Legend of Zelda Boss Rush

Boss fights are one of the best parts of any Legend of Zelda game, so what could be better than having all of the bosses fight each other? For rankings on a list, of course. The Occupational Safety Hazards Administration of Hyrule has very clear rules on cage fights, and as such no bosses will be harmed during the making of this list.

So, what makes a good Zelda boss fight? Mostly the same things that make a good fight in any game. We need a cool design for the boss itself, a sense that we're really fighting a dangerous foe, and unique mechanics that make the battle stand out from the crowd. It's great if there's a battle-specific soundtrack to keep us motivated, and you can't go wrong sprinkling in some dramatic setup and setpiece moments. I ranked the 94 boss fights I've completed across the entire series based vaguely on my gut feelings about those factors, usually accompanied by a quick watch of someone else doing the fight to jog my memory about exactly how each boss works. This list is mostly reflective of what Zelda Wiki considers to be a boss, but I did add in a few minibosses that I felt deserved a spot. Additionally, any bosses that have multiple forms were merged, so TP's Ganon and MC's Vaati will only appear once, for example.

Now, the only problem with making a boss rush article is that I don't actually like all of the Zelda games, and because of that I haven't finished all of them. Any bosses I've never seen before can't be fairly included here, obviously. While that might sound like a major problem, it isn't. Seeing is believing, after all, so the only logical conclusion is that if I've never seen a boss, it's a lie made up by Big Dungeon to trick innocent Hylians into staying indoors. As such, all of those bosses will be banished to the "scandalous lies" tier.

Scandalous Lies:

LoZ: All except Aquamentus

AoL: All except Horsehead

OoT: Bongo Bongo and beyond

MM: All except Odolwa

OoS: Dodongo and beyond

OoA: Shadow Hag and beyond

ST: everyone!

SS: everyone!

TFH: everyone!

BotW: All but Waterblight

Those lies out of the way, let's begin with the very bottom of the list:

94. Moldorm (LBW)

Unlike a lot of Zelda players, I actually like the original Moldorm fight in A Link to the Past, and it's going to be a long time before we see that bouncy worm on this list. The original Moldorm doesn't do that well by my criteria for a good fight - it doesn't fight back, it's just a series of circles, there's no unique theme, and it has zero relevance to the plot. LBW's iteration really takes those problems to the next level, though, because it came around over two decades later and adds basically nothing to a fight that has already been done to death. This is the fourth boss named "Moldorm" in the series, and it's hardly any more interesting than a regular enemy from Link's Awakening. Terrible.

93. Morpha (OoT)

Morpha is actually fairly unique among the bosses I've fought, but it falls flat on its lack of a face in every other respect. It spends most of the fight moving back and forth in the hope that you'll walk into it, which hardly makes for an epic battle. Worse, it's an amorphous blob with an eyeball stuck in it, and it doesn't have unique music or any plot buildup.

92. and 91. Aquamentus (OoS and LoZ)

I can understand why the original Aquamentus is boring. We're talking about the very first boss in the very first Zelda game, so no one had any expectations for the fight and Nintendo couldn't even fully trust that you knew how to play the game yet. Still, I can't give a boss that basically just stands there and occasionally shoots fireballs any higher of a ranking than #91.

But it's OoS' repeat of Aquamentus that earns the even lower 92 spot, because it's practically the same fight repeated a decade later. This was a great opportunity to buff up Aquamentus and give our unicorn/dragon friend a proper moveset to challenge Link, but instead it still mostly stands there and shoots a few fireballs.

90. Big Poe (FSA)

Big Poe comes in above four other bosses almost entirely because I like the design of its face mask. Otherwise, you're looking at a fight that consists of turning on four lanterns and then whacking ghosts for a bit until you win. If not for that cool design and being a good fit for its environment, Big Poe might be bottom of this list.

89. Blaaz (PH)

Blaaz is a mostly passive fire wizard who bounces around the room, shoots fireballs, and splits into smaller Blaazes when hit. It's an uninteresting fight made worse by PH's terrible boss music, but it does at least pass the unique mechanics test. Blaaz requires you to draw boomerang paths that hit each of its split bodies in one throw, which gives it a slight edge over some of the other bottom-dwellers.

88. Big Moldorm (FSA)

Big Moldorm is one of the biggest departures from the Moldorm formula, which doesn't say much because the other fights don't depart at all. It has you fight two Moldorms at once and requires the matching-color Link to hit the tail. It's not a meaningful way of introducing co-op to the fight, and the fact that the tail colors are determined randomly is just annoying. Still, it gets points for at least giving Moldorm a cool new look.

87. and 86. Dodongo (OoS and OoT)

Dodongo passes the cool design test, but woefully fails the fighting back test. OoS Dodongo basically just wanders around the room and eats your bombs, and while throwing it onto the spikes is a nice twist, it feels more like bullying than an epic battle against a dinosaur. King Dodongo, meanwhile, at least breathes fire at you occasionally, but it spends most of its time walking in circles and holding its mouth open like it thinks Link is a dentist. A real shame, because a fire-breathing dinosaur should be a shoo-in for a higher rank.

85. Slime Eel (LA)

Slime Eel looks like a regular enemy and spends the fight spinning its tail in a circle and randomly popping out of holes in the wall. Would it behave any differently if Link wasn't there? It's hard to tell. The only things this fight has going for it are that LA's boss music is very good and that using the Roc's Feather is always fun. Neither of those have anything to do with this boss specifically, though, so Slime Eel can only manage #85.

84. Slime Eye (LA)

The idea of a giant splitting eye would eventually be done well in Titan Souls many years later, but LA's decision to limit it to a single round of splitting keeps Slime Eye from reaching its true potential. Two big eyes bouncing around just isn't that much more interesting than one giant one, and it doesn't help that it looks like a jelly bean with a googly eye pasted on.

83. Moldorm (LA)

The first boss of LA is a simplified repeat of the regular Moldorm. That would be bad enough, but it doesn't even have anything to do with Tail Cave. The Roc's Feather isn't helpful at all and bombs aren't much better. It's another boring Moldorm repeat, but there's not even a good reason for it to be there.

82. Arrghus (LBW)

This is a good fight, but it's coming in at #82 because it's completely outclassed by the original version of Arrghus. LBW gives our flying octopus fewer puffballs, a smaller arena, and seemingly even a less aggressive final phase. On top of all of that, it takes place in a tiny arena instead of the original giant room. It's still fun, but it's hard to not be disappointed when it had already been done so much better.

81. Cylock (PH)

I like Cylock's design and love the way it uses the DS screens. You're playing on the lower screen and need to place bombs into tornadoes to hit Cylock as it floats around the top screen. Unfortunately, while that's unique and fun, the core mechanic of throwing bombs in tornadoes had already been done several times and wasn't ever very satisfying.

The list so far:

81. Cyclock (PH)

82. Arrghus (LBW)

83. Moldorm (LA)

84. Slime Eye (LA)

85. Slime Eeel (LA)

86. Dodongo (OoT)

87. Dodongo (OoS)

88. Big Moldorm (FSA)

89. Blaaz (PH)

90. Big Poe #1 (FSA)

91. Aquamentus (LoZ)

92. Aquamentus (OoS)

93. Morpha (OoT)

94. Moldorm (LBW)

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