Best Final Boss Battles in the Final Fantasy Series

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin Chaos

Best Final Boss Battles in the Final Fantasy Series

The final boss battle in any Final Fantasy game exists as the ultimate spectacle to conclude a lengthy and memorable adventure. The party’s journey into a labyrinthine final dungeon and fight against the game’s primary antagonist are often bombastic and challenging encounters, representing the culmination of each game’s epic journey. Players grow to become acquainted with the protagonist and their companions while simultaneously eagerly anticipating what grotesque form the game’s antagonist might take in the final climactic battle against them.

Over more than 35 years of series history and 16 mainline entries, some of the final bosses players face off against clearly stand out as more memorable or complex than others, with some encounters definitively being the most challenging fights players can experience in the game and others being incredibly relevant and impactful in the context of the game’s narrative. Whether they’re mechanically complex or satisfyingly conclusive, the fights on this list represent the best of the Final Fantasy series‘ final boss encounters.

10. Cloud of Darkness (Final Fantasy III)

Final Fantasy III gameplay

Even though it’s technically the weakest final boss battle of the first three games in the series, Final Fantasy III‘s fight against the Cloud of Darkness is a thrilling encounter that requires players to exhibit mastery over the game’s Job system, the first in the series. After having an entire game to learn jobs and craft the custom party of your dreams, players must strategize their party composition and play to the strengths of each hero. The main aspect preventing Cloud of Darkness from ranking higher is the awarding of the game’s two best jobs just before tackling the final fight, somewhat trivializing what’s otherwise a very taxing challenge.

9. Emperor (Final Fantasy II)

Final Fantasy II gameplay

The first Final Fantasy treats players to an iconic and incredibly challenging final boss, but its first sequel in Final Fantasy II significantly ups the ante to make players go head-to-head against a multi-phase battle with intricate and disturbing sprite work for each form the Emperor takes. After first beating the Emperor, he literally goes to Hell and back only to challenge the party again, only this time requiring players to head into his dimension of chaos, Pandaemonium. The fight earns some points for being the first final boss in the first Final Fantasy to truly elevate its story and build up its antagonist, but it ultimately falls somewhat short of others on this list for being easy as long as players have a Blood Sword in their possession.

8. Necron (Final Fantasy IX)

Final Fantasy IX gameplay

Some final bosses present as cinematic showpieces rather than providing players with a suitable endgame challenge. Necron is not one of those bosses. Even though Final Fantasy IX is a well-balanced game that gives the player plenty of opportunity to strengthen their party while not requiring too much from them in terms of level-grinding, Necron is an incredibly tough encounter that will quickly wipe players if they enter the fight without proper preparation. Not only that, Necron doesn’t have any discernable weaknesses or exploitable attack patterns, continually keeping players on their toes should they hope to stand a chance and see the game’s conclusion.

7. Chaos (Final Fantasy)

Final Fantasy gameplay

Outside its importance of being the first final boss fight in the series, Final Fantasy‘s Chaos has the potential to be a frustratingly short encounter thanks to the foe’s attacks that can one-shot the party. In addition to its challenge, the fight against Chaos also illustrates the final transformation of the game’s antagonist Garland, whose singularly-focused ambition toward attaining ultimate power and removing all threats to his goal results in the tragic and shocking evolution of the individual Garland into the all-consuming entity of Chaos personified. Chaos isn’t simply the first final boss in Final Fantasy, it practically writes the rulebook for every series boss that comes after it.

6. Ultimecia (Final Fantasy VIII)

Final Fantasy VIII gameplay

Like Necron, Final Fantasy VIII‘s Ultimecia is a final boss that can provide a substantial challenge while also showcasing the brilliance inherent in its design. With very few weaknesses and an attack that can reduce the entire party’s HP down to 1, challenging Ultimecia is no trivial ordeal. Thankfully, Final Fantasy VIII provides players with plenty of exploits to make their party overpowered in the face of any challenge the game throws at them, and Ultimecia is no exception. As an additional bonus, the final dungeon that players have to make their way through before fighting Ultimecia is one of the best final boss lairs in the series.

5. Neo Exdeath (Final Fantasy V)

Final Fantasy V gameplay

Prior to fighting against Neo Exdeath, players have to make their way through a complex final dungeon that forces them to revisit several iconic locations from throughout Final Fantasy V‘s adventure. In side each of these dreamlike sequences is one of Exdeath’s many lieutenants, each of which had previously been sealed within the eternal darkness of the void. Each one of these fights is worthy of being its own challenging final boss encounter, and then players still have to face off against the sentient tree wizard’s final form. The sprite for Neo Exdeath is one of the most intricate and disturbing in the series as well, highlighting the various forms of hatred that Exdeath’s tree form is capable of manifesting.

4. Zeromus (Final Fantasy IV)

Final Fantasy IV gameplay

After spending most of the game going up against Golbez, the final hours of Final Fantasy IV reveal that not only is Golbez the long-lost brother of the game’s protagonist Cecil, he’s being manipulated by an even more insidious force hiding within the moon. Players learn about and then quickly meet Zemus, who then transforms into the hideous Zeromus. This final form is a monstrous eldritch horror that threatens to consume all humanity on Earth in order to preserve the planet for the Lunarians, but thankfully the party has an entire cadre of companions awaiting their victory back home who send them strength through prayer and wish. An incredibly satisfying final battle to one of the best games in the series, and bonus points for having one of the best boss battle themes from series composer Nobuo Uematsu.

3. Ultima (Final Fantasy XVI)

Final Fantasy XVI gameplay

Thanks to some of the bosses on this list from the earlier games in the series, Final Fantasy has a reputation of making players face-off against supreme beings in its final boss encounters, including some games where the player must actually fight their world’s version of “God.” Playing into this trope is Final Fantasy XVI, whose final boss battle against Ultima embraces each of the longstanding series cliches surrounding “fighting God” while also providing players with one of the most jaw-dropping spectacles during the actual fight. Clive is a capable warrior and the only human capable of being the vessel for Ultima to be reborn, and watching the two of them trade blows is maybe the most spectacular boss enconter in the series.

2. Kefka (Final Fantasy VI)

Final Fantasy VI gameplay

Between its incredible boss theme and obvious use of religious iconography, Final Fantasy VI‘s fight against Kefka is one of the absolute best in the series despite not requiring much from players in terms of strategy if the heroes are properly leveled. After spending the second half of the game hiding from Kefka, gathering the party and building their strength, players launch the final assault on his tower in a bold show of defiance. Kefka’s desire to eliminate all hope from the world presents a dark future that the heroes of Final Fantasy VI are willing to fight against, even at the cost of their own lives. The question over what happens to magic once Kefka dies does little to waylay the party, and the epic boss fight and emotional ending to Final Fantasy VI help to cement its narrative as one of the franchise’s best.

1. Safer-Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VII)

Final Fantasy VII gameplay

Few games in the Final Fantasy franchise build up their antagonist as much as FInal Fantasy VII does with Sephiroth. By the time the party arrives at the Northern Crater to stop the genetically-engineered demigod (or die trying), the game has given plenty of signs to show that the final confrontation will be far from easy. First fighting Sephiroth’s initial form and then squaring off against the entity Jenova one last time, the final form of Sephiroth is undoubtedly one of the most iconic boss fights in the series. Accompanying the fight is one of the most recognizeable pieces of music in the series’ history, Nobuo Uematsu’s “One-Winged Angel”, setting the stage for what is sure to be an epic encounter. Beyond the fate of the world being at stake, the party is getting revenge against Sephiroth for all the pain he has caused, including the loss of Aeris.

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