Too often while discussing the battles and bosses of the Zelda series, I see people either lump the minibosses in with the main bosses or write them off as regular enemies. The former is understandable, because smaller or not, they are basically boss battles. Still, I’d like to discuss the merits of these lesser foes on their own and ask: which one is your favorite?
I think that, while the main bosses have to be epic in presentation if not in size, minibosses have the more unique position of being similarly more notable fights, yet not having to follow as strict of rules of presentation; if a dungeon’s last boss were not epic, people would complain… but a miniboss can just be a special battle against a cool character or monster. The presentation for that fight can be whatever. For this reason, I think minibosses can be diverse more easily than other bosses.
Beyond that, they also serve as shorter, lighter boss battles that are easier for the player to deal with, easier for the designers and programmers to make, and just easier to fit into the game in general. So, in effect, they allow for much more boss content in a game, and in this way I think Zelda games could improve; they could have more minibosses throughout the game, not just the one for each dungeon. I will say this, though: The Zelda series has been doing more and more with minibosses as time goes on. It was in the GameBoy games that Nintendo first started doing a lot with them, and around the same time they became very common in the first 3D Zelda games on the N64. The Wind Waker dialed it back a bit and, for the majority of miniboss encounters, simply had you face off against groups of normal enemies, but Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword showed each of their minibosses a lot of love, and even had a couple of cool overworld minibosses, like Twilight Princess’ King Bulblin or Skyward Sword’s special surprise miniboss in the Shipyard. Not to mention that, since The Wind Waker, most games have had particularly cool miniboss themes and even in some cases unique battle themes for each individual miniboss.
I’ve written before that my personal favorite miniboss is the Death Sword from Twilight Princess because of its concept and presentation, but unfortunately the fight is very easy and not very interesting. Choosing a favorite miniboss purely from a gameplay perspective is difficult for me, but I think that, to my surprise, I might pick The Wind Waker’s battle with the special Wizzrobe in the Wind Temple. With its ability to summon other enemies — causing hectic gameplay — and that game’s awesome miniboss theme, it was very memorable for me.
But what’s your favorite miniboss? Or your favorites, if you can’t pick just one. And how do you feel about minibosses in general? Tell me in the comments!