Usually, getting to the final boss in a fighting game isn’t the problem. Beating the final boss, however, usually is. As fighting games were born from the arcades and made to munch on your quarters, they don’t play fair. Final bosses in fighting games have super damaging moves that come out in an instant, they can quickly move after doing a special move and the CPU will read your button presses so it can counter whatever you’re doing instantly. At times, you’ll wonder if it’s even worth beating them. Well, the answer is yes… most of the time. Just so you can get the satisfaction of beating their smug, input reading, cheating faces.
Before I go through my list of the hardest fighting game bosses ever, I did have one caveat when putting this list together and that is only one boss would be allowed per franchise. If I didn’t add this to my criteria, this list would be dominated by SNK bosses. If you know fighting games, you know what I mean. Anyway, one with the list!
#5 Gill (Street Fighter III: Third Strike)
Am I the only one uncomfortable fighting a guy who’s only wearing a loincloth?
It’s hard to believe that Street Fighter III wasn’t well liked by the fighting game community. Well, the first iteration wasn’t that great, if I’m being honest. But, as Capcom kept revising the game, it did get really good by it’s third revision with Third Strike. However, the one constant that Street Fighter III had was how difficult Gill was as the game’s final boss.
Gill has a lot going for him as a final boss. And when I say “a lot going for him,” what I mean is how cheap he can be. Gill has normal moves that can cause chip damage, has a couple of special moves that hit twice, has a target combo starting from a light attack that hits low and his anti-air headbutt can juggle into itself. If that wasn’t enough, Gill has three Super Arts at his disposal at all times, two of which cause massive chip damage even when blocked and a third one that will revive him when he gets KO’ed!
As cheap and powerful as Gill is, he’s still beatable if you really know how to play Street Fighter III. If you’re really good at parrying multiple hits and you know his patterns, you can easily defend and counter most of his moves. If you have a life lead but he has his Super Arts meter filled, you can let the timer run out as well. Unfortunately, getting really good at parrying takes a lot of practice and keeping a life lead over Gill for an extended period of time can be overwhelming.
#4 Magneto (X-Men: Children of the Atom)
Bet you forgot that, before the Marvel vs. Capcom series, there was an X-Men fighting game, didn’t you?
Some people have a problem with the final bosses found in Capcom’s Vs. series of fighting games. They’ll point to bosses like Onslaught, Cyber Akuma, Galactus, Abyss and Ultron Sigma as impossibly difficult. I oddly never had that problem. Even on the highest difficulty, I never felt any rage building up when I lost to them because they never felt impossible. Magneto in X-Men: Children of the Atom, though? Man, I really hated that guy!
Magneto wasn’t really cheap, per se. He does much more damage that you and would take less damage from your attacks. He also has extra mobility thanks to his flying ability. Magneto did have moves that would outprioritize your attacks and he would definitely read your inputs so he could counter a lot of your attacks. However, the worst thing about Magneto was the force field he would generate during the fight. It last for a good while and he’s totally invulnerable to any attacks while the force field is up! How are you supposed to counter something like that?
You have to really get lucky to win against this version of Magneto. If you do get lucky and the CPU doesn’t put up much of a fight, making it really easy to take him out. However, if you’re unlucky, well, you’ll just have to wait it out and hope the AI decides to show some mercy on you so you can actually get through his defenses.
#3 Shin Akuma (Tekken 7)
Yes, a guest character can be a very infuriating final boss, indeed.
I’m glad Namco Bandai and producer Katsuhiro Harada has such a good relationship with other gaming companies. This is precisely why Tekken managed to sneak in different fighters from other fighting game franchises into the seventh installment of the series. It’s still rather strange to me how they did kind of swallow their pride and decide to make a buffed out version of Akuma, a character from the Street Fighter franchise, the final end boss for Tekken 7.
Shin Akuma, as he’s known in the game, is frighteningly tough. He has a super fast teleport, meaning he can get in quickly or escape just as fast. He also has a fireball like in the Street Fighter games, making him able to control space. He can do a lot of damage with his attacks and even enhance some of his attacks by utilizing his unique EX meter mechanic. To add insult to injury, his life replenishes slowly. Oh, and I hope you love playing as Devil Kazuya because you can only play as him at this point in the story.
However, if your dodges and juggles are on point and you’re intimately familiar with Devil Kazuya’s moves, you actually have a better than average chance at taking out Shin Akuma and closing out Tekken 7’s story mode. If not, well, be prepared to spend hour upon hours trying to take him out.
#2 God Rugal (Capcom vs. SNK)
What happens when you cross a tough boss with another tough boss? You get God Rugal!
Rugal Bernstein has always been a tough boss to beat. So it only made sense to make him the ultimate final boss in Capcom vs. SNK 2. You can only fight him under a special set of circumstances, which are getting a set number of points by the final match and playing with a Capcom “groove” style. Playing with an SNK “grove” style will have your fighting Shin Akuma. But even he’s a cakewalk when compared to God Rugal.
God Rugal is a very cheap bastard. On the highest difficultly, he can KO you with just a couple of normal hits. He can teleport all over the screen and his projectile is so big you can barely clear it with a jump. And if you attempt to jump at him, you’ll be probably eating his Genocide Cutter for even trying. Also, his super moves come out in an instant and can take out more than half of your life.
Getting to God Rugal itself can be a challenge. But that does mean you should have the skills to actually beat him. That doesn’t mean it’ll be easy, though. It will take you a lot of tries to beat him under normal circumstances as, even though he’s just one character, the deck is still stacked against you because of how powerful God Rugal is.
#1 Rugal Bernstein (King of Fighter ’94)
You never forget your
There is actually something called “SNK Boss Syndrome” in the fighting game world. That’s because SNK has become notorious for putting the most janky and most impossible bosses to beat. However, they usually have an AI weakness you can exploit. In the first Fatal Fury game, you can beat Geese Howard by simply throwing him over and over again. Igniz from King of Fighters 2001 simply cannot block low slide kicks. You can actually do a lot of damage to Mizuki repeatedly from Samurai Shodown II if you can hit her with just the tip of a jumping heavy slash.
Rugal Bernstein from the King of Fighters ’94 doesn’t seem to have any of these weaknesses.
The first time you fight him, you might think he’s a cakewalk, generally speaking. He doesn’t really do anything spectacular and, as long as you play smart, you can easily beat… his first form. It turns out he was just taking it easy but, after you beat him once, Rugal gets serious! He has two projectiles, both borrowed from Fatal Fury bosses. He has a rushing grab that’s thankfully blockable. But what makes Rugal’s second form so scary is his Genocide Cutter as it utterly prevent you from jumping at him!
While God Rugal may seem more intimidating, the OG Rugal is still more frightening as your options are much more limited as you can only pick a specific team of fighters and not swap out the more useless ones. Thankfully, you can time him out as long as you cause some damage and are good with the dodge mechanic. But good luck maintaining that life lead until the timer runs out!
BONUS: Mike Tyson (Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!)
Because screw Mr. Dream!
You may be crying that Punch-Out! isn’t a fighting game. That’s precisely why it’s just a bonus entry. But boxing is adjacent to fighting and, besides, I just wanted to add Mike Tyson to this list… even if I do think he’s not particularly hard. He’s definitely scary and deserving of being one of the toughest bosses in video games as, during the first half of the first round, Mike Tyson can knock you down with a singular powerful uppercut, even if you block it. But, if you can survive this initial onslaught and dodge every one of them, your odds of beating him increase a whole lot.
What other fighting game bosses did you have a terrible time trying to beat? Let me know who they are in the comments section below!