With part 3, we're getting into the territory of good bosses that don't quite hit their full potential. Maybe there's a cool mechanic that redeems an otherwise lackluster boss, or maybe a fun fight that could clearly have been something more. Not exactly disappointing, then, but not a full success either. Let's call them Mid(ddle of the road) Bosses.
Today introduces several new games and the list's first final boss. Which poor Big Bad could it be?
70. Armogohma (TP)
There are definitely some controversial picks on this list, but I think Armogohma as the worst boss in TP is about as accepted as it gets. It's a giant eyeball spider that has very little to do with its dungeon and makes an unconvincing effort at fighting back. TP has great boss themes, but Armogohma's isn't even particularly memorable.
Still, TP is good enough at making dramatic fights that even its worst one is still better than a solid chunk of the series. Armogohma may be lacking in... most things, but you have to give it that it is absolutely massive and that attacking it with statues is unique.
69. Lanmolas (aLttP)
Lanmolas fails the fighting back test about as hard as a boss can. They're three worms that jump out of random points in the sand and spray dirt around. Sure, the dirt is dangerous, but it's not even clear that they know you're there, let alone that it's meant to be an attack.
Thankfully, they're an extremely fitting boss for a desert dungeon and fighting three bosses at once is memorably unique. Sometimes atmosphere is enough.
68. Dera Zol (FS)
All of the bosses in FS try to make use of the four player co-op in one way or another, with varying degrees of success. Dera Zol's attempt basically consists of occasionally spawning three phantom copies of itself, so all the players could attack one and someone would find the real boss. It's unique, but not very interesting, and the rest of the fight just has you charging it with the Pegasus Boots until you've pushed it into freezing water.
67. Armos Knights (aLttP)
This was the first Zelda boss I ever fought, and quite possibly the first from any game. I like the idea of facing off against a small army like this a lot, but since most of their attacks aren't directly targeted at you, they feel more like an automated defense system that a battalion of hostile knights. They also don't feel connected to the Eastern Palace. I think they might've worked better either with a miniboss or enemy that foreshadowed the fight.
That said, the second stage of this fight is unforgettable if you don't know about it going in.
66. Shadow Nightmare (LA)
LA's six-stage final boss is the lowest ranked on the list. As much as I love multi-stage bosses, LA squanders it by reusing four previous bosses (Aganhim, Moldorm, Lanmolas, and Ganon) from aLttP and the regular gel enemies from LA itself. The final stage, Dethl, is the only one that's truly new, and it's just some spinning arms that aren't particularly threatening.
If this had been a warmup fight before the real Big Bad, I'd probably have ranked it significantly higher. There's nothing inherently wrong with its design, other than that the boss room is a little small, but it's not new and interesting enough to succeed as a final battle. Even if it makes thematic sense for Link to face off against nightmare versions of aLttP bosses, surely they could at least have new abilities to shake things up?
65. Phantom Ganon (OoT)
And here come a block of bosses where I love the idea, but not so much the execution. Phantom Ganon ends a spooky dungeon full of ghosts and unnerving music by attacking you from a ring of paintings while imitating the Headless Horseman. It's a brilliant concept for a boss that, on paper, is one of the best in the series.
Unfortunately, the game's camera isn't really up to rotating as quickly as you'd want it to for this fight to work, and poor Phantom Ganon has to move pretty slowly in order to give you a chance of fighting back. Once you've knocked him off his horse, you're transported to the Hylian Open and have to defeat him in a singles tennis match. This section works well, but later iterations of Phantom Ganon would do it better, which leaves the original back here at #65.
64. Gouen (FS)