With dozens of video game appearances over the years and a starring role in some of the most enduringly popular games in the history of the medium, it's inevitable that the rotund Italian plumber has fought many awesome bosses in his time.
Ludwig von Koopa in Super Mario World. His boss pattern is completely unique; after him, you fight harder versions of the other three Koopa Kids.
Of course, this pales in comparison to the final battle against Bowser, on the roof of his castle, as he cruises about in his Koopa Klown Kar. At first, he doesn't do much more than float back and forth and throw Mechakoopas down at you (which turn out to be his downfall; kick them up onto his head to damage him), but once you hit him a few times, he flies right into the camera. Game over, right? Nope, he starts raining fire down on your head, and as he swoops back in, Peach pops up from the Kar, screams for help, and throws you a mushroom... only for Bowser to shove her down and resume the fight, with a much more vicious attack pattern. This repeats itself, only for the Klown Kar itself to don a huge angry face and start smashing around on the roof of the castle. Added to this, the Awesome Music gets more awesome during each phase.
Worth noting that all the boss patterns are somehow matched to the Five-Bad Band; Iggy Koopa and Larry Koopa, the two Evil Geniuses, have the same pattern; Roy Koopa and Morton Koopa Jr., the two Brutes, also have the same pattern; Lemmy Koopa and Wendy O. Koopa, the two Dark Chicks, have the same pattern again; and then Ludwig von Koopa, The Dragon, has a special one. And finally Bowser, the Big Bad, has a completely different pattern again!
Giant Baby Bowser in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island is pretty awesome. Almost definitely the largest boss in any Mario game until Mario and Luigi: Dream Team. Somewhere in between the face-melting guitars in the background and the fact that the battle consists of balancing on narrow ruined parapets whilst exchanging artillery fire with what is, for all practical purposes, freakin' Godzillacharging toward the screen, you may be quite forgiven for just drowning in awesome.
Really, the game was chock-full of bosses that broke the conventions of what bosses in 2D platformers could be at the time. Occasionally it shattered your preconceptions, as seen in the image on the index page (pictured in it, Raphael Raven). It might not look like much, but that was genuinely groundbreaking back in 1995. And incredibly fun too, if you didn't get dizzy...
The final boss of Donkey Kong 94, which was a giant Donkey Kong, had to have been bigger than Giant Baby Bowser. For scale you can see that Mario is only slightly taller than Giant Donkey Kong's eye. (To be fair, Mario is the size of a barrel.)
Bowser in Super Mario 64; the fact that he was in 3D for the first time makes this worthy enough for a mention, but Final Bowser especially made you feel like Superman after beating him.
King Boo in Super Mario Sunshine. You fight the ghost on a giant roulette wheel that randomly spawns different enemies and items! It's a lot of fun.
Bonus points for currently being the only boss in the 3D games to require a decent amount of thought put into it. Would using a pepper to light his tongue on fire and then hitting him with any fruit that isn't a pepper the first thing that comes to mind?
Or the Glooper Blooper. Pulling off its tentacles is oddly awesome. And you get to fight it at least 3 times.
The battle in New Super Mario Bros. where you knock Bowser into the lava old school original Super Mario Bros. style and he melts down to the bone!
The final battle with Bowser in Super Mario Galaxy, backed up by some of the most epic music ever heard in a Mario game. And Mario finishes by punching Bowser into the center of the universe. More precisely, you punch him into a sunin the center of the universe. From the inside.
Megaleg. Scaling a giant death machine and dodging Bullet Bills left and right all to one of the more dramatic tunes in Super Mario Galaxy makes for a very memorable boss fight. This was also the first one.
Fiery Dino Piranha. It's basically the first boss of the game, but on FIRE! It's really cool seeing the Warm Up Boss become a That One Boss as well.
Kamella is really fun to fight as well. Especially in Deep Dark Galaxy.
Kingfin is also a pretty cool boss fight, even though it's underwater.
Iggy Koopa in New Super Mario Bros. Wii. For his Castle Battle, he rides on a Chain Chomp (which is something that nobody else does). He also laughs like a total maniac while doing so, firing magic out at you. In fact, he even shoots magic at you while you're going through his castle.
Kamek is quite fun, as well. The constantly scrolling/respawning blocks avert Boss Arena Urgency, but having your platforms steadily turned into Goombas and Bob-ombs (in a callback to the Magikoopas' attack in their first appearance in Super Mario World) sure keeps you on your toes!
New Super Mario Bros. Wii more than tops the previous game in terms of final battles. It starts out similar to the DS version, complete with the old-school finish. But then who you thought was Peach turns out to be Kamek, who flies over the arena, revives Bowser, and turns him gigantic. Cue the most epic Advancing Boss of Doom battle ever as you haul ass through the rest of the castle as Giant Bowser smashes the scenery with his fireballs and his all-out rage as he comes after you. You defeat him by surviving all the way to the end and hitting the switch at the end under the real Peach, collapsing the floor under Giant Bowser and taking him down for good.
Even better? You're prevented from getting more than a certain distance away from Bowser not by an arbitrarily scrolling screen, but by the fact that you need his fireballs to blow up the walls in your way.
Gobblegut is pure awesome. Why? Because he's a giant dragon who's trying to eat you! And you fight him on a tiny little planet that he smashes through! Also, playing the Bugaboom fight the way it was meant to be was really sweet.
Digga-Leg. Any chance to use the drill power-up is very welcome; getting to fight a boss with it is pure fun.
Bowser's final stage may be short and very easy, but it is also jaw-droppingly epic. It's basically the Doomsday zoneIN A MARIO GAME.
To elaborate further, after you take him down in the first segment, you're about to take the Grand Star, when he comes up out of nowhere and EATS IT. You then fight him in zero gravity in the center of a black hole. And the finishing blow? A meteorite to the face, which knocks him into the black hole. Made even more awesome by the fact that he survives.
Bowser Jr.'s Boom Bunker. Ascending Bowser Jr.'s tower with the Cloud Flower is truly epic. And then it starts moving...
Super Mario 3D Land has the Final Boss fight with Bowser. Much like New Super Mario Bros. Wii the fight involves getting through a crumbling castle with Bowser hellbent on stopping your progress by every means necessary. The first half involves you chasing Bowser up the crumbling remains of his castle while he, among other things, spits fireballs, throws spike balls, and at one point takes a page out of Donkey Kong by throwing barrels at you. The last part of the first half concludes with the usual switch press to send him down into the lava old-school style. Afterwards, you get to climb through the second half of his crumbling castle, but then, Bowser jumps back up and this time HE'S CHASING YOU! Managing to climb up to the top while avoiding his magical fireballs leads to a chase scene where you have to run to a second switch before he gets to smash you with his claws. All the while you get some kickass music playing! A great way to end the main story of this game.
Ludwig in New Super Mario Bros. 2. While most of the other bosses are simply a remix of their NSMB Wii fights, Ludwig gets a complete change. This time, he jumps up to three chains and you have to fire yourself out of a cannon to hit him, then jump on him to damage him. For the final hit, he starts swinging around on the middle chain, making the final hit harder to land.
Bowser in New Super Mario Bros. U. After twogames in a row where the final boss is just evading giant Bowser, this time you actually get to fight him head-on, giant form and all. But what's the best part about actually getting to fight giant Bowser, you ask? It's the fact that you conk him on the head with Junior's own clown copter.
Super Mario RPG was the first Mario game to have some really bizarre boss battles, but the battle against Bundt is probably the most memorable. The awesomeness can be summarized as such: You are battling a two-tiered wedding cake, one that will probably destroy you with ridiculously powerful magic attacks the first few times you fight it. To defeat it, you have to blow out its candles (attack it around 8 times) while it can regenerate one candle with each attack, then battle the bottom tier (Raspberry). On top of all that, when you finally beat Bundt and Raspberry, Booster finishes it off by eating it; bonus points for the scene between he and the Snifits beforehand being a Funny Moment.
Heck, the final battle with Smithy was pretty dang epic as well. At first, it seems straightforward, with him attacking with his hammer and spawning minions. Then, you get to Stage 2 of the fight, he loses the Santa beard, and begins unleashing mighty attacks like Rain of Swords and Rain of Spears that are deadly as hell.
The optional fight with Culex is essentially Mario & Co. in a Final Fantasy game. It sounds a little ludicrous (and, okay, it is), but it was sweet. Added to this, Final Fantasy IV's boss battle music is playing, and once you beat Culex, the standard victory music doesn't play; instead, Final Fantasy's own iconic victory music plays, making the fight so much more satisfying.
The Final Battle of World 6; you've just taken on the Czar Dragon/Zombone, who's fairly tough already, only to find that he was a Disk One Final Boss and the REAL fight is with the Axem Rangers, who not only look cool and offer up a very nice Team vs Team (as opposed to all the 3 vs 1 fights and the occasional 3 vs 2 Bosses), but offer a Funny Moment each when Red responds to their complaints as you knock them out. And, of course, the fact that they're a Shout-Out to Super Sentai and Power Rangers.
The battle against General Guy (and his army) in Paper Mario. General Guy is the leader of all of the Shy Guys under Bowser, and he's been assigned to guard one of the Star Spirits. So Mario blasts his way into General Guy's fort, and General Guy sends out his army to fight him. This army comes in a couple of waves, all of which consist entirely of totally unique enemies fought nowhere else, whose attacks are completely different from all the other Shy Guys you've fought. Mario beats them up, and General Guy drives out in a fucking Tank. And starts shooting lasers and bombs and shit at Mario. He's just hard enough to present a challenge without causing controller-biting rages. Also, he was completely unexpected. He basically comes out of nowhere.
The final battle with Cackletta in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga is simply epic. First off, the second battle with her has been hyped up throughout the latter part of the game. Then, there's the fact that she's easily one of the hardest final bosses in the Mario series, starting off the battle with a blitzkrieg of attacks while you have only 1 HP each. Even if you survive that, she has all kinds of powerful and hard-to-avoid attacks to use on you, and she keeps throwing in new ones as she gets closer to defeat. At the same time, she avoids Fake Difficulty: her attacks can all be avoided once you learn how she signals them. Basically, she is the definitive example of how to create a difficult yet fair Final Boss. Oh, yeah, and you also get Awesome Music for the whole thing.
The first battle against Cackletta is pretty awesome, too. She doesn't have many attacks - she just clones herself, shoots lightning at you, and has her clones split into bats if you hit them instead of the real Cackletta... oh, and at the start and end of the fight, she generates shadowy holes that she then launches at you, while putting on a Nightmare Face for good measure. Still, the fight is definitely worthy of the Climax Boss title, and it has some sweet music to boot.
The battle against the Shadow Queen from Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is just... awesome. First, there's the fact that the Shadow Queen is a bit more apocalyptic than other Mario villains, and powerful enough to banish the previous boss with a gesture. Plus the fact that she's possessing Princess Peach. Then, once you get her down to roughly half health, she regenerates it all! Finally, when things look their bleakest, and the Queen is demanding that you surrender, the voices of everyone you've helped throughout the entire game start cheering you on, and Princess Peach breaks through the Shadow Queen's control and heals you. Finally on even footing with the boss, pumped up from the cheers of Mario's friends, its time for a final showdown for the fate of the world. EPIC.
The end of Chapter 5. After beating Cortez, you free a massive number of captured Toads, go outside with them only to see Lord Crump leading a giant black and spiky pirate ship and is bombing the waters with cannonballs. You then go back and convince Cortez to let you use his ghost ship to fight it. It culminates with an army of X-Nauts fighting a mixed army of blue fire ghosts and Toads launching across at each other between ships in a storm of sprites and you fighting Lord Crump and an X-Naut army in the middle of it.
In the middle of Chapter 6, when you don't expect a Boss in a such a relaxing level, a giant monster appears and he takes the passengers away. You fight on the top of the train, while you see the terrified passengers inside Smorg. The music's pretty good, as well.
The entirety of Chapter 3. Beating Rawk Hawk to become champion is one of the sweetest feelings in the game.
You want a challenging Petey Piranha fight? Look no further; Petey Piranha is hard and rather fun. He can switch between a flying form that jumps off of blocks to fire boulders at you and a spiked form that can suck you in or swing a Piranha head at you. Not to mention the premise of the battle is that Petey ate Peach and Kylie, making him a Climax Boss as well.
How 'bout them Partners in Time final bosses, huh? You've made it through a difficult, labyrinthine, and freakish Shroobified version of Peach's castle just to meet with the Shroob Princess. She manages to survive falling out of the sky after the player destroys her mothership, and makes haste in attacking you with her shield-generating, laser-equipped throne, complete with an optional tripod attachment.
Then, after you knock the Shroob Princess out, you accidentally help revive her brutish older sister, who wastes no time in trying to destroy you. She's willing to use her considerable bulk against you and has the Shroobs' fleet of UFOs at her disposal, who assist her in everything from summoning her Shroob-ified Chain-Chomp to restoring her health. And you've got nowhere to run, as you're standing on a platform with the boss, in the middle of a thunderstorm. At least Peach helps you to take out some of those UFOs.
...But the real kicker is the elder sister's second round. She transforms into a bigger, much less humanoid and much more alien entity, which causes Princess Peach to pass out. Not unlike the fight with Cackletta's soul, the player must cause considerable damage to parts of Elder's person before meaningful damage to the boss herself is even possible. Combine this with new attacks that require both quick reflexes and/or active memorization, and you've got yourself a boss that's very tricky to deal with. That's to say nothing of the darker atmosphere that this battle takes place in, established wonderfully by dire, yet supremely sublimebattle music.
Brobot in Super Paper Mario. A shooter battle against the most HP-fueled boss in all the game. Controlled by Luigi. With a kick-ass music.
Brobot L-Type. It's a painfully easy fight, sure. However, it has been rebuilt so that it is basically a giant mecha Luigi, has even more kick-ass music, and to top it all off, you fight it in a world that no longer even exists. And it doesn't even stop there. After joining you as a playable character in the next chapter, Luigi has a one-on-one showdown with Dimentio in the third act of the final chapter. Then in the final act, Luigi himself is the game's final boss. Possibly the most awesome moment in the Paper Mario series.
Then there's the final battle in Bowser's Inside Story, in which Bowser squares off against a dark, monstrous version of himself. That gets bigger throughout the fight. Does Bowser lose? No. Does he run away? Hell no. How does he finish that fight? By punching the ever-living crap out of it.Finally a Moment of Awesome for Bowser, who was seriously derailed since Superstar Saga!
You don't need to get to the final boss to see a cool boss. How about Bowser's Memory ML? They are 'memory' versions of the Mario Bros. that use old-school references to attack (such as grabbing a Super Star to ram into them, getting a Super Mushroom and hitting blocks, Luigi being chased by a 'memory' Boo, and a couple of others); the best part is, they're used as an 'anti-virus' system for Bowser's brain. It doesn't get any cooler than this.
And then there's the time Bowser fights a train. A train that can merge with a hill to form a Humongous Mecha. And that's only halfway into the fight.
The battle with Bowser inside the clinic is quite entertaining, especially considering that you're essentially going up against a character you've been playing as for much of the game, and he's using your own special attacks against you. Having to grab onto Starlow to avoid his flames is a good example of how evading attacks has become more sophisticated in this game.
Bowser X, the final Bonus Boss of the Gauntlet, is well worthy of being the final challenge due to testing so many of the skills you've learned across the game. He forces you to master nearly every one of the Bros. Attacks rather than rely on spamming one constantly, requires careful planning of equipment and badges to avoid running out of turns, and has a wide variety of powerful, tricky to dodge attacks that constantly put pressure on the player, yet, with practice, can be overcome.
To say nothing of the fact that you're fighting Bowser while you're inside Bowser's body.
There is nothing more kick-ass then the final Giant Bowser battle against Peach's castle-turned giant robot. First off is standard stuff: punch it, deflect attacks, etc. Then, "ACTIVATE BLACKHOLE ENDGAME". It fires a frickin' black hole behind Bowser which slowly gets closer as the battle rages. When it gets him, he's sucked in. Does he die? No. He forces himself out of the blackhole and uses himself as a projectile against the boss! Soon, another blackhole opens behind the boss, trapping it as well. With both trapped, Bowser finishes this up by repeatedly firing himself from his blackhole, forcing the boss into its own. Best. Boss. Ever.
Paper Mario: Sticker Star: Gooper Blooper. He's a Dance Battler this time around and changes the background music as he changes his dance. And it gets better when you counter his poison with the Sponge, at which point the song turns into one of the best remixes of the original 1-1 theme out there and you get to mercilessly pound on him for four turns.
The Bowser Snow Statue/Mizzter Blizzard. Not for the battle, but for the great emotional punch after the fight that is a nice contrast to the other bosses.
The final boss with Bowser (shocker). He sends wave after wave at Mario, but the plumber beats them all, culminating in a One-Winged Angel that's absolutely perfect for a game about paper — giant, cardboard Bowser. The best part is when Kersti makes a Heroic Sacrifice, which gives Mario the ability to keep up with the boss and take them down, complete with Awesome Music.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team added new ways to dodge attacks, new features, and made the giant battles more complex. The result is a ton of great bosses:
The Elite Trio, made up of Private Goomp, Corporal Paraplonk, and Sergeant Guy. Yes, Those Three Guys from the previous game are fought in this game, and they are scarily competent fighters, using attacks that involve multiple people, with their ultimate attack being Paraplonk grabbing a giant Bob-Omb, giving it to Guy, and then try to throw it at Mario. Meanwhile, Goomp and his army of Goombas also have to run, with Goomp at the back trying to find a hole in his army to escape. When he tries to escape, you have to jump on him to knock him back, or else he'll escape. If you survive long enough, the bomb will explode damaging Guy, Paraplonk, and any Goomba who didn't escape. Oh, and you have to beat them all at once, or else one of them will revive anyone down with one HP.
In series tradition, a Wiggler is a boss. The catch? You fight him with Popple on your side. The fight consists of damaging the Wiggler while stopping Popple from trying to attack, which will simply enrage the Wiggler. After you beat the Wiggler, Popple immediately turns on you, and you get to give him an amazing Curb-Stomp Battle in response to his new level in jerkass. After Popple's done, the Wiggler chases him away, causing him to immediately leave Pi'illo Island.
The penultimate fight with Antasma, in which Mario enters the Dream World to fight him. He turns into a much more intimidating form, and shows off a barrage of powerful new attacks, including trapping Mario into a nightmare of his own, in which he runs through a long dark corridor, avoiding Antasma's attacks and jumping over pits along the way. And when he finally loses, his version of the boss explosion is amazing to behold. Oh, and his battle theme's not half bad, too.
The Final Boss: Dreamy Bowser. A reality-warping Bowser who's able to create giant hammers, summon entire armies to back him up, and spawn pieces of meat to heal himself on the fly. His boss theme is absolutely amazing, and his boss explosion is the best so far in the series.
Bowser Jr., the Bonus Boss at the end of the Battle Ring, is the best of them all, and it's one of the most complex fights in the game. First off, he brings his own Junior Clown Car with him, and alternates from jumping in and out of it. He brings lots of crazy attacks to the table, such as having the Bros jump over a circling Bob-omb while he breathes fireballs, or throwing a spiked ball that they need to keep hitting to each other to counterattack, which is all a front while Bowser Jr. charges at them.he's able to steal your Bros. Attacks. You can even pull off a very satisfying vehicular turnabout by jumping into the Clown Car while he's not in it, and chasing Jr. down while throwing everything you can at him. The fight is definitely the best in the game and possibly the entire Mario and Luigi series.
It starts with King Boo setting a surprise trap by presenting the supposed boss stage of the final mansion as if it were a final mansion, only to send a Boolossus expy to your location. The fight is a much improved and incredibly satisfying version of Boolossus in which you split the Big Boo up with a drill on a toy train and knock each of the Boos in a train car. After that, King Boo uses the time to unleash an army of ghosts with the intent of ripping apart the fabric of space and time. What does cowardly Luigi do? Go throughout the mansion and capture each and every ghost, one by one, resulting in a battle with an army of ghosts on a balcony.
Next, Luigi goes after King Boo through the interdimensional vortex he made, where he must deal with the final Possessor ghost, the Tough Possessor, instead of King Boo. The Tough Possessor can create clones of himself and possesses the suits of armor nearby and ultimately possesses a massive suit of armor to stomp, stab, and drop debris on Luigi, though Luigi manages to beat him and get the final Dark Moon piece and is teleported back to the Bunker.
However, King Boo intercepts him on the way back and proceeds to give him the scare of a lifetime, lurking in floating windows and taunting him with the Mario painting. He then gives a chilling speech on how he plans to take Luigi, Gadd, and everyone they know and love and stick them all in paintings, with sheer malice in his voice. The resulting fight... well, in the first game, King Boo had to rely on a Bowser costume. Here, he fights with his own strength as he drops spike balls, rain lightning to change the arena, and grow giant to chase Luigi through hallways, with the music and dimension growing more and more unstable as King Boo is weakened. Also, King Boo can now resist the Poltergust and pull himself out. And what does Luigi do? Stand up to King Boo and persevere until King Boo finally gives up. Yeah, didn't expect that from the sequel to a spin-off, huh?
Mario Party, after having only Bowser as the Final Boss in most games (and there are some that don't have any boss at all), finally starts introducing main bosses in DS and 9. Two examples stand out:
Kamek in DS is one of the finest, as before you even get to directly confront him, you have to survive through a course where plenty of enchanted books can crush at you. While you're flying with a magical book yourself, no less. And then there's the actual fight, where you have an epic shoot-em-up paintball match against him as you try to cover his face with ink before he squashes you with his books.
King Boo is a clever and amazing Puzzle Boss who can only be harmed by making combinations of images as in Bejeweled. But of course that would be too easy without King Boo summoning Boos to try to jinx you. There's also the many Mini-Boss fights against Bowser Jr., who alone has a whole category of minigames so you and a partner can kick him out as many times as you want!