The Nintendo library has seen many of the hardest boss fights in video game history. In the advent of console gaming, difficult games were the norm to help pad out game time and give players a true challenge.
With difficult games came tough to beat boss fights. I’ll never forget my early years of pouring hours into a game, only to be defeated by a game’s final boss. It was crushing, but always gave me the incentive to restart and try again. Nintendo helped shape my love of difficult games.
Dr. Wily’s Yellow Devil (Mega Man, 1987)
The Mega Man games have always been notorious for having difficult fights. The entire series is based on navigating platforming sections, leading to a boss fight. When you defeat that boss, Mega Man is granted a new weapon to use on the next one.
Mega Man lures you into that pattern until you begin Dr. Wily’s Castle. Here, you are introduced to Yellow Devil, a creation of Wily that is larger, and has an attack pattern unlike any enemy you’ve seen in the game thus far.
Yellow Devil will move from one side of the screen to the next by hurling pieces of his body bit by bit. Dodging each piece is a challenge unto itself. Additionally, there’s only a small window of time to attack before the process begins again. Using the Thunder Beam can help, but you must still learn the Yellow Devil’s pattern to achieve victory.
Wizpig (Diddy Kong Racing, 1997)
Diddy Kong Racing is beloved by many as an easy to play, adorable kart racer. That’s all very true until you’re pitted against the game’s antagonist, Wizpig.
Naturally, to beat Wizpig in a race, you have to learn the course. That comes with understanding and memorizing where the boost pads are located. Miss one and Wizpig will undoubtedly hold the lead for the remainder of the race.
The added texture in the specific races against Wizpig is that players have to master the “green boost”. Letting go of the acceleration a moment before hitting a boost pad grants an even larger bump in speed. Without help from a green boost, Wizpig proves to be an immense challenge.
Dark Link (Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, 1994)
Dark Link has been a long-running adversary in The Legend of Zelda. This enemy’s introduction in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is still to this day one of the hardest boss fights in a Nintendo game.
Mirroring Link’s moveset, Dark Link can attack and deflect just as quickly as the player. While there are ways to cheese the fight against Dark Link, a normal fight requires patience and good reflexes.
While Zelda II: The Adventure of Link isn’t the most revered title in the series, Dark Link has gone on to be featured in A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time and Oracle of Ages, and has been mentioned in many others, becoming an unshakable part of the series’ lore.
Mike Tyson (Punch-Out!!, 1983)
It should come to no surprise that Punch-Out!!’s Mike Tyson is on this list. The boss fight against Mike Tyson has gone down to be recognized as one of the most difficult fights in gaming. Period.
While facing Mike Tyson, all it takes is a few punches to be knocked out. This fight requires an unbelievable reaction time in order to dodge each of Tyson’s punches. Counter-punching during those momentary windows of time is critical as well. It takes a ton of practice to learn the pacing of dodging near-lethal stikes, and slowly chipping away at his health.
It was hard enough to navigate through the various boxing ring fights in Punch-Out!! But the Tyson fight was the real kicker. This fight will forever live in infamy, and has likely caused many players to memorize the 10 digit boss code.
Nintendo never shied away from putting players through the gauntlet in the early days of console gaming. The aforementioned games have been a huge contributor to how boss fights are handled today, and have inspired many modern developers.
Would you add any others to the Nintendo boss fights list? Let us know in the comments below.