We love bosses here at Boss Level Gamer. We’ve ranked some of the hardest bosses in games and dove deep into some of the scariest bosses of all time. They help create grand, memorable moments that stick with players for years to come. Some are part of large set pieces that are exciting and thrilling to be a part of while others contain important story elements
Japanese role-playing games, or JRPGs, are notorious for difficult boss fights. There is something grand about the villains and enemies in JRPGs that isn’t present in most other genres. The best JRPG bosses have a few things going for them.
For one, they’re not afraid to embrace the weird and strange in the design of enemies. Secondly, it is very likely you will get your butt handed to you if it is your first rodeo in many major boss battles. Finally, they’re just plain fun and exciting to take part in.
As always, this list is based on various factors, which includes a lot of my own opinions, but fear not, there will be plenty of time for you to throw in your own favorites at the end of our list.
Here’s our breakdown of some of the best JRPG bosses.
Red – Pokemon Gold and Silver
I remember the excitement and shock of walking up to Red for the first time in Pokemon Gold and Silver. He is meant to be the same trainer players control in Pokemon Red and Blue, and he is a beast of a trainer. It’s fitting he’s the final boss of the game.
In the original Pokemon Gold and Silver, he uses a team consisting of Snorlax, Venasaur, Charizard, Blastoise, Espeon, and Pikachu. His team is clearly a slight nod to Ash in the anime – especially Pikachu. You’ll need a balanced team to defeat him, and once that’s done, the credits roll.
Demi-Fiend – Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga
The Demi-Fiend is the main character of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne. In that game, he’s a pretty good guy – depending on the choices you make. In the spin-off Digital Devil Saga, he is an absolute nightmare. His encounter is easily one of, if not the, hardest in JRPGs.
To even stand a chance, you’ll want a max-level party with maxed-out stats. If you think coming in with skills that will nullify specific move types, think again. If you do so, he will spam a series of high-level attacks that will wipe you out. He might be one of the hardest but he is also one of the best JRPG bosses.
Nyx Avatar – Persona 3
Nyx is a test of prowess and endurance. It is Death personified and rests atop Tartarus, the giant tower the party climbs throughout the course of their adventure. Many bosses have multiple forms. It’s just a thing that happens – especially in JRPGs.
Nyx, however, has fourteen. And guess what? If you die in any of them you have to start all the way over. Each form or phase represents the various Arcana encountered throughout the game. While the fight is long and difficult, it is also deeply satisfying to pummel Nyx into submission and beat the video game.
Luca Blight – Suikoden II
While some bosses rely on multiple forms to try and bring down the player, others are incredibly strong on their own and just won’t go down. Luca Blight from Suikoden II is one of the best JRPG bosses for his pure tenacity.
He is manipulative and evil and he has no special powers. He’s just a bloodthirsty psychopath who is also an incredibly strong warrior. Once you face him, you must use three different parties – all of which are much larger than the typical three people party in most JRPGs. After that, he is still not done, and instead, you must fight him one on one.
Lavos – Chrono Trigger
Lavos looms over the party throughout the course of the game. While you face him twice, the first battle you’re meant to lose unless you’re overpowered and/or in a New Game+. The second, though, you should be more than prepared to take down this hulking beast.
Many consider Chrono Trigger to be one of the best JRPGs, and Lavos is one of the best JRPG bosses. Not only is the soundtrack absolutely banging in the final moments, but the entire arc of traveling through time and unraveling the mystery surrounding Lavos makes for some powerful gameplay moments.
Safer Sephiroth – Final Fantasy 7
Sephiroth is one evil dude. He wasn’t always so bad, but after learning the truth about who he is, he descends into madness. Sephiroth almost succeeds in destroying the world with Meteor, but thankfully Cloud and company take him down. Safer Sephiroth is made up of the torso and head of Sephiroth paired with wings, halos, and who knows what else.
In battle, “One-Winged Angel” plays and taunts the party as Sephiroth unleashes a myriad of devastating attacks. Some are high damage and some inflict annoying status effects. He also buffs himself at the beginning and will continue to do so later.
It’s a satisfying battle to finish, but not the last. That belongs to an encounter with a normal-looking Sephiroth in a battle with Cloud that cannot be lost.
Numen AKA God – Dragon Quest VII
The Dragon Quest series has always had a specific sense of humor, and the last entry is no different. In the seventh game in the series, you have the option to fight God. In it, you’ll find yourself taking on God as a secret boss.
Don’t be fooled by his sweet, smiling face. God’s difficulty varies. Sometimes he hits hard, and sometimes he can be taken down with relative ease. If you can down him in less than twenty turns, though, you get your choice of a gift. Oh, and bragging rights. You beat God!
Valmar Core – Grandia 2
Grandia 2 brought a new take on turn-based battles with its innovative battle system. In it, timing is everything. It allows for you (or the enemy) to charge up attacks and also interrupt them. Mastering it is key to taking down major bosses and enemies in your adventure.
Valmar Core is one of the toughest fights in Grandia 2. It’s also incredibly creepy and unsettling. The battle begins with a slow thumping of a heart as the screen fades in on the three-headed behemoth. Throughout the battle, the faces make some grotesque and freaky expressions while shouting things about evildoers, god, and death.
Kefka – Final Fantasy 6
The Final Fantasy series is home to some incredible villains. Kefka is the best in the franchise and also one of the best JRPG bosses. He is a completely sadistic son of a gun who murders just because and slowly becomes more unhinged. He even succeeds in his mission to become the God of Magic. In the game, an entire year goes back where he rules as such.
You face him several times throughout the game, but it is the final battle that takes the cake. With a gorgeous, haunting backdrop and soundtrack, the battle starts out with him immediately using an attack to reduce everyone’s HP to one. From there, he throws powerful spell after spell at the party
Giygas – Earthbound
Earthbound has always been a bit of a cult favorite. Now that it’s available on Nintendo Switch hopefully more people will fall in love with all the wackiness and weirdness it offers. The main villain in the story is the intergalactic alien Giygas. He, like many villains, wants to wipe out humanity.
He is mostly unseen but does possess various creatures and people to communicate and so his bidding.
Giygas is the final boss in Earthbound and that battle is often considered one of the best and creepiest battles in gaming. In a bit of a twist, he can only be defeated by using party member Paula’s prayer ability. It’s an unusual tactic that can be hard to figure out without a guide. It does make sense in the grander scheme of the game though.
Shadow Kamoshida – Persona 5 Royal
The Persona series has always been a favorite among JRPG fans, but it is thanks to Persona 5 that it took off and reached an even larger audience with its style and streamlined dungeons. Joker and the Phantom Thieves make up a great cast as they steal the hearts of some truly awful people.
Right out of the gate, you and your team are stealing the hearts of a truly despicable man who preys on and abuses his students. The boss battle with Shadow Kamoshida shows that Persona 5 came to slay. His design is disgusting and he can also heal. It’s a great first boss battle that sets up many more grand fights to come.
Sephiroth – Kingdom Hearts 2
I know what you’re thinking: another spot dedicated to Sephiroth?! In Final Fantasy 7 he is deadly, but somehow, he is even deadlier in Kingdom Hearts 2. The first introductions to Sephiroth have you fighting him in a turn-based battle, but place him in an action-based arena, and you’re in for quite the ride.
Sephiroth is easily one of the best JRPG bosses in games. In Kingdom Hearts 2, you face him one on one as Sora and he’s nimble, powerful, and deadly. He’s one of the toughest bosses in the game.
Dark Bowser – Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story
The Mario RPGs are vastly underrated, and there are so many! Super Mario RPG, Paper Mario, and of course Mario and Luigi. Bowser’s Inside Story is one of a few Mario games where he is portrayed in a positive light. In fact, that final battle against Dark Bowser is done just using Bowser.
In the battle, Dark Bowser looks kind of like the goth-punk sibling of Bowser. He hurdles boulders and even dark forms of well-known Mario minions like Koopas, Goombas, and Bullet Bills. It’s an epic battle of Bowser versus Bowser and ends with Bowser getting a cake from his new friends Mario, Luigi, and Peach.
Lezard Valeth – Valkyrie Profile 2
Some people really, really want to achieve godhood and will do anything to make it happen. Lezard Valeth is one sadistic dude who will do anything to try and make that happen. Leading up to the battle with him, you get to hear how great he thinks he is, and then once you’re in battle, he won’t go down without a fight, he’s a truly tough boss and fun to fight against.
Any damage you inflict is only a tenth of what it normally would be. He also has high HP, so you’re in for a long fight. If you die in battle against him, he taunts you over the game over screen. He is ruthless and conniving and loves to boast about how powerful he is.
That’s our list of the best JRPG bosses. Did we include your favorite? Did we miss someone? Let us know in the comments.