Bosses are a staple of Zelda games, and Link’s Awakening is no exception. The bosses of Link’s Awakening have been placed there by the Shadow Nightmares as a last resort against anyone who tries to recover one of the eight instruments. Bosses usually require the items Link received it that dungeon to vanquish them. After defeating a boss, Link receives a Heart Container.
This beast has made several appearances in the Zelda series. A long, worm-like creature, the Moldorm is essentially five connected, black balls surrounded in a green haze. It has a tough, lustrous coat with a pair of large, beady eyes that have been made redundant in its dark environment in Tail Cave. Instead, it uses antenna to find prey. The Moldorm crawl around frantically, but has no direct attacks. To kill the Moldorm, you must slash at the end of its tail four times. A good strategy to keep in mind is to stay against the top wall; The Moldorm will never get close enough to cause any injury, and you can attack it whenever it comes near. Beware, getting too close to the Moldorm will not only harm Link, but there is also a possibility he can be knocked into the pit below, and start again. Either way, after defeating the Moldorm, Link is rewarded with the Full Moon Cello.
This genie is garbed in the dress of a clown. This boss is a spoiled brat, a cowardly fiend who rarely leaves the safety of his bottle. Living in it, in the darkest depths of Bottle Grotto, has evidently turned the Genie mad, and takes every opportunity to taunt Link, and is prone to outbursts of rage. The Genie is more cunning than the Moldorm, and is able to launch a series of eight fireballs at Link. Your sword is useless against the bottle, but you can throw it against the wall three times to break it. This will anger the Genie and he will attack Link directly now. Link must hit the Genie with his sword eight times, each time causing it to spin around madly, before he can receive the second instrument, the Conch Horn.
Residing at Key Cavern is the formless Slime eyes. It is, as the name suggests, an eye of slime. A translucent blob, Slime Eyes is hardly the most intimidating of bosses, and its cowardly nature only reinforces this impression. While hiding on the ceiling of Key Cavern, it bombards Link with Zols. In order to attack it directly, Link must knock it down by running into the wall. Link can cut Slime Eyes into two eyes by ramming it with the Pegasus Boots. Both Slime Eyes will now wriggle around and occasionally leap into the air and back down again, stunning Link. It’s a simple matter of attacking them now. After defeating them both, head into the room ahead for the Sea Lily’s Bell.
This large, aquatic boss strongly resembles its namesake. Living in the cold, deep waters of Angler’s Tunnel has had an adverse effect on the Angler Fish’s pigmentation, bleaching it to an unhealthy white color. Dangling from its head is the esca, a glowing fleshy growth used to snare unsuspecting prey. Only the female Angler Fish has this. Of course, this is the Angler Fish’s only weak point. It is fought underwater, from a side perspective. In battle, the Angler Fish can cause debris to fall from the surface, can call upon hordes of Angler Fry to distract Link, and can ram into him. Despite this myriad of intimidating attacks, the Angler Fish is extremely simple to defeat, and requires only a few sword-swipes to its vulnerable esca before falling. It is an easy thing to fell this beast before it even has a chance to attack. Link’s reward is the Surf Harp.
The Nightmare of the Catfish’s Maw is an extremely long snake-like creature somewhat resembling the Moldorm. The Slime Eel is long enough to swing his tail around the floor while simultaneously attacking with its head. This is the only creature in which you can see the heart container. Before the battle commences, the Slime Eel gives the first clue in regards to the nature of the Wind Fish and Koholint island. His tail bursts through the floor of the dungeon and serves as a distraction as his head pokes through one of four holes in the wall, threatening to eat Link. To vanquish the Slime Eel, Link must avoid its tail, and its head. At the right moment, Link has to use his hookshot to wrench the Slime Eel from one of the holes, and then attack its exposed body before it slithers back again. The destruction of the wicked Slime Eel is rewarded with the Wind Marimba.
Keeping with the theme of Face Shrine, this boss is a face in the floor. Fully capable of facial expressions, Façade is the most human boss in Link’s Awakening. After nearly giving away his weak spot, Façade throws pots at Link and when they are depleted, opens up holes in the ground at random. Link can destroy this boss by laying bombs on it. After defeat, Façade pleads with Link, “Okay, listen up! If the Wind Fish wakes up, every-thing on this island will be gone forever! And I do mean… EVERYTHING!” This begs the question: Are the bosses protecting the instruments to maintain the existence of the island and the people on it, or is this just an excuse? Either way, Façade is destroyed and the sixth instrument belongs to Link.
The Evil Eagle is the pet of Grim Creeper, the Mini-Boss of Eagle’s Tower. He wishes to exact revenge on Link after he killed his brothers. They fight atop Eagle’s Tower, in the open air. Grim Creeper mounts the large bird and attacks. The eagle will attempt to knock you off the tower. He will kick up gusts of wind in order to do this, so you must bear your shield and walk into the wind. He might shoot feathers at you, and you can either avoid these or hide on the ladder. When the Evil Eagle swoops by, low, you must slash him with your sword. Several repeats of this will result in his death. Afterwards, Link gets the Organ of Evening Calm.
This is a head of fire, and lives in a lava pit in Turtle Rock. Hot Head resembles a giant Podoboo. It has the ability to bounce in and out of his fiery lair, and the subsequent splashes are harmful to Link. He must avoid these splashes while shooting Hot Head with the Magic Rod. Eventually Hot Head’s fiery shell with crumble and break off, leaving a pathetic and crippled monster in his place. Again, Link must shoot this creature with consecutive hits before it dives back into the lava. If Link allows him to, he will have to start over.
The Shadow Nightmares
The Shadow Nightmares are the final bosses of the game. They are shapeless black entities that assume the form of that which the beholder fears most, what their nightmare is. The Shadow Nightmares can be found deep in the labyrinth that is the Wind Fish’s egg. After a speech in which they attempt to justify their usurp of Koholint Island, they attack. The Nightmares take on six forms:
- Giant Gel
The Giant Gel is a formless blob. It hops around the stage randomly, occasionally taking a huge leap and attempts to crash on Link’s head. Link finds that conventional weapons are no use against the Giant Gel; They simply cause him to disintegrate and then reform. To defeat the Giant Gel, Link has only to sprinkle magic powder on the nefarious foe three times.
- Aghanim’s Shadow
From the remains of the Giant Gel rises Aghanim’s Shadow, the Nightmares manifesting themselves as the evil priest from A Link to the Past. This boss fights the same as the original Aghanim from the previous game. He has three magic attacks: The first being a lightning-like attack in the form of an X. This attack is unblock able, so Link tries to avoid it. The second is a collection of five small magic spheres. Link does not attempt to reflect these, this only results in his injury. He simply avoids them. The final attack is a single ball of energy. This is the only way to harm Aghanim’s shadow; Link must reflect this attack with his sword, and four times for victory.
- Moldorm’s Shadow
This form is the same as the boss from Tail Cave, Moldorm. The strategy is exactly the same as before, only now if Link allows it to slow down, he must start from scratch.
- Ganon’s Shadow
The fourth form is Ganon’s Shadow, the most difficult yet. This form behaves the same as Ganon did in A Link to the Past, he holds a large staff which is used to summon fire keese. To defeat him, Link must charge into him six times with the Pegasus Boots.
- Lanmola’s Shadow
And so Link moves onto the penultimate boss fight. This is the simplest of all the forms, a Shadow of Lanmola, the guardian of Angler Key from Yarna Desert. Link has only to strike Lanmola’s Shadow with the magic rod once to progress to the final form, Dethl. The music become very dramatic, as if this was intended to be the toughest boss in the game.
This is the mastermind of the Shadow Nightmares, and the last enemy Link fights on Koholint Island. It is a single eye with two large, muscular arms that swing in opposing directions to each other. To defeat Dethl, Link must use Roc’s Feather to dodge the swinging arms. The time to strike is when the eyelid opens; Link can fire twenty arrows into Dethl’s eye to defeat him, or just one swing of the boomerang.
Link’s Awakening was the first game to introduce Mini-Bosses. Mini-Bosses are what they sound like: A monster halfway between a normal enemy and a regular boss in terms of difficulty. At least one appears in every dungeon, and are usually close to the item that dungeon holds. There are two constants: After a Mini-Boss is defeated, it will leave behind a warp point that lead directly to the opening room of the dungeon, and a fairy that will restore all of Link’s hearts.
This is the Mini-Boss of Tail Cave. Rolling Bones resembles a pink frog and owns a spiked log which he uses as a weapon. This Mini-Boss is particularly easy; Link has only to jump the spiked log with Roc’s feather, and then repeatedly slash Rolling Bones with his sword before it can get back to its weapon.
This is a gigantic Cyclops of Bottle Grotto. Hinox is certainly intimidating with his muscled arms and pitfall/spike ridden lair, but Link has little trouble in defeating him. He must approach with a charged spin attack, and watches out in case he is picked up and tossed around the room like a rag doll. Link must also be careful for the occasional bomb Hinox throws.
This Mini-Boss always comes in a pair of two. Dodongo Snakes are short, thick skinned creatures with a segmented body. The front segment is a large, open mouth. They wander slowly and aimlessly around the stage. In order to defeat them, Link must plant a bomb in their path so that they ingest it. Three bombs cause the Dodongo Snake to explode.
This Mini-Boss is similar to the Big Octo from Ocarina of Time. It has a weak spot on the back of its head. Cue Ball will attempt to race around the perimeter of the room in order to kill Link. He must equip his Pegasus Boots and dash to catch up with Cue Ball. When he does, Link can perform a charge attack to injure the beast. Seven such attacks later, and Cue Ball is no more.
Gohmas are large spiders with a single eye and large claws. They come in pairs of two and walk sideways, back and forth across the screen. Their eyelids open rarely, and shoot balls when they do. To defeat them, Link must attack their exposed eye with a long-range weapon. Interestingly, their eyes will open faster if Link plays “The Ballad of the Wind Fish” on his ocarina.
The Grim Creeper is a skeletal flautist. He cannot attack Link himself, rather he calls upon six keese to do that for him. He calls these keese his brothers. They assemble in various formations and charge at Link. To defeat Grim Creeper, Link must kill all of the keese in one formation; That is, he cannot allow even one to escape unscathed. The Grim Creeper later goes on to pilot the Evil Eagle.
This boxing champion lives in Turtle Rock, and is forever honing his skills. He wears blue boxing gloves, and sees Link as a worthy opponent. While Blaino is charging up an attack, Link can simply perform a spin attack to injure him. He must watch out, though. One clean uppercut and Link is thrown all the way back to the entrance of the dungeon. Blaino later appears in Oracle of Seasons.