You know how it is. The anticipation, the pull, to reach certain bosses. They are the ultimate reward at the end of a dungeon, and they offer the right degree of challenge for you. Not all bosses are created equal. Some are better than others, so here I’ll be ranking them from least to best. My criteria are aesthetic and challenge because those contribute to the magnetism of each boss, complementing the Zelda aesthetic for what it is: awesome. Let’s get to it.
5. Shadow Link
I’ve always looked forward to fighting Shadow Link. He’s not technically a boss, but for his aesthetic I added him here. When you are on your way to fighting him, you use your longshot to cross a room with dragon pillars. Then, you are greeted by a “Like Like” at the top of the last pillar, which is easily defeated with a bomb. The doorway is fringed with spikes, and as Link enters, the door slams behind him.
A large room greets your eyes, and you find yourself standing on an expanse of water. You pad across, as a tree comes into view and the entrance fades behind. Everything basks in silver, and this lone tree is the only form of life. You cross to the exit on the far side, yet as you turn around to go back, Shadow Link is there to greet you.
When it comes to the combat, you don’t want Shadow Link to jump on your sword. Not only that but he is inherently hard to strike down. Landing blows often requires taking just as many blows, and Z-Targeting just works against you. Arguably, Shadow Link is the only exciting fight in the Water Temple. He is not the same as Dark Link, who comes up later in Twilight Princess.
Volvagia the dragon has a large cave, wrought with glittering embers. When the door slams behind Link, he knows this dragon stands between him and saving the Goron race. The heat is on, literally, as Volvagia emerges from the lava. The dragon glimmers, and the sheer thrill of facing down a real dragon is enough to make this a good aesthetic. Saving the Goron race again is an honor, making this an iconic fight in Hyrule.
Link has to see where Volvagia will emerge from different lava hexagons, and have the reaction time needed to strike him when he does. Not only that, but an additional challenge is using the Megaton Hammer for this fight. Then, if he can’t hit the dragon in time it will go away. The costly damage Link takes from brushing against Volvagia is significant. Getting a barrage of falling boulders adds to that damage. Although not high, the boulder damage can change the outcome of the fight. Plus, don’t fall into the lava by mistake.
3. Bongo Bongo
The plague of the Shadow Temple, Bongo Bongo famously throws Link around on a giant drum. To reach his lair, Link navigates his way across a large room, using his hover boots. Then, Link must leap down a large pit to fall into Bongo Bongo’s lair. Using the Eye of Truth Link has to see Bongo Bongo for what it is. He has to dodge the large hands, make good use of this bow, and move in to slash at Bongo Bongos eye. I ranked this above Volvagia. Although Volvagia may be just as awesome as Bongo Bongo, being on a giant drum really adds to this fight for me personally.
The crazy sisters, Koume and Kotake, add a new dynamic in Ocarina of Time Boss Fights. Sorceresses themselves, Koume has mastered fire magic while Kotake has mastered ice magic. The surrogate mothers of Ganondorf, they are his most devoted servants. Secretly they lead the Gerudo people, which isn’t broadcasted when you play Ocarina of Time. They are 400-year old sisters, so basically like Ganon’s crazy old aunts. The Gerudo people probably aren’t big fans of them, especially the Sage Nabooru. Nabooru is unfortunately enslaved, brainwashed, trapped as an Iron Knuckle, and stolen away from her prior life. It was her punishment for not serving Ganondorf any longer.
Link gets to battle against the elements with these quirky sisters, who also appear later in the Legend of Zelda series. Using his mirror shield, he deflects their fire and ice magic back at him. At his disposal are four smaller platforms, surrounding the main platform. Using plenty of backflips, Link shows off his acrobatics during this combat. Koume suggests they get serious, so Kotake combines with her. Together they are one sister - Twinrova. Twinrova uses both elements and Link must charge his mirror shield by taking their blows. Then, when he has three charges from one element, he can hit Twinrova on her weaker side. Fire deals damage to Kotake, while Ice deals damage to Koume.
These sisters have a big personality: They delight in torture, they can’t get along, and we get to see them argue after they die. Their bickering is a great reward for defeating them.
1. Ganondorf and Ganon
It wouldn’t be Zelda without Ganon. He famously has the last fight in many of the Zelda series, and here is no different. Ocarina of Time is the first instance of Ganon rising to significant power, becoming part of the Zelda Saga for good.
Ganon is equipped with all of the right tools to make him an evil villain. He has a tower, which Link fights to the top of. He’s kidnapped a Princess, which is a classic story. Then, in his throne room, he plays his organ ominously. Above him, Zelda is trapped in a crystal. The battle has three phases. The first is to fight in the throne room, turning Ganondorf's power against him. It takes finesse to longshot to the downed Ganondorf multiple times, and the damage Link can take is so much that he can break jars to replenish health and magic.
Ganondorf is defeated, and makes escape very difficult for Link and Zelda. With his dying breath he tries to collapse the tower while they are still inside. Zelda leads them out, knowing the palace by heart. Link defeats Stalfos along the way who are detrimental to the ticking clock.
The final phase ensues when Link and Zelda exit the castle. It falls into smoking ruins, nothing left. Ganon emerges from the rubble, turns into a beast, and knocks Link's sword out of his hand. He barricades Link from Zelda and the Master Sword with a wall of fire, and Link has to come up with ways to defeat him alone. After combat is over and he is thoroughly defeated, he famously gets sealed into the Sacred Realm by Link, the six Sages and Zelda herself. Later he resurfaces in more games, free of his seal.
A great feature is that you can conveniently save the game and come back to it whenever you want, enabling your ability to defeat Ganon over and over again. Further, the dark castle aesthetic makes Ganon even cooler.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time features unique Temples, Dungeons, and Boss Fights. As you read through this list I hope you could relive some of your favorite fights too. Please feel free to read more on my blog.