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The Seven: most difficult boss fights in the Final Fantasy series

by December 29, 2014 1 comment
Final Fantasy X: Yunalesca (final form)
  Yunalesca received 10 nominations, more than any other boss.

This is the third entry in an ongoing series of articles on The Lifestream called The Seven, in which we turn the spotlight on seven of the best (or worst) aspects of the Final Fantasy series. Previously in this series, we have looked at the seven best lines of dialogue in Final Fantasy VII and the seven best FMVs in the Final Fantasy series. The selections are made with the help of our community.

This time, our focus it the most difficult boss battles of the series. Our community members were free to nominate bosses from whichever games they wished, including the Tactics games (Wiegraf almost made it into this article), spin-offs like Crisis Core (Hollander picked up a couple of votes) and sequels (Angra Mainyu was suggested as a difficult boss from Final Fantasy X-2). The seven bosses with the most nominations are listed below. There are a few things to bear in mind before you start reading:

  • These are not the seven most difficult boss battles from a completely objective point of view. On the whole, our members have played the games released after Final Fantasy VII a lot more than the ones before it, and that is reflected in their choices. This is a subjective list, so if you have a different opinion, let us know!
  • Our members were instructed to think about the difficulty of bosses for a first-time player. There is an optimal strategy for just about every boss fight in the series, but they range from the straightforward to the incredibly obscure, and no beginning player can be expected to know the intricacies of the latter.
  • Superbosses were excluded from consideration, but optional bosses that most first-time players will face on a normal playthrough (like Final Fantasy XII’s Elder Wyrm) were eligible.
  • The list contains spoilers. The bosses are presented in chronological order, not by the number of votes they received. You can use that information to skip any games you haven’t played, if you wish.

Final Fantasy IV: Demon Wall

The Demon Wall (or Gate) is a recurring boss in the Final Fantasy series, and always seems to be a formidable obstacle. While the versions from Final Fantasy VII and XII both picked up nominations, it was the one from IV that stood out as being the toughest. The unique aspect of the fight is the imposed time limit: Demon Wall will slowly edge towards the party and will use an unavoidable instant death attack called Crush upon reaching them, so it must be defeated before that happens. It doesn’t just sit back and wait to be defeated in the meantime, however: it still attacks physically to make sure you can’t quite use all of your turns for offensive purposes. If you can’t deal damage quickly enough, you simply won’t be able to win, and level grinding is the only solution. The After Party explained what made it tricky:

Demon’s Wall was pretty hard. Final Fantasy IV was one of the only Final Fantasies that understood the challenge aspect of relentless offense and Demon’s Wall had it in spades because it crushed your defenses, constantly.

Final Fantasy IV: Zeromus

Technically there are three fights with Zeromus in Final Fantasy IV, but since the first is scripted and the second never attacks, we’re focusing on the third. Zeromus uses Big Bang every three or four turns, which has the potential to wipe out your entire party and must be defended against. Unfortunately, one of his other attacks is Black Hole, which removes most positive status effects, so there is only a short window of opportunity to prepare. His other attacks – Flare, Maelstrom, Meteor, Bio, Whirl and Osmose – also pack a punch. Dawnbreaker recalled her struggle to defeat him:

I found Zeromus downright nasty. His Big Bang attack always knocked Rydia down, and his ridiculously high magical defense meant only Cecil and Kain did much damage.

Final Fantasy VI: MagiMaster

MagiMaster, or Magic Master in the later releases of Final Fantasy VI, is a completely optional boss, but he’s one that most players will run into. Firstly, he is in the place where you can re-recruit Strago – would you really just leave him behind in the World of Ruin? Secondly, he’s at the top of a very tall tower, which every player knows must contain something interesting, even if they’ve never climbed it before, because that’s just how video games work (it’s one of the most powerful items in the game, as it happens). The battle with him is partially difficult because you cannot attack physically, but mostly because of his final Ultima spell, which will devastate any unprepared party and is impossible to predict. There’s also the fact that you’ll have to climb all 38 floors of the tower again after defeat, a tiresome task without the Moogle Charm. Here’s The After Party again with his take:

In a game where it hands you a million and one strategies to turn it upside down, the limitations imposed in the fight with Magic Master and its final Ultima attack pretty much stops that, flat out. If you don’t figure out a way to survive that final Ultima, you’re not going to win, period.

Final Fantasy VII: Rapps

Two things make the battle with Rapps so difficult: your complete lack of Materia and his Aero3 spell. The latter is powerful enough to kill even the most slightly underlevelled character in one hit, and there aren’t many ways around it*. If Rapps casts it at the beginning of the battle, it can be an uphill struggle to ever deal enough damage to kill him, as your characters will be needed to heal and revive each other. Adding insult to injury is the fact that you can never learn the spell yourself, as Mr. Ite pointed out:

Rapps kicked my poor party’s ass again and again. I still wish Aero3 was a spell I could get in the game, it looked fantastic and just devastated me.

* Yes, we are aware of the strategy you’re probably thinking of right now – we are a Final Fantasy VII site, after all! Remember that this is about the difficulty for first-time players.

Final Fantasy VIII: Adel

A common strategy of first-time players in Final Fantasy VIII is to use GFs prodigiously until the Aura spell is available, after which Limit Breaks become the more powerful choice. Unfortunately, neither of those options is completely viable in the fight with Adel aboard the Lunatic Pandora, as she has junctioned herself to Rinoa, who must be kept alive throughout. The games designers decided that Phoenix Downs and revive spells are out of the question, for whatever reason. Adel will also draw hit points from Rinoa regularly just to make things even more difficult, and when it comes to hurting you, she has the most powerful spells in the game available to her, including Flare, Meteor and Ultima. Here’s JasonTandro‘s reasoning for nominating her:

The only really difficult boss in Final Fantasy VIII is Adel and thats only because you have to mind Rinoa and can’t use summons without hurting her.

Final Fantasy X: Evrae

As Auron says, Bevelle’s red carpet has teeth. Teeth which can be avoided by instructing Cid to pilot the Fahrenheit, his airship, to a safe distance. Doing that is also the best way to negate Evrae’s most dangerous attack, Poison Breath. The only downside is that Wakka will be the only character able to hit the boss with physical attacks, making the fight much longer than it would otherwise be. Without Yuna to heal, it’s down to Rikku to use Al Bhed potions to keep the party alive, though her Mix Overdrive can also come in handy, as JBedford128 can attest to:

My biggest challenge was Evrae. I think I didn’t have apt protection against Poison the first time and for the multiple times I failed after. Eventually I tried to build equipment that protected against Poison, but I didn’t have many items to work with and I got a couple Poison Wards. As I was dying I chose random items in Rikku’s Mix and lucked out with Trio of 9999 as I was about to die. Clearly it had less than 9999 HP because it died in the next attack.

Final Fantasy X: Yunalesca

Yunalesca has three forms, and even her first comes prepared for everything you could throw at her. Cast magic and she’ll reply with a Silence spell, switch to physical attacks and she’ll hit you with Blind instead. It’s her second and third forms that really ramp up the difficulty, though. In her second, she’ll turn your three active characters into zombies, something the game has taught you to remove quickly, since it prevents you from healing, but if you do remove it, she’ll kill everyone as soon as she reaches her third form. Leave them zombified, however, and she’ll cast Cura, Curaga and Regen until they’re dead anyway. Another reason to be wary of fighting her is that every Game Over means having to watch one of the longest cut-scenes in the game again. Why Square Enix didn’t implement a scene skip option to the recent HD remaster is a mystery. Here’s Yuri Lowell‘s opinion:

Who doesn’t struggle on Yunalesca? Honestly, it’s enough she has an unavoidable instakill move that’s only nullified with a curse you’re avoiding throughout the fight with her because it’s evil. She’s a Seath the Scaleless moment, an annoyingly mandatory lapse in fairness. She just shark-jumps you with that third form attack from left field.

Honourable mentions

Materia Keeper, Carry Armor (both Final Fantasy VII), Seymour Flux (Final Fantasy X) and Cid Raines (Final Fantasy XIII) all received enough nominations to make it onto this list, but were omitted as nobody gave an explanation for why they were difficult.

Which bosses have we missed? Let us know in the comments below or on our forum!

1 comment

  1. Tash
    #1 Tash 5 February, 2015, 23:59

    My older sister who played Final Fantasy X always hated battling Seymour(and still hates him to this day) no matter what form he is, and his Aeon-Anima.

    By the way, I just had a recent thought, and we know how much Yunalasca is extremely hard to defeat, but considering that Final Fantasy X is supposedly a spirital prequal to Final Fantasy VII, I was just thinking, do you think Yunalasca is actually Jenova having fellowed the Shinra family to Gaia from Spira? The hair and body seem similiar, and we know how unsents are.

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