Whether you love them or you hate them, the bosses of video games are often some of their most iconic aspects. They’re overwhelming forces there for you to fight and overcome, and when they really kick your butt, they ensure that you remember them forever. On a rare occasion, however, you get to be a little closer to the bosses than that.
Sometimes, whether through a canon story moment or some manner of bonus mode, you get a few blessed moments to actually take command of their awesome power for yourself. Quick disclaimer here: we’re specifically talking about instances where you’re supposed to control a boss. Cheats and hacks don’t count.
10 Master Hand – Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Since the very first Super Smash Bros. game, players have been trying to find ways to take control of the series’ enigmatic mascot and boss, Master Hand. From the original Nintendo 64 game to the Wii U and 3DS games, this was only possible through external methods like Gameshark Codes, and the process was shaky at best.
However, in the climax of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s World of Light mode, we finally got it for real: a chance to control Master Hand as he takes on wave after wave of Puppet Fighters sent forth by Galeem and Dharkon. Now if we could just get a turn with Crazy Hand…
Galactus serves as the ultimate enemy at the end of any Marvel Vs Capcom 3 Arcade run, summoning empowered Heralds and pummeling you with cosmic beams. Galactus was a pretty hard boss in the original game, being difficult to stun and possessing multiple massive, screen-clearing attacks.
For everyone who got heated trying to beat him, Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3 provided a peace offering: the ability to play as Galactus. In Galactus mode, you take control of the Devourer himself as he conquers an entire Arcade ladder of teams in his quest to sate his eternal cosmic munchies.
Metal Gear REX was the first modern Metal Gear unit introduced way back in the original Metal Gear Solid. It was piloted by Liquid Snake, who wanted to use it to start a global thermonuclear war. Fast-forward to Metal Gear Solid 4, and Liquid Ocelot is menacing the world in a Metal Gear RAY.
What does Snake do? Why, take control of Metal Gear REX of course! Finally, after multiple games and many more years, you could finally command a Metal Gear yourself, stomping hordes of Gekkos before you take the fight to RAY and Liquid Ocelot.
7 Shao Kahn – Mortal Kombat 9
The original Mortal Kombat featured a gaggle of boss combatants that you could only take control of yourself through the use of cheat codes. It makes sense, as back then, characters like Shao Kahn and Goro were absolutely busted in the balance department, so the developers couldn’t let you control them, at least not in normal gameplay.
Fast-forward to Mortal Kombat 9, though, where the balance is (a little) better, and they finally gave us the chance to control the ruler of Outworld and his top generals, at least for a few rounds in Mission mode.
6 Dark Beast Ganon – Hyrule Warriors
At the end of Hyrule Warriors‘ story mode, Link and company once again take on Ganondorf in his fully-realized form, the Dark Beast Ganon. He’s a tough customer, being especially large even by Warriors game standards.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Warriors game if they didn’t let you play as absolutely everyone, which is why, thanks to a bit of post-launch DLC, players could take command of Dark Beast Ganon in a handful of special missions. In these missions, he’s even bigger than when you fight him, and you get to use his dark might to carve through thousands of enemies at a time.
5 Vergil – Devil May Cry 3: Special Edition
Unsurprisingly, seeing as he’s Dante’s twin brother, Vergil is one of the hardest bosses in Devil May Cry 3, especially when you fight him for the last time at the very end of the game. As this was the first game he was introduced in, he left quite an impression on players thanks to his cold demeanor and lightning-fast iaido swordplay.
That popularity turned into full-on hype with the release of the special edition of the game, which allowed players to control Vergil for an entire run through the game of his own. In addition to the iaido stylings of the Yamato, he also had access to the Beowulf Devil Arm, the Force Edge to mimic Dante’s sword style, and his own Devil Trigger.
4 Bowser – Super Mario Odyssey
We’ve had plenty of opportunities to take command of Mario’s arch-nemesis over the years, from his stint as a co-star in Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story to his more canon-lite appearances in Mario Kart and the various sports games.
However, the instance at the climax of Super Mario Odyssey where Mario uses Cappy to assume direct control of Bowser deserves special mentioning, as he is quite literally controlling the big guy after he’s spent the entire game being menaced by him. That’s probably one of the most literal examples of “controlling the boss” on this entire list.
3 Risky Boots – Shantae: Half-Genie Hero
Risky Boots is the central recurring antagonist for the entire Shantae series, a vicious pirate queen who seeks to conquer Sequin Land through the use of various magical artifacts. Prior to Half-Genie Hero, the closest we had ever gotten to controlling Risky was Shantae making use of her various pirate gadgets in Pirate’s Curse.
In a special DLC mode for Half-Genie Hero, though, Risky got her very own arcade-style adventure where she traveled the world, collecting items with the express purpose of taking Shantae down. She makes use of many of the same gadgets Shantae did, plus a few other dirty tricks.
2 The Boogeyman – Silent Hill: Downpour
Throughout the Silent Hill series, those unlucky enough to wander into the town often receive some manner of a personal tormentor, with the most obvious example being Pyramid Head. In Silent Hill: Downpour, Murphy’s tormentor is the hulking Bogeyman, a representation of the man who killed his son, and perhaps a bit more.
However, the Bogeyman isn’t exclusively Murphy’s tormentor; he’s also the personal demon of Officer Anne Marie Cunningham, and in her case, the Bogeyman represents Murphy himself, as he (allegedly) attacked her father. This is why, when Murphy confronts Cunningham after sorting out his own issues, he takes on the guise of the Bogeyman and fights her. It could be said that you are Cunningham’s final boss.
1 Riku – Kingdom Hearts: Chain Of Memories
On several occasions throughout the story of Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Sora is attacked by Riku, utilizing his dark powers to halt his ascent through Castle Oblivion. As we learn later, though, this isn’t actually Riku, but merely a replica crafted by Vexen as an experiment.
He does have all of Riku’s abilities, though, which is why it’s so exciting when you beat the game and unlock Reverse/Rebirth mode, an entire story mode where you get to control the real Riku navigating Castle Oblivion’s basements. After spending so long getting bodied by Riku Replica’s Dark Aura attack, getting to unleash it yourself is a very special kind of satisfying.