Having compiled a list of my top ten games not too long ago, I thought it was time to ponder that classic gaming trope – the final boss, the big cheese, the one who will end the world as we know it if you, the brave adventurer, does not stop them.

So, without further adieu, let’s take a look at what makes my personal top ten final boss list:

10: Andross (Star Fox)



Polygon Head (aka Andross) is the main antagonist in the Star Fox series and his first appearance in the first Star Fox game would go on to become the standard by which all other appearances perform. Andross shoots lasers at you, spits blocks at you, and tries to suck you in to boot. On the easiest of difficulty settings he’s a fairly easy boss – on the hardest setting, he provides a considerably greater challenge. Later incarnations (especially that of Star Fox 64) introduce new features, such as giant hands that try to swipe you, and his transformation into a giant brain after you defeat his first form. All in all, he’s a straight-forward boss in the Star Fox games I’ve played.

9. Bowser (Super Mario World)



Despite the scale of the journey to get to Bowser in Super Mario World (it can either be a lengthy one or a very brief one), there was a great sense of excitement and exhilaration the first time my friends and I reached Bowser, now equipped with a weird flying machine. As a final boss goes, he’s actually quite easy, but it was more a case of the satisfaction of getting to him and beating him that makes him memorable.

8. Bowser (Super Mario 64)



Now we’re cookin’. Bowser is more challenging this time around, in this 3D environment, with new attacks and a new way of dealing with him.


7. King Boo (Luigi’s Mansion)



I was sorely tempted to say this too is a Bowser fight, as King Boo is wearing a Bowser suit, but in the interests of accuracy, it’s better to describe him as King Boo.

6. Demise (The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword)



As an immensely frustrating boss, there is much satisfaction to be had when you finally drive your sword through his chest. Also, once you figure out a means of fighting him, he becomes a little easier than he first seems.

5. Ganondorf (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)



The first half of this battle is quite fun – the second half is thrilling. The first of the 3D Zelda games delivers a final boss battle that feels epic and gives you a real sense of ‘the world is at stake’.

4. Young Bowser (Yoshi’s Island)



This is a beautiful game and the final battle is suitably exciting and fun. It keeps you on your toes!


3. Saddler (Resident Evil 4)



It feels like a looooong journey to finally face off properly against the fiend that wants to use weird parasites to control the world. It’s enjoyable (to say the least) to finish him off.

2. Bowser (Super Mario Bros)



Yep, we’re going right back to where Super Mario truly began. The final Bowser battle isn’t going to win awards by today’s standards, but when you’re 10 years old, and you’ve struggled to reach him, let alone beat him, to finally dunk him in the lava is a wonderful feeling.

1. Ganondorf (The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past)



It may well not come as a shock that my favourite boss is from my favourite game. Your showdown with Ganondorf for the salvation of Hyrule is the culmination of an epic quest that spans two worlds and a great deal of exploration, puzzling solving and monster battling. It is fitting that the battle is not too easy – Ganondorf employs a variety of attacks and keeps you on your toes. I always enjoy this fight!




I can’t believe I missed marking the 30th anniversary of a gaming legend, especially one that I personally have invested a lot of time and heart into over the years. I can’t believe The Legend of Zelda is actually 30 – I really can’t!

The Zelda series has to be my all time favourite saga when it comes to video games. My opinions are bound to break ranks with other Zelda fans when it comes to certain titles, but I can honestly say I have found most of the games to be immersive adventures on a scale few other games can match, and a new Zelda game is something to be hotly anticipated in my house!

ZeldaNES(where it all began!)

My first taste of Zelda was with the SNES installment, A Link to the Past, which is still my favourite (as well as one of my all-time favourite games full-stop). It wasn’t as linear as current Zelda games, offering a semi-flexible approach to the order in which you tackled dungeons and challenges, and the depth to the game (especially when you stop to consider the technology it was made with) was astonishing. A Link to the Past is where my love of Zelda began, so I owe this game a debt of gratitude!

The original Zelda game is one I discovered a bit later on, and whilst I dare say it’s enjoyable, I have never quite gotten into it. The completely open-ended approach, and the numerous hidden caves, are a masterful touch, one that (if rumours are to be believed) the next Zelda game might be trying to emulate a little. The second Zelda installment, The Adventures of Link, is one I tried to get into, but just didn’t enjoy.

ZeldaSNES(completing A Link to the Past for the first time was a great feeling!)

Ocarina of Time (the first of two N64 offerings) is often rated by fans as the finest Zelda game, and it certainly is very good. The story is quite compelling, the game is great fun to play and it really does feel epic in scope. Whilst it is not the very best to me, it’s still great!

The sequel, Majora’s Mask, is another title held up as being a marvelous game, but to be honest, I didn’t really like it. I never got the whole time travel element, which frankly just confused me (nor was I thrilled with the mask element). I will admit, I didn’t really play this one that often, so maybe I need to revisit it and give it another chance.

ZeldaMajora(Majora’s Mask just baffled me)

For the Gamecube, Nintendo went for a completely different look for The Wind Waker, abandoning the slightly more grown up look of the games for a more cartoony approach. The appearance divided fans a little, but I didn’t mind it – in fact, I thought the game looked good. I would argue The Wind Waker has the toughest final boss of any Zelda game.

ZeldaWindWaker(too childish or beautifully rendered?)

Not to give the hand-held games short shrift, I will mention that Link’s Awakening (which I have never gotten around to completing) and The Minish Cap are both good games.

The Wii would see two Zelda titles – the launch title of Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. Between the two, I prefer Skyward Sword, though the latter has some of the most frustrating (and in my view, unnecessary) tropes of any Zelda game (the Silent Realm sequences). Both games are quite beautiful, though Skyward Sword shows off the Motion Plus feature of the Wii Remote, allowing for more actually sword play. Both titles are, like all Zelda games, filled with dungeons, but both suffer from the problem modern Zelda games have – rigid, linear progression through the levels. It would be nice to have a little more control over how you face the dungeons and quests.

hookshot(Twilight Princess was pretty good!)

The Zelda games have left an indelible mark upon me. There is so much adventure to be had, across each and every game, and despite the problem of linear progress in the later games, there are still plenty of side quests and challenges to explore. I look forward to the next offering!

If the rumours are to be believed, Nintendo’s next home console, the tentatively titled ‘NX’, is due to be released later this year (whether that applies to the entire globe or whether it will be a staggered release remains to be seen). As a lifelong Nintendo fan, I am naturally pretty excited at the prospect of a new console, but these days that excitement is tempered by pessimism.

Why is that you ask? Chiefly, the main reason is the failure of the Wii U to appeal, not only to the wider market, but to me. Unless something drastic happens in the near future, the Wii U will become the first home console of Nintendo’s that I haven’t owned – it has its appeal, but not nearly enough to justify the cost. Nintendo dropped the ball with this one, and I just hope whatever strategy they have in mind with the NX, they bear in mind the problems of the Wii U – and not simply the hardware.

WIIU(Nintendo’s most recent offering has failed to deliver)

Whilst Nintendo have always striven to be innovative and unique, this has sometimes been their Achilles’ Heel. There is such as a thing as trying to be too different, and the Wii U somehow managed to be both too different and too similar to what was out there, at the same time (for reasons I shall come to in a moment). The enormous touch screen control pad was, looking back, ungainly (I tried one out in a local games store and it wasn’t awful, but certainly not great), and power-wise, the Wii U lagged some way behind the PS4 and XBone. In respect of third-party development, the console was never going to be as friendly as its competitors, largely due to the difficulties of incorporating the controller’s screen into the equation. With graphics being a key feature of a game’s realism (not to mention how good and powerful processors are vital to creating realistic effects and physics), Nintendo weren’t appealing to hardcore gamers. The Wii U will sadly go down as Nintendo’s worst-performing console to date, well behind the original Wii’s 100 million sales.

The frustrating thing is, Nintendo could yet reclaim their place as the top console maker if they were prepared to look at what other companies are doing successfully, and then marry that with their own strategy. They’ve done this before.

SNES(the Super Nintendo is still one of my all-time favourite consoles, hosting some of the best games ever made)

There was nothing radically different between the SNES and its fierce Sega rival, the Mega Drive, back in the early 90s. The two consoles were basically the same – cartridge-based games, similar graphics and performance, and they even shared some of the same games. Nintendo were making the family-friendly Mario and Zelda games back then – but alongside them, they also had titles like Desert Strike (also a popular Mega Drive game) and Street Fighter, big, third-party releases that were widely anticipated. Nintendo successfully merged their big names with mainstream titles and the result was that, by the end, the SNES had comfortably outsold the Mega Drive – Nintendo won the 16-bit console war.

I have to wonder if this went to the heads of the powers that be. Did Nintendo get complacent? Did they get cocky? Ironically, their next console was the most powerful one available when it was released – the N64, but whilst Sega (and newcomers Sony) were starting to use CDs for their games, Nintendo stubbornly stuck with cartridges.

N64(the N64 was not as successful as its predecessor)

A very different controller design was a bit weird at first, though this gamer will say it was actually fairly easy to adapt to. However, this is where, in my humble view, Nintendo’s relationship with third-party developers nose-dived. With everyone else going for CDs and conventional controllers, Nintendo were setting their stall out to be unique, but this will have likely made it trickier for developers, whose job of porting games from one console to another could not have been easier between two CD-based consoles, yet with Nintendo they had to go back to the drawing board. Whilst the N64 was not a failure, nor was it an unqualified success – Sony’s Playstation would dominate the market, thanks to their bold marketing and easy to use console.

Nintendo would repeat the N64’s mistakes with the Gamecube. This time, Nintendo had given up on cartridges and opted for discs, but for reasons known only to them, these were smaller discs. The ‘cube’s controller was more conventional, but yet again Nintendo were trying to be clever, whilst also failing to deliver features that were starting to become expected of home consoles (the PS2 and Xbox would feature things like CD and DVD playback, something the Gamecube couldn’t do).

GameCube(personally, I rather liked the Gamecube, and it featured some great games, but it wasn’t enough)

Until the Wii U, the ‘cube was Nintendo’s weakest-performing console, with around 20 million unit sold worldwide – a far cry from the SNES. The Wii would provide some good respite for Nintendo by offering the innovative Wii Remote controller, along with optional classic controllers as well, for older games released via the Virtual Console. Wi-fi connectivity meant for the first time (not counting the portable DS option), people could play Nintendo games against people from the other side of the world. I for one thoroughly enjoyed playing Mario Kart online – even if I did get a bit frustrated with it sometimes! It was vindication for Nintendo – years of trying to be different and clever finally paid off, with a console that sold 100 million units worldwide, and gave the company a much-needed shot in the arm.

Wii(the Wii has been an unqualified success story)

Perhaps that vindication would prove to be a bad thing. Buoyed by the unconventional success of a console not much more powerful than the Gamecube (and certainly behind the PS3 and XBox 360), Nintendo forged ahead with the Wii U’s ultimately unsuccessful system.

So what needs to be change?

Firstly, Nintendo need to make sure the NX has broader appeal if it is to be successful. Part of this means a less-complicated controller, that it is easier for developers to work with. Hardware improvements to bring the NX in line with (or even more powerful than) existing rivals would be a step in the right direction, and some of the whispers about the NX suggest exactly that.

Additionally, Nintendo need to consider a similar ‘entertainment system’ approach to the ones Sony and Microsoft have taken. The PS4 and Xbone can both act as movie and music players, access things like Netflix, and let you browse the web. People expect integration with their technology these days.

The NX project might involve something along those lines. Some of the suggestions and stories about the console imply it’s not just a console, but a system that includes a dedicated console, mobile phones, the DS/3DS, tablets and even the Wii U. Quite how this would all come together is unclear, and since so little is known about the NX at the moment, we can’t take any of this as gospel anyway.

If Nintendo can merge the success and appeal of their leading titles like Zelda with the popular franchises of FIFA, Battlefield, Assassin’s Creed etc, then they are on to a winner. They just need to realise this.