Puzzle Boss

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
"Mario! The chain! Aim for the chain!"
Toadstool, Super Mario RPG

A boss that is beaten through trickery rather than force.

Unlike most bosses, which have a weak point somewhere, the Puzzle Boss is entirely Made of Iron, or intangible, or out of reach. Whatever the justification, it is invulnerable to your character's conventional methods of attack, and if you wish to defeat it, you need to take advantage of one of two things.

One is to make use of some convenient feature of the arena. This may either directly damage them, or simply temporarily expose their weak spot that they were keeping guarded. The first case especially raises the question of how the player's rocket launcher/tripmine/lightsaber/fireball spell doesn't manage to do any damage no matter how many attacks you land, while the environment's often comparably lame hazard is instantly fatal.

The other is to wait for the boss to leave itself open to damage by virtue of its own Idiot Ball. Most typically, this takes the form of an attack that if successfully countered -- Action Commands optional—leaves the boss temporarily vulnerable. Obviously, for gameplay purposes, the boss will seldom learn from this mistake. Hypothetically, it would make it interesting if a boss did learn, but tried out a new, equally foolish attack in the next phase.

A subtrope of Convenient Weakness Placement. Not to be confused with a Trick Boss, which is more about the boss's place in the story rather than the actual boss fight itself. When the puzzle is that the way to win is to not fight the boss at all, then it's Sheathe Your Sword. Inversion to Puzzle Boss is Damage Sponge Boss.

Due to how Puzzle Bosses work, many of the examples below will be SPOILERS.

Examples of Puzzle Boss include:


  • The first form of Rhapthorne from Dragon Quest VIII makes the party members all use an item in their inventories to "pray" to the Goddess Scepter. If all four of them do it, a spirit is summoned. The party has to do this for seven turns before they move on to fight Rhapthorne for real.
  • Okami has most Boss Battles as this. To summarize, you will probably be using/practicing the brush technique you most recently learned on your next boss. Especially frustrating with techniques that require a learning curve, such as the Vine technique used to beat the Spider Queen. The Final Boss, Yami is very guilty of this since, chances are, you'll be using ALL of your brush powers as you get them back.
  • A few boss battles in Telltale's episodic Sam and Max series are puzzles in which the player must trick the boss into defeating themselves. Examples include:
    • Brady Culture, defeated through a Duck Season! Rabbit Season!-like puzzle.
    • Myra Stump, defeated by causing her to inadvertently move her microphone onto a wet patch on her desk, electrifying her.
    • In the final episode of Season Two, the Soda Poppers are defeated by causing them to blow out a candle. So the final puzzle involves the player having to bake them a birthday cake and placing the candle on the cake.
  • Several bosses in Shadow of the Colossus are defeated in this manner.
    • Read: All of them.
  • In the battle against the Shadow Queen at the end of Ico, she does nothing except emit waves that 1-hit kill you (which only the spirit sword and the 2 movable statues can protect you from) while hiding behind her shield. Every time you attack her, the shield weakens but the spirit sword is knocked flying from your hands by the shock, forcing you to retrieve it using the statues.
  • Mad Jack's arena from Donkey Kong 64 had switches that electrified the platforms.
    • The puffer fish from the same game required Lanky to complete a boating course to activate lightning rods for each hit.
    • The final battle against King K. Rool is a hilarious 5-round boxing match, with a different Kong fighting him each round and a different tactic needed to beat him. Over the course of the battle, you'll end up shooting the spotlights above the arena so they'll fall on him, tricking him into slipping on a giant banana peel and shrinking down so you can enter a hole in his shoes and beat up his toes.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog stayed away from this trope for the first few games, but after discovering it, the designers seem to have positively adored it ever since.
    • That is to say, the first game still wasn't completely devoid of them. Star Light Zone's boss is only reachable by standing on a lever as he drops a bomb to launch yourself up high enough, or perhaps using yourself to launch the bomb.
    • Sonic The Hedgehog 3 has the Carnival Night Zone Act 1 boss. Your attacks can't hurt it... but they do make it vulnerable to its own attacks.
    • Sonic & Knuckles is the Sonic series's king of Puzzle Bosses. Flying Battery Zone Act 2 had a mid-level "boss battle" that simply ended after it attacked several times, Sandopolis Zone Act 1 had a boss that had to be dumped into quicksand, and no fewer than four stages (Flying Battery Zone Act 1, Lava Reef Zone Act 2, the mini-boss of Death Egg Zone Act 2, and The Doomsday Zone) had bosses that were defeated by getting them to hit themselves with their own attacks.
    • Sonic Adventure required Amy to knock Zero into an electric fence during her final confrontation with the robot, and Sonic and Knuckles to freeze Chaos 6 by throwing an object into its mouth.
    • Technically, a mech walker battle in Sonic Adventure 2 had an explosive canister in the center that could be shot to damage anyone in its vicinity, but it rarely proved useful. You were allowed to just whale on the enemy.
      • Since the lock-on system loves to target anything and everything, it was more likely that you would hurt yourself with said canister. Not to mention that you pass through the middle a lot trying to get close to your opponent so that the Wave Motion Gun isn't as hard to dodge.
    • All bosses of Sonic Adventure 2 have weakpoints except for Eggman/Tails and Rouge/Knuckles. For Sonic and Shadow its their backs. For the walkers it's their cockpits. Some have trickier ones, like jumping up platforms to strike the weakspot on the Egg Golem's head, or hitting an hourglass so that light fills a pyramid to cause King Boom Boo (a giant ghost who breathes fire) to turn into a shadow on the ground...and then of course you have to chase said shadow and then dig into him. Then, after you dig him out of the ground, you have to chase him again and then finally punch him. But then of course, there's the two incarnations of the final boss: You have to grind the tubes hanging from his mouth to strike the weakspot on his back, and then later you have to homing attack eggs just to reach it the final time. Then, when he becomes bigger and badder (as in he melds himself into a space station that is quickly falling towards Earth, his weakspot actually changes places as you fight him.
    • The Dark Guardian in the hi-definition version of Sonic Unleashed requires you to push boxes to an area, which will remove his invincibility temporarily. (In the Wii version though, he's the only boss that amounts to a plain old fisticuff fight, no exposing weak points involved.)
      • For that matter, the Dark Gaia Phoenix required you to throw barrels of water at it, or trick it into flying into said barrels of water, in order to render it vulnerable. The Dark Moray had a similar mechanic involving freezing it with canisters of cold gas before being able to attack its weak point safely.
    • Every boss in Sonic CD is a puzzle boss.
    • Several in some of the newer 2D games. Sonic Advance 2's Super Sonic fight entailed smacking missiles back into Eggman. Sonic Advance 3 has a boss which can be damaged by the platforms that fall as you jump off them as everything scrolls up, and also one where you hit balls to make them deadly to Eggman (the balls bounce around the room). In Rush there is a scarab beetle boss in which you have to smack the ball, and make it hit the back of Eggman. And in Rush Adventure, there's a boss in which you must smack a pendulum based system with enough force to hit the weak point at the top. Both Rush games also have you knocking missiles into the Eggmen in the Super fights.
  • Those odd bosses like the Dark Guardian are a carry-over from another major Sonic Team property, Ni GHTS. This franchise has among the most cryptic bosses in video game history—as NiGHTS's only means of attack is the Paraloop, which is a circular vacuum attack done by tracing a full circle in the air, NiGHTS very rarely engages into direct combat. In addition, NiGHTS is invincible and can only lose by time running out, so the bosses tend to focus around stalling and wasting time rather than a blitz of powerful attacks.
    • In NiGHTS: Into Dreams..., the Sega Saturn game:
      • Puffy is a lagomorphic opera singer who must be thrown into a wall of crystalline spikes at the end of a long hallway, which instantly defeats her. She is invulnerable otherwise; the process of figuring this out may be long and hard for someone who doesn't already know where they are.
      • Gulpo, a fish swimming around a cylinder-shaped floating glob of water, sits outside of reach of the cylinder surface NiGHTS is normally restricted to. Instead, NiGHTS has to find fish who are pointed at Gulpo. The fish launch NiGHTS into the center of the cylinder to hit Gulpo via ramming.
      • Clawz is a black cat who plants dynamite sticks dressed like mice that hover in midair, then jumps around them. NiGHTS must neutralize the lit dynamite sticks before they explode by pushing them away. Normally, Clawz is very fast and can't be hit. Once there's only one dynamite stick left, Clawz is vulnerable.
    • In NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams, the Wii game, all of the bosses are fought through nonconventional means:
      • Donbalon plays very much like Puffy, except his arena is vertical instead of horizontal. The spikes lie at the top. Neither Puffy nor Donbalon deal any direct attacks; they passively wait for NiGHTS to run out of time.
      • Chamelan hides behind a veil that completely covers the background. The Paraloop will cause a circular hole in the veil the size of the Paraloop, but it closes over time. In order to find Chamelan, the player needs to identify rows of playing cards behind the veil in order of value; Chamelan will be hiding behind the ace that's transparent. There is a rematch later on where multiple rows of cards with aces pointing in different spots; the opaque aces trigger bombs with very large blast radii. Chamelan's disguise is blown when a Paraloop happens in front of him; he is defeated with a second Paraloop.
      • Cerberus is a pair, and in the rematch, a trio of dogs chained together. They can only take damage if NiGHTS grabs the center of the chain, marked by a yellow ball, and pushes the ball to ram the heads together. The third dog, which only shows up in the rematch, sprouts from this yellow ball whenever NiGHTS gets close, forcing NiGHTS to act quickly before it can fully transform.
      • Girania is a monstrous fish that can swim inside the ground. It must be pushed on the forehead when it leaps up in an attempt to swallow NiGHTS, which transforms it into a cloud of colorful spheres. NiGHTS must then use the Paraloop to suck in the spheres via the vacuum created through this attack. Girania wll eventually re-form itself, though the number of spheres left is directly proportional to its size. A sufficiently small Girania will be defeated through a Paraloop.
      • Bomamba is a witch with a lot of black cats. She creates a triangular platform with holes that NiGHTS can't reach but can tilt by pushing or pulling on one of its knobs. In order to defeat Bomamba, all of the black cats must fall into the holes in the triangular platform. This causes the platform to vanish and Bomamba to fall into her cauldron below. In the rematch, Bomamba creates a second and harder platform after the first one disappears, along with a second wave of cats.
      • Queen Bella is a giant spider dressed in gothic lolita who crawls above NiGHTS's reach. She goes above NiGHTS and drops balls of silk. NiGHTS needs to grab this ball and throw it at the platforms around the arena. A silk ball destroys any chunk of platform it hits and will bounce, potentially destroying more platforms like a wraparound Breakout. Queen Bella is defeated when she has no platforms left to stand on and falls into the lava below.
      • Even Reala, NiGHTS's rival, isn't defeated traditionally. In both fights, the arena is filled with balls the size of Donbalon. The only way for NiGHTS to damage Reala, and Reala to NiGHTS, is to launch one of these balls by throwing them and then hit the other Nightmaren.
      • Wizeman is the final boss of the game. He assumes three forms. One is set underwater and automatically changes NiGHTS into the Dolphin persona. NiGHTS needs to dodge the whirlpools and get to Wizeman to damage him. Another phase involves an asteroid field. Here, Wizeman is very far away and can only be reached in time if NiGHTS changes into the Rocket persona. The third phase involves fireballs and strong winds, where NiGHTS must use the Dragon persona, who's immune to wind effects. In each instance, pushing NiGHTS against Wizeman and dashing in an attempt to ram him isn't enough. Both Will and Helen, the two kids assuming the form and powers of NiGHTS, must ram into Wizeman at the same time to damage him.
  • The first boss battle in X-Men: Wolverine's Revenge was against a mutant who healed faster than you could kill him using normal attacks (and if you did get his Life Meter down to near zero, the computer would cheat to buy him healing time); you had to throw him against a fuel tank at one end of the room, which on the third iteration would explode, stunning him and letting you finish him off.
  • Almost all of the bosses in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver were some form of Puzzle Boss. Rahab, for example, could be beaten if the player shattered the windows of the chamber and let sunlight in to fry him.
    • In the case of Rahab, the game almost outright tells you to do this - if you bother to pay close enough attention to what the Elder God says when you come across the Drowned Abbey area, and a clue somewhere in either the game's voiceovers or manual, that of all the Brothers, Rahab is the most vulnerable to sunlight.
  • The same is true for Blood Omen 2, but with a twist. The vampire bosses in that game alternate between puzzle and muscle stages. For example, the first boss's first stage, he has to be fought, and the second stage he has to be tricked. All the while lowering his HP until he is defeated.
  • Just about every boss in the God of War series is this, starting with the Hydra, which you defeat by pinning the smaller heads to the deck before impaling the main head on a ship mast. Another is a giant Minotaur that is defeated by stunning it with Action Commands before using a cannon that fires flaming logs to break his armor. They show up frequently in the sequel as well, the greatest example of which involves trapping two of the fates in between dimensions by hurling them into a mirror and then shattering it, as well as pinning down Clotho's hands before using a pendulum to stab her in the head. There is also the Colossus of Rhodes, who is only defeated via draining Kratos' godly energy that had been transferred into it. The final bosses of each game, Ares and Zeus, are fairly straightforward fights, as are Theseus, the Barbarian King and Eurayle in the second game.
  • In inverse, one boss battle in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow requires that the players set fire to a ship's mast to cover their escape. Rather than using the arena to kill the boss, the players must use the boss to destroy the arena: The mast is protected by an indestructible (by them) steel plate, which the players can remove only by provoking the ship's captain into using his ultimate attack while nearby.
  • By now one in fact has to wonder if Mario would even be able to beat Bowser were it not for Bowser's tendency to choose terrible arenas or attack patterns. Consider:
    • In the original Super Mario Bros, there are two ways to beat Bowser. If you have the Fire Flower, you can just throw fireballs at him until he dies; if you don't, you have to get past him (either jumping over him or running under him) and touch an axe sitting just behind him, which will cause the bridge he's standing on to withdraw and dump him in the Lava Pit.
    • Defeating Bowser in Super Mario Bros 3 requires that Mario simply stay alive as Bowser smashes the arena, until he's destroyed enough of it that he falls through the floor to his demise (though the traditional strategy of hitting him with enough fireballs/hammers still works).
    • Super Mario World Bowser lost to you throwing his own Mechakoopas at him.
    • Super Mario 64 had you throw Bowser into bombs lining the arena. The bombs serve no purpose other than to hurt him, since he can't (or won't) throw you into the bombs himself, and you frankly have to be suicidal to run into them.
    • Super Mario Sunshine had you use FLUDD'S rocket pack to do ground pounds until the point that the hot tub Bowser is sitting in breaks apart. Yes, really.
    • Super Mario Galaxy, perhaps in a throwback to Mario Bros. 3, had you defeat Bowser by having him smash into structural weak points on the artificial planetoid you're fighting on.
      • Ditto the final "Story Minigame" of Mario Party 5. Yes, really. And then after that stage, the final stage had one of his attacks hitting the residue from another of his attacks to create something that could actually be used against him.
    • Even in Super Mario RPG, where almost all other bosses and enemies are battled in traditional turn-based RPG style, Bowser is defeated by attacking a chain and dropping the chandelier he's standing on.
    • And in a separate Mario example, in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door you faced the Iron Adonis Twins - two Clefts made out of a metal that's literally impervious to all but an equally hard substance. You beat them by getting a Yoshi to spit one at the other until they're both KO'd.
    • A rather frustrating one was the Shroob-omb Battle in Mario & Luigi: Partners In Time where the order you defeat the Support Shroobs is vital to winning, but with no indication of such it became a real Guide Dang It moment.
      • Another Partners In Time example: Sunnycide has (probably) the highest defense yet in the game, until you free the Yoshis to make them push a boulder.
    • Most Mario hacks generally stick to the regular bosses. But the main feature of Brutal Mario is facing off against bosses from a host of different games, many of them Puzzle Bosses.
    • Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story has three bosses which generally follow this, Alpha Kretin, who you have to defeat by turning all the segments of him blue (and they can only be attacked by the brother who's colour matches said segment) and then defeating in his next form. Dark Star is invincible, but has it's defense lowered after you damage it's two flunkies and then hammer them back at it. Dark Bowser/Fawful Bug requires you to hurt Dark Bowser (1000 HP), then hit his stomach when he becomes giant, then eat the Dark Fawful Bug/Star Core, then as Mario and Luigi kill the legs and glasses, then attack the core of that. Oh, and you get to finish off Dark Bowser with five more massive punches to the face after all this.
    • The Mario & Luigi series in general has quite a few Puzzle Bosses.
  • Most bosses in platformers like Crash Bandicoot or Kameo: Elements of Power require you to send an opponent's attack back at him, launch part of the environment at him or do something else to weaken him before you can actually launch a physical attack.
    • Ripper Roo in the first two Crash Bandicoot games, for example, is defeated by simply dodging his TNT/Nitro crates (tiles in the second game) and waiting until he hurts himself.
    • Tiny Tiger from Crash 2 is completely invulnerable and chases the player over nine floating platforms. Eventually several of those platforms turn red, and will drop after a few seconds. You have to make it so he's on the red one when he drops, or so he tries to jump a gap too big for him.
    • Cortex from the first Crash is an example of a Guide Dang It puzzle boss. To clarify, he spends the battle shooting three different-colored laser shots at you: pink, green, and blue. You have to work out that you have to spin the green shots back at him. Other than the different color, there's absolutely nothing to clue you in that you're supposed to do something with those shots, and even then, because the rule throughout the rest of the game has been that laser shots will kill you, most players would never think to spin into them. Unless you've seen this boss beaten before, there's almost no way you'll ever figure out how to beat this boss aside from sheer luck or consulting a guide.
  • Some bosses need to be tricked into eliminating their own defenses with their own attacks, either by reflecting them or with Deadly Dodging.
    • The Reactor of the Halberd in Kirby Super Star can only be damaged with its own "reflector lasers".
    • As mentioned earlier, Sonic & Knuckles used this extensively.
    • A similar tactic will defeat Barbos from Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie's Double Trouble—protected by two invincible spiny shields, the player must trick homing torpedos into hitting the shields.
  • Quite a few bosses in the Zelda series require odd strategies and unique weapon usages to defeat them. Often the boss's defenses have to be weakened with a secondary weapon or tool, usually the one you just got in the dungeon, before more conventional attacks can be used to deal actual damage (as with the Helmasaur King from Link to The Past; King Dodongo and Morpha from The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time; the King of Ikana Castle in The Legend of Zelda Majoras Mask, and Gohma from The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker). Other bosses (Agahnim, Twinrova, Phantom Ganon, Ganondorf himself in some incarnations) have to have their attacks reflected before they can be damaged, sometimes resulting in Playing Tennis With the Boss before the blast hits. The version of Ganondorf from Wind Waker can only be defeated by having the computer-controlled Zelda bounce Light Arrows off your Mirror Shield and then immediately attacking with the sword. Smog, from Crown Dungeon in Oracle of Ages, is the most blatant example, involving a classic puzzle-like interface followed by a brief encounter with the real boss who is less capable of defending himself than normal foes.
  • In No One Lives Forever, defeating an otherwise invulnerable Inge Wagner requires the player to repeatedly electrify a pool of water and lure her across it (taking advantage of the moments when Wagner would burst into her much-dreaded singing, which temporarily disabled the otherwise endlessly spawning goons in the level, was an available if not crucial option in accomplishing the first part of this maneuver).
  • The original Tomb Raider had an alien boss which copied Lara's movements. Shooting at it caused Lara's health to go down as well, resulting in a simultaneous death. The only way to defeat it was to position Lara so that the alien, on their side of the room, walked into a pit. The recent "Anniversary" remake once again features the same boss, with the added complications of having to "cooperate" with the Doppelgänger in order to seal its fate.
    • The second Crash Bandicoot game on the GBA has a similiar, if not identical boss to said Tomb Raider foe in Fake Crash.
      • And so does the original Prince of Persia game with a battle against a ghostly copy of the Prince, which was earlier created by a magic mirror. It would mimic your actions, so attacking would cause it to strike you as well—additionally, there was a red herring 'pit trap' nearby; luring the boss into it caused you to die as well. The only solution was to sheathe your sword, with the copy doing the same.
    • In fact most Tomb Raider bosses are Puzzle Bosses. Examples: The Dragon of Xian in TR 2, where you must put the dragon to sleep, then remove the dagger, causing him to revert to human form. Sophia in TR 3, who is Immune to Bullets, and you must electrocute her by shooting the fuse box(Guide Dang It?). Dr Willard's One-Winged Angel spider form in the same game, which can only be temporarily stunned, until you have all the meteor fragments. The ghost and statue boss in Angel Of Darkness. Finally, the first battle with the "unknown entity" in Legend, which involves a lot of switches, electrical orbs, and a Tesla gun.
    • Pretty much all bosses in Tomb Raider: Anniversary are puzzle bosses. An example is when you are fighting two centaurs that can turn you to stone. You must use a shield to reflect their spell and turn themselves into stone, then use the opportunity to attack them.
  • Tanaka, the last Shofixti, in Star Control II. Technically, not a "boss", since he is both optional and many times weaker than you, but important nonetheless. If you keep insulting him and running away, he'll realize you're not with the Ur-Quan, and give you the chance to perform a sidequest that will result in the Shofixti population being restored.
  • Most Action Adventure games tend to feature bosses like this. Okami had a spider boss which could only be harmed after tying its back to three floating hooks, a flaming skeletal monster that could only be damaged after the fires were put out, a a kitsune that could only be injured by using lightning strikes against it and an dragon that you had to get drunk. Star Fox Adventures likewise had a boss that can only be damaged by tossing explosive barrels at him.
  • For that matter, Andross's first form in Star FOX 64 could be damaged without any tricky techniques, but would almost certainly win a war of attrition if the player merely aims for his weak spot and keeps firing. Either using Nova Bombs to counter his auto-hit inhaling attack or smacking his eyes would slow his rate of attack, and as a result one of the above tactics is nearly necessary.
    • The "auto-hit" attack could be dodged by holding R, steering all the way to the right, and spamming the brakes (which, for some reason, apply a backward force on the Arwing even if it's supposedly not moving forward).
    • While not technically necessary, Mechbeth certainly qualifies. You can face him straight up in probably the toughest boss battle in the entire game, while Mooks occasionally appear to harass your wingmen (which, unlike in most boss fights, actually do increase your score a little, but not enough to be worthwhile)...or you can shoot the eight switches to unlock the switcher box, then shoot that twice to open it up and switch the track, sending the entire train careening into the weapons factory and getting you a total of 51 points. Yeah, exactly.
    • Command has no less than 3 puzzle bosses. One has to be hit on the upper half to change its course into the lava, one hides in pots, and the last one is quite literally a puzzle, you need to shoot it's 4 parts to match in the right color, matching another color results in attacks.
  • Many Metal Gear Solid bosses need a special strategy to defeat.
    • Psycho Mantis in Metal Gear Solid will dodge most bullets and melee attacks if fought normally, but switching controller ports or blowing away reflective items first makes him a bit easier to hit. Thankfully, players will get a hint about this one after long enough.
    • Vamp in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots continually regenerates from "death." If you remember where his Healing Factor comes from, you should realize you have a certain item that can nullify it. He starts boasting after a while, giving you a hint.
    • Screaming Mantis inherits many of Psycho Mantis's tricks. And the counters to them are different this time around.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: Snake Eater's The End will die when the system clock passes a week.
    • The Sorrow, also from Snake Eater. The key to beating him is the revive pill from Snake's inventory. Once Snake dies from the Fake Death Pill (assuming you kept it instead of using it like the ketchup packet to draw the guard in), making it to The Sorrow, being overwhelmed by the ghosts, or drowning, you can open your side inventory to find it's still accessible for some reason. Welp, we have an unremovable Revival Pill...
  • Every boss in Voodoo Vince is a variant puzzle boss, requiring you to find an environmental hazard to hit Vince with. As a magically animated Voodoo doll, he's immune to non-magical harm, and will, in fact, redirect it at the boss.
  • A number of bosses in the Dark Forces Saga are this, notably the Psycho Serum-infused Rancor in Jedi Academy.
  • Lego Star Wars II does this with the Rancor. Also done to an extent somewhat against Darth Vader in the first Cloud City level; the second time you face him, you have to use the gas vents in the carbon-freezing room to stun him before you can attack.
    • Not just Star Wars, but other Lego games as well, most notably Lego Batman. Almost every boss is a Puzzle Boss!
      • Clayface in "You can Bank on Batman" has you blasting objects in the area with bombs to damage him, and for the final hit you must use a batarang to hit the little targets above him to hit Clayface with toxic gas.
      • "Two-Face Chase" has you using the Batmobile to first shoot Two-Face's armored van to disable it, then tow the boss over to a spotlight to hurt him.
      • "A Poisonous Appointment" has Poison Ivy, who rides in a giant plant. To get her out, you must wait for the plants to spit up Lego pieces, and use said pieces to build a bomb to blow up the plants. After that will you be able to hurt Poison Ivy successfully.
      • Man-Bat in "Zoo's Company" follows this to a T. After you beat him up a bit, you must construct a giant record player and play it to overload his hearing and bring him back down to earth, conveniently within melee range.
      • Penguin and Catwoman attack in tag-team style at the end of "Penguin's Lair." You have to construct a paddle to redirect his bombs to his machine, disabling it so you can hit it with batarangs and shock him.
      • Mad Hatter in "The Joker's Turf" is another obvious example, at one point you must hit switches to drop him into the toxic waste in the room, another you must switch partners when he mesmerizes you to attack him.
        • The Emperor had a similar trick in the Star Wars games - he'd always zap the player with Force Lightning, so you'd need to switch to the other guy and strike while he's distracted.
      • "Flight of the Bat" features a battle against The Scarecrow, whom tails you constantly. You must snag him with the Batcopter's tow cable before switching to the Batwing and blasting it with a torpedo.
      • Killer Moth in "In the Dark Night" suffers the same glaring weakness as Man-Bat—only instead of a record player, you have a giant light bulb that you can turn on by building the generators in the room.
      • The Joker and Harley Quinn in "To the Top of the Tower" hide inside bells in the room, and can only be knocked free by ringing them. After you take down his Helicopter, you face him in melee, and like Mad Hatter he forces you to switch characters when attacking because of his electrical joy buzzer.
      • Commissioner Gordon in "A Surprise for the Commissioner" is a painfully obvious one—after you hurt him, he retreats and sends a police truck after you. You have to use the crane nearby to pick an exploding teddy bear (really) and drop it on the truck to get the boss to reappear.
  • All bosses in Nightmare Creatures are puzzle bosses. One needs to have a ceiling dropped onto it before it becomes vulnerable. Another one is unreachable, and must be killed by setting off Exploding Barrels found in the stage. The final boss cannot be damaged, only stunned, and must be killed by decapitation while he's stunned.
  • The final boss of Serious Sam: The First Encounter was a combination normal boss and puzzle boss. Ugh-Zan III had a lifebar, and he could be damaged normally—until he was in the red, at which point he regenerated progressively faster the more damaged he was, making conventional weapons useless. The player has to bring his health down and keep it there while activating a large laser on a spaceship above, which does enough damage to kill Ugh-Zan before he can regenerate.
  • The final puzzle of Escape from Monkey Island is disguised as a regular old boss battle against a giant stone LeChuck in the rock-paper-scissors-esque fighting minigame "Monkey Kombat." The player initially assumes that this fight has to be won in the same fashion as other Monkey Kombat games, but since both combatants regenerate health automatically, victory and defeat are both impossible. The one way to end it is to irritate the enemy into slapping his own head by drawing three times in a row, crushing Ozzie Mandrill, who happens to be riding atop LeChuck and controlling him with the Ultimate Insult.
  • In Mega Man X 6, Gate can only be harmed by the fragments of his own energy spheres; you must destroy them at the appropriate time so that he is hit. As a side note, the fragments also destroy some of your platforms and there is a bottomless pit (instant death) at the bottom of the room (luckily your character can climb the walls). It's a bit difficult, and makes the requisite battle against a weak and deranged Sigma afterwards rather anticlimactic. A charged Yanmar Option allows X to stay off to one side and let the bugs kill the balls of death for him, so it's mostly down to holding out against the stream of attacks.
  • The Crocomire boss from Super Metroid forces you to keep shooting at its mouth when it's open in order to force it back onto some crumbling blocks and send it falling into the lava. Particularly nefarious because there's no boss life meter so it's hard to tell you're not really doing any damage, and because Crocomire keeps advancing towards you, essentially healing itself.
    • Apparently, with some creative jumping, you can actually end up behind Crocomire, causing it to back itself up all the way to its death.
    • Inversely, don't use Power Bombs against Crocomire. Crocomire does not like Power Bombs.
    • From the same game, Draygon is easily beaten by breaking one of the weapon turrets, letting Draygon grab you, and then shooting your grappling beam into the broken turret. There's a massive electrical discharge that hurts you, but fries Draygon a lot quicker.
  • Several boss monsters in the computer action RPG Dungeon Siege 2 and especially in Dungeon Siege 2: Shattered World, including the final mega-boss.
  • Both bosses in the original Quake are Puzzle Bosses. Chthon, the big lava monster you fight at the end of the first episode, is only killable by lowering two big pillars level with Chthon's head and then hitting the button that triggers the lightning. In easy modes, only one blast is necessary to kill him, but on the hard modes, you need three of them. The final battle with Shub-Niggurath is particularly anti-climactic. There's a little pod thing that goes around the chamber dropping off monsters for you to kill and at one point passes through Shub's sluglike body. Entering the transporter at that point warps you into her body and telefrags her.
    • Quake IV has the Stroylent creature that is immune to normal weapons. The way to defeat it is to run across its chamber, using the pillars as cover from its claw attacks. Pressing the button at the far end of the chamber causes a chemical spray to irritate the creature so that it breaks a window and opens the way to a control room. Using the "feed" button in the control room causes the creature's stomach to rupture, killing it. The released gastric juices burn a hole in the floor - guess where you're headed next?
  • The Crest Guardians in Brave Fencer Musashi seem to be specifically designed to be beaten by the elemental crest they guard: a fire monster guards the water crest, an ice monster guards the fire crest, etc. Apart from them, the Final Boss can only be defeated through a strategy that is rather annoying to figure out: while it is floating around between attacks, the player must throw the Fusion sword at it and "Assimilate" it, temporarily shrinking it into a small, attackable orb. Consider that its vulnerable period lasts for about a second or less, Assimilate has a charge time, and you'd probably never think to do it because assimilating an enemy usually kills it instantly, and like any Useless Useful Spell, would be expected not to work on bosses. Which, apart from this one battle, it doesn't.
  • Exactly one main boss from each game in the Sly Cooper series: Muggshot in the first, Jean Bison in the second, and Octavio in the third. Muggshot is defeated with a strange setup involving mirrors and crystals which causes his guns to explode, Jean Bison must be lured into the inner workings of a logging plant, and Octavio is defeated by trapping him in tar, then punching him really hard.
  • In Chrono Trigger, attacking Ozzie directly results in a counterattack against your entire party. To defeat him, the player must attack various switch mechanisms around the room until the last one opens a pit from under him.
    • The next time you meet him, he subverts this by having the pit open up under your party instead, dropping you back a couple of rooms. Once you get back to him, he becomes an Anticlimax Boss - a kitten walks up and hits the proper switch, opening the pit under him.
    • Nizbel and Nizbel II have obscenely high defense until they are hit by Lightning-based attacks.
      • Same thing works on all dinos. What makes Nizbel special is that he will surprise you by "discharing electric energy" and zapping your entire team to get rid of the "shocked" status. So the real trick of the battle comes down to A: shocking him, and B: keeping the party prepared for his retaliatory shock.
      • Even a fair number of regular enemies get this treatment. Once you get magic, about half the enemies in the game will be heavily resistant to physical attacks, magic in general, or magic apart from one element.
    • Heck, Lavos itself could be considered one by some standards. The giant flipper-monster that made a dramatic entrance before the battle? Yeah, that's not Lavos's true form. Kill the center guy to drop the defenses on the two bits, then aim for the Right Bit.
    • There's also the optional boss Son of Sun, which consists of one large orb surrounded by five small ones. The main body is immune to any damage it doesn't absorb and counterattacks with powerful magic if attacked. The way to hurt it is to attack the correct small orb, which is indistinguishable from the others. Attacking the wrong one gets you a counterattack as well, and they get shuffled around repeatedly. The greatest key to the Sun of Sun battle is to NEVER use area attacks. If you do, ALL of the fire orbs AND the main body use their counterattack.
  • The sequel's final boss could be defeated by force; however, this results in a bad ending. Only by using spells of the six different elements in a specific order, then using a seventh, special element, could the boss be truly defeated. This proves to be quite difficult, because the boss's spells mess with the order, so you have to either hope that the boss uses elements that complement the sequence, or have characters fast enough to complete the sequence without being interrupted.
    • Chrono Cross also features the Bonus Boss Criosphinx. To defeat him, you have to respond to his riddles with an Element of the proper color. The order of the colors to answer his riddles is the same order that is needed to activate the Chrono Cross to defeat the last boss. Of course, the game never directly tells you this so it is still a massive Guide Dang It. You can defeat him with brute force, but it's not easy.
      • But it should be noted that simply casting the right spells isnt enough. You have to cause enough damage to kill him while playing his game. Otherwise he runs at the end of the puzzle. If you cast the wrong spell however, he will proceed to nuke you with high level earth spells until you are dead, which will happen VERY fast if you don't have the earth absorbing armor on.
  • In Kirby and the Amazing Mirror, the fifth boss can only be harmed by 2 abilities...and pushing him into the walls of his arena.
    • A miniboss in Kirby Super Star can be harmed normally, but is invisible most of the time... unless Kirby inhales one of his attacks to gain the Paint power, which not only damages the boss, but also makes him visible for a while.
  • With the exceptions of Necrogiant, the bosses in Painkiller fall into this category. Detonating bubbles is needed to make Swamp Thing vulnerable, as is destroying Guardian's hammer. Alastor's statues can heal him and make him invincible—and can't be dealt with unless they're doing so. Then there's your tennis date with Lucifer. In expansion pack Battle Out Of Hell, all the bosses are of this category. For better or worse, in follow-up Overdose only the first of the three bosses was of this type.
  • None of the Marine's weapons are effective against the Xenomorph Queen in Aliens vs. Predator. Instead you must avoid her attacks while triggering the mechanism that will open the bay doors to Space, then make it to the a small room and close the door before the bay door opens so that you don't get sucked out into Space along with the Queen.
  • In Mega Man and Bass, it at first seems like Burner Man can't be damaged much by any weapon, including his weakness, the Ice Wall. However, if you push the Ice Wall into him, you'll notice that he'll be pushed by the Wall along the ground...and if he ends up landing on one of the spiked pits on either side of the arena by it, he's dealt massive damage.
    • There's also the first castle boss whose weak spot is revealed when you stand on the platform.
  • Film example in The Incredibles: in both fights against the Omnidroid, which can't be damaged by anything (except, Mr. Incredible realizes, itself). The first time, Mr. Incredible climbs inside the Omnidroid, and in its attempts to reach him the robot punctures itself several times until it hits its power core and deactivates. In the rematch, the Incredibles are able to claim the Omnidroid's remote control, using it to launch a detached claw through the power core.
  • A lot of the bosses in Clive Barker's Undying are pretty much invincible until they run out of juice. Lizbeth goes invincible with her Limit Break, and you have to wait for her to tucker out before you can take her head off. Ambrose gets all gigantimous, and you have to wait until he's distracted so that you can hit his weak point for massive damage. Aaron is invulnerable until one of his spears gets stuck, at which point you rush in and finish him off.
  • The penultimate boss of Knights of the Old Republic is six attack droids that continue to respawn until the player can destroy/reprogram the machines spawning them.
    • And the Final Boss uses conveniently placed prisoner Republic officers whom the boss can full-heal from, 8 times - but you can do it too, if you have the Drain Life power. Even if you can't, you can still kill the prisoners by more conventional means. You more or less have to do one of these things, because you're very unlikely to win a battle of attrition against the guy otherwise. It's possible, but not likely.
    • The game also had a Rancor monster as an early boss in the sewers of Taris. It is almost impossible to kill conventionally, but it is possible to trick it into eating a grenade and blowing up from the inside. Or you can run your entire party to the other door and shoot the beast to death from a hallway which it can't get into.
  • Shadow, one of the supervillains in Freedom Force, will keep regenerating, even if she is killed. The only way to defeat her is by destroying the pillars in her subterranean lair, thus collapsing the ceiling and exposing her to sunlight.
  • The Grinning Colossus in the freeware game You Have to Burn The Rope can only be defeated by burning the rope. Of course, this is the entire point of the game.
  • The Metroid Prime series has a lot of bosses of the "reveal the weak point" variety, but Echoes has a few bosses that fall even more decisively under the Puzzle Boss heading. The Spider Guardian and Power Guardian both require you to simply navigate a morph ball course. Also, Dark Samus becomes invincible to conventional attacks in her last phase. You can only damage her by using the Charge Beam to absorb the Phazon energy she launches in a particular attack and launch it back at her.
    • Metroid Prime: Hunters' final boss can only be beaten for real by using all the weapons you've collected to shoot the orb-lights around the room in a particular order. Fighting the boss conventionally gets you a bad ending.
  • Giygas, the final boss from EarthBound (Mother 2) ends as a Puzzle Boss. His initial form must be attacked and weakened like any other boss, but to ultimately defeat him, you must repeatedly use the previously nigh-useless Pray command.
  • Similarly, in MOTHER 1, the final boss can only be defeated by using the now-existent Sing command.
  • And in Mother 3, you can only defeat the final boss (the Masked Man aka Claus) by not attacking him. A lot. At first Lucas just can't attack, due to a sort of Angsty Surviving Twin thing, but after that, if you do attack, Hinawa's ghost explicitly says "Lucas, you stop fighting first."
    • Mother 3 also has the Pig King Statue, a ludicrously powerful Bonus Boss who also has an HP count of 99,999,999 (that's one HP short of one-hundred million, folks!) in a game where dealing 200 damage with a physical attack is doing really well for yourself. With the brute-force option out of the question, there's only two ways to really hurt the thing: Hit it with a New Year's Eve bomb, which brings its HP to One, and then hit it once, or attack it with PK Flash a few times, and watch as the attack causes instant death. The Statue is the only boss in the entire game vulnerable to those moves.
  • Quite some Bosses (and even a couple of common enemies) from the Final Fantasy series are puzzle bosses.
    • A common enemy reappearing in various games is the magical pot. It talks and tells you to give him an elixir. Otherwise it will either be simply undefeatable or it will knock you out in no time, if you try just to kill him. (though, because he tells you how to beat him, you may argue how much of a puzzle it is). In X, you can grab items from it by striking the correct eye (which is randomized), and in XII, you might very well not realize it's there in the dark levels until you piss it off and it sends a Flare (or something even stronger) at you - which isn't helped by all the undead.
    • In Final Fantasy III there are two enemies, which are either hard or undefeatable. Garuda can be defeated almost only by Dragoons - though there are hints by townspeople before fighting him. The final boss, Cloud of Darkness, can only be harmed after defeating her four guardians.
    • Final Fantasy IV features several, most notably Asura and Bahamut. Both are very hard—Asura because she keeps healing herself, and Bahamut because his attacks are very powerful. However, both can be easily defeated by casting Wall on them, thus causing their moves to reflect onto the opposite side...At least, that's how it used to be. In the DS version, while Reflect is still required for Asura, Bahamut's Megaflare will ignore Reflect and leave you in a world of hurt, meaning that your entire strategy is going to need an overhaul. Because of this, the book describing him in the Eidolon's Library is changed to match, this time suggesting that no warrior could defeat him, except possibly one capable of "rising to the heavens to deliver the finishing blow". Hey! Guess who one of the final party members is?
      • Don't forget Dark Knight Cecil, who is most easily defeated by not attacking.
      • Calcobrena, takes the form of six dolls, two sets of three. Defeat all of one set, and the dolls will combine into a giant, monstrous, and quite powerful enemy for a while, then turning back into the six dolls. If you don't feel like trying to wear down the big Calcobrena, you have to take out the last Cal and the last Brena in a fairly short interval without giving them a chance to become Calcobrena.
        • It doesn't help that when you have one or the other down to one, they love to use Self-Destruct to suicide on you and give the others an excuse to turn into Calcobrena.
      • In the DS remake, Golbez is kind of like a Puzzle Boss. He puts up a barrier that absorbs every element (even Rydia's Summons) except for one of them; you have to make one character use Libra on him to find out which one he won't absorb. Doesn't help that he changes the barrier every few turns.
    • Final Fantasy V features a couple of puzzle enemies that can only be attacked in a certain state or such. Most notably is Gogo the mimic, who responds to regular attacks and spells with a powerful counterattack and the Flare spell, respectively. The solution is to simply wait, and he will eventually congratulate you for mimicking his doing nothing and surrender. Because he is at the end of a bonus dungeon with an instant-death time limit, the player is expected to be frantically throwing attacks at him in order to beat him and escape. Sitting around doing nothing with a clearly visible countdown timer is very counter-intuitive to most players.
      • FFV also has Omega, a notorious That One Boss who'll wipe the walls with you no matter what level you're at, UNLESS you know the trick to beating him, which makes him almost pathetically easy.
    • Final Fantasy VI has some enemies that can be killed by draining all of their MP, like the Atma Weapon, energy given form with a ridiculously large amount of HP.
      • This is a good strategy for beating the Bonus Boss at the top of the Fanatics' Tower if you do not have Life 3, due to the boss using Ultima when he is low on HP, usually killing your party. This strategy takes absolutely FOREVER though, and should be combined with Berserk to make sure he doesn't attack much. This troper sat through at LEAST a half hour of MP draining.
      • One bonus boss Dragon's Den Skull Dragon must be defeated this way, else he just regenerates.
      • A lot of the dragon's den bosses are puzzle bosses. The Red Dragon can't be killed, only survived until he burns out all his life. Storm Dragon becomes nigh-unhittable, so bring characters with abilities that ignore evasion. And so on.
      • The first boss, Whelk, is a puzzle boss. However, not only is the trick easy to figure out, it is flat out given to you: "Right. So whatever you do...don't attack the shell!" Of course, you can ignore this and drain all of the shell's HP (With Fire Beam and Tek Missile, it doesn't absorb these) for an Elixir, but since Whelk will counterattack each blow you make, you need to heal every other turn. It's not worth it though, because you can find Elixirs in nearly every clock in the game.
    • Final Fantasy VIII features many bosses with special attack points or such which must be destroyed first. For example, the aliens on board Ragnarok come in four colors and must be defeated in order of color or they'll regenerate in no time.
      • There is also a pair of optional bosses who can rapidly recover from any attack due to the power of earth. Casting "Float" on them prevents them from healing themselves.
    • The Seymour fights, particularly Natus and Flux, in Final Fantasy X are basically puzzle bosses because of his set attack pattern and there are specific counters to all of his attacks. Sure, you could try to strong arm it, but that would require overleveling compared to the nearby monsters.
      • Yunalesca requires the player to keep the "Zombie" debuff in order to survive her Megadeath attack. However, this prevents you from being able to heal. Deathproof and Zombieproof is a viable, though expensive alternative.
      • Defender-X, the mech encountered at the base of Mount Gagazet. It has an array of very, very powerful attacks that can leave a player who hacks-and-slashes their way through tearing their hair out (especially since its HP is high and it is Armored, meaning it takes very little damage and thus you will have to survive a number of these attacks)...but there's a way to beat it very easily, though it's extremely counterintuitive. Have Tidus use his Provoke move, which will goad the monster into targeting only him—sounds incredibly stupid, given Tidus's low general survivability (seriously, why didn't they give that move to Auron instead?), but the catch is that once Provoked, the monster will also only use the move that deals percentage-based damage. That move is devastating combined with his other attacks, but if it's the only thing he uses, it means that he is actually incapable of killing even one party member, let alone the total party kills he is otherwise quite proficient at, turning the entire fight into a cakewalk.
    • Final Fantasy XIII features the battles with each character's Eidolon. You're supposed to fill a gauge above the Eidolon's head then push square to end the battle. Theoretically, you could just keep hitting the thing until the gauge is full. However, these are Timed Battles and mashing attack just isn't very efficient. Instead, you can use a Librascope item or the Libra technique to learn the Eidolon's weakness, which are generally kind of counterintuitive. For example, when fight the Shiva sisters, you only have one party member, Snow. Snow can do some damage on his own, but he won't be able to stagger the enemy by himself. You are supposed to switch to the Sentinel role, which specializes in defense. Blocking the sisters' attacks fills the gauge more efficiently than attacking. Similarly, you're supposed to heal wounds during the Odin fight instead of attacking.
  • Pick a boss in Psychonauts. Any boss.
    • The Den Mother from The Milkman Conspiracy jumps away when you get close. However, she throws exploding boxes of cookies (seriously), which you can pick up with telekinesis and throw at her. However, she turns out the lights, making the room go dark so you can't see her. What then? Well, SHE can see in the dark, as she brags. And you happen to have acquired a power in this level that allows you to see through the eyes of those you use it on. Voila! You see yourself through the eyes of the Den Mother, and attack her that way. Also, her eyes glow red in the dark.
      • Or, by using the Invisibility power (which is very useful for getting past her sentry) which you probably have by now, you can just prance on up to her and attack. You still need to use the special manuever for the second part.
    • The Hulking Lungfish, the game's halfway-point boss, is defeated by making it suck up nails in its first half. In its second half, you must trick it into attacking clams with its lure, which clamp down on it and hold it helpless so you can pummel it.
    • Jasper in Gloria's Theater floats high up in the sky, and can again block your Psi-Blasts. However, he really hates the light. If you can find a way to blind him, you can attack him... By using Levitation to ride a current of music from the orchestra pit, you can make your way up into the catwalks and use Pyrokinesis to light the candles powering the spotlights, which shine on his face and disorient him. Commence pummeling.
    • The Butcher is invulnerable all over his huge body, except for his tiny head. But his head is too high up to attack with anything, even your Psi-Blasts. However, when he swings his meat cleavers, they become trapped in the ground, and their broad, flat tops are just wide enough for a nimble acrobat to climb up them, up his arm, and attack his head. In his second form, his cleavers are on fire... But a nasty juggler in the background is throwing spiked, flaming clubs at you that just so happen to make great ammo.
    • The prototype Brain Tank is impervious to direct hits and Psi-Blasts, in only weak point being on its underside. And no, you can't get under it, it's much too small and close to the ground. The here is to watch it before it starts its attacks. Sometimes it'll rear up enough for you to knock it right over with a blast.
    • Black Velvetopia's boss fights tend to be somewhat straightforward. No special tricks are required for the first three luchadores, though they make things a load easier. Then you get to the fourth one, who is invincible unless distracted with a confusion grenade. The first part of the Bullfight Boss is also fairly simple. Deadly Dodging doesn't even come into play and the only trick to it is that you can only damage the boss by telekinetically hurling the banderillas stuck around the ring at him. The second half of the fight adds complications when you find yourself having to protect the bull, yank out the spears, use confusion on the matador to make him think he's the bull, and commence skewering.
    • The Nightmare minibosses in the Milkman Conspiracy can take attacks in any way but can only be killed by having a bomb thrown into a sort of mouth-thing that yawns open on their mid-bodies after they take enough damage.
    • The Mega Censor, who is mostly defeated through sheer firepower, must first be weakened by shutting down the censors' valves.
    • However, the truly final boss is taken down through raw firepower. Brand new shiny firepower that only works for a little while at a time, but raw firepower nonetheless.
  • Ditto for Brutal Legend (also made by Tim Schafer): the initial bosses can only be defeated through application of otherwise optional skills.
    • The Giant Worm is killed by evading his smashing attack, so that his tongues become stuck in the ground, then ramming them with the Deuce.
    • Mittens is defeated by using the Earth Shaker move to drop coal unto him from above. In the second part of the fight, you must play a battle cry into his headset to save your minions from his minions.
    • The Metal Queen has to be stunned with the Shocker to expose her weak spot. Her small spider minions can only be fought off with an Earth Shaker.
    • Lyonwhyte and Drowned Ophelia, on the other hand, are head on Stage Battles.
    • The final boss, Doviculus himself, once again is a puzzle one, who can only be defeated by forcing him into temporarily invulnerable chained state, then breaking the chains with the Shocker or Pyro and repeating the process until the DECAPITATIIIIOOOOON!
  • The entirety of Tecmo's Deception series is puzzle bosses, as every enemy must be defeated with a number of available "traps" (environmental hazards). The hero of the first game gets a sword that does pin-prick damage, but it's all puzzles from there.
  • Most of the bosses in Aquaria:
    • The Energy Temple boss can't be harmed by you (shooting him will only push him back). You can, however, damage him by shooting the trigger for a special energy beam generator while the boss is over the generator, thus sending a beam of pure energy straight through him. The catch is that the boss wises up to this after the first two times you hit him with the beam, and can't be lured over it again. The solution? Simply charge up your shot, then trick him into sending his arm out to claw you. The arm then comes lashing out at you, right into the path of the beam. Simply fire, and...
    • And again later in the game, when you fight Mithala (a beast 15+ times the size of the protagonist!) Your shots won't even push him back this time, and there's nothing that can damage the boss nearby. However, the boss regularly releases mermen that swim at you to attack you. If you lure the mermen down to a pit at the bottom of the screen, they'll turn into poisonous, bloated mermen that you can drag around. The boss regularly does an attack where he sucks in water with his mouth, dragging you in to try to swallow you. If you place bloated mermen so the boss will swallow them when he next draws in...
    • Topped once again even later in the game, where you fight two monsters: an unstoppable juggernaut with hammers for hands, and a wraith who hovers around (and comforts) the first monster. The juggernaut is invulnerable to just about anything you throw at him. However, he occasionally releases a special pink jellyfish from his head. If you eat this jellyfish in Beast Form, you get 1 special orange shot. It won't damage the monster, but it'll knock the wraith temporarily out of commission-- then, your normal Energy Form shot will cause loads of damage.
  • In the first Boktai, the only boss that this wasn't an option for was Hel. Every other boss had something in their arena that made their fights a heck of a lot easier; for example, the Count happens to have two skylights in his move path, Carmilla takes massive damage from her own petrification shots, etc.
  • Tigris Cantus in The World Ends With You is a major and overly elaborate case of this. You even get a phone message beforehand containing a cryptic hint at how to damage her.
    • To elaborate, initially, Neku can only harm her by knocking Taboo Noise into the static at the bottom of his screen, and keeping obstacles (which harm Beat) and regular Noise (which heal Konishi) off it, while Beat attacks her on the top screen. After being damaged enough, she teleports between both screens and is fair game to both characters, but is invisible in the top screen until right before she teleports. After being damaged further, she steals all of Neku's pins and can only be harmed by Beat, but Neku can help out by stepping into her shadow, causing one of the clones she uses to block Beat to disappear every time he does so; however, he has to keep her from touching his shadow with hers, which harms Neku (and since she's taken all your pins, including any healing you may have...). Eventually she drops the Rhyme pin and turns almost completely invisible... except you can use Neku's shadow to estimate her position and make her visible by hitting her with the Rhyme pin.
    • Vespertilio/Pterupus Canor also count. In the beginning of the fight, the giant bat noise will be shrouded in darkness, invincible to normal attack. the Strategy? Use your partner to trash the gabbabats blocking the lights on the second floor of the stage to illuminate the place. With said lights on, Verpertilio will become vulnerable and eventually stunned, ready for a plummeling.
  • Defeating GLaDOS at the end of Portal requires you to redirect the missile turret fire with portals to hit her, and then to use the portal gun to shuttle the parts that fly off into a furnace. Then again, this is Portal, so a puzzle boss is expected, if a boss at all.
    • Portal 2's final boss works similarly, involving redirecting thrown bombs to hit the boss's weak point, then attaching a part to the boss to corrupt it.
  • Virtually every boss in MS Saga: A New Dawn requires the player to memorize its attack pattern and use one of the game's shield spells to prevent it from using its strongest attacks. Doing so takes many bosses from virtually undefeatable to incredibly easy.
  • Mega Man 2, in addition to being the best example of the series, has a shining example of a Puzzle Boss. Wily's Castle, level 4. The boss is a number of laser turrets, who can only be hurt by Crash Bombs, protected by walls that can only be broken by Crash Bombs. Yes, you could bullheadedly blast through all the walls surrounding the turrets, but if you do that, you'll run out of Crash Bomb before reaching the last turret and make the fight Unwinnable. The solution, of course, is to use Item-1 to float up past the big glaring open areas underneath or above the less-shielded turrets, thereby bypassing the shields. If you do it that way, then you'll kill the last turret with your very last Crash Bomb,so don't screw up.
  • The Giant "Metal Gear" DomZ, the third boss of Beyond Good and Evil. A giant, bipedal cyborg, its only obvious weakness is too high off the ground to hit, and protected by a metal grate. It flinches if you attack its legs, but it seems otherwise imperturbable. But what's this you hear? Incoming Ham! Double H bursts in, and you can instruct him to attack its other leg. When you both attack its legs, it falls, and you can dish out the hurt.
  • Half-Life:
    • The Tentacle required you to explore the silo activating fuel lines and turning on the power generator for the rocket motor above the creature's head, and then burn it.
    • The first Gargantua had to be lured into a massive electricity generator and electrocuted, while later on in the game another Gargantua had to be lead into an open area where you used a tactical map to call air-strikes on it. Gargantuas are susceptible to explosives damage, so if you are inclined to do so, a full supply of grenades and explosive packs is just enough to kill each of them. It's kind of a waste though.
    • The final boss was immune to all damage until you destroyed the energy crystals around it, whereupon its head would pop open allowing you to shoot its exposed brain.
    • Half Life: Opposing Force has a fight similar to the Tentacle Creature, where you have to activate the drainage system of a huge septic tank to flush the monster away.
  • Prey had two examples:
    • The Centurion takes minimal damage from conventional weapons, the way to defeat it was to hide in a corridor and wait for it to reach in to grab you, then activate the forcefield that will sever its arm as well as the cannon grafted on, allowing you to deal much more damage to the monster using its own weapon.
    • The final boss has an impenetrable shield and the only way to hurt it was to launch mines from conveniently placed mine launchers around the arena and destroy them when the boss got near, momentarily disrupting her shield and allowing you to attack with conventional weapons.
  • Doom 3 had two bosses, the Guardian which is blind and relies on small floating demons in the arena to see, so you had to kill all of them and the Guardian will spawn more, revealing his weak spot for you to attack. The final boss - the Cyberdemon - could only be hurt by the Soul Cube, and the only way to use it was to kill the enemies that constantly spawned around the arena while avoiding the Cyberdemon's rockets. Once you have killed a sufficient number of enemies, the Soul Cube is fully charged and can be used.
  • Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge (don't remember it? It was on the Game Boy) gives you a weapon near the end of the game called the Mirror Buster, which does no damage on its own but can reflect projectiles back at enemies. Guess what the only way to damage the final form of the final boss is. Go on, guess.
  • In Kingdom Hearts, Hercules is normally invincible during his one-on-one arena duel with Sora, but can be made vulnerable by tossing barrels at him.
    • Not to mention certain bosses in Kingdom Hearts II, like Oogie Boogie (knock toys into the basket), Demyx (find a way to kill his clones and fast), and Luxord (exploit your third-person perspective to cheat at cards). More may qualify, depending on how much you view use of Reaction commands as a requisite for being a puzzle boss.
    • Kingdom Hearts RE: Chain of Memories has Vexen, who is completely invincible by merit of his Big Freaking Shield... unless you perform a card break.
  • The Final Boss of R-Type Final has elements of this. Specifically, the Bydo core cannot be damaged by any of the player's weapons. Instead, the player has to launch the Force, which in the rest of the game results in attacking For Massive Damage. This time, however, it sticks to the boss, as the Bydo attempts to absorb it. Then, the player has to use a fully charged Wave Cannon attack to make the Force explode, resulting in a massive wave of energy that still doesn't kill the boss, but does irrepairably damage the Wave Cannon. The trick at this point is to avoid the enemy projectiles while trying to charge the Wave Cannon, which takes fully 90 seconds and results in a blast that kills everything.
    • R-Type Delta had a similar final puzzle boss: the boss is totally impervious to everything, even the Force and Wave Cannon. You have to avoid it and the sperm (yes, really) it launches until it tries to absorb the Force device. Then you have to wait about thirty more seconds as your Dose Attack slowly builds (dodging stuff all the while), and fire it when it finally charges. This kills the boss, and blows up the supposedly invincible Force.
  • The beholder at the end of Eye of the Beholder was supposed to be defeated by using a special wand to push it onto a trap. Regular combat would kill it, but the beholder has several save-or-die effects that made it hard to do this before your whole party was gone.
  • Most bosses in Adventures of Rad Gravity, and they also are often Guide Dang It's. EG, the Nigh Invulnerable "Twinbots" on the planet Vernia. You have to use the Crystal Bombs to keep them from winding each other back up, so they self destruct. And the lava golem boss, where you have to shoot a pillar to make it launch lava bombs at him. The Final Boss, Kakos, takes the cake as That One Boss, where you have to zero-g manuever such as to trick his missiles into hitting him, like Sonic & Knuckles's Perfect Run Final Boss, but worse.
  • Several bosses in the Syphon Filter series, but most notably the final battle with Chance, The Mole, in Syphon Filter 2. He wears full body armor that not only makes him Immune to Bullets, but to the shrapnel and shockwave of grenade impact explosions as well(No One Could Survive That in real life, even with a heavy-duty anti-bomb suit). And it doesn't hinder his movement either. The only way to defeat him is to procure the UAS-12 auto-shotgun from the helicopter, and use its blast to push him backward into the spinning tail rotor, which his Armor Is Useless against, resulting in a spray of High-Pressure Blood, although no severed limbs.
    • In the cutscene before the battle, Chance's head is uncovered (presumably to make him recognizable) and he isn't even shown donning his helmet. Why don't they just shoot him in the head then?
    • You have to use the same strategy with Rhoemer during a flashback sequence in Syphon Filter 3, except you push him out of a plane, and he happens to have a parachute.
  • Golden Sun: The Lost Age has the Serpent, (whose entire scenario seems to be a Shout-Out to the Susanoo legend in Japanese mythology), who you can reach upon beginning of the dungeon. However, it has a nasty habit of regenerating ungodly amounts of Hit Points every turn. The solution? Scale the wall outside the entrance to get the Dancing Idol, which you can then use on the odd altar-slash-table things at the entrance, then go through the real dungeon (as opposed to the comparatively short puzzle involving identical rooms with a plant that you must cast Growth on to find the right direction to move) and use your Gale Psynergy to move plants off of holes in the ground to send beams of light down onto crystals in the Serpent's chamber. Each beam of light reduces its regenerative power one-third of its strength, with all four being needed to render the regeneration almost completely useless at 30HP per turn, as opposed to the 2430 per turn that it starts with - nearly seventy percent of its maximum health. Considering how weak your party is likely to be by that point in the game without Level Grinding, you'll need to have more than just one or two lights on or it'll be practically invincible anyway. Even with all four lights, it's still annoying as hell, though thankfully having all four lights on removes one of its turns, reducing it to two actions per round as opposed to three.
    • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn has Bonus Boss Ancient Devil pull off an interesting variation of this trope. While he can be defeated through brute force as normal, he will sometimes use Ancient Sign to take control of one of your party members so that they fight against you. Depending on who he possesses, the controlled ally could be disastrous if they know powerful healing abilities or other abilities to buff themselves and the boss with, or waste rare items like the full restore Potion. Even if you do knock them out, not only you have to revive the person you put down, but the boss will just take control of someone else. If you have any Djinn on standby, the possessed ally will summon them against your party. The puzzle here is to try and get the boss to take control of a party member that is either very weak or does not have many strong items or abilities so that the fight does not get any harder.
    • Dark Dawn's version of the Dullahan is arguably a version of this as well. While he's even harder than his That One Boss incarnation in the previous games and truly deserves the title of hardest damn enemy in the game to kill, there is a trick that reduces his difficulty from "nearly unbeatable" to "difficult". Dullahan has a distinct pattern to which moves he uses (not that you'd EVER figure it out without a frigging walkthrough or hundreds of tries) that allow you to predict when his stupidly lethal Djinn Storm is coming to wreck your strategy and leave your characters dealing Scratch Damage for god knows how long while the Dullahan regens most of his health back. Setting things up properly can allow you to use the Chasm Djinn to reduce his deadly Charon Summon's damage to less than 20 (and hopefully avoid the instant-death chance the summon has) followed by deploying either Doldrum or Ivy to stop Dullahan from using one of his three moves for the turn; if you exploited the pattern perfectly, you can lock Dullahan out of his Djinn storm and typically weather all of his other attacks unless you're unlucky enough to be hit by his instant-death moves. Without Djinn Storm, Dullahan is much, much easier to defeat.
  • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia has Wallman; attacking him the conventional way will only cause him to eventually drink a Super Potion that restores all of his HP, which the game states he has 9,999 of but he actually stops taking damage before he hits 0. The only way to kill him is to steal his Glyph, which becomes visible and absorbable when he retreats into the wall. Making this fight harder than it sounds is his Bomberman-esque bombs, which explode into four-way explosions that will interrupt Shanoa's glyph-absorbing animation if she gets hit.
    • You have to get Brachyura to destroy ceilings as you progress upwards through the lighthouse you fight it in, and at the top, you drop an elevator on it.
  • Mega Man Battle Network 2 brings us the Protecto, the firewall to end all firewalls. In order to destroy them, you need to take down every one of them in one hit. Multi-hit attacks don't work (they instantly recover all of their HP after any non-lethal damage), so there's no taking the cheap way out and using Gater. Fortunately, another combo, Ultra Bomb, works quite efficiently - except against the Protectos that have 620 HP. You need Lifesword3 PA, Atk+20, Atk+30. It's the only way.
    • It Got Worse in Battle Network 3 - the new Puzzle Boss (s) are the "numbers". Pay attention: You need to destroy all Number1s in one hit, then all Number2s in one hit, and finally all Number3s in one hit. This requires the right combo.
  • Triti from Trauma Center starts out as a huge mass of triangles, held in place by thorns. Trying to remove one section at a time will send legions of them out into the organ. The key is to take the thorns out in certain patterns, to prevent any respawning that you don't want. Specifically, when you remove a triangle, if there are two thorns next to each other and on the edge of the set of triangles, a triangle will spawn there if there is room to respawn. With some planning, Triti in Episode X-3 of Second Opinion can be easily defeated in less than a minute and a half.
    • It doesn't help that the in-game hints are horribly vague and don't well describe how Triti regenerates.
    • In a more archetypal 'weak-point reveal' boss, a single Deftera is a pair of red and blue bodies that drift around the organ, creating tumors. While drifting, they're invincible. However, in the event that a red and a blue come in contact, they become a tumor and you can drain them. Rather simple, right up until every time after the first you come into contact with it when there's more than one of each color. At that point, two of the same color meeting will create another tumor as well as make the patient's vitals drop. In addition, even once a red and blue one meet, a third of either color getting involved will break them up before you can drain them. Solution? They can't cross Antibiotic Gel walls.
  • Some of the Jak and Daxter games tried this. Klaww in the original game had to be defeated by dodging his thrown rocks and then using Yellow Eco to hurl fireballs into his crotch until he dropped the massive rock he was creating on his own head, and then the process had to be repeated. ALL of Jak 3's bosses had some element of this in them - a Precursor mech, for example, was entirely bulletproof but could be downed by dodging multiple energy blasts and the lightsaber it was wielding, waiting for it to create pillars for no real reason, then climbing them to repeatedly shoot a mine cart to fall on its head.
  • The final boss in the old NES game Wrath of the Black Manta (a Shinobi ripoff) could only be defeated by using 4 of the 12 ninja magic spells you had in the correct order. I got to the final boss after a mere five hours of gameplay, but it took four more months to figure out how to defeat him.
  • The Geb Queen from obscurish action game Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy is a particularly complex example. At most times, she is completely invulnerable, being surrounded by a glowing shield. There's an unreachable platform above her that contains two monster cages, holding Personal Space Invaders and a shielded crown. One of her attacks, however, is shooting blue magical spells that turn you into a frog. You have to be hit by said spells, use the frog's extra jumping power to leap up to the platform, and press the buttons next to the cages, releasing the Personal Space Invaders. They'll attack the queen in the way they do, leaving her vulnerable to a strike. In later rounds, the queen starts summoning mooks, who will kill the spiderlike enemies if you don't defeat them first.
  • Iosa the Invincible from Iji is, well, Exactly What It Says on the Tin. You can damage her exoskeleton with your guns, but you're better off using the ceiling-mounted lasers against her. Once the exoskeleton is destroyed, you have to wait for an opening to knock her into the wall, which stuns her long enough to hack into and deactivate her nanoshield controller. Then the game cuts to black, and you hear the Shotgun firing.
    • Similarly the previous boss, the Sentinel, is a spherical satellite-like robot that throws explosive bullets and missiles everywhere, continuously tracks you and takes half of the damage from ALL of your weapons. The trick here is to kick it into one of the two electrical fences at the sides of the arena For Massive Damage (and a few of the next spoken lines change accordingly to how much damage you took and how soon you figured out the trick).
      • Alternately, NOT using the electropods grants you a Supercharge, but you have to know how to juggle it to minimize its use of the Nuke, which blows five of your Health units straight to hell. The Velocithor does full damage to it regardless of all that armor, which makes it useful when the Sentinel's powering up the Nuke.
    • A few bosses can be skipped entirely if you're needing that pacifist run. But you need to figure out how to do that.
  • The Archmage in the Flash game Inquisitive Dave is beaten the same way as Claus above. Since he was programmed into the game to fight you, just avoiding him gives him no reason to exist.
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance has:
    • Iron Man's archenemy the Mandarin. After whaling on him for a while, he retreats to a safe balcony; follow him through a teleporter and the Ultimo up there will send you back. To prevent this, you have to lure a spider bot to a teleporter after which it will blow up on the Ultimo, allowing you to get up there.
    • The Destroyer Armor, which gets its ultimate attack charging up if you dare to attack it. You have to go through the four warps and defeat the Mooks inside, after which you will stumble upon Loki's frozen body. Trick the Armor into unleashing said move on him and they both die.
  • Nicktoons: Globs of Doom does this with:
    • Cujo the Ghost Dog, who was defeated by tricking him into lowering four switches for you and then running around as he mindlessly trips on some electric lines while chasing you.
    • Jimmy Neutron's mutated Girl Eating Plant. To quote Technus: "We have to find a way inside that plant!" (And that way is to get to a certain spot where it will swallow you.) And the plant adapts as its giant roots will block the previous path you took to get to that area and leave open the next one after each round of whacking its innards. There's a reason why you have to get there in order to be eaten. (Hint: The name of the boss, the battle takes place in a mall and you're stuck with SpongeBob SquarePants and Technus. Go figure.)
  • Every boss in the indie physics-based platformer Gish is of this variety, usually involving employing some manner of object in the arena to find a way to kill them. Such examples include tossing a block at a fragile ceiling to cause a giant block to drop down and crush the demonic cat chasing you, or finding a way of breaking a bridge to dump the pair of gimp-masked fleshy titans into lava pits. The bosses all die in one hit, too, so the battles tend to be either extremely drawn-out or very short.
  • In the first SaGa Frontier game, the Ring Lord in Riku's scenario is only beatable unless you rack up a combo score of ten; this becomes nigh impossible once the Ring Lord gets bored with sitting around and starts stomping your party into the ground. Interestingly, the DSC counts as a combo for the purposes of the fight, so if you've got a character who can pull it off, they can rack up up to 5 points at a time by themself.
  • A ton of bosses in Wild ARMs 3 fall under this trope, and considering there are somewhere in the area of eighty story bosses, we do mean a ton. The first major one is Trask, who halves all elemental damage and nullifies physical damage...until you cast a fire spell and then follow it up with an ice spell -- since heating and then rapidly cooling something makes it brittle, this makes him incredibly weak to physical attacks now. Some of these do fall under Guide Dang It (the spoilered method is referred to only in an easily-missed book in the preceding town), but for the most part, they're pretty easy and fun to figure out. Some other notable ones:
    • Melody, the first time you fight her, has powerful magic and poison attacks...but is constantly attacking Clive, because he just verbally ripped her a new one. Thus, if you manage to keep Clive alive, you can't lose. The rest of the time, she simply has a damage barrier that soaks up 350 points of damage.
    • Malik is so fast that he can't be hit by bullets...until you cast the Decelerate spell on him, making him extremely vulnerable.
    • In every fight against the Schroedinger family, you can set Todd's afro on fire, which acts like poison and quickly takes the most dangerous opponent out.
    • Janus, after absorbing a Guardian's power, seems incredibly quick, powerful, and downright impossible to beat...unless you cast the status-buff-nullifying Eraser spell, which erases all the status buffs the Guardian gave him and making him pitifully easy.
    • Siegfried, being the game's main Big Bad for 90% of it, is of course incredibly powerful and can also use the Teardrop to heal to full HP if he takes too much damage...which you can easily swipe from him by using the Pickpocket spell.
    • The Hydra also has a heal-to-full-HP spell...which can be brought down to an eventual 0 if you continually cast the fire spell on it, "cauterizing" its necks like the original myth.
    • And then, of course, the final boss Nega Filgaia has a whopping ten forms, all of which require some kind of unusual strategy to defeat. Whew. You could always just Finest-Arts most of them to death, though.
  • In Wild ARMs 4 many bosses were Puzzle Bosses as well, especially the Brionac fights.
  • Gnome's dungeon in Tales of Phantasia seems to like this. First, there are little mini-bosses called Clay Idols that can't be damaged in any way, save for one otherwise-useless spell. Thankfully, you can just run past them rather than engage them. Then there's Gnome itself, which splits into four bodies when anyone gets too close to it, making it immune to every attack in your arsenal and going ballistic on your team. The trick is to keep away from him, avoiding the usual strategy of having the Meat Shield Cless run up to the boss and whaling away at it. Either just sit back and let the casters destroy Gnome with their spells, or help them out with the long-range Demon Fang.
    • Gnome doesn't stay constituted for long enough to hit him with a spell without excellent timing. Normally, you use Cless' Sword Rain, a multi-hit attack, to keep him together and expand your window.
  • The Rhino in a number of the Spider-Man games is a Puzzle Boss - his skin/suit thing is too tough for spidey to hurt, so defeating him tends to rely on directing his charging attacks into appropriately hard/zappy items.
  • In Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro for the PS 1, the final boss is (surprise) a supercharged Electro. In order to render him vunerable, you have to make him fire a bolt at a generator, damaging his power-up device. The fact that he doesn't stop falling for this is lampshaded by Spidey himself if the fight drags on for longer than necessary, and at the end he simply quips "This goes to show that good wins because...Evil Is Dumb."
  • Kingdom of Loathing: the majority of the battles in the Naughty Sorceress's castle. Most of the earlier ones have insanely high HP, but can be OHKOed by a specific battle item (most of which sort of make sense, in an Incredibly Lame Punnish way). Then there's the shadow of yourself, which you must defeat by healing yourself every turn. After that, you face the Naughty Sorceress's familiar; you must beat it with a familiar of your own of at least 20 pounds, with the five possible enemy familiars each being weak against a specific one of the other four. Finally, there is the battle with the Naughty Sorceress herself, which comes in three parts, one after another without any saves or time to change equipment between stages. The third is either an automatic win or an automatic loss, depending on whether or not you have the Wand of Nagamar in your inventory. (Earlier you had to have it equipped, but since it's a fairly weak weapon this was changed so you can wage battle with a weapon of your choice.)
    • She can be defeated without the Wand. One trick is that while her transformation makes her invincible, it does not cure status effects that already exist. If you can dump enough damage over time effects on her before the end of the second phase.... This used to be fairly simple, but after people started exploiting it, her HP got bumped up drastically. There are several other methods that work as well with varying degrees of success as well.
  • Every bullet pattern in the Touhou Project games can be dodged with enough sheer skill (or just bombing), but many spellcards have small tricks to them that allow for easier dodging. One of the most popular is Sanae's "Bumper Crop Rice Shower" spellcard; it's possible to stay at the bottom and dodge the random bullets that fall down on you, but it's much easier to place yourself directly on the spot from which Sanae spawns red bullets. If you angle yourself correctly, no green/yellow bullets will hit you, you can still damage Sanae, and you can easily rack up 2000+ grazes if you wait until it's almost over before finishing her off.
    • Of course, the most infamous of these is Icicle Fall on Easy difficulty, which can be avoided entirely just by being right in front of Cirno.
    • Another, gaining notoriety since Subterranean Animism was released, is Parsee. Several of her spells have gimmicks not usually seen until endgame, such as actively chasing you around the screen. However, her patterns are quite simple once figured out—her infamous "Green-Eyed Monster" can be thwarted by moving slowly upwards—leading to some players wondering why she has a reputation as That One Boss.
      • SA in general is full of this. Only Yamame and Utsuho are straightforward.
      • For direct attacks, Utusho can be goaded into giving you safe zones.
  • Virtually every LucasArts adventure game ends with one of those, which is obvious considering they are essentially entire puzzle GAMES:
    • Maniac Mansion: Turn off the mind control machine, put on the radiation suit, pick up the Meteor, lock him up in the car trunk and send him off into space... or get the meteor a publishing contract... or call the meteor police in on him... Or...
    • Loom: Trick Shadow into teaching you the destruction draft, then destroy the loom.
    • The Secret of Monkey Island: Splash LeChuck with root beer. Additionally, Carla in the same game could only be beaten by mastering the game's insult sword fighting system and guessing the proper responses to her insults.
    • Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge: Make a LeChuck voodoo doll and use it against him.
    • Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis: Trick Kerner and then Dr. Ãœbermann into using the Atlantean god-machine on themselves.
    • Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle: Use the bowling ball on the tentacles, then trick old Purple Tentacle into shooting Dr. Fred.
    • Sam and Max Hit The Road: While not technically the game's last puzzle, Conroy Bumpus is defeated by locking him in a freezer.
    • Full Throttle: Retract the machinegun. Can't beat a Corley.
    • The Dig: Retract the bridge under the Cocytan guard dog. This one also had three OTHER puzzle bosses earlier in the game, first the sea monster, defeated through high explosives and a very Guide Dang It skeleton puzzle, second the first guard dog you encounter, defeated by reviving his buddy, and third the giant spider monster defeated by diverting a blocked up waterflow right into its web
    • The Curse of Monkey Island: Get LeChuck to blow up the rum barrel you carefully placed in a position to bury him under tons of snow. Rottingham in the same game is essentially defeated in the exact same way as Carla from the original.
    • Grim Fandango: Poison Hector's greenhouse's sprinklers with sproutella. Also, Domino is defeated by essentially distracting him from the gigantic coral grinders headed his way.
  • Some game (Mole Mania, or some similar title) for the gameboy was basically a standard puzzle/adventure game, where you could dig underground and push stuff (And that was about it). The game still managed to have bosses however, and thus all the bosses were puzzle bosses.
  • The Punch-Out!! series makes frequent use of this trope. While most of the early fighters like Glass Joe and Von Kaiser can be defeated through brute force and the occasional block/dodge, the rest of the boxers have different fighting styles that prevent you from just whaling on them, such as Don Flamenco relying on you to strike so he can block/dodge and then counterattack. Except for Super Punch Out,[1] figuring out how to earn star punches was also a puzzle itself—so difficult, in fact, that in the Wii remake, the Dangerously Genre Savvy designers decided to make Exhibition Mode challenges out of finding them. Good luck finding them on your own, as some of them are fiendishly difficult to either figure out or nail just right.
  • Each of Alhazad's battles become this in the remake of Wild ARMs 1. He has two trios of drones that sheild him from physical and magic attacks. Destroying either of the trios results in him simply regenerating them. The trick is to leave one of both Drones alive.
  • The final boss of Rocket Knight Adventures cannot be hurt at all, with Sparkster being bound up in an escape pod at the time. The boss is chasing after you in a High Altitude Battle that literally ends in flaming glory as the final boss, the computer that controls the Pig Army, burns up in re-entry.
  • In the Hunt had the boss of the Seabed Ruins, a large statue that chases your submarine up to the surface. Completely invulnerable to your attacks, you had to attack the floating stone blocks at the surface of the water so that they would crash down onto the statue's head, damaging it.
  • All of the bosses in the Wii version of A Boy and His Blob. That Boy's just a little kid; he can't attack. You have to find ways to use the bosses' tactics against them with the Blob's different transformations. It's also worth noting that the bosses won't just use the same, vulnerability-causing attack over and over again, they switch up tactics and force you to think quickly.
    • Aquaman had to find and take the Golden Fleece. It was guarded by an invisible ogre, who whales on him. Aquaman shakes a tree, causing the ogre to be covered with leaves. Now that he is visible, Aquaman takes him out with one hit and takes the Fleece.
  • Tomator in The Lost Vikings must surely count. He's invincible (shooting him only shocks him for a short period of time), so you have to bomb the platform he stands on. Later you have to shoot him twice, then shoot some switches while he's shocked (and can't shoot at you). He still doesn't give up - the Vikings meet him two times more in that level before he's gone.
  • Sigma Star Saga has what is probably *the* most annoying Puzzle Boss ever designed, and it's only a miniboss. It's a light blue rock/crystal with an eye in the centre and six orbs floating around it (three purple, three blue). It shoots one slow-moving bullet at you every three seconds or so. In order to open the eye and make it vulnerable, you have to shoot the purple orbs once each, turning them blue in the process. Sound easy so far? Not when it fires another bullet at you for every ineffective hit made and most players, up to this point in the game, have equipped their ships with rapid-fire bullets, usually with some sort of spread. To make matters worse, there is no indication whatsoever (apart from the already-shot orbs reverting to purple if you hit a blue orb or the boss when its eye is closed, but how would anyone notice that if they're shooting every part of the boss at once?) whether or not you're doing it right; most players just shoot the boss repeatedly, hoping they're doing damage, and die in the cloud of counterattacks. In many cases, especially due to the possibility of having to use a large ship that can hardly move and (nigh) impossibility of hitting only the purple orbs and only once each with a Spam Attack weapon, the battle is utterly hopeless. In fact, it's one of the two main reasons why so many people have to use online help to beat this game, assuming the Game Breaking Bugs on the Forgotten Planet and ever-present probability a random encounter will get you killed in a ship that literally CAN'T fit through certain tunnels don't make them give up completely. (Incidentally, both "reasons" are on the Ice Planet.)
    • Arguably the first part of the Final Boss. In order to get the best ending, you have to cripple its artillery cannons without destroying the main body. If you are hovering above her, she can't hit you. So using Gun number 1 or anything with a bomb secondary weapon allows you to do just that.
  • Silent Hill 2 has the Dual Pyramid Head boss, in which you must face two Pyramid Heads in a two-on-one fight. The truth, however, is that you don't actually have to attack them; the battle runs on an invisible timer, and attacking just helps to speed things up before they kill themselves for you. Once you've got that figured out, you can probably save most, if not all of your ammo for the final boss afterwards.
  • Every boss in ~Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure~ due to the nature of the game. Most of the time, aside from the giant monster, there's little distinction between the boss stages and regular stages.
  • The original Viewtiful Joe plays this pretty straight in that all bosses and even many normal enemies will take trifling damage unless you work out how to stun them first. You can often still win by pounding away with your best attacks, but it will take about ten times as long.
    • One of the best examples is the first boss, a giant bat who will evade all direct attacks by splitting into a cloud of normal bats. You have to knock a stalactite into him to bring him down to earth before attacking to do any decent damage.
  • In Alone in the Dark, the stairway is blocked by a pair of Lovecraftian Nightgaunts, who are invincible to physical attacks and can only be defeated by their own reflections.
  • Neverwinter Nights has a series of tests to gain access to an exclusive spellcaster's club. This culminates in an arena fight with a giant golem who may well turn you into paste - apart from the fact that it will not attack unless attacked first, and that there is a table with four one-shot elemental wands in the arena. By deciphering the clues from the previous part of the quest, the player can use the wands in a certain order on the golem, making it crumble away without ever attacking. If the golem ever attacks, it's because you failed the puzzle - it remains passive as long as the player is making the correct choices, and actually recites a story to describe the elements as each wand is used.
  • The final battle with Baldus in the canon route of Blaze Union. Actually defeating Baldus is not the trick; it's getting him to join you—and that's easy enough as long as you bother to follow Nessiah's instructions to the letter. There are plenty of cases of players ignoring Nessiah and accidentally killing Baldus, though.
  • In World of Warcraft raid bosses and more recent instance bosses can act like this, especially when groups are first encountering them and learning their abilities.
    • Ignis the Furnace Maker summons invincible golems. However, if they are first drawn through fire until they melt, then dragged into water, they become brittle and a single sufficiently powerful hit will shatter them. They do, however, explode when you do so...
    • Magmaw could theoretically be treated as a Damage Sponge Boss, but with proper timing that's unnecessary. When he slams his head down you can mount his head and throw chains to pull him onto a spike, exposing his head and leaving him extremely vulnerable for a short time.
    • When fighting Anub'arak in his raid version, the biggest dangers are the abilities involving burrowing. The only way to prevent this is to shoot down innocuous floating ice crystals to spawn icy patches, preventing lesser mobs from burrowing and stopping the boss' spikes from chasing you.
  • The Witcher has a stone golem boss which you have to re-animate and then kill using pillars surrounding it that generate lightning bolts (you can kill it very quickly this way). The monster can also be killed by conventional weaponry, but this will take a long, long, LONG time. A skilled player can keep hacking at it and dodging its attacks until it dies, so this makes it a Puzzle Boss or a Marathon Boss depending on how the player tries to kill it.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Turtles in Time has a rare beat 'em up example—at least in the Super NES version. It's the Climax Boss battle agains the Shredder about halfway through the game. Rather than fighting you himself as is his custom in the video games, Shredder instead battles you in some sort of Dimension X war machine thing. He himself is shown in the far foreground, and cannot be hit using normal attacks. Fortunately, he's also flooding the arena with Foot Soldiers, who the Turtles can actually throw into the camera, which in this case damages Shredder. Can be a SLIGHT case of Guide Dang It, because this is the only point in the game where this skill does anything more than insta-killing the Foot Soldier for three points.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines has The Werewolf, an Implacable Man that can only be defeated by running away or by finding an extremely out-of-the-way switch and using it to activate the observatory doors of Griffith Park and crushing the Werewolf between the doors. There's also The Sheriff's One-Winged Angel form, which can be defeated a lot easier by turning on the spotlights in the final fighting arena, which stuns it and allows melee characters a chance to damage it.
  • The first boss Raditz in Dragonball Z: Legend of the Super Saiyan for the Super Famicom. He doesn't take damage when attacking him and has a lot higher power level. Like the story, in order to defeat him, you have to use the Gohan card received from Mr. Popo to weaken him. Then another option opens up allowing Goku to grab Raditz from behind which allows Piccolo to impale them both when using his Special Beam Cannon attack.
  • In the endgame of Persona 3 Portable, Margaret (of Persona 4 fame) opens up a door in Tartarus wherein you can fight four puzzle bosses—for each one your party, group of Personae, level/stats, and so on are set to a certain fixed thing, so grinding and such are useless; you have to figure out how to defeat each boss with what you're given.
    • Subverted for the Strength and Fortune Full Moon bosses. While you can beat the crap out of them the regular way, you have to utilise the Wheel Of Fortune attack to your advantage and (contrary to what Fuuka hints at) it's possible to control the wheel by letting it spin around a few times, then pressing X on the condition opposite the one you want. Also, this is the only time when Ghastly Wail can be used against a boss.
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online features puzzle bosses for a few raid encounters, notably the Black Abbot and Stormreaver. The latter encounter is followed by a literal puzzle: a game of mastermind.
  • In Operator's Side, aka Lifeline, the first boss is Immune to Bullets; to defeat it, you have to tell Rio exactly when to throw a homemade Molotov Cocktail. Waiting too long causes the flame to burn itself out; if that happens, or if you have her throw it at the wrong time... sorry, Rio.
  • In Avalon Code even though cleverness isn't always compulsory they sure do help in most boss fights. But there are several bosses that will require a good brain to defeat. Such as Guardian Torsol who may seem like a Damage Sponge Boss. But when he loses color and can't move, no matter how much damage you deal to him doesn't make a difference. The trick? You push him off a ledge while he can't move, like as you do with a boulder. Better Than It Sounds though.
  • Braid has the player use time travel to see how many times they can drop the same chandelier on the same monster.
  • In the 2008 offshoot of Prince of Persia, both The Warrior and The Concubine are these. The Warrior is nigh-invincible, which forces you to bait the Warrior to the edge of the fighting ground, which then spawns a QTE to try to topple him over and out. During the final confrontation with The Concubine, she traps Elika and creates multiple clones of her, forcing you to find the right one in order to proceed. Experimentation and some thinking will provide you with the correct answer. Protip: What's the one thing only the real Elika can do?. Answer: save the Prince from death, so hurling yourself off the arena will break the spell as Elika activates her powers to save you.
  • The final boss of Cryostasis must be defeated in a weird game instead of direct combat. On a circular arena with constantly spawning monsters, both of you are awarded points for killing (though in the protagonist's case this may count as saving) them, and the first one to get ten positive point wins the battle. It's obviously a bit more complex than that.
  • The final boss of Morrowind has two stages. The first one goes down easily, which opens up a door to the final chamber. The second has a script that heals it of all damage every frame, and doing enough damage to kill it in one hit breaks the main quest.[2] Unusually for a Puzzle Boss, there is little thinking on the player's part involved in defeating Dagoth Ur, as another character provides instructions before sending you out to find the remaining necessary tools to pull the trickery off.
  • Some players approach the Big Daddy battles in BioShock (series) like this (kind of a "DIY" Puzzle Boss). Rather than just fight the brutes head on and unload as much lead as they can muster, they will lay a long line of things to trap and damage the Big Daddy as it comes barreling at them. Explosions, electricity, and other objects on the land make for great Big Daddy roadblocks. It's all in how you set it up that determines how much damage can be done by the time he's made his way through your gauntlet of pain.
  • The final Vorticon in Commander Keen: Marooned on Mars is completely immune to your ray gun. The chain holding the giant stone slab directly above him on the other hand, only takes one shot.
  • Head Over Heels typically mixed up puzzle challenges with physical tests (typically Head's advanced manoeuverability got him the physical challenges, while Heels' bag let him carry things around - which lent itself naturally to the Block Puzzle). The Crown rooms were the last vestiges of the original plan to have more combination problems (with both physical and puzzle elements; mostly ditched after playtesting showed that if people failed the physical part, they'd all-too-often think it was because they got the puzzle wrong), but Penitentiary - the Crown room and most of the rest of that planet - is clearly the most heavily puzzle-based.
  • Batman: Arkham City has a number of puzzle bosses, but none stand out more than Mr. Freeze - there are twelve ways to damage Mr. Freeze and every time you use one of them, he makes sure to nullify it. Jam his freeze gun? He'll rewrite its coding to prevent it. Glide kick him? He makes sure the air's too dense to allow gliding. It goes into Nintendo Hard levels when you do this in New Game+, where you have to use all twelve techniques to win.
  • The Bed of Chaos in Dark Souls will die from a single hit. The challenge of the fight is exposing its weak point. You must destroy the big obvious glowing orbs on either side of the boss to break its shield and then run towards the crumbling center of the room and land on the root leading to the boss' weak point. The Bed of Chaos gets progressively more aggressive as it becomes vulnerable: it attacks you using its huge branch arms, destroys the floor of the arena to drop you into bottomless pits, and rains fire on you.
  • The Dragon God in Demon's Souls can only be defeated by taking advantage of the environment to avoid its attacks long enough to fire a pair of huge ballistas into its shoulders. Once that's done the near helpless dragon can be killed with a few blows to the face.

Non-video game examples[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Jake Martinez of Tiger and Bunny is practically unbeatable in a one on one fight thanks to his telekinetic shields and mind reading NEXT powers. Kotetsu lies to Barnaby about the true nature of Jake's power since the only way to fool a mind reader is to fool the mind being read. Like other Puzzle Bosses, Jake goes down quickly afterwards since he has very low pain tolerance.
  • Subverted in Cardcaptor Sakura. Late in the first season, our heroes find themselves trapped in a magical maze. The "always go left" track doesn't work, if they try to cut the walls with their swords, they just grow back together, and if Sakura tries to fly above the walls, they just get infinitely higher. Just when it looks like all is lost, supporting character Mizaki-sensei appears, carrying a magical bell...which she proceeds to use as a hammer and bashes the walls down, one after the other, in a straight line to the edge of the maze.
  • In an episode of Superfriends, Battle of the Gods, Zeus forces the heroes to go through several myth-based challenges. Superman had to enter the The Labyrinth and capture the Minotaur. In one chamber with a lit torch, his shadow comes to life and proceeds to kick the crap out of him. When he tries to fight back, his attacks go right through it. He defeats it by putting out the fire. Without light, the shadow disappears.
  • Once the concept of Stands was introduced, many of the fight scenes in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure turned into this. Most of the fights consisted of matches against a seemingly untouchable Stand user, with the main characters spending most of the time trying to figure out how their opponent's stand works so they can combat it, often in very unconventional ways (i.e., a Stand that exists as air defeated by being breathed in by another Stand until the enemy Stand user suffocates.)
  1. where you just had to build a stamina meter by landing good shots and not getting hit; then you could throw KO punches at will as long as the meter was full
  2. There was no way to directly make a creature invincible