Video games often use a simple, hooking formula: to beat the final boss and save the day, you have to work for it. In most games, you unlock the final boss only after completing the required levels. Some games, however, allow you to fight the final boss from the beginning of the game. Defeating the final boss is often impossible or incredibly challenging; in order to beat the powerful antagonist, you must strengthen your avatar and your own gaming abilities. Hardcore players ignore this formula and head straight for the boss.
Sadly, some bosses on this list are impossible to beat right away. Even though you can fight them, you can’t defeat them unless you improve your stats. Turn-based combat prevents you from avoiding attacks, so the bosses easily defeat you. Nonetheless, we love that we can immediately fight these bosses. You can challenge yourself whenever you like, and you can track your progress based on how you fare against the final boss.
Fortunately, the majority of bosses on this list are beatable. Defeating the final boss right away is extremely difficult but nonetheless possible. Hardcore gamers appreciate these final bosses: instead of forcing players through linear stories, the developers allow you to test your skills and skip parts of the game. If you’re looking for a challenge, these games offer the perfect opportunity to hone your speedrunning capabilities. People might call you crazy for fighting the final boss right away, but they’ll be that much more impressed when you defeat that boss.
15. Calamity Ganon (The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild)
Breath of the Wild returns to the roots of the franchise with challenging gameplay, an open world, and a non-linear storyline. Both the original Legend of Zelda game and Breath of the Wild present dungeons in a nonlinear order—although the 1986 game saves the final dungeon for the end. You may only fight Ganon after completing the other 8 dungeons.
In Breath of the Wild, you can battle Calamity Ganon anytime. If you want to challenge yourself, ignore the storyline and head straight for Hyrule Castle. Many players don’t realize they can do this because the characters point you away from Hyrule Castle toward the dungeons.
14. Dagoth Ur (The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind)
Dagoth Ur awaits within the Red Mountain, guarding the Heart of Lorkhan—an ancient artifact that grants Dagoth immortality and incredible power. You may battle Dagoth whenever you like, although only the best players can defeat him without leveling up.
While you can beat Dagoth’s first stage anytime, you sadly cannot kill him. In his second stage, Dagoth guards the Heart of Lorkhan—which makes him invincible. In order to beat Morrowind, you must evade Dagoth and shatter the Heart. You can only destroy the Heart by completing the main storyline and acquiring Wraithguard, Sunder, and Keening—three Dwemer tools created specifically to manipulate the Heart.
13. Bhunivelze (Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII)
Lightning Returns challenges all players with a time limit: after thirteen in-game days (thirteen hours in the real world), the world ends. At this point, you have the choice to either restart the game or enter the final dungeon, where you confront Bhunivelze and prevent the apocalypse. If you restart the game, you keep your stats, abilities, and equipment, so players can make the game easier if they so desire. You may also extend the time limit by a day and can occasionally stop time with Chronostasis.
Players looking for a challenge can fight Bhunivelze on their first playthrough—or even as soon as they start playing. You can fast-forward to the apocalypse by sleeping at inns. However, Bhunivelze is incredibly powerful: you’ll need to increase your stats or use a New Game Plus to defeat him.
12. The Ender Dragon (Minecraft)
Focusing on open-world exploration, Minecraft lacks a story or a traditional final boss. However, Minecraft still makes some areas harder than others—and none are more difficult than The End. The most powerful enemy in the game, the Ender Dragon, awaits within The End.
To access The End, you must activate an End Portal with 12 Eyes of Ender. End Portals await in dangerous Strongholds, and you must fight powerful enemies in order to craft the Eyes of Ender.
Only brave, skilled players successfully enter The End at the beginning of the game—but that’s only half the challenge. The powerful Ender Dragon awaits, along with other dangerous monsters. If you manage to conquer The End and its difficult boss, you can truly say you’ve beaten Minecraft.
11. Magusar (Soul Sacrifice)
At the end of Soul Sacrifice, you have the choice to spare Magusar or sacrifice him. If you save him, Magusar ungratefully battles you for all eternity. Your character eventually perishes and becomes the new Librom, passing their knowledge to a new hero who must continue fighting Magusar.
If you sacrifice Magusar, the world returns to its original, peaceful state—but you receive Magusar’s curse. It’s unclear whether you’ll maintain control or turn into a new Magusar.
Soul Sacrifice includes a third, secret ending before the finale. You can actually fight Magusar at any point before the finale, and by defeating him you earn the alternate ending. Magusar dies and you don’t inherit his curse, but the world stays broken.
10. Sigma (Mega Man X5)
Before the final world of Mega Man X5, you can play through 8 stages. The game encourages you to complete these stages first, for they make you more powerful. They also increase your chances of obtaining the “good” ending. For every stage you complete, you have a higher probability of blowing up Eurasia. If you don’t destroy Eurasia, the floating continent crashes into Earth and spreads the Maverick virus across the world. Zero turns into a Maverick, and the world suffers.
If you don’t care about the ending or the challenge, you can attack Eurasia right away. You shoot the Enigma cannon and subsequently launch a shuttle at Eurasia. If neither are successful, Zero turns into a Maverick and fights you alongside Sigma.
9. Feral Chaos (Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy)
Even though you defeat Chaos in the first ending of Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, he returns stronger than ever as Feral Chaos. Players looking for a challenge can play past the main storyline to confront Feral Chaos—or they can fight Feral Chaos at the beginning of the game.
During the game’s tutorial, the moogle leading the tutorial asks if you’ve “already mastered Dissidia.” You can answer with either “Well, I wouldn’t say that…” or “I am a master!” If you choose the latter answer, the moogle teleports you to Feral Chaos—who can kill you in one hit thanks to his high level. Afterward, the moogle lectures you about overconfidence and ends the tutorial.
8. Gandohar (Two Worlds)
In the plotline of Two Worlds, Gandohar pretends to be your friend until the end of the game. He betrays you, revealing his true identity as the mastermind who kidnapped Kira, your sister. After this plot twist, you battle Gandohar atop a ritualistic pentagram, and the final cutscene shows him dying within the pentagram.
If you already know of Gandohar’s villainy, you can skip the storyline and battle Gandohar right away. You first meet Gandohar outside a village. If you attack Gandohar and draw him into the village, he attacks back and enrages the villagers. Dozens of villagers come to your aid; several usually die during the fight, but they nonetheless overpower Gandohar.
No matter when you fight Gandohar, you instantly win the game by killing him. Despite this flexible mechanic, Two Worlds only has one ending—so Gandohar dies inside the pentagram no matter where you kill him.
7. Cruiser Tetron (Hero Core)
Hero Core takes place entirely within Cruiser Tetron’s asteroid base. You can battle Tetron at any time, or you can explore the base, fight enemies, and level up. While exploring, you can also find the 10 computers hidden throughout the base, which unlock the game’s “true” ending.
In the standard ending, Flip Hero defeats Tetron as he has many times before. Tetron will return, and the endless cycle will continue. If you activate the 10 computers, Flip Hero gains the power to permanently destroy Tetron—at the cost of his own life. Flip Hero and Tetron die together as the base explodes, ending their eternal fight once and for all.
6. Raksha (Soul Nomad & The World Eaters)
Soul Nomad & the World Eaters uses gameplay to show how power corrupts all. With access to Gig’s power, you can defeat the final boss from the beginning—but if you rely too much on Gig, he takes over your body and destroys the world. If you want to protect the world, you must spend a long time gathering allies and almost never using Gig’s power.
If you rely on Gig and follow the Demon Path, you encounter the final boss right away. Raksha lives within Levin as Gig lives within you—and if you let Gig corrupt you, Raksha also corrupts Levin. After an early battle with Levin, Raksha transforms and flees. With Gig’s power, you can easily defeat Raksha’s armies, the other World Eaters, and finally Raksha himself.
5. Lavos (Chrono Trigger)
When you see Lavos destroy the world thousands of years in the future, time-travel seems like the perfect answer. Crono and company travel between the present, the future, the medieval ages, and prehistoric times—and Lavos waits at every corner. The speechless monster exists throughout time, manipulating characters and slowly devouring the world. Victory seems hopeless as you constantly encounter the terrifying villain. Your characters normally run away, but they battle Lavos halfway through the game—and they quickly lose, with Crono dying in the battle.
With its level-based combat system, Chrono Trigger encourages players to follow its linear storyline to the end. However, you can actually fight Lavos anytime. You’ll only win with a high level (which you acquire by grinding or by starting a New Game Plus). Since Lavos can die anytime in the story, you can unlock multiple alternate endings that wonderfully toy with time travel.
4. Deidranna Reitman (Jagged Alliance 2)
Your sole objective in Jagged Alliance 2 is to kill Deidranna Reitman. Playing as a group of mercenaries, you must overthrow Deidranna’s regime. Most players engage Deidranna in standard warfare and fight through entire armies to reach her. However, you can use a variety of tactics to defeat Deidranna—including at the beginning of the game.
If any of your characters surrender, Deidranna interrogates them in a secret base. To defeat Deidranna in this base, you set booby traps and intentionally surrender. After a few minutes of torturing you, Deidranna leaves the interrogation room and triggers the traps.
3. Heldalf (Tales Of Zestiria)
You can find Heldalf in a few different locations before the end of Tales of Zestiria, but he’s extremely difficult to beat. To defeat him before the finale, you must either spend hours leveling up or confront him in a New Game Plus. The extra effort is worth it: by beating Heldalf early in the game, you earn a secret ending.
In the central storyline, the protagonists realize Heldalf was a human corrupted by Malevolence. Using this knowledge, they defeat him once, unlock his Malevolence form (he takes the shape of a dragon), and permanently destroy the Malevolence within him.
If you defeat Heldalf before the finale, he ambushes the unknowing protagonists in his dragon form. After watching this tragic conclusion, you can save the game, continue the main storyline, and achieve the happy ending.
2. Darkdeath Evilman (Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger VS Darkdeath Evilman)
Since you battle Darkdeath Evilman at the end of every chapter of Z.H.P., you obviously know you can fight him right away. However, most players forget you can defeat him from the beginning. In the prologue, Darkdeath Evilman is so overpowered that he easily bests Absolute Victory Unlosing Ranger (ironic name, isn’t it?). The World Hero Society saves you just before Darkdeath Evilman kills you. They train you, making you stronger and stronger until you eventually beat Darkdeath Evilman.
Z.H.P. features a prologue and 10 chapters. By defeating Darkdeath Evilman in different chapters, you unlock different endings. Since he’s so powerful, you need to use a New Game Plus to obtain most of these endings.
1. Bowser (Super Mario World)
Most players push through seven worlds to reach Bowser. However, you can actually skip most of these worlds. Hiding in almost every world is a Star Road, which leads to the Star World. The first Star Road lies in World 2 (Donut Plains), and the last is next to Bowser’s Castle.
If you take the Star Road in World 2, you may rush through the Star World and follow the last Star Road to Bowser’s Castle. The first Star Road isn’t easy to find, so only knowledgeable players can fight Bowser right away. It’s a tough but rewarding challenge with well-deserved bragging rights. Thanks to Super Mario World’s shortcuts, you can beat the game in under 10 minutes—which I’m sure Princess Peach appreciates.
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