Zelda Boss Rush: The End

And here we are, the final countdown. All but one of these bosses is from my four core Zelda's, which by now you've probably figured out are A Link to the Past, The Wind Waker, Minish Cap, and Twilight Princess. Nine of these bosses are a huge part of why I love their respective games so much, and the last one is tragically one of the only good parts in what is an otherwise thoroughly forgettable title.

But we're not here to talk about which games are good. This is a list of the best bosses, and for that we've got to start by handing it to...

10. Mazaal (MC)

Mazaal finishes off the Fortress of Winds, which is unusual among Zelda dungeons for its Aztec/Maya temple theme. Mazaal's link to that theme needs no explanation, but it's mechanical link to the dungeon is an even more impressive work of boss design. By the time you reach this fight, you've acquired at least the Pegasus Boots, the Bow, and the Mole Mitts since last fighting a boss, all of which play a role here. You need the Bow to disable Mazaal's hands without being grabbed and the Pegasus Boots can be helpful for escaping from some of its faster attacks.

The Mole Mitts are where it really shines. If you disable both hands, Mazaal will temporarily turn off and fall to the ground. You can then use a Minish transformer to shrink down and run into its nose, where you'll need to dig through the accumulated dirt and dust to strike at its core. Repeat that a couple of times and you'll be free to climb the stairs to the peak of the Fortress and claim the Flute.

Mazaal is nearly unique among bosses for its theme and mechanics, but nonetheless there are two bosses left ahead of it that better represent each aspect. Beyond slightly preferring those fights, the only complaint I have about Mazaal is that, like all regular MC bosses, it does not get a unique theme. Still, even that's not a big deal since MC's base boss theme is plenty good:

9. Fyrus (TP)

Fyrus has the best introduction cutscene of any Zelda boss. It was actually jaw-dropping when I saw it for the first time in 2007, and even if TP's graphics aren't up to produce the same reaction now, it's still impressive today. Fyrus is a fire monster who was seemingly imprisoned in the core of the Goron Mines and is more than ready to take out its anger on Link.

In an ideal world, Fyrus' mechanics would've been as impressive as its design, but unfortunately what we actually got is a challenge to shoot it in the face with and then trip it with its own chains while it's running around blinded. Kind of an undignified end for poor Fyrus.

Thankfully, the music is here to save the day!

8. Dark Links (aLttP-FS)

I love the concept of the Dark Links. Zelda isn't known for optional dungeons, but the GBA remake of A Link to the Past quietly added the Palace of the Four Sword, which can only be accessed after beating both the original game and Four Swords on the same save file. It contains all sorts of extra hard remixes of bosses and rooms from the original game, most notably including new fights against Arrghus, Helmasaur King, Mothula, and Blind. If you reach the very end, you find yourself in a dojo-style room where the Four Swords fly out and become Dark Links.

From there, you face off against each of the Dark Links in sequence, with each having a different mix of your skills and abilities. It's an absolute marathon of a fight that is considerably harder than anything else in the game, and possibly even the entire series. It's an extremely cool way to link the two games together and provide a reward for finishing each of them.

Alas, it doesn't get its own theme and there's still another aLttP boss left to cover, so there's no music for this entry.

7. Eox (PH)

Eox makes me sad. It's my number 7 boss in the entire series, and it's forever sentenced to be near the end of a game that is simply not worth playing as much of as you'd need to in order to fight it. And that game used the same terrible theme for every boss, so you've got to listen to some of the worst boss music Zelda has to offer even if you do get there.

But if you put the issues of Phantom Hourglass itself aside and only look at Eox, it's brilliant. It's a towering stone monster that Link has to slowly chip away using catapults. When all of its armor is gone and you're left fighting a giant wooden skeleton, there's nothing left to do but fling yourself at its weak points until there's nothing left but its head, which can be finished in more traditional style.

Breaking something giant into pieces like this is always fun, and I can't think of anything comparable in another Zelda game. It's like a boss from another series snuck in for this one fight that many fans would never see. I'm glad this concept got its day in the sun, but I wish it had been in a bigger and better game.

6. Trinexx (aLttP)

As much as I love the Dark Links, there was never any doubt in my mind about which aLttP boss would come out on top. It was only a question of where my favorite three-headed rock dragon would land on the list.

Trinexx scores well in just about all of my categories. It's a great Rule of Cool design, it has a wide variety of attacks that can threaten link, the music is fantastic (if not unique), and most important to this battle, it makes use of a wide variety of Link's weapons. The initial phase has you trying to defeat the fire and ice heads, which are weak to their opposite rods. Both of them have sweeping elemental attacks that make it more difficult to get hits in and leave terrain effects even after the main beam has passed.

If you manage to take out both of them, the main head transforms into a rock snake that's like a more intense version of the Moldorm fight. It's much less threatening than its first form, but it can still deal damage and unprepared players might be low on health and resources after all the other dangers of Turtle Rock.

5. Blizzeta (TP)

Blizzeta is another two stage boss. You start off batting her giant ice crystal form around a frozen arena. After dealing enough damage, she transforms into a flying form that rains down smaller crystals for link to dodge. The camera shits to an overhead perspective so that Link can use the reflections on the floor to spot incoming attacks and track Blizzeta's position.

All of which is cool, but it's the setup that puts Blizzeta at #5. She's the possessed form of Yeta, the friendly Yeti who has been helping you through the dungeon and providing bottles of hearty stew. When you finally reach the inner sanctum and the piece of the Twilight Mirror, Yeta falls victim to its influence and transforms into a monster. When you win, she transforms back and reunites with her husband Yeto. There's even a burst of heart pickups that pop up and actually restore Link's health!

Oh, and the second phase music is incredible:

4. Gohdan (WW)

Here's the first of the two bosses that upstaged part of Mazaal. Gohdan caps off the Tower of the Gods, an ancient dungeon full of remote control statues and high-tech puzzles. It's fitting, then, that the boss is a massive robot with telekinetic hands and laser attacks.

Like Mazaal, Gohdan is weak to arrow shots to the hands, but the main phase is damaged by throwing bombs into its mouth. While not necessarily a threat to actually kill Link, it can get more than a few sneaky hits in thanks to tight timing on its weak states and the ability of the different detached parts to sneak up on you. Gohdan is also unique among WW's bosses in that it doesn't actually die when defeated - since it's just part of the Gods' test for Link, it retreats back to its space in the walls of the room once it is satisfied with your skills, ready to fight a future hero.

And you know there's good music by now:

3. Molgera (WW)

Molgera comes out on top of Wind Waker's bosses, which will not come as a surprise to anyone who has heard me talk about WW before. It feels like an early prototype of the Morpheel fight, and while one could argue that Morpheel has advantages in mechanics and scale, Molgera is unmatched in atmosphere. Thanks to its theme and the piece that Makar plays to empower the Master Sword after your victory, this fight is responsible for two of my favorite tracks in the entire series.

Anyway, the battle itself is a race to grab Molgera's tongue with the hookshot before its sand whirlpools pull you into its mouth. As you deal more damage, it'll start flying around the room and spawning smaller versions of itself before launching dive bomb attacks. The only hard part is getting the hookshot to cooperate, but all of it looks cool.

Two tracks this time:

2. Vaati (MC)

The final boss of my favorite Zelda delivers the #2 boss overall. I'm including fight against the three Darknuts and all three phases of Vaati in this boss, which makes it longer than anything except possibly the Dark Links. The first battle sets you against three of Minish Cap's most dangerous enemies at the same time, and while there are pots with hearts and items to help you out, Vaati's first form will appear immediately after your victory and those items will not respawn.

The first form has you using the Gust Jar to fend off Vaati's dark cloud attacks and your sword to destroy his drones. Doing so will reveal his weak spot and kick off a faster phase of the fight with more drones and more dangerous clouds. If you win, you'll get access to what anyone would reasonably conclude is the final battle, which pits you against a Vaati who has fully abandoned any semblance of a human form. This phase has all kinds of ground hazards to worry about on top of electric orb attacks, and you need to dodge it all while maintaining Four Sword clones with which to hit his weak spots. It's not easy, but victory leads to rescuing Zelda and your escape from Dark Hyrule Castle.

But wait! I said there were three phases! Vaati was only pretending to be dead, and that wasn't even his final form. The real final battle is against the monstrosity shown above, which mixes up attacks from both previous forms and Mazaal, everyone's favorite earlier boss. This phase is famous for its unituitive weakness and many players lost a lot of time and lives trying to figure out how to even damage Vaati. Once you figure it out, victory comes through attacking his core, as you did with Mazaal, and reflecting attacks back at his smaller eyes. None of it is easy, and losing will send you all the way back to the Darknut fight. As I've mentioned in the comments on other posts, Vaati is a nightmare boss on any kind of a challenge run. There are a huge number of ways to slip up and take damage across the 10+ minutes it will take to bring him down.

Here's my favorite track from all of these fights:

1. Stallord (TP)

And finally, the boss I knew would be #1 before I even started this list. Stallord may not have an interesting setup or, honestly, make any sense whatosever, but it doesn't need that. It gets Rule of Cool points so far off the chart that it wraps around and fills the bar up a second time. That's how charts work.

The Twilit Fossil's first form pits you against an army of undead warriors that grow out of the ground like the mythical Dragon's Teeth from the Argonauts tale. There's no end to them, but you can use the spinner to pinball your way past their ranks and deliver hits directly to Stallord at the center of a pit of quicksand. If you can work you way in there a couple times, Stallord will fall to pieces, the sand will drain, and you're presented with your victory!

Not really. Once the outer floor falls away to form a central tower, Stallord's head reanimates and begins launching beam attacks at Link. Your only hope is to use the Spinner to jump between the tower and the outer walls and dodge the attacks, slowly working your way close enough to the head to strike blows and bring the beast down.

The Spinner takes a lot of criticism for never really being used outside of Arbiter's Grounds, but I don't see where Nintendo could possibly have gone with it from here. They already let you play Linkle Hawk Pro Skater in the dungeon and then used it as the basis of an airborne battle against a flying skeletal dragon head. How do you raise the stakes from there? Apparently you don't, because after fifteen years, this is still my number 1 Zelda boss.

Some fun stats for games with at least three bosses on this list, in order of appearance: (Worst/Best/Mean/Median)

LBW(11 bosses): 94/17/49.5/44

OoT(6 bosses): 93/45/71/72.5

FSA(9 bosses): 90/18/57.2/49

PH(8 bosses): 89/7/54.3/54

LA (9 bosses): 85/37/66.2/66

aLttP(13 bosses): 79/6/43.4/50

TP (12 bosses): 70/1/26.6/26

FS (4 bosses) 68/31/49.5/49.5

WW (9 bosses) 53/3/18.5/14

MC (6 bosses) 46/2/19/14.5

1. Stallord (TP)

2. Vaati (MC)

3. Molgera (WW)

4. Gohdan (WW)

5. Blizzeta (TP)

6. Trinexx (aLttP)

7. Eox (PH)

8. Dark Links (aLttP-FS)

9. Fyrus (TP)

10. Mazaal (MC)

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 (aLttP)

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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