can come back to later). Then you get to the first boss, Dugog, the two-headed ogre. Not only is he significantly stronger than any other regular enemy you can face up this point, he sports a spell (Double Roar) which can easily erase all your hit points and a weapon that randomly does near-triple damage. And you face his early enough that skill alone often isn't enough to take him down.
  • Lady D in Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure. The game up to her is fairly simple, but Lady D herself can be quite a challenge to a player who's new to the game. Once you get the hang of fighting her and dodging her attacks, she's a piece of cake (pun intended.) The rest of the game gets MUCH harder pretty quickly, and while the second boss is a joke, the THIRD boss is That One Boss.
  • The first chapter of Marvel Puzzle Quest is very light- even Doctor Doom is a bit of a wuss- but then Chapter 2 sends you up against Juggernaut, who is a beast. His red ability can one-shot even your toughest characters. His green ability is even worse, smashing random tiles to essentially reset the board and occasionally start ridiculous cascades. The game advises you to keep him from charging those abilities by matching those colors first, but that doesn't help much because he only needs to make two green matches to trigger his ability and refresh the board. As if that isn't enough, you have to fight him six times, and he get stronger with each battle. On the plus side, if you make it to chapter 3 you get to make use of him yourself, and he's just as awesome on your side.
  • Puyo Puyo, Kirby's Avalanche, and Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine have the second opponent in the game - Suketoudara, Whispy Woods, and Frankly, respectively. To newer players that aren't used to chaining yet, their stacking pattern is punishing, as uninterrupted, they will constantly get chains that will rain garbage on the player's side. The game only gets harder from there.
  • All trial bosses in Elemental Story will force a continue if the players do not read the hint screen, bring monsters outside of its weakness and having them in low level and less evolved states.

    Rhythm Game 
  • In Guitar Hero III, Tom Morello serves as a wake-up call boss, and not in a good way. He demonstrates how boss battles in this game will be determined by random chance. Surprisingly, though, he is actually easier to defeat on higher difficulties, seeing as in Easy and Medium mode the notes are simply stretched too far and few in between for players to be able to do significant damage by making him miss these notes.
  • DJMAX Technika:
    • In Popular Mode, each stage has a different songlist, with the minimum song difficulty getting higher with each of the three stages. If you're new to the game, you'll most likely pick "Jupiter Driving" as your stage 3 song. It's a level-4 song, is the easiest stage 3 song, and teaches you to handle patterns in which the timing line moves at double speed.
    • "Area 7" on the first stage is a song whose repeat notes look awkward. You'll need to understand their rhythm rather than just relying on the timing line in order to survive this song.
  • Dance Dance Revolution in its earlier years has "Paranoia" on Basic, a level 6 (on the pre-Dance Dance Revolution X scale). It's 180 beats per minute (which when it first appeared on DDR 1st Mix made it the fastest song in the game) and features a handful of eighth notes (including a nasty "jackhammer" note section at the end). If you can clear this song, you're on your way to taking on more difficult songs. Moving past the intermediate difficulty starts introducing higher usage of 1/8 notes and more complex patterns or other quirks to upset your rhythm.
  • Space Channel 5 has Morolina for Part 1, and Kin Kon Kan in Part 2.
  • "Canned Heat" in Elite Beat Agents on Cruisin' mode. The songs before it have relatively simple and consistent rhythms, but "Canned Heat" has a strange disco beat with syncopated rhythms everywhere. Because of this, most players mark it as the first song they ever fail. In Sweatin' and Hard ROCK! modes, it can happen as early as "Rock This Town".
  • Gitaroo Man has the first battle against Ben-K, which is purely guard phase (read: hitting a flurry of notes coming in from all directions). The notes come at you fast and thick, with a rather irregular rhythm, leading most rookie players to complete it with barely a sliver of health to spare if they pass it at all. In Master Play, it can happen as early as Flying O, which, mind you, is the second stage.
  • Rhythm Heaven:
    • Remix 2 in Fever. The first remix is nicely paced enough to help the player get used to the "no practice" nature of Remixes. The second remix is faster, but only lasts about a minute, meaning that just a few mistakes can cause you to fail the song and have to start over.
    • In Megamix, the Machine Remix can trip some players up due to 16th note beats during the Rhythm Tweezers sections that aren't present in the original stage.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • EarthBound: Frank Fly might not seem so harsh to a beginning player... until they have to fight his "Frankystein Mark II" immediately afterward. This fight mostly serves to teach you about the rolling HP meter; without exploiting that, you're in for a world of pain. Then, get past him and the Giant Step, you have to deal with the Onett Police Force, a massive Sequential Boss fight against five foes: four Cops, which immediately become Degraded Bosses after the fight, showing up in the area you gain access to after the fight, and then Captain Strong, who can guard and change his own stats. Strong isn't so bad; it's the fact you're dealing with five boss fights in a row with no healing in between, and each enemy has one attack that can deal around 30 damage to you, which, at this point in the game, is a lot.
  • Granblue Fantasy:
    • Unlike the earlier bosses who can be easily defeated by raw damage output, Yggdrasil Malice is the first real challenge of the Story Mode. Players are likely expected to have developed their grids, worked on weapon skill levels, or levelled-up their characters to have a chance of beating her.
    • The inclusion of the high Elemental Resistance mechanic for some bosses like the Xeno, Primarchs, and Arcarum bosses encouraged players to develop grids for all elements and not just focus on a single one.
  • Mother 3: Mr. Passion is generally the first boss where players realize just how vital debuffs, status effects, and item strategies are. Level Grinding and the Thunder Bomb trick will only get you so far here.
    • So, you breezed through Mr. Passion without too much trouble. Well, congrats. A couple chapters later, however, you're gonna meet the Jealous Bass, a tough Flunky Boss who works with his flunkies to hit Lucas and Boney multiple times per turn. Without finding the right combination of items and Lucas' limited PSI, you'll get stomped.
    • The very first chapter boss, the Mecha Drago, will let you know that bosses in this game won't tolerate being walked over. It can't even be hurt without using a turn to use the item that will reduce its defense to a high but reasonable level. It also is very strong and has a lot of health for that point in the game. Although you do have an NPC to assist, his role is mainly to give you some healing items. And you're still not done after taking it down - it will deal fatal damage to you after dying, which means you have to scroll through the post-battle text (and possibly a level-up) or die before actually succeeding.
  • In Might & Magic X: Legacy, Mamushi the Boss of the Lighthouse (either the second or third Boss you fight, depending on whether you choose to go there or the Den of Thieves first) is a nightmare. First of all, he has an ability that a lot of tough Bosses have called Retaliate, which lets him strike back hard if you hit him. That's the good news. The fight itself takes place on the top of a Lighthouse, and he has another ability that lets him push you backwards, potentially killing the entire party if your back is to the edge. Even worse, he moves very fast, switching to another place in the arena about every other combat turn, making it hard to avoid being in a dangerous spot and make a successful counterattack. Even worse, Bosses in this game share a common ability that makes them immune to most status causing effects that don't directly damage them, so a lot of strategies you've used up to now won't work.
  • Illusion of Gaia — Castoth, the first boss, is frequently cited as one of the game's most difficult. This is mostly because the player may be still be learning how to play the game tactically, and because the player character is still weak. In the final Boss Rush, Castoth goes down against a flurry of about half a dozen hits.
  • SoulBlazer has Solid Arm as the first boss (who becomes the Bonus Boss in Illusion of Gaia). Until then, you can mostly just breeze through the first level, but then suddenly the boss is there and his triple-fireball attacks deal some heavy damage, are unstoppable, and fire almost non-stop. You need a decent tactic to get him when his guard is down. It also doesn't help because unlike Illusion of Gaia, it's possible to somewhat underlevel in SoulBlazer, making your task even harder.
  • In Terranigma, after four towers with pathetic excuses for bosses, the fifth tower has a sudden wake-up call in the form of Shadowkeeper, a giant demonic spider/crab hybrid thing. This monstrosity has serious HP and equally serious attacks to match, and going up against it underleveled is suicidal.
  • Lost Odyssey: The first real "boss" is just a kind of gryphon-thing named Grilgan, which really isn't very impressive — but considering your very limited selection of skills, weapons, characters, and spells at the time, he ends up wiping out most players the first time they meet him. And probably the second too. The main difficulty with this boss is that it requires you to make use of the Guard Condition mechanic, which is easily ignorable up until then. Going on the offensive is suicidal — the trick is to focus on defense and keep the Squishy Wizard alive long enough to do the real damage. The official strategy guide for the game even calls Grilgan "the hardest first boss you may ever face in a video game." It doesn't help that even if the player keeps his Guard Condition up, a bout of bad luck (such as Grilgan using its powerful "Downburst" attack twice in a row before you can heal up) can still wipe you out.
  • Mistwalker seems to love this trope, as the same thing is true of their other game, Blue Dragon. The first real boss is a dinosaur/dragon thing. If you've gotten the hang of combat and are sufficiently leveled, it's not too hard, but if you're not ready for it, it will absolutely slaughter you without compunction or remorse.
  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice: The second battle with Genichiro marks the spot where the player MUST get good at deflection and the Perilous Attack counters. Every boss before him has some sort of trick that can be used; Gyoubu is extra weak to the Firecracker, Lady Butterfly can be cheesed by spamming certain moves such as Nightjar Slash or sidestepping attacks, and the Illusionary Corrupted Monk can be stunned by Snap Seeds and burned with Divine Confetti. Genichiro has no such gimmicks - you either parry his attacks, or you die.
  • Suikoden: Almost everyone agrees that the Zombie Dragon wasn't just a hard boss for the level, it's a really hard boss in general. It attacks your whole team at once, does a large amount of damage, and has a lot of health. If anyone in your team dies, or if you don't distribute potions, gem (and odds are, at this point, you don't).
  • Secret of Mana,
    • You literally cannot lose against the first boss, and the second is a piece of cake too. And then there's Spiky Tiger, who is considered by many players to be one of the toughest bosses in the game. This is probably due to his ability to inflict the burning status on your characters (paralyzed and taking continuous damage) as well as knocking them out with a hard-to-avoid physical attack. He also regularly jumps to the raised platforms on the sides where he can only be hit with the two ranged weapons you have — which, being weaker than the melee weapons, you may not have bothered using them, meaning you won't even have unlocked the charge attacks. AND you don't have any magic of your own yet.
    • When you first get to the ice country, you'll encounter a mid-boss, Boreal Face. The wake up call here is that once you obtained magic, most bosses were about spamming it until it died. Boreal Face, however as an absurdly high magic defense, and the most you can do against it with magic is 20-30 HP and it has around 1100HP. By the time you absolutely run out of MP for attack spells, Boreal Face will have over half of its HP left.
  • Trials of Mana:
    • At approximately the mid-point of the game, there is a series of seven Benevodons that need killin'. They are always of increasing difficulty, but the order is up to you. Regardless, the jump somewhere between the second and fourth Benevodon will always be HUGE. This serves to force you to attain or come close to attaining your first Prestige Class.
    • Zehnoa has considerable spell firepower and two resilient, respawning mooks helping it. It can easily overwhelm a novice, but if you know how to control your fighters and bought power-up items in Beiser beforehand, it'll be a cakewalk.
    • The first battle against a fused Bil and Ben, which occurs immediately after the above-mentioned Zhenoa. While the player does get the usual post-boss-battle full heal and has time to open the storage and bring out more items if necessary, this battle can still kick ass. They are the first of enemies that can actually use the higher-tier attacks that the party learn — specifically, they use Shadow Menace that can become a Ninja-classed Hawkeye's attack. That hits pretty hard, and can easily put a partymember into yellow health. And they eventually split into two copies, so they tend to spam Shadow Menace on one member twice, which pretty much spells doom. They also like to use attacks that lower the party's accuracy.
    • Machine Golems. These will quickly teach you that direct damage spells are not the Game-Breaker they were in the previous game.
  • Diablo features The Butcher, who is an extremely tough opponent for the part of the game he appears in, being very fast and capable of dealing huge amounts of damage in close combat. He quickly becomes That One Boss to lower level characters because the only way to beat him safely depends on the randomly-generated terrain spawning in such a fashion to let you plink him to death at range, or to level up your Dexterity to at least 55 so that you can trade blows with him in melee while taking fewer hits. Thankfully, he only has a 50% chance of appearing, and drops a nifty unique axe when he finally goes down.
  • Diablo II, had this at several points in the game, many of which were lethal on the Hardcore difficulty, and were designed to screw over those with poor gear or bad skill distribution.
    • Good luck taking down Blood Raven if you're a melee fighter. In fact, given her speed, powerful ranged attacks ,and the minions she calls up periodically to harass you, good luck period.
    • Duriel. So you're a ranged class and you've been running away shooting over your shoulder all the time, eh? You think you can kite or outrange every single monster in the game, eh? You think that hit points are useless because nothing comes close to you, eh? You think if you ever come close to dying, you can always run away, eh? And the game would never put you in an inescapable sardine can with a boss that will charge you for an instant kill if you get too far away and has an unresistable slow aura? Ha!
    • As of v1.13 at least, Duriel no longer uses the charge, but his (un)Holy Freeze aura makes you hardly able to retaliate effectively as he dices up your character in short order.
  • Diablo III, meanwhile, has two of these:
    • The Skeleton King is the very first boss you meet that uses teleport and hard-hitting attacks, in addition to summoning minions. You will need to use dodging, defense, and mitigation in order to take him down.
    • If you came into the Belial battle thinking you can just roll over him with your offensive abilities, you're going to die. The very nature of his attacks means you will have to use damage mitigation and movement to avoid being melted.
  • In Chrono Trigger, the first boss, Yakra, can quite easily be brute-forced even if you don't understand the complexities of the combat system. The Dragon Tank that comes about an hour later, however, is a Wake Up Call Boss. Its parts must be attacked in a specific order (head, wheel, body), and as it can heal itself, you have to proceed intelligently rather than keep attacking until it dies. And then there's 2300 A.D. which is a whole Wake Up Call Area telling you "No, you can't just bash A to win".
  • Final Fantasy Legend II (aka SaGa 2) features several of these.
    • It's possible to get pretty far with a weak party by relying on NPC guest characters, running away from battles, saving a lot, and sheer luck. Then the player runs into Venus, who will wipe the floor with any player that's been neglecting to upgrade the party's equipment and its stats. Much later, near the end of the game, the fight with Apollo presents another brick wall.
    • Gen-Bu from SaGa 1 was likewise a sudden jump in difficulty. And it was possible to save to the game's single save slot after triggering him, and just before fighting him, rendering your game borderline Unwinnable.
    • Chaos from SaGa 3 is none too easy either, he uses Quake which hits all allies for heavy damage.
  • The Mark VIII Salamander at the beginning of Rogue Galaxy has three stages to break through, and your party members force you to fight solo for the final phase. Hope you stopped to buy extra healing potions.
  • Guild Wars features Wake Up Call Missions.
    • Zen Daijun from Factions. Minister Cho's estate was virtually a tutorial. When you get to Zen Daijun and face a whole HORDE of the Afflicted AND that horrible Miasma which spreads degenerations around your entire party (particularly bad if you're using henchmen, who don't know well enough to not stand in close formation and keep reinfecting each other) AND you have to bodyguard 2 (admittedly very high level) NPCs... prepare to die. And right after Zen Daijun was a brief time on Kaineng City, before Vizunah Square. While it was nerfed eventually, if you weren't at level 20 by that point then you would have a very hard time with it. Tahnhakai Temple similarly taught the player how to carefully pull and how to combat certain skills that enemies from then on would throw out with ease - if you can't pull, focus fire, or counter certain skills via enchantment removal then you will fall behind.
    • Nightfall also had these, however, one thing that was notable compared to Factions and Prophecies was the fact that the "Wake-up call" mission came much later in the game. (Zen Daijun, Vizunah Square, and Tahnhakai Temple are all early missions.) This mission was the Grand Court of Sebelkeh - By that point, the mission assumes that you know how to focus fire, crowd control, keep mobs in area of effect attacks (and have powerful AoE builds like Searing Flames.), to be able to keep your mobility up. and to watch the map . Even though the game does allow you to practice such skills in previous missions and on trash mobs, it's still likely to catch players off guard at the sudden combination of needing to do those skills, especially with how fast the mission can be failed. (It wasn't uncommon for people who didn't know what they were doing to fail within less than a few minutes.)
  • Neverwinter Nights: The Intellect Devourer is one of the first bosses you face. It has natural damage resistance and uses mental attacks that can daze or stun you or your party members, rendering them helpless. Also, the encounter itself has some rather unique mechanics, as well. During the battle, there are several dazed human guards standing about. If you cannot persuade them to leave, the Intellect Devourer will possess their bodies each time his current host is killed.
  • Odin Sphere: Baby Levanthon hits like a truck despite his small size. If your main strategy for dealing with enemies is hitting it until it dies, he will punish you heavily for it. Once you learn his tells and can reliably dodge his attacks, though, he's easily the least challenging in the game.
  • Guild Wars 2 has a few -
    • Mai Trin, the first real boss faced in Fractals of the Mists, requires actual coordination and strategy to beat. If you try to just stack and whack, you will die. A lot.
    • Vale Guardian, the first raid boss introduced, is a nasty shock for inexperienced groups. He has several mechanics that need to be coordinated while moving, while healing through constant pressure damage, and failing any of them can make the fight rapidly go off the rails. Also, there's enough randomness to the battle that he's been known to give experienced groups the howling fantods - while he's not the hardest raid boss (that award probably going to either Matthias Gabrel or Soulless Horror), even experienced raiders regard him as moderately difficult.
  • Legend of Legaia
    • Even Caruban, the first boss, is a decent challenge, as it has more than enough attack power to bring either of your first two characters to their knees in a single combo attack, and has a fire breath attack that can halve your party members' HP.
    • In Duel Saga, Elfin serves as a combination of this and Beef Gate. She is designed to be easy enough if you are at least level 9 and have four art blocks, but difficult to impossible otherwise.
  • Amorphes from Avalon Code will force you to see the monster description, or you won't be able to beat him.
  • In City of Heroes, Frostfire, the first elite boss players have the opportunity to face, fits this trope perfectly. He's fairly trivial compared to most later elite bosses, let alone archvillains, but he's much harder than anything new players have seen before him. On top of that, many veteran players avoid the Hollows, denying new players a source of advice. Part of what gives Frostfire his infamy is that most players (particularly new players) go about the fight all wrong. Generally, players running through the Hollows content try to put together a full team of 8 to take him down. This means that the final room containing the man himself also contains 20-30 mooks, and the icy terrain makes pulling them away nearly impossible. With a team of two or three, however, the final room is much emptier, and it's far easier to grab him alone.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption had Mercurio, a Cappadocian librarian who was just a liltle bit overwhelming, as he would chain-cast an area of effect spell that had good chances to affect both of your characters, deal major damage, and induce a frenzy (i.e. you lose control of the character, who just starts spamming powers and attacks at random). Compounded by the fact that, at this point in the game, you have likely not spent XP to upgrade your vampiric powers... He was, however, tweaked down in a patch and is now quite beatable.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines features Bishop Vick, who you can fight very early on. Most of your boss fights up to now have been with melee fighters in areas with lots of cover to hide or disappear behind. Vick, on the other hand, is incredibly fast, wields a shotgun that he's very good with, and even if you run behind the scant cover, he can see through your invisibility power. He's a pushover if you wait to fight him until you've become more powerful, but he will absolutely shred a low-level character, and there's no warning given that he's going to be so hard.
  • The Hellhound at the end of Act I of The Witcher is one of these. The player can be easily stunned by it while its pack of barghests chomp away at their leisure, even with strong Group attack skills. One good blast of Aard can set up a one-shot kill, a feat impossible with later bosses. The battle also shows that some allies can be unkillable in battle. It also shows just how helpful alchemy is, as the right oils and potions can make the boss a walk in the park.
  • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings involves many different mid-bosses, who will clean the floor with you if you don't prepare before fights and learn fast:
    • The Kracken mid-boss is an unholy combination of giant stomping tentacles and nauseating venom. If you didn't do as a Witcher does and prepare before the fight, you have to learn to trap and dodge the beast's super-tentacles in mid-progression, and avoid its near-fatal and blinding poison. Even with the preparation, the fight is the first real enemy encounter in the game that is alien and overpowering.
    • Mid-boss Letho is one hell of a fight. By this point, you have to know how a Witcher prepares, fights, and improvises, because Letho will do the same. As his game description implies, Letho will make preparations with a mana shield to prevent slamming on his weak spots (he becomes invincible for about twenty seconds), and THEN charges in because you literally can't do damage to him, and will use 'frag grenade' bombs if you decide to run away and attack from a distance. He's a powerful fighter, and even if you play dirty he'll still be a major threat from a distance because of his mastery of elemental magic and bombs. You either have to be a good enough duelist to render his preparations useless, or be constantly alert for magic attacks and incoming grenades.
    • The optional boss in Act III will grind you alive if you decide to fight him. You've mastered everything except an attack by a freaking field commander. If you don't deal with the gargoyle reinforcements, he'll pummel you with fire magic. And all of this is considered a prelude to the giant dragon you'll have to fight as the final boss!
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has an elemental boss from a cold, cold place that walks the line between this and That One Boss, as he will kick your teeth in if you're not properly prepared and still comes early enough in the game to pose a real challenge for you, especially if you haven't yet mastered the art of dodging and alchemy preparation. Adding to that, you meet him right after defeating a Mid-Boss and your health may already be drained. Now, imagine a gamer who still had no idea that potions could be replenished via meditating and you've won yourself some Lessons, learned the hard way.
  • Mabinogi uses this. Being an MMORPG, which boss it is depends on how you play:
    • If you try to take Alby Dungeon Normal, you'll face the Giant Spider. While the enemies before this generally do single-digit damage even to raw newbies, the Giant Spider can kill you in two or three hits if you're not familiar with defensive tatics — an attribute which will be shared by both bosses and mooks going forward. It's also a Flunkyhat drain at least half of your SP each time the card activates, and at least a third of your HP, making healing yourself or even getting any skills in next to impossible, unless you have Roxis use a skill that removes some of the timecards.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Dragon Age: Origins's first "Red" (Boss) enemy is the Ogre. Up until this point, you've had some tough, but winnable battles, mostly against mooks, where some relatively simple tactics will generally win the fight. The Ogre, though... hooh boy... The entrance to the tower is a Wake Up Call Level, too. You're running headlong into a trap fanged by a fireball-using Emissary and several archers. That teaches you to get in smart, fast, and take down the enemy before you get taken down.
    • The first boss in Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening, The Withered, gives you a taste of being on the receiving end of the new high end talents available in the expansion. The moment you see all the damage dealt to him being reduced to zero thanks to "Carapace" is the moment you realize that the new abilities are not to be taken lightly.
  • Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden has the Ghost Dad. The first few bosses in the game were relatively easy to dispatch, and this boss, being a spectral Bill Cosby, doesn't seem like it would be any different until you actually fight it. Among his tricks are lowering your speed (giving him more turns), increasing his own power (which is already fairly high to begin with), and worst of all, inflicting the whole party with multiple random status ailments all at once. And he uses that last attack quite liberally, and it's even worse considering that there isn't a whole lot you can do about status ailments this early in the game. If you don't come into the fight prepared, he will wipe the floor with you.
  • Vagrant Story doesn't feature a single easy boss, but at least the first few don't require much skill beyond picking the right weapon type and not standing right in front of them when they try to hit you. Then, after around 3 hours of gameplay, you finally escape the first dungeon and reach the above-ground part of the city. Including the first human boss — a priest general — two screens away from the dungeon gate. For the first time, you're really going to need those armor spells, reaction abilities, and risk-reducing potions.
  • You can breeze through the first half of Atelier Annie quite easily by buying your raw materials instead of gathering and by ignoring jobs with attribute requirements. But then assignment 5 has you fighting a not-insignificant monster. If you've neglected to raise your exploration level, you're in trouble two ways. First, the monster will clobber you and you'll need either some level grinding or bomb items to win. Second, just beating him isn't enough for the Gold Medal — to get that, you must grind for a certain rare drop, trade it to an NPC for a specific weapon, find an item that makes a particular Supplement (which isn't even available unless your exploration level is at least 20), and then enchant the weapon with the right attribute using the supplement. Not too hard if you know it's coming, but if you don't, kiss the Golden Ending goodbye.
  • Breath of Fire II:
    • Augus. He gets two turns every round, and one of his actions is to charge up his next attack to do extra damage. Charging up then attacking in the same round will one-shot Katt even at full health (and Ryu and Rand if they're not pretty close to full health). Not only can he also heal himself, but it's also possible to face him with only Ryu and Rand if you messed up the coliseum event; God help you if you didn't push Katt out of the way of those darts.
    • Terapin, a giant turtle-like boss with a mind-control attack which forces you to attack your own party members. Both his fire breath and earthquake attacks do a ton of damage and affect the entire party.
  • Breath of Fire III:
    • Gisshan, Scylla and Charyb are not especially difficult if you're prepared, but they are a fancy way of telling you to prepare fire defenses before going into a fire dungeon, in case you hadn't gotten the memo.
    • Mikba is the second boss of the adult era. His battle is the point where the brakes come off, and just transforming into the nastiest dragon you can make won't be enough to win anymore. He specializes in Reprisals, deals nearly-fatal damage with each shot, you start the fight with one party member knocked out, and waking Rei up has its own dangers. Keeping your team healed and shielded, and not unleashing Rei's Weretiger power blindly, is necessary for success.
  • Breath of Fire IV has Ymechaf, which is encountered roughly a quarter through the game. His attacks are fairly powerful, but his defense is sky high. In short, the boss is the game's way of telling you "You're gonna wanna learn some of that combo magic."
  • The Etrian Odyssey series contains many good examples of this, such as a F.O.E. on the very first floor of the game that will utterly destroy most mid-leveled parties and demonstrate to the player that you should not actually try to kill everything the very first time you encounter it. Then you have the first boss, for which you'll learn the hard way how to prepare for a real fight for survival or else your adventure will be halted (Chimaera in Heroes of Lagaard and Amalgolem in Beyond the Myth are especially cruel at this).
  • Secret of Evermore has two bosses that will make you realize that yes, you do need to learn a bit more about this game's combat system if you want to reach the ending.
    • The first is Salabog, the massive sea serpent in Prehistoria. He has 2000 HP (compare to the previous boss's 600), he spawns mooks that can hurt you by touching you (they're made of FIRE), and he only emerges to spring an attack on you and to make more mooks. If you haven't learned how to use charged spear attacks, or haven't leveled your spear up enough to throw it at all, you're gonna be in for a long, painful, and ultimately futile battle.
    • The second is the Verminator, one of the later bosses of the medieval times world. This guy sits on a pile of crates, and will never come down, making him the first boss that you encounter which cannot be affected by regular attacks. He relentlessly uses status effect spells and attack spells on you, and, again, if you're no good with spear throwing, you're gonna die, since you'll run out of attack spells well before you get anywhere near killing him. You need to not only be very good with your spear, but also good with alchemy so you can cure the status afflictions he causes and protect against his attack spells. If, through some miracle, you've made it this far without learning about charged attacks, you're never going to win. The fact that he's placed at the end of the forest maze, and the fact that the inn and save point are so easily missed, add to the aggravation.
  • Number 9 in Parasite Eve 2 serves as a wake up call boss. He has a paralyzing attack and a one hit kill attack. He also has massive amounts of HP to boot. If the player doesn't realize to use the electrical boxes on him, or fails to find the MP5 or grenade launcher, there's not a lot of hope to beat him.
  • In Resonance of Fate, the first real boss "Tar Man" Will destroy your team repeatedly, until you master the combat system and learn that not every move needs to be a "Hero Action." Even then, he has a lot of armor and requires multiple death-defying passes to take down. To top it off, he will regenerate his health (but not his armor, thankfully) if you don't kill him fast enough.
  • The Marid King in Last Scenario is something of a rude awakening if you thought the game had been tricky up to that point. He serves to teach you that a) status effects in this game are pure evil and b) stealing from random encounters is not a waste of time. If you didn't grab an Alarm Bell or three from the kelpies, your entire party is going to wind up asleep. And, irritatingly, you can't backtrack from that dungeon to pick up more supplies. (You did keep a save file from before you left, right?)
  • ClaDun: This is an RPG! doesn't have very many boss encounters, and most enemies can be dealt with through basic attacks. However, when you reach the last floor of the Monster House, you'll have to deal with a fire knight, who has an incredibly powerful Flaming Sword attack and has a shield that greatly reduces damage from frontal attacks. If you haven't been making good use of your Magic Circles and Upgrade Artifacts, you're going to get beaten down repeatedly, even with high-leveled characters serving as your support/shields.
  • In Inazuma Eleven, things will go very smoothly up until you meet Mikage Sennō Junior High (Brain Washing Junior High in the English anime dub). Unlike your previous opponents, MSJH have much better defensive and ball-keeping stats than your vanilla footballers, and their Killer Techniques, especially those used to steal and keep the ball, are much stronger than most of your team's. It doesn't help that they won't lose any TP during the first half, which basically guarantees that they'll have drained poor Raimon Eleven's energies, unless the player brings enough items to sustain the characters. Worst of all, MSJH have the tendency to play very defensively after scoring a goal (something that is reflected in an episode of the anime).
  • Dragon Quest games can be hard, and often pack a Wake-Up-Call Boss to let you know that.
    • Dragon Quest II doesn't have many boss fights but they're usually this trope. The Gremlins will really test your strategic ability before you can get the ship. Think you're ready for Hargon's Castle? Say hello to three mini-bosses in a row; the first one (Atlas) deserves particular mention as one that WILL kick your ass if you're not up to speed.
    • Dragon Quest III: The first fight against Robbin' 'Ood is a huge lesson in why party buffs are essential to survive.
    • Dragon Quest VII has the hackrobat. He has tons of HP, gets two turns per round, can blind you, has a powered-up attack, and none of your magic works!!
    • Dragon Quest VIII has Geyzer, who is pretty tough for a first boss, but Don Mole has tons of HP, can call for backup, has an area-of-effect attack, and can confuse the entire party.
    • Dragon Quest IX has the Wight Knight. Did you recruit any allies at Patty's Place beforehand and level them up?
      • There's also the Ragin' Contagion later in the game, which teaches you why it's a good idea to have 1) an ally who can heal your party and 2) items that can cure status effects like Poison and Paralyze.
    • In Dragon Quest Heroes II: Twin Kings And The Prophecy's End, the fight against Maya in Ingenia's throne room will prove to be a pain in the neck. She retains all of the skills she had from her playable appearance in the prequel, dancing all over the battlefield while tossing her fans and high-level Sizzle spells at your party. Every so often, she'll use her Puff spell to bathe the area in flames, so if you don't heed your party's warning to block the incoming attack, you'll probably have to burn a Yggdrasil Leaf to pick one of your allies up from the ground.
  • In Dungeon Fighter Online, the lightning Knoll is the first boss that legitimately can give you trouble. It's the first boss that possesses powerful ranged attacks, and its moves can hit for a ton of damage. They also usually multihit, resulting in you failing a quest. Of course, he's easy relative to the later bosses.
  • In Golden Sun: The Lost Age, Badass Normal pirate Briggs is definitely this. He comes after you with two buddies for support, hits like a truck, uses both damage and recovery items, and will call more buddies if you take down the ones he starts with. Worst of all? It's way too easy to accidentally reach him far earlier in the game than you're supposed to, underleveled and underequipped.
    • Dark Dawn drops the Stealth Scouts on you in the Konpa Caverns, who also like damage/recovery items, team tactics, and add Standard Status Ailments (Stun Shuriken) and Mana Burn (Psy Grenades) to the menu. The last of these is a real terror unless you know how to exploit Djinn (and have collected them all!) or spam recovery items of your own, since it ruins the possibility of healing Psynergy.
    • The original Golden Sun was possibly the worst offender of this in the series. The player had likely fought a few bosses by the time they reach the Mercury Lighthouse. The bosses before it being a trio of bandits and (possibly) a possessed tree. Neither were exceptionally difficult. And then they must fight one of the game's main antagonists, who has a brutal physical attack, and plenty of hit-all Psynergy while you have no group heal spells or items. Oh yeah, and your recently acquired healer can die in one bad hit from him thanks to her elemental attribute. Have fun!
  • Qudamah the Jackal can be this for Two Worlds II players, as he's very easy to run into by accident while exploring and completing quests in the first act of the game and is considerably stronger than anything else you fought so far. The quest leading up to him is extra deceptive in that it makes you go after a bunch of weak Varns in a mine, lulling you into a false sense of security only to then throw this unholy canine-faced terror at you without warning. Hope you didn't save in the mine by the way (or have a backup save if you did), as you can't get out without killing Qudamah.
  • In The Dark Spire, most of the early bosses range from only a bit harder than normal fights to actually easier than normal fights. Then you hit the first boss with a breath weapon. It can nearly One-Hit KO your party. Then the second one can One-Hit KO most of your party, and the third can One-Hit KO all of it. All of these are designed to teach you the importance of the Cast Quickly command. If you don't use it, you will die.
  • Magical Starsign has the first encounter with Master Chard. It's a long fight, so you'll have to get used to party members gaining and losing advantage based on the planet orbits and day/night cycle; next, he has a devastating all-party hit which is telegraphed several turns in advance, teaching you how to prepare for and recover from battle-defining boss abilities; and his HP pool is so massive that you are almost guaranteed to run out of MP, forcing the player to appreciate strategic item use, which is a must when it comes to surviving difficult encounters in this game.
  • Baldur's Gate featured a tough early boss in Mulahey. Tarnesh — the mage in the Friendly Arm Inn — even more so. Beating him is something like a Luck-Based Mission: If you can successfully interrupt his initial protection spell, he is dead in seconds. If you can't, he's untouchable until he had the chance to decimate your party. His second spell makes its victims unable to fight back at all and sometimes it affects your entire party. There are several ways to deal with him (draw the much more powerful town guards into the fight so they can take care of him, just run into a building whenever he starts casting a spell to cause him to waste all his magic, etc.), but there's virtually no way a first-time player would ever think of any of them.
    • The next chapter features the Wolfpack Boss battle inside Tazok's tent. Before, most bosses could be quickly dispatched by throwing everything you have against the boss and shutting him down. Not here. Instead of one guy and, in Mulahey's case, a few weak skeletons, the tent contains a full-on party with a mage and three fighters. The mage is positioned well behind the tanks, out of reach of your melee fighters, who will be completely unable to get past the fighters without killing them. The mage will then immediately cast party-disabling AoE spells, starting with Horror, which almost always hits at this early stage, and will render your party helpless, running around in terror for up to a full minute while the fighters beat on them, with gruesome results. You're going to have to outlast the initial wave of spells, and pre-buff with spells or potions to improve your saving throws and ward against Standard Status Effects to survive this fight. Hope you brought a cleric or druid.
  • Pillars of Eternity has Lord Raedric, whom you can encounter as early as level 3, with a three—to-four man party. You can decide against fighting him, but otherwise, you will be going up against a hard-hitting, heavily armored boss, a bunch of his equally heavily armored flunkies, a couple archers, a Combat Medic priest, and a court wizard with Area of Effect damaging spells. Nothing in the entire castle (or, indeed, in the entire game until then) even comes close to this Difficulty Spike, which really pummels in the importance of choke points, crowd control, and prioritizing targets. On a larger scale, the mega dungeon under your own keep is comprised exclusively of entire Wake-Up Call Levels, that force you to invent new tactics on the fly to beat increasingly difficult monsters.
  • Air Man in Mega Man Battle Network 2 is pretty easy, and leaves you feeling pretty confident in your abilities. Then Quickman spends the whole fight jumping around so you can barely hit him, hits quite hard for that point in the game, and catches your bullets unless you nail him right before he throws a boomerang. It's your first real signal that BN2 is a bit of a Difficulty Spike from 1.
    • Flashman in Battle Network 3 serves to illustrate the fact that yes, enemies can use chips too, and quite effectively; one of his attacks brings up a pair of FlashLights in your area. In your first encounter, they have five Hit Points apiece, but failing to move quickly and destroy them both will result in an (at this point) unblockable stun (there's only one chip you can get at that point in the game that can block it, and the odds of getting it are slim). While you're stunned, he'll steal your front row and, in a move inspired by the AreaGrab+ Sword combo you used in the tutorial level, uses an attack that is guaranteed to hit at least once (since you're stunned) and leave your dodging room for subsequent attacks significantly reduced. As if that wasn't enough, his other attack is a fast attack that can move in either a homing pattern or a zigzag, and it's hard to tell which unless you have very good reflexes. The worst part is when the only other way to counter the attack is used (e.g. use an AreaGrab yourself); then the FlashLights become more spread out, and if you end up on any row but the back row and the lights go off, you still get hit. It completely fails if you just let them stun you on the back row, though.
    • Rogue in the 2nd Mega Man Star Force title. Unlike the previous bosses, he does not blatantly show off where he plans to attack with flashing panels, he moves quickly around the field, making slow attacks hard to connect, the window between planning for an attack and actually performing it is small (where the previous bosses could just be knocked out of an attack by all but a handful of attacks if the player was quick, or at least, they could get out of the way) AND he has an attack (that he spams) that requires dodging mid attack (as the delay after shielding leaves you open to the 2nd hit). This is one of the few times in games where you really will win by a thread like the plot suggests.
    • Unlike the preceding Bonne machines, The Marlwolf from Mega Man Legends will utterly Curb Stomp you if you're not ready. It's the first boss in the game that can use a shield-breaking move which not only homes in but has a huge hitbox, and you can only damage it by jumping on its back and shooting through the door when it's open. It also comes early enough in the game that the only possible sub-weapons you can have are the useless grenade and mine arms, and the machine arm which only becomes useful after a lot of costly upgrades. He basically exists to teach you that if you aren't spending time exploring ruins, buying armor and energy tanks, and purchasing upgrades, this game will hand your shiny blue ass to you.
    • In Legends 2, the Giant Mammoth you fight on Forbidden Island more than qualifies. You have no offensive weapons at the time (except the fire extinguisher), and depending on what difficulty you're playing on, his health bar can get rather large. Add some hard to dodge ice shots, and you have one tough cookie to take down!
  • The first real War Sequence from Freelancer, when you end up in Bretonia, tells how the next storyline missions are gonna be.
  • Many players seem to have problems with the Executioner on their first pass through Skies of Arcadia, but he's a breeze on repeated attempts. He's the first boss who can finish off your characters from even relatively high levels of health, and so he teaches players to keep their HP high at all times in boss fights. There's also the power of Increm. A big part of what makes the Executioner a pain is that he comes almost immediately after another boss, Bleigock, whose main strategy is poisoning your party and is a bit of a wakeup call boss in its own right. The game gives no indication that the Executioner fight is coming, so if you don't already know about the Executioner, there's a good chance you didn't heal up and save after you beat Bleigock.
  • In Baten Kaitos you have the Nunkirantula and Giacomo as wake up calls. The Nunkirantula will constantly buff its defense, and if you don't know basic elemental alignments, you'll be dealing out Scratch Damage very quickly. Giacomo, meanwhile, is almost impossible to beat if you're lazy with leveling and deck construction.
  • Baten Kaitos Origins:
    • The afterling in Olgan's mansion is the very first boss of the game, and is here to tell you just how brutal Origins' difficulty level is.
    • Like the first game, Giacomo rolls up to the party early on swinging his scythe and hitting like a runaway dump truck to teach you the importance of leveling up your party and properly constructing a deck. If you haven't taken the time to raise your level his Thrashingale can easily deliver a One-Hit KO even without being chained to a few regular attacks (it usually is), and his habit of knocking down individual party members and interrupting attacks means you'd better have thought to put enough healing and revival items in your deck for everyone to use.
    • The afterling at Botean Lake is the first boss fought with control over a full party. As in the previous example, he teaches players that it's vital to keep your health up as much as possible and that you must revive fallen party members immediately.
    • The Holoholobird is a mid-game example. If you just smashed your way through the first disc, going with whatever you drew, the Holoholobird will stomp you into the dirt. If you don't know about EX Combos, you'd better learn, because this is where the game stops messing around.
  • Fairly early in the SNES game Metal Max Returns, you face a pair of bosses called Big Cannons. Between them opening fire on you as you approach them on the world map, having very high HP and armor when you do reach them, and dealing a good bit of damage to your tanks, it's very hard to win simply by using your main cannons. The battles thus teach the player to use part-breaking attacks, making the bosses miss their turns and allowing you to survive long enough to bring them down.
  • The Macomb mission of Fallout Tactics — or more specifically, the barricade just before the library. The first three missions of the game you can just Rambo through, due to having better skills and weapons than your enemies. Then you start Macomb and the enemies now have better armor, aiming, and a knack for sniping you from the rooftops. It's still not too hard, but then halfway through, you open a gate and a random mook on the other side fires on you with a rocket launcher, while his pal crouching behind some sandbags tosses grenades at you. If you survive, you quickly get the message that it's time to put those stealth and ambush tactics they taught you in the tutorial to good use.
  • The Gnoll Chieftain, the boss of "The Decisive Battle" quest, is many Vindictus players' first introduction to just how tough the bosses of the game can get. If you try to take this guy like the rather easy bosses that came before him, you're going to get owned in short order. He is the first boss to make extensive use of smash attacks, which are more powerful than regular attacks, can lay you out with just one hit, and cannot be blocked with Fiona's shield without a special skill that you only learn after defeating him for the first time. His big-ass hammer takes off a LOT of HP with its smash attacks, often breaking your armor in the process (and trying to repair your armor with two tons of big red beast bearing down on you is no easy task!). He can also debuff your strength, reducing the effectiveness of your attacks and making it harder to pick things up and hurl them at him. Players taking this guy on must learn to read the boss's behavior in order to determine what's coming so that they can get the hell out of the way, as well as the use of things like spears and chains to stun the boss so that they can get off their combos and do damage before the boss recovers and brings the hammer to bear again. Needless to say, while you can solo him with difficulty, this guy is best taken with a party that knows what the hell it's doing.
  • In zOMG!, the first few zones (Barton Sewers, Village Greens, and Bill's Ranch) are fairly easy, as long as you've been collecting and leveling up your rings properly. The only time you'll really need to crew up is for the Gnome General boss. Where the Wake Up Call comes in is dependent on what the player chooses to do after they finish the "Ranch Hand" quest line. If players elect to help Ian with the "Denial of Service" quest line, they explore the rest of Dead Mans Pass, and fight the OMGWTF, who can decimate an unprepared crew. Players can instead elect to travel to Zen Gardens, in which Qixter and the dev crew remind you that just because this is a "casual mmo" doesn't mean it's an easy one. Zen Gardens stresses safety in numbers. Enemies in the southern area can either kill you in one hit, or Swarm you to death, while enemies in the northern half enjoy playing ping pong with you. But the real wake up call has to be Kat's Kokeshi Doll, the final boss of the zone. It's That One Boss for many players. Prior to the zone's revamp, defeating it was actually the first quest of the zone. And it wasn't instanced.
    • In a bit of irony, visiting the gardens is actually much more difficult if you fail to visit Dead Mans Pass, as you miss out on valuable Ring and Orb Drops. It's recommended that you take on OMGWTF before you head to the gardens. Your avatar will thank you.
    • Before the game's difficulty was lowered, She Wolf was this.
  • Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis has a rather mean one of these late in the game. If there are more than 3 timecards out on the field at any time, yours or your opponents, doesn't matter, the enemy will transform all of them into devastating attacks that drain at least half of your SP each time the card activates, and at least a third of your HP, making healing yourself or even getting any skills in next to impossible, unless you have Roxis use a skill that removes some of the timecards.
  • Silver Horn, third boss of Mega Man X: Command Mission. He has absurdly high defense, the ability to freeze one of your party members on the first turn, an attack that (while not very accurate, at least to me) can hit all three party members, and once you deplete enough of his health, he boosts his defense and attack power and starts using another powerful attack. This is only made worse by the fact that the new party member starts at level 1 and is weak to all elements. Fighting Wild Jango, the second boss, was more of just "heal and hope for the best" along with learning to use Spider. Silver Horn forces you to take element weaknesses into account to do anything.
  • Xord in Xenoblade serves simultaneously as this and That One Boss, being the only time in the game that you'll really have to knuckle your way through a Mechon fight without being able to use the eponymous MacGuffin to its full effect. If you are not properly leveled, and haven't mastered chain attacks, well, you'd better fix that, or you're not getting past the Ether Mine.
  • There are a number of examples in the early chapters of Xenoblade Chronicles 2:
    • For Chapter 2, the fight against Morag is a step up from the previous boss fights. While Dughall was complacent with his Blowdown attacks which can be prevented with a wind blade combo, Morag is a great deal more unpredictable, and can last quite a bit longer.
    • At the end of Chapter 3 is a fight against Malos, Akhos, and their blades. Either Malos will taunt your party into wasting attacks on his beefy setup, or Akhos will lock your blades out, costing you the chance to use them in combat.
    • Lila's a lot tougher than she looks. Her second fight in Chapter 4 might bring unprepared players to a standstill. She has many counters and shields, and becomes a lot more aggressive when she Turns Red. A chain attack finisher with plenty of preparation might make the difference between victory and death.
  • At the end of the battle on the ship in The Last Story (Chapter 12), you run into a giant terrapin-thing summoned by the ship's captain. While the earlier bosses are either Events or a Bullfight Boss, this one really forces you to think on your feet and learn its tells, because of a spinning-shell attack that will easily wipe out your part all at once, quickly depleting your supply of lives. There's also the Mystic Spider in Chapter 15: Its web attack can make it swallow party members, and if that happens to Zael as well, it's Game Over.
  • Due to it being a MMOG, chances are you will eventually stumble into one of these in Elsword. Those bosses will teach you that bumrushing isn't going to work. You'll have to be aware of automatic "super armor" which puts them into temporary no-flinch status once they've taken enough hits. Some of them also have super armor while executing certain attacks (usually the most powerful ones) and will be able to interrupt you mid-combo if you so much as hesitate.
    • Bereauk and Kayak are two bosses that will teach you how to pay attention to dodging. While the former is fairly forgiving as he does not do as much damage(but can drain you off mana easily with status effects), the latter has a homing magical projectile, devastating fire-based attacks and summons a previous boss once his health gets low enough.
    • Then there's Wally No.9, who, unlike other bosses faced so far, moves almost as swiftly as you, super armors at will and can take a potshot at you with no warning from across the map if you refuse to approach him. And you had to fight another boss just a minute earlier with no chance of recovery in-between.
    • And if any of those were not enough for you, Raven most definitely will be enough. Being one of the selectable characters, he follows the exact same movement rules as your player character and can combo you with impunity if you so much as let him hit you with his Nasod Arm.
  • The Epic Battle Fantasy series makes a point of having these in each installment beyond the first one:
    • 2 has the Guardian, whose Cognizant Limbs will regrow if you don't use the proper status effects, but will pummel you into the ground and bury you if you ignore them. This is where you learn there's no such thing as a Useless Useful Spell in this game.
    • 3 has the Wooly Mammoth, who does much of the same, except with a gigantic HP pool and some crazy hard strikes, with the summons acting as its medics.
    • 4 has the Praetorian, who also teaches you the exact same thing, except he uses an insane buff on itself that can get your party killed in one sweeping strike if you don't know what a dispel is.
  • Tharzog, the first boss in War in the North is a nasty surprise for ill-prepared players. He's assisted by hordes of respawning mooks, has a huge amount of health and all his attacks are unblockable. If you haven't mastered dodging attacks and using your abilities then expect to die a lot. Worse still, once you enter the battle there is no way of escaping to buy supplies or repair equipment which can turn a rather tough fight into a gruelling That One Boss.
  • The first (and only mandatory) Super Mutant Behemoth encounter in Fallout 3 can get many a low level character pulverized by its fire hydrant hammer, and inexperienced players can easily blow themselves up with the Fat Man that is provided. Worse, if Broken Steel is installed, you may have to fight a Super Mutant Overlord or two beforehand who start spawing at level 15 (out of 30 and prove a hard fight at max level!).
  • Xenogears:
    • Redrum is notorious for giving players grief, to the point of That One Boss territory if they haven't taken the time to not only invest the time in building their deathblows and the required grinding to gain access to them, using spells that increase resistance to elemental attacks and building the AP for the combo command. He has more health than the previous two bosses combined (and they were gear battles, to boot), but he also has an attack which can one-shot a party member and heal him for the same amount of damage he deals, a fire attack that hits the entire party (and heals him) and his physical attacks hit hard.
    • Calamity is the first boss in the game that isn't playing around. By this point, you have access to your first Gear upgrades, and Bart's Wild Smile ether technique. This is the game's way of forcing you to do more than simply spam X attacks. Try that on Calamity and it will thoroughly wreck your shit. Also, if you didn't do what the characters suggested you do and upgrade your Gears earlier (namely their engines), you won't stand a chance.
    • The gear fight against Dominia is kinder, but also pretty painful, as it is the first gear boss where healing the gears becomes possible, making it essential to not only equip the one you got onto Fei's gear, but learn how to balance Fuel for healing, damage and boosting the gear's speed, while taking her out and the add (which does heavy damage if you fail to, hence the boost). Fuel availability is still at a premium at this point.
  • The serpent Trio from Child of Light. It's a Wolfpack Boss with different elemental weaknesses for each head. The orange head deals moderate fire-elemental damage to both characters. The blue head does high water-elemental damage to one character. But the nastiest is the green head- it is incredibly fast, allowing it to interrupt Finn (the Squishy Wizard who uses elements effective against the heads) with ease, and also has a move that temporarily paralyzes a character. You'll be needing much healing in this fight.
  • The first boss in Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals is a simple affair of Attack! Attack! Attack! while healing whenever your HP gets low. The Big Catfish is a lot tougher and its Earthquake and Flash spells do a considerable amount of damage, capable of easily wiping you out if you don't keep Maxim's HP high. Tarantula comes later in and will painfully teach you to keep you ready for status ailments like Poison. And the boss summons minions that are not only quite strong but can easily turn the tide of the battle in the boss' favor.
  • The Garland Boss in Lufia: The Legend Returns is your first clue that boss fights aren't going to be a simple matter in this game. He's accompanied by two flunkies whom he can respawn as long as he's alive, and the three of them can dish out the hurt quite quickly.
  • The fight against Gades in Parcelyte in Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals. The only non-Degrading Boss you've fought to this point was Idura, who was a Flunky Boss with a simple gimmick to his fight. Gades attacks more aggressively than any other enemy, has much narrower openings for attack, and past the first phase will take any opportunity he gets to carve off half your HP meter after knocking you down. Spamming Potions is only going to get you so far here.
  • Fleuret Blanc:
    • The very first trophy bout, against Roland, tends to give people a lot of trouble. Though he averts being an Early-Bird Boss, he can still be confusing and unpredictable, making him into a Luck-Based Mission. He's supposed to teach players about the style point system, as the best strategy for beating him is to salute Grams and rack up enough style points that you'll win even if you run out of Hit Points. Unfortunately, as this is the player's first real foray into the combat system, this isn't readily apparent to most players.
    • Le Neuvieme, the next trophy bout, is an even more extreme version. He is an Early-Bird Boss, and his dodging strategy is even more unpredictable than Roland's. He's also even more focused on style points, necessitating that players really know what they're doing. Even the developer says this fight is "the bane of [his] existence"!
    • Inverted by Masque, the next boss. You may have thought Le Neuvieme was preparing you for a difficult style-off, but Masque is actually not a style fighter, making him refreshingly straightforward and predictable.
  • Digimon World 3 has the Byakko Leader, which marks the point where you can just brute-force your way through boss battles. His final Digimon, Mamemon, can randomly inflict the "Frozen" status (with a rather high chance rate) and once frozen, your Digimon will waste turn after turn doing nothing as Mamemon deals a Death of a Thousand Cuts. This marks the point where paying attention to status effects becomes important, as does customizing accessories for certain battles and having a decent stock of items in general. Datamon, fought not long afterwards, has a four-hit combo as his standard attack, which can quickly rack up damage, but since he's by himself it's not hard to Zerg Rush him. Multi-hit moves quickly become the norm for bosses soon after his introduction.
  • Undertale has three:
    • The first is Toriel, the boss capping off the tutorial area. Her attacks are powerful and harder to dodge than other enemies' (though if your health gets low, the attacks start avoiding you). Sparing her is the real wake-up call for the game. Sparing previous enemies required little more than selecting the correct command in the ACT menu and then selecting Spare. Doing this to Toriel results in no immediate reaction. Whittling her health down to try and convince her to surrender often results in delivering an accidental One-Hit Kill. You do get a hint if you kill her and then reset, but it also shows how the game will admonish you for this kind of action, both during and after the battle. It's a massive reminder that Sparing isn't as easy as it seems.
    • The second is Papyrus. His first attacks are nothing special... until he turns your SOUL blue, massively shaking up your methods of dodging. By messing with the fundamental game mechanics, he forces you to be able to quickly adjust to his harder-to-dodge attacks. Fortunately, Sparing him is far easier than Toriel - he automatically surrenders after enough time, if you lose to him he'll just capture you and lock you in his garage, and if you lose three times he lets you go free.
    • Undyne also serves this role no matter which route you take. Pacifist players will have to fight a relatively difficult boss with low stats, and must realize that they can't spare her; they'll have to evade her long enough to get to Hotland and give her water when she collapses from the heat. Genocide players will kill her in one hit, like every other boss, only for her to come back as Undyne the Undying, with faster and stronger attacks that will prove a challenge to even a Genocide player, making her the second most difficult fight after Sans.
  • The Bogeyman, in The Secret World, can be this for new players. The game relies on mobility and positioning far more than the average MMORPG, and if you haven't gotten that by the time you fight him in the game's second major zone, you're gonna have a bad time. The damaging wave has a buildup that should be familiar enough and easy to avoid if you're paying attention. His "purple rain" is also pretty straightforward, just don't stand anywhere that's about to explode. Much trickier is a one-two punch of attacks that require you to either get a certain distance away, or be within that same distance to avoid. Even if you're good for that, his final attack at roughly 1/4 health will probably kill you in one hit and covers most of the arena. It has a huge buildup and is obviously going to hurt, but given other games' use of Homing Boulders, many players don't think to just stand on the other side of a rock.
  • Rakenzarn Tales has three:
    • Buggy the Clown. He's not terribly strong, but he's your first solo fight with Kyuu, so you'll need to have learned how to use his Arxus Rouge class features, such as training for stat boosts outside of battle and switching equipment to suit the opponent, due to Buggy being immune to bladed weapons.
    • This is followed by the Blizzard Dragon. Here, more than the previous bosses, is where you learn about proper party composition, buffing, debuffing and exploiting enemy patterns and weaknesses. He's much stronger than the previous bosses to boot.
    • And one of the first Ultra Bosses is Asmodeous and Beelezebub. Both gals are very nasty and really hammer home how tough the game gets with its bonus bosses.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Morrowind: Snowy Granius is a battlemage who hangs out on the bridge to Arkngthand. He's wearing a heavy armor cuirass, wielding an axe, will likely summon a skeleton when he sees you, and knows several other damaging spells as well. For a player who has stuck to the main quest, this will likely be his or her first real challenge, and may even be the first non-critter the player has fought.
    • Skyrim offers several:
      • Salhoknir. Put off "A Blade In the Dark" long enough, and when he crawls out of that burial mound, you're going to have an Ancient Dragon when you may be only high enough of a level to be fighting Blood or Frost Dragons.
      • The Draugr Boss at the end of Bleak Falls Barrow. This is probably the first boss monster the player will encounter in the game, as well as the first opponent who will provide a challenge, unless you are unlucky enough to encounter a bear or a sabre cat on the way to Whiterun. The Wounded Frostbite Spider fought before you receive the Golden Claw is surprisingly tough as well.
      • Some dungeons, including a notable few on Solstheim, have particularly high level enemies that will spawn there. For example, upon running across Saering's Watch, where you obtain the first part of the Bend Will shout, you can be only level 30 and find yourself surrounded by Draugr Deathlords and Draugr Death Overlords, when you're used to fighting Restless and Scourge Draugr. Even on the lowest difficulty setting, be prepared to start chugging potions.
      • Hamelyn, the guy squatting in caves underneath the Honningbrew Meadery. Up to this point in the Thieves' Guild questline, your jobs have been burglarizing, extortion, pickpocketing, and arson - usually with specific instructions not to kill anyone or cause more harm than is necessary. Then WHAM!, they hit you with this guy. Surrounded by an army of skeevers and spiders, Hamelyn boasts impressive fireball spells and is nigh impossible to sneak to or past at lower levels (if you alert his "pets", you alert him as well). There is absolutely no warning that this guy is part of the mission, making it highly possible you didn't bring the right gear with you. Good luck with that. It's even lampshaded. The guy who hired you for the job KNEW about him, he just didn't want to scare potential recruits away. Would YOU have taken the job, if you knew what you were in for?
      • Going to High Hrothgar at too low of a level may result in the frost troll near the monastery serving as one of these.
      • Mirmulnir, first dragon soon after you Bring News Back from Helgen's destruction-by-dragon. True, you have the Whiterun Guard as backup, but seriously, you just left the First Town, Riverwood, not twenty minutes ago. (By the way, the dragon you fight isn't the same dragon that attacked Helgen.)
  • Cademmimu in Star Wars: The Old Republic was full of these. While not the first flashpoint after The Esseles or Black Talon, everything between it (Athiss, Hammer Station, Mandalorian Raiders) was full of mechanics that veered between simple tank and spank, Shoot the Medic First, or were, after World of Warcraft, simple in nature and a lot of players would easily figure them out. Cademmimu on the other hand, required players to kite mobs around to avoid crowd control or Death by a Thousand Cuts and pay attention to environmental hazards. The final boss of Cademmimu was a notorious newbie trap in the day, as he would make 3/4ths of the stage an almost instant death trap, forcing the players to run over to the safe segment.
  • Darkest Dungeon gives you an idea of the difficulty ahead of you by sticking one of these bosses as the second fight of the game, who is more than capable of killing your starting heroes for the more unfortunate players. Similarly, the Crimson Court DLC has a miniboss hidden as early as your first expedition there and is rather unforgiving.
  • The Wrothian definitely fit the bill in Xenoblade Chronicles X. They are all extremely fast, extremely tough and Ga Jiarg has a One-Hit Kill move to boot. And then they get into Skells, where they are just as quick but even harder to kill.
  • The fight with the strippers in the Peppermint Hippo in South Park: The Fractured but Whole becomes this in stage 2; getting to Classi will have her summon Spontaneous Bootay, a plus-sized stripper who acts as an Advancing Wall of Doom that will one hit kill the New Kid and Captain Diabetes if she gets too close. She attacks on a timer that constantly charges during character turns, is invincible to any and all damage and effects, and all the other strippers start adding knockback to their attacks to drive the heroes back towards Bootay. The player must act fast and keep moving or be crushed to death by her massive butt.
  • Vay has the battle against Krager's Wind Elemental in Mt. Bole. It can deal two physical attacks per turn and use a variety of lightning-elemental spells on you (including the dreaded Megablast, an Area of Effect attack that's almost guaranteed to KO one or both of your Squishy Wizards). Not only is it a Damage-Sponge Boss with about 5000 HP, but your own magic spells will have little effect on it, so your best options are to keep smacking it with your weapons and hope that it doesn't feel like Megablasting your party.
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle has the Pirabbid Plant. Up to that point, most enemies use normal attacks that can be avoided by staying behind cover. The Pirabbid Plant, however, uses a rocket launcher as its primary attack, which can both destroy most available cover and hit whoever's behind it with splash damage as well as setting them on fire. Said attack is also more powerful than any other enemy's attack, and outranges almost all of your available attacks, forcing you to get close to hit it.
  • Monster Girl Quest has the Queen Harpy. Up until now, you could get by with "attack-heal" strategy. The Queen Harpy shows you that attacking without paying attention will get you stomped flat from that point on by having an insta-death counterattack. It drives home that you need to watch what the enemy is doing instead of attacking continuously.
  • In Miitopia, if you haven't been utilizing the Safe Spot, you're going to have a hard time against the Pharaoh. During the battle, Miis may become inflicted with a status effect that causes them to offer up healing items to the Pharaoh. Putting the affected Mii in the Safe Spot prevents them from doing this. Needless to say, if you weren't making use of the Safe Spot before this boss fight, you're probably going to start using it more afterward.
  • Sacred Earth - Promise: Balcruade and Zuleika are far more difficult than the Beholder boss, since they can easily exploit your characters' elemental weaknesses. The battle serves to teach the player how to do the same to them, as well as how to use auras to cover elemental weaknesses.
  • Eye of the Beholder: The giant spiders and the whole fourth level of the first game can be considered this trope. Prior to this, the first three levels are set in the sewers beneath the city of Waterdeep and involve weaker enemies such as kobolds and undead. The fourth levels and beyond contrast by resembling ancient labyrinths but the enemies get much harder. Specifically, you immediately encounter giant spiders upon landing in the fourth level. The spiders can poison you and you probably only have limited means of curing the poison status at this stage in the form of a "slow poison" spell. It's not unusual to have characters die from poison damage before you can find antidotes.

  • Dungeon Crawl starts out fairly merciful for an old-school roguelike. (Noting that this is a relative statement.) After a player's died a few times to kobolds, goblins, and the like and gotten a feel for how the game works, they might start to think they're getting the hang of the game. Until they meet either Sigmund or Grinder. It's up to the Random Number God to decide which comes first, both spawn somewhere between levels 3 and 6, with Sigmund also having a chance to show up on level 2 if the player is really unlucky.note  Either one will teach the player two of the game's most important lessons about playing a game with permadeath: nothing is Too Awesome to Use, and retreat is a valid option.
  • Megaera the Fury in Hades is the game's first 'proper' boss and and defines the boss gameplay of subsequent floors. Until she shows up, the player has fought nothing but mooks in random rooms plus a pair of Mini Bosses, most of whom have slow, easily telegraphed attacks and have a few hundred Hit Points at most. Megaera always faces Zagreus in the same identical room (the last room of Tartarus), has several thousand Hit Points, has several additional attacks she unlocks each time she loses a thousand of them (with a period of Mercy Invincibility as she unlocks them), and her damage is high enough that she will kill a full-health Zagreus in four to five hits if you haven't picked up any Centaur Hearts.

    Shoot 'Em Up 
  • Big Core in Gradius counts by himself, and then there's Big Core Rev. 2.1 in the first stage of Gradius V. As is the Bubble Core (Stage 2) in the arcade version of Gradius III. The Yoragaton Chimera is this in the first stage of Gradius IV.
  • Fire Hawk has a not-too-difficult first stage, then the boss is borderline Bullet Hell and takes a zillion hits to kill.
  • Thunder Force V's Stage 3 boss, Armament Armed Arm (aka A3). The bosses of the other two initial stages can be beaten in about 5-10 seconds each by simply getting up close to them and spamming Free Range's Over Weapon, but that's not the case here. A3 has three forms and each starts using attacks right away; carelessly point-blanking it will most likely result in losing multiple lives (and possibly Free Range).
  • Thunder Force VI has Gargoyle Perfect, the boss of the first stage. His flamethrower attack makes him a bit tricky to kill with a forward-firing weapon such as Rynex-R's Thunder Sword.
  • Touhou games usually make you start trying on the second or third stage boss. Some notable examples:
    • Imperishable Night is pretty easy right up until you hit the stage three boss, Keine. Her patterns are all fairly difficult and can't be easily neutered by killing her familiars.
    • Subterranean Animism starts out fairly normal, but lets you know what it's really about with the second stage boss, Parsee: Puzzle attacks! It's going to take a few tries to be able to handle her at all, and this is going to be true of most everything going forward.
    • Ringo is the second boss of Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom. The game isn't particularly brutal up to that point, and she provides a taste of her corridor danmaku during her brief midboss fight. In her boss fight, however, she opens up with long, curving corridors of bullets that require precise movements, followed by Strawberry Dango / Berry Berry Dango - a micrododging card with two overlapping layers of tiny bullets. After that, she also has a spell card that spreads bullets from multiple directions while restricting the player's movement by a ring of danmaku and finally her September Full Moon / Lunatic September card, which is just pure micrododging of tiny bullets in density that is simply unheard of by stage 2 standards. And woe betide any seasoned Hard / Lunatic mode veteran who tackles the harder difficulties straight away, as her nonspells not only turn from straight bullet corridors into steep corridors that span most of the screen's horizontal length, but also get tighter and tighter, finally transforming into plain, tight and fast grid of bullets to weave through and forcing the player to switch from macrododging to extreme micrododging in a splitsecond (reminiscent of Yukari's infamous Boundary between Wave and Particle spell card), making her an even more of an example on these difficulties.
  • The early levels in Bangai-O have fairly simple bosses that shouldn't give you too much trouble (especially since Sabu is fought in the first four). Then, you get to 86, level 8's boss. She uses reflective lasers like Mami's, forcing you to use EX attacks and keep your distance more effectively in battle.
  • The hardest of the first four bosses in Giga Wing is the battleship. Two people have this as their first stage in the rotating stage lineup.
  • Heavy Weapon has three, depending on your level of skill:
    • The first one is War Blimp, who has a Meteor Tractor Beam that makes meteors rain down on you. Sounds cool, but this is not as dangerous as its "Roto-Mines", which are basically homing mines that can take a lot of damage.
    • If you found War Blimp easy, then War Wrecker is this if you don't get down the strategy to avoid its One-Hit Kill wrecking ball (otherwise, he's a Breather Boss).
    • If you found War Blimp and War Wrecker pushovers, then it's Kommie Kong / Gorillazilla that will give you trouble. Getting stomped on is an easily avoided One-Hit Kill, but the Bursting Rockets it throws are a lot harder to avoid, especially in the PC version.
    • Surprisingly enough, Twinblade in Boss Blitz can be this. To put it, you (probably) get at least one power, rapid fire, Spread Shot, and some Nuke and Shield upgrades during the first level before fighting it. In Boss Blitz, you fight it immediately, with only one level of shield, and nothing else whatsoever. If you can't makes its missiles misfire or shoot them down in time, you're toast in 2 hits.
  • Enigmata 2 has the Mega-Goliath. The previous bosses weren't very tough if you upgraded your ships and weapons accordingly, but this guy is different- it takes up about 2/3 of the field (you have the bottom 1/3 of the screen to avoid everything), has a main body and four destructible turrets that spew loads of painful fire, and even if you destroy the turrets, the main body still has a megaton of hit points, much more than any other boss you've fought so far. It quickly turns into a battle of attrition from the get-go.
  • Star Fox 64, if you go to Fortuna, has the first encounter with the Star Wolf Team. Up until then, if you haven't become used to All-Range Mode, or if you tend to dilly-dally when your teammates need help, you'll be frantically spinning plates trying to keep yourself from getting shot and keeping your teammates from being shot down while chasing these blips that keep whirling around in circles on your radar. Also, if you rely on homing charged shots instead of actually getting good at aiming, you will fail because the enemies are nearly immune to charged shots. You either learn to be fast and decisive when fighting, especially in All-Range Mode, or you die...or more embarrassingly, fail the Timed Mission part of the level. Which is also the boss encounter. And up until then, the worst thing that happens if you stall in a boss fight is that you don't get that many points!
  • The Rusted Dragon in Hellsinker is much harder than the bosses of the first three stages. Blowing off its parts, which normally weakens bosses, only serves to make it harder and more evasive. However, if the player is doing horribly, you can actually skip the entire boss fight.
  • Sunset Riders, for a super optimistic game set in The Wild West, had two of these:
    • The second boss, Hawkeye Hank Hatfield. His henchmen shoot fast, he is very fast too and just to surprise the player/s he will JUMP into their zone and shoot at them while ducking. Way different from Simon Greedwell who just stood there taking shots, Hank moves around like crazy.
    • The first of Sir Richard Rose's henchmen, El Greco. He actively blocks the player/players's shots, only whipping when he's not hiding behind his shield, and said whip has a lot of range. Players who thought they could get by just filling the screen with bullets usually end up losing a fair few quarters to this guy.
  • In spite of being a Final Boss, Violent Ruler from Dariusburst Another Chronicle is this as well, due to the game being short and designed around replay value. Fought in Zone H, the topmost and therefore easiest of the five final stages, it has a lot of hit points and, unlike most prior bosses, has no parts that can be chipped off to disable or weaken attacks, effectively teaching you that it and the other four final bosses (nine in Dariusburst Another Chronicle EX) can't simply be cheesed.

    Simulation Game 
  • The enemy ace squadron encountered in the player's first trip to the Round Table in Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War is the first major aerial enemy you face in the game and can be quite difficult to take down in starter fighters within the time limit, although with more advanced birds in the New Game+, they are a good deal less tedious. Most of the ace squadrons across the series, in fact, qualify.
  • Armored Core For Answer has White Glint, who is notorious for chewing through newbies to the game, using its overwhelming speed to dodge all of their attacks.
  • Gran Turismo 2, 5 and 6 put limits on what cars you can bring to certain events in the form of horsepower limits in 2, and Performance Points, tire selection, and car type restrictions on 5 and 6, typically after the first few cups you can participate in at the start of the game. Know what this means? You can no longer cheese certain races by bringing in a ridiculously superior hypercar or something with a turbocharger that could be mistaken for one of those steam turbines that power battleships while everyone else is puttering around in hatchbacks or by putting on soft slicks practically made of glue: you have to learn the art of tuning and car setup to squeeze out as much performance as you can rather than just showing up with more performance than the other guy.
  • Dwarf Fortress, specifically fortress mode, has the Werebeasts. They don't have most of the limits on when they can suddenly arrive at your fortress (and thus are among the few big threats that can drop on you in the early game), and any mishandled attack will end up killing your fortress either immediately or eventually due to werebeast infection. If you don't set up your fortress in a way that adresses them, be it entry routes you can easily block out at a moment's notice, a trap setup that can cover for the [TRAPAVOID] tag or a competent military that can minimize bites, the fort is as good as lost. If you don't make a point to check the Reports to screen out who got bitten and quarantine them, the fort is also as good as lost the next time full moon comes. And you will keep losing fortresses until you learn.

    Sports Game 
  • In Arc Style: Baseball!! 3D, Fujieda and his pitching teammates from the Rhinos let you know that the game is not all about hitting slow fastballs in the center of the strike zone. The implementation of the forkball and pitching around the strike zone can really surprise you after 3 Easier Than Easy games.
  • The Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves, the first two teams you face in NBA Jam, qualify as these. In both the original and the tournament edition, the Mavericks are one of the fastest and most efficient shooting teams in the game; Jamal Mashburn (or Mike Iuzzolino) can easily make players' lives a living hell. The T'Wolves can slip up a careless player in the Tournament Edition due to the fact that Christian Laettner and Chuck Person sink 90% of their shots to end a quarter. And when you get to the Charlotte Hornets, the game tells you: "welcome to Hell." Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning are Lightning Bruisers who can shoot the lights out, while Hersey Hawkins cannot be discounted thanks to his own speed and shooting ability.
  • Winnie the Pooh's Home Run Derby has Kanga and Roo. Eeyore, Lumpy, and Piglet all throw extreme fastballs that Pooh must home run each and every time... but at least they're flying straight. Kanga and Roo are the first of the 8 stages to start throwing physics-defying balls that move so erratically you'll strike out well before you even have a chance to compete.
    • Owl becomes one after the relatively "easy" Breather Boss that is Rabbit as his start to zigzag through the air and requires Pooh to have split-second reactions to hit them.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • Resident Evil 4 features a wicked and terrifying early encounter with the chainsaw-wielding Dr. Salvador. Aside from being horrifying, this nasty enemy probably killed 90% of gamers the first time they set foot into the opening village, because his chainsaw will instantly behead you if he gets close, and he has a whopping 40HP at a stage when your handgun only does 1 point per shot. Players can avoid this encounter by passing up the shotgun during the opening shootout and avoiding the eastern path out of the village (yes, if you really screw up you'll potentially have to deal with two of them), which given you have only a weak pistol and a couple of grenades is a sort of wake up call in itself.
  • Resident Evil 5 concludes the first level with the Executioner, whose hard-hitting reinforcements continually respawn until the timer expires, and who wields a gargantuan axe that will One-Hit Kill players on Veteran and Professional.
  • Vanquish's Bogey, despite only being the second boss, can be very frustrating, having high HP, fast flight ability making it difficult to hit with the heavier weapons, Roboteching beam spams just like the player's Lock-On Laser, EMP bombs that cause Sam's armor to overheat, a plasma Chest Blaster that can OneHitKill, and to top it off, a Press X to Not Die sequence at the end.
  • Splatoon 2 has the 2nd boss, Octo Samurai, who attacks with a much more random pattern of moves and requires a lot more damage to take down. He's especially a wake-up call for players who played the first Splatoon, as he doesn't follow the "attack with a pattern of obviously telegraphed moves" method used by almost every boss in that game.
  • Warframe has either a Conculyst or Battlyst (the game will choose one or the other) during the quest The Second Dream, which is the first Sentient-type enemy the player will encounter. What makes it this trope? Besides having access to some very high damaging attacks, they also adapt to any damage inflicted on them, making them take up to ninety percent less damage from any damage type used against them. Worst of all? This "boss" is a mook, and you will be fighting more later, which are just as strong as it is, if not even tougher.

    Tower Defence 
  • The Battle Cats is fairly easy during Empire of Cats, until the Moon level in Chapter 3. The boss, Teacher Bun Bun, requires the player to have a strategy and defend their long-ranged Cats well, and is almost impossible to defeat without having collected most of the Treasures. These things are true of most bosses later in the game, as well.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • In Super Robot Wars Original Generation, Maier V. Branstein is this to Kyosuke. He commands a battleship with 50,000 HP and an energy field that will negate weak attacks. To reach him you have to break through the Troye Unit (all of whom have support), some Barrelions, two other bosses, and two smaller but still resilient battleships. Use your best attacks too early and you're in for a slow agonizing defeat. Spend your Ammo, EN and SP wisely and you'll claim victory. EN drain the boss to disable his energy field and he'll be downright easy. Fridge Brilliance ensues when you remember that the Divine Crusaders' objective is to prepare humanity for the alien threat.
    • Bian Zoldark could also count for Ryusei. Mostly because this is probably the first time you have to face a boss that has a unique robot (as opposed to others which were mostly just stronger variations of Mooks). His Valsion hits like a truck and can easily one-shot your weaker units if you're not careful, and like the above example, has a barrier that can strongly reduce the damage he takes, causing you to try to drain his EN and hoping that the one or two mech you have it equipped to doesn't get shot down. You also have to eliminate a horde of turrets just to get to him, which thankfully aren't that difficult by themselves but it does allow him to take potshots at you. But again, the Fridge Brilliance from above applies. And that's not even getting into if you are trying to get the Battle Mastery and take on Shu as well.
    • In Alpha Gaiden, Gym Ghingham is a much higher step up from what you have been facing up to this point. With much higher stats than what bosses up to this point had, you will be forced to use your SP carefully so that you have enough to avoid his attacks, which are One-Hit Kill and to hit him as well. He also has a high percentage of regeneration to his health, and if that wasn't enough, at half health, he casts Guts, a spirit command that completely regenerates his HP and EN, and to top it off there is a 13 turn time limit, a few of which will be spent just getting to him. The only reason he is here and not just a That One Boss is that most if not all bosses after this point will employ similar tactics.
    • In Super Robot Wars Destiny you have stage 6 of the Earth Route. At the very start of the mission you have only Mazinger Z and Mazinger Z versus a bunch of Ruina Mooks.
    • In Dark Prison, you have Thomas Platt and his Guarlion Custom. Players may ask "So what? I've got Shu and the Granzon so how hard could this be?" First off, the battle mastery requires that players must shoot him down. Sounds easy, except the guy chooses to defend instead of counterattack, which then cuts the damage output. So players may go "eh, we'll just upgrade the Granzon then", except this happens as early as stage 3 so players won't even have any money to even upgrade any mech at this time. This is the point where players must figure out when to use an "Armor Breaker" from Shu's Granworm Sword and when to shoot down bosses via a Counter-Attack. And that is just one of the many weird battle mastery requirements of Dark Prison.
  • It's practically a Fire Emblem tradition that after six to ten chapters of relatively easy bosses, you encounter a promoted boss who is much harder than any you've previously encountered; said boss is normally a General or a similar melee class, and often has a fairly high commanding rank among his nation.
    • Chapter 4 of Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 is a Wake Up Call Level. The first few chapters are your standard FE fare where you get to kill a few bandits and storm a castle. Then in chapter 4 you start out with a new party out of which 4/5 of your members are locked in a cell and don't have any equipment at all save for everything Leif and Lifis brought with them but these are locked in chests all while one or two Soldiers come as reinforcements every turn. It's there to show that yes, this game will put you in sticky and disadvantageous situations like these often.
    • Although it is a bit more difficult all-around compared to the other two GBA games in the series, the first few bosses in Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade are either armor knights or social knights, meaning that they fall quickly to Roy's rapier. If you fulfill the easy conditions for the first gaiden chapter, however, you not only get a stage full of fireballs that can take out a member of your party at low HP, but the boss is a Hero! A promoted unit, when yours are likely level 16 at best, with such unbelievable evade that even Roy's rapier will only have a fifty percent chance of hitting him. He stacks the deck further by using a Hand Axe against ranged attackers and a Steel Blade to hit even harder directly.
      • While Batta "The Beast" from The Blazing Blade is a Warm-Up Boss in Normal Mode - that you can't lose to thanks to being railroaded by a tutorial - notice that he whittles Lyn's HP down to almost nothing first. In Hard Mode, the training wheels are off, and you'll have to choose wisely when to press the attack or Lyn will die easily to the first boss of the game.
    • Fire Emblem Awakening:
      • Prologue boss Garrick on Lunatic mode. As if surviving the merciless enemies in the chapter didn't drive the point home, he serves to teach you that you better have some strategy, fully healed units, and pair them up when you take on enemies and bosses alike, or else you will get slaughtered!
      • A Wake-Up Mook appears in the very next chapter on Lunatic: a Fighter with a Hammer. Your Crutch Character Frederick, whom you had to lean on just to make it through the Prologue, is weak to that weapon and will either take massive damage or die if he hits, proving the importance of using Frederick wisely. (On Lunatic+, it's possible this Mook will randomly obtain combinations of skills that render the chapter Unwinnable!)
      • Masked Marth actually serves as this. On the higher difficulties, his stats are considerably higher than anything you've fought so far, he moves, unlike most bosses, and the cheap tactic of wearing out the boss' weapons won't work because his Falchion has infinite uses just like Chrom's. (And unlike Chrom, he can use to heal himself, too!) If you haven't learned how to effectively use the Pair Up system, Marth will walk all over you.
    • Fire Emblem Fates has Chapter 10 of Birthright/Chapter 11 of Revelation has Kotaro, both times using the same map:
      • In Birthright, he's equipped with a Dual Shuriken. Axes and Bows beat knives....but wait, why are you shown to be at at disadvantage? If you read the description, then you learn that it INVERTS THE WEAPON TRIANGLE AND DOUBLES THE EFFECT, meaning that the Bow/Axe user you just sent to engage him is asking to die. The fact that he's a promoted unit with a high AVO makes this all the better.
      • In Revelation he is even worse. He was smart enough to ditch the Dual Shuriken because it made him pitifully weak vs Swords. Instead, he came with both a steel shuriken and a steel katana, meaning that you have to look twice at their inventory before attacking. Getting to him is even harder since there are other promoted units besides him this time, and they won't make it easy getting to him.
    • Fire Emblem Gaiden:
      • The Boss in Mook Clothing mercenary with a leather shield. This enemy teaches you to be ready to use magic since some enemies with high defence will reduce your most powerful attacks to Scratch Damage.
      • Berkut at the beginning of Act IV of Echoes. The gloves are off, so you better start making sure Alm's army is ready to face the might of the Rigellian Army since even standard Mooks are now promoted.
      • The first battle of Archanea Seaway sets the mood for the postgame, featuring much much more powerful enemies.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses has the battle in Chapter 5 against Miklan and his gang of thieves. While it looks like a normal boss battle with the exception of Miklan wielding a legendary weapon (that causes lots of damage to him when you engage in combat because he lacks the Crest to wield it properly), things get dicey when you defeat him and the Relic transforms him into a Demonic Beast, with a pop-up tutorial before the second phase of the battle to show the player how fighting monsters is much different from dealing with humanoid enemies.
  • In a way, Silicoid encounters in Sword of the Stars. If you can't clear them without losing a single ship, you don't have anywhere near enough PD to take on enemy systems.
  • The first battle with Mid-Boss in Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. While neither he nor his troops are unusually strong, the battle does mark the first time where understanding both throwing and geopanels (two things which you can breeze through the first few stages without using) are vital. Without these, it's likely that a first-time player will have half of his army blown away by the geopanel-boosted Archer and Mage before he gets to his fourth turn. That said, even if you lose you get to see a unique ending.
  • Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance:
    • The fights aren't particularly difficult up until your first fight with General Bloodis about four stages in. Bloodis fights alone, which may seem like the easiest situation (most fights up to this point are about crowd control and avoiding being ganged up on from all sides), however his health is exceptionally high, way too high in fact for a regular unit. Furthermore, his stats are pretty potent. The thing that really screws you, however, is his evility and his overload. His evility makes it so any enemies within 2 panels are given only 1 movement, which is downright cruel and makes retreating with a weakened unit an absolute non-option. This makes strategizing moves so you don't accidentally beat the hell out of your own army in the crossfire a daunting task. Then there's his overload... all stats doubled for three turns. If you were scratch-damaging him before, be prepared to be one-shot per hit now while likely either missing or doing 0 damage. Taking Bloodis on comes down to learning how to use your specials and attacking from behind as much as possible, so be ready to have him test you on your mechanics knowledge. If you try to cheese this fight by using the strategy of grabbing him and then holding him (which results in your unit dying, but he couldn't do anything that turn since he had been lifted), you can't. One of his common evilities increases his stats in return for removing his ability to be lifted.
    • When you face Majorita at the start of the post-game, you find yourself really sandwiched between an army of undead and Majorita's whopping level of 300. The final boss was only around 100, so this is a massive jump. Furthermore, even after you beat her, you still have 1 more fight with her at level 500 before you finish the starting chapter of the post-game. Have fun with the rest of it. Your only saving grace is that, unlike the main game, she doesn't have access to her overload, which quite frankly would only drag this fight out even moreso. Hope you learned how to use your overloads and maxed out some weapons. Cheesing her with the grab strategy isn't easy either, as her casting distance is so huge that it's hard to get close without a high-movement unit or being tossed straight to her.
    • Bloodis returns in the post game to really show you how rough the land of carnage is going to be. Not only does he have his overload, not only does he have his evility, not only does he have multiple units with him, but he also magichanges with a bear to get an extremely strong fist weapon, has access to most of the fist skills in the game and all of his specials, and has carnage level stats, meaning he's above and beyond a boss unit at this point. After you beat him, you still have one more boss before the post-game story ends, and then you gain access to the carnage world, where the enemies truly make Bloodis look like a chump. Additionally, it's highly likely that if you can beat Bloodis, you're still several 0's off in your stats from taking Baal down.
  • The Nintendo Wars series has two cruel examples one right after the other in the first GBA game:
    • After being guided by the hand through the tutorial mode and taking down Olaf in the first campaign mission, you're probably feeling pretty confident. The very next mission you face Grit, a commander who gets both a range and power bonus to the already powerful indirect fire units in a map that forces you to march direct units down a narrow path that is covered by his units from across the river. The entire point of this mission is to hammer home the fact that Olaf is the weakest commander in the game and there are much nastier battles ahead.
    • If you didn't learn your lesson against Grit, the very next mission you face Eagle, a commander who gets an attack bonus to the already deadly air units and who's CO Power allows non-infantry to attack twice in a row. Unlike the mission before where you can still bumble your way through thanks to the indirect unit's lack of counterattacks, when you face Eagle there is no room for error: make one single mistake and his units swoop right in and blow you away.
    • The first few missions in Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising pit you against Flak (the weakest Black Hole commander) with characters like Andy and Max and in missions which are hard to lose even on purpose. Then you face Lash, who's a great deal more competent than Flak in both game and story. The enemy gets a factory to deploy new units while you don't, and you only get seven days to win the battle. It's not overly hard, but a huge step-up in victory since if you do less than perfect, Lash's terrain perks will bog you every step of the way. There's probably a reason why you control Sami, whose talents focus on capturing cities more quickly, and thus, it's a race to Lash's HQ.
    • You face Adder next, who's more of a Jack-of-All-Trades with a Fragile Speedster streak. You'll likely face him as Grit first, who must pound his forces with artillery before his tanks get too close to you. It's a big deal to prioritize targets in this case.
    • In the Green Earth campaign, you finally face off against Hawke, who's far more deadly than any of his subordinates. There's a reason his CO meter takes so long to recharge: it'll both damage your units and repair his own, and you often fight him in large maps. It's telling when the previous two commanders, Lash and Adder, seem like comic relief when you fight them in said campaign (Flak is flat-out finished off as an opponent).
    • The eighth mission in Advance Wars: Dual Strike is a brutal step up in difficulty from the previous battles you've been winning. You're facing both Jugger and Lash at the same, and this battle teaches you about one of the main gimmicks of the game. Long story short, if you don't plan out your moves and/or don't have Sasha as your CO, their Dual Strike will ensure that you have a bad time.
  • Energy Breaker has the SS System. If you haven't learned to use stat-buffing abilities such as Burning Arm and Windy Shoe, you'll be unable to do more than Scratch Damage to the boss. Also, while every battle in the game has a turn limit, this is the battle that hammers in its importance, as you must divide your party between attacking the main boss and fighting its flunkies, leaving little time to spare.
  • The mission where you face the Hell's Wall Unit from Front Mission for the Super Nintendo. Up until know you've been outnumbered by weak, nameless units that go down easy. This mission pits you against five, extremely powerful units with custom wanzers who each have one or two Pilot Skills while you're lucky to have any and certainly haven't face any foes with them yet. You'd better pray you've figured out how to gauge weapon distances and movement ranges, or Hell's Wall will hand your ass to you.
  • While Basic and Advance aren't insanely challenging in Gungnir, Nightmare starts off easily enough, making one wonder if it will actually live up to its name. Then comes the Gate of Lament battle, where even your Crutch Character isn't enough to carry you through without really good tactics.
  • Genjuu Ryodan has maps that will force the player to rethink their strategies:
    • Map 7. This is the first map with terrain changes, path splits and the opponent fielding sea creatures which can move freely, gain defense bonuses in water and put units into sleep compared to most land units that cannot move well in shallow waters and immobile in deep waters that the player get when accessing the map for the first time. This map marks the importance of geo effects, unit condition's effect on combat, summoning the correct unit in response of opponent's moves and keeping tabs on opponent's routes which are vital in the following maps.
    • Map 13. The map is large, the enemy's summoning circles are spread out with three path splits on top of two of them hanging midair and the player's castle is surrounded with forest. If the player does not learn to step on enemy's summoning circles, keep units alive with backup support and keep important units in the summon list, there is no way the player can win this map.
    • Map 15. This map has low crystal count, the enemy has access to the phoenix which renders "all unit kills" victory impossible on top of very fast mana regeneration rate and the lava terrain forces the player to use air units to avoid lava damage while the enemy sends powerful anti-air units to deal with them. If the players do not understand how to quickly capture crystals and use mana generator units to boost mana generation rate, the enemy units will quickly overwhelm the players'.
  • Super Heroine Chronicle has the dreaded stage 28 where you fight off Riko Lupin and Jeanne d'Arc the 30th and their army of Mooks. Up until then, you usually would use characters who are very powerful and are comfortable using for the past 27 stages (and some players may even invest in leveling Claude to 99 in the process). Not so in stage 28 where you're forced to use characters that, chances are, you've never used before. Fortunately, the Free Stages are available at the menu though now you have to waste time and level up characters who you've never used before. And it never lets up after this stage where you're now forced to level up characters evenly just to keep up with enemies.
  • There are two in the original XCOM game: Mutons and Ethereals. Mutons have heavy armor and are much more effective soldiers than the Sectoids, Floaters, and Snakemen you've been fighting up until now. Mutons shrug off anything less than a plasma rifle, and sometimes even that, with ease. Ethereals, on the other hand, are physically weak and easily taken down by plasma pistols, which you almost certainly will have at this point, but their psi powers will utterly wreck your soldiers time and again, proving that you can't just win through force of arms.
    • XCOM Terror From The Deep has Lobstermen, who shrug off every single ranged attack (with the exception of a thermal shok launcher, which you may or may not have at this point) and laugh at you before killing your soldiers. They are only vulnerable to melee weapons, giving you a heads up that, unlike the original game, you can't just carry the biggest gun and win anymore.
    • XCOM: Enemy Unknown, on the other hand, has multiple: the Sectoid Commander, who introduces offensive psi powers (and will likely result in the death of at least one of your soldiers); Chrysalids, who boldly declare that cover will not save you, and then make you pay for it horribly; Mutons and Heavy Floaters not-so-subtly nudge you to get laser and plasma weapons if you haven't already; Thin Men on Impossible will almost always One-Hit Kill when they first appear if you haven't learned from Classic to always keep your troops in full cover.
    • The Codex in XCOM2. They appear once you do some brain hacking on an ADVENT officer. Their first act upon spawning is to open up a Void Rift, that empties the magazines of your soldiers' primary weapon, forcing them to reload. The rift explodes next turn, dealing damage to units in it, making you lose a turn to get out of it and reload (unless you have an autoloader and haven't used it yet, lucky you...), and it follows by teleporting around the battlefield (making Overwatch useless and making it almost impossible to find decent cover against it), and damaging it causes it to divide into 2 codices with half the remaining health of the first codex after it is attacked. Hope you have learned about the wonderful thing that is the flashbang grenade that shuts down alien abilities in the blast radius.
  • BattleTech: After a hand-holding tutorial level and a prequel level setting up the story with over-powered 'Mechs, the first "real" level with your merc crew throws long-range missile turrets, irregular terrain, split forces, hard-hitting vehicles, and a surprise attack. The difficulty drops down noticeably after that, but it's a pretty clear message that it's not the kind of game you can faceroll. As the spiritual sibling to XCOM2, this isn't surprising.
  • Scenario 5 of Langrisser I is the first of multiple battles against Lance Kalxath, a general of the Dalsis Empire. He's stronger than most of the generals you've fought so far, and his enemy-exclusive Royal Soldier troops are also stronger than yours and don't fall under the game's Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors pattern (being analogous to your magical classes' Guardsmen, who do well against Slimes and Lizardmen, but falter against all other troop types). To make matters worse, you've also got to traverse through heavy mountainous terrain, putting any of your mounted units (if you chose Horsemen, or any of your generals take the Knight promotion path) at a severe disadvantage. If you've been relying on your Crutch Character Volkoff (who is killed at the end of the mission) to do most of your fighting in the early game, then your other heroes won't have enough experience to challenge Lance or the generals in later missions without sustaining heavy casualties.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • The Turanic Raiders second appearance in the original Homeworld is all devoted to this. At first they still act like the pushovers you defeated the first time... Until a squadron of ion array frigates pops out of hyperspace near the Mothership, while their flagship (that this time will use her heavy weapons) and two other frigates are charging at you. If you survive this major Oh, Crap!, you will take the rest of the game more seriously.
  • For Medieval II: Total War, the Mongols. No amount of rebel settlements, brigand warbands and occasional warring with neighbours will prepare you for several stacks of elite units including horse archers, led by competent generals with lots of nice traits and high Dread ratings, causing some of your lesser units to turn and run at the sheer sight of them.
  • If you play as the Martians in Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds, for the first month or so even your basic Scout Machines will sweep away anything the Humans can throw at you. And then, at some point, you will encounter an ironcladnote . As the Humans, you may recover from the initial Curb-Stomp Battle, but then you'll come up against the novel's iconic fighting machines.
  • The Fell Bishop from Iron Marines is a Mini-Boss that's far tougher than everything else you've fought so far and will require a good strategy on the player's part. It has a gargantuan amount of health (over 13 times that of the Hammergrubs), hits for massive damage especially with its acid spit, and moves and attacks quite quickly. Furthermore, a neverending stream of mooks will keep entering the area to make things even dicier.
  • The Armored Mawdad in Pikmin 3. Every enemy before it was fairly simple and could be killed by throwing a few Pikmin on top of it, or picking the right type to be immune to its attacks (Red for fire-shooters, Rock to avoid getting crushed to death). The Mawdad by contrast is much faster, has more tricks under its belt, and requires the player to use actual strategy between the two types of Pikmin introduced at that point. It's an early indicator of how the game will get more complex after it.

     Wide-Open Sandbox 
  • Skeletron from Terraria, even more so in Expert Mode. The two or four bosses you're likely to fight beforehand only require simple movement skills, and going through enough resources will usually result in a win for you. Skeleton requires masterful dodging skills, having to juggle both hands, his unusually fast and damaging skull, and the mini-skulls he summons when his hands are destroyed (which is required to beat him, as his skull simply has too much defense beforehand).

  • It's more a mission than a boss per se, but the second half of the mission "Mr. Phillips" in Grand Theft Auto V certainly counts. After playing relatively tame missions as Franklin and Michael up to this point in the game, You're given control of Trevor for the first time, and have access to a special ability that allows you to No-Sell damage to some extent, but you have to go up against an entire trailer park of heavily armed Lost M.C. bikers. Even with the special ability, it's quite easy to get overwhelmed and wasted, so you have to pick some strategy in addition to going in guns blazing.
  • The first time the player encounters the titular Nemesis in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis will show players why it's usually in their best interest to avoid this monstrosity. It can take a beating, and can throw Jill around like a ragdoll. It will also instantly kill her if her health is merely in caution as opposed to danger. The times you fight him in the city are a wakeup call because you have to A: learn his patterns, master the dodge mechanic, and use your gunpowder and reloading tool so that you have enough of the stronger munitions to take him out; and B: prepare for encounters with him that aren't optional. At this stage in the game, you are armed with the basic pistol and a shotgun, and if you want the drops he gives, you will have to take him out.

     Non-Video Game examples 
Anime and Manga
  • Bleach:
    • The point where the manga and anime changed from Ichigo fulfilling Rukia's duties while he was borrowing her power, to a darker series dealing with the consequences of her lending him her power was the moment when Byakuya and Renji entered Karakura Town. Renji easily defeated Uryuu, followed by Ichigo and then dropped his guard giving Ichigo a chance to win. And then Byakuya ended the fight so fast Ichigo couldn't even see the blow that felled him. From that point on, the the Thousand Year Blood War event, which had been recently been introduced with Uryuu's arrival, was kicked up a gear.
    • The entire Soul Society Arc turned out to be nothing more than a warm up. Ichigo and his companions went through hell and high water to defeat the shinigami, rescue Rukia and almost dying in the process. Even Byakuya was finally defeated in the climactic battle that ended the threat to Rukia... and then Aizen revealed he was the Big Bad and that all the skills Ichigo had learned to that point were just a foundation for the true threats that were yet to come. The final arc, which had been slowly unfolding with the introductions of Uryuu and Byakuya was now kicked off in earnest.
  • In episode 7 of the first season of Code Geass, Lelouch ends up fighting Cornelia for the first time. She deliberately sets up an attack that closely resembles the one from episode 2. At first Lelouch seems to have it easy, but then Cornelia starts changing tactics around which Lelouch can't counter easily, and he's nearly discovered by the Britannia Army. He only survives because CC shows up in his Zero costume, which distracts them long enough for him to escape. Lelouch concludes that he needs to start developing new strategies in order to fight against the Britannians.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Santana acts as this in Battle Tendency. After spending previous fights flawlessly outsmarting his opponents, Joseph meets his first true challenge in Santana, who also shows just how much stronger the Pillar Men are compared to the average vampire.
    • N'Doul acts as this in Stardust Crusaders. While the Crusaders had already faced some dangerous opponents, their fight against N'Doul shows that the Egypt 9 Glory Gods are going to be much more of a challenge.
    • Formaggio is this for Vento Aureo. While Black Sabbath, Zucchero, and Sale weren’t exactly pushovers, they were fairly easy to beat once the gang figured out their tricks. But Formaggio is in a different league entirely, and he signals that Team Bucciarati is up against the deadliest of the deadly now.
    • Urban Guerrilla acts as this in JoJolion. While battles against the previous Rock Humans were most definitely not easy, the danger Guerrilla poses to the heroes shows that the ones they'll be facing from then on will be much, much deadlier.
  • Kenichi from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple often fights foes who are usually tougher than him, although his first serious fight where he nearly got killed, or at least seriously injured, was against Shinnosuke Tsuji, who was able to evade and counter everything Kenichi had. Tsuji was then in the process of attempting to break Kenichi's legs when Takeda shows up to rescue him. With some help from Kensai Ma, one of his masters, who normally abide by Helping Would Be Kill Stealing, Takeda is able to get his friend out of there. Kenichi makes it up later by swiftly delivering a Curb-Stomp Battle to him the second time they fight.
  • Mazinger Z: Up to Episode 14, Kouji had got mostly easy, quick fights against weak robots and he had got overconfident. Then Spartan-K5 trashed him and humiliated him. Since that point the battles turned harder and the enemies more dangerous.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, the Beastmen's Gunmen were never easy to take down but destroying them became easier and easier until Episode 3 where Viral and his mecha, Enki, were introduced. Viral then proceeded to completely wipe the floor with Kamina's Gurren and Simon's Lagann by evading all of their simple kicks and digging drills and striking back with his superior arsenal consisting of shields, blades, missiles, and a Wave-Motion Gun. But when their fight forced Kamina and Simon to combine their mecha to become the immensely powerful Gurren Lagann, Viral quickly became a Demoted Boss and lackey to the Villain of the Week.
  • In High School DXD, while up to that point Issei hasn't had any real fights on his own yet due to being new and unfamiliar with his powers, when he first runs into Freed, a rogue exorcist, its clear he's outclassed. Only with the unexpected arrival of Asia who delayed the fighting by trying to plead for Issei's life (and nearly getting raped by Freed in the process), and more importantly, dropping the barrier which masked their presence, were Rias and the others able to show up and save him. Rias even apologizes to him for sending him out on what was supposed to be a mundane mission until Freed showed up to kill the person Issei was supposed to meet due said person's affiliation with the devils.
    • Kokabiel is much more of this trope than Freed, being able to curb-stomp the entire Occult Research Club all by himself. But then comes Vali to kick his ass.
  • Pokémon: Ash's battle with Lt. Surge. He's the first Gym Leader to make Ash earn a badge (and for once, compared to the earlier two Gym Leaders who gave him a badge for doing a random good deed, it was fair and square, no less). To beat him, Ash has to revise his one-note strategy of having Pikachu use electricity, especially since Surge's Raichu outclassed him in that regard, combined with finding a fatal flaw in his logic.
  • One Piece:
    • Buggy the Clown was the very first example in the series, since he was the first Devil Fruit user to be introduced after the main character Luffy, thus having access to unique abilities no one else could develop. This showcased how dealing with enemy Devil Fruits was going to be a much tougher ordeal than just beating people with big, scary weapons like Alvida or Morgan from now on.
    • The series has Dracule Mihawk, one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea who shows up fairly early on in the Baratie Arc. He demonstrates this by cutting a galleon in half, gets challenged by Zoro in which he only uses a six-inch knife and curb stomps Zoro. It's also mentioned that he almost effortlessly single-handedly destroyed Don Krieg's armada, the strongest pirate fleet in East Blue (which, as Mihawk points out, has the fewest strong pirates).
    • The East Blue Saga also had Smoker, the first person to ever hand Luffy his ass. This is mainly because Smoker is a Logia type and Luffy had no idea what Haki was at the time.
    • Sir Crocodile, once the story moved into the Grand Line. After fighting a bunch of other weaklings, Luffy ended up fighting this guy, another member of the Seven Warlords of the Sea. It took Luffy three attempts to beat him, and even after he did, Luffy was on the ground, literally dying due to the poison in his system. After Crocodile, almost every enemy from then was in some way a challenge to Luffy for the first half of the series.
    • Admiral Kuzan (a.k.a Aokiji) might have made his appearance a bit late during the first part of the Grand Line (essentially halfway through), but the impact he had on the crew was tremendous, akin to the aforementioned Smoker, but on steroids. Not only did he completely curbstomp Luffy and several of the crew's heavy-hitters, he also left lasting scars on the crew's confidence regarding future opponents (as, before that, the Straw Hats hadn't completely lost once), which would lead to the Straw Hats going through an unstable period in the following arc, with some members like Usopp and Robin temporarily leaving the crew for reasons that could all be traced back to Kuzan.
    • Admiral Borsalino (a.k.a. Kizaru) is another. After the Straw Hats barely defeat Pacifista 4, he shows up with another Pacifista and one of his subordinaes, Sentoumaru, and proceeds to brutally trounce the Straw Hats. Only Silvers Rayleigh, the "Dark King" and Gol D. Roger's first mate, is able to hold him off, and the Straw Hats only survive because of Kuma using his powers to send the Straw Hats to other islands. The entire experience convinces Luffy that the Straw Hats aren't ready for the New World, and so they spend two years training before meeting again after the Time Skip.
    • After the time-skip, the first massive challenge the Straw Hats and cohorts are presented with is Donquixote Doflamingo, yet another Warlord of the Sea. Not only was Doflamingo terribly strong and smart, he also had access to many resources and connections that the vast majority of pirates don't, operating in a way similar to the Four Emperors (the series' strongest characters), albeit at a smaller scale.
  • Dragon Ball
    • From the original series, Jackie Chun (really Master Roshi). For the entire first arc and even his training, Goku has no real challenger. Yamcha only did as well as he did because Goku was hungry in their first fight and Krillin has proven to be inferior to Goku. Then Goku fights Jackie Chun, who really pushes him to the physical breaking point, and the fight goes on for four hours. And Jackie won, handing Goku his first real defeat.
    • In terms of life and death battles, the Red Ribbon Army introduced two of these. Goku easily defeats most of the titular Red Ribbon Army, including their early Androids and Elite ninja and fighters. Then he comes across General Blue, who is strong enough to defeat Krillin and hold his own against Goku. When Goku does prove himself stronger, Blue uses a powerful paralysis technique that allows him to very nearly kill Goku on three separate occasions. Later on. the Army hires Mercenary Tao, who takes out General Blue using nothing but his tongue, but first takes the time to No-Sell his special technique. Then Tao fought Goku and not only beat him, but utterly destroyed him.
    • For Dragon Ball Z Raditz who also doubles as a Starter Villain. He took on both Goku and Piccolo and beat them to a pulp, showing that the fights on Earth are a kid's playground compared to the rest of the universe.
  • Shinzo: Gyasa, a Medusa-like reptilian monster, was the first major enemy whose plan spanned exactly three episodes. He turned the heroine Yakumo to stone and chucked her in an acid lake. Fighting him required the first transformation of the three male leads into Mushrambo to win, and even then after he went One-Winged Angel, Mushrambo was barely able to win. The guy had a touch of Implacable Man since he could shed his skin right before death and return with no damage even stronger than before. And he was just so creepy.
  • Shultz in Space Battleship Yamato 2199 is this. Before attacking his base on Pluto, the protagonists had easily bulldozed through any Gamilas opposition they encountered, learning how to use the wave motion engine without breaking it and the Wave-Motion Gun without overkill. Then they moved on his base... And the Yamato was nearly crippled by the first attack without even realizing how he hit them, and only survived and won because he was having a bad week and didn't think to check if he had actually destroyed them before reporting his victory.
  • In Chapter 337 of Fairy Tail, Mavis notes that none of the Dragon Slayers were able to defeat a single dragon that came from the past during the Eclipse despite wielding the only type of magic that can even scratch them. Worse, none of those dragons were on Acnologia's level.
    • Prior to that, Erigor was the first wizard shown Natsu couldn't simply bash into a wall with raw determination.
    • Jellal Fernandez, in addition to being a Knight of Cerebus, was the first time any of the Five-Man Band had to go up against an opponent that was significantly stronger than they were. The previous Big Bads were all defeated by someone of similar power. (Natsu vs Erigor, Gray vs Lyon, and while Erza, albeit weakened, was able to hold her own against Jose for a time they still they had to wait for Makarov to recover to win)
  • Char Aznable in Mobile Suit Gundam. In his first battle, Amuro had mopped the floor with two Zaku II thanks to the sheer power of the Gundam in spite of his lack of experience. When the White Base escapes from Side 7, Amuro faces Char with his custom-model Zaku, and is summarily trashed by the vastly more experienced enemy ace, surviving only because Char did not know how resistant the Gundam was and brought only the ineffective standard weapons.
  • The Dark Precure of Heartcatch Pretty Cure. After about 8 episodes of Cure Blossom and Marine doing well against the Desertians, the Dark Precure shows up, beats them around, tanks their ultimate Combination Attack, then flattens them and leaves them on the ground and depowered.
  • In Saki, Saki and Nodoka go up against Yasuko Fujita, a professional mahjong player, early on in the storyline, who proceeds to defeat them easily. She then tells them that because Koromo Amae, the strongest player in the prefecture, defeated her, they have no chance of winning the tournament.
    • In Achiga-hen, Toki Onjouji is this for the Achiga team, after they easily won against Bansei on the prefectural level and repeated that in their first national match. Toki manages to hand a crushing defeat to Kuro, who otherwise had managed to win large amounts of points, ending with Toki's team in the lead with 140,000 points, and Kuro's team in last place with 60,000 points- the former retains its lead for the entire quarterfinals, while the latter only barely reaches second place.
    Kuro: Is this the true face of the nationals? What remains when tens of thousands have been eliminated on the road to the top...?
  • In Toriko, Tommyrod was the first Gourmet Corp Sous Chef Toriko fought for real. Starjun was operating a GT Robo that couldn't match his real power, and Grinpatch was just messing around. Tommyrod nearly kills Toriko during their brutal fight, and he is the first opponent in the series to actually defeat Toriko. Only Teppei's intervention saved Toriko.
  • Dessert Witch Charlotte in Puella Magi Madoka Magica can be considered this. In the second episode, Madoka and Sayaka see Mami rather easily defeat the Rose Garden Witch Gertrud. The battle against Charlotte also starts out simply enough, with an excited Mami dishing out a total Curb-Stomp Battle to the Witch... which then goes One-Winged Angel and messily devours Mami, with only the intervention of Homura sparing the two observers a similar fate. This is the first time in the anime that the viewer realizes just how horrifying the life of a Mahou Shoujo in this series is. And it only gets worse from there.
  • In Date A Live, Kurumi Tokisaki is the first Spirit that is against Shido trying to help her. On top of that, she also manages to prevent the other characters he's relied on up to that point from helping in their usual fashion.
  • There are a couple in Gundam Build Fighters Try:
    • The first is Minato Sakai, who deals Sekai his first loss while the two were using BB Senshi models (SD character), forcing Sekai to realize that hitting things with your fist will only take you so far.
    • The second is Saga Adou of the Gunpla Academy, the one who forced Yuuma into a 10-Minute Retirement spiel. He showed that Team Try Fighters were nowhere near the Gunpla Academy's level, scaring the wits out of both Fumina and Yuuma. This one is followed up with the third and fourth, Meijin Kawaguchi III for Yuuma and Lady Kawaguchi for Fumina. They both challenge the kids to get over their hang ups and become better builders.
  • In The Seven Deadly Sins, Galan of the Ten Commandments is the first opponent in the series who is straight up stronger than all of the Melodias and his group put together. The utterly brutal curbstomp he inflicts on them which they only survived thanks to Gowther's illusions makes them realize that they need to become stronger fast.
  • Examples from Bakuten Shoot Beyblade:
    • The first story arc has three: Kai appears after Takao has defeated the relatively strong Hiruta, and not only shows Takao that there's always a bigger fish Takao by disintegrating his beyblade with one shot, but uses a Goomba Stomp to do so. After Takao has apparently matched Kai, Max shows up with a defense-based beyblade that No Sells Dragoon's attacks. Rei, finally, makes it clear just how dominant international-level beybladers are, overpowering Takao's Dragoon in the first set of their match.
    • In the American Tournament Arc, the protagonists feel invincible after winning the Asian Tournament, and have a couple friendly match with the American team... In which Max gets annihilated as soon as A-lister Emily steps into the ring.
    • The following story arc, our guys feel too proud again... Cue Ralf. Whose aggressive style also revolutionizes the whole concept of bit-beast-powered beyblade fighting.
    • At the start of the second season, Takao, now world champion, feels effectively invincible. Cue Curb-Stomp Battle on him and his team, with only Kai achieving a draw when the Saint Seals first show up.
    • Takao being Takao, he starts the third season feeling invincible once more. Then at the world championship he gets his rear handed to him by Rei, who not only wins, but also makes him look an idiot.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist:
    • Edward and Alphonse take down rogue alchemists with relative ease until Scar shows up. He comes extremely close to killing the Elrics and would have succeeded if not for the State Alchemists pulling a Big Damn Heroes moment.
    • On a strictly emotional level, Shou Tucker. The Elric brothers realize the kind of cruelty and evil that alchemists are capable of after meeting him, and the Heroic BSoD Ed has after Nina's death is partly what leads to him almost getting killed by Scar. Most of the enemies before then were just power-hungry bullies with delusions of grandeur.
  • Fist of the North Star has Mr. Heart. So far, Kenshiro has wiped out every enemy in his way, including Shin's other subordinates Spade, Diamond and Club, with a quick pressure point-based attack each, and has shown enough raw strength that he could have killed them by simply punching them hard if he had wanted. Then he fights Mr. Heart... and has barely enough time to realize his attack has failed before getting slapped hard enough to vomit blood. Turns out that Mr. Heart's fat has made him immune to any attack, be it weapons or martial arts, except for Shin's Nanto Seiken, and had Kenshiro's Hokuto Shinken not included a technique devised specifically to push aside an opponent's fat and then hit his pressure points, he would have been killed.
  • Kaito from Yu Gi Oh Zexal was the first person in the series to not only have full control of their senses while controlling a Number, but to also have more than one, plus have a monster that can take down Xyz monsters easily. Yuma & Astral lost to him when the first meet him, only surviving due to a fluke. He's the first person to show that other people are after the Numbers as well, which becomes the crux of the whole series after that.
  • Kuroko no Basuke has Daiki Aomine. Before him, the team struggles but finds a way to defeat Ryota's move copying and Midorima's full length three point shots. Aomine proves to be another beast entirely. With a street-ball move-set that throws them off, insane speed and power. He spends the whole game making the team look like grade schoolers playing Lebron James.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • In Season 1, Tomura Shigaraki is the first seriously dangerous threat to emerge, because he marches in with an army of villains and gives Class 1-A and company a very intense fight. Even All Might is put to the test with the Nomu Shigaraki brought with him that was designed to take him down.
    • In Season 2, Stain presents an even greater threat, because he is actively killing heroes or leaving them maimed if he wants them to survive, cripples Ingenium, and has a Quirk that is so insidious it takes three of Class 1-A to bring him down and Stain continues to bear down on the students and pro heroes before a broken rib punctures his lung.
    • Next up are the League of Villains once it has assembled a group of career killers and criminals, and wreaks havoc on the summer training camp and kidnaps Bakugo. After their rampage comes a fight that makes this incident look like a gentle breeze. The terrifying destruction caused by All For One, who is a veritable smorgasbord of Quirks and so powerful only All Might can even hope to stand against him. The aftereffects of those battles had serious impacts on society as a whole in the series.
  • One-Punch Man
    • The Deep Sea King was the first villain able to last more than one episode, defeating multiple heroes and even taking down two S-Class Heroes (albeit the lowest-ranked ones). In this case, it's Zig-Zagged because he's actually a fair bit weaker than several of the previous villains, but he's the first major villain who has the fortune not to go up against Saitama right away.
    • Lord Boros is the very first opponent who's able to survive Saitama's usual One-Hit Kill punch through a combination of his own toughness and a ludicrous Healing Factor, and the first to ever force Saitama to fight "Semi-Seriously."
  • Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight: Karen handily defeats Junna in episode 2 once she adjusts to the auditions. But in the next episode, she's pitted against Maya, who easily curb-stomps her, causing Karen to take the auditions more seriously.
  • Played With in That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: Rui serves as this for Tanjiro during the Mount Natagumo Arc. As a Lower Rank of the Twelve Kizuki, his power is on a totally different level than any other demon that Tanjiro has ever faced before. The fight starts with Rui using one of his threads to cut clean through Tanjiro's (supposedly indestructible) sword, and then proceeds to kick the ever-loving crap out of him without ever expending any real effort. He also effortlessly strings up Nezuko when she tries to enter the fight. Tanjiro doesn't ever even land the killing blow on him throughout the entire fight. He does come close by using a Desperation Attack, but Rui still avoids it (although Rui does admit that if the attack had connected, it likely would have killed him). The only reason Tanjiro and Nezuko even survive is that Giyu shows up and defeats Rui.
  • Shalltear Bloodfallen was this in the original YGGDRASIL game in Overlord (2012) for the Great Tomb of Nazarick. Strong enough to take on a Level 100 player by herself, can summon an army of familiars and equipped with some of the best gear in the game, not to mention has the ability to resurrect herself once. There is a reason she controls 3 levels by herself. And in a more traditional role, when she goes Brainwashed and Crazy she's the first opponent that actually poses a threat to Ainz himself.
  • A Certain Magical Index: For most the first volume, Touma has been using his Imagine Breaker to nullify the esper or magic attacks of his opponents coupled with some decent physical ability and quick-thinking to beat his opponents. Then he runs into Kaori Kanzaki, who is a Saint whose physical abilities and swordsmanship are just so much greater than his that she doesn't need to use any supernatural powers to beat him down, and she takes the one punch he does land on her without too much issue. The only reason he lives is because she never intended to kill him.

Comic Books

  • Spider-Man: Doctor Octopus was this in his first appearance, giving the wall-crawler his first real defeat. It shatters his confidence badly enough that he actually considers giving up crime-fighting, until a pep talk from the Human Torch prompts his Heroic Second Wind.
  • In Runaways, the kids score a string of early victories against the Pride, stealing the Staff of One from Nico's parents, liberating Old Lace from the Yorkes family basement, and pulling Molly away from her parents, and they start to feel overconfident. And then they meet the vampire Topher, who easily manipulates Nico and Karolina (the two most powerful Runaways at that point) into fighting each other, and then proves to be a hard bastard to defeat, and the only reason they survive is because he tries to drink Karolina's blood, which turns out to be loaded with solar radiation. It leaves them all badly demoralized at a time when the Pride are closing in on them.

Fan Works

  • Magnaangemon possessed by a Dark Spiral from Zero 2: A Revision. Originally, most of the Digimons that the new generation Digidestined confronted were either Champions or Ultimate, Magnaangemon however is an Ultimate that is capable of going toe-to-toe with a mega like what he did against Piedmon. Knowing full well that Davis along with the other Armor-Digivolved Digimons are incapable of defeating the angel, Shaun decides to warp-digivolve his (Agumon) into (Wargreymon) to fight against him. And even then, without the efforts of the other Armor-digivolved Digimons assisting (Wargreymon) and Shaun's fake death ploy, they would have lost.
  • Chrysaor in Son of the Western Sea absolutely demolishes Percy, with only the Mark of Achillies keeping him from killing Percy with his first attack, before spending the rest of the fight effortlessly brushing off any counterattacks. Percy only manages to kill him because Chrysaor was unaware of his ability to control ships and thus didn't anticipate getting shot by Greek Fire cannons. In the aftermath, Percy reflects that he had become overconfident in his own capabilities and endevours to better hone his skills.
  • Hunter J in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines is this to Ash. To illustrate, up to this point, Ash and his Pokémon have been able to take on and defeat all of their opponents thanks to their knowledge and memories from the past timeline, even J's henchmen were no match for them. But when they're up against J herself, her Salamence quickly takes on Ash's entire team at once without breaking a sweat, and they only manage to escape with their lives because Goomy uses a Bide attack that blasts a hole through the ship sending them plummeting down to the ground.


  • In Pacific Rim, by the time it started, the Jaeger pilots had grown complacent with how decisively they had won battles against the Kaiju. However, then the Kaiju started adapting and managed to destroy or heavily damage them in return, starting with Gipsy Danger, showing how they were escalating the threat. A mere five years later, the program is on the verge of being shut down due to the Jaegers being destroyed faster than they can replace them.
  • In The Empire Strikes Back young Luke Skywalker - filled with confidence from his first bout of hands-on Jedi training - rushes into battle against the vastly more experienced Darth Vader. Even though Vader is pulling his punches, Luke barely escapes with his life; he takes his training more seriously from that point. Also an inversion of Warmup Boss, as Vader is the first true Force-user Luke Skywalker confronts in battle.
  • After recovering from a nasty bout of malaise, Batman returns to the fray in The Dark Knight Rises. His most pressing problem is Bane, who he thinks is just another generic terrorist who he expects to beat with his usual tricks of misdirection, stealth, and well-honed martial arts; and he cuts through Bane's henchmen without much difficulty. Unfortunately for Batman, Bane turns out to be a far trickier customer, having been trained in the same way Batman was. He proceeds to No-Sell his attempts of stealth and misdirection and give Batman one hell of a beat-down, eventually breaking his back and sending him into exile.
  • Thanos himself in Avengers: Infinity War. His easy defeat of the Hulk (and the Hulk's subsequent escape via Bifrost) allows him to warn Doctor Strange, Iron Man, and eventually the Avengers and Secret Avengers. His destruction of the Asgardian refugee ship, meanwhile, alerts the Guardians of the Galaxy to his activity and forces them to take action.


  • The Adventure Zone: Balance has the Raven, who easily curb-stomps the heroes the first time they encounter her. The arc in which she appears, Petals to the Metal, arguably signals a much more serious turn for the show.

Tabletop Games

  • In the Dungeons & Dragons adventure Keep On The Shadowfell, the fight with Irontooth is this. KotS was the introduction to 4e for many, many players, and the Irontooth fight is usually where parties have their first abject lesson in battling "waves." It's actually 2 encounters - the fight outside the lair at the waterfall, and the fight inside the lair, where the party faces a tough force of kobolds and THEN, 3 rounds in, has to deal with even more monsters. If the party let any of the kobolds escape from the previous fight to join this one, they will get butchered. If they didn't take a short rest before charging in behind the falls and into the fight in the lair, they will get butchered. If they haven't wiped out most of the initial force by the time Iroontooth and the rest of his cronies jump into the fight, they will get butchered. If they try tanking Irontooth instead of keeping on the get the picture. Parties who are experienced with the 4e rules (or have played through this part of the adventure more than once) tend to find this fight beatable but still tough. New parties, on the other hand...

Web Animation

  • In RWBY:
    • Cinder Fall and Adam Taurus. Up until that point, Team RWBY really didn't have that much of a problem. Oh, sure Roman and Neo gave them a hard time, but they ended up having back up during those moments. Cinder's invasion of Vale would put everyone through the ringer and both Cinder and Adam would deal crushing defeats in the form of maiming Yang and murdering Pyrrha.
    • In Volume 4, Tyrian gives Team RNJR an epic Curb-Stomp Battle that shows how out of their league our heroes are against the real villains. They only survive thanks to the timely intervention of Ruby's uncle Qrow, a far more experienced huntsman. Tyrian then goes on to fight Qrow to a standstill, evenly matching him in blows(apart from getting a small beatdown from Qrow when distracted), and inflicts an injury on Qrow courtesy of his scorpion stinger. He only loses when Ruby inflicts a devastating handicap of her own courtesy of lopping off his stinger with Crescent Rose, forcing him to retreat. He's part of the same group that orchestrated the assault of Beacon that Cinder, who is also apart of the same group, was responsible for, and she's the runt of the group!


  • Cucumber Quest: Splashmaster was a brutish Manchild whom the heroes beat by challenging to Limbo long enough to confuse him before Almond showed her skills and took him down. The next Disaster Master, Noisemaster, was a hammy hype-man dj who exposited at length about his partner's weakness. Noisemaster is leagues more focused and threatening, having lied about his partner's weakness to goad the heroes into a trap, where he routed them and nearly blew up a city, only The Nightmare Knight's intervention stops him.

Western Animation

  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, by the time Reality Warper Discord rolls in as a villain, Twilight and her friends have saved the world with the Power of Friendship once, and spent an entire season learning about friendship. As such, Twilight assumes that their friendship is an unbeatable and unbreakable bond that can see them through any challenge. Discord essentially shows her, quite painfully, that the simple trials they've overcome are nothing compared to a real challenge, and effortlessly separates and soils the friendship that an entire season had built up. Twilight had been taking her friendships for granted because it was easy, but was never faced with just how hard friendship could be. Only by learning that friendship isn't so easy, and sometimes you need to fight for it, is she able to reforge their bonds stronger than ever.
  • Princess Azula represents this for Avatar: The Last Airbender. In the first season, both Prince Zuko and Admiral Zhao were credible threats, with Zuko improving over the course of the series and Zhao having a massive amount of resources. However, even with those, neither of them together posed anywhere near the level of threat to the heroes that Zuko's younger sister posed to them by herself in Season 2, having the perfect combination of ruthlessness, brains, intimidating charisma and firebending skill that the other two lacked, in addition to her incredible determination and will like Zuko, and vast resources like Zhao. Even more so when she had her Badass Normal friends, Mai and Ty Lee with her. The heroes' inability to adjust to her threat level quickly enough resulted in her dealing them a crushing defeat at the end of the season.
  • Jasper of Steven Universe. She's the first Homeworld Gem warrior to arrive on the scene. During her debut, she easily defeats the entire Crystal Gem team and has technology that can ignore the strongest weaponry available to the Crystal Gems. She shows the Gems exactly how far Homeworld has advanced in their absence and that their thousands of years of relative peace are definitively over. She hits particularly with the younger Gems, Steven and Amethyst who were alive only after the Great Offscreen War that spawned warriors like Jasper and had faced nothing more dangerous than wild beasts before that point.
    • Later on, Topaz and Aquamarine, beating most of the Crystal Gems with barely any effort, including Alexandrite.


Video Example(s):



A Sawtooth will serve as the first enemy Aloy faces that can't just be one-shotted with a well-aimed arrow or stealth attack. It's a lot more durable than the Watchers and Striders faced beforehand, and its weak points are not as obvious and harder to hit. Stealth, combat finesse, and clever use of tools will be required to bring it down.

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Example of:

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