Look, I’m on a bit of a boss fight kick these days, okay? Boss battles tend to be one of the most memorable aspects of video games, and often times it’s rock-solid boss fights that turn good games into great games.
I’ve discussed games in the past (even as recently as last week with my World of Warcraft boss piece) that are known for their challenging and unique boss battles – games like WoW, Dark Souls, Metal Gear Solid come to mind, for example. But one of the most successful and iconic video game franchises ever, The Legend of Zelda, often gets most of its attention for its stories and its deep and engrossing dungeons set within beautiful open worlds. But when you take a long hard look at The Legend of Zelda, you’ll find some of the most impressive, unique, and epic boss battles ever created.
When you’re looking at a game as storied and as long as TLoZ, it’s hard to narrow a list down, but I’ve done my darndest to do just that! I went on an epic trip down memory lane to showcase my five favorite Legend of Zelda boss battles, give it a look-see!
Agahnim, A Link to the Past – Many of the bosses on this list are making it here for one of a handful of reasons: Either it was an epic set up with a climactic payoff, it was unique and interesting boss mechanics, or it’s a nostalgic and iconic boss fight. Well, in the case of the evil sorcerer Agahnim, it’s a combination of the three. Agahnim is an early antagonist for what is still my favorite TLoZ title ever in A Link to the Past, and you face off with him once you’ve completed your initial journey to acquire the Master Sword. But once you get it, and face off against Agahnim in the depths of Hyrule Castle, you don’t simply hack and slash him, and he doesn’t have a weak spot to attack, either. No, you, in fact, repel his magic back at him using none other than the Master Sword (or, pro tip, you can use the bug net too, because… reasons?). Once you take him down to avenge his capture of Princess Zelda, Agahnim sends you to the Dark World – which is where the REAL game begins…
Parasitic Armored Arachnid: Gohma, Ocarina of Time – Much like Agahnim on this list, Gohma makes it there due to unique boss mechanics and nostalgia. Many kids, playing a Zelda game for the first time, are going to encounter Queen Gohma very early, as she is the first boss in the Ocarina of Time, found within the ailing Deku Tree. The atmosphere of this boss fight is amazing, and after you’ve made your way through the somewhat basic and rudimentary puzzles one often finds in the first dungeon of a TLoZ game, you’re met with a dark and foreboding room behind the boss door. How does the boss spawn? Where is it? Did I miss something? Nope, all you have to do is move your 3D camera (a new addition to the series at the time) and aim at the ceiling, to find the creepy spider Queen Gohma waiting to pounce. The ensuing fight sees you implementing that 3D camera I mentioned in ways you hadn’t had to yet, and really helped set the stage for a game that would challenge you at every step with intense boss fights, challenging puzzles, and difficult dungeons – but it is all set up masterfully by Gohma at the very start.
Majora, Majora’s Mask – There are arguably more challenging or unique fights in Majora’s Mask, most notably the fight with Goht, but at the end of the day the ultimate battle is had with the titular villain, Majora. The entire concept of Majora’s Mask makes it easily the darkest, and arguably the most mature, entry in the entire series: you’re given three days to stop the moon from crashing into the planet and destroying everyone you know, and everything you love. I mean, Ganon just wants to take over the world, he never wants to wipe it out, so you know this Majora guy means business. And to beat Majora, one of the Gods of Chaos, you have to wear masks of dead friends and heroes to utilize their abilities in unique ways – talk about macabre! This all culminates in an epic showdown with Majora himself, and it is creepy and dark and twisted and just plain awesome. It is a disturbing, intense, and difficult boss fight, and a fitting way to end easily the scariest and most bizarre Legend of Zelda game ever made.
Ganondorf, The Wind Waker – Ganondorf, aka Ganon, is the big cheese when it comes to boss fights in the vast majority of Legend of Zelda games. He has seen many iterations, going as far back as the OG LoZ on NES, and as recent as his calamity versions in Breath of the Wild. He’s got two entries on this list because of course, the ultimate bad guy had too many good ones to chose from, so let’s start with a boss that honestly made the whole game experience worthwhile for me, and that would be Wind Waker on the Nintendo Gamecube. If I’m speaking truthfully, Wind Waker wasn’t one of my favorite installments in the LoZ franchise, but at the end of the day, it had easily one of my favorite boss fights in LoZ history when you take on Ganondorf. You’re on top of Ganon’s tower, and it’s an epic sword fight (which Link has had plenty of), but what really sets this fight apart for me is the collabo effort you get to have with Zelda herself. Zelda assists you with timely Light Arrows to help defeat the Demon King, and you defeat him in literally the most metal way possible: by stabbing him directly in the dome with the Master Sword, turning him to stone. Hell yeah, get some Link!
Ganon, Ocarina of Time – I feel like I’m kind of cheating putting Ganon on here twice, but it was so hard and I honestly couldn’t choose between the two. Ganon at the end of Ocarina of Time was not just my favorite Legend of Zelda boss fight ever, but it’s on a shortlist of my all-time fave boss fights in any game. It all kicks off with an amazing dungeon experience in Ganon’s Castle, the castle formerly known as Hyrule Castle. You utilize the power of the medallions you’ve collected throughout your journey to break the various barriers throughout the castle that keep you from taking on Ganondorf. Once you do, you make your way through the dark and dilapidated castle to face off against the Demon King, and what kicks off is an amazing series of cutscenes and epic moments (many of which go a long way to tie together the various crazy timelines in LoZ lore, by the way…). Following those cutscenes, you battle with Ganondorf, using the Master Sword and Light Arrows (because that’s what you do when you fight Ganon, duh) to reflect his attacks and defeat him. And then you escape the castle and win, right? Wrong!
Nope, once you escape the crumbling castle, Ganondorf uses the power of the Triforce to take on his iconic Demonic Pig form for one last dance – and what an incredible fight it is! With the help of Navi (HEY, LISTEN) and the Princess, you take on and eventually vanquish Ganon’s true form in what is easily one of the best and most epic boss fights in the entire series. Seriously, it’s amazing, and I want to go play it right now!
HONORABLE MENTION: Dark Link, Ocarina of Time – Dark Link isn’t quite a full-on boss fight and is more of a mini-boss, but he’s an incredibly unique and awesome mini-boss at that. You find Ocarina of Time’s iteration of Dark Link within the incredibly frustrating, albeit beautiful, Water Temple. About halfway through the rage-including Water Temple, you face off in arguably the most innovative swordplay you find in Ocarina of Time, which implemented the innovative 3D Z-Targeting for the first time ever. The fight was in a rad setting, against an evil version of yourself that uses many of your own attacks against you in an epic sword fight. I love this boss fight, and it’s really the only memorable part of the Water Temple for me, and probably literally millions of other people – because the Water Temple was a real piece of work, lemme tell you…