Did you know that The Legend of Zelda just celebrated its 25th anniversary? It’s true that Link, Zelda, and Ganondorf are all old enough to rent a car now, cruising along with Mario in a rented Mustang headed to Las Vegas to spend those hard-earned coins and rupees. Since I’m a pretty big Zelda fan myself, I figured I had a few lists in me, mostly simple in nature but still worth sharing. I mean, this is a celebration of Zelda! To start things off then, here is a list of My Ten Favorite Zelda Enemies, though I’m not including Ganondorf since that’d be too simple. Keep in mind that he doesn’t appear and enjoy the rest.
10. Gleerok (Minish Cap):
Most Zelda games have one thing in common: The boss to every dungeon is defeated in some way via the item you collect in that dungeon. The fun is learning new and inventive ways for these items to get used in the battles, especially if the item is already from a previous Zelda title or something. For me, one I especially enjoyed was Gleerok for no other real reason than it was fun to flip its shell before hacking its face like crazy. It’s the simple enjoyment of life every now and then, and that’s why I’m a fan of Gleerok. Also, its head looks like Lugia, and I love Lugia.
9. Cragma (Spirit Tracks):
In the same vein as Gleerok, Cragma fills the same function of being a boss fight that turns into an instance of extreme fun. I’m one of the last people to praise Spirit Tracks for anything, but easily, Cragma was the highlight for me as you’re riding around a minecart while shooting target points on its body with the bow and arrow. It’s extremely satisfying and utterly surprised me, as I hadn’t really had the chance to use the bow and arrow in Spirit Tracks for anything really fun other than, well nothing yet. Cragma almost makes me want to play the entire game again. Almost.
8. Odolwa (Majora’s Mask):
Sometimes the boss fight itself isn’t what makes me remember the experience, but rather the atmosphere around the boss fight. Majora’s Mask is filled with intensely memorable boss battles, but the one I always think of when I remember the game is the fight against the Woodfall Temple’s boss, Odolwa, mostly because he looks like a huge badass who’s too busy dancing and singing to care that I’m slashing his ankles. I still get creeped out sometimes when I think of Odolwa dancing and chanting in my general direction. He’s tribal but traditional samurai at the same time, culminating in a weird combination that makes me wonder why Odolwa didn’t show up in Resident Evil 5 instead of Wesker. That would have been a much better twist if you ask me.
7. Darknut (Twilight Princess):
The Darknut is a Zelda enemy that’s made numerous appearances over the many adventures of Link, but the version that stands out the most is the Twilight Princess iteration as graphically the Darknuts are built to look like the most supreme warrior in Hyrule. They’re actually imposing, and while they were cool in Wind Waker, when you’d knock their helmets off you’d see they looked like dogs underneath. I’m not a dog fan, so that’s a deal-breaker. In Twilight Princess they’re just huge suits of armor that can’t wait to trade sword blows with Link, really putting you and the control-scheme through a decent challenge. Man, can’t wait till I get back to the Darknuts now when replaying Twilight Princess.
6. Stallord (Twilight Princess):
How many more boss battles am I going to include? Not saying, but Stallord holds the unique distinction of being the largest enemy Link has ever fought and subsequently vanquished, assuming we aren’t counting the moon or anything. Stalfos are cool and all, but Stallord kicks things up to an epic scope in the very literal sense. Plus, the boss fight uses one of my favorite Zelda items, the Spinner, to grind around the area until you can leap and spin at Stallord’s body to inflict damage. A lot of people easily forget some boss battles, like who did Link fight in Lord Jabu-Jabu? But you’re not forgetting Stallord. He’s a giant bone dragon. You remember that stuff for the rest of your life and tell stories to your grandchildren about how you hurled yourself at great speeds against a large skeleton monster. And then your grandchildren never visit you again. Everybody wins!
Of any quintessential Zelda enemy, the Moblins are just too good to pass up and too tough to decide upon a definite favorite iteration. They’re sort of like the Koopas of the Zelda universe, whereas the Octorok is like the Goomba. No wait, Octaroks are more like Snifits. Maybe Kesse are like the Goombas? Doesn’t matter, Moblins appear in enough Zelda games that you miss them when they don’t show up. Sometimes they look like dogs, sometimes they look like pigs, but they’re always good for a beatdown as they make op the majority of Ganon’s army, patrolling the world looking to catch Link and stab him repeatedly with spears and swords and all manner of pokey things until he is very much dead. Force me to pick a favorite and I’m going with the Ocarina of Time Moblins as they’re huge and don’t screw around. They’re so big you can’t face them directly, instead having to resort to sneaking around and firing arrows and hookshots whenever possible. However, they got shortchanged in Twilight Princess, that’s for sure.
4. Bongo Bongo (Ocarina of Time):
Everything about the Shadow Temple is memorable to me, but it all concluded with a boss fight that took place on the top of a giant drum with a strange creature with severed hands playing in between trying to kill you. Also, he was invisible. Fun fact about Bongo Bongo: He’s the only dungeon or temple boss of Ocarina of Time that does not require the item found within the temple to defeat him. The Shadow Temple gives you the Hover Boots, but they don’t do anything to aid you in the boss fight. If anything they make it more difficult as they heavily reduce traction. You know, anything you put at the end of the Shadow Temple would probably make my list. That temple was hardcore, yo.
3. Iron Knuckle (Zelda II):
I’m strange as a Zelda fan due to my love of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. I actually really liked it, going so far as to prefer it over the first Zelda title on the NES. Yes, it’s insanely hard, but the controls are never the fault of the difficulty. One of the most challenging enemies you face is the Iron Knuckle, coming in three varieties of difficult. They constantly move forward, flicking their swords at you, keeping their shields up at all times but shift between the high block and the low block, forcing you to learn the sword mechanics quickly and effectively. Iron Knuckles are tough to beat, no matter how good you get, but I constantly enjoyed the challenge they delivered. You had to work at overcoming an Iron Knuckle, and while they’re pretty cool in Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, I still prefer the original version here.
2. Dark Link (Ocarina of Time):
Certainly my favorite mid-boss of any temple, Dark Link appears in a surreal room of the Water Temple, completely empty of anything save for a single dead tree in the middle of what seems like a shallow pool amidst a large void. You’re forced to run from one end of the room to the other, discovering that the opposite door is locked. When you turn back, Dark Link is resting against the tree, just waiting for you. If you don’t have the Biggoron Sword then the fight is actually pretty danged tough. I’d say it’s probably the single hardest fight of the game, all things considered. But that’s only if you’re just using the Master Sword. And if you try something like your jump attack, Dark Link just leaps on top of your blade and slashes your face to teach you a lesson. That’s class.
1. ReDead (Ocarina of Time):
Whatever Eiji Aonuma was tripping on when he approved the ReDead of Ocarina of Time was far too powerful a narcotic than any mortal human should have to endure, but the ReDead stands as the definition of Nightmare Fuel as it’s essentially a reanimated corpse that meanders around searching for life force to steal. What makes them particularly horrifying is their special power over you as whenever they stare at you your body instantly freezes as a result of the most terrifying noise from just about any video game, a shriek that can’t be replicated in any simple onomatopoeia that doesn’t then end in “andthenyoucrapyourpants.” The ReDead is still as creepy to me now as it was when I first encountered it, even if you can make them dance in Majora’s Mask, and therefore it makes the top of my list.
But that’s just my personal list. This isn’t the end-all beat-all to a Zelda list, nor do these have to be your favorite Zelda enemies. In fact, I want to know what your favorite Zelda enemies are. Your turn for a list. Who are your favorites? And for that matter who are your least favorites? Leave a comment and let me know, otherwise you’ll leave me no choice but to-EEEH-AHandthenyoucrapyourpants!
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