Boss battles are often the most memorable part of a video game. That’s usually because, when they’re good, they’re a sudden break from repetitive action, a huge change in pace that nonetheless puts all the skills you’ve been honing to the test. But sometimes they’re memorable because that test seems borderline impossible and all the time spent throwing yourself at it again and again and again is the digital equivalent of bashing your head against a rock. The fine folks at Vulture recently published a mammoth ranking of 100 boss battles that land on the latter side of that dichotomy, because sometimes you just want to think about these assholes and shake your fist in rage without actually throwing yourself into the emotional meat-grinder that is their actual boss fights.
It’s a nicely eclectic mix, with encounters that range from mildly irritating, like Bowser in Mario 64, to legitimately life ruining, like the monster that a group Final Fantasy XI players reportedly spent 18 hours trying to take down before they quit out of fear for their own health. (The developers eventually made that one far easier and imposed a two-hour time limit.) All the classics are there—Mike Tyson, Mega Man’s Yellow Devil, Zelda II’s Shadow Link, Castlevania’s Grim Reaper, a handful of scumbags from fighting games, Final Fantasy’s optional bosses—and they’re joined by a bunch of their equally shitty descendants from series like Dark Souls and Kingdom Hearts. The top spot went to some horrible monstrosity from the original Destiny, a bullet sponge so devious Bungie had to step in and turn the difficulty down. Frankly, landing the plane in Top Gun was robbed.