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The Legend Of Zelda's Ten Best Bosses

by Dan Ryckert on Sep 27, 2011 at 06:00 AM

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Zelda has always been a series based firmly in long-standing trademarks. Its gameplay varies wildly based on which game in the series it is and what weapons are available, but almost all of them boil down to the "go to dungeon, find item, defeat boss" pattern. Take a look below as we focus on the third part of that pattern and rank the Legend of Zelda's best boss battles.

10. King Dodongo (Ocarina of Time)

While Ocarina of Time isn't the first appearance of a Dodongo boss, it's the first time that the fight consists of more than putting a bomb in front of their dumb mouths. After taking on a few Lizalfos and bombing his way through Dodongo's Cavern, Link descends into King Dodongo's lair. A circular arena with lava in the center, this open area allows the beast to roll around freely. His habit of inhaling deeply before breathing fire ends leads to his defeat, however, after Link tosses several bombs into King Dodongo's mouth and takes him down.


9. Stallord (Twilight Princess)

We liked Twilight Princess' spinner item enough to place it on our list of top ten Zelda items, and it factors into this boss fight prominently. Primarily used for navigating the Arbiter's Grounds, the spinner becomes an offensive weapon when put up against the dungeon's protector, the massive skeleton Stallord. Link must ride the top-like item across a pit of sand and use it to knock out three of Stallord's spinal vertebrae, which causes his head to float around and spit fire once completed. It's one of the larger-scale boss fights in the series, and it's also one of the most exciting.


8. Gleeok (The Legend of Zelda)

While the original Legend of Zelda introduced elements that would last throughout the series, it features the simplest and shortest boss battles. From the aforementioned Dodongo encounter to a one-shot arrow kill, these weren't the most exciting fights Link has encountered. However, the fight against Gleeok (which happens more than once) is a genuinely engaging one, requiring our hero to dodge fireballs and flying dragon heads on his way towards rescuing Zelda for the first time.

7. Argorok (Twilight Princess)

The best boss battle in Twilight Princess almost seems like it could have come from Shadow of the Colossus. After carefully navigating the City in the Sky with his clawshot, Link encounters the dragon Argorok at the very top. Taking him down requires the player to climb pillars in an effort to mount the dragon, followed by equipping the iron boots to bring him crashing to the ground. Between its mid-air battles and high-altitude clawshot navigation, this is one of the most unique boss fights Link has ever encountered.


6. Dark Link (Zelda II: The Adventure of Link)

At this point in the series, Ganon hadn't been established as the more-often-than-not final boss of Link's games. Because of that, players didn't know exactly what to expect when they entered the final boss area. Upon entering the curtained room, the color palette changes and reveals Link's own shadow as the final test. In a notoriously difficult battle, Link must land eight clean hits upon his doppleganger. It's a task that's easier said than done, as any gamer skilled enough to beat The Adventures of Link can attest.


5. Phantom Ganon (Ocarina of Time)

Upon reaching the boss area of adult Link's first temple, it seems like an uncharacteristically early appearance for the notorious Ganon. However, you'll quickly discover that he's merely a specter taking the form of the Dark Lord. Surrounded by paintings, Link must decide which image of the approaching Phantom Ganon is real and which is illusion. Once the real horse-mounted phantom escapes the painting, he can be brought down with a well-placed arrow. He may not be the true Ganon, but the second phase of his fight closely resembles the climactic battle with Ganondorf at the end of the game.


4. Trinexx (A Link to the Past)

At this point in A Link to the Past, our hero is within a stone's throw of rescuing the last of the seven maidens in the dark world. He'll have to go up against one of the best bosses in the series before he can accomplish his goal, however, and he better have come equipped with his fire and ice rods. The battle begins with two of Trinexx's three heads attacking him with fire and ice. Link must use the fire rod against the blue head and the ice rod against the red head until they (along with the beast's shell) explode. It's already been a difficult battle at this point, but the final head slithers around like a snake, and must be brought down with well-timed strikes to the body. It's one of the best boss battles in the series, and it leads directly to...

3. Agahnim (A Link to the Past)

Battling Ganon in A Link to the Past is awesome, but the fight preceding the Dark Lord is the best in the game. Initially, you'll take down the wizard Agahnim at the end of the light world. However, he returns near the end of the dark world with two shadow clones. Figuring out which is the real deal isn't that difficult, as the tangible one is clearly more opaque than his clones. The shadow clones may not be that deceiving, but they certainly add to the excitement of the fight by tossing more projectiles into the mix. Only one of the three projectile types can be reflected back at the real Agahnim, so each attack on the part of the clones is another chance to anticipate the reflectable beam. If you feel like showing off, this beam can even be bounced back using the bug-catching net.


2. Ganon (Wind Waker)

Throughout the series, the climactic battles with Ganon have been amongst the best boss battles. Whether you were sticking him with magic arrows in A Link to the Past, battling his beast form in the rubble of his castle in Ocarina of Time, or taking him out on horseback in Twilight Princess, all of his bouts feel appropriately epic. We love all of these fights, but no one moment can top the final blow in Wind Waker. After an exciting sword battle, Link leaps high into the air and stabs his sword straight through the Gerudo King's head. It's a surprisingly violent finale to a game with such a kid-friendly art style, and it marked a thrilling end to Link's seafaring Gamecube adventure.


1. Twinrova (Ocarina of Time)

Splitting Ganon's forehead was amazing in Wind Waker, but no boss battle in the series is better on an all-around basis than the Twinrova witches in Ocarina of Time. It begins with the twin witches Koume and Kotake targeting Link individually, with color-coded fire and ice spells similar to Trinexx. Instead of simply attacking them with an opposing elemental item, however, the player must absorb and reflect one witch's attack at the other. Once enough damage has been dealt to the duo, they combine to form Twinrova. Three blasts of the same element must be absorbed into Link's mirror shield before it can be used against the witch, and absorbing an opposing element negates any progress you've made. This forces the player to anticipate what Twinrova's next attack will be, and evade or absorb accordingly. It's a thrilling fight, and stands as our favorite boss battle amongst the dozens in the Legend of Zelda series.