Here at Arcade Sushi, we love trying to get the most out of our games, especially games that have secrets (which is why we're doing a list on the 10 Best Secret Bosses of Gaming). Many of us try to hone our skills and train our characters to perfection so that we can be the best at what we do. Sometimes, developers will acknowledge the most dedicated of gamers by incorporating a hidden enemy with powers far beyond the normal range of baddies found within a game. Defeating these bosses not only takes a mastery of the game itself, but sometimes require lots of time and dedication to even be granted the chance to fight them. Make sure you've bought 99 phoenix downs, have your sub-tanks filled, learned that ultima spell, and found Wirt's leg, because we're taking on the 10 Best Secret Bosses of Gaming.
Mega Man X2
When Zero self-destructed while fighting Vile at the end of the first Mega Man X, players were distraught by the emotional final words he imparted to the Blue Bomber. In its sequel, X was lured with the remains of his deceased comrade by an elite group of mavericks, called The X-Hunters. This group would hide throughout the globe in the background of the boss selection screen and randomly stay in one of its stages. Though these bosses could be completely skipped in order to progress through the game to its Sigmatic climax, a player that found and defeated all three X-Hunters would have retrieved the full remains of Zero, leading to the resurrection of the red Maverick Hunter during the final act of the game. These bosses were devious, methodical, and a lot tougher than the normal bosses (Wheel Gator, we're looking at you). That's why they're on our list of the 10 Best Secret Bosses of Gaming.
The Star Ocean Series
The Ethereal Queen is a recurring hidden superboss throughout the Star Ocean series and various other Tri-Ace games. She can usually be found at the end of a secret dungeon that does not unlock until the completion of the game. She is the toughest boss in the series (including all of the series' final bosses), and is second only to Gabriel from Star Ocean the Second Story.
The Cow King
In the original Diablo game, there was a widespread rumor that there was a cow level that could be unlocked by clicking a certain number of times on a very specific cow in the town of Tristam. This was such a widely-debated rumor that the boys at Blizzard created a cow level for Diablo's sequel. Players found themselves facing the otherworldly (or udderworldly?), forces of what was originally called the "Moo-Moo Farm." Getting to the cow level itself was already much of a venture: players had to have finished the game and actually have found Wirt's wooden leg. Somewhere within the level, The Cow King's combination of random monster characteristics (double speed, teleporting, immunity to various types of damage), made Diablo and Baal look like calves.
Reminiscent of the villainous Lord Ombra from 'Peter Pan and the Shadowy Thieves', Phantom arrives in Neverland towards the final act of Kingdom Hearts. Upon his arrival, Phantom possesses the clock of Big Ben until Sora and Peter Pan try to drive him out. Players had to regard the color of the orb underneath his cloak in order to predict which insanely-strong attack Phantom would perform next. Kurt Zisa might be the stronger of Kingdom Hearts' secret bosses, but we have never seen Donald Duck or Peter Pan get killed so much than at the bony hands of Phantom.
Ragnaros (Walking Form)
World of Warcraft
Ragnaros the Firelord is an elemental boss residing deep within the fiery core of Blackrock Mountain (the original base of the Horde for all of you Warcraft enthusiasts out there), that players raided and fought against during the endgame of Vanilla World of Warcraft. In the Cataclysm expansion, Ragnaros was resurrected by the black dragon-aspect, Deathwing, and was the final boss of the Firelands outdoor raid. What is secret about this boss is that players were able to fight an armored, walking version of Ragnaros if they were able to clear the entire raid on heroic mode, which only a low percentage of players were able to accomplish. Most of us were not prepared.
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
A dark knight that crossed over from the dimension of Squaresoft characters, Culex was a Super Mario tribute to Final Fantasy. Other than the Axem Rangers, Culex was the most memorable boss fight from the entire game due to how insanely difficult he is (trumping even Smithy's final form), and the Final Fantasy 4 boss theme that plays throughout the entire fight. Culex had four crystals (again paying tribute to Final Fantasy), that would attack your party or heal Culex back to full health. Mama mia! No wonder you're on our list of the 10 Best Secret Bosses of Gaming.
Final Fantasy 7
There might be other hidden bosses that are tougher than Emerald Weapon, such as Ruby Weapon, King Bomb, Ozma, and Zeromus EG, but it was the location of this boss that made him stand out the most. Out of all hidden bosses in the Final Fantasy series, this boss would cause the most accidental deaths. Emerald Weapon would randomly roam the bottom of the ocean and the only way players could access him was via the Shinra submarine. The problem with Emerald Weapon's randomized locations would be the rare occasion in which gamers would submerge and spawn immediately on top of Emerald Weapon, triggering a fight, resulting in the death of your party. The only chance players had at downing Emerald Weapon was the Knights of the Round materia attached to a W-Summon and then using a lot of mimic commands.
Reptile was introduced at the last minute of Mortal Kombat's development process. Ed Boon and John Tobias, the series' creators, decided to build on the success of the color palette swap they made between Scorpion and Sub-Zero. Reptile was added as a marketing ploy for the arcade-goers. Very specific parameters would need to be fulfilled in order to face the green ninja at the bottom of the spike-pit. Arcade-goers would spread rumors about what had to be done in order to face Reptile. As a result, Midway earned themselves a lot of quarters from players trying to figure it out. In order to fight Reptile, players had to play arcade mode until they got to the moonlit bridge and then pull off two sequential flawless victories, followed by pit fatality. Afterwards, you could then test your might. MORTAL KOMBAT! (cue techno music)
Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo
You're about to fight M. Bison in Thailand, and right before the announcer says his famous words, BOOM! A man in a black gi jumps in and obliterates M. Bison, the last boss of almost every single Street Fighter made, in an instant. Now you have to fight him and he appears to have a power that surpasses both Ryu and Ken's combined strength. Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo fans that witnessed a single player pull off three perfect wins before M. Bison would watch in horror as the master of the Dark Hadou would make his insidious debut.
Chrono Trigger (Nintendo DS only)
Most of us here at Arcade Sushi regard Chrono Trigger as one of the greatest RPGs of all time. The 2008 re-release of Chrono Trigger on the Nintendo DS had a hidden boss included that would link the game's fantastic story to its less-appreciated sequel, Chrono Cross. After Lavos was defeated at the end of Chrono Trigger, it still held the body and spirit of Magus' sister, Schala, inside its shell and retreated to the Darkness Beyond Time, where it became the Time Devourer (which is also the final boss of Chrono Cross). Once Chrono Trigger's version of the Time Devourer was defeated, players were treated to the DS-exclusive 13th ending, in which players find out what happened to Magus, helping to bridge the game to its sequel. And that's why the Time Devourer earns the #1 spot on our list of the 10 Best Secret Bosses of Gaming.