Top 10 Bowser Battles


5: Super Mario 3D World

Super Mario 3D World

It’s not an exaggeration to say that 3D World was a vast improvement over 3D Land in every way. Basically everything 3D Land did, 3D World did way better, and brought with it a bag of its own tricks as well. And while the final boss in 3D Land was great, 3D World’s was all the better.

Now, 3D World also incorporated the whole three Bowser rule, but in a nice change of pace, the third and final battle is wildly different from the first two.

The first two battles – oddly spaced in the first and seventh worlds – see Bowser riding a sweet cadillac as he chucks bombs at Mario and friends. Naturally, you have to lob the bombs back at him, eventually destroying his sweet ride and sending the Koopa king, once again, down a pit.

Those fights are great and all, but the third is something else. With its final battle, Super Mario 3D World answered an old question: If Mario, Luigi, Peach and even Toad could gain super powers with power-ups, could Bowser? The answer is yes!

Super Mario 3D World introduced two new power-ups to the series: The Super Bell, which grants Mario and friends the Cat Suit, and the Double Cherry, which creates clones of whatever character grabbed it. The final battle sees Bowser take advantage of both new power-ups, using the Super Bell to transform into the tiger-like Meowser, and the Double Cherry to create a small army of such Meowsers.

The heroes have no choice but to run. The action takes place on a skyscraper during a stormy night (being one of the most beautiful showcases of the Wii U’s graphical powers to date), adding a nice atmospheric touch. Mario must also use the power-ups to keep ascending the skyscraper, and the action becomes so intense it feels like something out of a Platinum game.

Should Mario reach the top of the skyscraper, he meets up with the largest POW block in the series’ history, and he must hit it repeatedly before the Meowsers unleash a devastating final attack. When the POW block is destroyed, it creates a quake that makes every Meowser disappear, and the original Bowser is sent plummeting to another defeat.

If Galaxy’s Bowser combined the weird with the epic, than 3D World took that same ideology, and cranked it to eleven.


4: Super Mario Galaxy 2

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Super Mario Galaxy 2 puts up a huge argument to being the best Mario game ever made, and it appropriately includes some of the best Bowser fights in the series.

Bowser is much bigger here than he was in the first Galaxy, using the power of the stars to grow to an immense size. He’s so big in fact, that this time around Bowser doesn’t share a planetoid with Mario during their battle. Instead he hovers ominously above the planetoid, covering it in flames and electric shockwave before he flat out punches it with his giant fist! He punches planetoids! Put that on a t-shirt.

So how can Mario combat Bowser and his newfound size and strength? Why, by stomping small moons and sending them crashing into his face, of course! While the first Galaxy took advantage of gravity to create an epic battle, Galaxy 2 has Mario and Bowser manipulating gravity itself to one up each other. The third and final fight once again takes things to another level, with Mario and Bowser seemingly taking their fisticuffs into an interdimensional vortex. And somehow, the accompanying music goes toe-to-toe with that of the first Galaxy.

Those simple battles from the 8-bit days certainly have come a long way. No axes, no bridges. These are battles of cosmic proportions.


3: Super Mario World

Super Mario World

When it comes to the title of most iconic Bowser battle, the final boss of Super Mario World might just take the cake.

By this point, Mario had seemingly seen it all: flying raccoon tails, rideable pet dinosaurs, Goombas bouncing around in shoes, the list goes on. But Super Mario World provided the culmination of the weirdness of Mario’s early adventures.

After a hard fought adventure, Mario finally makes it to the end of Bowser’s castle, ready to face the villainous Koopa and rescue the fair princess yet again. But as Bowser descends onto the battlefield, looking scarier than ever with sharper teeth and horns, and eyes that lack pupils, there is a brilliant juxtaposition. Bowser may look scarier, but he’s now piloting a round, bouncing, smiling flying machine. The “Koopa Clown Car” became so iconic that it is now a recurring aspect of Bowser’s character.

Bowser would toss Mechakoopas at Mario, drop giant, iron boulders onto the battlefield, and try to squish the plumber by bouncing around in the Koopa Clown Car itself. But Mario could combat Bowser by tossing the Mechakoopas back at him. In between rounds, Princess Peach would emerge from the Koopa Clown Car to aid Mario with a power-up.

Super Mario World may not have the toughest final boss in the series. But if it isn’t the wackiest, I don’t know what is.


2: Super Mario 64

Super Mario 64

Super Mario 64 is not only one of the best Mario games ever, but also one of the most influential video games of all time. Its understanding of 3D game design was far ahead of its competitors, and despite being an early title in polygonal gaming, it was so intelligently structured and designed that Super Mario 64 remains timeless.

This understanding of 3D space could be summed up with Mario’s encounters with Bowser. Mario and Bowser fought in a circular arena. Mario would need to run around Bowser, grab his tail, and swing the Koopa King 360 degrees, and throw him into one of the surrounding bombs.

Super Mario 64 also established the unwritten rule of three Bowser fights for the 3D Mario titles (Sunshine didn’t get the memo). The first two Bowser fights in 64 were something like warmups, with Bowser only needing to be thrown into a single bomb before Mario would wrest one of the castle’s keys from him. But the third fight, with Bowser’s full arsenal of attacks and draculian music, is as epic as it gets.

Super Mario 64 is a legendary video game for how it paved so many roads for 3D gaming and wrapped it up in a timeless fairy tale. This combination of gaming excellence and fantasy is personified with Mario’s trio of clashes against Bowser.

Author: themancalledscott

Born of cold and winter air and mountain rain combining, the man called Scott is an ancient sorcerer from a long-forgotten realm. He’s more machine now than man, twisted and evil. Or, you know, he could just be some guy who loves video games, animations and cinema who just wanted to write about such things.

10 thoughts on “Top 10 Bowser Battles”

  1. I’ve done several playthroughs of Super Mario 64 and I still have trouble with that final fight against Bowser. That’s an ending sequence you really have to work for.

    One of the many reasons that, much like you, I didn’t like Yoshi’s Story is because it was such a step down from Yoshi’s Island. Both games featured a childish art style, but Yoshi’s Island was a lot more mature (and a lot less annoying) about it. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the final fight against Baby Bowser. If I were to make a list of the best final bosses, I would have to mention this one because it absolutely hits all the right notes. It has memorable music, challenge, and a sense of dread a good final boss should have. The only sense of dread I got from Yoshi’s Story was when I heard the title theme for the first time.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The final boss in 64 is certainly no joke. Once that battlefield takes a star shape it’s on like Donkey Kong… or Bowser, as it were. 😛

      And yes, the final boss in Yoshi’s Island really is something special.

      There’s so much wrong with Yoshi’s Story, and I largely attribute it as the reason why the Yoshi subseries hasn’t been able to pick itself up. Nintendo either dumbed down Yoshi games to be similar to Yoshi’s Story, or tried to redeem the series by trying to replicate Yoshi’s Island. But you can’t simply repeat a masterpiece. Yoshi needs to be able to reinvent himself like Mario does. Otherwise Yoshi’s best days as his own video game star are long behind him.

      Another thing about Yoshi’s Story that gets me is Yoshi’s voice! Man, I miss the old Mario World/Yoshi’s Island sound effects. Yoshi’s voice was just too much, and every game for over a decade just recycled it. It wasn’t until Galaxy 2 that his voice was re-recorded, and it sounded a little rougher and less obnoxious (which made it cuter). I was even slightly bummed when Nintendo finally brought Yoshi’s Island to the Virtual Console, since it was the GBA version which means the Yoshi voice replaced the jump and flutter sound effects.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, it’s very unusual for Nintendo in that the first game in the series remains the best. That certainly isn’t the case with most of their franchises; the pinnacle tends to be several installments in. It’s exactly as you say, the sequels to Yoshi’s Island try and fail to recapture the success of the original without doing enough to reinvent themselves.

        What I find strange about Yoshi’s Story is that some people seem to think that it’s deserving of retroactive vindication. I’ve seen some people post Let’s Plays of it and they (and the viewers) seem to enjoy it without irony. It’s true that the 3D revolution of the late nineties caused many people to pass up quality 2D titles released within that timeframe, but Yoshi’s Story was not one of them. The majority got it completely right the first time.

        Have you played the latest Yoshi game on the Wii-U? I heard it was pretty drab.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yoshi’s Wooly World is not out here in America yet, but I’ll check it out when it does. I’ve heard some people write it off and others say it’s pretty good, so we’ll see I guess. I loved Kirby’s Epic Yarn though, so if this is half as good it will be a treat.

        As for Yoshi’s Story. I think we’re just at that point where a lot of people who were kids during the N64 years are grown up now, and they’re more forgiving of these games that were released during their childhood. Nostalgia can be a beautiful thing, but it can also be a blinding one. I myself consider both the SNES and N64 eras to be my gaming childhood, but I can look back and objectionably say that a lot of N64 games simply don’t hold up. Granted, the ones that do hold up do so surprisingly well (Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, Paper Mario, Banjo-Kazooie, etc.), but too many people are way too forgiving of its games simply because of when they were released. I’d probably be hated for saying this, but if compared to today’s standards, I might say the N64 is Nintendo’s weakest home console except for the GameCube. I know it’s popular to hate on the Wii and Wii U, but if I were to stack them against the N64 and GameCube I’d say the Wii brand consoles come out on top.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a great list you’ve compiled here 🙂 kudos dude! And I’m glad to see that Yoshi’s Island is at the top 😀 absolutely loved that boss fight and he music was sublime! I hate using the word “epic” due to its oversaturated nature, but I can’t fathom any other word to describe the fight. Yoshi’s Island is still currently my favourite 2D platformer, so I’m extremely pleased to see it getting some love 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! This list was actually really difficult to put together, since there have been so many classic Bowser battles over the years. But I always knew Yoshi’s Island would take the cake. It’s everything a final boss should be.

      Hard to argue with Yoshi’s Island being anyone’s favorite 2D platformer. The only other ones I can think of that I’d put on the same level are Super Mario World and Donkey Kong Country 2. Though Mega Man 2 and Tropical Freeze aren’t too far behind.


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