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File:S Island 7375.jpg

When he goes One-Winged Angel, Baby Bowser isn't so cute anymore.

In Platform Games, you'll often meet a monumental boss who's about as large as the screen and stands in the background layer behind the platforms, facing toward the screen. It'll typically stand stock-still while swinging its Giant Hands of Doom, or using a Breath Weapon or something, You may have to engage in a small Colossus Climb to reach its Weak Spot, (often its huge, grinning noggin), but in all cases the body of the boss (with obvious exception of its weak point and attacks) is not a threat even if the game features loose Collision Damage and your character is a One-Hit-Point Wonder.

In 3D games, Background Bosses are a rarer occurrence due to the less obvious distinction between "foreground" and "background", but can still apply if the battle is fought at long range and it is (for whatever reason) impossible to actually close distance with the boss.

Due to the impressive difference in scale between these guys and everything else in the game, they are often the Final Boss. As such, beware of minor spoilers in these examples!

Examples of Background Boss include:

  • Yoshis Island: Baby Bowser's amped-up magical form, as shown in the header picture. Unique in that he uses the powers of SuperFX to slowly stomp toward the foreground, looming larger and larger. Also unique in that instead of a Colossus Climb or other attempt to exploit his large geometry, the fight consists of the two of you shelling each other (with actual eggshells, no less) over long background distances.
  • Game Boy Donkey Kong: The absolutely very last fight with the ape involves him transforming into a very "kingly" foe.
  • Donkey Kong Jungle Climber features King K. Rool increased in size with the power of the Crystal Bananas.
    • Also, in the Donkey Kong Country 2 GBA port, you've got the boss Kerozene (added to K Rool's Keep/Stronghold Showdown as a boss). You can see it here.
    • Bleak from Donkey Kong Country 3. He doesn't take up the whole background, but he spends the entire battle back there as you basically have a snowball fight with him.
    • In Donkey Kong Country Returns, Tiki Tong is one up until you destroy his hands.
  • Contra provides several examples:
    • The waterfall boss of the NES port of Contra.
    • The Stage 3 boss of the arcade version of Super Contra, and the Stage 7 boss of the NES version.
    • The stage 3 boss of Contra III.
    • The stage 4 boss of Contra IV.
    • The stage 1 mid-boss of Contra Hard Corps.
    • The boss of Stage 2-1 in Contra: Shattered Soldier first attacks you from the background, then moves into your plane.
  • The first boss of R-Type III would assault the player with shots in the background, coming into the player's plane of view to unleash a Macross Missile Massacre.
  • Castlevania III - Dracula's third form.
  • Heart of Darkness - The Dark Lord in the final chapter. You can't harm him, though, and once you beat the last of his shadowy spawn he politely exits the screen.
  • Noitu Love 2 - Penultimate Tango.
    • Also in the first Noitu Love, the battle against the enormous Omega Darn. The battle takes place on a helicopter circling around the boss, and to defeat it you must fire super missiles at it while avoiding the rockets, lasers and lightning it shoots at you.
  • Kirby Super Star - Wham Bam Rock.
    • And in Kirby Super Star Ultra, Wham Bam Jewel.
    • Partial examples: Ado from Dream Land 3 and Adeleine from The Crystal Shards. Both characters are artists whose drawings come to life, and most of the battle is actually against previous Kirby boss characters that they summon while they hide behind their easels. Ado/Adeleine only come out to assault Kirby personally at the very end, at which point a single attack defeats them.
    • Come to think of it, many of the end-of-planet bosses in Crystal Shards do this (Adeleine is end-of-stage).
  • Flash game Abobos Big Adventure turns the NES Contra example above into a Bait and Switch Boss, when the alien gets swallowed whole by a gigantic Kirby, who becomes the true Background Boss.
  • Monster Party - the last boss.
  • La-Mulana - one of the last boss villain's slightly more disturbing forms.
  • Wario Land, Virtual Boy Wario Land and Wario Land 3 feature background final bosses - respectively, a Genie in a Bottle, another genie, and Rudy the Clown.
  • The Legend of Zelda Oracle Games sees Link fighting the last [1] boss - a dark dragon - in a side-view arena, requiring him to leap onto the dragon's claws to slash at its head.
  • Mega Man X and X5 have the last form of Sigma be one of these, with only the head and the two claws being foreground objects. X2 and 3 pit you against similar bosses at the end of the introductory stage, though they're much less of an obstacle.
    • Rangda Bangda, Sigma's second boss in X1, is the background.
      • Rangda Bangda is "revived" into a smaller, yet deadlier Boss in X5, and Sigma's One-Winged Angel from the same game is also this; it's one of his largest forms in the series!
      • Rangda Bangda shows up again in Mega Man Zero 4, although it's a lot smaller and mobile this time. Still in the background though.
    • Several bosses in the original series were coded as background objects, due to the limitations of the NES graphic engine, but the best example is probably Gamma, the final boss of Mega Man 3. Only the very top of its head was vulnerable (and only to two weapons, and aside from its weak spot and its hands, it didn't inflict Collision Damage.
    • X7 features a miniboss in Tornado Tonion's stage that follows you up the tower (he's in the center and you move around the outside of the tower), only his claws and head can hurt you and be hurt. Sigma's final form is an enormous body that's fought in space, with your characters on floating platforms. He teleports around and unleashes several varieties of projectiles both far away and up close, and has a rushing punch attack. X and Axl can shoot him at almost any distance, while Zero has to either reflect certain projectiles or wait till Sigma punches to score hits.
  • The first form of the Death Egg boss for Sonic in Sonic 3 and Knuckles tries to crush you with his mechanical fingers.
    • Earlier on in the Lava Reef Act 2 boss, Eggman initially behaves this way by launching missiles at you from a distance until you reach the dueling point.
  • Dynamite Headdy - Spinderella, and Trouble Bruin in the flying level.
  • I Wanna Be the Guy - Both Mike Tyson and The Guy's second form. Interestingly, Tyson is one of the first bosses you can fight.
  • In Earthbound, the final boss is the background.
  • In Muramasa: The Demon Blade, the final boss of the standard ending to Momohime's story is a giant statue of the guardian of heaven, Fudo-Myoo. As two lesser deities try to attack you, you must disrupt the barrier protecting various parts of Fudo-Myoo's body by destroying the lesser deities. It's made harder by the fact that large rocks are constantly threatening to crush you and the two deities have some powerful attacks that they will happily unleash upon you.
  • Alien Hominid has one of these for the penultimate boss.
  • Spawn for the SNES has Malebolgia hanging around in the background, tossing lightning bolts as you fight the real boss, the Mad One. Fortunately, Malebolgia doesn't seem to care much if he hits you or Mad One and will damage him for you if you stay out of the way.
  • This Mecha Grunty boss in Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge (or is this 3D?)
  • Metal Slug 5 had a rather awesome final battle in the form of a gargantuan flying demon wielding a scythe.
  • The Z-Master from GaoGaiGar in Super Robot Wars W is laid over the background of the stage. The unit that represents him in battle is placed on the tile that is his eye.
  • Tor of Iji jumps back and forth from foreground to back. He can only be injured when he's in the foreground, though.
  • In Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter, the Giant Robosa is partially this.
  • Seiken Densetsu 3 has Zolan, the werewolf, who is so large he dwarfes the tower which formerly held the mana crystal, his prison. Add to that his impressive claws and absurd special attacks and you can get ready to pack the healing magic out.
  • Mephistos from Purple goes this after growing disproportionally.
  • The giant Moai head in Gradius Rebirth. In order to defeat it, you have to destroy the core when it pops out of the head and starts bouncing around, all the while dodging smaller Moai heads and the lightning that generates when the core hits the ceiling or floor.
  • Lil Horn (Also known as the Meat Golem) in Super Meat Boy. Unlike most background bosses, Lil Horn is surprisingly easy: he has the same attack pattern no matter what.
  • The final boss of the second Disgaea Prinny spin off game.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time inverts this by featuring a Foreground Boss: Shredder manning a laser turret at the end of the Technodrome stage, with the battle presented from Shredder's point of view. The player defeated him by throwing his Mooks into the screen.
  • King Drool in Bonk's Revenge.
  • Humongous Mecha Coyote in Road Runner's Death Valley Rally.
  • The World Ends With You boss Ovis Cantus can barely fit on the screen... and that's just because he's crouching. However, he still swings his arms and fires energy spheres in an attempt to squash the player.
  • Battletoads: The first boss also inverts this with a boss-view cam.

3D examples

  • Multiple bosses in Bug!!.
    • The giant horned lizard stayed in the background at all times, and you had to launch boulders at it.
    • The giant octopus would stay in the background, grabbing fish and throwing them at you until you hit three of them back at him.
    • The Abominable Snowbug would chuck massive snowballs from the background for the first half of the fight, and again when it threw massive snowballs that split into five.
    • Queen Cadavra would spawn baby spiders from the background, as well as fire at the floor with her eight machine guns, before attempting to body slam Bug.
  • The fourth boss in the Play Station 2 game Transformers is Tidal Wave, a massive supercarrier that (before transforming into his robot mode) was actually the very level you were exploring.
  • The castle boss in Donkey Kong 64 is a wooden mockup of K.Rool held behind the castle's parapets. The only way to attack it is by launching your Kongs out of a barrel cannon.
  • The final boss in Shadow of the Colossus starts out like this, requiring you to dodge his rain of fire as you find a way to close in and begin your last Colossus Climb.
  • Technically speaking, in Marvel Ultimate Alliance, at one point, you are going through the Skrull homeworld. Being in space, who should be calmly striding through the background but Galactus. You fight him at the very end of the level, but during it, you have to dodge his attacks and minions.
    • And in the sequel, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, there's the 1 of the 2 Marvel resident Giant-Men (you fight one or the other, depending on who you sided with in the Civil War - going Pro results in you fighting Goliath, a.k.a. Bill Foster, whom the crazy Thor clone killed in the comics, while choosing Anti pits you against Yellowjacket).
  • World of Warcraft has Kologarn, a giant construct with Cognizant Limb and Eye Beams.
  • The final boss of Gunstar Heroes and Gunstar Super Heroes qualify, the second more so though as in the first game, The only time in the first game it goes into the background is when it uses the gems as weapons. Said Gems are weakpoints for both final bosses.
  • The final boss of Dead Space qualifies.
    • Also, the Leviathan, in the middle of the game.
  • One of Xemnas's modes in Kingdom Hearts II does this initially.
  • The Final Battle in Mass Effect 2 is against a giant incomplete humanoid Reaper who can only be harmed by shooting at one of its four weakspots.
    • And if you do Grunt's loyalty mission, it ends with a fight against a Thresher Maw, which stays outside the arena and spits acid at you.
    • In Mass Effect 3, on Rannoch, the quarian homeworld, Shepard discovers that what s/he originally thought was a Reaper base is an actual Reaper. S/he decides to sync up his/her orbital targeting with the entire quarian fleet to blow the Reaper to hell. The fight has the Reaper in the background trying to hit Shepard with its beam while you paint its weak spots for the quarian fleet to hit.
    • Also in the third game, another Reaper appears during the battle of Earth, guarding the Conduit. It is far in the background, but slowly moves closer. Not long after, Harbinger appears behind the Conduit, where it stays and destroys the entire alliance force. This is also a Scripted Battle.
  • In Sonic Adventure 2, you fight the Egg Golem with both Sonic and Dr. Robotnik. The fight as Sonic is a good 3D example and features a Colossus Climb up retracting platforms on the Golem's back.
  • Castlevania: Curse of Darkness Final boss is (surprise surprise) Dracula. His second form tends to stay very far away from your platform and shoots at you. The only way to damage him is to hit him when he slashes at you with his claws.
  • Arguably, Bongo Bongo, boss of the Shadow Temple, in The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time.
  • The golem in The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon is usually fought in this fashion—from his first encounter to his very last, where you have to climb several stories of building in order to finally bring the pain down on his massive hands.
  • The second boss of Jett Rocket, Herzog Aisu, traps you on a narrow platform. You have to do a Ground Pound on the giant flyswatter-type apparatus he attempts to squish you with to defeat him.
  • The nightmare sequences in Batman: Arkham Asylum work this way, with a variant; you can't let Scarecrow see you, or it's Game Over.
    • Also, Poison Ivy.
  • The first time you fight Sin in Final Fantasy X, it's this. The boat that you're on is being dragged behind him by a harpoon in his fin, and it's impossible to touch him except with long range attacks (Wakka, magic, Aeons, etc.).
  • In Crash Bandicoot 2 Cortex Strikes Back, the battle with N. Gin works this way.
  • The final boss of Doom 2 could qualify to an extent. Rather than a sprite like other monsters in the game, it actually makes up one of the walls of the last chamber. Its attack method is to fire cubes at you; if one hits you, you die, and if they miss they still spawn a monster. The only way to win was to fire rockets through the small opening in his forehead.
    • The cubes don't kill on contact, you get TeleFragged by the monster that spawns in your location when they terminate.
  • Bowser from Super Mario Galaxy 2, due to him spending the entire game as a giant.
  • The first Grimnir fight from Magicka. You can see a giant hologram of him while fighting the mages he summons. After that, he fights the player, mano-o-mano.
  • The Dollmaker alias Doctor Bumby from Alice: Madness Returns.
  • Orjugan in Ys: The Ark of Napishtim. To damage it, you must hit its bombs back or use the flame magic.
  • The giant boss battles in Dragon Ball Z Ultimate Tenkaichi function like this. You either have to throw Ki blasts at them when they are far away, or wait for them to do a melee attack so you can attack them directly.
  • The bosses in Bully are the Clique leaders. For the nerds, you do not fight him himself; as he quite obviously wouldn't be able to hold his own against someone like Jimmy who has up to that point beaten up three whole cliques (And probably a few prefects if you're lucky enough). Instead, he uses his inventions to get you at range, so the boss fight is actually taking out his inventions to force him to surrender, having no weapons left.
  • The pemiultimate boss fight against Captain Buttbreath, er, Bootlick, er, Bootcamp in Scaler portrays his lizard-form as a giant Leviathan head in the middle of an acid lake. You're forced to avoid his fireballs, fire breath, and attempts to eat you while occasionally transforming into the acid-spitting Fruzard to shoot his eyes For Massive Damage.
  1. Unless your New Game+ has been Hijacked by Ganon.