Danger awaits Link at the end of every dungeon in The Legend of Zelda series. After facing off against minions and deadly traps, the player will be forced to match wits and weapons with a powerful boss monster. These usually make for some of the most interesting and exciting parts of the game. The time has come for us to give the awesome Zelda boss monsters their due.
There will be no entries on this list from Breath of the Wild, even though several of its boss monsters would certainly qualify for a position. As of the time of writing, the game is still fairly new. Breath of the Wild is a game that is best played fresh, so we will not spoil any of its surprises here.
We are here today to celebrate the monsters that gave Link the most challenging and exciting battles of all. From the powerful sorcerer of A Link to the Past, to the darkness that awaits you in Ocarina of Time.
Here are the 15 Best Boss Battles In The Legend of Zelda!
The Legend of Zelda series is fond of scenarios that start with the villain having already won. Ganon has all but destroyed Hyrule in the first Zelda title. When the Wind Waker begins, all of Hyrule has already been flooded, as part of a desperate attempt to stop Ganondorf.
In A Link to the Past, the evil wizard Agahnim has already taken over the kingdom of Hyrule, and most people aren’t even aware. Ganon decided to go for a more subtle approach this time around, and he possessed the body of a powerful sorcerer to use for his own ends. Aganhim caused natural disasters and then pretended to fix them, in order to get close to the King of Hyrule. By the time Link first lifts a sword, Agahnim has already taken over Hyrule Castle.
Link must battle Agahnim at two different points in the game. Agahnim is the first in a long line of Zelda bosses that require you to reflect the enemy’s own attacks back at them. This is a lot more difficult the second time around, as Agahnim will create illusionary copies of himself. It is up to the player to work out which version of Agahnim that they have to attack.
14. Phantom Ganon
When Ocarina of Time was first being developed, there were many different ways that Nintendo was going to go about making their first 3D Zelda game. One of the initial ideas was for the game to be set in a castle that would act as a hub world. The castle would be filled with magical portraits, which would allow Link to travel to other locations. This was the same concept that was used in Super Mario 64, though it would eventually be abandoned in Ocarina of Time. The only remaining aspect of this initial idea occurs during the Phantom Ganon boss battle.
Once Link reaches the end of the Forest Temple, you will see a circular room that is filled with portraits. Link must do battle against Phantom Ganon, who can leap out from the portraits on his steed, and attack the player.
The Phantom Ganon battle is one of timing. You have to be ready to fire an arrow at him when he rides out of a picture, and then reflect his own beams of magic back at him. Once he is down on the ground, Link is free to wail on Phantom Ganon’s head.
After the Pokémon series successfully released two versions of the same game on the Game Boy, Nintendo decided to try the same with The Legend of Zelda. While there are few differences between Pokémon Red & Blue, the two Oracle titles are separate games that are meant to be played together. You can’t even face Ganon until you reach the end of your second playthrough.
In place of Ganon, each game had its own antagonist. In The Oracle of Ages, this was Veran. The final confrontation with Veran starts with her mind in possession of Queen Ambi’s body. You must first work out how to purge Veran’s spirit from the Queen. Once revealed, Veran will transform into a monster that resembles a fairy. In order to make the battle trickier, she will also summon a group of Dark Links, who will mimic all of the player’s moves.
Once Veran’s fairy body is defeated, she will pull a Final Fantasy end boss move, and will keep shifting between different monstrous forms. Veran will change into a turtle that crashes into the ground, a deadly giant spider, and a huge bee that carries her original face. Link must defeat all five forms of Veran in one battle, without respite.
While Ganon is the chief villain of the Zelda franchise, there have been other recurring villains throughout the series. The Wind Mage Vaati appeared across several different Zelda titles and may return to torment Hyrule once more in the future.
Vaati appears in Fours Swords, Four Swords Adventures, and The Minish Cap. He plays the biggest role in The Minish Cap, as that is the title that most resembled a traditional Zelda game. In The Minish Cap, Vaati is the wayward apprentice of Ezlo the Sage. He becomes corrupted by his desire to gain power and begins sealing away parts of Hyrule.
One of the main gameplay gimmicks in The Minish Cap involves Link transforming into a tiny form. This is necessary during the final battle, as you need to enter Vaati’s body and destroy him within. It’s kind of like the opposite of Fantastic Voyage, with Link killing Vaati from the inside out.
Gleeok is one of the bosses of the original Legend of Zelda game. It is a huge two-headed dragon, that Link must behead twice in order to kill. Should you play the Second Quest of the game, then you will encounter three and four-headed variants of Gleeok.
The best battle against Gleeok happens in Phantom Hourglass. This time, its heads are now elementally color coded, as it has a blue head (that breathes ice) and a red head (that spits out fireballs). Unlike in the first game, you cannot just run up and stab Gleeok in its faces. Link and Gleeok are separated by a room full of water during this battle. In order to fight Gleeok, Link has to use his grappling hook weapon to create rope barriers that will reflect its attacks back against it. As the battle progresses, the whole arena will be flooded. This will force Link to create a tightrope, upon which he must stand if he is to continue the fight.
Giant spiders are one of the most generic and overused video game bosses of all time. It doesn’t matter what setting the game is using, as a giant spider could be around every corner. You could be playing a fantasy, science fiction, survival horror, first-person shooter, strategy, stealth, or an adventure game, it doesn’t matter, the spiders will be around somewhere.
To the lucky people who had the chance to play Ocarina of Time upon its release, the battle against a giant spider also happened to be one of the most awesome moments in the series. What better way to introduce the player to the world of 3D Zelda bosses than with Gohma.
Parasitic Armored Arachnid: Gohma is a huge spider monster, with a red and green eye in its center. You must tackle this behemoth as it scuttles around the arena and descends upon you from the ceiling. While not the most challenging boss in the game, Gohma leaves a hell of a first impression on the player.
Most boss battles in the Legend of Zelda series take place in rooms. That makes sense – where else is the fight going to take place?
Façade from Link’s Awakening is a unique boss, in that it is the room you are fighting in.
When you enter Façade’s chamber, it seems like it is just an empty room. As the battle begins, two black eyes and a huge mouth open up in the center of the floor. Façade then proceeds to throw the floor tiles at you, followed by the pots that adorn the arena. Once it is has run out of pieces to fling from its body, it will start opening and closing holes in the ground. The fight turns into a running battle, as Link must try and hurt Façade’s face with bombs, as he constantly flees from the pits that keep appearing on the floor. As the player, you cannot relax for a second during this fight.
It’s fair to say that Majora’s Mask is the scariest game in the Zelda series. The concept alone is horrifying. Link is given a few days to stop the moon from crashing to the ground and wiping out all life in Termina. In order to do so, Link is forced to don the faces of fallen heroes, which transforms him into different races in a highly disturbing way.
Ganon may be an asshole, but at least he wants to rule the world, and not destroy it. Skull Kid is a being that has been so corrupted by chaos, that it seeks nothing but destruction and death.
The final fight against Majora is the freakiest battle in the entire series. The Majora Incarnation form alone is horrifying. It has spindly limbs (not unlike the ReDeads from Ocarina of Time), and it prances around the room whilst doing a disturbing dance. For a brief moment, the Zelda series turns into the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Link must do battle against one of the gods of chaos itself. It’s like Nyarlathotep itself has come to wage war on the existence of Termina.
7. Puppet Ganon
The Wind Waker received abuse from Nintendo fans when it was first revealed, as fans did not like the cell shaded graphics that were being used for the game. Little did they know, that the graphics of Wind Waker would hold up better than almost every other game in the series. The Wind Waker has since found new appreciation from the gaming public and has seen an HD remake on the Wii U.
One of the downsides of Wind Waker’s cartoonish graphics is the effect that it had on Ganondorf. He went from being imposing in Ocarina of Time to looking kind of dorky in Wind Waker. Luckily for us, he isn’t the only form of Ganon that you get to meet in the game.
Puppet Ganon is a giant monstrous doll, that dances lifelessly around the arena. Link has to cut its strings and hit it with light arrows, in order to defeat it. There is something unnerving about how Puppet Ganon moves around, and attacks like a machine. It is certainly a more impressive foe than the actual Ganondorf turned out to be.
One of the main selling points of Skyward Sword was its use of the Wii MotionPlus accessory. While the Wiimote was essentially a glorified wireless mouse, the MotionPlus promised a controller that would react to the fine movements of your hand. When it came to Skyward Sword, Link would hold his weapon in the same way that you were holding the Wiimote. This was intended to make the gameplay more exciting. Sadly, it didn’t always work as intended, and you were often forced to pause the game in order to sync the controller with the system.
When Skyward Sword‘s controls worked, the game was actually a lot of fun. This can be best seen in the various confrontations with Ghirahim throughout the game. As an opponent of similar size and stature to Link, Ghirahim required a level of finesse and strategy that most other bosses in the game lacked. If there was any justification for the use of the MotionPlus in Skyward Sword, it was the measured strikes and counters that were needed to take down Ghirahim.
Everything about the Twilit Fossil Stallord battle is epic. It is the high point of Twilight Princess and it is one of the most amazing fights in the whole Zelda series.
While most Zelda boss battles take place within a dungeon chamber, the fight against Stallord takes place within a massive sand pit. Stallord starts out as a huge set of monster bones, before being reanimated and set upon Link. As the battle progresses, the skeletons of dead warriors rise from the pit and attack Link.
At first, it might seem like you have to get up close and personal with Stallord, in order to stab him with your sword. What makes this battle unique is the fact that you need to use the Spinner item in order to complete it. The Spinner is like a mixture between a skateboard and a drill. Link has to ram the Spinner into Stallord’s bones, which culminates in a chase scene. Whilst riding on the Spinner, Link must outrun Stallord’s floating head, and crush it into dust.
4. Yuga Ganon
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds manages to be both a 2D and a 3D Zelda title at the same time. While the game is mainly played from the usual top-down perspective, Link now has the ability to transform into a painting, which allows you to see the world from a closer viewpoint.
Link’s ability to turn into graffiti is one of the main gimmicks of the game, and it is something you will be forced to do on many occasions. It isn’t until the final battle of the game that you will face another being that can also turn into artwork. The main antagonist of A Link Between Worlds is an evil sorcerer, named Yuga. Link gains the power to turn into a drawing from Yuga (by accident), which is also an ability that Yuga possesses.
During the final battle of the game, Yuga will draw on the powers of Ganon, and become Yuga Ganon. In this fight, Yuga will also transform into a picture. This means that Link is forced to battle against him in both the 2nd and 3rd dimensions.
3. Dark Dragon
One of the least popular Zelda titles is the second game in the series, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. One of the many reasons for this dislike is due to the fact that the game switched to a side-on perspective, rather than the top-down view that was used in the previous Zelda title.
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons proved that the series could utilise the horizontal perspective in interesting ways. This is true for the fight against the Dark Dragon, which is the end boss of the game (unless you played Oracle of Ages first, in which case there are more battles to come).
Once General Onox assumes his true form, he transforms into a huge dragon. The player needs to use all of their skill in this fight, as the Dark Dragon may be the most difficult battle in the series. You have to jump onto its hands when they are near the ground, in order to leap into the air and strike the gem on its head. This is a lot easier said than done, as Dark Dragon has a wide range of breath attacks, all of which will restrict your movement. The player has to always be mindful of where they move, lest they become trapped and are unable to counterattack.
Those who played Ocarina of Time for the first time may have been dissapointed by the initial appearance of Ganondorf. In the previous games, Ganon was a huge pig monster that dwarfed Link in size. When Ganondorf first appears, he looks like a regular bad guy.
When you reach the final encounter with Ganondorf at the end of the game, you must face off against his human form. After reflecting his attacks back at him and hitting him with some light arrows, Ganondorf will fade away. Now that their greatest foe has been vanquished, Link must flee the crumbling castle with Princess Zelda.
Ganondorf is not finished, however. Once everyone is outside the castle, Ganondorf will use the power of the Triforce to transform himself into the Ganon form that we are familiar with. Link must battle against the huge pig monster form of Ganon, that is lit only by the strikes of thunder. This starts one of the most epic fights in the series, as Link must combine his efforts with Navi and Princess Zelda, in order to defeat his greatest foe.
1. Dark Link
One of the greatest challenges for the developers of Ocarina of Time was working out how to do sword fighting in a 3D environment. They eventually used the Z-Target system, which allows you to lock on to an enemy by holding the Z button. This changes Link’s movement so that he now focuses on the enemy.
Despite coming up with an ingenious and effective method of combat in a 3D world, Ocarina of Time didn’t really make the most of it. The game rarely threw another weapon user at you. As such, Link was mainly stuck fighting monsters that posed little challenge.
The big exception to this is the battle against Dark Link. This evil reflection of the protagonist is so awesome that he manages to elevate the awful Water Temple dungeon with his mere presence.
Dark Link possesses many of Link’s attacks and has ways of countering your actions in battle. While it is possible to cheese through Dark Link with the use of items (mainly Din’s Fire), the player will be doing themselves a disservice by not taking him on the old fashioned way. The battle against Dark Link is a truly special moment in the series, and it should be savoured instead of spoiled. Working out Dark Link’s weaknesses is still one of the most satisfying moments in the series. The only thing bad thing about the battle is the fact that it ends, and you have to return to the Water Temple.