Time Limit Boss

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Sometimes your greatest foe is not the Giant Enemy Crab standing in front of you - it's the countdown right above his head.

Basically a Time Limit Boss is a combination of Timed Mission and Boss Fight, and involves bosses which have to be beaten within a certain preset period of time (either seconds or turns), or bosses that have to be beaten before they unleash a Total Party Kill. This can often turn an enemy that wouldn't normally be difficult to defeat into That One Boss.

Boss battles in many Shoot Em Ups are timed, usually to prevent you from infinitely "milking" a boss by shooting down projectiles and support enemies without killing it. After the time limit runs out, the boss usually escapes or self-destructs, allowing you to proceed to the next level anyway, though often you will be penalized by getting reduced end-of-stage bonuses.

A specific inversion includes battles where victory is achieved when the time runs out and you are left standing. Compare Boss Arena Urgency for the times when a boss will make the fight Unwinnable if you take too long. Also compare Exact Time to Failure.


Examples of Time Limit Boss include:


  • Many Fighting Game bosses fall under this:
    • For example, in The Subspace Emissary, the fight with Meta-Ridley is accompanied by a two-minute time limit.
    • The fight with Ragnarok in Arcana Heart 3 has a 60 second time limit. If you lose by time-up, you get the bad ending and can't continue.
  • The summon Odin in the Final Fantasy games, particularly in IV, V and VIII, will usually give you a time limit of one minute or thereabouts, before he kills your party off. In some games, the countdown starts before the battle, meaning you have to reach him first.
    • Let's just say Final Fantasy loves this, and has given these to bosses like Plague from Final Fantasy IV and the Updated Rerelease of Final Fantasy VI.
      • The Demon Walls which will eventually crush you.
      • You better kill the Tonberrys before they get close enough to one-shot everyone.
    • Optional boss Gogo the Mimic in Final Fantasy V, in an unusually psychologically cruel variant on the trope. Gogo lives in a sunken tower, guarding a unique and valuable treasure (The Mime Job Class), so your party only has seven minutes to get in, get to the bottom, kill Gogo, get the treasure, and get out—no shortcuts like Teleporting out after allowed. Upon reaching Gogo, the player's instinct is to start unloading everything they have on him, most world-killy first. However, he'll counter EVERYTHING you do with something that hurts even more—even if you can deplete his HP this way, you won't have enough time to make it out alive. The trick? Do nothing. Sit there as the counter ticks closer to Critical Existence Failure and do nothing but pray Gogo decides to wander off soon enough to allow you to leave alive, several minutes, usually. It's utterly nerve-wracking.
    • Another reason why the Final Fantasy series loves this trope: Emerald Weapon in Final Fantasy VII, a Bonus Boss with a preset time limit of 20 minutes for the player to beat it (which can be circumvented by equipping the ridiculously obtuse Underwater materia).
    • Not exactly a single battle, but a sequence of battles and the use of controls during the runaway train sequence in VII. Cid's party must catch up with the train carrying a Huge Materia by moving two levers, fight several large mooks on board, and stop the train before it crashes into North Corel within ten minutes.
    • Overdrive Sin from Final Fantasy X and Vegnagun from Final Fantasy X-2, which must be defeated before they charge up their One-Hit Kill attacks.
    • A synthesis of Vegnagun and the Soul Cannon, the Guardian from Final Fantasy V will charge its cannon, which will kill you if you take too long.
    • Eidolon trials in Final Fantasy XIII.
    • Zalera in FFXII has a five minute time-limit before you're forcibly thrown out of the arena. He's invulnerable to damage as long as he has flunky skeletons, then he spams level-specific ailment skills (not blockable if your party members are the same level as the spell), which essentially limits the levels you can fight him efficiently to 35, 49, 55, and 91. Good thing he's undead...
  • In Sonic Adventure, Egg Viper eventually becomes one of these when it starts destroying one of the six platforms with each of its attacks. If you don't defeat it quickly enough, Sonic will fall to his death with nothing left to stand on.
  • In Donkey Kong 64, Dogadon eventually becomes one of these in his second appearance - take too long to kill it after it starts to make the platform sink, and eventually the lava will kill you. The Final Boss is a more direct example; it's set up as a boxing fight in which the player has a limited number (specifically, 12) of timed rounds (3 minutes apiece) in which to K.O. King K. Rool. K. Rool has five "forms" (actually, more like tactics) - one for each of the playable Kongs to battle - and the defeat of one form will cause the fight to move on to the next round, bringing in the next Kong (and recharging the player's health.) But if a round's timer expires before K. Rool's current strategem has been beaten, the next round will begin with the player fighting the same form as before, with as much health as he had as the previous round ended; K. Rool, on the other hand, will be fully healed. If all 12 rounds pass before the player has beaten all five tactics, the player loses the fight, regardless of his or her remaining health.
  • In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, the later fights against the Koopa Kids have them accompanied by Bob-Ombs that will explode after eight turns. You have to beat them before then.
    • Every single boss in the Gauntlet in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story has to be beaten within a turn limit, which is aggravating against Dark Star X, and plain cruel when you have to beat every boss in order in 35 turns straight.
    • In terms of regular bosses, there's the Fawful Express, which will send Giant Bowser plummeting to his doom if not beaten before the train crosses the bridge.
    • Also done semi-interactively in the battle against the Elder Shrooboid in Partners in Time. He sends out a UFO halfway through the battle that gives you four turns to defeat him, but by deflecting one of his attacks, you can hit the UFO and reset the counter.
  • In Metroid Fusion, the True Final Boss appears at the end of a Load-Bearing Boss sequence. You'll probably have only a minute or so left to beat it for good.
    • Also, in Metroid Prime 3, you only have so long on the opening planet to beat Ridley before you fall to your doom.
    • Metroid Prime 2 gives you eight minutes to fight the final boss (Dark Samus for the third time, and it is cheap as she stalls).
    • Since Prime 2 also has the whole concept of taking constant damage in the Dark World unless you're in the safe zone, two bosses, the Boost Guardian and Quadraxis, are fought in arenas where there is no safe zone, basically making it a timed fight where you get more time when you get pickups and lose time when you get hit.
      • There's also the final set of bosses in Corruption, who are at the end of a long path where your health is constantly being drained, to put it simply.
  • Quite common in World of Warcraft, where most raid bosses have what is called an enrage timer. When the timer goes off they get a massive buff that results in them killing the entire raid. Depending on the encounter design the timer might be pretty lenient on an otherwise difficult boss or might be the only factor that makes the boss hard (this type of boss is commonly refered to as "dps race".)
    • Some bosses (or even entire sections of a dungeon) may also have a timer on additional rewards.
    • Oftentimes the bosses themselves are not on a timer, but there is another mechanic that becomes increasingly dangerous as time passes by. Some of them (like, say, Professor Putricide from the Icecrown Citadel raid) drops something on the ground that deals damage, and the area covered increases by time so that you eventually run out of space. Another example is Beth'tilac from the Firelands raid, who has an area of effect spell that gradually increases in damage every time it's cast, until it completely overwhelms the healers. Here it is not a so called hard enrage, where the boss will pound you to the ground after a set amount of time, better equipment can help you survive longer.
  • Yet another example that starts out untimed but eventually becomes timed: The final boss of Banjo-Tooie, after taking enough damage, floods the arena with poison gas. After that, the player gradually loses air, and when the air is all gone, health is gradually lost instead (and the arena contains limited sources of health replenishment).
  • Portal: The final boss is the only explicitly timed puzzle in the game, wherein GLaDOS pumps the room full of poison gas, setting a time limit before you die.
    • It's also present in Portal 2, where the entire facility is about to go down in a nuclear meltdown due to Wheatley's gross incompetence. The point of the battle is to corrupt him enough via personality cores so that he can be replaced with GLaDOS so that she stops the meltdown.
  • The Early Bird Boss in Mega Man Zero has a time limit before the platform you are on would crush a bunch of hostages.
  • Iuz in Temple of Elemental Evil qualifies. If you want to win the Hopeless Boss Fight (hard, but doable), you have three turns to kill him before Saint Cuthbert comes and hauls him away.
  • Star Fox 64 had a couple of examples. At Katina, the player had a limited amount of time in which to defeat the mothership before it destroyed the defense post; at Fortuna, the player had a limited amount of time in which to defeat Star Wolf before a bomb in the base exploded.
    • You also get more points for beating the boss as fast as possible.
    • Also Macbeth, where the train boss kills you if you don't beat him before he reaches the supply depot.
  • In Dark Cloud 2/Dark Chronicle, the True Final Boss gives you five minutes to defeat him before the moon falls and kills everything on earth.
  • The Touhou games have time limits on all of the bosses' patterns. Technically, passing these limits is actually a victory condition,[1] but you don't get any points or other rewards for doing so, which can be a very bad thing in some of the games. It also tends to be rather difficult to do, as the timers are generally much longer than is necessary for even the weakest character to beat them, and several get worse with time, rather than damage.
    • In the fangame Concealed the Conclusion, the Final Boss fight has a time limit based on how much Hakurei points (the game's special mechanic) you have collected. This timer is basically how much time remains until the Dream Apocalypse, and if it runs out, the game simply fades to black and you get a Bad End.
  • In Comix Zone, The final boss has this - sorta. You can still win even if the timer runs out, but you'll get the 'Bad' ending, since the timer is essentially your girlfriend drowning in rocket fuel.
  • In Shadow Hearts: Covenant, most fights with Great Gama have an implicit time limit, whereby if you don't beat him within X rounds, he unleashes a giant attack on you which is almost guaranteed to kill you. The same happens when you fight the Peach Bat, except that she cheats and does it one round early.
    • Similarly, Gold Bat in the first game gives you a certain amount of rounds before he kills you. However, he takes pity on you and gives you one round more than stated.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, once you reach the top of Clock Tower and challenge Skull Kid, you have five minutes to beat him before the moon crashes. Since beating him involves playing one song on your ocarina, however, this isn't too difficult. And then the real battle begins...
  • Kingdom Hearts II has Luxord. It's done in a kind of weird way; both the player and the boss have time bars, and they go down more if you take damage.
    • Don't forget Demyx with his water clones.
  • Every single boss in Wario Land 4, made harsher on Super Hard difficulty.
  • Every boss in Ikaruga.
    • Like the Touhou example above, this is a victory condition. It just robs you of points.
  • The final boss of The Revenge of Shinobi is like the Comix Zone one.
  • The Final Boss of Prototype has a time limit because the city is about to get nuked.
  • Final Hazard from Sonic Adventure 2 is timed to about five minutes before it hits the planet. (That is, if your rings haven't run out by that point.)
    • In the second Sonic/Shadow duel, the runway you are sprinting across seems to stretch on into infinity... until you allow 10 minutes to pass. Then the road collapses in front of you.
  • An odd version of this occurs in Gradius V; the first boss will actually leave if you take too long to beat it. Played straight with the Blaster Cannon Core and a few other series bosses, which will crush you against the left side of the screen when exiting after time-out.
  • Every boss in Radiant Silvergun has a time limit, after which the boss self-destructs and you don't get bonus points.
    • A lot of difficult shoot-em-ups use this sort of time limit, which could be seen as either preventing you from milking a boss for points by hanging around and shooting down the endless stream of popcorn enemies, or just encouraging you to fight quickly. A seasoned veteran player might intentionally go through the levels without shooting anything, even waiting out the bosses' attacks until they either self-destruct or get bored and leave. An example of one such pacifist run can be found here.
  • Every boss battle in Guitar Hero III must be won before the arrow reaches the skull. If you can't beat them before then, they get one last solo while your health drains automatically at a steady pace. A Self-Imposed Challenge is to see how far into the rival's final solo you can get before finishing them off with items, before you run out of health from the drain.
  • You're given eight minutes to get through Persona 3's second full moon operation, which includes a boss fight.
  • Virtual On has a final boss like this, sort of. Losing to the boss lets you continue as normal. Winning by time out kills you, and you get the very unspectacular bad ending. Strangely, this means that trying to hurt or kill yourself is important if you have more health left than the boss, but don't think you can kill it in time. To defeat it normally, try shooting it when it turns gold and fires its Sun Cannon.
  • Infogrames' "remake" of Combat. After destroying the final boss UFO, you're taken to a small platform in the (falling-apart) base, and it becomes a small gunship that you need to destroy in sixty seconds. If you don't, instant game over, no matter how many lives or how much health you have. Hope you enjoy doing the last 10 levels over again.
  • Sonic the Fighters requires you defeat Dr. Robotonic in just fifteen seconds. It's generally pretty easy to do, assuming he doesn't block excessively, but fail and it's off to the bad ending with you.
  • Resident Evil 4 has Krauser who sets up time bombs on the tower on which you're fighting. Obviously you need to defeat this boss before the tower goes boom.
    • Almost every final boss (not counting some others) in the main series has a time limit whether the structure will self destruct or until a missile strikes.
  • In Super Mario Galaxy 2, you have to fight the bosses Gobblegut and Peewee Piranha with a time limit ticking away in the background. Then there's the Boss Blitz Galaxy... a Boss Rush where you have to beat all five bosses in about 2 minutes at most.
  • In Kirby's Adventure, you battle Power Orb in an auto scrolling stage. If you don't kill Power Orb quickly, the orb flies away (off of the scrolling screen) and you die by smashing into the ground.
    • Kirby's Dreamland 2 ends with fighting Dark Matter. Its final form is fought on an Auto-Scrolling Level and when it reaches the bottom it gains a new, unblockable, undodgeable attack that comes out instantly and deals 2 (out of 6) damage. You need to finish it off before it attacks again.
  • While all Ace Combat missions are timed, final bosses frequently have a separate, much shorter, timer for the last stage of the fight. Other missions frequently require the player to take down a bomber or flying fortress before it exits the map.
  • Margulis in Xenosaga Episode II. Once you get his health down far enough, you'll be given a number of turns until forced H Stop, which is an instant Game Over.
  • The Super Virage boss in the Forbidden Land has eleven lives and each turn it loses a life. If you're unable to kill it before the time is out he will die releasing a super powerful energetic attack on the whole party. Still, you can simply defend when it has few lives left and call it a day.
  • Subverted with Border Down. You get bonus points for killing a boss as close to 0 seconds as possible, with the maximum bonus being 3 million points. The timer will continue to run down to -30, but after -10 seconds you start losing points, all the way up to -6 million points.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake has Running Man who you fight in a corridor of four rooms filled with gas. You have to defeat him by planting mines over his path before your O2 gauge depletes.
    • The hand to hand battle against Liquid Snake Metal Gear Solid. You have to defeat him within 3 minutes before the bomb he placed nearby detonates.
    • Fatman in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is a different case. He plants time bombs during the battle forcing you deactivate it with coolant spray.
    • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: In the first battle against Volgin, you're given a time limit because Snake had planted C3 on the liquid fuel tanks.
      • In the final battle against The Boss, you're given ten minutes to defeat her because she ordered two MiGs to bomb the area.
  • All the bosses in Hellsinker are this. When the timer runs out they move on and the game telling you that they lost interest.
    • Althouth just like Ikaruga and Touhou you normally still beat them in the regular manner.
    • However it should be noted that doing this on Rex Cavalier results in an Nonstandard Game Over.
  • In Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, if in the final battle Crash takes too long to defeat Cortex, he will escape through a tunnel and Crash will be forced to start the fight over.
  • In Overblood the final boss is timed due to a Self-Destruct Mechanism and you do still have to fight it again and again as it follows you.
  • Pokémon Ranger has this in Shadows of Alima for the Dialga boss fight. If you take too long, you have to start the battle over again. To avoid this from happening, avoid Dialga's attacks, then use the Pokémon's power to get Dialga's HP to full, and you should have no trouble. Also occurs in Guardian Signs for the past bosses for the remaining time. The boss you will have trouble with is Lucario, who, in this case, rages twice during the boss when you think you're going to beat it. When this happens, simply avoid the attacks and place your Pokémon AWAY from Lucario's wake, and then, if you're fast enough, you can finish it off before time reaches to 0.
  • MONOCULUS! in Team Fortress 2 only appears for 90 seconds.
  • All the bosses in Einhander have an invisible time limit of sorts. If the time limit is exceeded, the boss just runs away and you don't get any points. Except the Final Boss Hyperion. If you run out of time against it, it fires an unavoidable Wave Motion Gun at you!
  • Godzilla: Monster of Monsters for the Nintendo Entertainment System will eject the player from a one-on-one monster battle after about forty seconds, with no warning whatsoever.
  • Each hunt in the Monster Hunter series gives you about an hour to track down and kill each monster (or pair of monsters). If you know the monster's moving habits, this is usually more than enough. But gathering items, recovering from damage, and interference by other large monsters that sometimes wander into the area can combine to eat up a lot of time.
    • Conversely, most Elder Dragons, which thankfully you usually don't have to look for, give you only thirty minutes.
  1. Except in the Bunkachou gaiden games