The Super Mario games have an incredible cast of games, characters, enemies, and bosses. Unfortunately, flaws can be found throughout Super Mario. Despite being the most popular and highest grossing video game franchise in the world, Super Mario has multiple bosses that harm the series.
Since its origins 32 years ago, Super Mario has developed a predictable but fun pattern for bosses: you must hit almost every boss three times in order to win. There are exceptions, particularly in early titles. The first Super Mario games used bosses that die after one hit. Some recent games include the same mechanic, although these games are generally imitating the original Super Mario Bros.
Many of the bosses that require three hits are temporarily invincible after you damage them. This is not always the case — and the lack of invulnerability usually results in terrible design. Players can easily exploit bosses that are always vulnerable or are vulnerable at the wrong times. As a strategic platformer, Super Mario is inherently designed for bosses that are only temporarily vulnerable. When the bosses are more reminiscent of hack-and-slash enemies that are always defenseless, the franchise suffers.
A boss’s attacks and weaknesses are not the only factors that contribute to bad design. Level design, camera angles, and power-ups often affect the design of Super Mario bosses. Whether they suffer from terrible level design, illogical attacks, bad gameplay, or poor mechanics, these are the 15 worst bosses in Super Mario.
15 Boom Boom (Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario 3D World)
Boom Boom is a decent 2D boss in Super Mario Bros. 3 and New Super Mario Bros. U, but he’s terrible as a 3D boss. In Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario 3D World, Boom Boom’s only moves involve spinning. He initially spins his arms, leaving his head vulnerable to attacks. After you hurt him, he spins in a shell, which makes him invincible but still unthreatening. Because you fight Boom Boom in large 3D arenas, you can easily avoid Boom Boom as he spins around the room.
The Koopaling is, fortunately, more difficult in 3D World than in 3D Land, for he becomes invisible while spinning. Nonetheless, Boom Boom is an extremely easy 3D enemy who should only appear in 2D games.
14 Bowser (Super Mario Bros. and New Super Mario Bros.)
You battle Bowser and his impostors throughout the first Super Mario game, Super Mario Bros. The bosses are poorly designed, particularly when compared to later versions of Bowser. To defeat Bowser, you simply need to pass over or under him and press a switch. Evading Bowser is fairly easy, and you only need to evade him once.
Super Mario Bros. is great, but its bosses definitely aren’t the highlight of the series. The franchise, fortunately, progressed to bosses that require at least three hits. Nintendo nonetheless pays attribute to the original Bowser by designing him the exact same way in New Super Mario Bros.
A couple other games have you hit the switch behind Bowser but continue fighting him afterward, making Bowser a more difficult, lengthy, well-designed boss.
13 Mega Goomba (New Super Mario Bros.)
Mega Goomba walks from one side of the stage to the other, meaning you have to get out of its way. You also have to raise platforms in order to get above Mega Goomba and defeat it. Nintendo could have combined these elements for a difficult boss. Instead, Nintendo adds a third element that ruins the battle: pits. There are several pits which Mega Goomba walks over, allowing you to hide beneath the massive enemy. Since Mega Goomba can only hurt players by walking into them, the pits make the boss absolutely harmless.
Mega Goomba could have been a great beginning boss. Because Mega Goomba appears in World 4 after an amazing, difficult fight against Cheepskipper, Mega Goomba is unforgivably easy.
12 Squizzard (Super Mario Galaxy 2)
Squizzard is almost great. Every time you hit Squizzard, the boss becomes less vulnerable and throws more projectiles. If you’re as intimidated by these projectiles as Nintendo wants you to be, fighting Squizzard is a lot of fun. However, you can negate Squizzard’s attacks by standing in one place and constantly attacking. You already need to be Fire Mario to defeat Squizzard; if you stand still and shoot fireballs, you’ll destroy the projectiles before they touch you and hurt Squizzard at the same time.
In its final stage, Squizzard throws massive bombs instead of spiked balls. The bombs could have countered Squizzard’s terrible design; instead, they only magnify it. If you stand still, the bombs harmlessly explode on either side of you.
11 The Reznors (Super Mario World)
Many Super Mario games use bosses multiple times, but each boss increases in difficulty every time you fight it. The Reznors, on the other hand, never change. You battle four Reznors four times in Super Mario World, and every fight is exactly alike.
The Reznors are great the first time you battle them. Sitting on a rotating wheel, the four Reznors protect each other. The surrounding platforms slowly disintegrate, forcing you to defeat at least one Reznor quickly so you can jump onto the wheel and fight the remaining Reznors.
After that first battle, the Reznors are annoyingly repetitive. Nintendo makes up for their mistake in New Super Mario Bros. 2, where the Reznors appear six times and are different in each battle.
10 Bowser Jr. (New Super Mario Bros.)
Most Super Mario bosses require multiple hits that cannot be consecutive. After hitting the boss once, the boss becomes temporarily invulnerable. This is only partially true for Bowser Jr. in New Super Mario Bros. If you fight Bowser Jr. as Fire Mario, you can launch several fireballs at the boss and instantly defeat him.
The most frustrating thing about Bowser Jr.’s weakness to Fire is that it never goes away. You battle Bowser Jr. several times throughout the game. If you don’t acquire a Fire Flower, Bowser Jr. is harder every time you encounter him; if you’re Fire Mario, Bowser Jr. never increases in difficulty. You just spam the attack button to defeat Bowser Jr., making him one of the easiest, most boring bosses in the franchise.
9 Eely-Mouth (Super Mario Sunshine)
In addition to having a weird name, Eely-Mouth has terrible design. You battle the eel from a top-down perspective. This camera angle rarely shows up in the game — and for a good reason. The awful camera prevents you from seeing all of Eely-Mouth’s weak points.
In order to see the weak points and attack them, you must push through clunky underwater mechanics. You need the F.L.U.D.D. to defeat Eely-Mouth. Unfortunately, the F.L.U.D.D. is extremely mobile underwater, so you’re more likely to rocket away from Eely-Mouth than to hurt it.
Eely-Mouth waits at the bottom of a massive underwater cave. Despite the epic setting, the level design is terrible because you can’t accelerate your descent. You wait a long time before actually fighting Eely-Mouth, all while intense boss music plays anticlimactically in the background.
8 Goomboss (Super Mario 64 DS)
Bosses in Super Mario are supposed to get more difficult over time, but Goomboss is the major exception. You battle Goomboss as Yoshi in Super Mario 64 DS; in order to defeat him, Yoshi must eat the Goombas behind Goomboss. The Goombas become eggs, which Yoshi then throws at Goomboss. Each time you hit him, Goomboss grows larger and thus becomes an easier target. He also moves more quickly and gains more Goomba bodyguards with each hit, but these do not make up for his increased size. Yoshi always moves faster than Goomboss, allowing you to easily run around the circular arena and get behind Goomboss. The Goombas take far too long to notice you before trying to attack you. By adding more Goombas, Nintendo only gives you more eggs to hit Goomboss with.
7 Undergrunt Gunner in Toy Time Galaxy (Super Mario Galaxy)
This boss is a good idea that, unfortunately, is poorly executed. The Undergrunt Gunner perfectly challenges Bee Mario in Gold Leaf Galaxy and should have perfectly challenged Spring Mario in Toy Time Galaxy. Unfortunately, the Spring Suit is one of the worst power-ups in the franchise, producing a clunky boss battle with the Undergrunt Gunner. If the camera had been placed above you instead of behind you, Spring Mario would have been much easier to control. Super Mario Galaxy 2, fortunately, learned from its predecessor by including top-down perspective for Spring Mario. In the first game, however, the camera muddies depth perception, causing players to bounce off the Undergrunt Gunner or completely miss it when they’re supposed to jump above the boss.
6 Monty Mole in Noki Bay (Super Mario Sunshine)
When you fall off ledges in Super Mario Sunshine, you usually don’t die — you either take some damage on land or fall into harmless water. This is sometimes a blessing but definitely a curse when you fight Monty Mole in Noki Bay.
Monty Mole’s actually pretty fun to fight: the boss throws Bob-ombs at you and you throw the Bob-ombs back. However, if you jump the wrong way or are hit just right, you’ll fall a long way. You spend an entire mission climbing to the top of a waterfall, where Monty Mole can knock you back to the base of the waterfall. The setting for this boss fight is wonderfully epic, but Nintendo should have allowed fallen players to die and respawn instead of forcing them to redo the entire mission.
5 King Boo (Super Mario Sunshine)
King Boo may look insane in Super Mario Sunshine, but even that fails to justify his illogical attacks. Instead of attacking you, King Boo spins a slot machine that can spawn enemies, coins, or the fruit needed to defeat him. He aids you and, when he does threaten you with minions, those minions are easily avoidable and will disappear even if you don’t damage them.
The boss himself has poor mechanics, but King Boo’s level design is equally terrible. King Boo hovers in the center of a circular room, yet Nintendo doesn’t optimize this great 3D space. The camera is fixed at one end of the room, throwing off depth perception. Even if you run behind King Boo, he only faces the camera. This perspective is obviously designed to show that King Boo can only be defeated from the front—Nintendo should have used a semi-circular room to convey the same message and improve the level design.
4 The Big Boo (Super Mario World)
Several Big Boos inhabit Super Mario World as regular enemies, but there’s one that acts differently: the Big Boo. Most Boos share certain characteristics: they hurt you when touched, they stop moving when you look at them, and they chase you when you aren’t looking at them. The Big Boo deviates from other Boos by doing no damage, always moving, and paying no attention to Mario.
To defeat this boss, you simply throw Grab Blocks at it. Because you can move through the Big Boo without getting hurt, the battle is outrageously easy. A couple of small Boo accompany the Big Boo and actually pose a threat, but they’re very easy to avoid. You can just stand in one place (and thus prevent the Boos from moving toward you), grab the blocks beneath you, and hit the Big Boo when it dumbly moves toward you.
3 Roy Koopa (New Super Mario Bros. Wii)
The Koopalings in the recent New Super Mario Bros. games are well-designed except for one major problem. Right after they pop out of their shell and before they unleash new attacks, the Koopalings are vulnerable. Players who memorize the Koopalings’ patterns can defeat them without witnessing the great, challenging attacks that make each Koopaling so unique.
Roy Koopa suffers the most from the Koopalings’ bad design. When you fight Roy for the second time in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, Roy jumps into one Warp Pipe in the ceiling and drops out of another. This is a brilliant mechanic that keeps players on their toes. Unfortunately, you can skip the mechanic by hitting Roy Koopa just before he jumps into a Warp Pipe. Nintendo should have made the Koopalings invincible for a longer amount of time, particularly Roy.
2 Big Bob-omb (Super Mario 64)
The first boss of any video game should be easier than later bosses, but Big Bob-omb is ridiculously easy. Defeating Big Bob-omb is both uncomplicated and boring: you simply pick him up and drop him three times. He even tells you how to defeat him, asking before you fight: “Can you pick me up from the back and hurl me to this royal turf?”
Big Bob-omb poses no threat to players. He throws you but never damages you — although he might throw you to the bottom of the mountain, which is extremely annoying. Instead of letting you battle a threatening boss, Nintendo forces you to climb mountains instead of actually fighting Big Bob-omb.
Nintendo obviously intended for Big Bob-omb to teach you how to defeat Bowser, but your first battle with Bowser (which is also quite easy) is the perfect preparation for Bowser. Super Mario 64 would have been much better if a Star had been waiting atop the mountain instead of Big Bob-omb.
1 Bugaboom (Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2)
There’s nothing sillier and less intimidating than a boss who doesn’t attack you. Bugaboom is one of those bosses. Instead of targeting you, Bugaboom flies around in a circle dropping bombs. This could have worked well if you were confined to the circle, but you’re not: you can easily step out of the circle and avoid Bugaboom’s attacks. There’s absolutely no advantage to staying in the circle, for the Fling Flowers and Springboards needed to get above Bugaboom are outside the circle.
Despite Bugaboom’s terrible design, Nintendo included the boss in Super Mario Galaxy’s sequel. Bugaboom acts the exactly same, but you must defeat it as Cloud Mario — which is much easier than fighting as Bee Mario. Bugaboom is terrible in its first game and even worse in the sequel.