VOICE OVER: Ricky Tucci
WRITTEN BY: Johnny Reynolds
The secret bosses are usually the hardest a game has to offer. For this list, we'll be looking at gaming's most challenging optional bosses found off the beaten path. Our countdown of the hardest secret bosses in video games includes Justine & Caroline from "Persona 5" (2017), the Nameless King from "Dark Souls III" (2016), Rodin from the “Bayonetta” Series (2009-), Gna from “God of War Ragnarok” (2022), and more!
Script written by Johnny Reynolds
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Hardest Secret Bosses in Video Games. For this list, we’ll be looking at gaming’s most challenging optional bosses found off the beaten path. Have you vanquished any of these foes? Which did you find to be the hardest? Let us know in the comments!
“Nier: Automata” (2017)
You wouldn’t expect a little robot merchant to have much fight in him, but Emil packs a lot of power. In order to face him, you must have completed the lengthy side quest, ‘Emil’s Memories.’ On a second playthrough, you’ll then be able to find his home where a level 99 boss fight awaits you. It doesn’t help that the room is pitch black, but Emil would still be a force to be reckoned with in the light. As one of the highest level bosses in the game, every attack is deadly, especially his spinning lasers and exploding copies of his own head. With so much destruction covering the area, this is certainly a challenge best saved for last.
“God of War Ragnarok” (2022)
Step aside, Sigrun; the real Valkyrie Queen is here. After putting an end to the vile Odin in “God of War Ragnarok,” you can take on the optional task of cleaning up his remaining supporters. This includes Gna, leader of the All-Father’s most capable warriors. As we’d come to learn, Gna puts even Thor to shame in her lust for blood as evidenced by a tough-as-nails brawl. Similar to the 2018 game’s secret fight, you’ll be met with unbelievable strength and speed befitting the highest of enemy levels. Her elemental attacks deal a lot of damage, she’s hard to predict, and her unblockable grabs are infuriating. She’s a fitting final obstacle for the God of War.
#8: Justine & Caroline
“Persona 5” (2017)
The fight against this duo can only be found in New Game Plus, which is entirely fitting considering how difficult it is. Justine & Caroline may be outnumbered by you and your friends, but that won’t matter much at all. They know exactly which weaknesses to target and have access to all the skills you do, including All Out Attack. If they knock the party down, that means curtains as their All Out Attack can instantly kill you. Even more troublesome than that is their tendency to revive one another after they go down. You can access this fight early in a second playthrough, but we definitely wouldn’t recommend it until much, much later.
“Bayonetta” Series (2009-)
The Umbran witch has had to face a lot of challenging foes over the years, but most can’t hold a candle to Rodin. Thankfully, the weapon smith is usually an ally to Bayonetta. But he’s there for for players who want the game’s ultimate challenge. His fight in the original game is unlocked after collecting 10,000,000 Halos. He moves with incredible grace and speed as he easily pummels you into submission. He’s impossible to stun and his dangerous combos can knock off gigantic chunks of health at a time; meanwhile, he has multiple health bars to work through. He’s kept up this legacy by appearing as a secret boss in the sequels.
“Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars” (1996)
It may be a Mario game, but it’s also from the studio behind “Final Fantasy.” “Super Mario RPG” is a beloved blend of Nintendo’s mascot and Square’s mechanics and design. Part of that design is including an absurdly hard secret boss that’ll make you question how good you are at the game. Culex comes from an alternate dimension in search of strong fighters. In the battle, you’ll also have to contend with four crystals, all of which use different elemental attacks. They collectively have over 12,000 HP. And while you can just go for Culex, the impressive amount of damage that comes from all five combatants makes that a poor choice.
#5: Lingering Will
“Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix” (2007)
Found only in the “Final Mix” version of the game, Lingering Will just may be the toughest boss “Kingdom Hearts” has to offer. You can face this optional baddie after beating the game and completing all worlds, which opens a portal in Disney Castle. The boss wastes no time mounting an offensive of intimidating attacks with ferocious speed. The possessed armor can also change its Keyblade’s shape for different types of attacks. As if he isn’t bad enough to deal with, there are his support drones that chase you around, firing lasers. This fight requires you to perfect the timing of your most powerful attacks, which must be done in small windows when the Lingering Will isn’t hurling damage your way.
#4: Nameless King
“Dark Souls III” (2016)
Of the many spirit-crushing fights players can find in the “Dark Souls” series, the Nameless King is one of the greatest sources of rage. After ringing the bell of the Great Belfry, you can square off against him at the Archdragon Peak. He’ll choose not to fight fair during his first phase, riding his pet Wyvern around. Naturally, the beast has some heavy attacks to watch out for, but the rider is who you should really fear. He’s much faster and stronger than the average boss from the series, and his lightning attacks can be a particular pain. Both the pet and the master also like to attack from above, so it’s a fight that constantly has you on your toes.
“Final Fantasy IX” (2000)
The “Final Fantasy” series has clearly known its fair share of well-hidden and ridiculously powerful optional foes, fittingly dubbed superbosses. Which of these fights is the hardest varies from player to player. But Ozma is certainly a piece of work. Players face it in Chocobo’s Air Garden after the longest side quest in the game and should expect a high level of frustration. It knows Curse, which can inflict multiple status effects at once to all party members, and Meteor, which does a random amount of damage up to 9,999. It can also absorb your party’s MP and heal as a counterattack, which it will probably do when it’s close to death.
#2: Malenia; Blade of Miquella
“Elden Ring” (2022)
FromSoftware has crafted a reputation for delivering the most challenging bosses in gaming. So, when “Elden Ring” released in 2022, fans everywhere made it their mission to track down the most demanding enemy within. Who they found, and were likely promptly destroyed by, was Malenia, Blade of Miquella. Fought at the end of the optional dungeon, Elphael, the Demi-God can easily close the distance between you and unleash a flurry attack that will quickly and drastically drop your HP. During her second phase, her attacks gain the Scarlet Rot status effect, which deals damage over time. That’s not to mention the fact that every hit she lands heals her, which only adds to the stress.
“Megami Tensei” Series (1987-)
After playing the role of protagonist in “Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne,” the Demi-Fiend went on to become the hardest optional boss in the series, and all of gaming. He has appeared in several entries and will prove an insurmountable challenge to most players. For starters, any party members with moves that counter his abilities will be insta-killed at the start of the fight. He has no weaknesses himself, he’ll constantly cycle through minions to keep fighting you, and he’ll fully heal himself once he reaches half of his 60,000 HP. That’s not even going into his attacks, all of which deal major damage and one of which has a chance to insta-kill and targets the whole party.