Boss Challenges for Zelda Veterans

By Dan Merrill, aka Hylian Dan



The first Zelda game I ever played was Link’s Awakening. I wasn’t very good at it. When I finally beat the game after a few years, the death count that showed up next to my file was pretty high.

I decided to play the game again, this time without dying once. I didn’t quite make it – when Link would twirl around and fall down dead, I’d frantically turn the game off before it would record the death. So in that way I managed to beat Link’s Awakening with a death count of zero, and the game rewarded me with a slightly extended ending.

Now, when I play a new Zelda game, it’s rare for me to see the game over screen more than once or twice, and even then it’s usually only when I’m being recklessly sloppy. I don’t think I’m the only one who’s had this sort of experience with the series.

As players, our skills have grown. We’ve become more familiar with the gameplay mechanics of Zelda games. And the games themselves seem to be getting easier, with no option for adjusting the difficulty settings.

When I breeze through new boss battles on my first try with my health meter close to full, I often miss those good old days when the bosses terrified and overwhelmed me, when I could safely expect to die maybe half a dozen times per boss.

Fortunately, I’ve found ways to recreate that sort of experience. The following list of challenges was created for all of you who wish there was more fear and difficulty in the 3D boss battles, for all of you who feel nostalgic for the days when you’d see Zelda’s game over screen again and again and again, and for all of you with free time on your hands.

I created and play-tested these boss challenges hoping they’ll provide the sort of thrill and desperation for veterans of the series that I originally felt when playing Zelda games. I haven’t just tried to create meaninglessly frustrating battle experiences, however. These challenges should certainly provide varying degrees of frustration, but I hope they also provide fresh gameplay variety, a solid fun factor and a sweet feeling of relief when the boss finally dies.

I’ve made videos so you can watch what most of these battles are like, but remember that the point of this list is for you to go and try some of these battles yourself.


Next page: Ocarina of Time Challenges

  • Demo

    Very nice, I' ll try some of them sometime. I think there's one challenge you could add to the list. I did this recently and feel very proud about it.
    -In TP, defeat the two darknuts in Hyrule castle with 3 hearts, no shield, no hidden skills and 3 hearts.

    I had to use a bottle fairy…so make that 6 hearts.

    • Demo

      Oops, I meant ordon sword instead of saying three hearts twice….

  • these are great. if nintendo put a little more work into the boss battles, they could be a lot more fun.

    • Moophie

      yeah, boss battles are too easy

  • Kaylee

    The iron boots make everything harder. XD

    I’ve heard of “The Three Heart Challenge” throughout the Zelda community. Complete any Zelda game with only three hearts by not collecting any of the containers. Supposedly, one game would not allow you to continue unless you picked up a heart container, but I can’t remember which game or which version of a game it was.

    These days, I only die when I’m being reckless or when my 3 heart self runs afoul of a new enemy or hazard that jumps me. I can’t think of a single time that I died during Phantom Hourglass, even if I did come close. I usually have more difficulty with small ledges and bottomless pits than bosses.

    • Squiggy

      That game would be Ocarina of Time. If you skip the heart container after defeating Gohma in the Deku Tree dungeon, the Deku Tree will give it to you anyway and the one left in Gohma's room disappears.

      • Nintendoholic

        really? cuz i did a 3 heart OoT run and beat the game w/ only 3 hears…

        • Shadowknight1

          Which gets very difficult when you get to the Spirit Temple. Namely, the Iron Knuckle. You can't screw around there, you have to be perfect with every dodge and attack, or you're dead.

    • Bananaan2313

      That'd be A Link to the Past, which makes you take the Heart Containers after taking out the bosses in the dungeons. I think you could finish with 13 hears minimum, by skipping all Pieces of Heart and the extra container in the Sanctuary.

    • GiganticRope

      I have successfully completed a three heart challenge with Ocarina of Time. It's not overly that difficult, with a couple exceptions. I would also like to note, I've done the three heart challenge without dying. That's right, no deaths through the entire play through =D The only bosses I feel you really have to worry about, were Dark Link, and Morpha in the Water Temple. Dark link because he's a direct mimic, and can be a nuisance to hit sometimes, and Morpha because sometimes I would be so focused on the Nucleus, that I would forget about the second tentacle that grabs you, and throws you around the room. In a 3 heart challenge, that's death. And later on, the Spirit temple can be difficult as well. The Iron Knuckles kill you in one shot, as do the witches Kotake, and Koume. Standing even an inch off when they cast magic at you kills you. When they fuse into Twinrova, I found the fight got much easier.

    • Flood

      A Link to the past and Link's Awakening won't let you proceed without picking up Heart Containers. It also can't be done in Four Swords and Four Swords Adventures due to the nature of those games (heart containers are found randomly rather then after a boss, you lose them after the level and you start off with four). Zelda II also doesn't feature Hearts in a traditional sense but you can complete the game with out leveling up or extending your Health Bar.

  • Nightmaru

    Great challenges. I don't think I'm Hylian enough to try these though. :/

  • Average Gamer

    Some of these are pretty good, but a lot of them involve the generic "Iron Boots + Limited Run" challenge that fans use a lot. Still, things like stunning Ganon with a jump attack, fighting Twinmold as Goron Link, and fighting Majora's Mask in Deku Form stand out.

  • swizzles

    I have the Collector's Edition Wind Waker demo, and I've tried so many times to race through that dungeon before the 20 minutes are up. It is VERY hard, but kind of fun to try.

    • Tyler

      I did it, it started the cut scene after i beated the boss and it stopped 2 seconds after

  • eldagger

    try beat gannondorf whit no shield and 3 hearts in TP

    • HeavyWeaponsFan

      That's more easier than you think. Considering my playstyle in TP was to have no shield, it would be a cakewalk to me.

      • Hey-Listen!!!

        Plus there is always the fishing pole trick.

        • HeavyWeaponsFan

          Thank the Goddesses that Ganondorf has ADD.

  • I'm certainly gonna try what you said about Spirit Tracks.

  • Lules

    I'm good at Zelda, but not to the point of trying these challenges and winning! Good luck, guys!

  • I beat the King Bulblin one in Hyrule Castle using only Bomb Arrows. It was part of my Three Heart + Minimal Master Sword Challenge. 🙂

    • Demo

      How is that hard? Do it shieldless and with and with the ordon sword.the OHKO is nasty though.

  • ZFG

    I'd like to add one for Bongo Bongo

    -no c items
    -broken giants knife
    -kokiri boots only

    Difficulty – brutal

    No lens of truth to see where bongo bongo is, but its always obvious he's between the hands. No bow/hookshot for the hands but luckily your sword can stun the hands too. Broken giants knife always make it a challenge. Have fun!

    Also for TP you can use a glitch to skip the ordon sword and keep the wooden sword for the entire game which should be a pretty hard challenge.

  • Curly Q

    I dont have Ocarina of time any more but when i had it I tried challenge #5 it was hard at first but i got used to it. They look like fun challenges!

  • Yoshiyahu

    XD Try beating the four darknuts the second time through the cave of ordeals, I have every Zelda game and I still had trouble on those guys with twenty hearts, but then again, I tend to use no shield when I tried it again I had it equipped and it made it much easier.

  • Robert

    this inspired me to play twilight princess with the 3 heart challenge!

  • CheatMasterK

    Holy CRAP. I don't think I'd be able to do these EVER.

  • Oscar

    I'm going to try all the Majoras challenges, but I'm sure I'll die tons of times haha.

  • Keyaki

    I did the Gohdan challenge my first play-through of WW. At that time I really didn't have that much knowledge of L-Targeting but I was still able to beat him my first time around, thankfully I had 2 half-empty bottles of Blue Potion

  • MRKO64

    I like all of these! They are GREAT! But I found a challenge for Ganon in OOT. Don't get the double magic meter or the "super hearts" as I like to call it, because the double your defense. I found it to be hard because the pots under you don't give you much magic. And you can't miss Ganon with the light arrows. It a real challenge!

  • link zora

    What garbage repel the rays of Ganon with one pot of fairy and a broken sword cut he.ok

  • MRKO64

    I have a challenge. In TP in the final fight with Ganon, have the iron boots on the whole time and never chance him at all. It's kinda hard. Once you get the hang of it it's easy.

  • nightshade

    I am definitely going to try some of these!

  • robert

    The first time i fought Ganon, i only had the boomerang : o And i actually made him collapse! took a loooong time though x D

    • THE JOE

      you only had the boomerang?

  • Guilherme

    Try defeat Dark Link using Iron boots and Z(or L in Collector)-TargetingFor the "veteran Hylians" like me it's still a medium to easy, but it's still fun to do.

  • Sonic the Hedgehog

    My favorite zelda boss EVER was Ganondorf in TP. They need more bosses like that.

    • GorCoronSumo

      There's a glitch that allows you to escape the barrier, thus allowing an epic battle across all of Hyrule.

  • Impp

    I’m gonna try the Deku Link One
    Yeah, and it is Link to the past that makes you pick up the heart pieces to move on. I did a challenge, though, where I played the game through with the lowest hearts possible, no unnecessary items, such as bottles, blue and red mail,the magic upgrade the mirror sheild, etc. I let my sheild get eaten. It’s pretty tough, but not impossibly so.
    In the Turtle Rock dungeon, witout bottles and the magic upgrade, you’ll have just enough magic to kill the boss with the wands. If you miss once, you can’t do it, though.
    I’m thinking of trying Majora’s Mask like this, too.^

    On a side note, Zelda II: The adventures of Link as it is, is by far tougher than this, and OOT doing the 3 heart challenge.

  • Some Challenges looks like madness, but I think I'll try one of them next time I start the game again, 'cause right now my character got a big boost of upgrades, tha includes Heart Pieces (my prior objective now is to finish OoT, TP and ALTTP at 100%).

  • You should try doing a 3- or 6-Heart challenge in the Cave of Ordeals, or in Ww's Labyrinth. Oi…talk about a doozy.

    • HeavyWeaponsFan

      I did a 9 heart run in the Cave of Ordeals with no shield, Ordon sword, and no potion. It was as hard as Zelda II. I had 12 or maybe 14 hearts when I did the WW Labyrinth and I nearly died twice. I think I'll try it once more tomorrow.

      • I *managed* to complete the Cave of Ordeals on the 6-Heart during my last playthrough, but I did use ZU's graph of the Cave so that I could strategize on what weapons to use and where to strike. It was loads of fun, but I felt as if the world rolled off my shoulder after the final door fell into it slot–that's how relieved I was.

        WW's Labyrinth was as hard for me. You just had to know which enemies would be the nuisances when fighting two or more at a time (for example, I went for the Wizrobes while taking on them and Darknuts, because their blasts tended to hit me as I fought those armored pests).

        Altogether, I would say they're somewhat of a challenge, but they're more fun than anything, and are great places to practice.

  • Raya

    "Challenge #16: Defeat Gyorg using only the Zora mask, attacking only while underwater."

    Hmm. This is how I always did it. I guess there were arrows in those pots for a reason? XD

    • lyrad hylian

      same here

  • Anomynous

    You should be in Wikipedia.

  • xosgni

    This is both appreciated and ironic. This is why I say that. If you're a Zelda veteran, the only way to make the game a challenge, it seems, is to handicap yourself.

    In short, I wish the game was already made to continuously challenge you to the point where you actually HAVE to give it your all…. instead of handicapping yourself to compensate for it's ease.

    Not that I have a problem with the article or it's author, mind you. I'm just saying.

    know what I mean?

  • RydAma

    I understand many people love Biggoron's Sword, but it takes away a LOT of the challenge in many of these (like Volvagia's) because of its longer range and double damage. I prefer the Master Sword (or Broken Giant's Knife!)

    Btw beating Ganon (OoT) with Deku Nuts should also be cheating =P Yes, his tail even takes DAMAGE from it.

  • veeronic

    complete all of majora's mask in only 2 cycles counting the deku scrub prologue, tried once, failed.

  • DanielHen

    I'll try the Majora's Mask one.

  • gward

    Even harder for OoT ganondorf is only use spin attack to volley the lightning ball. Not just the first hit and then swing normally, only do spin attacks

  • HeavyWeaponsFan

    You too! When I first played Ocarian of Time I was completely clueless what to do because Navi only told me to go to Death Mountain and I ran to the top. I spent hours trying to go to a platform down in the lava for over an hour. After, I decided to skip it and went to Zora Domain, and continue to adventure from there. I finished the Water Temple, the Sand Temple, and the Shadow Temple in that order. After, I ran up Death Mountain crater and after a few tries I made a lucky landing on the platform. I finished the entire game wrong and I never could get the Goron Tunic after I finished the Fire Temple. To me, I played the hardest way to play Ocarina of Time. I never had the Hammer to help me until the end of the game. You can imagine how hard it was, or maybe you already know.

  • mrnjlw1090

    I beat Twinmold once with an arrow, only because I ran out of magic using the giant's mask.

  • I've just finished the Master Quest 3 Hearts Challange… so… hard… well… not really.. i used a lot of deku nuts and bombchus..
    Beating the Iron Knuckles: easy- bombchus and bombs to get rid of his armour, and arrows to kill him compleatly.
    Beating Dark Link: 3 Deku nuts and some jump attacks from the good ol' Biggoron sword

  • ganondox the frog

    I actually usually where the hoverboots, so the Ocarina of Time challenges aren't that hard.

  • Zervah

    I actually tried the "Thre Heart Challenge" in Oot, OotMasterQues, MM, WW and TP, all of them without upgrades and one fairy. I'll try some of these challenges next time 😛

  • Anomynous

    I almost bested majora with the fierce deity mask with all the handicapped stuff, sadly one of those mask killed me damn goht mask. T.T

  • Anomynous

    I finally bested majora with fierce deity and all of the other handicaps. I got a little tip for all of you who are going to attempt this. When you Fight Majoras Mask with all of the other masks too kill every mask except Majora, You should end up with only 2 hearts. At the Majoras Incarnation fight keep on jabbing him till you beat him, again you must have 2 hearts. Majoras Wrath will be the toughest of them all defend yourself while coming up close to him jab him till hes dizzy defend yourself when he recovers himself, Keep on doing this and you should be able to beat majora alot easier. I had died about 5-10 times and had only a quarter of a heart left good luck.

  • Saria

    I thought the Goht bomb challenge would be fun to do, so I tried it out. I got a bit carried away., and ended up making a hilarious mistake at the end.

  • rinku

    i did all of them b4 and they were easy maybe it's just me it was fun

    • Anomynous

      Are you from the future?

  • AdeptIsaac

    I'll definitely have to try some of these! Might even do a playthrough for some of them on Youtube…


    WAIT!!!! You don't HAVE to fight Gyorg underwater? It took me a good 12 or 13 attempts to beat this boss only to find out there was an easier way!!!! I had to retry that temple 3 times because I kept running out of time while fighting this boss. . . I'm going to go cry now

  • TheRose

    I've decided to do three of these challenges every weekend untill SS and OOT 3D comes out. Today I took the mini boss in the first temple in MM only using the goron mask and the zora. and I took the two Odowla challengers, it was fun! :] Next Weekend will probably be Ghot x]

  • Aundriel

    Ironically I've only been able to beat Gyorg as a Zora. I've never figured out how to beat him out of the water, I always got too impatient waiting and would jump in the water as a Zora to beat the stuffing out of him. I found it a lot easier to beat him when standing on the bottom rather than swimming.

  • Shan Kaiyou

    The first time I played OOT, I didn't know you could roll through Ganon's legs in the final battle. I had run out of light arrows from fighting him in human form, so all I had were bombs and the hookshot. I can vouch that killing him without going between his legs took FOREVER and was REALLY hard. My ten year old neighbor told me about the rolling between the legs thing, and I was horribly embarrassed about the whole thing. Also, using the name "Link" really does make the game harder. I always use that name, and once I was playing my sister's game (helping her out), and it was incredibly easy to beat Ganondorf in her game, as opposed to mine. I hear that using the name "Ganondorf" makes the game even harder than using "Link", but I can't vouch for the truthfulness of that.


    Very nice. Maybe I'll give this a spin.

  • Kingblade

    i beat oot with three heart challenge and only died twice: once on bongo bonga and once on a iron knuckle in the kid part of the spirit temple

  • nasanerd09

    although i have to admit that the iron boots would make any boss in TP difficult, I was a little disappointed to see that nearly all of them required the iron boots. I think you could have come up with something more original there, although the spinner for phantom zant looks fun! for now, I think I'll stick to my three heart run of the game, since I've already beat it twice. I also think you should have come up with something for the cave of ordeals, like maybe using only the bow and arrow or spinner in every room, except maybe the room with the aeralfos because i don't know if you can defeat them without the clawshot

  • Cuddlesthedwagon

    Site crashed yet this article is still up. Interdasting.