×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Most Bizarre Boss Fights In Gaming

Unlike the hordes of disposable, faceless minions players cut down in the thousands, bosses are challenging milestones. Moreover, they are designed to be memorable fights that stick in gamers' minds. However, difficulty plays only one part of the equation that engrains them in gamer memory. Presentation is just as important, and nothing attracts audiences as much as the strange and bizarre.

Sometimes developers will create powerful enemies that behave differently from similar bosses to help them stick out in a lineup of villains. Other times, bosses act or look so weird, so different from everything else out there, that gamers can't help but remember them long after they are vanquished.

Of course, some bosses are naturally much stranger than others (and gamer tastes are fickle), so only the most freaky and uncanny will ever be immortalized as truly bizarre bosses. Remember when a bunch of Japanese schoolchildren fought the Lovecraftian god Nyarlahotep in "Persona 2?" Probably not, because that isn't half as strange as the same bunch of kids fighting Hitler (who is also Nyarlahotep in disguise). And believe it or not, the bosses get weirder from there. 

Here are some of the most bizarre boss fights in video game history.

Negative Man - Mother 3

The enemies of the "Mother" franchise (to Western audiences, the flop known as "Earthbound") are an eclectic bunch. You've got walking brains, sentient taxi cabs, and mushroom dogs in your way, and bosses are similarly strange. However, one "boss" enemy stands head and shoulders above the rest, if only because he is too depressed to fight back — or stand up.

Negative Man is a unique, yellow, rectangular enemy in "Mother 3," and calling him a boss is both accurate... and a stretch. Players are free to wail on him, but instead of fighting back, Negative Man unleashes a barrage of self-deprecating statements. He constantly claims he is worthless in battle, and you might assume he would stand a chance if he bothered attacking. Every so often Negative Man might fight back, and when he does, each of his attacks deals a whopping 1 HP of damage. Negative Man is exactly as worthless as he claims.

In a case of seemingly deliberate irony, Negative Man's battle theme is "Strong One," a song usually reserved for powerful opponents. Moreover, despite his pitiful attack strength, Negative Man has a ton of health.

Normally, video game enemies dish out the kind of punishment they can take, but not Negative Man. He makes for a strange battle, since he begs for death and players struggle to grant his request.

Copyright Infringement Trio - The Revenge of Shinobi

In the 80s and 90s, ninjas were everywhere. They conquered movies, television, and video games. Many companies wanted in on the craze and created a slew of titles, many of which have been forgotten. Well, almost forgotten. "The Revenge of Shinobi" is a solid title that has been overlooked in favor of other great ninja-themed games, and many audiences might have buried all memory of the game if not for three bizarre bosses that get copyright lawyer hands a-wringin'.

While many bosses in "Revenge of Shinobi" are generic rival ninjas and samurai, three stand out because they are surprise/illegal cameos. One such boss is a muscular man in shades who briefly turns into a robot when defeated — in other words, a T-800 Terminator. Another boss is Godzilla without the dorsal spines, and the third is a two-for-one deal. Given his wall-crawling and web-shooting, the third surprise boss is clearly meant to be Spider-Man — but halfway through the fight, he changes clothes and transforms into Batman. No, seriously.

Sega, realizing its error, released a new version of "The Revenge of Shinobi" that fixed the infringing material — sort of. The Terminator and Spider-Man are still there, but not-Godzilla is replaced by a dinosaur skeleton, and instead of turning into Batman, Spider-Man transforms into what appears to be Devilman. That's an improvement, but it doesn't explain the bizarre thought process that convinced developers to ignore four copyrights in the first place.

Killer Rabbit - Dragon's Crown

"Dragon's Crown" stars gorgeous monsters and characters that are bulging with details and biceps, and the designer didn't skimp on the bosses. Challenging enemies such as the Red Dragon and Chimera are brimming with intricate design work, and they take up a significant chunk of screen real estate to show off every hand-drawn pixel. How strange would it be if one of the game's tougher bosses was smaller and less-swole than most common enemies?

At the end of Path B in the Lost Woods, players come across a towering pile of corpses, and at the top sits a tiny white rabbit. But that's no ordinary rabbit; it's a boss that acts as a reference to "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." Like its source material, the Killer Rabbit boss can chew through health bars faster than real rabbits chew through carrots, and because it's so small, it's easy to lose this boss in the mayhem.

The strangeness and references don't end there. If players take too long, they are aided by a never-ending conga line of Highland Knights, and the game spawns a box of bombs for players to chuck at the boss. Everyone who has seen Monty Python's classic film knows the best way to kill evil rabbits is with medieval hand grenades.

Unfortunately, players don't have the option to bravely run away from the Killer Rabbit. Once they enter the lair of this foul and bizarre beast, it's either kill or be killed.

The Bride - Ms. Splosion Man

Since the game "Splosion Man" and its sequel "Ms. Splosion Man" star sentient explosions, sanity isn't particularly high up on the list of gameplay priorities. "Ms. Splosion Man" ends with a truly bizarre final boss that only gets weirder the longer the fight goes on.

In "Ms. Splosion Man," the titular heroine is on a quest to save Splosion Man, and players eventually learn he's been captured by a giant, blank-faced bride. But, instead of fighting The Bride (yes, that's her name) in a series-standard platforming battle, "Ms. Splosion Man" flips the script and essentially becomes a "Punch-Out" parody. However, that is just the tip of the weirdness iceberg. Once players defeat the boss, the fight enters a second phase and reveals that players had only pummeled the head of a gigantic lumpy creature. Oh, and now the bride's voluptuous chest has become the boss' eyes.

The second bout continues the "Punch-Out" mechanics, but even after Ms. Splosion Man wins again, The Bride has one more trick up her sleeve — or should we say two tricks under her dress? Turns out what looked like her real breasts are another pair of arms, this time with knuckle dusters, and she whips them out for the final round.

Since the developers, Twisted Pixel Games, have yet to develop a further "Splosion Man" sequel, fans might never see how they would top the matrimony insanity.

Joe Head Joe - Skullmonkeys

As noted by LGR, "The Neverhood" is a criminally underrated point-and-click adventure that takes place in a surreal claymation world. The game by its design is a bizarre trip, and the developers captured the absurdity in each of the game's sequels, including the platformer "Skullmonkeys." As the game's title suggests, the main enemies consist of a species of monkeys with skulls for heads. Things only get stranger from there.

Since "Skullmonkeys" is a platformer, it features several fairly simple bosses, one of which is the absolutely bizarre Joe Head Joe. What kind of name is "Joe Head Joe?" Well, it's a name that is as on the nose as "Skullmonkeys," because Joe Head Joe's body is literally the digitized head of Joseph Sanabria, one of the game's developers. And, Joe Head Joe's moveset is as freaky as his appearance. Joe Head Joe has two attacks: He either burps out fireballs or pops out his own eyeballs and rolls them at the player, complete with goofy accompanying sound effects.

All things considered, Joe Head Joe is a simple boss, and his strangeness factor relies purely on his appearance. Moreover, the decision to turn a digitized head into the torso of an otherwise claymation enemy is just so random — but it's the good kind of random, though.

Scarecrow - Batman: Arkham Asylum

Batman has done wonders for the entertainment industry, and his adventure in "Batman: Arkham Asylum" is widely regarded as one of the best superhero video games ever. But what is Batman without his legendary enemies, many of whom have made a career out of scaring people to death?

Some of the most memorable boss fights in "Batman: Arkham Asylum" are the Scarecrow nightmare sequences. These pretty much come out of nowhere and force Batman to traverse terrifying and trippy mindscapes that sport swirling voids, a hallucinatory (and giant) Scarecrow, and the talking corpses of Batman's parents. After the first two sequences, you might assume you've seen it all, but the developers saved the freakiest fight for last.

Each Scarecrow nightmare is preceded by the telltale sound of gas and Batman coughing, and the first two times, "Arkham Asylum" seamlessly transitions into the sequences. Players may psych themselves up as soon as they hear the gas for the third time, but before they know what's happening, the game borrows a page from the underrated "Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem" and simulates a graphics card failure. Then, "Arkham Asylum" seemingly restarts and taunts players with a fake "game over" screen, complete with advice to use a fictional "middle stick." It's all part of the final Scarecrow fight, though.

While the first two Scarecrow boss fights are meant to freak Batman out, the third is aimed directly at players and only possible through the magic of video games.

Nano Swarm/B-Win - Sunset Overdrive

Developing a video game that constantly references its own nature without ruining the joke is no easy task — especially when a boss needs to make the action feel fresh while also dialing it up to the nth degree.

"Sunset Overdrive" is a tongue-in-cheek game that intentionally hand-waves away most questions by essentially saying, "It's a video game, don't think about it." That sentiment answers why the game's weaponry is so eccentric, why the protagonist can grind on power lines, and why the game's final boss is a giant, sentient building. However, those goofy ideas don't hold a candle to the end boss of the game's final DLC, "Dawn of the Rise of the Fallen Machines."

The DLC's final boss starts with a cloud of nanobots, which is on par with the rest of the robot-themed expansion. However, all semblance of sanity is tossed aside when the nanobots transport the protagonist into their Xbox's hard drive (even on the PC version of "Sunset Overdrive"). Players then need to fend off waves of weaponized advertisements and defragment their hard drives, and even when gamers are teleported back to the game's fictional reality, the nanobots have one more trick up their sleeve. In a final gambit, they abduct Brandon Winfrey, the host of the in-game show Sunset TV (and real-life Community Manager of Insomniac Games circa 2014) and transform him into B-Win, the DLC's true final enemy.

It's one thing for a video game to cheekily remind players they are playing a video game, but it's a whole new bizarre ball game for a game to remind players there's a real world as well.

Psycho Mantis - Metal Gear Solid

Hideo Kojima is a video game auteur with an almost supernatural knack for predicting the future. He tends to insert unique elements into his games that increase immersion, tearing down the barrier between game and gamer, and "Metal Gear Solid" is no exception.

Each entry of the "Metal Gear Solid" series is full of iconic bosses, but none are as freaky as Psycho Mantis. Not only is he a true-to-his-name psycho, he's also a psychic who gleefully uses his powers to mess directly with players' minds.

Before audiences actually meet Psycho Mantis, he puppeteers the heroic Meryl Silverburgh to put players on edge. However, the freak show truly starts when Psycho Mantis actually reads gamers' memory cards. He knows, among other things, what save files are stored on the cards. Just when players think Psycho Mantis is out of tricks, he suddenly takes over their controllers and moves them across floors with the power of his mind (i.e., the built-in rumble).

Bizarrely, Psycho Mantis' command of meta-gaming isn't absolute. He can predict Solid Snake's every move, but only if the controller is plugged into the first port. Players can only defeat Psycho Mantis if they plug the controller into the second controller port.

Psycho Mantis left such a mark that he returned as a spiritual cameo in "Metal Gear Solid 4." There, his abilities were greatly diminished, and not because he became a ghost. No, it turns out he's powerless against consoles that don't use memory cards and controllers without rumble features.

Bob Barbas - DmC: Devil May Cry

"DmC: Devil May Cry" is the black sheep of the "Devil May Cry" franchise, mostly because of its controversial portrayal of Dante. But, protagonist characterization aside, the game isn't without merit. One of its bosses is as creative as it is freaky — and a jab at conservative news organizations and newscasters.

Bob Barbas is a side character who pops up from time to time in "DmC." He is the face of the game's fictional Raptor News Network, and he uses his position to paint Dante as a terrorist, deviant, and virtually every other immoral label under the sun. Oh, and Barbas is also a demon. Unlike other demons in "DmC," however, Barbas' true form is a freaky sentient television signal in the shape of a talking head (get it?).

Not only is the fight against Barbas freaky from a visual standpoint, it's creative to boot. Sure, the fight relies on the cliched practice of throwing mobs at players, but it does so with Pulitzer Prize-level flair. Instead of just spawning enemies, the game transports Dante into previous arenas with perspectives that mirror news chopper feeds. As these interlude fights ensue, Barbas mocks Dante with moral guardian language and an unhinged news ticker.

This mix of pointed commentary and bizarre imagery demonstrates that "DmC: Devil May Cry" might be better than most gamers give it credit. What other video games let you fight a demonic news channel?

Slot Machine - Star Fox

"Star Fox" games are designed to be replayable. Each entry features multiple paths, so it's impossible to fight every boss in a single playthrough. Moreover, the first "Star Fox" title stashes one of the strangest bosses in the game (if not the entire franchise) in a hidden area most gamers probably won't find on their first or even fifth playthrough.

If players travel through the hardest Asteroid level, they will have plenty of targets to blow up. Since the asteroids don't fire back, most players will just fly past them and focus on the enemy combatants. However, if players destroy the level's biggest asteroids, the game spawns a bird, and if players ignore all common gaming sense and fly right into this bird, they are transported to a secret level.

This hidden area is one big mind trip. Players have to fight off bizarre enemies such as paper airplanes. They'll also have to fight off motion sickness, since the smiling moons in the background constantly distort. Gamers who power through will eventually face the weirdest boss in any "Star Fox" game: the Slot Machine, which is exactly what it sounds like. The only way to beat this one-armed bandit is to fire until you get "7s" in all three slots, after which the game rewards players with the credits. Yes, bizarrely enough, this hidden boss ends playthroughs prematurely.

A slot machine in outer space is weird enough on its own, but rewarding players with a dead end that forces them to start over from scratch? Now that's bizarre.

Giant Agent Smith - The Matrix: Path of Neo

Movie tie-in video games are usually expected to, well, actually tie in with movies. However, not all story beats translate well into video game form, so sometimes developers ad-lib a few portions to spice things up. This can result in wild and unexpected bosses and segments, even if they were suggested by the movie's creators.

For the most part, "The Matrix: Path of Neo" faithfully retells the story of the "Matrix" trilogy, with a few changes here and there for flavor. But the game's biggest alteration — figuratively and literally — comes at the end. At first, the final battle plays out as it does in the movies; Neo fights the villainous Agent Smith in the digital rain. Then, the Wachowskis (or at least the 8-bit avatars of the series' directors) pop in to admit Neo's sacrifice wouldn't make a compelling ending for a game. So, they toss it out and let players fight a giant conglomerate Agent Smith made out of chunks of city and piloted by an army of smaller Smiths.

After following the movies so faithfully, the final fight comes out of nowhere and is "spectacularly odd," as noted by The Verge. Sure, the source material is anything but grounded in reality, but a sudden battle against a mega-sized Agent Smith is far beyond anything fans had previously seen or expected. The only thing stranger than the very concept of fighting a giant Agent Smith is the realization that the Wachowskis suggested the alteration themselves.

Great Mighty Poo - Conker's Bad Fur Day

"Conker's Bad Fur Day" is easily the strangest game on the Nintendo 64. Instead of blending in with the rest of the console's library of family-friendly titles, it flaunts an M-rating earned through cursing, violence, and objectified polygonal women. The game also uses this rating to create a boss that is both incredibly strange and disgusting.

Back in the developer's Nintendo days, Rare, the company behind "Conker's Bad Fur Day," seemingly liked to design enemies and bosses by selecting random objects or creatures and placing googly eyes on them. Nothing was off limits, as demonstrated by the studio's most legendary creation: The Great Mighty Poo. As the boss' name suggests, he is a giant pile of talking poop with eyes and a smile made of corn. Also, players can only defeat this foul creature by tossing toilet paper in his mouth.

Normally, gamers might try to forget such a gross enemy, but The Great Mighty Poo has clung to gamer subconsciouses. You see, he isn't just a sentient pile of poop; he's a sentient pile of poop that spends the entire fight singing opera and finding ever-more creative synonyms to further his symphony of scatological humor.

The Great Mighty Poo could have been the most bizarre boss ever made, but the "Conker: Live & Reloaded" remake lessened his disgusting charm with the game's language censorship. Sure, The Great Mighty Poo farts whenever he utters a censored word, but it's just not the same.

"Biggest" Boss - Cho Aniki Kyuukyoku Muteki Ginga Saikyou Otoko

Shoot 'em up games (or shmups for short) usually fall into two categories: Shmups either feature planes or spaceships shooting down swarms of enemy planes or spaceships, or they are absolutely cuckoo-for-Cocoa-Puffs experiences in which anything can appear, even evil whales. Bosses in the latter category tend to drown out the rest of the insanity with their own pixelated lunacy.

One of Japan's weirdest shmup franchises is "Cho Aniki" (literally "Super Big Brother"). The series is about bald, muscular men who fly around and shoot down enemies including equally muscular mermaids, trains, and chairs. These games are intentionally loony, but the weirdest "Cho Aniki" installment of all is the sole entry with digitized models: "Cho Aniki: Kyuukyoku Muteki Ginga Saikyou Otoko."

The first boss of "Kyuukyoku Muteki Ginga Saikyou Otoko" is a giant man sporting a comb-over and wearing a metal harness. Sounds sane, right? Well, the harness makes him look pregnant, and occasionally his "belly" pops up to reveal machine guns. And after the guns are depleted, a second torso ejects out of a tube nestled between the man's legs. Instead of shooting bullets, this new torso tries to punch players with its stretchy fists and head.

The rest of the game's bosses consist of bonkers concepts like a human pyramid and a frog snail. They're all positively insane ideas in their own rights, but not quite as brain-smashingly crazy as the pregnant male cyborg at the very beginning.