Skyward Sword Boss Review

Ghirahim:

He’s the first boss, so maybe I shouldn’t be too hard on him. Arguably he’s a tutorial.

Basically, first phase he has one action, he’ll hold his hand out, and it will follow where your sword goes. Eventually it stops, then you need to slash him in the opposite, or close to the opposite of the direction he’s pointing. He then will get locked in hitstun if you slash continuously and will duck after a random number of hits. Trying to slash after he ducks will trigger a backstep. This doesn’t take any guesswork or heuristic approximations, you don’t need to pick between varying options, you just need to do the same thing every time. If you slash the same direction as he’s pointing, he catches your sword, and then you both get caught in an animation and let loose shortly after. Trying to slash after this will cause him to backstep. If you’re impatient, you can slash randomly during this phase and more often than not it works, even before he’s stopped following your sword.

After enough hits he enters phase 2 where he has a few more attacks. He can summon gems that he sends flying at you in a row. These can be slashed in the same direction to send them back at him, dealing damage. They can also be blocked if they’re diagonal or horizontal. His next attack is striking a pose and running at you to attack. If you’re close to him, you can interrupt this with an attack, or you can just block and he is thrown off guard allowing you to swing at him. No timing involved. Side hopping also works, but doesn’t net you any better reward. His last attack is teleporting behind you. This is a really easy reaction test. Just attack him whenever he does it. If you stay close to him, he might do the wind up animation similar to when he teleports, and you can attack him during this. The running and close range attacks are mildly dynamic in that you need to time them if you want to interrupt or dodge them and have a couple different ways to beat them, but not very.

Overall, super simple boss. I beat him in like 30 seconds the first time at a demo at comic con. I guess he serves as a refresher in leading your sword to get around enemy guards like the moblins that are common throughout the game, and has you use your shield, and slash directionally, but no part of this boss requires you to actually think or make decisions.

Scaldera:

Phase 1. He chases you up the ramp. You wait for him to stop glowing and throw a bomb down at him. I guess it’s almost a test to determine when you’re far enough ahead of him that you can throw a bomb. Then he starts sucking, and you throw another bomb, then get to wail on his eye (aonuma loves doing this). If you do not throw a bomb after he sucks, then he shoots a fireball, but there’s really no reason to not be close enough to him when he starts sucking to throw a bomb. Once he climbs up high enough, he runs into bombs on the ground on his own and is sent tumbling back to the bottom. when he’s running, he’ll go above you with his legs hitting the sides, but if he hits a bomb he rolls down the middle, so you can run under him through the middle, then hug the wall to be safe when he’s sent back down again. If you get hit as he’s walking up for some reason, he’ll wait for you to get up patiently. Not a hard boss, doesn’t really reinforce any of the core mechanics of the game or require any real execution skill or decisionmaking.

There is no second phase.

Moldarach:

Phase 1. He occasionally exposes his eyes in his claws, and rotates the claws so you need to hit at different specific angles. Kind of a combination reaction test and test of whether you’re paying attention. Will occasionally attack with other arm, which is a different type of reaction test. So you need to react to two things, whether the claw is open, or he’s about to attack, and do two different actions based on which one is going on, while also paying attention to the angle of the claw. Once you deal enough damage to one claw, it disappears, and you gotta destroy the other one. Since there’s only one, he can’t have it open and ready an attack at the same time, it’s one or the other. Also I saw him use his tail once, I guess you just dodge that. His claw attacks can be shield bashed with good timing to leave the claw open longer and give you a chance to attack more. Stabs will always hit the claws regardless of rotation. Hitting the claws with things other than the sword, like slingshot projectiles, will cause them to reopen without you being deflected and potentially triggering a counter attack.

Phase 2. After destroying both claws, he begins burrowing. You need to use the dungeon item to blow away the sand, bringing him back up. He will occasionally use a tail whip attack which can be dodged. You gotta get in close and use thrusting attacks to poke his eye. Another attack is he can cover his eye and charge at you, but this is rather slow. He also occasionally spawns mini-scorpions which can latch onto you if they get close, requiring you waggle to break out, then they flip on their backs and can be slashed dead. While burrowing he can poke his tail up, which attacks if you’re in proximity. There’s a minor question here of whether to go after the tiny scorpions or the boss, but he’s so passive it’s rarely an actual issue. All of the boss’s attacks can be interrupted when he announces them by poking him in the eye, which he usually gives you a chance to do.

Phase 1 I suppose is very very mildly dynamic. Doesn’t require any decisionmaking, just basic reaction times and the ability to pay attention. Phase 2 is slightly more dynamic, but the boss doesn’t try to take advantage of your disadvantage with the mini-scorpions, so you don’t need to simultaneously worry about their position versus the boss’s very much.

Koloktos:

A lot of people talk this boss up as being great. He’s really basic.

Phase 1. He will occasionally attack you with one of his arms. These have limited range and he cannot move during this phase, so they’re easily avoided by getting out of range from when they’re telegraphed. You use the dungeon item to disarm the boss. The boss has his weak spot in the center of his chest and you are actually allowed to attack it at any point during this phase, rare for a zelda boss. This inflicts varying amounts of hitstun. So you basically have the dynamic of moving in to attack, versus moving out to avoid attacks. If you want to play it boring though, you can just bait out his attacks and totally disarm him, then slash as much as you want to end this phase.

Phase 2. He regains all his arms. Covers his weak point (Aw) and does the same thing as phase 1, except he has a closer range attack that does not leave him vulnerable to being dismantled in addition to his regular attacks. This phase plays out the same as phase 1, except you’re not allowed to hit the chest until he attacks with the arms covering it. Way to make the one dynamic thing in this phase cease to exist.

Phase 3. Covers the weak point. Gains an attack where he attacks with 3 arms at once. Fairly interesting spread, but still limited range, and telegraphs long before he attacks. He can finally walk around, so his radius of attack is moving around with him, but it’s still easy to bait out attacks and mindlessly punish them with the whip. When disarmed in this phase, he drops swords. You need to pick these up to continue. They make you move and attack slower and limit you to one attack. This makes it slightly trickier to avoid the boss’s attacks. These swords can cut off the boss’s arms, and the boss’s legs, as well as expose the boss’s weak spot. So wait for an attack, cut everything, wail on the weak spot. If you’re smart, you’ll put down the boss’s large sword and use your own sword’s stronger attacks. After a certain period of time he resets this phase and summons bokoblins. They’re easily defeated before the boss can attack again, so not really any worries of a combination encounter. He can also do an attack sequence where he swings the swords for a while and walks slowly. There should be no reason to get hit by this.

If this is the best the game has to offer, that’s really sad. Again, no decisionmaking is necessary to beat this boss. You never need to do anything but follow the sure path to success that they are all too willing to spell out for you.

Tentalus:

This boss has two phases that go back and forth in sequence.

Phase 1. Boss goes under water, starts popping up tentacles. If you stand too close to one and wait too long, it’ll grab you and you gotta mash to break free for no damage. This is really easy far as attack patterns go. The guy in the video above takes a tactic with them that makes it seem more dynamic than it really is (though still not very much) He charges skyward strikes, which means he needs to manage his charge as well as how long he stands close to the tentacles and charge efficiently. You can actually just shoot them with arrows. They even drop arrows if you shoot them with arrows. This is much faster and easier. At most this section is tricky because it’s an aiming challenge. An easy one.

Phase 2. Boss emerges from the water after enough tentacles are cut. You gotta shoot it in the eye with an arrow (the dungeon item, surprise) Aiming is mildly tricky, and you kinda gotta lead your shot, but the hitbox is really forgiving. Then wail on the boss’s eye and it goes back to phase 1. If you’re too slow during this phase the boss will slam a tentacle on deck, but that’s unlikely, and it will probably miss even if you don’t try to dodge.

I guess this boss requires you to aim? It’s kind of a target test? It’s pretty boring.

Phase 3. Boss starts slamming the deck, random barrels come down at you. You gotta weave around them. Most dynamic boss challenge yet. Still not particularly hard.

Phase 4. Same as phase 2 except surprise, the hair is snakes, and will attack you if not slashed. Doesn’t leave you much time to fire the bow between waves (boss opens its eye after the snakes start coming, so you can’t shoot immediately), but you can try if you want. Easier to just slash, then shoot the boss’s eye and rinse and repeat.

The barrels are the true boss of SS.

Ghirahim round 2:

Phase 1. Repeat of his phase 1 from the first battle, except now he has spinners on two sides, which you’re not allowed to hit. So you need to lead his hand to the right or left, then attack from the opposite side. He summons more spinners in different patterns as this phase goes on and shoots them at you if you don’t attack him quick enough. Still no decisions to be made in this phase, but it’s a mildly difficult execution challenge.

Phase 2. He summons 2 swords this time, wow. When he approaches you, he’ll block in random directions, attack in the direction he’s not blocking. He sometimes summons a circle of spinners, then will send 3 waves of them at you. You slash in the same direction to send them back. No different than the first version of this phase, but it’s 3 of the same attack in a row. His teleport now sends him directly above you, you have less time to react, and need to move out of the way, ideally by running. If he misses, you can wail on him. This is harder to avoid than the teleport in the first version of the fight and probably the hardest to react to attack I’ve seen in the game yet. Still not really hard to avoid. He can also do the standard teleport behind you from the first fight, where he’s vulnerable, but the drop teleport has a very different tell with a distinct audio cue and a jump. He can summon a ring of spinners around you, which you need to spin attack in the correct direction to send at him. He’s lost his charge attack from the first fight, but occasionally will cut the bullshit and just throw an attack out at close range. This has a shorter telegraph than even the drop teleport, but is still slow to come out.

This is probably the most complicated enemy in the game yet given how many attacks he has, but it’s still all simon-says, no decisionmaking. Follow the cues, do the right thing, get a reward and reset to neutral. Every time.

Levias:

Phase 1. Okay. Cool. you’re flying around a giant sky whale and need to avoid its tail, and charge attack its eyestalks. This is actually dynamic to some degree. It requires actual movement around in space. You need to pay attention to how the whale moves, how the stalks move, and attempt to charge at the right time in the right direction. Doing so at the wrong time can cause you to lose your chance or get thwacked. Also it’s kind of tricky to dive onto its back when all the eye stalks are destroyed. The whale moves in irregular enough of a pattern that you can’t consistently do the same thing, but you can see where it’s going still.

Phase 2, Bilocyte:

It steadily shoots big snot balls at you. You can deflect them by hitting them with your sword. Easy timing challenge. Hitting upwards diagonally will hit it into one of the bilocyte’s frills. Hit both of those to reveal the eye, then do a vertical slash to send the snot ball into the eye and wail on it. Lame.

Phase 3.

Same as phase 2, except no frills and the eye will randomly move left or right after shooting a snot ball. You need to slash the ball in the correct direction. So this is a combination timing and reaction test. Still very easy.

So this boss overall had a base-line competent phase 1, and really really sad phases 2 and 3.

The Imprisoned Round 3: (video skipped the other two fights and I don’t care to look them up or figure out where they fit in)

Phase 1. Groose becomes available on regular cooldown periods. You need to position link so he’s ahead of the imprisoned, close enough to attack, and won’t get hurt while you line up the shot with groose. Groose needs to fire an arced bomb, and lead the shot so it will hit the imprisoned at it moves. This is rather dynamic. This stuns the imprisoned, so you switch back to link and get a chance to wail on some of the imprisoned’s multiple weakpoints. It stomps the ground too fast to hit the feet weak points without using ranged weapons. You can hit the hands when they’re close to the ground. You also gotta stay ahead of the imprisoned as it slowly moves up the spiral ravine. Once all the small weakpoints are destroyed, you need to get around behind it to hit the big weak point, which can be tricky in navigating the environment.

Phase 2. It goes full evangelion and begins flying. Gotta shoot it with groose. Then hit the weak point.

Phase 3. Get up the ravine as fast as possible. Then shoot yourself out of groose’s catapult.

Ghirahim round 3:

Phase 1. Attacking him puts him into blockstun. If left unattended he’ll try to jab you. You need to continuously attack him to push him off the side of the platform. After falling once, he’ll begin holding his arms out, and you need to slash between them as you push him. You’re given opportunities when he’s in stun to circle him, which can make pinning him to an edge easier. This phase is really really easy as long as you don’t slash the wrong way, which is also really really easy, but the sensor is a piece of shit.

Phase 2. He can summon a circle of spinners. These can be blocked, dodged, or shield bashed to reflect. Next he will charge a slash, sending a beam at you. You need to slash in the same direction as it. Ping pong like it’s ganon. You’re allowed to dodge it, but there’s no good reason to. After ping ponging enough, you can wail on him as he’s stunned.

Phase 3. He pulls out a big sword. Does some really short range (but wide aggro range) attacks, then starts blocking for you to make it easy. While blocking you gotta slash perpendicular to the sword which wears it down. After it’s worn down enough from enough slashes in the same direction you’ll hit the core of the sword and he’s stunned so you can wail on him. You don’t need to notice this behavior and can simply slash a lot and it works.

Demise:

First off, Demise has a cool design, but why the fuck was he even necessary? Why couldn’t he just be his own villain instead of tied into Ganon as his previous incarnation? He creates more questions than he answers. Also he’s Satsui no Hado Akuma basically.

Phase 1. He’ll random block your attacks at first, then if you slash in a direction parallel to his sword right after he’ll get hit. So you need to slash vertical then horizontal, or horizontal then vertical. Unlike other enemies, you’re not reacting to him holding up a specific guard, you need to attack first, so they actually tighten the timing window here on his guards. Wait too long and he’ll just block your next attack. I think after the third block the window is lengthened though. Not a bad touch, but it kinda comes out of nowhere with no prep. He’ll also occasionally throw out a slow short range telegraphed attack that is easily avoided. His attacks have super armor, so you need to actually avoid them and not commit to another attack. As long as he hasn’t been directly hit, he can throw out an attack whenever he wants, even if he just blocked, so you need to react to them and be ready. Also the stun time when you do hit him is really short, but resets each time he’s hit, so you need to follow up quickly on a correct hit, unlike every other fucking enemy in the game. This is good. After getting hit hard a few times in quick succession he drops down into a longer stun state where you’re free to wail on him, but he might never do this if you just land individual hits. The recovery of his attacks can also be punished for damage, but it will not inflict hitstun. His attack variety during this phase is not great. Every attack can be avoided with a backflip, none have followups, they all just hit in front of him. Makes me wonder why they bothered animating different attacks.

This is a surprisingly solid, albeit basic, phase. The downside is, he’s REALLY easily stunlocked by just attacking one direction, then mashing spin attack in the other and repeating once he goes down. You can do this continuously right into phase 2 from the first time he gets stunned.

Phase 2. He starts this phase with a charge beam. You can play ping pong with it the same as Ghirahim, and it will stun him, allowing you wail on him (bug net also works, as per tradition). During this phase he’ll occasionally charge up more beams, but otherwise operates identically to phase 1 when he doesn’t have charge, except he’ll block all your attacks instead of being selectively vulnerable. During this phase you can also charge up sword beams with the lightning, which bypasses his guard, stuns him, allows you wail on him. Since you’re both kinda competing for charge time, this can be mildly dynamic, but you can charge way faster than he typically will. If you both shoot charge beams they cancel each other out. Also he gains a rushing attack during this phase that he uses when you’re further away so as to punish you trying to charge, which is a basic, but smart move. So you need to move away from him, charge before he does, and watch out for him trying to rush you, defending if he does. Also he gets knocked down and will dodge your attempt to finish him off. You can actually just wait for him to get up here, it’s impossible to finish him off the first time. While he has a charge beam ready, you can actually walk up to him and shield bash to block his attacks. He gains attack strings while he has a charge ready, and will take some hitstun if you interrupt his startup, but gets pushed back out of range of your combo quickly (why isn’t this used anywhere else in the game?). Also you’re not allowed to charge while he’s stunned.

All-in-all, you have a couple reaction challenges, you gotta avoid attacks, you gotta charge sometimes, you gotta shoot beams but not get them destroyed by his. Not terribly hard. I think the first phase was better. A true combination of both phases would approach average action game enemy level, where he has that mildly-interesting block mechanic, gets pushed away after a short combo, has attack strings that can be interrupted, and individual attacks with super armor, a charge beam, and a rushing attack for if you’re too far. That would be a totally decent boss. As-is, with the boss split in half, he’s not very hard in either phase, assuming you catch onto how his block works in phase 1 and don’t just randomly slash. I’d say Twilight Princess Ganondorf is a better boss overall in his final phase.

So SS bosses overall are really disappointing. They managed to pull out a semi-okay boss for the finale again, like Twilight Princess did, but it’s still massively underwhelming compared to any dark souls boss or any other action game boss.

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