Zelda Bosses: Downsizing the Enemy

Axle the BeastDecember 7th, 2012 by Axle the Beast

It’s interesting to talk about the size of the bosses in the Zelda series, and I wrote about this before in another article, where I talked how the bosses in Zelda had stagnated in terms of concept and design. All the bosses at the time seemed to be titanically huge, follow a tired, predictable formula, and were ironically extremely easy to beat despite their intimidating size. Skyward Sword seems to have begun to reverse that trend a bit, but I’ll get into that later. The main thing is, after Skyward Sword, I think this topic should be revisited in more detail.

I extend this to two different things. The first is human or humanoid bosses, like from the major species you interact with throughout the game. These would be characters you would clash with for one reason or another as part of the plot (or at least have a reason they’re fought) serving as full and detailed battles.

But the subject of my article also extends somewhat to smaller bosses that aren’t humanoid at all. These simply have similar size, power, or traits, to humanoid creatures, separating them from the titanic colossi we see in many modern Zelda games.

I should acknowledge that we have had bosses like these in the past. Particularly in older games, but there are even examples in The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, though sadly this is typically limited to minibosses. My point, however, is that we could really use more of these smaller, humbler bosses. And not just occasionally — sprinkled here and there throughout the series — but as a recurring aspect of future games that’s balanced with the already common giants. I’ll tell you why.

To start, reintroducing another size category encourages variety, as I discussed in my previous article on this topic. Obviously, it’s different to fight a smaller opponent than it is a large one, and it increases variety that way, but there are also simply different options available for boss design with a smaller size in mind.

For example, these fights would arguably be more strategic and interesting. They would be more complicated, or more importantly, more open, encouraging the use of many different methods for defeating the boss. This is in contrast to larger bosses, which are usually indomitable giants that can only be hurt by hitting a specific weak point, making use of their Achilles’ heel.

Certainly, larger bosses can be designed without incapacitating weak points, and smaller ones designed with them. I’m simply saying that each size category naturally leans more one way than the other. Whether the boss is a humanoid character or a man-sized beast, the smaller it is, the more viable it is to attack it with different weapons, making it easier, simpler and more intuitive for the fights to have more options for the player.

This concept is displayed pretty well in A Link to the Past, where quite a few of the bosses (who are human-sized or only marginally larger), such as the Armos Knights or Mothula, can be hurt by any weapon that does damage to enemies. The game is a good example of balancing the different approaches, too, because many of the bosses are larger and have much more specific weak points. Generally speaking, A Link to the Past is the game that I think Zelda games should be mimicking more in terms of boss design.

Admittedly, it would be a lot more challenging to design good bosses with a smaller size. The larger bosses, though impressive, tend to have simpler rules, and downsizing the bosses necessitates more careful design to make sure the boss is not only fun (and interesting) to fight but also makes enough sense. In the worst-case scenario, the bosses would be buggy, have weird AI, or just be dull and all much the same: Nothing more than a string of uninspired sword-battles. So a lot of work would need to be put into these smaller bosses for them to be good, but really the same can be said of the larger ones; though the rules, or the formula, is simpler for making larger bosses, they still require effort to be good bosses, and we’ve seen plenty of both well-made ones and poorly-made ones throughout the series’ long roster of boss monsters.

Another foreseeable concern is the diminishing of the puzzle aspect of boss fights. I’ve always preferred action-oriented bosses where the puzzle aspect is either minimal or only one component of a more challenging battle. Some people, however, do prioritize the puzzles. I don’t think a breath of fresh air in the form of action bosses is a bad thing, but I don’t think that shrinking the bosses needs to diminish the puzzle aspect either. Again, while it might take more effort to implement puzzles in the smaller fights in a well-designed way, it’s still possible and shouldn’t be all that hard.

A final concern worth bringing up is the notion that smaller bosses wouldn’t be as impressive or epic.

It’s a fair point, as dungeons are major pieces of game content, and their bosses need to be able to serve as proper, epic transitions or finales for these areas. But, assuming that it’s true that smaller bosses can’t fulfill this role properly, that just means they’re fit for being used as overworld or storyline bosses; fought outside of dungeons, these foes would be optional or tied to the plot and would inject more variety into the game and help with transitions between sections of the overworld or story, just like King Bulblin in Twilight Princess did. We do need more of these.

That said, I don’t think it’s at all true that smaller bosses have to be less epic. How many epic confrontations in movies and other media have been between two men? How about scary scenes in fantasy stories or even science fiction where the hero is beset by a deadly hunter beast not much larger than he is? Smaller size doesn’t need to equal smaller presentation or less impressive ideas; presentation is just another element that works alongside boss design and concept. They aren’t the same thing and can all work together in a myriad of different forms regardless of the concept.

Shadow of the Colossus is a game that proved that puzzles and epic presentation can work fine with smaller bosses. Despite the game being about massive battles (much like those of Twilight Princess) it had a few small bosses that were some of the most intense and memorable fights of the game, and like all the rest were built around good puzzles. All they did differently was introduce a little variety by pitting you against a new size category.

There are bosses from within the Zelda series that nail this too, having not only epic presentation but managing to become fan favorites in the process. Dark Link from Ocarina of Time comes to mind. Skyward Sword, also, has managed to show through Ghirahim that smaller bosses can work well… even in terms of presentation. Love or hate him, I think it’s pretty hard to argue that Ghirahim didn’t have style and presentation, and each pre-battle confrontation with him carried a lot of weight.

Unfortunately, although Skyward Sword managed to do this, it did still largely follow the “big boss format”. While I think that all the fights in the game were pretty distinct (and it’s got my favorite boss lineup of any Zelda game), only a handful were smaller in size (most of which ended up being minibosses, once again) and only a handful had a lot of player freedom in defeating, still relying on the weak points for the majority. More importantly, while they were definitely different and I thought they were quite a lot of fun, all of the major boss battles against humanoid opponents, barring Demise, were against Ghirahim. And all of them, including Demise, were sword battles. It was a start in the right direction, but it didn’t have the variety I’m talking about (which proves that size alone isn’t the only factor here; balance also needs to be sought in boss design).

So let’s see some true variety. Take Skyward Sword’s example and build off it further. Let’s have humanoid bosses as well as beasts — ranging from human-sized to giants — all in the same game in a balanced roster, and have unique, distinct fights of all sorts.

Before we end off, one final aspect worth touching on is the story implications. I’ve brought this up a few times already, and it should go without saying, but using characters of the intelligent species of the game’s world as bosses obviously means that many of the bosses will have more backstory, more personality, and a lot more impact on the story, or simply impact as characters on their own. It’s more conducive to building interesting boss personas.

That applies to smaller boss monsters, too, because any creature in the story can be intelligent. Of course we can have intelligent giants too (and probably should), but generally speaking, the closer to human the creature is in any respect, be it shape or just size, the easier it will be to identify it as intelligent. Or at least that’s how I look at it. Obviously not all bosses need to be something more than mindless beasts, but it would be interesting and nice to see more that aren’t merely that.

Starting particularly with The Adventure of Link, Zelda used to have a lot of small bosses that weren’t much bigger than Link. I don’t know why it’s largely become about huge monsters lately. It’s nice to have them, certainly, and it goes a long way toward making the foes intimidating and reminds of the old fantasy trope of the hero fighting a powerful beast like a dragon or demon in order to save the princess and kingdom. But humanoid opponents bring to mind the duels, the evil knights, the soldiers, the warlords, and the wizards from the same kinds of stories.

At the very least, shrinking the bosses injects more variety into the boss lineup in terms of visuals, playstyles, challenges, and storyline opportunities. And in a series as wild as Zelda can be, more possibilities added to the pool can only be a good thing.

Like with many of its other aspects, Skyward Sword gave us a taste at what this direction for the series could offer us (in a better game). Let’s have more balance in terms of themes, and let’s enrich the game world and gameplay variety with this returning classification of boss. Let’s have more of the smaller bosses — humanoid or otherwise — without eliminating the more familiar titans. Make it happen, Nintendo!

Author: Axle the Beast

Frequently writing articles for both Zelda Dungeon and his own website, Axle has been on ZD for several years and also runs the site’s video mailbag and regularly does other videos on the site’s YouTube channel. He can also be found on Twitter, Facebook, deviantART, and his own YouTube channel.

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  • JuicieJ

    I actually think that the LARGER bosses are the ones that should be in the overworld. It just makes more sense to me to fight some frickin’ skyscraper in an open-ended area rather than an enclosed cavern. That’s one reason I like the Imprisoned and Levias so much. I was wanting to see things like them, and my wish was granted. Now all I hope is for Nintendo to take it even further and take some real advantage of their environments like in Metal Gear Solid 3.

    • The Wanderer

      I think you’re right about bosses become somewhat less threatening when we see them as huge every single time. I’m no longer terribly concerned about giant monsters in Zelda because we see them so often; if the boss lineup was balanced with small/medium-sized foes, the bigger bosses would be more shocking.

      Smaller bosses have a natural tendency to require sharper reflexes and combat skills, since they usually move faster and don’t make their next attacks so obvious. Bigger bosses usually require patience and critical thinking, like waiting for the right time to dodge when you see a giant fist headed your way. Having too much of one or the other can make bosses dull, so a balanced roster is just what Zelda needs. Ghirahim was a good place to start.

      • Clemens909

        Remember the giant octopus on the sandship?

        • JuicieJ

          Tentalus wasn’t that bad. Not great, but relatively unoffensive given the situation. I do think he would have been better off as an overworld boss, though. Scervo in his prime via the timeshift stone should have been the boss.

          • Waker of Winds

            now that would have been freaking amazing

        • Tehlul

          You mean the Disney Pixar lookin abortion

          • JuicieJ

            Yep. Mike and Sylvia’s love child gone horribly wrong. :3

          • Waker of Winds

            that’s it.

    • The Unicorn Hanger-Outer

      The first time I fought the imprisoned, I was like “Oh crud! He’s gonna squash me!” The second time I was like “Right. I’m ready. Bring it on!’ And the third time I was like “Right. Lets get this over with.”

      • MSspirit

        Agreed. When I fought him the third time I was like: “Dude? Really? This again?” And I was just bored with it. It’s the same pattern every time. ‘Hit the feet, make it fall down, hit the sealing spike a few times, he gets back up and repeat.’ The only thing that made it a little interesting was the fact that there was a new body part on him each time, but again, it’s the same pattern. I’d like to see Nintendo make you do that about twice, then it wouldn’t work the third time!

        Something like climb onto the tail, hold on for a few seconds while he tries to shake you off, then proceed to climb up the back. Then you would have kinda a mini game, like needing to hold on while he flies or climbs then reach the head and hit the sealing spike. Then you could do the holding on again and then hit the spike again, but then the Imprisoned falls backwards to get you off and that tactic to go up the tail and back doesn’t work, and THEN you get in the Grooseinator and fire onto the head.

  • http://www.zeldadungeon.net/ DA LAWLZ >:3

    i dont like having bosses that are the same size/small then Link because it doesnt maqke them as intimidating as they would be if they were colossal giants

    • Olimar

      Yeah, but if fight giant boss’s ALL the time it just gets repetitive and lame. Well at least that’s my opinion.

  • Anonymous

    Link Likes this.

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  • Kabro006

    I actually like the duels with girahim the most of the different boss battles in skyward sword so i understand point. I also feel that the smaller the boss, the less predictable it is. Though that might just be me. Great article!

  • Big Jake

    I was absolutely AMAZED when I first fought the Imprisoned. I thought it was the best boss I’d ever seen in a Zelda game. I know there have been large bosses in the past, but I think the Imprisoned was a very unique case. The whole idea behind him, the amazing environment, and the fact that you fight him 3 times is just something that we haven’t really seen before.

    • npatoray24

      Really? i was the opposite.. i mean from the beginning of the game we had to wait to see this huge monstrosity, and when it finally happened, i mean it looked like a soft chubby stuffed animal or something. I guess its personal opnion though. But compared to tentalus the imprisoned looked like a really cool boss, i hated tentalus -__-

      • JuicieJ

        That’s actually one thing I like about the Imprisoned. He’s a very fearsome, apocalyptic creature that’s capable of destroying the world, yet… he’s one of the most adorable things ever. ICKLE adorable. It just goes to show that, through presentation and tone, anything can be scary.

    • Zzen

      I liked the idea of standing on the boss instead of taking damage from lightly glancing

  • Serbaayuu

    Related to the idea of downsizing bosses, perhaps it might be a good idea to in fact have some dungeons end without a boss (imagine that!), or a boss in a very different style than “Stay in this chamber, slash it until it turns to smoke”.

    I look at the headline image of a cyclops and Link in a tiny passageway – and my mind starts thinking of some beast chasing Link through a labyrinth. Now that would be an exciting fight, and a unique setting for a boss battle.

    • Aaron hill

      have a boss that you fight thrught the dungeon that chases you nad you chase it that would be great

      • joshcv11

        that’s how i thought the battle with tentalus was going to be in ss. because you see the tenticles breaking the ship apart. i was disappointed in the end.

        • Waker of Winds

          i though it was dumb when you walk in and then just step out and freak out,” OH MY Gosh!!!!! THERE’S A FREAKING GIANT SQUID ATTACKING THE SHIP!!!!!!! WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!!!!!!
          And then……”Yawn”

          • joshcv11

            Yeah seriously dude. i was so psyched when i was running through the ship. the fight was fun but tentalus looked super stupid

          • Aaron hill

            agreed on that part it wasnt hard but the tension was really fun when you ran through the ship.

          • MSspirit

            Yeah, it was. Tentalus looked to me a little like a fat guy with bad dreadlocks. Nintendo, please something a little more… I don’t know… Squid-like and less fat guy with dreadlocks-like?

    • hcpaki95

      Not sure how the “beast chasing Link” thing would play out though. I mean if he’s being chased, how is Link fighting? Unless he stops running to turn around and face the boss… or does he need to get to the end of the labyrinth first?

      • Serbaayuu

        I haven’t thought it through terribly well, but: set off built-in traps as you run, gain some distance and turn around and lob a few arrows at him, drop bombs in your path to explode when the boss passes, that sort of thing.

        If you managed to reach the end/center of the labyrinth before killing the boss, there would probably be some sort of arena for a more traditional fight, still filled with traps perhaps.

        • hcpaki95

          Nice ideas :) I see what you mean now. That would be pretty interesting, mix up the formula a bit.

          • Zzen

            yeah that seems like a nice change if you flesh it out a little more.

  • Mseevers95

    Can we please bring up the OBSCENE overuse of eyes in boss battles?
    Especially in Twilight Princess. In my opinion the most ridiculous being Diababa.

    A plant does not need an eye, especially an eye that is essentially on a tongue inside its mouth. That serves ZERO anatomic purpose.

    Almost every boss in that game had eyes as a weak point and that takes a lot of strategy out of it because all you do is attack the eye.
    I think Nintendo should either ditch the eyes as a weak point entirely or maybe trick the player into thinking the boss has their eyes as a weak point only to show halfway through the battle that all you really did was piss it off.

    • Darkgreyfire

      I think there is one main reason the eye branches off from. It also goes hand in hand with nintndo putting targets for the claw shots in the past few games, and companions telling you how to beat a boss, before you even have time to try it out for yourself. They have to make the game easier for the common gamer. They always talk of how they want to make a Zelda game that fans like, but will also bring in new blood to the franchise. As video games have exploaded in popularity the past fifteen years. It has also brought in a huge percentage of people that think a hard game that takes time to figure out and beat, is an annoyance and a bad game. Most average gamers want instant gratification.

      • butt naked moblin

        Yes, I agree 100%. I was thinking, I haven’t died in a Zelda boss battle since the first time I fought Gannon in WW. In OOT I died a bunch of times trying to figure out how to beat the bosses.

        • Vala

          Same here. While I did enjoy most of the more recent boss battles it’d be lovely to see some much more challenging ones again.

    • hcpaki95

      Yeah, that’s a really good point. It makes the boss fight way too easy when all you have to do is look for the eye almost every time…

      • butt naked moblin

        Or just target the boss. Unless it’s humanoid, targeting will show you it’s weak spot.

        • Zzen

          Sad but true. :(

    • SquadalaCarpetGuy

      Zelda games have had eyes as weak points since the begging It’s just really too much now. Only certain enemies would have a weak-point as an eye. They need to focus more on armored enemies or enemies blocking attacks instead of just making an obvious weakpoint an eyeball. Their games shouldn’t be geared towards snot-nosed brats. They don’t even play Zelda. The older, skilled gamers play Zelda.

      • Zzen

        I take offense to that I am only 12 and I have beaten every Zelda except Zelda II

        • MSspirit

          Same here. In my opinion that they should make there be several spots were you can end up targeting it, but only one is the true weak spot. The others just trigger an attack and make it more defensive. That would be an interesting battle.

          Although… I did enjoy how some bosses actually interacted with you in SS, like Ghirahim, and Demise, instead of how like Diababa just instantly came at you when the door closed. I’d like to see more of that in the future. But, I would like to be able to respond to Bosses like Ghirahim or Demise, like you could respond to Groose and Zelda in the begining. Being able to insult a Boss personally, would make Zelda a lot more fun for me.

      • David Byrad

        Oops wrong button

    • Someone

      Also SS did that, a lot!
      It got annoying after the fourth dungeon, because I like to figure everything out on my own. Even though SS improved it a little compared to TP, by blocking the eye of. (Which finally gave us a challenge to find out how to reveal it) But it’s still obvious that the eye is the weak point.

  • Mseevers95

    One of my favorite boss battles is actually the final one against Ganondorf in Wind Waker. Call it a prelude to Ghirahim but it felt much more like an actual sword fight than anything before it.

  • Emma Mix

    Axle, I agree. I mean, just look at Majora (all forms), one of the most difficult, or at least favorite bosses from Zelda. It wasn’t colossal, and required a great deal of both action and thinking. Instead of having only one weakness, gamers could beat it a number of ways. That’s what we need to reincorporate into the newer bosses– flexibility. Bosses that can only be defeated one way tend to get boring because it’s repetition of the same pattern, over and over and over again. We don’t need that. We need diversity, flexibility and intensity.

    • JuicieJ

      I’m pretty sure Odolwa has more ways of being defeated than Majora (and any other boss in the series), but you’re right about the repetition thing. I liked how Skyward Sword somewhat offered that with some bosses requiring us to swing in different directions and not having a specific pattern, but the overall thing was still a straight shot. A very well-designed straight shot, but a straight shot nonetheless. We’ll just have to wait and see if Nintendo can take that and build on it in the future.

  • zombie_eat_flesh

    I HATED Celosia and Cenobia. If you got knocked down by them, they kept attacking you without letup until you died.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jordan.dipalma Jordan DiPalma

      You… actually know the names of the Colossi. I’m genuinely impressed; I’ve beaten that game three times and still haven’t bothered to learn anyone’s name beyond their number.

      • zombie_eat_flesh

        Here’s the list if you want it:
        1: Valus
        2: Quadratus
        3: Gaius
        4: Phaedra
        5: Avion
        6: Barba
        7: Hydrus
        8: Kuromori
        9: Basaran
        10: Dirge
        11: Celosia
        12: Pelagia
        13: Phalanx
        14: Cenobia
        15: Argus
        16: Malus
        And there you have it.

  • avalpsychicguy

    Kid Icarus: Uprising did this very well. Many bosses were humanoid, others were not, and there was a variety of sizes. Actually, come to think of it… there might have been fewer gigantic bosses. I’ll have to do a count.

    • avalpsychicguy

      Okay, so here’s the totals:

      Human-sized humanoids: 7
      Large humanoids: 4
      Human-sized creatures: 4
      Large creatures: 5
      Machines: 5

      Note: I only included end-level bosses in my count (With the exception of Chapter 18, where the boss battle was in the middle). I used my own judgement to determine whether something was Humanoid or not, or whether it was human-sized or large. Oh, or if it was a machine. That too. :P

      • Ninty

        Me gusta

    • http://axlethebeast.com/ Axle the Beast

      Uprising has an /awesome/ boss lineup. Zelda could definitely learn from that game in that area.

  • http://www.facebook.com/calebofroy Caleb Mark Roy

    First of all, The Skyward Sword was about the sword… mainly relating to the Wii Motion Controls. Secondly I loved how Shadows of Colossus has such huge monsters! I believe Zelda should incorporate this size of Bosses into the game. Shadow of Colossus has nailed the Big Boss so well that it would be very difficult for Nintendo capture that feeling of Overwhelming size! I play love Zelda, but I care more about the difficulty of the monsters not their size. I want monsters you can fight with versatility, not just one way to win bosses.

    • http://axlethebeast.com/ Axle the Beast

      Zelda’s /been/ incorporating that size of boss. There’s practically nothing else in the entirety of The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess. And Shadow of the Colossus itself, a game premised on fighting giants — still couldn’t bear to avoid having a few smaller ones; the variety is important and the developers of Shadow of the Colossus knew that.

      Additionally, the “one way to win” aspect is more common with larger bosses. As I wrote, the more you shrink the bosses, the more conducive they are to variety and player choice.

  • ThePieOfTruth

    Personally, I really liked Fraaz from Spirit Tracks. It was human sized and required some thinking when it came to making him vulnerable. Hell, most of the bosses from spirit tracks were great because they required thought/patients/skill. I wouldn’t mind seeing spirit tracks and even phantom hourglass style bosses more often.

  • Darkstar

    The Last Story used its final boss in a great way; it starts off as a human, then progresses into a larger beast in each stage. By the 3rd and final stage, you’re facing a giant monster that is harder than and boss in the entire zelda series, and you really have to use your skills and magical abilities to destroy this insanely hard boss.

    • http://www.controlpaddesign.com/ TheMaverickk

      I remember there was a trick to beating this boss, I can’t remember what it was though. I did find that final stage to be grueling though… I don’t think I even bothered keeping my allies alive. They kept getting insta-killed by attacks in either case.

      I’ve been meaning to replay that game though, it was well done.

  • erikingvoldsen

    Hmmm? Ghirahim was the only small boss in Skyward Sword and he was easy. Tentalus was the largest and hardest. unless we count Demise.

    • hcpaki95

      I completely disagree – Tentalus was extremely easy in my opinion… Ghirahim was too, but he was at least slightly more difficult, if only because you actually had to have SOME sword skill.

  • npatoray24

    I really dont have a preference either way, but i enjoy a nice mix of big and small… Personally, when i hear the word “boss” i have come to expect a large creature that makes link look like he has no chance.

    • Waker of Winds

      agreed when i think boss i think
      a. an annoying person telling you to hurry up or
      b. a giant thing with an aura making it seem bigger

  • Ninty

    Let’s not forget forms/stages either. Zelda bosses just need more difficulty. Me having just beaten TP a while ago had weak boss fights, though the forms were cool, just not tough enough. We could also have a human/humanoid boss other than Ganon that has another form or two.

  • yunku2002

    I won’t weigh in on which I prefer, but I’d say the 2D aspect of older games simply made it difficult to include huge bosses. Only since OoT was it possible to fit the big guys in the frame because you now had perpective view. I imagine Aquamentus was meant to be as large as Argorok was. More recent 2D games still have relatively smaller bosses. Maybe in FSA they could be a bit bigger because the camera would pan out at times.

  • hcpaki95

    I don’t really care about size for the sake of size, personally, but I AM somewhat annoyed with the easy bosses the games have been offering up lately. Skyward Sword remedied that a little bit, but Twilight Princess was shockingly easy. Even in Skyward Sword, I didn’t die even once throughout the whole game. So I kind of agree that the bosses should have more versatility; that will likely come hand in hand with more difficulty. It’s not that I want to die during the game, necessarily, but I want to at least feel like it’s a challenge. It seems to me that Zelda games have been getting easier and easier since after Ocarina of Time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RyanF.Hullstrunk Ryan F. Hullstrunk

    I agree. I think that one of the future games needs Ganondorf’s reincarnation or some shit and he should have humanoid Generals that each play differently and take places as bosses of the different dungeons/temples. basically Ganondorf takes over hyrule and temples are built to hold an iron fist of control over hyrule and the Generals guard each temple. leaving Ganondorf in the thrown of the castle at the center of Hyrule and the royal family in the dungeons. Maybe take a note from mario and have it also involve a forced engagement between Ganondorf and Zelda in order to permanently have Ganondorf’s bloodline rule the land.

  • Waker of Winds

    I think we should have Link as a boss. This will probably upset some of you but we should have Link defeat Ganon, but the power becomes too much and he becomes corrupt. Eventually, with his tormented soul he comes to kill Link, possibly creating a paradox. Then when Link beats himself, the future Link tells young Link that to do in order to save himself from this fate he has to something. Then the main bad guy summons him and he must leave. Then at the end of the game,or somewhere in the middle, we could see him talking to young Link, renewed and good. He thanks Link and gives him his blessing and possibly an item to use in the future, such as the lens of truth or maybe a stone that lets him speak to the dead, causing Link to stop the main villain.

    • pizzaman

      That’s a creative idea, but an ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE idea for Zelda.

  • Eruo

    although valid in all your points, there’s just something about defeating a colossus, compared to the normal sized enemy, that just gives you the satisfaction of being able to say, “yea I just did that.”

  • Olimar

    I couldn’t agree more. But in my opinion, sword fights are just so much better. Why, you ask? Because then it’s not just “Use claw shot to grab shield, then run in for the kill” or “use boomerang to stun, then slash him up”. But I digress. Also, small boss’s should have a weak point, just make it less obvious, or just harder to reach. Like take the 3rd Ghirahim fight he has a weak point and he is kind of small. Now, just put it on his back and, PRESTO! You have good and challenging boss. But overall a great article.

  • http://www.facebook.com/SpiritReika Scott Reika Ripberger

    Best mini-boss in recent memory (I haven’t played Skyward Sword yet) for me is the Darknut from Temple of Time in Twilight Princess. I was very surprised with the execution of his blocks and variety of his attacks. To be PERFECT, he should be even more diverse, but if more bosses were like that I think the entertainment factor would go WAY up in Zelda.

    I think what needs to happen is the bosses need to be cryptic again. They need to take some time to figure out and possibly come with hints in the dungeon as with the original Gohma (OoT). To give the player time to figure it out, the bosses will probably have to deal less damage or be fairly slow. I’m very sure Miyamoto is perfectly capable of finding the sweet spot, though.

  • LouisGMC

    Majora had one of the best variety of bosses on the series(WITH ONLY 5) Odolwa is a swords battle that can be done every single item of the game, Goth had that unique race battle, Gyorg was really hard and could be fought both underwater and on the plataform, Twinrova was HUUUUGE(although it’s fight is a bit meh tbh) and Majora was extremely wild, crazy, energetic and with many possibilities of fight! I also like how you can(or have to) use Link in many diferent forms, and the ability to fight the bosses as many times as you want! :D

  • Zzen

    Good article Axle and you’re right smaller bosses do add nice variety

  • Irishdragon5

    I feel there should be no single way to defeat all bosses, Large or small. It’s ridiculous for a normally climatic fight to be a game of “Hit the eye.” However, I enjoy sword duels to pieces, real life or game. With all the small mini-bosses, though, Having a smaller boss might just blend into that group. I feel variety of design is in order, not a size deduction. (I really also would prefer if the mini-bosses got some-kind of a replay feature, just like the main ones in OoT 3D and SS.) Outside of the plant-mutant, I liked the line-up of TP. Especially the dragons. Heck, the final couple of bosses in TP where technically of the “Small, but EPIC” variety. Any Ganondorf or Dark Link fight is technically “Small.” Size is also a depth illusion in the mind of the beholder.
    “Size matters not.” -Yoda

  • David Byrad

    My take:

    I may be only 14, and I may have only started playing Zelda back when MM came onto the Club Nintendo Rewards, but I LOVE strategy games and for a LONG time I have found games too easy. Then I played MM, it was EPIC! And fitted my tastes! Then I played OoT and when I got to the part with the woods to get to Saria, I couldn’t figure it out.

    Or at least, I THOUGHT I couldn’t figure it out! I went all the way to the exit from the woods and found myself unable to advance because the game tricked me! I found a coloration difference between the path towards the next room and the path towards the beginning. Because of this, I was stuck for a LONG time until I found a walkthrough online because I was so observant I actually found a strategy not initially intended, and soon had became stuck because of my own intelligence.

    From this I found out 2 things: Walkthroughs are not fun to look at, and neither is being given the answer straight out right in your face. Personally, I like the options Fi gave in SS. She allowed you to hear hints on side quests, items, and the game itself. And I think that this is a very good idea. It keeps games hard, provides you with hints on how to win, and all the while makes it so that when you DO win, you can honestly say you did it without looking up how to do it, you figured it out yourself!

    Now I do NOT like the Sheikah Stone telling you how to win. It really makes it feel as though you have not earned it and cheated. Just like what you did to get that last A+ on your Math test hanging on your fridge, mocking you endlessly. (Lol JK) I feel that:

    First, hints should give you hints towards the location of a sidequest that leads you towards a scroll that would give you said hint. The sidequest would be relatively easy and comparable to that of a game’s first dungeon, but way smaller and confined to only a couple of rooms. This would make hints feel like they are actually rewarding your efforts.

    Next, the Sheikah Stones should require you to go through a mini-dungeon that is comprised that of one medium-to-large sized room with a couple of other rooms around it, much like the Pirate Stronghold from SS. This would end with the Sheikah Stone telling you how to complete any one part of the dungeon the mini-dungeon was designed to be built for. You can only use the Sheikah Stone once per dungeon and it would require items from previous dungeons to be used to complete it.

    What do you think should happen to hints and Sheikah Stones?

  • kublakhan27

    I think he’s kind of a trendy choice these days, but I’m going with Koloktos as my favourite Zelda boss all-time. He did follow that age-old pattern that many of you have mentioned below, but he just had a unique look and an air of epic-ness about him…I can’t think of any other boss quite like him…I also like Stallord in TP, especially the final stage on the spinner. Going back in time a bit, I like Thunderbird in Zelda 2…I thought he was outrageously unfair (as was that whole final palace really) but he’s another one who I think has a unique look and style, notwithstanding the similarity to Dracula in Castlevania 2, but that’s another story.

  • http://twitter.com/ThomaseDurnad Thomas Durand

    I would love to see dark link again because with motion controls that would be the most intense battle of any zelda game. In the next zelda game I want dark link!

  • Person

    I think it would be hilarious for a huge, towering, skyscraper boss to be like Arlon the Serene from Kid Icarus: Uprising. To see a monster so huge to talk all sophisticated-like and stuff would make me laugh. :)

  • Random Fan

    I have to disagree with having a variety of ways to defeat bosses. Maybe one or two differen’ choices, but no more than that. It makes gathering items useless. If you can defeat it with an item you already have, what’s the use of getting that dungeon’s item?

  • bc master

    i personally feel wether its big boss or little boss their should be more versatility in boss fights so that their isn’t just one way to take down a boss people are starting to get tired of the same lather, rinse and repeat if theirs an eye they need to make sure its the most heavily guarded part of the body and it does the most damage but other parts of the body you can hurt but the damage is minimal forcing you to improvise and use different items not just the one you received in that dungeon

  • G-him lover

    Is it wrong to be totally “in love” with G-him from SS? I find myself wondering that a lot, so much that he even saved me in a dream that took place in the Goron mines form TP…

  • http://www.facebook.com/Thedecembomber Steve Gray

    I don’t always agree with you Axel but I think you are on to something. Use this not only as a means to recentralize the series boss structure, but also refocus exploration oppurtunity. For instance have optional mini dungeons with extra loot and weapons that are guarded by these types of bosses. Then you could choose to move forward through the game in a non linear fashion. Go fight a smaller different type of fight and earn a a piece of equipment that helps you take down a much more formidable foe, or access a new optional area that might just have a rupee.(Albiet that is annoying as hell.) When we played through LttP part of the fun was all that adventuring you did and like you said the bosses had multiple ways of taking them down sometimes. So we receive a hidden piece of equipment like a grapling hook similar to wind waker that gives us the option of fighting a boss head on or using the hook to expose a more vulnerable point of attack. In an unrelated side note I think that boss battles shoud evolve away from the set number of hits and you kill the foe. Anyways let me know what you think

  • Eh

    To those who think smaller bosses can’t be epic, just look at the Ganon boss fight in Wind Waker. One of the most epic boss fights ever.

  • Nevan Lowe

    I actually like the whole “giant monster thing” sometimes. Although you’re right: If every boss is really huge and not challenging at all, it won’t impress you. I played Wind Waker, and thought all of the bosses where awesome like the Gohdan, and Molgera. They were awesome. Now its just: I play dungeon, I find key, I kill incredibly easy boss that’s freakin huge. I used to think that it was epic. Now its just boring. I like it when the boss is hard, and then you get good after killing him a couple times, it gets easy cause you’re good at it. But if its giant, and easy as crap, it goes from “GIANT FREAKIN MONSTER HOLY CRAP I’M ABOUT TO DIE!” to “its huge.”. They need to make the bosses hard again. I can still die on Puppet Ganon today, its so hard. But not any boss from twilight princess. Its not epic that they’re huge anymore. I do like non giant monsters, like Volvagia. They need to be hard again.

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