Top-10 Zelda Monsters!
Time to continue my Zelda lists. I previously brought to you what I thought were the best and worst items in Zelda games, now it’s time for the Villains. The monsters that appear in most games. These are the 10 that stand out for me personally…
If we’re going to start somewhere, we might as well start with the Stalfos. These skeletal warriors have been a part of the Zelda franchise since the very first instalment. They haven’t always been armed and their depictions tend to change based on the game they’re in, from kinda cute in A Link to the Past to flat-out creepy in Twilight Princess.
Stalfos are some of the most bread-and-butter variety of enemies in Zelda, but I always appreciate seeing them in a game. I don’t really have a favourite incarnation and I think Nintendo over-uses the Stal- prefix for a lot of other skeletal characters (Stalchildren, Stalhounds, Stallord etc.). Never the less, I always liked them and in Ocarina of Time I thought it was cool that you could have one-on-one sword-fights with them (sometimes two-on-one as well).
Stalfos though, have never quite peaked the favourite meter too high. I love seeing them, but I won’t feel a great injustice has been done if they’re left out of a Zelda game (and usually there’s some skeleton enemy to take their place), but they seemed to fit the last place on the list.
Zombies can be scary, but Redeads are scarier. There’s nothing more horrifying than seeing a seemingly motionless dark figure standing in the distance and the minute you get closer: “AAAAAAAERGH!” They freeze you with a bone-chilling shriek so that they can come close enough and squeeze the life out of you.
Redeads are scary regardless of the incarnation they are in. Even the cartoony, vaguely African looking variants in Wind Waker gave me the heeby-jeebies, and it just seems to me that Nintendo loves to put them in the absolutely scariest locations in any given Zelda game.
I wondered for a bit whether to include Redeads or Gibdos on this list, because in the post Ocarina of Time games, Gibdos too have become shit-disturbingly frightening. However, the goofy original 8-bit variant just so utterly solidifies Gibdo as a run-of-the-mill mummy, that I don’t think there’s any question over which ones I consider scarier.
However, the Redeads kinda suck as enemies since they are slow and fairly easy to avoid, which is why I didn’t place them any higher on this list.
For some reason there seems to be a thing with Zelda games and enemies which only have a single eye. Beamos is the perfect embodiment of this enemy trait: the eye is the bad guy. Beamos sort of gets one of two reactions from people, either they really don’t consider them enemies so much as mere obstacles or they get a warm sense of nostalgia and a slight twinge of fear in their step when they realise that they’ll have to navigate their way past these terrifying turrets.
In fact, that’s about the only lame thing about Beamos, they are effectively just turrets. There’s no personality to them and they don’t even move in any of the Zelda games that I’ve played. However, the sheer terror of getting pelted by a death-beam from its lifeless eye is enough to get me a little shield and/or bomb-throw happy around them.
I also have to relay something to people reading this. One of the many reasons I didn’t like Skyward Sword that much was because it lacked so many of the classic Zelda enemies. The few that made appearances were really uninspiring choices at that. When I saw the Beamos I felt both a nice sense of nostalgia but also a tad disappointed. The most iconic enemy they could muster for that game was a fricking eye on a pedestal.
Possessing probably one of the most inappropriate titles of any Zelda enemy (no matter how “bubble”-like they might have been in Zelda II), Bubbles are another cute enemy that I really enjoy seeing in any Zelda game.
Bubbles, in their simplicity, are skulls with bat-wings attached to them. They’re usually pretty derpy (what do you expect), but I immediately associate them with Zelda and they’re an enemy I always enjoy seeing. Even if they make you unable to use your sword if you touch them.
So yeah, Bubbles are a little annoying, but I like them.
I’m cheating a little bit here by picking a boss enemy, but I don’t think people stop to contemplate enough how cool it is that Link fights an oriental-style Dragon in Ocarina of Time. Volvagia technically debuted in Zelda II and he’s not the first Dragon enemy in the Zelda games, but he is bar none the coolest.
Volvagia flies all around the battlefield which is extremely unnerving, but also cool in a way as it shows off the extremely cinematic nature of Ocarina perfectly. He winds himself all around you and you have to watch your step as you make your way around the battlefield, so as to not fall into the boiling lava.
Plus, Volvagia has awesome epic heavy metal hair. I don’t know why, but I always have a soft-spot for monsters with long blazing hair, which also just happens to be made out of fire.
Once again, the only reason Volvagia doesn’t make it quite all the way to the top-5 is because that by Zelda boss standards, he’s actually kind of easy. Sure, fighting him first time can be a little scary, but Zelda veterans can beat this boss fight in less than a minute.
If you’re talking iconic, nothing quite beats an Octorock. These things are the first enemies you encounter in the very first Zelda and they’ve been a Zelda mainstay ever since. Octorocks have also changed probably the most dramatically from their original appearance.
Originally cute, land-dwelling octopi, Octorocks have been made giant, nasty and dangerous in later games, as well as quite ineffectual and pathetic looking in some incarnations. However, I always love seeing them in every Zelda game.
My favourite incarnation is still the cute original design and its sad we haven’t seen it all that much in the newer Zeldas. Still, definitely Top-5 material.
Wall Master is proof that sometimes less is more. Sure Gibdos, Dead Hands, Like-Likes and Redeads are scary enough on their own, but nothing quite compares to the horror of being dragged away by a giant hand that falls on you from atop a dark room or is just waiting around to pounce on you in a room.
Wall Masters just creeps the shit out of me. I don’t know what it is about a gross hand just grabbing a hold of me, but it really makes the player feel utterly hopeless and defenseless. If they didn’t already look disgusting enough in Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, they even bleed green gunk which was just extra disgusting.
Wall Masters are bar none the scariest enemies in Zelda and even formidable as regular enemies. Beware the hand of fate!
Continuing with the theme of one-eyed monsters (lol), Gohma is probably the most classic and recognisable of them all in the Zelda series. It doesn’t matter which version you look at, the Gohma is just a classic example of an icky monster you must heroically vanquish to continue on your quest.
I’m perhaps partial to Queen Gohma from Ocarina of Time, but really, I like any and all versions of Gohma. A one-eyed crab/spider/bug monster who just comes at you with fury in its eyes… I mean eye, is just a seriously creepy monster and always provides some of the best fights in any respective Zelda game he’s/she’s in.
Gohma is one of the most iconic Zelda baddies and deserved to be this high on the list.
Another monster I’ve seriously missed for a long time are the Moblins. These dog or pig like warriors are Ganondorf’s most basic lackeys in early Zelda games, but since Wind Waker, we really haven’t seen them so much, with them getting constantly replaced by Bogoblins and those generic looking Goblins in Twilight Princess.
Why do I love Moblins so much?
- Even though their name is pretty damn lazy (just “goblin” with the G replaced by an M), it’s so lazy and dumb that it actually becomes sort of adorable.
- I just like the idea of fighting evil dog monsters. Especially in Ocarina of Time they were just freaky as hell, but generally, I just love fighting Zelda monsters that put up a decent fight.
- Maybe it’s just that I liked the Moblins so much in the Zelda cartoon, but I really think they are an inseparable part of the franchise.
What I’m trying to say is, please bring back the Moblins!
Consistently and without question, my favourite Zelda enemies from one game to the next have always been the towering, armour-clad warriors, the Darknuts. Darknuts just perfectly inhabit the qualities of a frightening foe: they’re big, they’re armoured, you can only injure them with a specific attack and they usually have a big-ass sword.
Darknuts are also badass regardless of the game they’re in. Even in Wind Waker where you could cut away at their armour until you reveal them to be large Rottweiler-faced enemies, they are still formidable and really scary.
I think Twilight Princess probably has my favourite variant of the Darknut with the two armour phases, but I even love the yellow-armoured original from the first game. Ocarina of Time of course, sadly, didn’t have a Darknut – but an Iron Knuckle is at least a nice consolation price. However, I still prefer the Darknut. A True Zelda Foe amongst Zelda Foe!