Every good story needs a good villain, and The Legend of Zelda certainly has a lot of those. With each new game comes a new antagonist and new bosses for Link to face, in the temples he visits. There are so many bosses, in fact, I brought in my friend, colleague, and resident co-LoZ expert Cora Barton in to help me with compiling this list of Top 10 Bosses.
We ranked our list using the following criteria:
A. Importance of the Villain
B. Unique Boss Fight
C. Quality Backstory (if applicable)
So, without further ado, here is how we ranked the Top 10 The Legend of Zelda Bosses
10. Stallord – Twilight Princess
We kick off this list of baddies with the reanimated ancient dragon, found in the Arbiter’s Grounds (Gerudo Desert). Upon entering the dragon’s lair, Stallord is just a lifeless pile of bones, scattered throughout a sand pit. When the evil usurper, Zant, shows up to revive the dragon is when things get fun. In true Zelda fashion, Link must use the special item, the Spinner, discovered in the temple to fend off the undead beast. The fight, itself, isn’t a very hard one. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. Stallord cracks this top 10 list because his fight is unique and fun.
Instead of running around slashing your enemy, Link must use the Spinner to glide across the sand and smash into Stallord spine. Do this three times and the fight is over. Except, it isn’t! *shock* The sand pit suddenly drains and now a giant swirling tower lie before our hero. As for Stallord, his fire-breathing floating head now chases Link around, while Link spins around this tower attacking and avoid Stallord.
There is always a predictable rhythm to Legend of Zelda games, but bosses like Stallord make the monotony fun.
9. Twinrova – Ocarina of Time
Hailing from the Spirit Temple, nestled deep within the Gerudo Desert, are the twin witches Koume and Kotake. Individually, Koume uses her flame powers to burn her enemies, while Kotake chills them to the bone with her power of ice. Just like in Dragon Ball Z, when the times get tough they fuse to become the powerful witch Twinrova.
Just like with Stallord, what allows Twinrova to make #9 is her unique battle. At a time where there weren’t many games using directional technology, Ocarina of Time masterfully employed it in this fight. Before you even fight Twinrova, Link must use the Mirror Shield to blast Koume’s fire into Kotake, and vise versa. For first-time gamers, this isn’t a method easily gleamed. Later, when Twinrova appears, Link must use the Mirror Shield to absorb both the fire and ice powers being thrown at him to use a powerful counter that ultimately defeats Twinrova and unlocks the power of the Spirit Temple. It’s a fun fight that requires a little bit of patience and mental acumen, instead of just hack-and-slash.
8. Gohma – Windwaker
To this day, I maintain that Windwaker is the most underrated Zelda game of the series. Fans hated on the game because of its child-like storyline and cel-shaded look. In my opinion, that’s what makes the game great. The problem is, it followed Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. Nevertheless, it was home to some fun, creative boss battles, like the one mentioned here.
Any religious Zelda gamer will recognize the name Gohma, as it’s a one-eyed creature who has appeared in multiple Zelda games. What I really like about the rendition in Windwaker is how you have to use your environment to defeat it. Sitting atop this volcano is a Dragon, innocently minding his own business. Unfortunately, its tail is poorly placed and must be used by Link to bring the volcano down on Gohma. It’s a fun, charming battle that is a good springboard into the rest of Windwaker.
7. Zant – Twilight Princess
The Usurper King enters the Top 10 list at #7 because of his interesting tale and his use throughout Twilight Princess. From the beginning, Zant is our hero’s main adversary. He’s the cause of the entire Twilight Realm invading Hyrule (a.k.a. The real world). Zant even dethrones Midna, hence why he’s called the Usurper King, and proceeds to make Link and Midna’s life a living hell by empowering bosses and sealing areas throughout Hyrule.
It’s later revealed that his motivation for causing anarchy stemmed from years of madness and torment by the previous monarchy. Lost in a combination of madness and hopelessness, Ganondorf reaches out and infuses Zant with his power, on the condition that he help him smother Hyrule in darkness. It’s an interesting twist on a formidable foe. Even Zant’s final battle is an entertaining one, as he transports Link to all the previous boss lairs from each temple. It’s a nice little throwback in the game. It’s just a shame that he puts all that work into conquering Hyrule, only to get replaced by Ganondorf, in the end.
6. Gyorg – Majora’s Mask
Let me begin by saying that, I absolutely loathe this enemy. I first fought the mask-wearing fish, over a decade ago, using my special edition gold-colored cartridge, with a hologrammed Link, locked within my N64. I entered the Water Temple, fought my way using my newly acquired Zora mask, and proceeded to get torn up by this final boss, over and over.
Hindsight being what it is, Gyorg isn’t a terribly hard enemy. Young Link stands on an island while Gyorg swims by, attacking intermittently. Using the bow, you’re supposed to strike him repeatedly until you can move on to the next portion of the fight. The portion that kept defeating me. Gyorg eventually swims deeper into his lair, refusing to come back up and fight. This means you must become Zora Link and dive into the trap of piranhas, Gyorg has set for you. Once you’ve survived that, he begins trying to suck Zora Link into his jaws to have you for dinner. Instead, you’re meant to slice the chains holding on to the WW1 mines, lying at the temple floor, causing Gyorg to combust and win the battle.
I fought this a-hole about 32 times, and when I finally beat him, the game glitched on me and I had to start over. So, congrats Gyorg on making #6, I hope you’re beached somewhere, getting charred.
5. Demon Lord Ghirahim – Skyward Sword
The Legend of Zelda games are known for their eccentric villains. However, none can really touch the level of flare Ghirahim brought to the table. His over-the-top persona mixed with the desire to resurrect his dark master make for a formidable, yet creepy-as-hell antagonist for Link and Zelda face together. It’s later revealed that he’s actually the vessel of his master’s weapon, a demonic dark blade.
Throughout Skyward Sword, Link faces Ghirahim three times, each fighting revealing more of Ghirahim demon powers. If you don’t know what you’re doing, his fights are annoyingly hard as you have to use the Wii’s unique play-style to hit him in specific spots. It doesn’t help that he block nearly every offense you employ. His fights require a lot of patience and defense.
4. Argorok – Twilight Princess
An armored fire-breathing dragon vs. a man in a tunic armed with a Clawshot, fighting high above the City in the Sky. What more could you want? Seriously, what more could you want?!
The fight against Argorok is one of my favorite in the series, not just because you’re fighting a dragon in a Zelda game, but because it requires wit and skill to get the job done. When you begin the battle, Link must shoot the Clawshot several miles above the ground, in order to attach himself to Argorok’s tail. Once you do, you’re only slowing the dragon down as it continues to fly above the temple. This is where you need to remind yourself to put on your iron boots to bring the sucker down to more reasonable heights, like the ground. The fall sheds pieces of its thick armor until the scaly beast is in nothing but its birthday suit.
That’s when the fight gets interesting.
Argorok takes the battle even higher about the temple, with only hovering shrubs to hang from as Link tries to avoid the dragon’s fire breath. Eventually, Link must ride Argorok, slashing at his back until it falls to ground, defeated. It’s one of the coolest fights in LoZ history and deserving of #4.
3. Majora – Majora’s Mask
Unlike other Zelda games, Majora’s Mask exists in the timeline where Ganondorf and Zelda aren’t privy to this adventure. Instead, this is Link in a new land, trying to save the world from an overpowered Masked lunatic, hell-bent on bringing the moon down on the world in 3 days.
Much like Zant and Ghirahim, Majora is not only the titular adversary, but the main product of mischief in Majora’s Mask. He’s the one with the power to bring down the moon, he’s also the one that taints each temple and binds the giants from being able to stop his plan. So, when it’s time to face the many masks of Majora, inside his own lair, you know you’re in for one hell of a fight.
The fights is split up into 3 different stages of Majora’s Mask, with the first being just against the mask. This fight is pretty easy, until the tainted masks from the 4 other temples join Majora in trying to kill you. After dispensing of them and taking down Majora’s Mask, the mask grows arms and legs. These serve to swiftly run around the area, dodging Link’s arrows and trampling him, along the way. Once this version is defeated, the arms and legs get stronger and use whips to attack our brave hero. Finally, after multiple exhausting battles, Majora is defeated and all becomes right in the world again.
You have to tip your cap to the developers for creating an original character like Majora’s Mask. It’s evil corruption of the land gave fans a new and unique story to enjoy. It was the perfect spin-off from Ocarina of Time, and that mainly due the strong villain.
2. Dark Link – Ocarina of Time
I love this villain, because he is the mirror image of the Hero of Time. There isn’t much rhyme or reason to this character, not much of a backstory to go off of, but that’s what makes Dark Link such a formidable foe. With other villains, you can see their motivation, you know who they fight for. Dark Link doesn’t have any motivation, he doesn’t have any goals. He’s simply meant to portray the fight within Link’s own self, to erase the darkness from within, and eliminate all doubt.
Dark Link is no slouch, either. When facing one’s own self, it requires thinking outside of the box to defeat it. Otherwise, you just end up blocking each other for an unnecessary amount of time. Defense and a lot of parrying are vital to defeating one of the most enigmatic villains in LoZ history, Dark Link.
1. Ganondorf – All Incarnations
You can look at this as a cop-out all you want, but Ganondorf will always be the greatest boss in the Legend of Zelda, period. No matter if he’s the dark sorcerer, the conqueror, the pirate boss, or a ManBearPig, Ganondorf brings it every time.
To this day, his introduction in Ocarina of Time, still sends chills as one of the best entrances I’ve ever seen. From the first look, you just knew that this guy oozed evil. Only to come to find out that his evil goes even deeper with his true, beast form. Not only that, but from a gameplay standpoint, Ganondorf is the vehicle for new and exciting gameplay experiences. To explain this, I have to use a few examples.
Twilight Princess, Ganondorf appears and possesses Zelda, causing a battle with our favorite damsel, something we hadn’t experienced. Later, you’re playing Toro with his beast form, leading to a horse chase/battle in the Hyrule Field.
Ocarina of Time, Ganondorf begins by using the Triforce to try and kill Link and Zelda within Hyrule Castle. It’s an awesome experience fighting in different levels of the castle. Ultimately, it leads up to fighting his uber strong, menacingly dark true form.
Windwaker, Ganondorf uses a puppet of his beast form to fight you, but it’s the duel against him that’s truly special. Surrounded by water, you have to take down this expert swordsman by inserting the Master Sword into his brain. No, I’m not kidding. You literally stab him in the head.
I could go on and on, but I think you get my point. No two experiences with Ganondorf are alike. He’s the epitome of evil and the constant source of destruction in Hyrule. The fates of Ganondorf, Link, and Zelda are forever intertwined, which will make him the Boss of all Bosses in The Legend of Zelda.
As with all Top 10 lists, people disagree with certain selections or rankings. So, let us know in our comment section, or on twitter @cinelinx, what you think. Is there a boss we didn’t think of? Would you rank them differently? How would your Top 10 Bosses look?