Top 10 Toughest NES Game Bosses

No controllers were harmed during the making of this feature

I’ve been hearing it more and more the last few years.  “The Dark Souls games are the equivalent of old-school NES difficulty”.  While I do agree that the Dark Souls series does feature some of the most teeth-grinding, fist-clenching, controller-smashing moments in video games, I’d also have to disagree with comparing it to the difficulty of games on the NES.  Gaming as a medium was completely different back then. We were in ancient times where the instruction manual was the only “help” we were given, and the majority of these manuals came down to – “A” button jumps and “B” fires your weapon – have fun!  If you were really lucky you’d find a tip line phone number hidden on the last page that you could call on your rotary phone, and it’s only 99 cents per minute!  Go beg your mom for her credit card and then we’ll slowly walk you through the labyrinth that is Metroid!  Gaming on a child’s budget?  Head on down to the local video rental store and get yourself a crusty copy of Secret Video Game Tricks Codes & Strategies on VHS!  The game you’re having difficulty with just might be featured!

Most younger gamers today could probably handle themselves pretty well when playing the original Ninja Gaiden, but I can almost guarantee that a good portion of them will take a trip to YouTube when they find out how difficult it is to traverse through stage 2-2.  I’m not poking fun at the younger generation of players when I say this. Hell, even I take advantage of YouTube playthroughs of NES games.  My point is that we didn’t have access to much help at all in the 80’s & 90’s, especially if the majority of our friends didn’t play a lot of video games. Difficulty in games was a whole lot different back then. Sure, we got tips in gaming magazines, but that’s nothing compared to a good YouTube playthrough video. Nintendo Power got me through The Legend of Zelda but didn’t help at all when it came to defeating Mike Tyson.  Magazines simply couldn’t teach timing, something everyone would need to defeat a difficult boss.  In this feature, I’d like to take a trip back in time and discuss 10 of the most difficult bosses in NES history.  To some, these bosses are easy but that’s only because they’ve played the game so much that they’ve trained their brain to react exactly at the right moment, but trust me, even the best gamers had some difficulty when facing these foes the first handful of times.

10. Jason Voorhees – Friday the 13th

Top 10 Toughest NES Bosses Jason

Being the only boss in the game, besides his mother’s decapitated head, Jason Voorhees makes several appearances throughout this infamous LJN title.  Running into him during the side-scrolling sequences proves to be a tad difficult, but when he decides to jump out at you while inside a cabin will really test your reflexes.  Like in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, your viewpoint is behind your camp counselor’s head with Jason’s mammoth sprite sporadically moving from left to right in the background.  Dodging is key but timing proves most difficult due to the game’s built-in lag.  At the beginning of the journey Jason is quite slow and thankfully unarmed, but the final battle features a super-fast Jason wielding a very large machete.   The hardest part of this battle is the underwhelming conclusion.  After all your hard work, basically killing the un-killable, you will be greeted with this message:






9. Mecha Mr. Big – Narc

Back in the early 90’s Narc was the equivalent of Mortal Kombat when it came to violence.  Shooting an enemy with a bomb was followed by a glorious explosion of body parts, which was really shocking to my 10-year-old self.  I’m not afraid to admit that I never got to the end of Narc when I was a kid.  It wasn’t until recently that I attempted to beat Mr. Big and shut down his drug fueled organization.  The key word here being “attempted”.

The first time you fight Mr. Big in the game he’s a weak old man in a wheelchair, but it’s not until the end of the game where you’ll see his “upgraded” form.  Mecha Mr. Big is a creepy large head on top of a robot-like spider.  I wouldn’t even attempt to fight Mecha Mr. Big unless you have a 2nd player to draw his fire.  In his first form, he’ll shoot electric tongues out of his mouth, that is until you blow off his sunglasses with a bomb.  Once his glasses are off he’ll start shooting fire out of his eye sockets and move around a bit faster.  If he manages to touch you just give up because it becomes impossible to move.  If you do manage to blast his skin away you’ll reveal his final form, which obviously is his skull.  My only advice is to keep firing and remain as far away from him as possible.  If player 2 keeps him distracted you just might get enough shots in and end his reign.

Mike Vito has been a slave to gaming ever since playing his grandfather's Atari 2600. A collector of all things retro, his main focus is obtaining a full NES collection. Being a father has rekindled his spirit for Nintendo and he now spends most of his time teaching his daughter about the games of yesteryear. Check out his other work in Pat Contri’s Ultimate Nintendo: Guide to the SNES Library. Follow him @veryevilash on Twitter Current favorite games: Air Zonk, NHL Hitz 2003, Castlevania Symphony of the Night, & Super Dodgeball.

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