November 3, 2018
In honor of the Halloween season, and as a fitting introduction to my tenure here with Two Guys Playing Zelda, I thought I would compile a list of my favorite spooky-themed boss battles. This list will pull from some more unknown games, and includes a couple of mini bosses because I’m strictly adhering to a Halloween theme. I will provide a rating too and a short blurb about why I chose the boss. As Link would say: “…………………….”! Let’s get started.
10. Gomess (Majora’s Mask)
This is one of my very favorite mini bosses in MM, which, upon defeat, gives you the Boss Key and a ton of fun. Ever been so frustrated that you explode into a thousand bats? Gomess lives that life. I chose him because, I mean, look at him. And the intimidation factor was high for me, as a kid especially. Sweaty palms and that quick inventory check before entering the room like, do I have enough green potion – I don’t even know what I’m facing. His aesthetic, move set, and battle music are appropriately spooky and underrated, but a little frustrating, as he is quite fast, and especially if you don’t have enough magic for your light arrows. 7/10 for a spooky fella
My next selection is a wizard, of course. He appears as a mini boss and boss battle in almost every Zelda game, and even has his own backstory and playable arc in Hyrule Warriors. He, like Link, Zelda and Ganon, is often given a makeover in both appearance and technical terms throughout the ages. I have three examples today; Wizzro (Hyrule Warriors) and A Wizzrobe (Wind Waker) then Another, Older Wizzrobe from the earliest drawings I could find that weren’t Wand of Gamelon (this one is from ALTTP). These guys can be a pain in the butt, especially in Breath of the Wild. Wizzro has a decent move set in HW, and the first fight against him in the story mode was surprisingly difficult for me the first time I played it. Wind Waker Wizzrobes are one of my least favorite enemies, I eliminate them quickly before things get out of hand, especially the mini boss in Gale Island. This cloaked nuisance gets 9/10, for intimidation and difficulty, and the fact that we can officially play as one of Link’s earliest enemies is pretty sweet.
8. Death Sword (Twilight Princess)
This list isn’t in any particular order of quality, just randomly assigned because they’re all great – but if it were, I would rank this one high up there in memorability. It’s one of the most pulse-pounding fights for me personally, even though it’s a fairly simple mini boss in the Arbiter’s Grounds dungeon of Twilight Princess. The music, sound effects and imagery are downright scary and it’s a thrill to play every time. Death Sword reminds me a lot of at least two other bosses in the Zelda franchise so that’s probably why I regard it so fondly. I also appreciate the duplicity of having the mechanics of the fight be concise and easy to execute, but the atmosphere is so chilling, once it’s over I realize something I feared isn’t as bad as it looked and that’s a good life lesson. Death Sword, thank you for simultaneously traumatizing and inspiring me to be brave. 9/10 for this impressive darkness.
7. Bongo Bongo (Ocarina of Time)
Holy Hylia, talk about an iconic performance. The team behind Ocarina of Time really went hard for us with this game and I’ll never forget the first time I swallowed that lump in my throat and faced Bongo Bongo alone. From the dark, sharp drop down onto the drum, the slippery Hover Boots mechanic, to the unearthly humming from Bongo himself, this is the absolute scariest boss I have fought in the franchise. I still get nervous playing it! There are a lot of theories about his origin but I tend to believe that he was probably a musician/thief who stole magic to create the Eye of Truth, and was killed for it in the bloody depths of Kakariko Village; then Ganon twisted the spirit into an organic beast to guard Impa’s soul in the Shadow Temple. 10/10 scare factor, difficulty and nostalgia blast.
6. Knucklemaster (A Link Between Worlds)
I chose this boss simply for its overt Halloween decoration look and so I could complain about how frustrating and clunky this fight is. Wallmasters have been bothering Link for eons but we haven’t seen one as a boss before A Link Between Worlds. After slogging through the Skull Woods in search of the Sevensage Seres (and many rage quits), the first time I played this I did not know what to expect. But I was glad for the chance to kick some spider-hand butt! It struck me because it’s a little campy but the developers kept the actual fight fresh by throwing in collapsing floor tiles and a second level of the fight where the gauntlet flips over, exposing that classic Zelda weak spot, a big juicy eye. I did manage to defeat it after figuring out some tricks and though it didn’t scare me, I definitely feel like it deserves a spot on the spooky list. 3/10 for this muscle gauntlet, he is doing his best.
5. Facade (Oracle of Seasons, Link’s Awakening)
This one is another not obviously spooky character but I can say that the first time I faced him (badumtsss) I was very scared! He appears as a boss in both Oracle of Seasons and Link’s Awakening, and as a bonus mini boss in Oracle of Ages. I ran around screaming for a good five minutes trying to figure out how to damage him, but then he delivered a dialogue that made the solution all too apparent and from there it was a blast (I’m on a roll with these puns). I thought that the sheer cheese factor of a face in the floor was something very Halloween-spirited, and if you think about it, it would be extremely terrifying to see a mouth open up beneath you, eyes looming under your feet. He also took a pretty long time to defeat and had several levels to the fight just to make it fun. I enjoyed the experience immensely after the initial, “Holy Hylia what do I do?!” 5/10 for this stone faced killer.
4. Demon Train (Spirit Tracks)
I was going to include a boss from Phantom Hourglass but…we don’t talk about Phantom Hourglass in my house – even though I’ve beaten it three times, it’s the worst game in the franchise. Link’s Crossbow Training is more fun than Phantom Hourglass. So I took to it’s better, more mature younger brother, Spirit Tracks for inspiration and I wasn’t disappointed. I love this game and it was easy to choose the scariest boss – Malladus, the Hell-train with freaking lasers. The fight is so long, and massive in scale which is impressive for a DS title. It was also complicated and heavily dependent on timing, which meant a lot of restarts because of one small mistake. The music, SFX, and graphics create a fantastic and pulse-pounding atmosphere and I felt intensely gratified once the fight was over. After fighting so hard for so long, upgrading my train and really feeling the stakes rise as the game progressed, Malladus was a great final boss. I will always hold him dear to my heart but far away from Princess Zelda. 9/10 for this flaming masterpiece of unadulterated malice.
3. Tentalus (Skyward Sword)
Another kind of cheesy boss in looks, but do not underestimate Tentalus, nor the Sandship she haunts. The moments leading up to this boss are some of the best and most thrilling I have experienced. We begin the fight running through a quickly sinking ship, with tentacles blasting through unexpected walls, in the dark, with barrels flying at our face, and the music gets the heart racing. Once through that, we come up on deck and immediately get hit by more flying barrels which will restart Link entirely so I had to learn to be quicker than ever before. Then from the depths arises Tenatlus, Ursula and Medusa’s demented love child. Link’s victory depends heavily on use of the bow, and quick Skyward Strikes, but the most memorable aspect is definitely the music. It creates such a foreboding atmosphere! The Sandship is easily one of the most irritating dungeons in Skyward Sword so having an epic boss battle really helped make up for the clumsy dungeon layout. 8/10 for this slippery sister.
2. Phantom Ganon (Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker)
As we draw to the close of our list, I had to include one of the easiest picks, Phantom Ganon! To this day, I still avoid completing the Forest Temple because this fight is agonizing. Though it’s very fun and intimidating, it is so difficult for me just as a person, and that really dims the spooky glory for me. However, I cannot deny that his design, origin, surprise twist, and overall fight experience are no less than iconic. The one in Wind Waker is totally different in fight style and aesthetic but is just as difficult. Phantom Ganon as an underrated terrifying spirit is much beloved by Zelda fans, and the sweet tribute to his legacy in Breath of the Wild by putting him in as a collectible armor set was a great touch. The fanart available of him is endless, the chilling realization we experience once the fight is over, the anticipation of the fight beforehand, and the high energy of the battle itself all contribute to a very intense vault of memories for me. I used to ask my brother to fight him because I was (8 years old) and (terrified). 9/10 for this legendary ghoul!
1. Dead Hand (Ocarina of Time)
I would be remiss if I did not place the Dead Hand as number 1 here – much like Phantom Ganon, most Zelda fans would jump to this boss when asked, “What are some scary Zelda bosses?” Except we all know what it’s like….we’ve all seen the horrors of the Bottom of the Well. We’ve all looked death in its pale, amorphous face. We laugh about it in the fandom now, but as a child I was legitimately horrified. The sounds, the waving hands, the blood splatters and the slow, agonizing approach of the Dead Hand gave me nightmares. It is a cruel irony that in order to lure the Dead Hand close to kill it, you have to let it grab you. Major psychological torture. Still, it is an absolutely fantastic ride of incoherent gasping and frantic button mashing. When revisited as adult Link, it’s still scary as hell, but much easier which helps soothe the trauma I think. Iwata and Miyamoto were a dynamic team for the Zelda franchise and this masterpiece of disturbing thrills is one of their finest. 10/10 for this, the Most Spooky Blob.
Wishing you a safe, spooky, and sugary Halloween, from the team here at TGPZ, and from me, Sarah Trimble! Thank you for reading, see you next time!