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In the Street Fighter series, a Boss Character, or usually just Boss, refers to characters who are usually stronger than playable characters.
Boss characters tend to have higher attributes than playable characters. They tend to break character balance by not abiding by the norms of regular characters. Boss Characters can usually have the speed of fast characters like Vega, have the HP of characters like Zangief, and have high damage outputs like characters Birdie, all without the hinderances that characters of each of their character archetype have to deal with.
Boss characters can also tend to have borderline broken attacks, Gill has Super Arts that can take about half of the HP bar on blocking. Gill's Super Arts tend to not be comboable unlike Urien's but they are much stronger.
A Boss fight should not be confused with a Rival Battle, while in both the CPU tends to be set at high, a rival battle character tends to not be stronger than a playable version.
Street Fighter seriesEdit
Bosses in the series tend to have high requirements to battle. These can vary from game to game, like reaching the requirements to reach Akuma in 2nd Impact then beating Akuma with a Super Art to make him revive as Shin Akuma. In the Street Fighter IV games, certain actions during the way to Seth can give players an extra battle against a boss. One common requirement is that the player cannot lose a fight against a single character, even other boss characters, and continue, being reflective of how bosses will only appear to worthy and strong fighters.
Bosses tend to have weaker playable versions. Akuma is probably the most famous example, the playable version is explained as being weaker than his boss counterpart by holding back purposely during fights. Akuma tends to have slower fireballs, less damage, and slower specials than his "Shin" Counterpart.
Urien was created to be a weaker "Tournament Legal" version of Gill in the Street Fighter III series. In-universe he is also stated to be inferior. He does overall less damage, his normals do not inflict "chip damage". and his Super Arts are much weaker and simpler overall. Urien does not have the "Resurrect" ability of his older brother.
The Street Fighter II series is notable because in its first iteration The World Warrior there are four unplayable bosses. These characters did not have requirements (other than beat the playable characters) to face and could not be used by the player at all. In this game, bosses tend to have these similarities.
- Most of their attacks register as fierce.
- Their attacks tend to have very little recovery, this is notable in their "real" fierce attacks.
- They tend to be high speed (Vega and Bison both walk faster than Chun-Li)
- Their aerial attacks remain active throughout their jump arc.
- They tend to have 1 attack where they take double damage.
In the Champion Edition update, these characters were toned down. Interestingly even the CPU uses the toned down former boss characters.
In Super Turbo a real boss character was added in Shin Akuma. This character can not be stunned and has faster projectiles than playable characters.
Boss characters occasionally receive playable status, this is even if their "playable" equivalent is available. In some games like Capcom Fighting Evolution Shin Akuma becomes playable at the cost of having very low HP. In "Double Impact" for the Sega Dreamcast, Gill is available for "New Generation" and "2nd Impact", alongside Shin Akuma, despite their playable versions (Urien and Akuma) being fully integrated. In this instance, both boss characters retain their same overpowered state.
Weakness Justification Edit
The Akuma line of bosses tends to have a justification for their weaker status when chosen by the player. As stated before, the playable Akuma is holding back to not abruptly end his battle against "weaker" opponents. Oni is said to be stronger than Akuma, but the playable version is said to still have part of Akuma holding him back. This restriction is not present for the boss version.
M. Bison occasionally has boss forms as well. His stronger forms are justified as being enhanced by machinery or other means, while the playable version just fights using his base Psycho Power.
Gill is uniquely his own character, and in consideration with his "elite paragon" themes, has mastered his own ways of the Secret Society's martial arts along with his own birthright given abilities. This, along with how he is considered the Emperor and "messiah" of the Secret Society, demands his attention to leadership than street fighting and engaging with the world, unlike Ryu, or must "reserve" his strength for the "worthiest" of foes. Urien in turn, as the President and less powerful of the two brothers, serves rightfully as a "nerfed Gill."
Gouken is a unique case regarding boss characters, as he is considered to be a "shotoclone" or Ansatsuken character who limits himself in story, and player-wise, demands almost veteran experience of Street Fighter to realize his full potential, being a more defensive and strategic fighter. It is believed his boss form is him akin to Shin Akuma but instead powered by the Power of Nothingness as a benevolent counterpart.
Seth as a playable character is in fact the "real" personality in the line of "Seth" bodies created by S.I.N., being number 15, and yet, in a turn of events, the weakest one out of all of them. The cast fights the rest of the line of clones in Arcade Mode, and are implied to be powered by the Tanden Engine in the backgrounds of the Secret Laboratory and Destroyed Laboratory stages.
- Boss version of playable characters tends to have visual cues to make them look more formidable than the playable counterparts. Shin Akuma visibly releases more red aura than the playable version and the boss Oni floats around rather than walk like the playable Oni.
- Final Bison is a rather odd example of a Boss Character in Street Fighter Alpha 3. Rather than him being considered different by the game, Final Bison is simply activated by a flag check (to see if it is the final battle of the Arcade Mode and M. Bison is the final enemy). With a cheating device, all a player has to do is have the check on and Final Bison becomes playable by selecting the regular Bison in the Character Select.
- In the post-Super Street Fighter IV installments, some characters included underboss characters in Replay Mode include the all of the Shadaloo Four Kings (Balrog, Vega, Sagat). This may be due to both the abundance of characters in other game categories and out of remembrance as the former three being once exclusive to fight against only in Arcade Mode in the original Street Fighter II.