In the video gaming world, the word "cheese" is used to describe strategies and ways to defeat opponents that require no skill on the part of the player. One example is using the same fighting moves repeatedly in a fighting game, pressing the same buttons over and over to win, or picking a character who does copious amounts of damage. In general, "cheese" is a term meaning to use imbalanced attacks, cheap tricks, or exploits to win. As you might imagine, what counts as a "cheese" is extremely subjective, as there's no strict definition of what is a cheese and what isn’t. The term is used in both tabletop games and video games.
Undeserved victories and cheap strategies are especially interesting when applied to boss fights. Video games have changed over the years, but one thing that remains consistent: boss fights are expected to be challenging and put your skills to the test. The truly great video game bosses are the ones who make you feel like you're up against an invincible monster that shrugs off your pathetic blows. But sometimes there are cheese strategies exist for even the toughest bosses, where it turns out you could have avoided about a million deaths and hours of frustration if you'd killed them in a gimmicky and stupidly unthinkable way. Sometimes the boss can even be tricked into killing themselves or the fight can be bypassed entirely.
Here are 15 difficult video game bosses you can cheese, some of which have remained hidden for years until now.
15 Naval Piranha (Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island)
Everyone who has played Yoshi's Island on the Super Nintendo knows that it has a lot of bosses, all of which start off as normal Mario enemies until being enhanced by Kamek's magic. Before each boss is fought by the level's respective Yoshi and Baby Mario, Kamek shows up on his broomstick to taunt the Yoshi before using his magic to super-size them. Naval Piranha, the second boss of the third world, is no different. But a famous cheat allows you to defeat her before the battle even begins.
Before the start of the battle, Naval Piranha will appear as an ordinary Piranha Plant. If Blue Yoshi heaves an egg at her before jumping on the platform where she rests, Kamek will come along and say, "OH MY!!!" and the fight is over. Technically, this makes Naval Piranha the easiest boss in the game. The cheat is so famous that it was carried over to the remake of Yoshi's Island for the 3DS.
14 Shredder (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game for NES is one of the best-selling and most notoriously difficult video games of all time. Some of the levels are extremely hard, especially the infamous timed level where you disarm bombs set in a dam all the while navigating through unavoidable electric seaweed. With all this build-up, you'd expect the final boss fight from TMNT, in which you face Shredder himself, to be a nightmare.
Except not really. As it turns out, Shredder is a pushover. To beat him you just have to knock him off his initial ledge, and continue to hit him with your weapon when he tries to jump back on it to strike back at you. Shredder will keep trying to jump back on, so you can just stand there and hit him over and over until he dies. All in all, a pretty easy final boss for such a famous and iconic game. But hey, at least Splinter turns back into a human afterwards for no apparent reason.
13 Taurus Demon (Dark Souls)
The name Dark Souls has become synonymous with "hair-pulling, control-breaking difficulty" in recent years and it's easy to see why: fighting in Dark Souls is like fighting in real life, with even the lowliest minions able to get the drop on you and kill you in two to three hits. Making it through the dying world of the series requires intelligence, tact, timing, mastery of dodging, and above all a patience for grinding and endless "YOU DIED" messages.
The Taurus Demon is likely the second boss you will face. To the novice, he appears to have no weakness as he smashes you with his club and throws you like a rag doll. But if you climb to the top of the tower and do a jumping attack on him, you can cause some serious damage. If timed right, this can be done repeatedly. Even better: if you lure him to a hole in the wall of the platform, he can jump back while swinging and fall to his death.
12 The End (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)
The photosynthetic centennial sniper from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater may be the game's most memorable boss battle. With an almost supernatural talent for camouflaging himself, The End is very difficult to spot due to his special ghillie suit, and the fight with him is a test of endurance and cunning. Naked Snake has to flush him out of the forest in which he hides first, over and over, until you finally wear down his health. Truly one of the more difficult battles in the game. However, there are three ways to avoid it entirely.
Snake has the opportunity to snipe The End during his first appearance at Ponizovje Warehouse, which awards the achievement/trophy "The Early End." Snake will express disappointment for killing him in this manner, however. The easiest cheese is to save your game mid-battle and set your console's internal clock ahead a week; The End will instantly drop dead of old age. This will also happen if the player saves and waits a week before battling again.
11 Dark Link (Zelda II: The Adventure of Link)
1987's Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is the 2D side-scrolling sequel to 1986's wildly successful The Legend of Zelda game for the NES (and technically the only sequel in the series, since all the other entries are prequels or in alternate timelines). Ultimately, Link defeats the guardians within each of the six palaces and restores the crystals, before he enters the Great Palace for the big final boss fight. The final boss turns out to be an evil doppelganger of our hero, known as Dark Link. The stage seems set for a symbolic showdown of epic proportions, with the winner claiming the Triforce.
However, there's one cheese that makes dealing with this supremely difficult fight rather easy. If you have Link stay to the left side of the screen and duck in the corner, the AI for Dark Link bugs out and doesn't know what else to do but repeatedly charge at you. From there, you can simply stab him until he dies.
10 Arch-Curate Vyrthur (The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim)
In Skyrim's Dawnguard DLC, the Dragonborn will eventually meet Arch-Curate Vyrthur, one of the last remaining Snow Elves who has become corrupted by Vampirism. While Vyrthur himself does not enter the fight until the third round of combat, he is a formidable opponent for low-to-mid-level players. He uses ice magic and a unique variant of Vampiric Drain that also drains stamina. He can also summon minions like Frost Atronachs to swarm the player and has great skill with his frost-enchanted Elven Dagger.
While Vyrthur may give players a hard time, it is possible to defeat him easily once the fight begins by using Unrelenting Force to shout him off the grand balcony where the final round takes place, causing him to fall to his death. Just make sure to find his body and collect his stuff after doing so, since the set of Ancient Falmer Armor he wears is the only obtainable one in the game.
9 General's Attack Helicopter (Just Cause 3)
Just Cause 3 is a game that's all about shooting weapons, blowing up barrels, doing the most insane stunts with cars you can think of, and generally just causing havoc while traveling by grappling hook, parachute, and of course car-surfing stolen vehicles. But there is a storyline, and at the end of it Rico, the player character, faces off against Generalissimo Sebastiano Di Ravello's Bavarium-shielded attack helicopter in the crater of a volcano. It's quite a tough battle, but there's a big, almost too obvious cheat where you can win the fight instantly: use your grappling hook.
In a game where a big mechanic is seeing how many things you can attach your grappling hook to, you can hook one side of your hook to a rock and the other to the chopper. This causes it to crash in a fiery explosion, winning the final fight in the most hilariously anti-climactic way possible.
8 Kalle Demos (The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker)
Beating the terrifying monster plant boss Kalle Demos in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is a daunting task. The boss of the Forbidden Forest dungeon has tentacle-like vines and razor-sharp spikes, and defeating it requires precision with sword and boomerang. Or you could use the hidden trick to kill it instantly by watering it with magic forest water.
You could follow the strategy of having Link hit Kalle Demos with his boomerang to get the troublesome plant monster to let go of the ceiling and reveal its vulnerable flower, and then hit it with perfectly times sword strikes, or you could just walk up to it and dump a jar of magic forest water – originally intended for a side quest – on it, and it will instantly explode and die. That's right: you can water a plant to death. If this wasn't the oddest boss strategy of all time already, this tactic wasn't discovered until 14 years after the game's original release.
7 Hellkite Wyvern (Dark Souls)
The terrifying red Wyvern guarding the bridge seems invincible to most players early in the game, but the fire-breathing monster who roasts you every time you get near it is prone to dying in glitches. Though many of the associated cheese strategies have since been patched, several have proven effective in taking down the mighty drake. The way you can tell if a glitch death is if it suddenly disappears, you hear a roar sometime later and you suddenly get 10,000 souls in your pocket.
The Wyvern's possible deaths include shooting it from behind with a single arrow (has since been patched so that it returns), shooting its tail with arrows until it does (also patched), attacking it from behind the gate leading to the Sunlight Altar, shooting it from behind from the Black Knight's bridge tower, and so on and so forth. For a legit kill, the easiest way is to shoot it with the Dragonslayer Bow while wearing the Hawk Ring, which lets you deal 300 damage per shot.
6 The Fear (Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is one of the most iconic games in the Metal Gear series, with some of the most memorable boss fights in the Cobra Unit and even The Boss herself. Among these superhumans is an opponent known as The Fear. This dramatic Predator-like boss can eat bullets like nobody's business, leap through trees, and turn himself invisible, but The Fear can be cheesed in two very silly ways.
First, an easy stamina kill can be achieved by using rotten or poisoned food during The Fear's frequent snack breaks. If the player drops it, The Fear will run towards it and eat it, then vomit it back up, causing him to lose his stamina. But a better way is to use the Fake Death Pill to fool him into coming close to you, and then unceremoniously shove a torch where the sun don't shine. The Fear apparently has no idea how to react to being set on fire, and will sit there burning to death.
5 The Master (Fallout)
The original Fallout game has you, the Vault Dweller, facing off against the Super Mutant armies of The Master, voiced masterfully by Jim Cummings. The final objective of the game is to destroy The Master, and for this you have multiple options: defeat him in combat (which is extremely difficult), or bypass talking to him and just set the nuclear device in his Cathedral to detonate. If you have high Speech and Intelligence skill however, there is a third and more interesting option: you can convince him to kill himself.
If you obtained the tapes from the Brotherhood of Steel and have high enough Speech and Intelligence stats, you can show The Master that his mutants are sterile and will be extinct within a generation, and thus all his work has been for nothing. After the speech check, the mutant overlord commits suicide in utter despair by activating the countdown on the nuclear device himself, giving you time to get away as the Cathedral is consumed by nuclear fire.
4 Ganondorf (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess)
Almost every entry in the Zelda series ends with an epic confrontation between Ganon/Ganondorf and Link to rescue Zelda, with the Master Sword as the decisive factor in the battle. In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, as well as newer games like Breath of the Wild, you face Ganon in different phases. But as it turns out, the Master Sword was unnecessary for the brutal boss battle for the fate of two worlds. The final phase of the Twilight Princess battle, a one-on-one sword match, features a peculiar cheese: your fishing rod.
If you cast the fishing rod during phase four of the battle with Ganon, he will be mesmerized by it, staring at it long enough to leave him wide open for attack. There's no explanation in-game for why the living incarnation of evil is so easily distracted, but it works and it's undeniably hilarious.
3 Evrae Altana (Final Fantasy X)
In Final Fantasy X, Evrae Altana is a zombie version of Evrae that acts as the boss for the underwater part of Via Purifico. The game gives you two choices as to how to deal with the troublesome sea beast: you can try to fight it head-on (a difficult task, seeing as how it cannot be seriously harmed by most methods), or you can run away and break the locks on the nearby underwater gates to escape. While trying to flee may be tempting, there is a very easy solution to beating Evrae Altana: use health items and magic.
You see, since Evrae Altana is technically a zombie, he can be hurt by common health potions and revives. Simply using two Phoenix Downs or two X-Potions on Evrae Altana will bring a quick end to the undead monster.
2 Simon (River City Ransom)
What's remarkable about the retro NES game River City Ransom is that it's not just one boss that can be cheesed: literally every single boss in the game can be cheesed with two players. In fact, entire levels can be cheesed and essentially skipped on two player mode. The last boss of the game is a character known as Simon who can usually one-shot your character in single player mode.
However, if you manage to have two players and get one on each side, Simon and all the other bosses will just keep getting hit and falling down, making them completely useless. Even the twins (the only boss that is more than one enemy) can be cornered and beaten even if you and your partner only have a simple trash can to wield.
1 Gandohar (Two Worlds)
Two Worlds is basically the poor man's The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion in almost every conceivable way. At the time it was hyped as the next big thing, but has since faded into obscurity. But Two Worlds is home to what is perhaps the biggest boss cheese of all time: the ability to kill the final boss and beat the main quest in about two minutes. In case you don't believe that, here's a video of a speedrunner doing it.
The cheese happens when you avoid the tutorial and walk across the grasslands to see the game's final boss. You attack him and lure him back to the starting village, where he will easily obliterate you in one firebolt, but the explosion will agro the villagers, who are invincible. You respawn, and the entire village surrounds the villain and slowly beats him to death with gardening tools while you watch. It takes a while, but as soon as he dies the ending cutscene will play. Victory...kinda!