Shielded Core Boss
We use the term "shielding" loosely here: In most cases it really is literal shielding or armor plating, but the concept can extend to almost anything the boss uses to block, deflect, or otherwise nullify your attacks.
Unlike the Tactical Suicide Boss, you cannot simply dodge and evade the boss's attack patterns until he leaves you an opportunity to strike. Nor can you depend on something within the room to give you an opening either. Violence Is the Only Option when facing a Shielded Core Boss—you must actively attack and destroy this shielding to expose his weak point, then attack again to damage his Life Meter before he puts his shielding back up. Expect to have to take out his shielding multiple times throughout the battle before he is finally defeated.
Some of these bosses can be very difficult, depending on how much damage their shielding can sustain before it is disabled, and how quickly the boss regenerates it. In some extreme cases, damaged (but not destroyed) shielding may even regenerate on its own, requiring the player to not only inflict damage to disable it, but to inflict damage quickly. On the other hand, some are simply tedious if destroying his shield takes a long time and he doesn't otherwise pose much of a threat.
Distantly related to the Puzzle Boss, since the boss cannot be damaged directly as long as his shielding is in effect; but where a Puzzle Boss will rely on some other, indirect means to take him out, here you must attack the boss just the same.
If the armor does not regenerate throughout the battle, the boss merely has Destructible Armor (and will very likely Turn Red once his armor is destroyed), and a savvy player can use it to calculate their progress towards defeating the boss.
See also Flunky Boss, where the boss is protected by independent Mooks, who may need to be destroyed before you can engage the boss directly, and Cores and Turrets Boss, in which the boss's presence is reduced to its (no pun intended) core elements: Something that attacks you, and something for you to attack.
- Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter has a variation with the Regents and their "Absolute Defense". From a gameplay standpoint it simply absorbs a set amount of damage from the party's attacks, requiring them to string together Combos long enough to break through it; but it is visually depicted as a Beehive Barrier taking each hit until it shatters.
- In Epic Mickey, all Beetleworx enemies (yes, all of them, even though only one is an actual boss) have a layer of Paint armor that you must dissolve with Thinner before you can deliver a damaging attack. They regenerate their armor after taking each hit.
- The Final Boss battle of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles takes place in the sky, with only the boss's tail within attack range. Damaging his tail eventually brings the boss down to your level to strike directly, but only for a limited time.
- Ever since The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, most boss battles typically consist of using a newly-acquired weapon/tool from the latest dungeon to "stun" the boss and expose its weak point to ordinary sword strikes before the boss recovers from it; the entire process is generally repeated three times before the boss dies.
- Ghirahim in The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword is the quickest example: In his final battle, once he summons a large claymore as his weapon, the only way to finish him off is to chip away and shatter his weapon with repeated sword strikes, then deliver a thrust attack to his exposed core. Get thrown off rhythm and Ghirahim will simply repair the blade with a snap of his fingers.
- Koloktos before him covers its weak point by various means, and the battle proceeds primarily by using the whip to strip them away before striking the core. It goes up a notch when he Turns Red, with Koloktos wielding six gigantic swords while shielding its weak point with an iron grate. One strategy is to detach three of its arms with your whip, then pick up one of those giant swords to knock off its remaining arms, legs, and then smash through the grate and strike its core, which itself must be repeated three times to win the battle.
- In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, when facing the Final Boss, you must destroy its hands and head in order to expose (and strike) its heart; the hands and head quickly regenerate, requiring you to repeat this process throughout the battle.
- In Mario & Luigi: Partners In Time, a younger Princess Shroob cannot be damaged until you destroy the shield protecting her. The elder Princess Shroob extends this pattern one step further: You cannot damage her until having destroyed her crown, but you can't strike the crown without attacking her feet to knock her down first. In all cases, the princesses recover after taking a few hits, forcing you to start the process over.
- The Final Boss in Mega Man X 8 protects himself with multiple layers of shielding that must be broken to damage him, but as the battle wears on and he reveals his ultimate Desperation Attack, the player must do so within a time limit to win the battle.
- From the Metroid Prime series:
- The Emperor Ing in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes provides two examples in one long battle: In its initial form, Samus must destroy its tentacles to expose its weak point for damage; in its final form, hitting its weak point with enough firepower prompts the boss to shield it with either Light or Dark energy, at which point the player can actually damage the boss with the opposite energy weapon.
- The gigantic war golem "Mogenar" in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has four Phazon cores (in various locations) shielded by red energy orbs; the player must blast through the shielding and then deliver a strike at the core with their Hyper Beam. Mogenar can regenerate the energy orbs using fixtures located along the edge of its Boss Room, and regenerates all of them whenever any core is destroyed. It is considered one of the game's most difficult battles.
- From the final chapter in Odin Sphere, the "King of the Underworld" is a gigantic undead Cerberus. Unlike the still-living cerberus you defeated before him, after destroying his three heads you must attack his exposed heart before he regenerates the heads and the process repeats—a battle that lives up to publisher Atlus's reputation for Nintendo Hard games.
- A penultimate boss in Psychonauts uses Telekinesis to protect himself with several rings of debris, and the player must use Raz's own various powers to break holes in each layer and deliver a strike, while the boss is simultaneously using his own psychic powers to repair each breach.
- In Persona 4, the boss of the "Void Quest" dungeon resembles a newborn child, who starts the battle by surrounding itself in a shell resembling a pixelated, 8-bit RPG character sprite. You must destroy the shell to expose the boss itself, although the boss is by no means defenseless while regenerating its shell.
- A few boss battles from Pokémon Pinball. In the first agme, Mewtwo protects himself from the player's attacks with a ring of rotating psychic orbs; he regenerates them every time the player succeeds in inflicting damage, although as his HP drops, the barrier becomes progressively weaker, allowing some attacks to slip through.
- Groudon from Pinball Ruby And Sapphire works similarly, frequently executing a shockwave attack that surrounds himself by pillars of flame that block the player's attacks until they can take at least one of them out.
- A late-game boss battle in Super Mario RPG is the gigantic sword known as Exor. His weak point is the tip of the handle, but the game informs you that it is protected from attacks by his two eyes. You have to attack and disable at least one of the eyes before you can inflict damage on his weak point, and the eyes revive after a few turns.
- In Sonic 3 and Knuckles, Robotnik pilots a large stone golem as the boss of Sandopolis Zone Act 2; although it only takes one hit to dislodge the armor and expose Robotnik to a strike, the armor quickly snaps back into place, resulting in a limited opportunity to strike.
- The Area 6 boss in Star Fox 64 requires you to shoot three energy balls surrounding its energy core before it will take damage. After a short window of opportunity, it generates three large metal tendrils and closes its shell entirely; you must shoot and destroy the tendrils to open the shell, then repeat the process all over again.
- The Reactor Boss in the first game requires you to deactivate its shields before you can damage it. The second version can regenerate them.
- The early-80s Vector Game Star Castle consisted entirely of piloting an Asteroids-like spaceship to take out an enemy ship surrounded by three layers of rotating barriers. If one layer was completely destroyed, the enemy ship would counter by generating a new layer, and could also fire its own weapon at the player if it had an open line of sight between the openings.
- A few examples from Devil May Cry series:
- Leviathan's Heart is encased in a hard shell that opens up for a short time when one of two adjacent organs is destroyed. They regenerate quite quickly and you are also constantly swarmed by Mooks who make taking a good slash at the heart quite a pain.
- Nevan has an electrical shield that drops when all of the bats surrounding her are destroyed. And then you must instantly attack her at least once or else she'll immediately regenerate the shield to full.
- Sanctus has a regenerating force field you must destroy to damage him and constantly floats away when you try to close the distance. Overlaps with Tactical Suicide Boss, because the probes that spawn and orbit around him can be grabbed and used to pull yourself towards him - although sometimes he tries to rectify this by making them explode when you're near them.
- The final boss of Dark Messiah summons a skeletal dragon to fight you while he remains in an indestructible forcefield. Killing the dragon makes him lose the shield for a few seconds; then he summons another one, rinse and repeat.
- Absolute Defender from G-Darius- you have to destroy his (regenerating) shield generator in order to damage him, but once you do so, you can hit him anywhere in order to damage him.
- Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story has the giant wiggler. It can only be damaged in the head after all its segments have been turned yellow (you do so by attacking the segments), but it will turn back to red in a short while, forcing you to repeat the process.
- The Final Boss of Mega Man ZX Advent is like this, you have to damage his forcefield enough for it to disappear, then quickly get your hits in before it get put back up again.
- Helicopter bosses (such as the Warmup Boss) from Night Striker have a forcefield that can take quite a few hits. Once it's down, you have to hit the heli or else it'll put its shield back up in a short time (and if you do hit it, it regenerates the shield). The good news is that these helis have only three hit points, unless it's the Final Boss of stage R, which has more.
- The Big Core ship and its many variations in the Gradius series generally has a series of shields you must shoot through to reach the core.
- In Yoshi's Island, Sluggy the Unshaven's heart is an obvious weak point (despite Kamek's Suspiciously Specific Denial), but hitting it requires getting through the surrounding ectoplasm, which regenerates.
- Mass Effect 2 has a couple of these: the Reaper core in the Derelict Reaper mission and the rogue VI in the Overlord DLC. In both cases, you have to shoot things around the core first to make it vulnerable.
- Doc Ock in the Spider-Man PS 1 game is protected by a sort of electric field that must be shut off in order to get close to him and do damage.
- The last phase of Rez's third boss.
- In the NES version of Section Z, the Final Boss, L-Brain, is protected by twin shield generators in front of it which can regenerate in a few seconds.
- In Tron, the Master Control Program protected its weak point from Tron by summoning a layer of energy shields; Tron could take out individual shields easily with his disc, but the MCP rotated the shield layer too quickly for Tron to make a successful shot; it was Flynn's Heroic Sacrifice that paralyzed the MCP and allowed Tron to land a clean strike between the shields.