VOICE OVER: Aaron Brown
WRITTEN BY: Aaron Brown
These bosses made our experiences with the PS2 much harder. Welcome to MojoPlays, and today we're looking at PlayStation 2 bosses that could pose a challenge to even the most seasoned players. Our list of the hardest PS2 bosses includes Penance from “Final Fantasy X” (2001), Angra from “God Hand” (2006), Hiruko from “Shinobi” (2002), Vergil from “Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening” (2005), and more!
Welcome to MojoPlays and today we’re thinking back to our golden years when we first had to “git gud”. For this list, we’ll be looking at some of the hardest bosses in PS2 games that could pose a challenge to even the most seasoned modern Dark Souls player. What was the hardest boss you beat back on the PS2? Keep your guard up and let us know down in the comments.
“Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater” (2004)
Admittedly this one can be cheesed a number of different ways, but for those who choose to play it as intended, The End might just be yours before the fight is over. Stupidly fast for such an old man, The End will hide himself throughout numerous zones for Snake to track down all while the old man has Snake in his sights. Metal Gear Solid 3 does a fantastic job setting Snake up as the hunter throughout the game but the fight against The End flips the script as Snake is the one on the run while The End can easily be hiding right under Snake’s boot. Tracking The End is no easy task and for those playing the game for the first time, it can also be an exercise in endurance as newcomers could spend a couple hours trying to find The End before he finds them.
“God Hand” (2006)
Even under ideal conditions and when the player is “in the zone” God Hand is still a difficult game. The game’s final boss is a testament to the title’s brazen approach to challenge as he arrives immediately after yet another difficult bout, barely giving players a moment to breathe. With not only the most HP of any enemy in the game, Angra also possesses some of the strongest attacks and missing even a single dodge can prove catastrophic. The game demands near perfection as not only do you need to stay close enough to counter or land any hits of your own, you’ll also be on the defensive dodging more frequently than any other encounter in the game. Angra’s enormous size also allows his reach to far exceed the normal boss fights and keeps the player constantly on the move. Lots of patience and lots of luck are needed for this one.
“Maximo: Ghosts to Glory” (2001)
Even on its best days, Maximo is not an easy game, fully embracing its roots as a 3D Ghosts ‘n Goblins successor and the title has no qualms letting the player know it can kill it at any moment. Also remaining true to its roots, what many assumed was the final boss was in fact only the appetizer. Defeating King Achille, the Queen reveals she was the true puppeteer all along revealing her monstrous alien Necromorph form and attempts to immediately devour Maximo. What makes the fight so difficult is more the arena than the boss itself. Draped in complete darkness, the Demon Queen stalks Maximo from the shadows, and your only chance to see her coming is during the numerous lightning strikes illuminating the room. Other than her infrequent growls, the Queen is completely silent, oftentimes even appearing behind Maximo to catch him off guard.
Like most of the games on our list, Manhunt is designed to be a difficult game. With the player character James Earl Cash being very much an “everyman” it’s all too easy for him to be killed for a simple mistake. After surviving all the horrors of the Director’s games, the end is in sight for James, he just has to deal with a little Piggy before he can claim his freedom. Unlike many of the other threats throughout the game, Piggsy doesn’t really give the player much time to plan their method of attack as he relentlessly chases James wielding his chainsaw. Thankfully, Piggsy is more bloodthirsty than he is clever, so eventually James can send this Piggy crying whee whee whee all the way home.
We recently ranked Shinobi as one of the hardest PS2 games of all time and likewise its boss fights are also some of the most challenging as well. The game’s final boss Hiruko puts all the player’s Shinobi skills to the test, teleporting around the arena and firing extremely damaging projectiles from afar. Even just landing a single hit is an exercise in patience as he will often launch his attacks before you can even get near him forcing you to backtrack before taking damage. Summoning all manner of magic attacks to crowd the battlefield as well as powerful area of effect attacks, only true Shinobis will be able to snuff out this sorcerer’s flame and capture Hiruko’s soul to put an end to his misdeeds.
“Resident Evil 4” (2005)
While Verdugo is still a challenge in the 2023 remake, in the 2005 original, he was the stuff sweaty palms were made of. Virtually indestructible, Salazar’s right hand will relentlessly stalk Leon through the corridors, slashing at him from the ventilation ducts before making its grand debut. Bullets are almost useless against the monstrosity unless Leon is able to freeze it using one of the liquid nitrogen canisters but even this is more of a band aid solution. Leon’s inability to move while shooting can make this even more of a challenge for those attempting this fight for the first time, and missing any of the quick time dodge prompts will leave you scrambling into your inventory for a healing herb. Although it is possible to kill Verdugo, most will run through the open elevator and never look back.
“Final Fantasy X” (2001)
Not only is Penance one of the hardest bosses in Final Fantasy X, it’s also one of the hardest bosses in the entire series. To even reach this SuperBoss, you need to defeat numerous other SuperBosses just so you know what you’re getting into. Boasting an absolutely stocking 12 million HP, as well as its ultimate attack Judgement Day which can easily wipe out your entire party AND its arms get their own attack turns. Each arm also has their own specialties which can completely incapacitate your party with any number of status effects. Going into this fight unprepared or without the right team can leave you stuck in a endless cycle of retries as you battle through its multiple stages -this is a Final Fantasy game after all- and you can easily find yourself blowing through your stock of potions before even making a dent in Penance’s enormous health bar.
“Devil May Cry3: Dante’s Awakening” (2005)
Sibling rivalries huh? As the brothers’ clash reaches its climax by the game’s end, neither one holds back but Vergil seems especially sour on their confrontation. Not only is he faster than Dante, he can teleport around the arena and will also spam his Devil Trigger like it’s going out of style. Dante will spend most of the encounter on the run, and there’s no shame getting a couple cheap hits in whenever possible. He is trying to kill you after all. At the halfway point, Vergil will tap into the Sparda Trigger and unleash everything he had apparently been holding back all this time. Just remember, it’s not running away, it’s a tactical retreat. Timing your own Devil Trigger as well as calling forth the power of Christ to compel his surrender using Holy Water ensures Dante’s undisputed victory. For now, anyway.
“God of War” (2005)
There’s a reason Ares has held the title of God of War for as long as he did. Even with the aid of Pandora’s Box, Kratos is still in for a fight as Ares reveals his true form and holds nothing back to maintain his title. Incredibly strong with both long- and short-range attacks, Ares is one of the only enemies in the original God of War that forces you to make use of the block and parry mechanics before he whittles Kratos’ health down to nothing, ending the Spartan’s quest for revenge prematurely. Just because he’s a god of Olympus, don’t think he’s above the odd cheap hit either. And for the final stretch of the fight, Kratos is left without his trusty blades, leaving him no choice but to get up close and personal. By the end, both Kratos and the player are relieved the whole ordeal is over.
“Kingdom Hearts II” (2005)
Although Sora’s encounter with Sephiroth in the original Kingdom Hearts is also the stuff of legend, we’re focusing on their second bout here due to the one-winged angel using the time between games to become even more of a nightmare. To even attempt this optional battle, you’re going to want Sora and party to be as highly leveled and stocked up as possible and even then, you’re only coming out the other side on a wing and a prayer. Keeping your distance until you strike is a necessity due specifically to how many arena clearing and area of effect attacks Sephiroth has at his disposal. As you clear his health bars, yes plural, he’ll unlock new, more devastating attacks and the more damage you do, the stronger he becomes. At least you can unlock a cool keyblade just for surviving.