The Legend of Zelda is the only series I can count on for an engaging, challenging boss fight every single time. Don’t get me wrong- other games out there offer exceptional fights, but Zelda consistently provides epic, top-notch ass-kickings unrivaled by any gaming franchise to date.
So in an ode to Zelda’s amazing bosses, here’s my top 5 battles. They occur across the games, in a variety of dungeons, palaces and temples Link finds his little elf way into, Note: I haven’t played Majora’s Mask through completely, so forgive me. Haters don’t hate!
5. Armos Knights
Eastern Temple Boss(es) in A Link to the Past (1992)
The first boss fight and first dungeon set the standard for the rest of the game. It’s a solid, challenging fight, with a great score. Those crazy knights hop all over the place– it’s pretty disorienting upon first try. And if you haven’t stocked up on arrows you’re pretty much screwed. Keep that in mind.
It’s possible I have a soft spot for this boss fight because A Link to the Past (SNES) served as my Zelda initiation. This was my very Zelda boss fight in a long line of such fights, leading me to this moment in time when I knew all of my hard virtual work would come to fruition in a gaming article on a radical lesbian website with a Leftist Agenda.
Reward for winning: Courage Pendant
4. The Diabolical Cubus Sisters
(no, really, that’s what they’re called) Ghost Ship Boss, Phantom Hourglass (2007)
These ladies are tricksy! We begin as your character is exploring a Ghost Ship (aptly creepy– did you look at this picture?!). You run into this distraught young woman, who very innocently puts her case to you: she seems to have misplaced her sisters and she needs your help to find them. Since you’re a a tiny heroic elfin thing in a green tunic, naturally you oblige. And hey that was real nice of you, but then the sisters say they are going to take you up to the top deck to reward you, which sounds kind of kinky or fishy. Which is when you figure out you have been DUPED! That shit turns into witches who wanna kill you with lasers.
This boss fight is great (once the sting of betrayal fades) in large part because its mechanic takes full advantage of the DS’s dual screens; the Sisters are shooting down at you from the top screen to the bottom screen, and you have to play a sort of volleyball with them to win, knocking their own balls of energy back at them to inflict damage. This new twist on an old Zelda staple (the death-match volleyball type game appears in Ocarina, Windwaker, and Twilight Princess) makes this a perfect synergy of old and new. Something borrowed, something…possessed by Satan, shooting lasers at you?
Reward: Ghost Key
3. Bongo Bongo
Shadow Temple Boss, Ocarina of Time (1998)
Seriously, I think this is the bangin’est boss fight in the whole Zelda series, on top of being extra fucking creepy. Bongo Bongo’s body is invisible until you manage to hit each of his hands with an arrow in quick succession. All while his hands are busying themselves with slapping the giant drum you’re standing on (which makes this shit turn into a moonbounce) and you know, trying to smash, punch, and throw you. Once you get the timing down, it’s time to get trigger happy. Sword happy? Hilt happy?
The “take out the hands to get to the eye” strategy is another random Zelda staple (there are countless other boss fights employing an identical mechanic), but this is far and away my favourite instance of it. Bongo Bongo is a satisfying end to a great temple. Gotta recommend playing this one with the volume obscenely loud to get the full effect of his tribal drum thumping.
Reward: Shadow Medallion
Final Battle in Twilight Princess (2006)
Remember when I mentioned deathmatch volleyball as a staple of Zelda games? The final boss at the end of Twilight Princess is Ganon (as it often is at the end of most Zelda games), and you have to fight him in four forms. First, he possesses Princess Zelda (gasp!) and you have to beat her at Volleyball of Doom before he turns into a giant boar thing, which you have to bite to death as a wolf with the help of Midna, your whack-ass fairy. Next, you chase him around the picturesque Hyrule field on your horse with Zelda, whacking him with your sword when she stuns him with Light Arrows. Which is the kind of arrow a you find in the quiver of a princess.
Once you knock him off the horse, you get to sword fight and it isn’t easy; the AI is clever and unpredictable. On top of the ABSOLUTE GLORY of winning, you find yourself pleasantly surprised to discover that not only is Midna alive and well, but she’s actually a total fox!
Reward: Uh, you win the game. Shit’s OVER. And presumably, you reward-bang Midna.
Spirit Temple Boss, Ocarina of Time (1998)
When Koume and Kotake, two homely old witch sisters, team up to kick your ass, this is what happens. And it ain’t pretty. Meet Twinrova, a.k.a. my FAVOURITE BOSS EVER.
(Aside: some research just caused me to discover that Koume and Kotake are apparently both surrogate mothers to Ganondorf? What the frack? Is there a biologist present who can explain that?)
The beauty of this battle is the strategy required to win: Koume uses fire attacks and Kotake uses ice attacks, and earlier in the Temple you just happened to stumble across this fancy mirror shield that allows you to deflect beams away from you. That’s some Yin Yang shit right there.
Logically, the first half of this battle consists of hitting the witches with the elements they are weak to- deflecting Koume’s magic to hit Kotake and vice versa. If you aren’t poised and ready for their attacks, they hurt. A lot. After knocking each witch around a bit, they decide to “get serious” and do their “Double Dynamite Attack” to become Twinrova.
Twinrova winks at you rather saucily and then goes on to attack you with alternating balls of fire and ice. To me, Twinrova is the perfect boss battle- I remember playing it for the first time when I was about 12 and getting endlessly frustrated with the strategy. When I finally did win, my exultant moment set off a chain reaction of first-pumps and victory the likes of which you’ve never seen.
Reward: Spirit Medallion
* Dark Link, Mini-Boss / Pre-Boss Boss of the Water Temple in Ocarina of Time
Dark Link is actually a Mini-Boss, but it’s my list and he’s getting an honourary mention for being harder than the Water Temple’s real boss. This asshole mimics your every move, making fighting him the most infuriating thing I have encountered in the whole Zelda series! Of course, this is an indication of well thought out AI, which is why he gets an honourary mention. Also, Taylor apparently has never defeated Dark Link in that Super Smash Brothers Melee level on Gamecube and “hates the fucker with the fire of a thousand suns.” Smug little fuck.
* Ganondorf at the end of The Wind Waker (2002)
Many Zelda fans were disappointed by Wind Waker but I actually liked it quite a bit. I thought it brought some much needed levity to the series, and showed that Zelda was capable of being both fun and cartoony, while offering some seriously challenging puzzles. This fight always gets me nervous, if only for Ganon’s sheer size over Link and his showoff swordsmanship. But lo, the fight ends as it tends to when Ganondorf is involved: with the Master Sword up in his grill.
Don’t feel like rummaging around to find your whole Zelda collection?Check out this sweet compilation of every final boss fight in the Legend of Zelda series:
I haven’t played Zelda since I was a kid but that game showed me in a much more profound way than Super Mario Bros. what a game could be. I loved blowing up walls with bombs and finding secret treasure.
My next big Aha moment was when I played Final Fantasy 7 years later.
That saucy Twinrova minx. If I remember correctly, the banter between those two after defeat was rather entertaining as well. Sweet column.
I had mentioned this before but for some reason Twinrova terrified the shit out of my sensitive teenage soul.
My opinion is that Zelda bosses are *technically* not THAT difficult. Until they are.
Great story, Kim! I have SO much Zelda catching up to do. For some reason I never owned it! I watched someone play the original on NES as a kid, so the music still has that amazing nostalgia factor. Also, I FUCKING HATE DARK LINK. He’s such a jerk!
thank you Taylor! I have SERIOUS issues with Dark Link as well. *nods*
Nerd confession: I may or may not still own a blue ocarina with a tri-force symbol on it, which I may or may not have taught myself to play back in the day
Your secret is safe with me, Ali G! =)
Nerd Confession: I am jeals of your ocarina skills.
nerd confession: I have a zelda TATTOO.
Morgan, that is AWESOME. Nerd confession: I WANT a Zelda tattoo bad. May be my next one. What do you have??
I got really into Ocarina of time when I was about 10. That Twinrova boss always scared the shit out of me. Actually the spirit temple in general was just terrifying.
the spirit temple was crazy scary! right there with you.
I HATE DARK LINK TOO. He’s absolutely impossible in SSBM, I swear.
LOVE that you posted this. all my memories of age 12 playing ocarina of time just came flooding back. i agree, spirit temple – scary as shit, but the desert was one of the best worlds and that boss was great. anyone else think the name volvagia (fire temple boss) was perhaps a lesbian dragon? lol
oh and if i remember correctly…weren’t the desert women kinda hot?
Strange how some Zeldas stick in your mind more for epic fights and atmosphere (Link to Past, Ocarina of Time), others more for the overall mechanics and quirks (Wind Waker, Minnish Cap, Four Swords, Majora’s Mask to an extent).
I don’t recall the spirit temple in OoT being that scary, I think I was far more freaked out by the forest temple – was that the one where you hit things to make it all twist round? There is much in Zelda that has caused me great fear over the years. Remember in OoT also, there were those mummy type things that would jump on your back and dry-hump you? I was so relieved when you could get a mask in MM so you could pass as one of them and talk to them. Nice chats > zombie-humping.
The desert ladies were deffo hot though, I recall spending ages trying to ninja around there before realising you could just shoot them all with arrows and, oh, slaughtering a tribe of virtual hot lady-thieves has never been so satisfying.
I must stop now, I could really blather on all day about this. Let me just say awesome technostraddle topic as always!
The forest temple was real scary, you’re so right. not to mention confusing with all the twisty.
Those ReDead’s gave me soooo many nightmares as a child, with all their choke holds and their dry-humping.
the desert ladies were for sure made of lovely! no argument here. =)
Zelda is legend.
OH DARK LINK. The only way I figured out to kill him was by casting my very expensive magic at him OVER and OVER again. This was the only thing he couldn’t mimic.
I also have a soft spot for the Ring-o-fire Ganon at the end of Ocarina of Time, but that game was pretty formative for me…
If I recall, the best way to kill Dark Link in the water temple is to use the megaton hammer and attack near the tree.
I definitely went the magic and hammer route against that f*cker! You guys just get me, you know?
BUT HOW DO I KILL HIM IN SUPER SMASH BROS MELEE
Like anything in SSBM, it involves sacrificing a controller to the god of button mashing.
WITH THE POWER OF THE TRIFORCE.
i thought finding out that midna was a fox was the best part of finishing the game. i loved midna.
Why the cubus sisters? everything from Phantom Hourglass is extremely easy. Although i loved the gameplay and puzzles, the game posed almost no challenge. What should be up there is Thunderbird from Zelda II, or Moldorm in Link to the Past, or even the third Rocktite from Spirit Tracks (even though Spirit Tracks is only somewhat harder than Phantom Hourglass, this mini boss is extremely frustrating.
the Cubus Sisters stand out to me as one of the bosses that most exploited (in a good way) Phantom Hourglass’ combat controls and the DS’ dual screens. It was a pretty easy fight I guess; like any LoZ fight, it’s easy once you work out the strategy. Despite that, I thought it was a pretty exhilerating battle.
I haven’t played Spirit Tracks yet, sadly! Is it better than or on par with Phantom Hourglass?
agreed, it was good because it used the DS’s dual screens.
Besides, most Zelda bosses are easy once u figure out what to do. Miyamoto said hes going to make zelda even easier to try and cater to casual gamers. I hope he isn’t too serious with this. As I would like zelda games to be *more* difficult not easier. After playing so many of them you just kinda know what to do and bosses seem to mimic each other.
Spirit Tracks is much better and fixes alot of aspects and adds a lot of more exploration. But its only just a little harder though. I’m not saying i hate the two games, i absolutely love the gameplay and cleverness, but i want some difficulty.
I feel like Miamoto has been blue ballin’ us for the past five years, i hate it. He sai he’s going to make Zelda Wii perfect, but by making it easier he’s seriously wrecking it. It’s like how the’re making Metroid Other M have aouto lock on when in 2D mode, the whole point of 2D metroids is the fackt that you have diretional buttons to shoot in all directions but you’re actually doing it. Nintendo has become a real asshole and is taking after Apple.
I liked Ganondorf from Ocarina of Time. Mostly because my brother was shaking like a spaz when he was fighting him. So hilarious. Didn’t know where to look at, brother or the TV screen.
I remember playing so many different zelda games growing up, but my fondest memory was just fishing in the Ocarina of Time. I never really liked the stress of fighting bosses.
SO delighted about all the debate this is stimulating!
I actually had no trouble with Dark Link.
The only thing is, I got the BigGorron sword immediatly after I became Adult Link.
And since Dark Link can’t Equip the Biggorron sword, every attack hits.
What’s up, Kimbit? You mention death-match volleyball for Ocarina, Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess, but no lovin’ for Link to the Past? It had it in there twice.
Also, I may or may not own my own Ocarina of Time, and this may or may not be the best article I read today. Results are inconclusive at this stage. Keep up the good work.
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