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Dural (Virtua Fighter)

The long-recurring boss of the Virtua Fighter series, and for good reason, as she's extremely tough to beat. Not only does she borrow moves from every other fighter in the game, she is also extremely good at countering your attacks, whether by grabbing you in mid-animation and tossing you for heavy damage, or by evading your attack, popping you into the air and then juggling you across the arena for most (if not all) of your health bar. Fortunately, Sega seemed to recognize her near-invincibility and she generally just appears as a bonus game of sorts - whether or not you actually defeat her, you'll complete the game and log your high score as normal.

Karai (TMNT Tournament Fighters SNES)

A relatively unknown character at the time of her appearance, as most fans of this game were probably those who watched the cartoon show and probably had little (if any) knowledge of the original comics. Nevertheless, Karai was a fierce boss character, being extremely agile and aggressive with a variety of throws and a flying machine-gun punch that did a ton of damage (and if blocked, would only allow her to build up her super meter faster to unleash her ultimate attack). Like a lot of SNK bosses, the trick was usually just to find one or two effective attacks with each character and use them repeatedly, as her AI wasn't really very good at evading attacks, just being really fast and aggressive.

Gill (Street Fighter III)

Capcom was definitely aiming to show off the graphical abilities of their CPS3 system with Street Fighter III, most prominently with their boss character Gill who, unlike most Street Fighter characters before him, did not utilize any form of sprite mirroring (which they displayed by giving each side of his body a different color, and having his attacks differ slightly according to which side was currently facing the screen). They also made sure you'd be seeing a lot of this guy by making him one of the cheapest bosses the series ever spawned - his height gives most of his attacks a very long reach, his projectiles all hit twice (so they will cancel out any projectiles you attempt to use and still hit you), all of his attacks do chip damage even if you block them, and his super moves are extremely powerful - enough to whittle away upwards of 50% of your health bar each. Oh, and if you defeat him while his super meter is full, he'll restore himself to full health and continue the fight as if nothing happened. Fortunately, he can only do this once per round, and if you hit him whilst the animation is playing, he will only gain part of his health back rather than all of it. Still, this is a tricky thing to do, as he will repel projectiles and push you back as the animation plays.

Flanders (Simpsons Wrestling)

An abismal game that attempted to combine the Simpsons with wrestling. I'm not sure where that idea came from, as I don't recall wrestling featuring prominently in any episodes of the show, but whatever, they did it. And boy, did they have absolutely no regard for character balance in doing so. Flanders not only has a homing projectile attack as one of his basic moves, but he also has an extremely powerful attack that allows him to summon homing lightning strikes (which is the strongest attack in the game and, if he goes for a pin whilst the move is in action, the opponent cannot escape). Worst of all, though, is that like Gill, once per round he can immediately revive himself to full health once his life bar is depleted, so you have to defeat him and his cheap attacks TWICE before you actually win. Yeah, not fun.

Shao Kahn (Mortal Kombat II)

Perhaps in response to complaints that the AI was fairly lacking in the original game, Midway ramped it up to obscene levels in Mortal Kombat II, literally having opponents react to your every move with their strongest counter moves and often do things the player couldn't do themselves (like walking through sweep kicks to throw you for major damage). Shao Kahn was probably the shining example, however, as all of his attacks would take off at least a fifth of your health meter, and he had enough speed and priority to ensure that you'd rarely, if ever, get a hit in on him without getting hit yourself. Try a fireball? He'll toss a spear. Jump kick? He'll charge into you or uppercut you for massive damage. Block one of his attacks? You'll stumble backwards for a good second, allowing him to close in and land another free hit. Once again, your best chance here was to take advantage of his aggressive AI and pick out characters that can easily exploit it - using Kitana's fan lift or Baraka's slash attack repeatedly would usually cause him to walk or dash straight into it. Even then, though, he'd catch on after being hit a few times in a row with it, so you'd still need to mix up your attacks and have a fair amount of luck on your side to pull through.

(Fast forward to 0:40)

Magneto (X-Men: Children of the Atom)

Another game infamous for the difficulty of its AI and the cheapness of its boss characters - Juggernaut, who can inflict tons of damage with each hit and can rip out an I-Beam from the background that greatly extends his attack range, and of course Magneto, who is not only fast, but can fly about the arena, fire vertical beams at you from the entire height distance of the arena (and will often do so for entire rounds), and unleash two brutally powerful super moves. First is his Magnetic Shockwave, which can take off well over half of your health bar and can't really be avoided (unless you're somehow lucky enough to get behind him before he fires it), and second is his magnetic barrier, which makes him completely immune to attack for roughly ten seconds. Yeah, no joke. He literally becomes invincible and all you can do is try to block or evade his attacks until it wears off, or try to whittle it down a bit faster with attacks (not a wise move as he can still attack you while you're doing this!). But best of all, he constantly regenerates his super bar without even having to land attacks.

(Fast forward to 2:40)

Sagat (Street Fighter)

Before the concept of "serious tournament fighters" and by extension "character balance" came around, there was the original Street Fighter, which is largely remembered for having some of the most sluggish and unresponsive controls ever, and being incredibly difficult as a result. More difficulty arose from the fact that many of the opponents you faced had far quicker attack animations than you did, and dealt far more damage than your character could. This is no more evident than with the game's final boss, Sagat, who utilizes fireballs that can take off a huge chunk of your health bar, and an uppercut attack to punish any close-quarters combat with an instant loss of 75% (or sometimes ALL) of your health meter. Needless to say, you could burn through an entire pocketful of quarters in mere minutes when facing off with this guy. Pretty much your only shot of victory here was to master the nuances of the clumsy controls and use your similarly overpowered special moves.

Magaki (King of Fighters XI)

SNK fighters have always been notorious for featuring extremely cheap and tough bosses, but Magaki is a strong contender for the cheapest of them all. His primary strategy is, quite literally, to flood the screen with projectiles, whether they come from in front of him, above you, or even appearing BEHIND your character and flying towards him. Even better yet, he likes to generate explosions around himself, making it very difficult to land hits without being hit yourself (and getting hit will send you flying all the way across the screen and back into that huge shitstorm of fireballs he creates), and being a boss character he hardly takes any damage from your attacks.

I think this video sums him up nicely:

Rugal / Omega Rugal (King of Fighters series)

Possibly the most iconic villain of the series, he's also one of the damn hardest fights in video game history. When you first face him, he's already quite tough, with his long reach, powerful attacks, and ability to predict most of your moves. Once you've beaten him, however, he really pulls out all the stops and becomes a cheapskate. He'll generally just stay on one side of the screen, tossing fireballs in your direction (and occasionally a huge fireball that does a boatload of damage if you don't dodge it), waiting for you to try and close the distance so he can nail you with his Genocide Cutter, a speedy, powerful attack that takes up a large portion of the screen and has priority over almost every other move in the game. It's no surprise that a commonly-employed strategy against him is to simply land a few hits on him with a super move, then hang back and dodge his projectiles until the clock runs out and you win by having higher health.

But oh, it gets better. He returns in the sequel with another cheap move in his repertoire - the ability to create a shield that reflects projectiles, making those all but useless against him as well. But even better than that, he gets even stronger moves in the Dream Match games (super speed and electric barrier attacks) and Capcom vs SNK 2 (wherein he borrows some of Akuma's moves, such as his teleport and Raging Demon). Yeah, he's a nightmare that just gets worse in every game he appears in.

(fast forward to about 4:30)

Akuma (Super Street Fighter II Turbo)

Capcom definitely took a page from the Mortal Kombat and SNK camps when they made the US version of Super Turbo, ramping the AI difficulty up to obscene levels. But even if you somehow managed to master the game, outwit the AI, and get to the final boss on a single credit, you got to face the ultimate cheap boss character of the time, Akuma. With the ability to throw two projectiles at once, a very broken air fireball, teleporting ability, and doing a ton of damage with all of his normal attacks, he is literally impossible to beat with most characters, and the few that can still have a hell of a time doing it.

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