Zelda 30th Anniversary | Top 15 Bosses

By Az Elias 24.02.2016 12

Before Link can lay claim to whatever precious item is being guarded or rescue trapped maidens sealed behind the final door of a dungeon, an exceptionally tough foe awaits to make him work for it. Sometimes small and sometimes towering over the hero, Link endures epic, heart-pounding and brutal battles with these bosses, and throughout the series, there have been many standout encounters. Taking a variety of reasons into account - including fun, amusement, quirkiness and difficulty - the Cubed3 team picks out 15 memorable bosses from The Legend of Zelda series.

Helmethead - The Adventure of Link

Image for Zelda 30th Anniversary | Top 15 Bosses
Looking back at Helmethead from the second dungeon of The Adventure of Link, it is rather crazy how tough this guy seemed back then. After all, checking out videos online now shows how he can be overcome in about 30 seconds by some smart gamers. However, for an eight-year-old lad with not much gaming experience under his belt, after struggling through the actual dungeon itself, facing annoying enemies that moved their shield up and down rapidly to block the hero's sword jabs, the prospect of tackling this souped up warrior as a boss was something that instilled dread into my stomach and had such an impact that it remains one of the most memorable of battles, despite its relative simpleness compared to other boss encounters in future The Legend of Zelda adventures.

Jump, jab, retreat. Rinse and repeat. Basic, right? Well, the thing is, knocking off the first and second layers of protective headgear, whilst avoiding Helmethead's own strikes, was made all the more tricky since incoming pain-inflicting balls of light were being emitted from his...head, eyes, mouth...nostrils? Who knows? All that mattered was that they were flying around in abundance, and after removing two layers from his noggin' it meant even more were present as those parts of his helmet came back to life, floating around and attacking Link at the same time.

Yes, there are more exciting bosses, and those that have far more intricate attack patterns, but Helmethead caused a young boy trauma, and managed to ingrain himself in my memory forevermore.
- Adam

Jalhalla - The Wind Waker

Zelda has bosses big and small, frightening and fearsome, but it also tends to have more light-hearted ones. Enter Jalhalla, one of the goofiest bosses in the franchise. Starting out as a bunch of Tingle-looking entities running around for no apparent reason, the spirits collect themselves into a large, fat version of them. Jalhalla floats around the room, dropping fire at Link from its lantern.

Being a ghost, Link can use the Mirror Shield to reflect light at Jalhalla, forcing him to temporarily take on a corporeal form. With the boss becoming solid, Link can lift Jalhalla (a feat in itself) and toss him toward the spiked pillars lining the room, after which Jalhalla splits into his smaller, panicked forms again, and defeating all of these is the key to winning the fight. The defeated giant Jalhalla will still try to get away, but a ray of light finds him and puts him to rest for good.
- David

Twinmold - Majora's Mask

Image for Zelda 30th Anniversary | Top 15 Bosses
Video games have a history of bug-like bosses with tough exoskeletons and few exposed weak spots. Majora's Mask's Twinmold is one of the older examples of this. Adding to Stone Tower's mystique, Link must jump into a portal to be teleported to the middle of a desert, with stone ruins overlooking the desolate landscape, and here the giant sand worms Twinmold make their stand.

Link will need the Giant's Mask to make Twinmold pick on someone its own size, as the twin snakes wrap and writhe around the desert knocking over ruins (which contain health and magic for Link). It's the first of many colossal boss fights in the Zelda series, but perhaps the only one that lets Link size up to match his enemies, and the kaiju-tinged fight stands out as one of the most unique in Zelda lore.
- David

Stallord - Twilight Princess

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In the depths of the Arbiter's Grounds, Zant tries to put an end to Link by resurrecting the bones of an ancient dragon. The top half of the dragon sticks out of the sand, spewing flames and summoning its minions. Link takes off on his Spinner, circling the arena and dodging attacks to aim at the boss's spine, crumbling its bones and weakening it in a life-size game of pinball.

Upon defeat, a giant platform rises from the sand, but Stallord isn't done yet. Now a flying, floating head, Link must use the Spinner again to ride the walls of the arena and the platform, dodging Stallord's fireballs, until he can get close to knock the head out of the sky and give it a good taste of the Master Sword.
- David

Agahnim - A Link to the Past

The dark wizard Agahnim set a few trends with his inception in A Link to the Past; namely the tennis matches that involve whacking balls of energy back and forth until it hits the enemy in question, and the clichéd plot twist of being the prime antagonist until the truth is revealed later in the game.

These elements have arguably been overused in future titles, but Agahnim remains one of the most iconic bosses of the series, and has become so from his sole appearance in the SNES classic alone. Sure, he lives on as one of the Shadow Nightmares in Link's Awakening and a resembling wizard mini-boss in Oracle of Seasons, but Ganon's alter ego has perhaps been forgotten over time, even if his Dead Man's Volley "mini-game" hasn't.

There isn't a place for the return of Agahnim in the canon series, but an appearance as one of the villains in a potential Hyrule Warriors 2 certainly wouldn't go unappreciated.
- Az

Volvagia - Ocarina of Time

When did a little Whac-A-Mole ever go amiss? It's almost certainly a bit of a cliché by this point, but it really is an appropriate comparison. Volvagia is a long, Japanese-style dragon who pops his head out of one of the dozen or so lava-filled holes on the platform surrounding Link, presenting himself as a terrific target for trying out Link's brand-new Megaton Hammer. After getting smacked around a bit, Volvagia takes to the sky and causes an avalanche of burning boulders to rain down, dealing a solid amount of damage if Link happens to be slammed by one.

Perhaps the best part of the fight is the almost cartoon-like sound effect of a stunned Volvagia - there are no birds or stars orbiting the dragon's exposed head, but taking the Megaton Hammer to the face like that nonetheless leaves the mighty beast dazed and vulnerable to the vorpal slices of the Master Sword… or, even better, the Biggoron Sword.

After the Hero of Time has thoroughly, and quite literally, smashed Volvagia's face with a hammer, the wyrm rises from the molten stone and flies one last circle around the arena, bursting into bright flames as the evil resurrection magic of Ganondorf fades, leaving behind nothing but a Heart Container. The scourge of the Gorons has been defeated; the Sworn Brother of the Gorons has once more saved them from certain doom.
- Aria

Gohma - The Wind Waker

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The Sky Spirit Valoo is upset, and no one can seem to find out why. Sitting atop his volcano, he's become prone to fits of rage - and you would, too, if a giant lava bug named Gohma was harassing your posterior region. Gohma has seen a few upgrades since past games, including thick armour that Link must remove before the fight can properly begin.

Using the Grappling Hook to manoeuvre around the cavern, once Link has removed its armour, the classic Gohma eye is revealed, ripe for the attacking, so long as Link avoids the creature's fire breath. The whole battle is a fantastic display of The Wind Waker's beautiful graphics, with lava, smoke, and the flowing textures of Gohma's body up front and centre, with all their reds and oranges and blacks offset by Gohma's glowing green and pink eye.
- David

Blind the Thief - A Link to the Past

Not often does Link pluck up the courage and gear himself up for an epic battle before entering the dungeon master's room, only to find nothing is there. A multitude of thoughts must be going through the lad's head when he steps into the boss arena of the Thieves' Hideout in A Link to the Past. Relief? Confusion? Suspicion? Perhaps the compass is broken? There is little else for Link to do but further explore the rest of the underground retreat to solve this mystery.

Discovering what is apparently the fourth captured Maiden in one of the cells of the dungeon, suspicions are exacerbated when she stops Link from taking her outside of the exit. Venturing further and bombing a cracked floor on a higher level of the area to allow sunlight to reach the boss room below, it isn't until taking the Maiden to this now-brightly-lit chamber that the true nature of this "young lady" is revealed; befitting of a crafty and untrustworthy thief itself, the disguise vanishes, and Blind, once leader of the gang of thieves that occupied this hideout and in cohorts with Ganon, finds his sneaky plan is ruined.

During battle, Blind's inhumane form miraculously rebuilds its head, as the previous ones fly off around the room, spitting fireballs at Link, after he manages to deal enough damage to the criminal monster. Through carefully watching its predetermined movements, however, one of the craftier bosses in the series, Blind the Thief, is overcome.
- Az

Trinexx - A Link to the Past

Befitting of a penultimate dungeon boss, Trinexx is no pushover in the slightest, and punishes players that aren't topped up on magic-replenishing potions. Since the fire and ice heads on either side of the enemy are weak to the Ice Rod and Fire Rod, respectively, the nature of the battle means magic power depletes at an alarming rate, as the two elemental weapons are used to stun the heads and grant an opportunity to hack with the sword. With both heads spewing trails of fire and ice that causes the floor to stay slippery, Trinexx causes a lot of problems as it attempts to lay into Link with its centre rocky noggin and swipes with its tail.

Once the two necks at the side are destroyed, Trinexx retreats into its shell before it escapes from the remains and chases Link around the arena. Any ice patches created on the floor from the previous round at this point can be the cause of death, so careful control and accurate swings of the sword at the middle of the foe's body are required to finish Trinexx off and complete the Turtle Rock dungeon.
- Az

Link's Shadow - The Adventure of Link

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Strangely, Link's Shadow is both one of the most difficult bosses in the franchise and one of the easiest. The side-scrolling combat of The Adventure of Link is notoriously difficult, with the Iron Knuckles commonly cited as challenging enemies because of their strength and defensive capabilities, but Link's Shadow combines extreme defence with the ability to jump and move quickly. Coming immediately after Thunderbird, who can only be made vulnerable through the use of the spell with the highest MP cost in the game, Link has already taken quite a beating before he reaches this final room to confront his own darkness.

Luckily, a simple exploit renders Link's Shadow, the final boss of the game, an absolute joke; crouching and stabbing in the corner makes Link himself invulnerable to attacks. Since the doppelganger will charge in and stab, it's just a matter of time before Link, crouched in the corner and occasionally jabbing with his sword, lands enough blows to defeat his inner darkness made corporeal. This is a boon to players because Shadow Link is almost impossible otherwise. Iron Knuckles, Lizalfos, Wizzrobes, and even the Fokkas are nothing compared to this foe - a fitting end boss to what is widely considered the most challenging game in the franchise.
- Aria

Goht - Majora's Mask

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Fighting against the giant mechanical bull thing by putting on the Goron Mask and charging like crazy at it was simply fun. There was no fear of falling off, and there was really no worry of losing the fight, since it was very easy, but it was nonetheless unadulterated, unabashed fun, which was something that Majora's Mask sorely needed at that point.

Majora's Mask is undeniably a dark entry in the franchise, so having a fight where a spiky Death Wheel of Doom controlled by the player ripped around a circular arena and flung itself into a gigantic bull was welcome relief from the gravity of the rest of the game. Though the lightning bolts were frustrating at times, Goht remains one of the most memorable bosses, solely on the basis of fun.
- Aria

Majora's Mask - Majora's Mask

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Over the course of a repeating three days, Link has freed the giants from their dungeons, and gathers them at the Clock Tower to hold the moon in place. Furious, Majora's Mask abandons its puppet Skull Kid and flees to the moon itself. Link and Tatl give chase, and the final confrontation with the evil mask begins. First it attacks as a large mask with long tendrils hanging from it, summoning the remains of the game's four bosses to assist it in battle.

Once defeated, the mask sprouts arms and legs, running at fast pace (and sometimes walking backwards), while emitting warped, chicken-like sounds in a downright creepy second tier battle. Once the wiggly, screechy thing is finished, it beefs up and grows a new head, calling itself Majora's Wrath, and attacks with whip arms and piercing laughter. After defeating its final form, the mask disintegrates and takes the awful moon with it, and Termina's impending destruction is finally undone.
- David

Bongo Bongo - Ocarina of Time

One of the most peculiar and downright bizarre bosses in the series' history has to be the rhythmic beast, Bongo Bongo. In Ocarina of Time, Bongo Bongo is the boss of the Shadow Temple, once sealed deep within the bottom of the well in Kakariko Village. Like most bosses, it lurks within the shadows, but has the ability to travel across surfaces and become practically invisible, making it a tricky foe to overcome.

After riding a rickety old ghost ship and exploring a chilling, haunted dungeon, Bongo Bongo serves up the climax - a creepy monster that has dismembered hands that are used to pound drums, and slap, grab and squeeze the life out of its victims. It's down to Link to use the Lens of Truth to keep the boss in view, keep its hands at bay, and give its glowing red eye a poke with the Master Sword. Bongo Bongo is a toughie, but, with persistence and the Hover Boots, can be overcome by sticking to its rhythm.
- Jorge

Twinrova - Ocarina of Time

As one of the later bosses in Ocarina of Time, Twinrova was one of the more challenging foes to conquer; one that needed solid reflexes and a good mastering of the Mirror Shield to win.

This particular boss is made up of two segments. The first is a battle against two aging witches; the surrogate mothers of Ganondorf. Both are draped in black robes and are known to be extremely dangerous within the Gerudo, able to wield unforgiving magic. It's down to Link to pit them against each other, with the Mirror Shield being essential to deflect the opposing magic against the other sister. When the pair has had enough, they merge together into the diabolical Twinrova, powered up to fire a combination of both fire and ice attacks.

Interestingly, the duo is named after two older twin sisters in the Japanese novel The Village of the Eight Gravestones, with Koume's name coming from a Japanese pickled plum and Kotake's meaning a type of bamboo.
- Jorge

Shadow Nightmares - Link's Awakening

There is a certain trepidation about battling the Shadow Nightmares. With all the knowledge Link has gained thus far, and all the hints towards what he sees being not reality, but a dream that will end once the Wind Fish awakens, it's a conflicting situation he finds himself in. Koholint Island and all of its inhabitants will disappear with the defeat of these dream-infesting foes, but he knows he has no choice but to end the nightmare.

A nightmare it truly is, as well, as, after working his way through the Wind Fish's Egg maze, some of the toughest enemies Link has faced are reborn to do battle in Shadow Nightmare form. The Giant Gel begins the fight, and is seemingly impervious to just about anything Link does to it…until a sprinkling of Magic Powder is thrown in an almost "last resort" course of action. Link's A Link to the Past memories expand further when Nightmare versions of Agahnim, Moldorm, Ganon and then Lanmola spring to life, operating and attacking in very familiar ways as their real counterparts. They are generally simple enough to work out how to beat, with some requiring strong weapons or sword Spin Attacks to put them down, but it is the final Shadow Nightmare, DethI (Death Eye), that poses the biggest threat. Spinning its arms around its body, gradually in faster and more out-of-sync motions, Link needs to use the Roc's Feather to time his jumps well, shooting arrows at its single eye that occasionally opens a hefty number of times to finally destroy the Shadow Nightmares once and for all and reveal the truth behind Koholint Island…
- Az

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Comments

I'm only 65% ashamed to say I can only beat Link's Shadow the fraidy-cat way.

( Edited 30.10.2017 02:04 by Guest )

NNID: crackedthesky
My blog, mostly about writing: http://www.davidjlovato.com

Twinrova, Stallord, Bongo Bongo, Volvagia - some of the best. Was awesome to hear the dinosaur/dragon OoT boss music in the Stallord battle, too.

( Edited 30.10.2017 02:04 by Guest )

I don't think I ever have, either, Crackedthesky. And if I did, it was only thanks to save-stating just before the fight, which doesn't really count.

( Edited 30.10.2017 02:04 by Guest )

Has Anyone Really Been Far Even as Decided to Use Even Go Want to do Look More Like?

Twinrova, without a doubt, was my favourite! I quite liked all the OOT bosses really, each memorable in some way. The clown bloke from Link's Awakening is pretty memorable, too! A unique set we voted for, I think it's a good mix of the more unique bosses. Quite a lot post OOT where really just rehashes of the same sort of concept. 

( Edited 30.10.2017 02:04 by Guest )

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

A lot of people seem to love Twinrova, but I just found them really annoying. I can't stand them! x)

My favourite boss is actually out of one of my least favourite Zelda game. Koloktos from Skyward Sword was a bit of a "wow" moment for me. The ability to pick up the bosses massive sword and to be able to swing it with the motion plus felt really satisfying (despite my overall dislike for the motion controls). The mechanic of tearing its arms off with the whip weapon was really cool and the music was fantastic, too!

( Edited 30.10.2017 02:04 by Guest )

Our member of the week

Maybe it has to do with the fact that I haven't played the more recent games quite as many times as the older ones (due to them not having been around for quite as long or me not having quite as much time to replay them since I entered adulthood, take your pick Smilie), I don't have any vivid memories of any bosses beyond Majora's Mask/Twilight Princess. I can't even remember the bosses from the DS games all that much. Actually that's not true there was one where the point of view through the bosses' eyes was displayed on the top screen while the top down classic view where link is controlled was done on the touch screen, I remember that and I remember thinking that it was quite clever and remarkably pulled off on the humble DS hardware that was originally not supposed to be able to display 3D on both screens at once, let alone two different camera views altogether.

EDIT: Oh yeah, that boss was Crayk in the temple of Courage, in Phantom Hourglass. I thought that boss fight was well made with the aforementioned new thing they tried with it.

( Edited 30.10.2017 02:04 by Guest )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

 

jb said:
Twinrova, without a doubt, was my favourite! I quite liked all the OOT bosses really, each memorable in some way. The clown bloke from Link's Awakening is pretty memorable, too! A unique set we voted for, I think it's a good mix of the more unique bosses. Quite a lot post OOT where really just rehashes of the same sort of concept. 

OoT definitely has the most memorable ones. I think every boss in that game was enjoyable or clever/unique.

Marzy said:
My favourite boss is actually out of one of my least favourite Zelda game. Koloktos from Skyward Sword was a bit of a "wow" moment for me. The ability to pick up the bosses massive sword and to be able to swing it with the motion plus felt really satisfying (despite my overall dislike for the motion controls). The mechanic of tearing its arms off with the whip weapon was really cool and the music was fantastic, too!

This is about the only post-Twilight Princess one that really stood out to me. I even YouTubed this one when finalising the list, and I definitely think it's one that could have made it here.

Like Rudy tho, there's very little else that stands out to me after TP. Can remember nothing from the DS, save for one or two, and it didn't feel like anything in Minish or SS (aside from maybe Koloktos) was particularly interesting or fun enough to deserve a spot here.

( Edited 30.10.2017 02:04 by Guest )

I thought Tentalus and Scaldera were fun fights. The Imprisoned fights were fun but sort of wore themselves out, but that's more of a mini-boss.

( Edited 30.10.2017 02:04 by Guest )

NNID: crackedthesky
My blog, mostly about writing: http://www.davidjlovato.com

 

crackedthesky said:
I thought Tentalus and Scaldera were fun fights. The Imprisoned fights were fun but sort of wore themselves out, but that's more of a mini-boss.

Oh, yes, the tentacle sea monster? Yeah, good shout. I think how the boss starts attacking before the actual fight was a cool way to introduce it, but that whole dungeon in general was a good one. Hated the Imprisoned fights. Recurring bosses in the same game are something I never want to see in Zelda again. Unless they're, you know, really fun and with good reason. Imprisoned was not fun.

( Edited 30.10.2017 02:04 by Guest )

Our member of the week

Azuardo said:
Imprisoned was not fun.

And they brought it back in Hyrule Warriors... UGH!!

( Edited 30.10.2017 02:04 by Guest )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

 

RudyC3 said:

Azuardo said:
Imprisoned was not fun.

And they brought it back in Hyrule Warriors... UGH!!

Was that only in Adventure Mode or something? I've only really gone through the story mode. I hope it isn't as frustrating as in Skyward Sword...

( Edited 30.10.2017 02:04 by Guest )

Our member of the week

Azuardo said:
 
RudyC3 said:

Azuardo said:
Imprisoned was not fun.

And they brought it back in Hyrule Warriors... UGH!!

Was that only in Adventure Mode or something? I've only really gone through the story mode. I hope it isn't as frustrating as in Skyward Sword...

Yup I did the same as you, only played through the story, the game was lent to me I didn't buy it, so wanted to just play for the story, not so much for completion. The imprisoned is in the story mode, on a map with gorons if I recall right and you had to catapult bomb flowers at the sucker cause it likes to fly XD.

( Edited 30.10.2017 02:04 by Guest )

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

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