SNK Wiki

The SNK Boss Syndrome is an unofficial term coined by fans to describe the infamously high difficulty of SNK's fighting game bosses.


The syndrome manifests by an overall weakness that is made up for by unfair advantages. There are several recognizable traits that can be linked to a small number of core symptoms typically stemming from poor programming.

Arbitrary advantages over playable characters in the game

  • Attacks with unreasonable damage, priority/hitboxes, speed, range or recovery
  • Greater defense than average
  • Immunity to chip damage
  • Unavoidable moves that hit the player regardless of their position, and can only be blocked

Disregard for established gameplay rules

  • No dizzy state when featured in the game
  • Infinite or costless super special moves
  • Unblockable moves

Absence of reaction time, command input and "human error"

  • Ability to read the inputs of a human player and/or appropriately reacting to the player's inputs at the same time as (or even before) the player's own character does
  • Inhuman consistency in achieving maneuvers that require precise timing or difficult commands
  • Never falling for a command counter unless initiated during the start up of the boss's attack
  • Ability to follow up every hit with a combo on reaction regardless of the frame window of the first hit
  • Ability to execute special and super special moves without inputting a command
  • Ability to do so on reaction
  • Ability to counter a fast attack with a faster super move on reaction

This syndrome is often looked down upon as a lazy way of adding difficulty, by putting unfair disadvantages in the way of the player instead of taking the time to design a genuinely challenging AI. SNK bosses typically suffer from various programming flaws as well, leading to exploits and patterns that are most often the easiest way to defeat a boss.

Notable SNK Bosses

Geese Howard


In Fatal Fury: King of Fighters, his signature projectile, Reppuken, was an extremely fast projectile that was easily spammable and could cut off a third of the player's health, along with having incredible priority. His counter throw can trigger on any attack and can even be canceled into itself after an attack.


In Real Bout Fatal Fury Special, Geese returns as the game's True Final Boss only if the player has a high enough score after beating Krauser. This incarnation, commonly known as Nightmare Geese, is a much tougher fight. Not only do his Reppukens have absolute priority, but he can fire two Shippukens and two Double Shippukens in the air, in a row. If the player loses to him once, it's an instant Game Over, with no chance of retrying.

Rugal Bernstein


Although the SNK Boss Syndrome technically originated from Geese, the term is more closely associated with Rugal, starting with his appearance in The King of Fighters '94. While his first form is very easy, his second form is considerably harder. He has two separate projectile attacks which he cam spam continuously and his signature move, the Genocide Cutter, not only has absolute priority (literally no other move in the game can beat it, not even desperation moves) but can also easily shave off up to 75% of the player's health. Because his AI reads inputs he will almost always counter a jumping or dashing attack with the Genocide Cutter.



Goenitz is very difficult to hit, due to the way his AI is programmed, to the point that he could become invincible depending on which routine his AI decides to follow. His Yonokaze ("Koko desu ka?"), which can come out in a set area, cannot be rolled through and can negate all projectiles. Since Yonokaze can be summoned near Goenitz, rushing in head first towards him or just even approaching him increases the chance of getting hit. It is possible if the AI goes into a loop and does it repeatedly, the player cannot approach him in any way whatsoever due to the move's fast recovery. As such, Goenitz can potentially chip the player to death via a blockstun infinite. Goenitz also has an infinite Power Gauge, and his Shin Ya Otome: Mizuchi can catch a player even if he is a full character length away from him.


  • Although named after SNK, the syndrome can be found in many other fighting games, and is not exclusive to bosses; higher difficulty settings are likely to have the AI engage in some degree of this behavior.
    • This is horribly obvious in most recent Capcom games such as the Street Fighter IV series and notoriously in the two versions of Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
    • A prime example of the SNK Boss Syndrome in Capcom games is in Shin Akuma, who is notorious for reading the player's commands on top of a well-programmed AI, with damage and speed boosts, but thankfully, weak defenses and life.
  • In The King of Fighters All Star, a category of characters called "Boss Syndrome Characters", appears as playable variants of KOF bosses. These characters include Rugal (based on his '95 incarnation), Orochi, Krizalid, Original Zero, Igniz, Nightmare Geese, Leona and Goenitz. As a play on words, the characters are abbreviated as BS Characters, referring to "bullshit", a term many players use for unfair gameplay.

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