Top 10 Bowser Battles


1: Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island

Somewhat ironically, the best Bowser fight didn’t involve Mario facing off against his archenemy (at least not directly), but Yoshi!

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island has always been one of the best and most heralded Mario titles. But two things it doesn’t get enough credit for are its rogues gallery of memorable bosses – who mostly fit into the “larger versions of regular enemies” category but somehow are made into something special – and its cinematic, atmospheric approach to them (need I mention the ominous fog that leads into the Hookbill Koopa battle?).

The final level of Yoshi’s Island sees the game’s true antagonist, Kamek the Magikoopa, stalking Yoshi and baby Mario and bombarding them with spells and minions in the spooky halls of Bowser’s castle. When Yoshi finally outmaneuvers Kamek’s spells, he comes face to face with an infant Bowser, and a wacky battle ensues in which Yoshi takes advantage of the bouncy floor of baby Bowser’s throne room to launch the would-be king skyward.

But after Yoshi bests Bowser in battle, Kamek reemerges and uses his magic to transform baby Bowser into a gargantuan, hulking monstrosity. Bowser becomes so big that he can no longer fit in his own castle!

Yoshi takes to the rooftop, and launches giant eggs at a looming Bowser in the background. But Yoshi has to act quickly, because the longer the fight goes on, the closer Bower gets to his castle. If Bowser makes it all the way to Yoshi, it’s all over. For a game as cute and happy as Yoshi’s Island, this is one terrifying and dreadful final boss.

Subsequent Yoshi games have attempted to recreate the feeling of Yoshi’s Island’s final showdown, but none of them have come close to matching its impact (or its awesome music).

There’s never been a more cinematic or ominous fight against the Koopa king. Nor a better one.


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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