USgamer's RPG Podcast Explores the Best and Worst Boss Battles

AXE OF THE BLOOD GOD: What are the best RPG boss fights? And what makes a good RPG boss fight in the first place? Nadia and returning guest Steve Tramer join Kat to dissect this crucial aspect of creating a good roleplaying game.

Column by Kat Bailey, .

Axe of the Blood God is our weekly RPG podcast hosted by Kat Bailey. You can find the show notes for previous episodes here.

In this week's episode of Axe of the Blood God (download link here), Nadia and returning guest Steve Tramer join me to explore a crucial aspect of every good RPG - boss fights.

Boss fights can mean a lot of things in an RPG: they can be a tutorial, an opportunity to extend the story, or just a good old-fashioned challenge. Strong boss fights can mean the diference between a good RPG and a great one. There's a lot about this topic to unpack; and honestly, we probably could have gone at least another hour. But I feel pretty confident that we at least got close to the heart of what makes a good boss fight tick.

Next week: It's still up in the air! But I'm sure we'll find something to talk ab out. We always do.

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Show Description

What are the best RPG boss fights? And what makes a good RPG boss fight in the first place? Nadia and returning guest Steve Tramer join Kat to dissect this crucial aspect of creating a good roleplaying game.

Music from Axe of the Blood God is courtesy of Lena Chappelle, who has also contributed the themes to Active Time Babble and Roleplayers' Realm. I also use music from the RPG Music Pack over at Check it out!

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Comments 12

  • Avatar for Voncaster #1 Voncaster A year ago
    I don't know about the best RPG boss.

    The worst RPG boss, for me, is Bed of Chaos from Dark Souls.
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  • Avatar for Kadrom #2 Kadrom A year ago
    As soon as I saw this in my podcast feed I said "Luca Blight"
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  • Avatar for JohnnyBarnstorm #3 JohnnyBarnstorm A year ago
    Recently I really, really liked that three-headed fight on that airship at the end of chapter.. 11 or 12? In Final Fantasy XIII. Fun mechanics, looks great. Another favorite was that terrifying wall boss in Secret of Mana.
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  • Avatar for The-Challenger #4 The-Challenger A year ago
    The Delilas family from Legend of Legaia was a memorable game moment for me because it encompassed five one-on-one boss battles in a row. Also, if you save before starting the fight and don't have the req. lvls. or items you basically had to restart the game. Much like the Wiegraf fight in FFT.Edited April 2016 by The-Challenger
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  • Avatar for camchow #5 camchow A year ago
    A lot of great mentions already, I really have to agree with Luca Blight though, I mean it's just an incredible part of the game finally having an army strong enough to not exactly beat the Highland army but to withstand it just long enough to draw Luca out and ambush him. The whole sequence was amazing and I love that even after all that, finally getting that bastard down, the game doesn't just say OK good job, happy end! No, life isn't that simple. Idk, I really loved that the conflict wasn't just about Luca.

    Anyway, I'm gonna cheat and also mention Secret of Mana and Mother 3's final bosses. Mostly because of how emotional they can be. Especially Mother 3, man that one's a tearjerker.
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  • Avatar for ghostsandgoblins #6 ghostsandgoblins A year ago
    Morrowind and Ultima Underworld both include sewer levels I enjoyed. Maybe KOTOR too, but they might have been trash dumps.

    My most memorable boss fight is probably the "bad people" at the Balmora Council Club in Morrowind. I had mostly stopped gaming for a time and I had no idea the experience could be so immersive. Standing outside the club's front door on a torrential night might be my most vivid memory of gaming. That game constantly blew my mind.

    Rygar (NES) is overshadowed by Zelda and Metroid, but it has my favorite collection of bosses in any game ever. They were wonderfully weird cosmic horrors. The Tower of Garba is essentially a series of boss fights and it was terrifying.
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  • Avatar for PlatypusPlatoon #7 PlatypusPlatoon A year ago
    I just wanted to say, even before I listen to this show, how much I love that Nadia is all but the permanent co-host of Axe of the Blood God by this point. Other than developer interviews, where some fascinating, nitty gritty details are often revealed, my favourite episodes of this podcast are the ones where Kat and Nadia are just shooting the breeze on some niche RPG quirks from obscure games that they've played over the years, having long gone off the beaten path from whatever the main topic was they were actually supposed to discuss. Those meandering tangents are really the best.
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #8 SatelliteOfLove A year ago
  • Avatar for WiegrafFolles #9 WiegrafFolles A year ago
    Nadia had it right. Luca Blight.
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  • Avatar for Neifirst #10 Neifirst A year ago
    Loved the episode! My username is from my favorite boss fight - Neifirst from Phantasy Star II. Steve had it right: when you meet her in Climatrol, Nei faces off against her solo and dies (permanently) from the encounter, so you lose your most powerful party member who had leveled far ahead of everyone else. The fight had all the elements you guys talked about: a pressure-filled situation, the first appearance of a particular music track, and major storyline implications. The Mother Brain fight mentioned is also epic as it takes place after fighting Dark Force, who's ordinarily the final boss in the series. And it has the most kick-ass ending!
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #11 nadiaoxford A year ago
    @PlatypusPlatoon Thanks much! I'm still new to this podcasting stuff in general, so it's good to know I'm not screwing it up royal.
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  • Avatar for yuberus #12 yuberus A year ago
    Gotta agree with Nadia throughout this one - Luca Blight is an amazing boss fight. Kefka, not so much. First time I went up against him in FF6 I wiped the floor with him in like three minutes. Fighting the previous segments of the boss was harder!
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