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Whenever that hole in the floor isn't the home of a Bottomless Pit, it's the home of a monster. And when there's a lot of holes in the floor, you're probably in the company of this type of monster. Emphasis on fighting these guys is on speed, as you only have so long before they throw something at you and scurry back into hiding. Thankfully, if it isn't a boss these monsters die quickly. May overlap with Puzzle Boss. Non-boss forms can quickly cross into the realm of the Goddamned Bats.

Variations include:

  • Multiple "moles" pop up, and only one can be hit for damage. Hitting the wrong mole may provoke counter attacks in order to de-emphasize Area of Effect attacks. This type often happens with Doppelganger Spins.
  • The monster that you must kill is above ground but cannot be hurt, and only hitting the "mole" will allow you to attack it directly.
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  • There are no holes. The monster just pops up in a random spot. Usually done by monsters that teleport.
  • In RPGs, all the holes can be targeted, but only one contains the monster. These holes will almost always invoke counterattacks when hit, and your targeting does not track the monster should it move.
  • You can't kill the monster. You have to seal up the holes instead.


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    Action-Adventure Games 
  • Castlevania: Lament of Innocence: The Undead Parasite is a variation: the main parasite who attacks you it's a huge worm-like monster with sharp teeth and firebreath who slithers in and out of the room across some large openings in the walls and summons soulless zombies to hamper you. However, bursting open all five boils in the floor will open holes, from which the actual weakpoint, a tumor-looking growth, will occasionally peek out of these holes. In order to kill the parasite, you must whip the weakpoint as it emerges from one of the five holes while dodging the giant worm.
  • Dante's Inferno: King Minos, the second boss, spends the first phase of the fight unreachable until he smashes his hands into the ground, allowing Dante to cut through them with Death's scythe before climbing up them to the head.
  • The Legend of Zelda has used plenty of variations:
    • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link: The dragon in the hidden palace pops out of holes in the floor to spit fire at you. You need to stab him in the head on the way up or down.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time:
      • Volvagia is fought by hitting him with a hammer as he pops randomly from a number of holes dispersed through the arena.
      • Phantom Ganon acts in a similar manner, but emerges from the paintings hung around his arena's walls instead.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: Wizzrobes can create illusory copies of themselves and pop from warp point to warp point. The trick is to pay attention to the solid one. Finding the one that's gearing up to attack you helps too.
  • Luigi's Mansion: The boss ghost Jarvis pops in and out of a set of jars in his room, and has to be frozen seven times before he can be fought.
  • Magicka: The giant snake Jormungandr behaves in this manner, but has no predictable pattern. If anything, he has a habit of popping up directly under one of the players.
  • Ōkami has a minigame like this that does feature moles. There's a ring of holes, and you need to headbutt the leader three times. You can predict where he'll pop up by the dirt clouds he sends up as he travels underground, but he's also got two or three henchmen doing the same thing to throw you off. And they speed up every time you make a successful hit. Fortunately you only ever need to do this once to fulfill a sidequest.
  • Star Fox Adventures features monsters like this in the "Crater" area. But it isn't enough to whack them over the head — you have to stun them to expose their weak point first.

    Adventure Games 
  • In Bugs Bunny's Birthday Blowout, after clearing one of the first five worlds, Bugs gets to play the "Willy the Weasel" minigame, wherein he has to hit as many Willy the Weasel targets as he can with his hammer within the time limit.

    Board Games 
  • One recent update for 100% Orange Juice! introduced minigames hosted by Marie Poppo as a random event that might happen during gameplay. One of them, "Whack-a-Poppo", is basically this, requiring you to bash as many Poppos over the head as possible while avoiding the Tomomos and Altes to win prizes such as stars, stat boosts or extra cards.

  • A variant occurs in Super Metroid. Botwoon is a snake-like miniboss that pops up from holes in the wall. To damage it you must shoot it in the head when it peeks out of one of the holes to spit projectiles at you.
  • In Metroid Prime, to expose Flaahgra's weak points, you must circle-dash around the arena and deactivate all the solar mirrors before it can reactivate any of them, stunning it with weapons fire if necessary.
  • Traditionally, the first form of Dracula in most of the 2D Castlevania games is an example of a teleporting mole.

  • Phantasy Star Online has the first forms of Vol Opt and the Episode IV boss do this.
  • They pop up in Guild Wars too. A quest in pre-Searing Ascalon requires you to take them out in the fields near Ashford Abbey, and they also drop Baked Husks, required for gifts from Nick Sandford.

    Platform Games 
  • Super Mario Bros.: In general, the Rocky Wrench enemies hide beneath manholes, emerging intermittently to throw wrenches at the player. The related Monty Moles also act this way sometimes, but usually just chase after Mario when they emerge from their holes.
    • Super Mario World: Lemmy and Wendy pop in and out of pipes during their battle, along with two fakes.
    • Super Mario 64: Monty Moles in the Tall Tall Mountain level hide within holes, only popping out to throw rocks at Mario.
    • New Super Mario Bros.: There is a Whack-a-Monty! minigame where Monty Moles pop in and out of a grid of holes. The player has to tap as many as they can in a limited amount of time while avoiding tapping Luigi, who also pops in and out of the holes.
    • New Super Mario Bros. Wii: Roy Koopa's battle in the world 2 castle is an inverted version of this, with him moving around via pipes on the ceiling and dropping down to attack. You have to jump just before he hits the ground to avoid the shockwave, and then jump on him, otherwise he blasts Mario with magic while Mario can't run or dodge.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • In Sonic Adventure, it's revealed that Eggman has a whack-a-Sonic game. Amy has to beat the high score to unlock the prison door.
    • The final battle of the original Sonic the Hedgehog is a variation on this.
  • The first fortress boss in Mega Man 8 acts like this. Four parts of the ceiling, and the boss appears in one of them, along with three dummies. What makes it worse is its weakness: the Mega Ball, which is always fired at an angle. When its health goes low, it can also summon a special dummy that looks like himself, that if attacked, will instead fall to the ground and release a massive explosion that'll hurt you. Its name, Atetemino, is a pun on "atetemina!" ("try hitting me!")
  • Several Mega Man (Classic) games have mooks that fly up from the Bottomless Pits and then fall back down, in a similar fashion to a whac-a-mole. In this case, however, it's better to ignore them and jump over them; their real purpose is similar to Ledge Bats, i.e trying to make you fall into the pits.
  • Volteel Biblio, one of the bosses of Mega Man Zero 3 goes like this. His boss room has 4 holes, and he starts the battle hiding in them. He'll poke out his head at one hole and his tail at another, which will fire a homing electric projectile. Once his health go low enough, however, he'll get out of the hole to deal with you personally.
  • The Mole Train boss in Donkey Kong Country Returns has segments like this where you have to whack Mole Miners (and their leader) off the banana-filled mine carts they hide in. Bonus points for the enemies being moles.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures games:
    • One of the Mini-games in Babs' Big Break for the Game Boy involves your character hitting as many Montana Max and Roderick Rat targets as they can within the time limit. Each character wears different attire and whacks with a different object; Buster is dressed as Biff Vanderbunny and whacks with a cane, Plucky is dressed like a superhero and whacks with a hammer, and Hamton is dressed in his normal attire and whacks with a frying pan.
    • Acme All-Stars has a Montana Mash mini-game as well. You get points for every Montana Max target you hit, and lose points for every Elmyra Duff and Dizzy Devil target you hit. Look out for Gogo Dodo, who tosses bombs. Getting hit by one of his bombs will stun you for a few seconds.
  • Garfield: Caught in the Act has a mini-game like this if you find the hammer. The game has six holes and thus requires the six-button Genesis controller to playnote . You must hit every character except the one shown at the beginning in order to win a continue.
  • In Ori and the Blind Forest, the first boss in the Ginso Tree is a King Mook version of the slime-spitting slug enemies that emerges from multiple holes in the floor and ceiling.

    Party Games 
  • Mario Party 7: In the Minigame Monty's Revenge, the players have to pop their heads out of the holes for as long as possible without getting whacked by the moles.

  • Pin and Scolex in The Binding of Isaac are worm-like creatures that pop out of the ground in a random spot, arc through the air, and burrow back into the ground. They make a beeline for the player's last known location when they land, making them Bullfight Bosses in a way.
  • Eagle Island has two kinds of enemies (one of which is a boss) that can burrow into the ground and then jump out to attack the player.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • Chrono Trigger had the Son of the Sun, which is surrounded by a circle of flames. Most of them provoke counterattacks, one is the boss' weak point, and they rearrange themselves on a regular basis. It's possible to attack the boss itself, but that really isn't recommended...
  • Fallout: New Vegas: One branch of the Brotherhood of Steel's quest "Still in the Dark" has you play whack-a-mole with a computer virus by attempting to isolate it in three random terminals before it jumps again.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VI: Ultros, during the opera house battle. Ultros regains hitpoints when he switches locations, requiring you to whack one mole as hard as possible.
    • Final Fantasy XI: You don't really find any holes for them, but when those black Antlions do pop up, they hurt like hell. They also stay above ground after the ambush. The brown Antlions always stay above ground, however. Of course, the game also has worms, which only move through popping in and out of the ground.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance: The Holey Moley Dream Eater, being a dimension warper, can pop out of any surface in the room it's fought in, even the thin stage props and scaffolds.
  • The World Ends with You: Shrew Noise can dig away and pop up in either of the two screens. Normally it changes screens when you manage hit him before it leaves a bomb and hides again.

    Shoot 'em Ups 

    Survival Horror 
  • The Caterpillar boss from Silent Hill, which pops up in random spots.

    Third-Person Shooter 

    Tower Defense 
  • Plants vs. Zombies has a stage that lets you do this, with graves as holes. You also have the option of removing the graves/holes with a special weed.

  • One NES Powerpad game was essentially whack-a-mole with a different skin. In Eggsplode, you were a dog who had to protect a hen house from foxes that would try to blow up the chickens with a bomb. Points for stepping on the Powerpad where a bomb was, loss of life for stepping on a chicken that had laid an egg. Came as a multi-cart with Short Order.
  • Pinball examples:
    • The gofers Bud and Buzz regularly pop up in No Good Gofers, and the player is encouraged to hit them with the pinball.
    • The trolls from Medieval Madness, who block your entrance to the castle. The "Smack-A-Troll" mode even has them alternating popping up and down, as per the trope.
    • Jersey Jack Pinball's The Hobbit has four such monsters — an orc, a goblin, a warg, and a spider — to menace the player at various times.
  • In No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, Million Gunman's boss fight functions in this way, even if not visually. You fight him in his bank vault, with many doors lining the walls leading to hallways and elevators. You can't go through the doorways, but he can, and his battle strategy involves popping out of a random door, shooting at the player character, and retreating back in.
  • The Arcade Game Butasan has a buta-tataki ("Whack-a-Pig") Mini-Game as a Bonus Stage.
  • In Stardew Valley, you may encounter mole-like monsters called Duggies in early levels of the dungeons. Duggies appear in dirt patches on the cave floor and pop out of the dirt where ever you step to deal contact damage. They're fairly easy to avoid, but you can't use the hoe to dig in the dirt where their holes appear.
  • A traditional whack-a-mole minigame named "Veggie Guardin'" is featured in Wii Play: Motion.
  • One of the mini-games in Tweety and the Magic Gems for the Game Boy Advance is "Hit The Ghosts", wherein Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester, Yosemite Sam, and Marc Antony have to whack as many moles and ghosts as they can. Each mole is worth one point, and each ghost is worth two points.
  • In South Park: Chef's Luv Shack, the "Whack A Zombie" mini-game takes place in a pet cemetery, where Stan, Eric, Kyle, or Kenny whacks zombie pets with a shovel, while avoiding hitting real, living pets within the time limit. Each zombie pet they hit wins them 50 points, but each real pet they hit takes away 50 points.

Non-video game examples

    Anime and Manga 

    Real Life 
  • Whack-A-Mole, of course!


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