Tag Archives: Hardest

Toughest Video Game Bosses #2: RIOVANES CASTLE

Some games teach you to have alternating save games. Save in slot 1, then save in slot 2 next time. Rinse, repeat. This next game, and their series of bosses, serve to teach you this in the most brutal manner possible:

Final Fantasy Tactics

Riovanes Castle Fights


I’m lumping a series of 4 battles into 1 post purely because once you’ve gone into Riovanes Castle and completed the first fight, you’re unable to leave unless you load from an earlier save, or complete the series of battles.

The first one is easy enough. KO a load of generic enemies, and one rather weak non-generic guy called Marach. He loses, he runs away, you go through Riovanes Castle Gate, and run into…

hbvg2Wiegraf Folles, the White Knight! This is a duel boss, meaning your main character, Ramza, must fight him ALONE.


Alone, in a relatively small arena, where he has height advantage over you. Here’s where you learn whether your decision to level Ramza as particular classes was wise. There are ways of making this fight easy. You can have Ramza as a Squire, spam Tailwind to increase your speed until you get 2 turns for every 1 turn of Wiegraf, then wail on him one turn, and then outrange him the next.

You can be a Knight, and break his weapons and armor, or be a Thief and steal them. This reduces his attack, defense and health!

You can be a Dragoon and Leap at him. Leap makes you untargetable by Wiegraf, and then you crash down onto him for MASSIVE DAMAGE.

Each of these strategies are improved with the Chemist ability Auto Potion, which makes you quaff a potion when you get hurt, increasing your survivability without spending an action on it.

Trouble is, if you don’t know this fight is coming, you may well have levelled Ramza in a non-optimal way. Maybe you are the aforementioned classes, without the aforementioned abilities. Maybe you decided to level Ramza as your White Mage, Orator, or other low-damage, low defense class. Wiegraf could easily kill you in one or two hits! His White Knight abilities hit like a TRUCK, even on Knights wearing heavy armor. Squishier classes may well fall in one go. You have to get his health to 20% or below, so you can’t run away forever, you have to eventually stand and fight.

Perhaps you’ve not even levelled Ramza at all. Though he is present in damn near every story battle, maybe you’ve levelled other characters more in random ones. An underlevelled Ramza is a sitting duck against Wiegraf. Indeed, many people have memories of having to start the whole game again, simply because the way they levelled Ramza made the battle completely unwinnable.


Once you get Wiegraf to 20% health, it’s immediately followed by fight #3, against Velius/Belias. Immediately, as in you don’t get a chance to recover Ramza, so you go into this fight with the same buffed stats (if you went with the Squire Tailwind strategy), but also with the same health as you finished Wiegraf with. Woe betide you if you’re at a critical level and Velius or one of his minions goes first!

Yes, he notices your allies joined this fight, and he summons allies of his own.


Powerful Archaeodaemons, with attacks that can decimate you! Of note is their Gigaflare, which has no charge time, and thus comes out instantly. Most attacks have a small delay between when you select them, and when they come out (spells requiring incantations, that sorta thing), but Gigaflare has a charge time of 0!

Belias himself uses incredibly powerful attacks, and can inflict Silence, Confusion and Stone with his spells. Got some units clumped together? He’s gonna nuke them with a Summon ability (usually Cyclops), and if you hit him with melee attacks, he responds with a powerful Counterattack, capable of killing some lower defense units in one hit!

Beat him? Not out of the woods yet. You then move to the roof of Riovanes Castle for battle #4. At least you get to save before this one!


That character in the middle is named Rapha, and has just watched her brother die. She’s AI-controlled, and the level fails if she dies.

Those characters on the top are your enemies. The two girls are of the Assassin class, and are extremely fast. Not only that, but they have an attack called Stop Breath (or Stop Bracelet in the PS1 version) that instantly KO’s an enemy with a horribly high frequency. The bloke is also really speedy, and is of the Samurai class, which has really powerful AoE attacks. Your objective is to get one of the three enemies to a critical health level, whereupon the fight ends.

Trouble is, as mentioned, Rapha has just watched her brother die. She’s grief-stricken, and thus has slightly suicidal tendencies. She’ll make a beeline for Celia or Lettie, attack them with one of her ineffective attacks, who will then respond in turn by using Stop Breath, or one of their other powerful abilities. It’s kinda explained as her wanting to be reunited with her brother in death, her brother who has always been there for her, even in dire circumstances. Doesn’t make her running over to the assassins any less annoying!

This is usually before you can even act, too. This stage can be lost before you make a single action.

Before the fight, you need to optimize Ramza (or any of your team) for speed. You NEED to outspeed Celia and/or Lettie, and you NEED to KO them in one go, lest they go off and kill Rapha. Hello Ninja class, which is fast and can wield two weapons. It is possible that Celia and Lettie ignore Rapha to attack one of your characters; maybe a White Mage, or by using one of your other characters to block a direct path to Rapha. Consider this a 1 in 10 (15? 20? 100?) occurence!

Typical turn of events?

  1. Rapha runs towards the enemies and hits nobody with her attacks.
  2. You try and run over near her.
  3. Elmdore uses a powerful AoE attack that hits Rapha and probably Ramza.
  4. Celia and/or Lettie finish her off, or inflict Stop/Stone/Charm from range, and the OTHER one finishes Rapha off

Reload. Hope things go differently.

Screw you, Rapha (art by Akira_H on DeviantArt)

Screw you, Rapha
(art by Akira_H on DeviantArt)

So there you have it. Riovanes Castle, one of the most frustrating series of battles in gaming! Alternating between save slots is always a good idea; being able to load up a save from before you pass the Point of No Return and buy stuff/proper abilities is just so helpful if things end up going terribly wrong.



He who can snipe you through loading screens.

Toughest Video Game Bosses #1: MATADOR

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.