Zelda Boss Rush Part 8

At last, the top 20! This is as high as any form of Ganon or Ganondorf get, because as iconic as he is, I appreciate bosses that are a bit more unexpected than a guy appearing as the final boss for the dozenth time. Still, it says something about those fights that they can make it this high on the list even when using a character as familiar as the 'dorf. That's what his friends called him at Gerudo High School.

I also noticed that I accidentally excluded Argorok from my rankings! Argorok would've been somewhere around here regardless, but in order to cause minimum list chaos, I've decided to just make it tied for 21 with Jalhalla. Everything else keeps the rank it always had, and now there are 11 entries today.

21. Argorok (TP)

Argorok might be number 1 if this was a list of only coolest design, but would you expect anything less from a boss named "Twilit Dragon?" It's basically Ridley's take on a Zelda boss, and on top of that, you get to fight it at the pinnacle of the City in the Sky. In the second phase, you use the Dual Clawshots to swing around the battle and deliver blows from behind, which feels epic even though it's actually so easy that the controllers would probably manage it on their own if you left them there for long enough.

Argorok's battle theme is also kind of underwhelming, but the difficulty is really what keeps it from being any higher. It's the last regular dungeon boss in the game and it's a giant armored dragon, but Nintendo still didn't feel like they could let it challenge you. Difficulty isn't everything - we'll see some easy bosses in the top 10 - but this battle needed challenge more than any other regular boss.

20. Ganondorf (TP)

Twilight Princess' Ganondorf is another three-parter. The first phase is against Dark Beast Ganon, a giant boar form that dashes at Link from portals and needs to be stunned by arrow shots to its forehead. After that fight, Midna transforms into her giant spider-thing and battles Ganon so that Link and Zelda can escape, but she loses because Big Bads aren't allowed to be defeated by anyone except the player.

That brings the fight to its horseback stage, which is broadly similar to the earlier horseback battle against King Bublin. The final stage sees Link and Ganondorf square off 1v1 in a sword duel, which wins all of the points for drama, but is famously easy.

That mismatch in stakes in difficulty is, once again, what keeps this one back at #20. It has the character design, scale, and music of a top 10 battle, but in the end Link can run Ganondorf through practically by accident. I have to think some of that lack of difficulty is down to Nintendo not trusting motion controls to be able to handle a more demanding sword duel. A real shame, but since this is the highest-ranked fight against a traditional Ganon, I clearly wasn't too bothered.


19. Agahnim (aLttP)

Agahnim was the first Big Bad to have his crown stolen away by Ganon, but like Zant, he still manages to give Link a fun battle. You fight Agahnim the first time at the top of Hyrule Castle and are sent to the Dark World just before being able to land the killing blow. Agahnim teleports around the room and casts an unblockable lightning attack, a ring of fire than can be deflected, and an orb you can whack back at him for damage.

The second time around, you fight Agahnim at the top of Ganon's Tower and he's learned to create ghostly clones of himself that triple the threat of each of his spells. It's a nice way to raise the stakes of an earlier fight while still keeping it recognizable, and it's satisfying to finally bring him down before starting the final battle with Ganon.

I love everything about the Agahnim fights except that, like all aLttP bosses, he doesn't get a unique theme, and that his sprite has never looked particularly intimidating to me. I see a guy who will open the flaps of his coat to show off his pin collection, not an evil wizard who conquered a kingdom. That doesn't make the fight any less fun mechanically, but I do wish he'd looked a bit more like the concept art.

18. Phantom Ganon (FSA)

FSA loses a bunch of points here for stealing the design of Phantom Ganon from WW and its boss music from aLttP, but it ranks highly anyway because the four player tennis match PG ends up challenge you to is another of the rare examples of effective Zelda co-op. It's the sort of chaos that FSA should always have been, but unfortunately it's very difficult to see in multiplayer now, and the single player version of the fight really doesn't do it justice.

17. Zaganaga (LBW)

Zaganaga is the top LBW boss and the penultimate one that doesn't come from one of the four games I mentioned yesterday. It's a giant plant that grows out of towers in an arena full of quicksand, and it spawns flying minions to harass Link throughout the fight. This rank comes almost entirely from how memorably unique it is, because the music, design, and threat level are just okay.

In order to damage Zaganaga, Link needs to use the Sand Rod to create paths between the towers that form platforms from which to attack the boss. If you're too slow, you can end up falling into the quicksand below or getting caught up with the minions until the main body pulls away. If you're really unlucky, you'll get hit by Zaganaga's sand hyper beam, which it can sustain for a few seconds in order to direct it towards Link.

16. Big Octorok (MC)

Big Octo is the last of MC's "giant regular enemy" bosses, and it's by far the most dangerous. Its attacks consist of charging the wall to rain down rocks, spitting rocks that spray shrapnel around the arena, and a sucking attack that can pull in Link if you're not careful. Once it takes damage from having the plant on its back ignited, it gains the ability to spray smoke and reduce your visibility to a tiny circle, which makes all of its attacks even more of a threat. The rockfall attack in particular can be a nightmare to avoid with how little you can see.

Big Octo also succeeds as a link to its dungeon, because it was frozen in ice along with the Water Element, and you accidentally free it in the process of trying to reach the element. You can see where things are going if you're paying attention as you're moving through the main room, but in the end there's no avoiding waking the boss up.

15. Blind the Thief (aLttP)

As high as I ranked Stalbind, it's the original Blind the Thief that comes out on top. Blind originally takes the form of a woman who has been "taken prisoner" in Thieves' Town, but reveals its true form as a monstrous demon-thing when it passes through sunlight in the boss room.

But that's not Blind's only trick! After dealing enough damage, its head falls off. Normally that would be fatal, but blind simply grows a new one while the old head starts to spin around the room and spit fireballs. Keeping track of both of them can be difficulty, especially once you knock its head off again and realize you're going to have to deal with two flying heads now. If you manage to behead Blind a third time, it finally stays down.

As someone who loves surprises in boss battles, I have to appreciate Blind managing to sneak so many into one fight. You've got a transformation and two fake deaths in the space of a battle that probably only lasts a few minutes at most, and it does it while being one of the harder fights in the series. Blind killed a lot of first time players. It can trip you up even when you know what you're doing. That's what a good boss battle should do.

14. Phantom Ganon (WW)

WW's Phantom Ganon is a relatively simple tennis match, but it isn't here because it's mechanically amazing. This version of PG looks amazing, gives you the awesome Megaton Hammer when you win, and has one of the best battle themes bar none. I could keep talking about it, but what's the point? You can see the cool design and you could be listening to the music instead of hearing me in your head:

13. Gyorg Pair (MC)

Here's where we take a step back to Rule of Cool. Gyorg Pair are two Gyorgs that fly high above the skies of Hyrule. Link needs to take them down while riding on their backs, which involves hitting their eyes in various strange shapes. The smaller Gyorg is vulnerable to spin attacks, but the big one needs you to use the Four Sword squares to form ghost Links and hit multiple eyes at once. That's easier said than done, because both Gyorgs will be attacking you and taking any damage resets your clones. Delivering enough hits will send Link to ride the smaller Gyorg for a bit, which is defended by swarms of baby Gyorgs.

There's definitely a potential for frustration against Gyorg Pair, but I love the design of the fight so much that it's never bothered me.

12. Puppet Ganon (PH)

Puppet Ganon is the first part of the final battle in WW, and I've split it apart from the Ganondorf fight because this is already three stages by itself. In the first, you're battling a giant pig Ganon puppet that functions similarly to Kalle Demos from earlier in the game. Next, it's Spider Ganon, which tries to belly flop you to death from the ceiling. Finally, Ganon goes Moldorm and takes the shape of a very quick snake. All three forms are weak to precise Light Arrow shots to an orb somewhere on their bodies.

Now, it's come to my attention recently that Puppet Ganon's design isn't popular with certain other people, but I think it fits the ridiculous nature of... everything in Wind Waker quite well. Regardless of its design, though. Puppet Ganon gets points for its massive size, the amount of variety in the fight, and the music. Zelda bows have always been fun, but underused items to be, so it's great to see a fight that asks a bit more of your archery skills. On top of all that, Ganon raises a pretty good point before the fight about whether killing almost everyone in Hyrule in order to temporarily stop him is something benevolent gods would do. What do you say to that, Nayru?

Anyway, here's that music. There's going to be a lot of music in the remaining entries.

11. Helmaroc King (WW)

And for our last boss outside the top 10, it's Helmaroc King! This is another two-parter. The first phase has you platforming your way up a tower that's rapidly filling with water while Helmaroc tries attacks both you and the platforms you're using to escape. Reach the top, and you'll face off against HK directly. It uses a mix of swooping attacks that hit a wide swath of the arena and direct pecks that... get its face embedded in the floor. Yeah. It looks really stupid.

I love the rest of this, from the escape sequence to its Legendary Pokemon-like design, but I really wish they could've given it a more dignified weakness than repeatedly lodging its face in a rock. This is the beast that kidnapped your sister and provided the entire motivation for the game to this point, and everything else about the fight and the King itself support that role.

Have some more music!

11. Helmaroc King (WW)

12. Puppet Ganon (WW)

13. Gyorg Pair (MC)

14. Phantom Ganon (WW)

15. Blind the Thief (aLttP)

16. Big Octorock (MC)

17. Zaganaga (LBW)

18. Phantom Ganon (FSA)

19. Aganhim (aLttP)

20. Ganon (TP)

21. Jalhalla (WW) and Argorok (TP)

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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