Nothing compares to the feeling of watching any end cut scenes and saving right before you head to the final boss. The battle you are about to endure can often be the game’s defining moment, the moment you will remember more than most others. For me, the end boss battle can make or break the game, even if the game was flawless up to that point.
Nintendo is known for its first party exclusives, but the final boss characters are often rehashed repeatedly. Here is a list of my top ten personal favorite Nintendo boss battles that aren’t overused. Fair warning, spoilers ahead.
10. Demise – The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
During Skyward Sword, you feel the presence of an unknown antagonist. All you know is that he’s been sealed away and that he needs to stay imprisoned. At the end of the game, you finally meet Demise. Demise is a demon king who sought the power of the Triforce years before the events of Skyward Sword. When you finally battle him it’s a contest of swords. The first half is simple. Try to land as many attacks as you can while avoiding damage. The second half is where things get interesting. During the battle, you have to use a move known as a skyward strike to stun Demise. The problem is, he can use the same move on you. Your only chance to attack is while he’s stunned. Ultimately the battle ends with Link riding and slamming into Demise by way of a lightning bolt. The ending makes for one of the most epic finales in the Zelda series. Demise is only the first Nintendo boss from the Zelda series on this list.
9. Metroid Prime – Metroid Prime
I’m not a fan of first person shooters (FPS). Period. So, for me to play through one says something. The fight truly utilizes every skill you learned along the way. The boss could only be defeated by using every type of vision and blaster the game had to offer. In the heat of the moment one stumble could, and often did, cost you the victory. The boss had substantially more health than any previous enemies prior to. The climactic end was all too satisfying, but enough for me to know I didn’t like the controls of FPS games. Nonetheless, it earned Metroid Prime a place on my Nintendo boss list.
8. Master Hand – Super Smash Bros.
Master Hand is in every reiteration of Super Smash Bros, but I’m only referencing the original in this post. Gamers of the 90s all remember the feeling of joy watching all of Nintendo’s superstars come together in a single game. I assumed the final boss would be Bowser, imagine my surprise when instead of Bowser I was greeted by an evil glove. I assumed the fight would be easy since I made it through the game with relative ease. While the battle wasn’t as easy as my eight-year-old self-thought it would be, the tactic I had to employ made an impact. I was excited to use the other characters and find out how they fared against him. An experience I won’t forget.
7. 02 – Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards
As I type this I realize not everyone who will be reading this will have fought 02. 02 was the true final boss of Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards. The only way to fight him was to collect every crystal shard in the game and battle Miracle Matter once more. Afterward the Dark Star is unlocked. After navigating through the only level in the Dark Star the battle commences. Kirby is held up in the air by Ribbon and uses the now rebuilt crystal as a weapon. The crystal is used to fire shards at certain areas on the boss’s body. After all, of his weak spots have been destroyed the fight is over. An epic ending to a game I didn’t expect to have one and making 02 a worthy Nintendo boss contender.
6. King Boo – Luigi’s Mansion
Luigi’s Mansion was one of the first Nintendo exclusives on the GameCube. I found the journey to be one of the most interesting games I had played at the time. I loved the idea of working your way through a mansion collecting ghosts as you go. King Boo was hidden as the main antagonist for about half of the game. When you finally make your way to the rooftop to battle him, he uses a mechanical Bowser to attack. After you get King Boo out of hiding all you have to do is suck him up, but because of his massive amount of health, this takes a while. As you progress “Bowser” gets more aggressive towards you. Once you finally suck up the monarch you’ve beaten the game.
5. Pious Augustus – Eternal Darkness Sanity’s Requiem
Pious Augusts is unique on the Nintendo boss list for a few reasons. The first is, as the player, you actually control him before he starts his downward spiral towards villain. He’s also the only one that, while not a first party character, was made on a GameCube only title. His presence is felt during almost the entirety of Eternal Darkness Sanity’s Requiem. The moment you finally get to cross blades with the zombified gladiator is epic to boot. It’s literally a battle to save Earth from an ancient god bent on destruction. While there isn’t anything special about Pious as a boss compared to the rest of the game, you must go through the game three different times to truly beat the game. Pious waits for Alexandra at the end of each playthrough, and it feels just as epic every time.
4. Blue – Pokémon Blue/Red
I can already feel the “Why not Red?” comments coming. The events that lead up to the battle with Red were anti-climactic. Red was a hidden optional boss. Blue, on the other hand, was always a step ahead of you. As a kid I loved the overwhelming feeling of joy when I finally beat Lance, just to find out I had one more battle. I remember my heart pounding when I made it to the room where Blue waited for me. What followed was the most epic fight between rivals that any of us had experienced at that point in our lives. So long as your levels were sufficient and your team strong you pulled through just fine. But the feeling of battling Blue for the last time is not one I’ll forget.
3. Majora’s Mask – The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
I would like to say that I’ve only played Majora’s Mask once. But that one time was all I needed. The fight with Majora’s Mask, and in turn Majora’s Incarnation, and also Majora’s Wrath, was one of the toughest I’ve ever done. It is the only boss battle I can think of that made me so mad that I had no choice but to obtain the strongest mask. While I struggled as regular Link, I thrived when I equipped the Fierce Deity mask. The chain of battles was one of the most difficult and rewarding I’ve ever had the joy of playing.
2. Gruntilda – Banjo-Kazooie
I remember clocking so many hours on Banjo-Kazooie that it wasn’t funny. It was, and still is, one of my favorite games. I was so impatient to finally reach the end of the game that I literally had dreams about it. When I finally made it to her I couldn’t have been happier. What I didn’t expect, was just how amazing of a final boss battle it would be. You had to use almost every skill that you obtained during the game to fell the witch. Everything from beginning to end of the battle was purely epic. I will never forget the joy of watching her fall from her lair and get trapped underneath a rock.
1. The Shadow Queen – Paper Mario The Thousand Year Door
Finally, the number one boss on the Nintendo boss list. The Shadow Queen is one of the most unique battles in the Mario series. She’s a thousand-year-old demon whose only intention is to rule the planet. It’s interesting to note, that if Mario had left well enough alone, she wouldn’t even have been an issue. Now, what makes her number one on this list is the fact she had more health than any other boss in the Paper Mario series. More impressive than that, her two-part battle starts with her taking possession of Princess Peach. It created a moment of shock for me when I had to fight against Peach while controlling Mario. The second part wasn’t exactly easy and I almost died plenty of times. I still came out victorious and gladly watched as the demon went away, hopefully for eternity.
There you have it, that is my personal list of top ten Nintendo boss fights that aren’t Bowser or Ganondorf. Would love to hear your thoughts on this list. Maybe you have your own top ten Nintendo boss fight list. Feel free to comment and start a discussion.