Video game franchises are like cartoon series. At some point, there is going to be some superfluous characters you see only once. Characters who never appear again, even in very continuity-heavy series. In many video games, this curse of the appear-once-and-then-gone mostly happens to the bosses. There's just so many RPG bosses that are seen and fought only once, and then the franchise forgets about them, therefore you might forget about them too!
But despite that, the fans have a very strong memory. They can remember even the most unmemorable characters of any game, given that said game and its franchise have a dedicated fan base. As a result, no boss is truly “forgotten”; it's just that they appear once in the series and never again, which doesn't mean that it couldn't have a lasting impression on the players.
Even some final bosses suffer from this. They are often seen in a single game and then vanish from the series. Why? Nobody knows. But they weren't forgotten by the fans. For a one-time final boss to leave a lasting impression, there's a few factors: The character's involvement in the plot; its personality; the fight against it; its powers; memorable scenes; good boss music; and so on. Remember, I'm keeping the list to Nintendo series, so only bosses from Mario, Zelda, Kirby, Metroid, and other Nintendo franchises. You have every right to disagree with one or more of the entries, so if you think I didn't put in a boss you like, well, you can talk about it in the comments! Without further ado, here is my personal Top 12 one-time final Nintendo bosses!
12. Rudy the Clown (Wario Land 3)
|Like Wario, Rudy needs to lose weight.|
And we already begin with a rather unknown fellow. In Wario Land 3 for the Game Boy Color, Wario ends up trapped in a land within a music box and helps the “God” of Music Box Land retrieving its powers sealed into five music boxes. It also promises to send him back home once that task is accomplished. At the end, surprise! This “god” was actually the villain, Rudy the Clown, who attacks using his fists... and yeah, that's his biggest strength. Despite his ridiculous design, Rudy managed to trick Wario into getting stuff for him. He hid his true appearance and power well enough, claiming to be the fat plumber's sole way to leave this land. But clearly, the battle isn't the more memorable part of him. ...Seriously, the guy's got trumpets for ears. Oh, and he's giant, guess that gives him a few more points. (Also, he made an appearance as a boss in Dr. Mario 64, but a Dr. Mario game with bosses? Seriously, Nintendo?)
11. Marx Soul (Kirby Super Star Ultra)
|"Blehh!" to you too!|
The Kirby series had a lot of one-time villains. It was difficult to pick among them as most had a stronger second form and a cool design or abilities. So I picked Marx to be low on this list, as he was technically the final boss of a game – and of its remake, and made only one appearance after that point. What's so special about it? In the first game, not much. In the remake, Marx is absorbed into a wish-granting quasi-deity called Galactic Nova, and absorbs it in turn, becoming an almighty creature, Marx Soul. ...Or, well, almighty in Kirby's world anyway. It's a formidable opponent and it has a lot of abilities. At the end of the boss battle, Kirby literally slices Marx Soul in two and the monster screams in pain. In a game for kids. Its upgraded form, its powers, how it's defeated, all make him a memorable one-time villain, though most one-time Kirby villains do have all these things. See why it was difficult for me to pick one?
10. Ridley Robot (Metroid: Zero Mission)
|Here, the boss's aftermath is even more memorable|
than the boss itself. Ain't that weird.
An incomplete robotic replica of Ridley, raging, really large. Yay for alliteration. Allegedly created because Ridley wanted a massive, powerful weapon that looked like him. However, the Ridley Robot is met unfinished, with an open hole on the chest, and no wings. Be glad it wasn't complete! The scary part of many of those one-time bosses is how they often get very little development or backstory. As an example, the Ridley Robot wasn't explained too well, so some players thought it to be a revived Ridley from Planet Zebes. Nope! Just a copy. A faker. Another thing that plays into this boss' fame is the countdown once you defeat it: You have less time to escape depending on your progression in the game. At worst, Samus has only three minutes to escape the mothership! That's the kind of thing you hardly forget.
9. Cackletta (Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga)
|By the power of the bean!|
The Mario RPGs have brought us a lot of great villains. Naming them all would waste some space. However, among them, I believe Cackletta stands out. As the first villain foiled by Peach before the game actually starts (in the introduction, in fact), she then appears a few times to mess with the heroes (something not all RPG final bosses tend to do), and then is fought a final time... But that's one memorable battle, trust me! The bros are fighting Cackletta... or rather, her SOUL, which entered and possessed Bowser in the second half of the game... so they're fighting her INSIDE BOWSER, on a field that looks like Hell... what's more, Mario and Luigi both have only ONE Hit Point when that battle starts, and must survive a round of her attacks before they can THEN start hitting back. Holy crap! If that's not memorable... Everything about the character is fun, from the appearance to the actual fights to her involvement in the plot. And a freaking epic final fight. Oh, by the way, Cackletta was truly eradicated that time, but no worries, her minion Fawful took a level in villainy and became later the villain of Mario and Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, with a plan that would make his mistress proud.
8. Onox and Veran (The Leged of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons / Oracle of Ages)
Counting them as one because, Hell, they each were the final boss of their version of this double Zelda game ever. Both count, in their own way. Onox was the final boss inm Oracle of Seasons while Veran was the last in Oracle of Ages. They ARE technically the last boss of their version if you couldn't link the two games together. Yeah yeah, I know, there's Twinrova and Ganon if you link them, but dammit, Onox and Veran still count thanks to a technicality. The two were a nice change of pace from Ganondorf, though both had their own take on the “mighty creature hidden inside” concept: Veran is actually a demonic fairy that can shapeshift into a beetle, a bee and a spider, while Onox could turn into a dragon. A freaking dragon! That's so much better than a giant pig! Take that, Ganon! What makes them unique is that when you link the games, first you had to defeat one, and then you find out that the other acted behind the scenes and won for the two of them, bringing Ganon to life again! How often did that happen in video games? Not very often, am I right?
7. Majora (The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask)
Oh yeah, who cannot remember this weird enemy? Majora is just a mask. A mask that can POSSESS PEOPLE! Oh, and it can fight all by itself too. But all things considered, everything about this mask makes it a memorable villain. The setting, Termina, endangered by the falling moon; the mask's backstory, as it was created as some sort of weapon by an ancient tribe, and used to torture captives; and like I said, it can grow “limbs” and attack by itself. And the fact that for most of the game, you keep encountering a Skull Kid possessed by it. It might not be as impressive as Ganon, or Vaati, or other major villains of the Zelda series, but this is one mask you don't want to put on under any circumstances. There's just something about cursed artifacts with a will of their own that makes them very scary. Mostly their effect on the wearer. Ice crown, anyone?
|I guess it just couldn't keep the masquerade going.|
6. The Aparoid Queen (Star Fox: Assault)
|Can you see her in this sea of greys?|
What's worse than a villainous scientist ape controlling a giant white face with red eyes? Why, the queen of an alien species that act like bees! Er... Not only is this creature the leader of a large invading force, the Aparoids, but she's also able to use countless mind tricks against Fox and friends: Among others, she literally uses the people she has assimilated and their voices to mentally torture the heroes. Her massive armada, her tactics, and of course the way she is destroyed are all memorable. How is the Aparoid Queen destroyed? Fox sends a self-destruct program into her, which she first fights off; but the good guys in their Arwings destroy her outer body, then battle the core, and defeat said core. Thanks to this, the self-destruct program works again and destroy not only her, but every Aparoid in existence. Holy crud. This was decidedly a dangerous villain, and you can be sure it wasn't forgotten by fans. By the way, she even uses a fake James McCloud to trick Fox. How the Hell could she do that???
5. Hades (Kid Icarus: Uprising)
|Is that fire on his head? Huh, wouldn't be the|
first Hades to have that.
I always wondered why Medusa was the final boss of the first Kid Icarus. I thought Hades or, heck, even Cronus would be more fitting for the role. Well, stop asking the question. She was Hades' underling. A few hints were dropped in the sequel for the Game Boy, as the villain Orcos also used the Underworld Army, but Hades really appears as the main villain of the recent Kid Icarus: Uprising, which would have never seen the light of day had Pit never gained so much popularity thanks to Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Aside from being the God of the Underworld, Hades is also cunning, ruthless and cruel. Oh, and while he speaks in an educated manner, the guy won't shut up, unlike Medusa who prefers silence. The fact that he was the mastermind behind three games yet fought only in the third is already an achievement. But toss that aside, and you still have a very cool re-imagining of the Greek deity, both in personality and in looks. Oh, and he'll be back for a future Kid Icarus game, apparently, so his status as one-time boss is limited for the moment. (Note: I still want to see how they'd picture Cronus.)
4. Necrodeus (Kirby Mass Attack)
I'll repeat it: In a world called Dream Land, obviously the villains are runaway nightmares. But I don't think many of those are as impressive as Necrodeus. The monster is literally a demon's head and hands with a bit of a cape. In a game for kids, mind you. Just this creature's appearance is enough to scare some kids. (Then again, 0²'s bleeding eye did the same.) Also, at the beginning of the game, it splits Kirby in ten weak versions of himself and leaves only one around at first. So, not only is he scary, he almost wins from the start! But the last Kirby manages to gather all the others and they beat Necrodeus all together. That boss is amazing, a clearly dangerous monster from its very first appearance and even at the end, when the battle gets transported in space. One of the scariest monsters met in Dream Land, a force to acknowledge, Necrodeus is certainly a nightmare to remember. (That was corny.)
3. Gorea (Metroid Prime Hunters)
The Metroid series sure has a thing for scary monsters. Gorea is an impressive boss, a powerful evil being who crashes on Alinos like a comet of sorts. It is able to suck out the life energy of the creatures it meets, leaving them dead – or almost dead in some cases – and can copy any weapon that attacks it. In its second form, Gorea can only be defeated with the Omega Cannon. Through the DS game, it is not seen until the last parts, but its existence is frequently hinted at through the game. And that's actually kind of scary: To know something awfully powerful is coming but never actually getting to know what until you actually go in battle against it, technically unprepared. Not a lot of games do that. Oh, also, Gorea is freaking HUGE and absorbs the abilities of Samus' allies before the final battle. Its backstory, its powers, its size, the fight against it, this all contributes to its popularity with the fans.
2. Dimentio (Super Paper Mario)
|Dont be fooled by the smile. This guy is Emperor|
Joker in Paper Mario form.
Yeah, you knew this was coming. “Gosh, there was very little Mario in this Top 12 so far!” Yeah, I know. Anyway, Dimentio is the “last boss” of Super Paper Mario, probably the darkest Mario game ever made. A playful jester who can manipulate dimensions, Dimentio worked under Count Bleck, whose goal was to destroy all dimensions thanks to the Chaos Heart. The jester appears a couple times through the game, showing off some impressive abilities. He even kills the entire party at some point! (Told you it was dark.) But after Bleck's defeat, Dimentio double-crosses him, takes the Chaos heart, and merges with it and Luigi, forming... the most ridiculous final boss in the history of the Mario series. But until that point, Dimentio was an awesome villain, with less backstory than Bleck, making him more mysterious and giving him vaguer motivations. He's like the Joker: No one knows enough on where he came from to understand him, and all he wants to do is spread chaos. It's really lame that he had to end that way. Still, for being the most dangerous villain ever encountered by Mario's team, Dimentio remains a popular one-time boss.
1. Tabuu (Super Smash Bros. Brawl)
|Where did you come from, TRONman?|
...Yeah, you knew this was coming too. Tabuu is the greatest Nintendo villain. He's done it all: Manipulating other major Nintendo villains, using Master Hand as a literal puppet, sent the Smash world into Subspace piece by piece thanks to the Subspace Bombs, using the particles of Game&Watches to create evil clones of the characters, forcing them to fight each other... He also one-hit-kills most of the cast of SSBB at one point. The only thing that stopped his evil plan? King Dedede, who was wise enough to create brooches that bring the trophy characters back to life. Until that point, Tabuu's plan was flawless and could have meant the end of the Smash universe altogether. Picture that. We never learn where he came from, his motivations, what he is nor how we came to have the most dangerous ability in all of Smash. Add to this that Tabuu looks like a plasma male human with few distinguishable features, dangerous abilities that are often too large to avoid or too hard to counter, and you get one mean blue monster. I'm not even discussing the wings! What else can I say about Tabuu that hasn't been said before? Due to SSBB's popularity, it's also one of the bosses on this list seen by the most gamers. After you see him, you'll never forget him, and since there is little chance of seeing him again (or so it seems, we can't tell what the next Smash game will have), Tabuu deserves this #1 spot.
Though, if you really want to know, I might talk about him again soon...
But before that, I just remembered! The first installment of VGFlicks is next week! On every cycle of reviews, I'm going to look at a film with a plot related to video games. Next Friday: Gamer, a film about a... gamer. And his character, who's a living being. And a bunch of people playing a real-life ugly version of Second Life. And... Gah, it's too long to explain! Tune in next week, that will spare me some troubles. See ya then!