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.