Mario might be Nintendo’s official mascot, but through the years, Link has done a commendable job at usurping the title as Nintendo’s ultimate champion. Ever since the series made its triumphant debut in 1986, The Legend of Zelda has been a formative title for Nintendo and the breeding grounds for some of the company’s most popular characters. With over 20 titles under the series’ belt, gamers have had many reasons to fall in love with the franchise’s heroic Link and his climatic battle against the forces of evil. Whether it’s the series’ gorgeous worlds, challenging puzzles and dungeons, or its creative weapons, there’s something for everyone here.
The Zelda titles have also gone on to make a name for themselves due to the unbelievable boss battles that Link finds himself in. Some of the most memorable experiences on Nintendo consoles come from dazzling Zelda boss fights, but that doesn’t mean that the big baddies always knock it out of the park. With Breath of the Wild reminding gamers what Zelda is like in prime form, it doesn’t hurt to examine some of the series’ clumsier moments. Accordingly, Here Are the 15 Worst Bosses Ever From The Legend of Zelda Series.
15. Morpha (Ocarina of Time)
Let’s be clear, on a basic level there’s nothing that’s wrong with Ocarina of Time’s Morpha; it just perfectly fills the definition of “underwhelming.” It shouldn’t be that surprising that a water temple’s boss would be water-based, but Morpha is basically just water—albeit sentient water at that. Furthermore, the battle with Morpha follows the tried and true structure of spamming the new weapon obtained in the dungeon (in this case, the hook shot) against the boss. Morpha isn’t a complete failure of a foe, it’s just not much of a challenge. The infernal water level puzzles are much more infuriating than Morpha. Coming up against a room full of them as the end boss would be a lot more intimidating. Morpha’s case also isn’t helped by the fact that right before its fight, Link is put in battle against Dark Link, an enemy that’s a lot more memorable and bad-ass. By the time Morpha is reached, gamers are still thinking about Dark Link and going, “Hey, is Dark Link going to pop up again at the end of this dungeon?” Switching the order of the two would have worked a lot better.
14. Gohdan (The Wind Waker)
Gohdan is one of the few bosses that Link encounters in his journeys that’s not actually evil. Gohdan is more like a fail-safe guardian that’s been put in place by the Gods of Hyrule to protect the Master Sword. In spite of Gohdan having a creative enough backstory, that doesn’t save the boss from being one of the bigger letdowns from the beautiful Wind Waker. If Gohdan were the first time a Zelda game had ever played with this boss concept before, it’d be excusable; it’s just that as soon as Gohdan reveals himself it becomes painfully obvious how to take this guy down.
Gohdan is one of those “shoot arrows in the eyes on their hands, then throw bombs in their mouth” sort of villains. There’s really no other interpretation to take from his appearance. This is a tactic that intrepid Zelda gamers would already be familiar with through previous foes like Armos Knight and Bongo Bongo. It’s a strategy so popular even Star Fox’s Andross would adopt it. Bosses should be challenging and surprising and neither of those things apply to Gohdan. He feels like a practice trial for Link, not the final test of Gods.
13. Pumpkin Head (Oracle of Ages)
The Oracle games don’t get enough credit. They’re stunning classical Zelda titles that not only happen to be handheld, but also inventively incorporate the system’s link cable and “dual version” concept that Pokemon proved could be so successful. Clearly these two companion titles do a lot of things right, but one boss that seems like it’d be awesome and then quickly fizzles out becomes a sore spot for one of these titles. Oracle of Ages’ first boss is a possessed jack-o-lantern-type villain known as Pumpkin Head. On paper that seems extremely cool and a creepy foe to throw at Link. After all, there’s a reason Lance Henriksen signed on to do a series of films with the same name. Pumpkin Head is the basic hack-and-slash combo variety of boss (with some minor Power Bracelet use) and even someone who is completely clueless to what to do is going to end up getting out of this match without much damage. Even though he’s Oracle of Ages’ first big enemy, that doesn’t mean he can’t be difficult. Plus, he’s a boss that’s involves pumpkins and ghosts; couldn’t his attack involve something like bats or skulls rather than the generic fireball?
12. Jalhalla (The Wind Waker)
Well, if fighting countless hordes of ghosts seems appealing, Jalhalla could easily make some gamers’ best Zelda bosses list. If however the prospect of swatting an onslaught of enemies seems infuriating, Jalhalla’s placement here should make a lot of sense. There’s a reason that poe hunts and quests are typically optional in Zelda games. Jalhalla isn’t Wind Waker’s first boss, but he is its easiest. Jalhalla is basically an amalgamation of all the poes put together, using a mask as its subtle disguise. Shine light at Jalhalla, throw the mask at pointy things, then do whatever’s most effective to kill as many poes as possible. This boss is a lot of back and forth, plus lot of mindless slashing. It’s surprising that this baddie comes near the middle of the game and not the beginning. It’s highly unlikely that Jalhalla is going to turn gamers into fellow spirits. In fact, it probably won’t even knock down more than two hearts from Link.
11. Moldorm (A Link to the Past)
Many gamers still consider A Link to the Past to the be the apex of the 16-bit era of gaming and a title that still holds up as a polished accomplishment in the medium. There are some challenging, brilliant bosses in Link to the Past that are so well-developed that their designs would be forever echoed in future Zelda games to come. And then there’s Moldorm. Moldorm feels in the right place in terms of a 16-bit era Zelda boss. He’s a snake-like enemy that requires Link to hit his tail repeatedly, with the boss’ movements getting faster each time. That’s not spoiling anything because it’s beyond clear where Moldorm’s flashing weak point is located. It doesn’t help that this foe is all defense without any real attacks to boast. The real threat here are holes in the ground. The updated version of Moldorm that appears in A Link Between Worlds at least increases its size and takes on a slightly more difficult approach. This still ends up feeling like fighting an enemy to unlock a weapon chest and not a dungeon boss.
10. Big Green Chu Chu (The Minish Cap)
When Capcom announced that they’d be working alongside Nintendo for the Game Boy Advance title, The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap (as well as Four Swords, plus, the earlier Oracle games), gamers had plenty of reasons to get excited. While the Capcom and Nintendo collaborations are mostly a triumph, certainly bosses like Big Green Chu Chu (and Octorok, who is much of the same) feel like the team just wanted to go home early one night. It’s already been pointed out how much of a letdown it is when a boss just ends up being a gigantic version of an enemy. But in Big Green Chu Chu’s case, at least choose a strong enemy! This boss is pretty much begging to be attacked and the ultimate sub. He’s practically a giant punching bag for Link to work out some aggression on. It would have been better if Capcom just dropped Boomer Kuwanger in as the boss instead.
9. Fraaz (Spirit Tracks)
Spirit Tracks is one of the lesser-played Zelda titles, but both it and Phantom Hourglass are standout additions to Zelda’s handheld library. Fraaz’s whole thing revolves around “icy fire,” a concept that makes less sense the more it’s thought about. The most frustrating thing about Fraaz is that a lot of this fight comes down to boomerang aiming mechanics. Link needs to move the flame from torches into Fraaz’s direction, which can sometimes be a handful. Then, a similar tactic is applied, but with there now being two versions of Fraaz, representing both fire and ice. This battle goes back and forth as Link has to repeatedly makes opposite attract to end this boss’ icy rule. It’s not an entirely unpleasant battle, just one that’s held back by struggling gameplay mechanics and a repetitive strategy. Also, not going to ask any questions here, but Fraaz seems to be the abandoned lovechild of an octorok and keese’s torrid love affair together (this is not a good thing).
8. Genie (Link’s Awakening)
Link’s Awakening actually deserves a lot of credit for its creative take on Zelda that’s also as close to crossing over with Twin Peaks as the series will ever get. It’s also one of the most complete, polished titles that the original Game Boy would release. The lucid environment that Links’ Awakening takes place in features a number of eccentric bosses, so a genie in a lamp seems oddly par for the course. Link fighting a genie might feel like a cool idea (to someone), but this fight is hardly the epic battle to get excited over. There’s much more of an “Indiana Jones firing a gun in a sword fight situation.” Where’s the genie coming from? A bottle? Try throwing the bottle to break it. That was easy. This boss doesn’t require the courage of a true hero to defeat it. The strategy is literally what a baby would do in this situation. Just break what’s nearby.
7. Fyrus (Twilight Princess)
Okay, so Twilight Princess’ Fyrus looks so unbelievably cool that there’s no way that this fight would be able to match up to its insane visuals. Link’s battle with Fyrus ends up coming off as especially lazy though. To begin with, Fyrus is about as scary as they come as he’s a hunkering golem that’s made out of fire. On top of that, he’s been chained up for God knows how long, meaning he’s particularly anxious to get those fire fists swinging. It would have been pretty inventive if defeating Fyrus required freezing his molten self and then getting creative with the rest. Instead, those chains that Fyrus is dragging around become his undoing. This scary beast is taken out by some well-timed trips. Apparently Fyrus got locked up in the first place for having no center of gravity? A lot of Twilight Princess’ bosses have a gorgeous initial presentation, but then a very underwhelming follow through, with Fyrus taking the lava cake.
6. Rebonack (The Adventure of Link)
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link deserves a little bit of slack simply due to the limitations that its console was working with. That being said, there are still entertaining boss fights throughout this game, like Link’s encounter with Barba. The Rebonack boss battle is not as exciting of an experience. It’s always a letdown when a Zelda game will reveal that one of its bosses is simply a souped-up version of a regular enemy. Rebonack is such a fight. Granted, the iron knuckle enemies are one of the larger frustrations in The Adventure of Link, making them a good candidate for boss promotion. It’s just that the game doesn’t go far enough with this boss. Yes, Rebonack has been imbued with a fancy horse, but the addition actually makes him a more vulnerable target. Besides the horse companion and some half-assed lasers, Rebonack is basically a regular enemy from the game disguised as an intimidating boss. Even just fighting a room of three iron knuckles at once, as lazy as that is, would still be more of a challenge and memorable moment than what the Zelda sequel actually delivers.
5. Gyorg (Majora’s Mask)
There’s a lot of hate out there for Gyorg largely because the aquatic-based battle in Majora’s Mask has woefully bad design. Boring and frustrating is a hard combination to achieve, yet Gyorg pulls it off. Link is on a platform outside of water, with Gyorg in the water. After stunning the boss with arrows or boomerangs, Link needs to put on his Zora Mask to dive in the water and inflict some damage. Then, immediately get back out of the water before the un-stunned Gyorg eats him. This lengthy process repeats itself for what feels like forever. It’s also sufficiently messed up that Link’s prize for defeating Gyorg is the weird fish-beast’s corpse. How often is Link taking a morbid memento like that from a boss fight?
It’s worth mentioning that Majora’s Mask 3D for the 3DS makes some significant changes to the Gyorg battle, which not only fixes most of these issues, but also makes the fight a lot more layered—and most importantly—fun. He’s the enjoyable sort of challenging, rather than the monotonous, time-suck kind like his predecessor. That’s why solely the N64 version of Gyorg is making this list, rather than his updated 3D counterpart.
4. Digdogger (The Legend of Zelda)
The original Legend of Zelda is such an iconic title in the history of video games that it’s entitled to a bit of leeway. After all, the bosses that were capable of being created on the Famicom and original Nintendo are obviously nothing in comparison to what the Wii U or even the Gamecube could turn out. In spite of The Legend of Zelda’s nostalgic charm still being strong for a lot of gamers, it’s not enough to give anyone fond memories of the boss fight with Digdogger. The boss gets point for style, but any boss that can be defeated in a single hit sees itself qualifying for the disappointing department. All it takes to defeat Digdogger is a few notes on the recorder and the giant eye is completely shrunken and incapacitated. That’s it. It’s not even something deadly that takes out Digdogger. It’s music. Clearly this guy is at the bottom of Ganon’s payroll.
Digdogger actually reappears as a boss in Oracle of Seasons but has a much more inventive, fun concept behind his gameplay that time around involving Link’s magnetic gloves. At least the creepy guy got some redemption there.
3. Armogohma (Twilight Princess)
Nintendo sort of shot themselves in all eight of their spider-like feet when it came to Twilight Princess’ arachnid boss, Armogohma. To be fair, Armogohma isn’t technically the worst designed Zelda boss, he’s just someone that instantly loses nearly all of his credibility when viewing what Nintendo could have pulled off with the enemy. Nintendo’s tech demo for the Wii U, dubbed The Zelda HD Experience, proudly showed off what Twilight Princess would have Iooked like on the console, with the main presentation piece featuring a grueling, intuitive grudge match with the horrendous spider, Armogohma. So many gamers were excited for bosses to reach that level of sophistication in Zelda titles, with Armogohma’s reality being a drastically scaled back, more simplistic fight. Defeating Armogohma involves making statues smash him, not precise swordplay. It might not seem fair to penalize this boss for something shown off in a hardware demo rather than the actual game, but Nintendo shouldn’t have settled so considerably here. Armogohma might still look great, but he’s not much more of a challenge than the original Gohma, which is saying something (he’d be on this list if Armogohma wasn’t already filling a spot).
2. Angler Fish (Link’s Awakening)
This is the easiest boss in any Zelda game. No question. So that in itself is a significant factor that holds Angler Fish back from making any significant positive impression. Furthermore, on the topic of that name, this enemy is just an angler fish. He’s a real-life animal that Link has to kill for some reason. It’s not like the game even dresses the boss up in some complicated, foreboding name. No, just Angler Fish. Got it. While it’s not a bad idea to put Link in water for a boss battle, the Hyrule warrior appears to be more agile underwater than the boss itself. Angler Fish might have a cool, detailed look to him, but all he takes is a few sword swings and he’s very quickly fish food. He just sort of floats about, too. It’s entirely possible to go about thinking this boss doesn’t even deploy any attacks (he does…eventually) because he gets beaten so quickly. Then again, maybe this boss is so easy because he is simply an angler fish.
1. The Imprisoned (Skyward Sword)
The Imprisoned is the sort of boss from nightmares—literally. Skyward Sword begins with Link having a nightmare about this terrifying creature. In spite of the…interesting character design (it’s a giant mouth, covered in teeth, with tiny legs), The Imprisoned is treated with all the bells and whistles of an apocalypse. After all, this enemy is supposed to be what destroys the world.
The thing about The Imprisoned is, absolutely nobody likes this boss. Search for Imprisoned love. Nothing will be found. No one in the Zelda community actually enjoys fighting this boss. The Imprisoned battles are sort of the definition of tedium. Link has to stop The Imprisoned from reaching the Temple, otherwise it’s game over. Additionally, Link needs to battle him three times, with the fight getting progressively more difficult (and lengthy) each time. They become increasingly complicated and easy to mess up, where single mistakes can lead to restarting the whole thing (and it’s not a short fight). Maybe the prophecy meant The Imprisoned would “end the world” because gamers have turned their consoles off in frustration?
Is there some other ally of Ganon that is more deserving of a spot on here? Should King Dodongo be considered a colossal waste of time? What about Tentalus? Or should someone from Breath of the Wild join the ranks of these failures? Be Hyrule’s savior and sound off in the comments below!