I intend this to be a series on the bosses I consider to be the most difficult, frustrating bosses in all of video games! Naturally, this is merely my opinion, maybe you have bosses you find more difficult? Or you consider the bosses I list easy? Let me know!
For now, we kick off with…
Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne
To understand what makes this boss so potentially devastating to you, you need to understand the battle system of Nocturne. It uses something called the Press Turn Battle system, whereby you take turns, and how many actions you can perform are indicated by how many icons appear in the top right.
There are 4 icons, therefore 4 actions, generally 1 per unit. You have 4 units? 4 actions! If you’re lucky enough to get a critical hit, or you hit an enemy’s weakness, one of those turn icons, instead of disappearing, turns into a “half turn” icon, meaning you can take more actions! If your attacks miss, or the enemy nullifies/drains/reflects the type of damage you tried to do, however, it consumes TWO turn icons, effectively REDUCING the actions you can take in your turn.
This applies to the enemy too. They hit a weakness, they take more actions. They miss you, they lose turns.
And so we get to the Matador.
In a lot of RPG games, you get various magical abilities. Nocturne is no different. They fall into several categories here:
- Attack magic: The most commonly used magic!
- Healing magic: 2nd most used, probably most useful.
- Status magic: Inflict status effects!
- Support magic: Buff stats, debuff stats, and remove stat buffs from your enemy/stat debuffs from you.
A lot of people tend to neglect support and status magic in most RPG’s. It doesn’t do direct damage or heal, so what’s the point? They may keep attack-boosting spells (in this game, Tarukaja boosts physical damage, Makakaja boosts magical damage), but other than that? Useless!
Not here. Not now.
Around 1/3 of the way through the game, in the Great Underpass of Ginza, you run into this bullfighting monstrosity. The first action he takes (and he WILL take the first action) is to use the ability Red Capote. This buffs his evasion to maximum levels.
Now, remember what I said about what happens if you miss attacks? You lose turns. This means you potentially lose precious healing turns!
He may be a speedy little bugger, but he also packs a massive punch, thanks to his powerful Force spell Mazan, which hits all of your party, and the physical ability Andalucia, which hits random targets several times. And yes, it is possible for ALL the hits to be on one character.
The trick with him (and many bosses in the game, and even random encounters!) is to use the spells that other games treat as useless. The debuffers. Dekaja will nullify his evasion boost (until he casts it again of course), and Dekunda will restore your defense to normal (his ability Taunt buffs your physical attack, but reduces your defence, which will make his Andalucia hurt even MORE).
He tends to get a bit nasty when you’ve knocked off half his health. He starts combining his Andalucia attack with an ability called Focus, which causes his next physical ability to do 2.5x the normal damage. Ouch. It’s tempting beforehand to equip your main character with a Magatama (the essence of a demon that confers elemental strengths and weaknesses and level-up abilities, usable only by your main character, the Demi-Fiend) that nullifies Force abilities, this way he loses turns every time he uses Mazan.
Thing is, Mazan is NOT his most dangerous ability, it’s Andalucia (and Focus/Andalucia especially), so equipping a Magatama that halves Physical damage is more helpful here. He won’t lose turns, but he won’t KO your main character so damn easily.
Oh, by the way, your main character’s HP reducing to zero means game over, even if you have other party members at full health, so watch out for that (Focused Andalucia’s hits all hitting the Demi-Fiend will probably result in a game over!). Having the Fog Breath ability on one of your demons will also be a big boost, as this reduces his evasion AND accuracy, and if he misses an attack? He loses turns!
Matador is a very rude awakening. While the rest of the game up to this point isn’t exactly a cakewalk, Matador is a massive spike in difficulty compared to what came previously, and usually requires special preperations to actually defeat (having a physical-resisting main character, a demon that nulls Force, a way to counter Red Capote, and a healer that can heal everyone at once), but also teaches you that this game is not like other RPGs. It teaches that buffing your stats and (more importantly) debuffing your opponents,or even simply dispelling them, is an incredibly important tactic, and that it’s in your best interests to have party members capable of using at LEAST Dekaja (nullify enemy stat boosts) and Dekunda (nullify ally stat debuffs), especially later in the game when enemies will start throwing Degenerate (lowers ALL your stats) at you.
Oh yes. The one that, if unprepared, causes you to have to RESTART THE WHOLE GAME.