A Walk Down Memory Lane: 30 Memorable Nintendo Villains and Boss Fights
by Menashe and CitizenOfVerona
SPOILER WARNING: If you haven’t came across some of these Nintendo villains yet, then there will obviously be some spoilers. So, if, for example, you don’t know who the final boss in Skyward Sword is, you should probably avoid the last villain in this article.
Everyone already knows about Bowser, so we won’t speak much about him. If you want to know more about him, pick up almost any Mario game. Instead we’ll talk about a younger version of Bowser: Baby Bowser.
Baby Bowser was an iconic fight at the end of Yoshi’s Island. The “little Master” turned out to be a spoiled brat, being taken care of by his babysitter, Kamek. When you defeat him in his nursery, Kamek does a little magic and turns the little Baby into a towering Godzilla who shoots fireballs and sends massive boulders raining down on you. Of course, baby Bowser proves no match for baby Mario. That recurring dynamic follows both Mario and Bowser throughout the rest of their lives. I guess it started as a childhood rivalry.
You cannot grasp what makes Giygas so memorable without actually experiencing it for yourself. Be it the twisted dialogue or the fact he lost of body and sanity because of his heart break, Giygas will forever be in the minds of Earthbound fans for how dark and depressing he really is. But, the most gruesome aspect of Giygas is that in order to beat him you must defeat him while he is still a fetus.
The King of Evil needs to be on any list including the best villains. He is a brutal, ruthless leader that will stop at nothing to obtain the sacred triforce. Even being banished to another dimension and transformed into a Pig Monster did not hold this particular badass back.
We do not know if Mother Brain has been taken over by the Space Pirates or joined them by her own will, but we do know that she controls Metroids using telepathy. While she was a straightforward boss in the NES Metroid, she got an upgrade in Super Metroid making her an unforgettable boss fight to one of the best games ever; this scene had to give you chills.
This boss is mostly carefree and just wants to eat all the food in Dream Land. Greedy for sure, and ever since the first Kirby game he has mostly been on Kirby’s side, but whenever you do fight him you are treated to one of the best tunes in gaming and a quirky fight that is sure to put a smile on your face.
While only a final boss in Zero Mission, we here at NE consider him the main villain of the franchise for being Samus’ main rival. Often down but never out, Ridley has taken multiple forms including Meta, Omega and Neo. Plus, he is a dragon, and everyone loves dragons.
Kaptain K Rool
Pirates have not had much of the spotlight in gaming as of late, but they were amazing in the old Donkey Kong Country games. King K Rool is menacing while still being comical at the same time. He has a musket, but shoots out pink and blue clouds; he has the perfect blend of all things right with villains.
Master Hand may not have any characteristics; he is a staple to the Smash Bros series. What I do like about Master Hand is that it is just a kid playing with his Nintendo toys, then promptly gets beaten up by his toys in a Toy Soldiers (look it up) like plot device.
While not a boss in the traditional sense, the smug rival from Pokemon Blue and Red has to be here. Throughout the game, he is always gloating about how superior he is to you, and nothing is as satisfying as beating him to take the crown as Pokemon Master from him while his very own Uncle says how disappointed he is in him.
Going from a secondary villain in Earthbound to headcheese in Mother 3, Pokey is a unique boss in which his motivations are outlandish. He thinks of the world as his personal toybox, mixing nature and technology as he sees fit and shaping the world to his perfect vision.
Agatio and Karst
Throughout Golden Sun 2: The Lost Age, Agatio and Karst are always getting in your way and always achieve the upper hand. You grow to hate them over the course of the game, until the end when you learn their motivations was to simply save their hometown. Sure, their methods were brutal, but they did it to protect their homeland, making the heroes have a change of heart.
What sets Skull Kid apart is that he is not trying to kidnap Zelda or destroy the world; he simply wants to be loved by his friends. As an outcast who played pranks, his inner depression led him to be consumed by the cursed mask, using him as a puppet to carry out his evil tasks on Termina.
The Pikmin franchise does not focus on who or what the final boss is, but in Pikmin 2 we learn that Louie is missing somewhere on the planet. The player can guess that he is captured by something, but other then that we are left clueless. After venturing through a dangerous cave, we find him surrounded by treasure, which becomes a part of a massive spider looking for blood. With multiple elemental attacks and a fantastic musical score, this boss fight lays on the intense atmosphere thick.
Metroid 2 was partially inspired by the classic Aliens, where Samus goes to the home world of these extra terrestrials to wipe them out for good. Also like Aliens, the climax is a confrontation with the Queen. The arena is claustrophobic and her attacks are brutal, making it an achievement when you triumph this final challenge.
Star Fox on SNES made use of polygons, including on the face its villain, Andross. Star Fox 64 is a classic gem that started a plethora of internet memes including barrel rolls and Star Wolf. Andross is once again the villain, and his presence is constantly felt, with characters constantly mentioning him, plus the fact that he killed Fox’s father. Depending on which route you take throughout the galaxy will change his final form, ranging from easy to insanely difficult, unless you are a champion like me.
Metroid Prime 2 features some of the most spectacular boss fights in any game, but Emperor Ing takes the cake. He resides deep within the alternate dimension and is isolated from the rest of the world, which makes this one of the most atmospheric bosses in any Metroid game, which is an accomplishment in itself. With multiple forms and a stiff challenge, the sense of accomplishment you get from this boss fight is off the charts.
Bowser’s eccentric gaggle of kids prove that even dysfunctional homes can produce loyal kids. And these seven are loyal to a tee. Larry likes sports, Morton is the fat one, Wendy is the spoiled brat with a bad temper, Iggy is the demented, mechanical genius, Roy is the bully, Lemmy is the clown, and Ludwig is the most similar to his father in cruelty and intelligence.
Fawful is a villain in the Mario & Luigi series, and he’s considered to be on the funniest in the entire Mario universe. Some of his quirks are his weird usage of the English language and his constant obscure food metaphors. Some of his classic quotes are:
- “Fawful is on the cozy couch, sipping tea that laughs at you!”
- “All who resist will be beat like naughty little eggs!”
- “You inhaled like a hungry syrup pig at the free pancake buffet.”
- “And this battle shall be the delicious mustard on that bread! The mustard of your doom!”
Smithy looks like a diabolical Santa Claus. He hails from another dimension, a dimension that is accessible only by the gateway Exor. In his dimension, he resides in his Factory where, day and night, Smithy creates mechanical monsters to be unleashed against the peaceful people of other worlds. In Super Mario RPG, he leads his evil organization, The Smithy Gang, in an attempt to rule over the Mushroom World.
Metroids aren’t easy to deal with in the first place. That difficulty is amplified tenfold when it’s a highly-mutated Metroid, infused with huge quantities of phazon. Even after Samus defeats the Metroid Prime’s exoskeleton and its core essence, it still manages to recreate itself as Dark Samus using some of Samus’ DNA and phazon.
Nintendo often takes their villains and turns them into protagonists of their own games. It happened to Donkey Kong. It happened to Bowser. And it happened to Wario. Wario started off as Mario’s nemesis in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. As the instruction manual says, Wario is an overgrown man-child who has been jealous of Mario since they were children. Although Wario stars in the sequel, Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land, he retains his greed and selfishness, which actually becomes a recurring plot and gameplay theme for the rest of the series.
Samurai Goroh is the nuisance, trouble-maker of the F-Zero series. Black Shadow is the evil emperor. But Black Shadow is a mere pawn who shudders in fear of his master, Deathborn, the ultimate villain of the F-Zero franchise. Deathborn has died three times, but was brought back to life each time by sacrificing his real body parts for mechanical ones. Through these “procedures” he has become essentially immortal. One of the devices “installed” within his body allows him to travel freely through space, making it possible for him to mysteriously appear anywhere at any time. He banishes those he dislikes to the outer limits of space, where they become drifting vagabonds for all eternity. So, how does Captain Falcon defeat him? Through racing, of course. (He should have used his Falcon Punch!)
Medusa certainly has changed appearances drastically from the original game to the recent Kid Icarus Uprising. But don’t blame Medusa for the way she looks. Palutena, in a fit of anger, changed Medusa into a cyclopic, snake-haired monster and banished her to the Underworld. It’s no wonder Medusa decided to gather an army from the Underworld and take revenge on Palutena. Lucky for Palutena, she had locked up her old personal assistant, Pit, in the Underworld. Pit is in the perfect position to take on Medusa and her army.
The only issue we had with the original Medusa fight was that if you knew how to do it correctly, you could remain hovering in one spot and never get hit.
The Mushroom World has different regions. Two of them are Mushroom Kingdom, headed by Princess Peach, and Sarasaland, ruled over by Princess Daisy. In Super Mario Land, Princess Daisy is kidnapped by Tatanga, an invading purple alien. Tatanga faces off against Mario in a air duel- Mario in his airplane, the Sky Pop and Tatanga in his spaceship, the Pogasu. After defeating Tatanga and saving Sarasaland, Mario takes the fight to Tatanga. In Super Mario Land 2, one of the six golden coins is found in Space Zone, guarded by Tatanga, who is defeated a lot easier this time around.
What is Mario’s biggest nightmare? It’s Wart, apparently. Super Mario Bros 2 takes place in Mario’s dreams and the antagonist is the old, but evil Frog King, Wart. The instruction manual to the game says, “He is the most mischievous of all in the world of dreams. He created monsters by playing with the dream machine.” I think Wart has been gone for long enough. It’s time for Nintendo to bring back this old anthropomorphic frog to a new generation.
Yin Yarn is the main villain and final boss of Kirby’s Epic Yarn. He can manipulate most things made of yarn with his pair of wooden knitting needles, which are held in each of his hands. Yin-Yarn’s true origins and motives are never revealed throughout the course of the game, and he comes across as a land-hungry villain ultimately seeking control of Dream Land, although he confesses himself that he is not sure what to do with it.
Here’s a bit of Fire Emblem history for you. Although the Fire Emblem series has featured many different villains, probably the most iconic one is Medeus. He was the antagonist of the first Fire Emblem and its remake Shadow Dragon. He also made a return for the Fire Emblem’s first outing on the SNES. He is a product of racial tensions.
Medeus was furious over how the humans looked down on his race, the Earth Dragons, so he joined with the Doluna Empire and made the humans his slaves. The hero, Anri eventually kills him. Centuries later, the evil priest, Gharnef, resurrects Medeus. Marth, a descendant of Anri, slays him but Gharnef is still able to revive Medeus in the transformed state of the Dark Dragon. Marth vs Dark Dragon is something like David vs Goliath, and somehow Marth comes out victorious.
Count Bleck and Super Dimentio
Count Bleck is possibly the most complex villain in all of Nintendo’s legendary franchises. (Menashe: My colleagues don’t agree with me on this.) Super Paper Mario’s gameplay appealed to some fans and turned off others. But, anyone willing to stay the while, was treated to a great storyline. Nintendo villains are always motivated by a lust for control or power. Count Bleck is the only villain motivated by sadness and regret. His is the story of Lord Blumiere and Lady Timpani. It’s too long to go into detail here so I’ll just summarize it:
Blumiere is a member of the Tribe of Darkness. After falling off a cliff, and being nursed back to health by a human named Timpani, he is shocked that a human would help him. After falling in love, Lord Blumiere’s disapproving and abusive father abducts Timpani and performs a curse on her that will doom her to wander the dimensions forever. Overcome with grief and rage, Lord Blumiere steals a magical artifact which enables him to perform dark magic. His spirit and personality are soon corrupted and he changes into Count Bleck. In revenge, Bleck murders his own father and wipes out his entire tribe. His goal is that no one should ever be happy since he can’t, and he tries to wipe all of the dimensions out of existence. When Mario faces him he discovers Lady Timpani is still alive, and he regrets his actions. Unfortunately for him, Dimentio has been planning to betray him all along. Combining Luigi, the Chaos Heart, and himself, he becomes Super Dimentio, the true antagonist of the game. I won’t tell you the rest of the story, because the tragic figure of Count Bleck has a powerful ending in the conclusion of Super Paper Mario. You should check it out yourself.
Demise and Ghirahim are a terrifying pair. Demise is the lord of the demons and Ghirahim is his sword, who can take human-like form. They make for a formidable opponent, and it is Demise’s curse of the incarnation of hatred which causes Link to constantly be caught up in the cycle of of the rebirth of evil in each generation.
Our Readers’ Choices
Brendan Lautissier: SA-X from Metroid Fusion.