Top 10 Favourite Boss Battles

Written by Elmo 3000

I love boss fights in video games. Everyone looks forward to them, and they usually provide some of the funnest/hardest/most memorable bits of any game. They also usually have the best music, best cutscenes, and in general, they’re a blast to play. But what makes a perfect boss battle?

Well as I said, great music helps a lot, and there has to be a perfect balance in the atmosphere. You have to be enjoying the fight, but at the same time be scared out of your wits that you could die at any second. So here are my picks for boss fights that are easy, hard, memorable, or just fun.

Quick warning: All of these are my own opinion. If you disagree, you can leave a comment saying what you would have put, and before anyone asks, yes, these are nearly all Nintendo. They’ve been around longer and made more games, hence more boss battles, so it’s logical that there’s a lot of them on this list. I’m not a fanboy; I just genuinely think some of these Nintendo boss battles are good. There aren’t that many modern picks because with orchestras of music and realistic graphics, it’s easy to be epic nowadays.

Although I said music plays a big part in boss battles, music alone cannot get you a place on this list, so ‘Butsutekkai’ from Ikaruga, I’m sorry you were number 11.

Sorry to you too, ‘Devil Dragon’ from Megaman 2. You were a tad too easy for this list, although your initial shock factor was amazing.

Also, this blog will obviously have spoilers, but mostly for very old games.

10) Super Mario Land 2

The boss: Final Boss, Wario.

Edging onto the list is the first ever appearance of Wario as the final villain in the second ‘Super Mario Land’ game for Gameboy. Although it might not look especially epic nowadays, it was amazing to me when I first played it.

You burst into Wario’s room after getting through some hellish obstacles in the castle that was your’s before he took it over, and at first, he doesn’t seem too bad. He stomps on the floor, dropping glass orbs on your head, which seemed impossibly hard when I first played this at 6 years old, but now it seems easier. You just jump on his noggin three times and he’s gone…

Wait a second… did he just take one of your power-ups? Yep, the second stage of this battle sees him hoverring above you and smashing down at inopportune times. Great. The music is about as dark as a Mario Gameboy game could get away with, and it does help the scene by giving it a frantic feel. If you survive Wario this time, he runs off again.

Now he’s shooting Mario’s trademark fireballs at me! Ack! Well, this isn’t too hard compared to other games, and if you’ve gotten past the first two stages of Wario, the last one shouldn’t pose too much of a threat. Still, this introduction of Wario couldn’t have been pulled off smoother, and it ranks high amongst other great Gameboy boss battles, like King Dedede and Nightmare.

9) Pokemon Gold, but also applies to Silver, Crystal, Ruby, Sapphire, and probably others.

The boss: The champion.

Gym leaders in Pokemon games are usually really easy, and the Elite Four are normally not too hard either, especially if you’re tactics involve raising one Pokemon really high, and ignoring the rest. However, it gets a lot harder when you raise a balanced party, at the expense of your best Pokemon. In my case, my Blastoise is about 10 levels too short to beat Pokemon Red, just because I wasted time raising a Pidgeot, Arcanine, Parasect, Electrode and Hitmonlee too…

Anyway, even though these games were on the Gameboy, they were very long; longer than some games today. Therefore, the final boss, the Pokemon League Champion, was always going to be a tense battle, no matter what Nintendo made it. As it turns out, they gave it some music that starts off dramatic and slow, but quickly bursts into battle pace. It helps that in almost every Pokemon game, you know the Champion beforehand, and although it’s predictable in most games, I didn’t see it coming the first time I played (To be fair, I was 7.)

This fight will make you sweat as you reach the end of your 10+ hour mission to become to Pokemon Champion. It’s almost epic enough to make you look over the fact that Lance has three Dragonites, the highest being level 50, when Dragonair only evolves into Dragonite around level 55. Lance, you’re a cheater. That’s why you lose.

8) Super Castlevania IV

The boss: Dracula.

Dracula has always been a fairly interesting boss in every Castlevania game, and I was thinking of putting in his incarnation from ‘Symphony of the Night’ because of it’s epic addition of dialogue (Die monster! You don’t belong in this world!) but I haven’t been able to get a copy of SOTN yet (Expensive game…) so the Super Castlevania IV version will have to do.

This boss fight is still pretty epic. This game had great boss fights, mainly for the 4 second victory jingle after getting that red orb… but Dracula’s battle had real tension and atmosphere. Before the battle even begins, you walk through a corridor, and all the torches light up. He’s expecting you.

After getting some weapons and health from the infamous invisible ledge before the main fight, you charge in. Dracula can shoot fire at you, summon fireballs to follow you, and near the end of the fight, he charges lightning down through the room. The music changes to ‘Simon’s Theme’ and you can easily die. However, if you’re successful, this is actually one of the only Castlevania games where he doesn’t have a second phase. He just dissolves into a cloud of bats and dies mysteriously…

7) The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

The boss: Phantom Ganon.

Picking out the best boss fight from Ocarina of Time is like picking whether to be shot, burned, or drowned. In other words, with the giant King Dodongo, the creepy Bongo Bongo, the humourous Twinrova, the startling Volvagia and the incredibly awesome final battle with Ganon, it was a hard choice to make. Even Morpha was almost fun enough to make the Water Temple seem worthwhile.

Still, Phantom Ganon gets picked purely for the shock factor. The forest temple is the first temple you solve as an adult with Link, and you know that the final boss will be Ganondorf. So when you make it to the boss battle after a humongous maze of ghosts and keys, you’re expecting something tough, but not to turn around and see Ganondorf himself.

Oh wait, it’s not him. He took his face off and it’s a ghost… wait a minute, that’s just as creepy! Fighting this spirit of Ganondorf is fairly tough, especially if you have no idea that you have to shoot his horse with an arrow while it’s charging out of a painting towards you. Even when you beat it, it’s fairly creepy as it dissolves in midair, then Ganondorf speaks from somewhere and banishes his own friggin’ ghost to another dimension. How normal.

6) Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

The boss: Big Baby Bowser.

One of the biggest battles on the SNES, this boss was incredible in every sense of the word. It showed what the graphics on the SNES could do, it had one of the most memorable boss tunes of the era, and it was just… unique for it’s time. Chucking eggs into the distance at something that resembles Godzilla is always going to be fun.

The scene oozes with tension as Yoshi stands alone on the wrecked roof/floor/we don’t know, of Baby Bowser’s palace, and rocks are falling around you. Then, your giant nemesis rises from the debris and roars at you. Then the rocks charge down and smash through whatever you’re standing on. It gets worse when Baby Bowser summons them to raise up later, then smash down on you again.

Your only hope is firing giant eggs at him, and if you fail, you get a creepy death of Baby Bowser charging towards you until his body fills the screen, and then he destroys the platforms, leaving Yoshi to fall to his death. Definitely one of the most memorable bosses in a video game.

5) Resident Evil 4

The boss: Del Lago.

Resident Evil 4 has some amazing bosses, and it was hard to choose the best one. Krauser? He’s fun, but his death scene is lame. Saddler? Still fun, but too obvious. Salazar? Great, but you can kill him in one hit with a rocket launcher. El Gigante? Well, you fight four of them, they’re nothing special…

Del Lago was breathtaking. Not only was he the first boss in the game, he was also undoubtedly to biggest, and it’s no wonder Leon could only hurt him with harpoons. Unless you’re on ‘easy’, he takes a fair number of harpoons before eventually giving up, and before then he could have smashed Leon’s boat into the water and swallowed him whole.

Just when you think you can relax, and Del Lago is dead, a rope attached to him finds itself wrapped around your legs, and unless you’re playing the Wii version, you have to frantically tap buttons unless you want to see Leon getting dragged out of the boat and underwater, where he faces one of the more visually disturbing deaths by drowning.

‘Del Lago’ actually means ‘of the lake’. Just a little trivia.

4) Wario Land 2

The boss: The Basketball Bunny.

Warning: To avoid seeing the entire level and just go straight to the boss, you’ll need to go to 5:17 of this video.

Every list has to have one completely personal entry that nobody else would pick, and this is mine. The single greatest boss out of the 12 you face in ‘Wario Land 2’ on the Gameboy, it’s the most unique boss of the game. Most of the other bosses involve damaging them by jumping on them, or using the B button to charge at them. Some get slightly more imaginative, as one two make you throw items at them, and you can only damage one of the final bosses by hitting him when he’s recharging.

However, this boss is amazingly different. You fight him… over a game of basketball.

The strange basketball bunny jumps around and occasionally chucks a basketball your way to stun you. If he jumps on you, Wario turns into a red ball, and if he grabs you then, he’ll jump up and dunk you to score a point. If he gets 3 points, you fly out of the arena and have to try again. To win, you need to jump on him, grab him when he’s a ball, and throw him from midair or with a charged shot from the ground, and slam dunk his sorry ass out of here.

Although it doesn’t sound like much, it was ridiculously hard when I first played it, and even though I now know all the right places to stand when aiming, there was a time when I thought he was the hardest boss ever. Then again, at that point, this was the 5th game I’d played… ever.

Even so, he’s still a truly unique and fun boss.

3) Spartan: Total Warrior

The boss: The Hydra.

Warning: This is another boss not well-known enough to have it’s own video on Youtube, so if you want to see it, skip straight to 4:50.

I’ve heard amazing things about the Hydra boss battle in ‘God of War’, but I haven’t been able to secure a PS2 yet (If anyone complains about my lack of consoles, I’ll assume they’re offering to buy me one, as I really don’t have the money right now…) so I’ve had to settle for a great boss in a very underrated game.

Spartan: Total Warrior pits you up against several mythical beasts and bosses, like the Minotaur. Heck, in the first level, you flatten a Talos (A giant bronze soldier forged by Hephaestus… do your research) with three catapults in an attack on Sparta. Still, it can’t compare to the Hydra.

The many heads will try to bite you, which does surprisingly little damage. If you strike the heads, they give you magic, and if you do a charged magic attack on one of the heads… it explodes. Yep, seriously. However, you can’t rest yet, because if you don’t gather fire arrows from a respawning chest and fire one at the severed neck, the head grows back. If you do hit the neck in time, it explodes. It’s that awesome.

As the Hydra grows more heads, the battle rages on and on, and your only sign of victory is the beast’s decreasing health bar. Eventually, after it rears it’s chief head and starts breathing fire, you can destroy it’s last head and kill this humongous beast. One of my favourite boss fights.

2) Eternal Darkness

The boss: The guardians.

This boss is so high because it can be 3 different monsters, depending on which artifact you choose at the beginning of the game. For this reason, the video above only shows the 3 different guardians killing Paul Luther, not all 3 fights. If you really want to see them, follow these links, but I don’t want to put another 3 videos into this already packed blog.

To see Peter Jacobs attacking the Xel’lotath guardian, go here.

To see Peter Jacobs attacking the Ulyaoth guardian, go here.

To see Peter Jacobs attacking the Chattur’gha guardian, go here.

Anyway, all three of these guardians are different and uniquely terrifying. The Ulyaoth guardian looks like a jellyfish with legs, the Xel’lotath guardian looks like a headless mermaid, and the Chattur’gha guardian looks like a f***ed up ‘Groudon’ from Pokemon.

To show how epic these bosses are, when you first encounter them as Paul Luther… they instantly kill you. Xel’lotath’s guardian explodes your head, the other two just squish poor Paul beneath their giant limbs. So when you come to fight them centuries later as war journalist Peter Jacobs, you know they mean business. They’re huge, tough, and unbeatable without magic. Each one even taunts you if you try to shoot it, just because it doesn’t do anything to hurt them.

My favourite taunt is from the Ulyaoth guardian.

“My machinationa are timeless Peter…

Your life is not.”

1) Earthbound

The boss: Giygas.

This is the first part of the battle, just to give you a taste of what Giygas is like. If you desperately want to see the second part, it’s here.

Earthbound is mainly known for being a bit quirky and kooky. However, the final boss is known for being dark and incredibly tense. Giygas is pretty much… insane. He had so much power, it consumed him, and now he doesn’t even know what he’s doing. As Pokey says ‘He is the evil power.’

The first stage of the battle is fairly straightforward. Giygas is invincible, so you bash his cohort, Pokey. After taking a beating and listening to one of the greatest pieces of boss music ever (Starts out like an NES tune, then turns into dark drum and bass) Pokey taunts you, then lets Giygas out of the ‘Devil’s Machine’. Giygas is still invincible, but you still have to keep hitting him until Pokey appears to taunt you again.

Then comes my favourite bit of the battle. This might just be because I love storyline in gaming, but in the final phase, one of your characters uses the normally useless ‘pray’ command, and all of your friends from along your adventure suddenly start praying for your safety. This somehow does damage to Giygas, as more and more people you recognise start helping you.

The final epic touch is that at some point in the game, it asks you to give your name. Not the name ‘Ness’ but the name of you, the player. Well, you’re the final person who prays for the safety of Ness, Paula, Jeff and Poo, and you’re the one who kills Giygas. Nice! Basically, Giygas completely spazzes out and goes mental. The graphics go crazy, on purpose, and then the screen crashes into black. Then… the ending! Yay, you’ve beaten Earthbound!

Well, that’s my favourite boss battles. I hope, even if you didn’t agree all the time, you had fun reading the list, and if you think I missed a glaringly obvious awesome boss, leave a comment.

Thanks for reading!

-Elmo 3000

20 thoughts on “Top 10 Favourite Boss Battles

  1. Fey

    My top ten bosses–without explaining why:

    10: Pokemon Champions
    9: Del Lago
    8. Master Hand
    7. Gannon/Gannondorf
    6. Wario
    5. Bowser
    4. Maat
    3. Dracula
    2. Adea
    1. Sephiroth

    Yes, I include one of the limit breaks of FFXI, simply because he’s ultra-hard and the only way a player can beat him is to be near at the cap before taking him on. Final Fantasy, Castlevania, Mario and several others are present. Fire away!

  2. Jeff

    I think it should be fairly obvious why FF was not included in general. In fact, I really wouldn’t have included Pokemon either. Turn-based RPGs (while enjoyable) shouldn’t be included on a list of boss fights because there is no skill needed on the player’s part in order to beat them. If I told my four-year-old sister to defeat Ganon at the end of Ocarina of Time, even if I gave her explicit instructions, she probably would not be able to because of the skill it requires to play the game. On the other hand, if I told her move by move how to defeat Sephiroth, she could do so easily. Since it doesn’t require any inherent skill, it shouldn’t be included.

  3. Cpt Olimar

    Indeed, while RPG’s are certainly fun, it takes about as much skill as blowing your nose.

  4. mgs man

    well…honestly…without a doubt sephiroth is numero uno…im no fan of ff but i agree he shuld be…well although you say there is no skill in rpg bosses. He is the coolest of all time. Now where on earth is psycho mantis at the number 2 whole or the end? now thats just insane as psycho mantis took the most..well…luck lol and the end the most skill…i like pkemon so i agree with lance at the 10 spot

  5. Wizzle

    Just fyi for all the ppls saying rpg bosses shd not be included because it takes no skill… have u ever thought about trying the fight WITHOUT a walkthrough???? WITHOUT step by step instructions? Try giving the controller to your four year old without giving her the instructions and i bet she fails epically!!! but i digress… my point is if u want the fight to b a challenge to begin with, y would u read a step by step instructions on how to beat it… yes, there are games where it takes a high degree of button mashing skills with or without a walkthrough… in terms of replay value, the fight will b just as epic the second time around cuz u dont have the sure fire strategy, but in terms of first play through, turn based battles can b just as challenging.

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