Zelda Boss Rush Part 7

We're into the top 30 now, which is when the list starts to be dominated by the four Zelda games I particularly like. That might sounds like bias towards my favorite games, but it's really flowing in the other direction: Boss fights are one of my favorite parts of this series, so the games with the best battles are naturally my most-liked titles.

The other significant marker here is that every remaining boss is good enough that I sometimes find myself thinking "man, (boss) was good. I want to play (game) again so I can fight it." A handful of earlier bosses also managed that, but now it's thirty of them in a row. Who's first? You've seen the thumbnail, so you already know that it's...

30. Arrghus (aLttP)

Arrghus was a successful enough concept to get several later remixes that we've already covered, but it's aLttP's original that comes out on top. Arrghus is once again a main body covered in smaller objects, but this time it's actually fairly dangerous. It can spin its puffballs rapidly around the room at a significant range that's hard to dodge, and it'll start pinballing itself around once it's out of puffballs.

Part of the reason this ranks so high is that I just love chipping away pieces of bosses, which will be readily apparent from the rest of the top 30. But it's also that Arrghus is a great fit for the dungeon - you battle it in a big pool of water and it turns the hookshot into a compelling direct attack weapon for one of the only times in its history.

29. Puppet Zelda (TP)

Some people group this in with the rest of the Ganon fight, but Zelda isn't Ganon, so she gets her own entry. This ranking is almost entirely based on the stakes of the fight - Zelda's sacrifice to save Midna earlier in the game ends with her falling completely under Ganon's control and becoming part of the final boss rush. It's a great concept that was likely a huge surprise to anyone who, unlike me, didn't have it spoiled by a Gamestop trailer before even owning the game.

But while the setup is one of the best in the series, the actual fight drags this down to a still-impressive #29. Puppet Zelda is another tennis match. An abnormally difficult tennis match, sure, but since it can be hard to tell how much of that is coming from finnicky motion controls, the difficulty does more to increase frustration than tension.

28. Zant (TP)

Battling Zant is more of an adventure than some games. He takes you on a journey through the Diababa arena, the magnetic sumo ring from the Goron Mines, Morpheel's lair, Ook's totem poles, and finally a one-on-one sword duel in an isolated plaza. Zant fights differently in each of these locations, which gives the battle more variety than just about anything else in Zelda. You get a whole big bad origin story presentation before the fight and see Zant's death at the end, and the whole thing serves as a conclusion to Midna's personal arc. What's not to love?

Well, Zant isn't the main villain, for one thing. All of this would've made sense as a final fight, but there's still a good bit of the game left after Zant falls. On top of that, he's actually very easy to defeat and hardly even seems to be trying in several of the stages. Sure, that's the point, and he's supposed to be a bit of a laughing stock at this point, but all of that reduces the stakes of the battle and holds back what could've been a top 10 fight with small changes.

27. Gleerok (MC)

We haven't had a Rule of Cool boss for you in a little bit, so here's one of the best. Gleerok is a robotic fire-breating turtle dragon... thing that lives in a subterranean lava lake. It's normally completely impervious to damage, but by using the Cane of Pacci to flip its shell, Link can stun it for a few seconds and run up its neck to attack the core. If you stick around for too long, though, Gleerok will sink back into the lava and take Link with it.

And the lava is a major threat even when Link isn't on Gleerok's back. Any time Gleerok goes under, the lava lake will flood its banks and dramatically reduce the safe space in the arena. To make matters worse, Gleerok can spew fires that make even the "safe" terrain hazardous and will cause rocks to randomly rain down from the ceiling.

26. Gohma (WW)

Gohma is the highest-ranked first boss on the list, and while that inevitably means it's an easy fight, everything else about it is perfect for my style of boss. First, Gohma is absolutely massive and the arena emphasizes how minuscule Link is in comparison. Second, you get to break its armor off. Third, it's another example of a boss that was the whole reason for you going into the dungeon - something is making Valoo angry, and it turns out that's Gohma nibbling his tail. And finally, there's lava! Everyone loves lava!

Anyway, even if you don't have exactly the same love for giant breakable bosses and lava that I do, Gohma's grappling hook swings are a unique mechanic and the music is, as always in WW, killer.

25. Stalblind (LBW)

Stalblind is the remix of aLttP's Blind, although you wouldn't recognize the influence of the original for most of the fight. It's a sword and shield wielding skeleton ghost that can be tricked by having Link jump into the 2D space on the shield. After that, you need to dodge its sword and darkness breath attacks for a bit until doing enough damage that its head falls off.

Much like the original Blind, beheading isn't a big deal for this boss, and it'll continue fighting while its head flies around the arena and spews darkness randomly. The unpredictability of the head makes up for the body's reduced effectiveness in this stage and keeps you on your toes while you deliver the last few rounds of hits to bring it down.

24. King Bublin (TP)

The second and final miniboss on the list is also from TP. King Bublin shows up in what could be called the second chapter of the game. Link needs to rescue a kidnapped kid from his clutches, which requires defeating him and his horde of Bublin riders in a horse archery battle on the plains, and then additionally winning a jousting match on the Bridge of Eldin. While the jousting match in particular can be mechanically frustrating, it's undeniably one of the most iconic moments in TP and really sells the Western/Kurosawa vibe that part of Hyrule is going for.

But that's not all! King Bublin returns to duel you with a massive axe at the Bublin base, and then returns again for a fourth battle at Hyrule Castle. It's then that he reveals he can speak, stating that he simply follows the strongest side and willingly giving Link the keys to the castle before riding off. I wish they'd gone further with the idea of a recurring rival in Link's journey, but even with only three truly separate fights, King Bublin is Zelda's best miniboss.

23. Ganondorf (WW)

Wind Waker's Ganondorf stands out as just about the only time Nintendo has tried to give Ganon character beyond a blind lust for power, and most of that comes out in his speech just before this final battle. That gives it more dramatic tension points than just about any other battle, and it also gets a bonus for having Tetra (as Zelda) fight alongside Link. Since this is WW, it has a fantastic battle theme and a great design for Ganondorf.

So far, it sounds like a top 10 battle. But it's not, because I've broken out Puppet Ganon into its own boss and the final showdown is trivially easy. If Ganondorf put up a real fight, this would be much higher.

22. Ganon (aLttP)

Oh, look, it's Ganon again. As you might imagine, this is the part of the list where he's going to be showing up a lot. This version of Ganon does worse on dramatic tension that most because you never really interact with the Prince of Darkness before this moment. It does well everywhere else, though. Fighting Ganon inside the mysterious pyramid that marked your entrance to the Dark World? That's cool. Needing a special item to kill him, and then getting immediate access to the Triforce for one of the only times ever? Even better. And on top of that, this Ganon is more of a threat than just about any other, with a wide variety of attacks that deal serious damage and can easily kill a careless player.

21. Jalhalla (WW)

Look, Jalhalla is one of the easiest bosses in the entire series. Let's get that out of the way right off the bat. It hardly puts up a fight at all and will give Link absolutely ages to figure out its main weakness after you knock it down with the mirror shield.

But this list isn't just about difficulty, as you'll know by this point, and I love everything else. Jalhalla is actually a collection of small poes who were having some kind of crazy dance party before Link showed up, and they chose to defend themselves by merging into a giant ghost Voltron-style. Any time Link throws Jalhalla into the spike walls, all the little ghosts come out and can be defeated. If you beat them all, you win!

So it's clearly a unique fight, but it's also a perfect fit for the spooky Earth Temple and uses both the Mirror Shield you got in the dungeon and the Power Bracelets you needed to get in. On top of that, it's WW and the theme and boss design are fantastic.

21. Jalhalla (WW)

22. Ganon (aLttP)

23. Ganondorf (WW)

24. King Bublin (TP)

25. Stalblind (LBW)

26. Gohma (WW)

27. Glreerok (MC)

28. Zant (TP)

29. Zelda (TP)

30. Arrghus (aLttP)

31. Big Manhandla (FS)

32. Ook (TP)

33. Yuga Ganon (LBW)

34. Vaati (FSA)

35. Vaati (FS)

36. Gleeok (PH)

37. Evil Eagle (LA)

38. Dongorongo (PH)

39. Diababa (TP)

40. Dharkstare (LBW)

41. Morpheel (TP)

42. Big Poe #2 (FSA)

43. Knucklemaster (LBW)

44. Yuga (LBW)

45. Volvagia (OoT)

46. Big Green Chuchu (MC)

47. Helmaroc King (FSA)

48. Waterblight Ganon (BotW)

49. Ganon (FSA)

50. Moldorm

51. Odolwa (MM)

52. Bellum (PH)

53. Kalle Demos (WW)

54. Angler Fish (LA)

55. Genie (LA)

56. Crayk (PH)

57. Gohma (OoT)

58. Gemesaur King (LBW)

59. Helmasaur King (aLttP)

60. Horsehead (AoL)

61. Facade (LA)

62. Head Thwomp (OoA)

63. Mothula (aLttP)

64. Gouen (FS)

65. Phantom Ganon (OoT)

66. Shadow Nightmare (LA)

67. Armos Knights (aLttP)

68. Dera Zol (FS)

69. Lanmolas (aLttP)

70. Armogohma (TP)

71. Hot Head (LA)

72. Margomill (LBW)

73. Frostare (FSA)

74. Stone Arrghus (FSA)

75. Cubus Sisters (PH)

76. Pumpkin Head (OoA)

77. Grinexx (LBW)

78. Vitreous (aLttP)

79. Kholdstare (aLttP)

80. Barinade (OoT)

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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