Nintendo's most iconic Boss encounters

We’ve scraped the very bottom of our brain-barrels, dug up long-buried memories and relived painful encounters just so we could bring to your attention some of the most memorable boss encounters in Nintendo’s illustrious history. Think you can handle the painful memories? Here comes the Boss Rush...


Super Mario World

Likes: To see you cry
Dislikes: Fair play
Magikoopa says “I’m not Kamek. Not yet anyway.”

Defining moment: The precursor to Kamek, Magikoopa was an indestructible mini-boss appearing in fortresses and castles in Super Mario World. Magi had the ability to turn blocks into Koopas and, as though clairvoyant, had a knack for launching his magic attacks exactly where you were about to jump, or warping into the space you were walking into at the worst possible moment. We can’t think of a single Mario enemy who’s used up more lives in one sitting.

WTF?! Controversially, we’re going to say that the bosses in Super Mario World were completely and utterly rubbish. Yes, even Bowser. They were surprise-free variations on the Tilty Room, Flat Room and (ugh) Pipe Room themes, and most could be defeated in seconds. Magikoopa, massive irritation that he was, was probably the toughest enemy in the game. Why Bowser never gave him his own castle is anyone’s guess.


Banjo Kazooie

Likes: Rhyming
Dislikes: Eggs, fun
Grunty says “I’m not pretty, I’m quite a mess. What do I hide under my dress?”

Defining moment: A boss battle memorable for two reasons. One, it wasn’t a boss battle and two, it provided 100% enjoyment-free gaming. It was a stupid quiz where you have to navigate a board and answer questions or play minigames. The skull squares were the worst. Make a mistake on these for an insta-death, forcing you to restart from the beginning.

WTF?! Sometimes the questions could be ridiculously hard. Being shown a random texture, for example, and having to remember where you saw it. But the really horrible questions came on the Grunty Squares. These would be questions about Gruntilda herself, which you could only know by seeking out her sister, Brentilda, hidden in ten places around the world. Just to make things even more annoying, the answers were randomised. You couldn’t use a guide to beat it, as the answers were unique to each person’s save file.

Kuruhasi & Akiba


Likes: Touching cloth, potatoes
Dislikes: Open-skull brain surgery
Akiba says “You think you’re better than us because we’re old men?”

Defining moment: Figuring out how to kill them. You get a rather vague clue before the boss encounter but it’s easily missed, buried under Killer7’s avalanche of nonsensical vocoded babbling. That’s okay, though, because the solution is obvious – shoot Akiba’s tie so that Kuruhashi turns around to adjust it, thereby exposing his think-box for some lead-to-brain interfacing.

WTF?! The duo’s only attack is a constant barrage of deadly spinning potatoes, giving only a small window of opportunity to deliver a tie-brain combo. Reload is the killer here. Miss a shot and you’re guaranteed to get a spud in the face.

Earth Mimicry

Sin and Punishment

Likes: Apocalyptic planet-killing
Dislikes: You
Achi says “What’s best for me is all that matters.”

Defining moment: The epic, climactic battle of (arguably) the N64’s swansong saw Saki defending the Earth from Achi’s fake Earth. Don’t worry, it doesn’t make much sense to us either. Standing between the two worlds, you’re thrust into what can only be described as ‘Missile Command: From The Planet Wrong’ – a tense, pad-clenching planet sandwich, where you have to shoot down a never-ending hailstorm of meteors and missiles to protect Earth’s fragile health bar.

WTF?! “When I was little I always wanted to be a cop,” says Saki at the battle’s end, when, after as touching a scene as could be rendered in N64’s spiky, angle-o-vision, the end sequence cuts to Achi floating in space, blathering on about Saki’s blood and the enemy being God. You have to wonder whether anyone, even devs Treasure, had any idea what was supposed to be going on by this point. Most players were just too exhausted to care.

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  • BurntToShreds - May 16, 2010 7:38 a.m.

    @JackSkellingtonsSkin Oh man, don't remind me of that Miltank. Pissed me off to no end. Also, some MadWorld boss fights should've been in there just for the awesome executions.
  • bamb0o-stick - May 15, 2010 2:44 p.m.

    Wait a minute, how is Dr. Salvador a "doctor?"
  • SuperGoomba64 - May 14, 2010 2:22 a.m.

    The Furance Fun quiz was not hard, but I have been playing the game for 9 years, so I know every nook and cranny. I used to think Bowletta was impossbile, tried to beat her 100 times, all I had to was level grind and I beat her in very easily.
  • RandomIdoit - May 14, 2010 2:10 a.m.

    hmm... magikoopas weren't completely unbeatable. plus, they didn't always turn blocks into koopas, sometimes, if it changed the right block, the block would turn into a coin, or even a mushroom. However, I do agree with you, those things were annoying!
  • JackSkellingtonsSkin - May 13, 2010 4:14 p.m.

    Dr Salvador and Psycho Mantis do not count. Where the fuck was Miltank from Gold and Silver and where was Bowser? If there's a more iconic boss I have not seen them
  • c03n3nj0 - May 13, 2010 12:52 a.m.

    I meant los instead of loz... Darned irony >_>
  • c03n3nj0 - May 13, 2010 12:49 a.m.

    I see a typo! Shouldn't Dr. Salvador be saying "Loz voy a romper a pedazos?" "Vos voy" doesn't make sense. /grammar nazi
  • Solid_Gabriel - May 12, 2010 10:07 p.m.

    I have never beaten Wizipig. That is something that scarred me for life.
  • Harmonator - May 12, 2010 9:14 p.m.

    Dark Link. Ocarina of Time. Just sayin'...
  • AuthorityFigure - May 12, 2010 1:26 p.m.

    I've said it beofre and I'll say it again - boss fights suck the momentum out of games. They simulate a sense of achievement only through the relief of the fight being OVER...
  • philipshaw - May 12, 2010 10:51 a.m.

    A lot of these boss encounters sound like cheap and rubbish boss fights. Also using MGS is stretching it a bit
  • nomuff2stuff - May 12, 2010 6:23 a.m.

    Wheres majoras mask ? thats one bad.... mask lol though the deites mask made that fight a joke
  • revrock - May 12, 2010 5:59 a.m.

    Okami has some pretty sweet boss fights:)
  • Styrophoamicus - May 12, 2010 5:44 a.m.

    Surprised you didn't mention the whole 'Giygas-Fetus' thing. Anyhoo, great article, but I'm with Imgema; Yoshi's Island had some great boss battles. And so did Mario RPG recaptcha: swamp sergeant
  • BLandGoRe - May 12, 2010 3:17 a.m.

    damm hell that mimicry was big
  • EnragedTortoise1 - May 12, 2010 3:11 a.m.

    Sorry, but this article isn't complete without Ridley from Prime 3. Literally freefalling towards the center of the planet while blasting a giant space-dragon in the mouth.. how couldn't you include that?
  • Corsair89 - May 12, 2010 1:44 a.m.

  • ThePrivateDick - May 12, 2010 12:04 a.m.

    I would add Majora's Mask and a few enemies from the Paper Mario series, personally.
  • Cyberninja - May 11, 2010 10:50 p.m.

    i say this needs the normal bowser at the end of super mario galaxy
  • Ded - May 11, 2010 10:38 p.m.

    Nice article :D but urm.. not really "Nintendo's" iconic boss encounters.. just games that have happened to appear on Nintendo's consoles..