Ten more awesome Final Fantasy bosses for your consumption, courtesy: Me.
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15.Final Fantasy X-2 – Angra Mainyu, Tawrich and Zarich
“A terrible fiend that has awakened from slumber beneath the desert sands. Bent on destroying all it encounters, it is a fiendish fiend indeed.“
Before there was Final Fantasy XIII-2 there was Final Fantasy X-2. Okay, so you probably knew that if you could count. Anyways, while nobody was dying for a sequel to XIII, quite a few people were pleased to see one of the best games in the series receiving another treatment. Then people saw what it was like, and many didn’t give it a try. From a gameplay perspective, there are a lot of similarities that can be drawn from X-2 to XIII, and that’s not the worst thing in the world.
There aren’t many monsters in X-2 with a unique design – most were just palette swaps from X – so whenever you see this massive thing, immediately you know you’re going to be in for a difficult time. The single biggest threat is its Perdition’s Flame attack, which deals unbelievable damage. But, as if that wasn’t enough, Angra Mainyu has two arms with unique abilities of their own. Tawrich is immune to magic attacks and riddles the party with status effects while Zarich, who is immune to physical attacks, lowers the party’s stats and MP. Oh, and Angra Mainyu is smart enough to not cast Flare on somebody with Reflect cast.
Sure, on paper this optional boss fight doesn’t sound revolutionary. This wasn’t the first part to have multiple body parts that functioned independently. However, what makes this fight so awesome and memorable is the perfectly balanced difficulty. Normally it’s automatic to just attack the extra parts until they go down and focus on the real boss; while that is the goal here, it feels so much more hectic because you are constantly fighting off what feels like three bosses. While this fight doesn’t have much of an emotional impact, it’s just one of the most fun times I can remember having fighting a boss in Final Fantasy.
14.Final Fantasy VII – Sephiroth
“I am the chosen one. I have been chosen to rule this planet.”
Here we go…There are two schools of thought in regards to the Sephiroth fight: Either you think it was disappointingly easy for how hyped his skills are or the sheer ecstasy of killing him makes it one of the best bosses in history. In reality, it’s more in the middle.
The battle takes part in 2.5 stages. The first you face off against Bizarro Sephiroth. Certain body parts are immune to magic attacks while others are immune to physical attacks; the core is invulnerable while the arms are still alive; the head regenerates health –the fight sounds much more complex than what it boils down to sadly. Sephiroth’s stats are supposed to increase based on your level and even if you cast Nights of the Round (Most powerful summon in the game, and longest) on Jenova. It all sounds great, but a couple Bahamuts or other area spells all but demolishes Sephiroth’s first form. The second form, Safer Sephiroth, is slightly cooler and more difficult but still ultimately a letdown. He attacks in a fairly predictable pattern with most attacks being targeted at only one person. Even his Heatless Angel attack, which reduces the party to 1 HP, isn’t that threatening as if you don’t block it (which isn’t too hard) you have time to heal up. Had Sephiroth immediately attackes after Heartless Angel, putting more impetus in blocking, maybe this form would be more difficult. All in all, it’s not an automatic win – it’s just a boss that fails to deliver the immense challenge it was built up to be.
The “final” form, just Sephiroth, is purely cinematic. You can’t lose. I actually like that though I’d rather have seen a hard one-on-one battle.
Though some like to be hipsters and say Final Fantasy VII isn’t a great game and that Sephiroth is a terrible antagonist, the truth is both the game and villain belong with the absolute best in the franchise. There’s an emotional impact in defeating Sephiroth that’s possibly unmatched. However, while certain mechanics of the fight itself are cool I can’t help but weigh how easy the battle is compared to much more difficult ones before and after. I understand if Sephiroth is your number one, but I simply don’t remember the actual fight as much as I do the story surrounding it.
13.Final Fantasy V – Exdeath/Neo Exdeath
“I am Neo-Exdeath, all memories…dimensions…existence, all that shall be turned to nothing, then I too can disappear, for eternity!!!”
Let’s get this out of the way: I love Gilgamesh. Exdeath vanished Gilgamesh to the void. This is a factor in his placement on the list. My list.
Power corrupts absolutely. Hadn’t Exdeath ever heard this phrase? Truly, Exdeath was presented as an overwhelming opponent wielding a power possibly too great for anybody – but he controlled it. It was inevitable that the void would consume Exdeath, but it was still really cool to see it play out. Plus the fight was pretty fun.
Exdeath isn’t actually all that menacing as long as you have a Ribbon or two. His main threats are turning the party to Stone or Frog, but aside from that it’s fairly straightforward. After Neo Exdeath crawls out from the void it’s a whole new ballgame. There are four body parts, and it’s up to you how you dispatch them. Do you take out the front section because it has low HP, or leave it since it doesn’t pose a huge threat? Do you leave the back section and rick getting destroyed by a constant barrage of Meteor spells? Neo is relentless and attacks with physical, magic and status ailment attacks. It can be hard to breath, and sometimes defeating a section can make the rest of the fight even harder. What’s more, the boss scales with your level meaning he remains a challenge at almost any level.
Final Fantasy V is known for its job system and by extension its combat. As a final boss, Exdeath and his subsequent twisted form Neo exdeath, you have a great challenge and all of the other trapping to make for a memorable villain. As if to punctuate the fight, the background is the only animated on in the game.
12.Final Fantasy IX – Ozma
Ozma is FFIX’s super boss, and it only has about 55,000 health. It’s not a menacing looking fiend or a fearsome dragon, just an odd little sphere. Nothing about it would lead you to believe it would be the hardest fight in the game, but if you suffered through the multiple efforts to defeat Ozma you assuredly remember it – and respect it.
Like many of the optional bosses in Final Fantasy, certain elements and preparations can make this fight much easier – but still difficult – however, if you aren’t using a guide or wiki this encounter can be maddening. If you happen to fight him with a character with a level multiple of 5 (which I didn’t) he will cast Lv5 Death, which you can avoid with the proper gear. If you have a character level ending with a multiple of 4 (which I didn’t) he will cast a weak Lv4 Holy spell. Even if you fulfill both of those conditions Ozma’s constant full regeneration of its health and his devastating attacks makes it tough regardless. Most frustrating is the fact that you can only get one attack off at a time. As Ozma’s ATB is filling if you select an attack his gauge will automatically fill up all the way. So, in essence the 55,000 feels like 55 million (ok, maybe not if you’ve faught Yiazmat).
Just like the entire game, the uniqueness of Ozma is one of the main reasons he stands out. But the fight is also just very challenging. I really appreciate that it has no set attack pattern or perfect party composition. Truly this fight is highly flexible and because of that it’s more difficult because a guide can only help you so much. Also, you get the Ozma Tetra Master card, which is good because I suck at that minigame.
11.Final Fantasy X – Yunalesca
“It is better for you to die in hope than to live in despair. Let me be your liberator.”
The story of Final Fantasy X may be the best in the renowned series – it’s certainly up there regardless. Just as was the case with the Biran and Yenke fight, the emotional trappings of this fight and the beautiful thematic resonance makes this encounter really stand out – except unlike the Ronso bullies it has the feel of a true boss battle.
Yunalesca is a great boss specifically because (without preparation) she is difficult to defeat and one must learn through defeat to best her, but she isn’t cheap or overpowered. For one, Aeons are all but worthless. The first stage of the battle her attacks take away your buffs while she casts status affect magic on you. Upon beating her for the first time she casts zombie on the entire party, as well as regen and other healing magic – which of course hurts you. This can certainly be remedied quite easily; however, in a stroke of evil genius her third form casts Mega Death, wiping out your entire party unless one is still a zombie or you have auto-life cast.
Once you know the machinations of the fight it becomes fairly easy, but the first time you go up against her it’s a wonderful mix of confusion and revelation – like figuring out attack patterns for bosses in Mega Man. Still, even if this were an easy fight from the start the poignancy of it all and the ambiguousness of Yunalesca true intentions makes this immediately memorable in a game full of instances that are similar.
10.Final Fantasy IV – Zeromus
“My hatred will not be stanched until it has consumed all else! You shall be next. Come! Pass into this darkness I have wrought!”
When people recount the best villains of Final Fantasy it’s usually either Kefka or Sephiroth, and for good reasons. However, just like Final Fantasy IV is sometimes forgotten as a legitimate contender for being the best game in the franchise, so too does Zemus (who turns into Zeromus) get lost in the debate for best villains. Which is a shame, because he definitely belongs in the discussion.
Zeromus is a surprisingly simple fight. Attack and then heal for a few turns. That’s how powerful his spells are. I love that the battle begins almost like a standoff – he won’t do anything until you use the crystal. This does give you time to buff, but it will likely be removed fairly quickly by his Black Hole attack. Even though it’s easy to give up on buffing because it won’t last it’s very integral to keeping your party alive and dishing out enough damage to defeat Zeromus. Like Neo Exdeath, this fight has the only animated background. And it also has one kickass song to accompany the fight.
The Zeromus battle is a hard one to rate. It isn’t a complex battle, but it’s hard. So much of what makes a great boss battle is a complex attack pattern/multiple stages and Zeromus doesn’t offer that. It’s simple a well calibrated fight against the somewhat forgotten badass in the Final Fantasy franchise.
9. Final Fantasy VIII – Omega Weapon
Omega Weapon is easily Final Fantasy VIII’s toughest boss – it even says so after you defeat him. Without the right preparation the player has little hope of defeating him, and even if properly prepared the super boss proves a tremendous challenge. You feel like a boss after defeating this super boss.
Omega Weapon will periodically cast LV5 Death, meaning you’d better have immunity to death or you will be decimated. Also, he absorbs all elemental damage so it’s extremely easy to accidentally heal him. Omega’s attacks all hit very hard, but surprisingly there is an attack pattern. After casting Meggido Flame, which does exactly 9,998 he will use Gravija, which shaves 75% of everyone’s health – but it doesn’t kill. So, you can actually use this moment to deal out some extra damage or gather yourself. Still, his last attack is one that if it hits will instantly KO a party member regardless of immunity to death. Somehow, even though there is an ebb and flow to this fight, it still manages to be very tough and a lot of fun.
As far as super bosses go, Omega Weapon clearly belongs near the top. It has a lineage similar to Bahamut that makes it immediately cool. It’s a difficult fight. It rewards you. You learn the fight – what to do and what not to do. It’s an accumulative effort that’s befitting of being high on this list.
8.Final Fantasy – Warmech
The original Final Fantasy, released in Japan on the Super Famicon in 1987, though simple compared to later iterations in the franchise surprisingly resembles its sequels quite a bit. The mechanics are far more basic and often lacking, and the game is one of the hardest in the series with the final boss – Chaos – being no exception. However, Final Fantasy has created a reputation for giving the players optional fights, often more difficult than story bosses, to both challenge their skill and reward their bravery.
Following the defeat of the Kraken (release it!) you can either move on to fight the fourth fiend, Tiamat, or take on the imposing Warmech. The vast majority of enemies in the original Final Fantasy were typical fantasy monsters – even the bosses usually followed the same trend – so to behold a large, mechanized war machine not only brought uniqueness to the fight, but also slightly intimidated you. Having played almost every Final Fantasy game, I can’t help but retroactively loving this fight for foreshadowing the fantasy/steampunk theme so many of the games would implement.
The final boss, Chaos, is certainly the most difficult encounter in the game as he randomly casts powerful spells the player has seen that wreak havoc on even the most well prepared party, making it difficult to even attack him. But Warmech is no pushover. Indeed, if you aren’t careful his powerful attacks (I believe the hardest hitting in the game) will lay waste to the entire party, forcing the player to think defense first. Even more troubling is its constant health regeneration. Warmech may be just as fun of a fight as Chaos and nearly as important to the series and the trends that developed and continue into each new entry to date. Superbosses, thank Warmech for existing.
7.Final Fantasy VII – Ruby/Emerald Weapons
Final Fantasy VII actually has two super bosses, and they are inextricably tied to one another. At first I thought Ruby Weapon was invincible and that Emerald was impossible, but eventually I learned. However, I must admit I had to consult a guide to beat Ruby because who would have figured out only one party member could start the fight, thus prompting Ruby to emerge. Still, both Ruby and Emerald are rightfully synonymous not just with Final Fantasy VII, but with optional bosses in general.
First, Emerald Weapon. Much like Ruby Weapon, your first attempt to defeat Emerald will absolutely fail without a guide. Not having the underwater material equipped means you have 20 minutes to beat Emerald, and if you employ the Knights of the Round (which I ultimately did) then you had better be maxed out or close to it because the timer – if I remember correctly – continues while the animations play out. Emerald has several interesting abilities. One is it has an attack that does 1,100 damage times the amount of material you have equipped, meaning unless you implicitly equipped your party with less it will always KO a player. Also, it releases two eyes that do a ton of damage and if you choose to continue attacking Emerald it will immediately use Revenge Stamp doing thousands of damage to the entire party. I, like many players, came up with some combination of: Knights of the Round and mimic and also Final attack and Phoenix. It’s a tenuous line of constant attack with the possibility of defeat because the battle is out of your hand for large stretches of time, but it’s exhilarating nonetheless. Emerald Weapon is more a test of patience and dedication to strengthening your party; whereas Ruby is about strategy and skill.
Upon finally coaxing Ruby Weapon from his slumber I decided to try my same attack pattern for defeating Emerald. Little did I know that Ruby has a trick up its sleeve for that. It is possible to temporarily paralyze the superboss, but if it isn’t and it’s hit with a Knights of the Round it will automatically counterattack with Ultima. Try and guess how my first “real” attempt at fighting him went. But you know what? I appreciate the Square was thoughtful enough to realize how popular Knights of the Round would be and to make it a double-edged sword to defeat Ruby. Awareness is the key to defeating this superboss, and I love it.
There are certain elements that I feel absolutely must be in a Final Fantasy game for it to feel complete. One of them is powerful superbosses. Ironically, turning in the Earth Harp (Emerald Weapon) and Desert Rose (Ruby Weapon) gives you some pretty sweet stuff. Unfortunately, if you are strong enough to defeat these denizens of the deep then you won’t find much use for them. If you’ve beaten both of these bosses, then you have my respect as a true Final Fantasy fan. If you haven’t, then you are really missing out.
6.Final Fantasy XII – Zodiark
Even with all of the dark protection gear in the world Zodiark’s devastating attack can instantly KO a party member. Darkja is so powerful it can literally Blind a KO’s party member. Meat Zodiark, your worst freaking nightmare.
The beginning of the fight is relatively straightforward – as straightforward as not being able to prevent automatic KO’s is. Focus physical attacks and healing downed party members as necessary. This sounds easier than it is because I cannot express how scary Darkja is, his second strongest attack. Once his health is around 50% he will begin casting Magik Shield, which is a nuisance because while up it’s impossible to dispel the buffs he puts on himself. He hits hard enough without stat increases, trust me. Having a strong secondary party is key so your primary party has a chance to regroup. Scathe is a widespread attack that can level an entire party, so keeping proper distance and positioning is key. Once Zodiark is around ¼ health your best chance to kill him is now, as a powerful enough Quickening can beat him. He changes his elemental weakness, so one must be wary of that. If you are unable to get that one big damage spike, he will enrage and do much more damage while putting up Reflect and Wall that will send all your damage right back at you. At that point he is so close to dying, and you probably are too, that it’s unbelievably simple to kill yourself. Zodiark is an evil, evil boss fight.
Oh yeah, Zodiark’s attacks ignore shield. I forgot to mention that.
Without a doubt, Zodiark has to be one of the most difficult boss fights in the series. Seriously, you can prepare specifically for his Darkja attack and it still will often KO a party member. Between the brutal attack and constantly switching defense, if you wanna beat the best Esper in the game you had better be prepared and have quick reflexes. Just thinking about this fight brings a smile to my face…and a scowl.
Man, it’s been a fun ride and it end tomorrow. There are only 5 more bosses left, so that should make it easy to guess right? Let me know!