Glossary Entry: Boss Fight

Quick Definition

Combat with normal enemies in video games tends to be fairly routine, with the exact gameplay determined by the game in question. Bosses however, are usually fought in a more elaborate and dangerous manner, requiring the player to pay more attention than usual. These difficult encounters are known as boss fights.

More Details

Many bosses are immune or resistant to the player's normal attacks and require the player to perform a specific sequence of actions to make them vulnerable. For example, a barrier boss will be immune to a certain type of attack but vulnerable to another, and can change which types of attack work on them at will. The player is thus tasked with defending themselves from the boss' attacks while also switching to the appropriate weapon of the moment.

Understandably, boss fights can be a bad time to interrupt or distract a player. Fortunately, they can usually be identified easily by several tell-tale signs.

The battle takes place in a Boss Room
Most bosses are fought in special boss rooms. These large areas give the player ample room to move around and everything they need to actually fight the boss. Since these areas are designed specifically as a place for the player to fight that particular boss, they often don't look like the areas found the rest of the game.
Bosses are usually huge
Bosses often fill the entire screen or otherwise dwarf the player character. If there is only one large enemy on screen, it's probably a boss. The bigger the enemy, the more likely this is to be the case.
The music is atypically dramatic
Since boss fights are the climax of a particular part of a game, the music is usually fast paced and very dramatic to make the scene more urgent and epic. A lot of games use the same music for all boss fights, while others use a unique song for each boss. Either way, it's not the usual music and stands out from the rest of the soundtrack.
Many bosses are announced
It's something of a cliche to introduce a boss with a warning klaxon or very dramatic entrance scene. The actual fight begins right after this is shown. Some games simply display a message like "WARNING! BOSS APPROACHING!" when they sound the alarm, making it pretty obvious what's about to happen.
Many games show the boss' life meter
Many games don't show an enemy's health bar on screen, but they will show the health bar belonging to a boss somewhere that's hard to miss.

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