Remember the boss fight? There was something special at getting to the end of a stage knowing that you’d have some big boss to destroy. There was anxiety and curiosity as we inched towards the bosses lair. In every genre of video game there was something of a boss fight, even puzzle games! While this aspect of video games has died off more recently, it’s nice to see that some companies keep it alive! Remember that first time you fought Bowser? What about Mother Brain? Ganon? All such memorable boss fights. Here are my Top 5 Nintendo Boss Fights.
5. Andross – Star Fox 64
Star Fox 64 was a trip, wasn’t it? It was such a cool experience that gave birth to the N64 rumble pak and took us throughout the galaxy with the Star Fox team. Star Fox always felt like Nintendo’s answer to Star Wars, whereas Metroid is Nintendo’s version of Alien. Star Fox was always brighter, more fun, and more about blasting than anything else. 64 was no different as the definitive game in this anthropomorphic space series. Star Fox 64 gives the player a fantastic selection of stages that take you onto the land in a tank, under the ocean in a sub, and into space. This game also taught us how to dogfight, which still feels amazing. Star Fox 64 brought us quite the memorable boss battle, Andross. You fight this evil space tyrant as his giant head and hands levitate in space. It sounds crazy, because it is! Andross was a very unique and original boss fight as you have to target different parts of his head and hands to defeat him. It’s a very cool fight, and compliments Star Fox 64 very well.
4. Metroid Prime – Metroid Prime
After figuring out the disaster of Talon IV in Metroid Prime, Samus is brought face-to-face with the titular monster itself. Metroid Prime is incredibly difficult and has multiple stages to beat through. After you destroy it’s outer shell, you have to kill it’s interior. Like all Metroid games you have to use your head and environment to fight off this boss. I remember dying on Metroid Prime about one dozen times before I was finally able to best it. It was brutal, terrifying, and beautiful, quite poetic.
3. Ganondorf – The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Few boss battles are this frantic and cinematic. The Wind Waker is one of the most beautiful video games that Nintendo has made, and it’s capped off by a one-on-one fencing match with Ganon. There are few experiences that represent a series better than this fight. While Zelda does help you by shooting holy arrows, Link is dwarfed by Wink Waker’s Ganondorf. The cel-shaded animation bursts across the screen as you’re forced to dodge and use Link’s acrobatics to defeat his arch nemesis. This fight is so intense that the only way to end it is with Link driving his sword right into Ganon’s forehead. Game’s for kids? Right?
This boss fight is quite memorable for that reason. It also proved that Nintendo wasn’t afraid to put a little violence it their storybook of a game. Ganon deserves what he has received! The nice shift to stone is the perfect coda to this excellent boss fight. My palms are sweating just thinking about it.
2. Bowser – Super Mario 64
What a perfect boss battle Bowser was. He stomps onto the screen and challenges Mario to a one-on-one fist fight. This battle forces the player to abuse Bowser for his size and speed. Mario has to figure out how to defeat this dragon of a turtle, and by using full 3D you monkey toss him into oblivion by throwing him into mines. Only Nintendo can make sense of a fight between a spiky reptile and a migrant plumber, and boy does it work well. Boss fights are the best when they force the player to utilize their environment. We fight and stomp waves of enemies throughout video games. Typically they’re just one nameless monster after another. Sometimes even boss fights just feel like a mash of the “A” button until the thing is dead. Super Mario 64 did right by Bowser and made him a terrible force of destruction. Mario not only has to outsmart him, but outsmart his lair as well. Genius stuff.
1. Bowser- Super Mario Bros. 3
Yes, It’s lame to have two Bowser fights back-to-back, but he is THE Nintendo boss fight. I’ve said this before the best boss fights should involve the baddie’s environment. As it does in Super Mario 64 and Metroid Prime. Bowser in Super Mario Bros. 3 literally beats himself as you force him to destroy his own castle and fall to his doom! Boss fights should always force the player to use their brain a bit. This isn’t your average goomba or koopa trolling around the Mushroom Kingdom, this is BOWSER! He was bigger and more intimidating than he ever had been in SMB3 and this fight just represents all of his classic moves. He shoots fire, he jumps and ground-pounds, and in the end is his own worst enemy. I remember having trouble beating Bowser as a kid, only to realize that he’s not immune to pits either! Some may complain that this is a “non-fight” but it’s much more in-depth than that. Mario needs to jump, dodge, and be quick enough to get out of the way!
This boss fight also has some of the most memorable boss fight music! So much so that it comes back in Super Mario RPG.
Super Mario Bros. 3’s final scuffle with Bowser is the foundation to which all other Bowser fights have been based on. There have been some excellent fights with the big guy over the years. Nintendo continues to come up with cool ways to fight it’s evil dragon, but this is where it all started. Such memories of triumph have found their way into my mind as I remember the first time I ever sent Bowser down into the lava. Super Mario Bros. 3 may not be the best Mario game, but it offers quite the final battle.
There have been so many great boss fights throughout out Nintendo’s video games over the past 30 years. I remember when I beat Bowser in Yoshi’s Island and just how massive a fight it was. Donkey Kong Country and it’s massive battles with King K. Rool and his counterparts were also quite memorable. Even if you just listen to that awesome boss-fight music.
In the end I could have included 100 Nintendo boss fights and stuck just to Mario and Zelda. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other great boss fights out there, because there are literal dozens of classic Nintendo fights to consider. In this celebration in all that is Nintendo, go out and play some of these great games and let me know your favorites.