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Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Editorial: The Top 10 Legend of Zelda Bosses, Part 2.

Editorial: The Top 10 Legend of Zelda Bosses,
Part 2, 5-1.

Having looked at 10-6 a few weeks ago, along with the five worst Zelda bosses, it's time to finish up this editorial series and look at those bosses which take the top five spots in our estimations.

5. Demise, Skyward Sword.

It's probably fair to say that Demise is a pretty well built-up bad guy, right? While the Imprisoned battles are terrible, when combined with the frequent mentions of Demise and his demon army, they do start to paint a pretty good picture of an all-powerful demon lord.

When you finally face him in his true form, then, it's a big deal. After giving you the choice to flee (which is really just a way to give you a breather to go get potions and the like, and finish up any sidequests), Demise meets you in an endless pool of water that seems to be in the sky itself. As the sky goes dark, you begin a classic Zelda swordfight, pitting your swordplay against his.

Where the fight gets really special, though, is in the second phase, where both you and Demise must charge your swords with lightning in order to try to stun the other with lightning-charged skyward strikes, before Link jumps in for a lightning-powered stab to the chest -- one Demise will more than happily dodge the first few times you try.

4. Dark Link, Ocarina of Time.

Dark Link is a horrendously cliche idea, I think -- dark versions of characters always are. But Ocarina of Time's devs manage to pull it back into being interesting (so interesting, even, that the concept gets repeated several times thereafter -- Ocarina of Time doesn't have the first instance of Dark Link, but it definitely has the most iconic one), by having the unpleasant undercurrent that Dark Link is slowly becoming more and more real as the fight goes on.

A miniboss in the Water Temple, Dark Link emerges from the water and, at first, almost perfectly copies Link's movements, mimicking him enough to defend from his attacks, forcing you to either use tactics that get around his mimicry, or to just whip out your massive hammer and smash him with it. He even has the same number of hearts as Link.

As the battle goes on, however, he becomes more and more solid, and when he's completely solid, he stops mimicking Link and instead goes on the offensive, hammering you with your own moves, which you've spent the game thus far building up.

3. Zant, Twilight Princess.

Zant is the standard 'boss that copies the bosses you've faced already' boss, which might, at first, seem like a little bit of a letdown. Up until this point, after all, you've had reason to assume that Zant is the main villain of the game -- the big, evil king of the Twilight Realm -- so it might be a little bit jarring when he suddenly starts pretending to be an evil plant. Or a monkey. Or Morpheel.

But Zant manages to put a slightly different twist on all of the boss battles he copies, and even has a final stage where he forgoes copying other bosses altogether, and just becomes a mad berserker desperately trying to kill you outside of Hyrule Castle with his twin swords.

He also has an extraordinarily dramatic death scene, so there's that, as well.

2. Majora's Mask, Majora's Mask.

The final boss of a game that was already creepy, weird, and sometimes downright horrifying, Majora's Mask is every bit as unnerving and inexplicable as you'd expect.

Following him up to the Moon, you emerge to find a grassy field where four children, dressed in masks of the boss monsters so far, are playing. If you give them all your masks, they'll give you the Fierce Deity mask, a mask which has absolutely no explanation whatsoever besides from Majora's Mask apparently recognising it, but which turns you into a giant Super-Link.

In his actual battle, which takes place in three phases, Majora's Mask utilises weird dancing movements, tentacles, and sometimes just sheer brute force to try to take you down, making it a fraught, difficult boss battle. By the time it's over, you still know basically nothing about Majora's Mask, and are left to just wonder at its goals.

1. Ganondorf, Twilight Princess.

Yes, I am counting all of his stages here. Your final battle against Ganondorf in Twilight Princess has four distinct stages, all of which are pretty interesting, and a few of which riff off classic Zelda boss battles.

The first stage pits you against a Ganondorf-possessed Zelda, as she flies about and shoots energy balls at you, prompting you to play the old Zelda energy ball tennis. It's always a fun game mechanic, and pretty fitting in this instance, since energy ball tennis was a favourite go-to of Ganon's phantoms in past games.

The next two stages see you face off against Ganon both as a dark boar monster, echoing the many battles against Boar-Ganon in previous games, and against him on horseback, with Zelda firing light arrows, itself referencing Zelda's previous usage of light arrows to defeat Ganon. More than just being references, though, these two phases test some of the integral gameplay skills you've learned so far: Boar-Ganon forces you to either utilise your Wolf Form to combat him, or to use the sumo mechanics you learned way back near the beginning of the game; while horseback Ganon forces you to utilise the horse-riding skills you've been building up over the course of the game.

The final stage has Link facing Ganon in a straight sword fight, for a classic end to what might be the best battle against Ganondorf in the franchise.

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