The 15 Toughest Mario Bosses

The 15 Toughest Mario Bosses

When you think of Mario, a challenging boss fight is probably not what comes to mind. Honestly, when it comes to challenge unless we’re talking about the lost levels of the original Super Mario or Super Mario Sunshine, The Mario franchise is pretty easy. That being said, like most games, the franchise does have its difficulty spikes, and sometimes an easy game becomes significantly harder through a platforming challenge or a boss fight. Here are the top 15 hardest boss fights in the Super Mario franchise.

15. Culex

©Sprite of Culex

  • Appeared In – Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

Starting the list we have Culex from Super Mario RPG. This is an optional boss players can find locked behind a door in Monstro Town. What makes him so difficult to deal with is his insanely padded health bar as well as the four elemental crystals helping him in battle. His advantages don’t stop there either. He has no weaknesses and a very high magic stat. If you intend to take him down it would be wise to prioritize physical attacks.

14. Petey Piranha

©Screenshot of Super Mario Sunshine

  • Appeared in –Super Mario Sunshine

Petey Piranha is one of the more iconic enemies in the Mario franchise. As I stated earlier, Super Mario Sunshine is already considered one of the more difficult titles in the Mario anthology. This boss isn’t necessarily difficult on its own. Its difficulty comes from the mechanics required to properly pilot Mario in Super Mario Sunshine. It’s best to think about the boss as a gatekeeper of the rest of the title. Since it’s the first boss in Sunshine, you have to prove mastery of its systems to see the rest of the title. Also, his second fight in Bianco Hills is worse.

13. Shadow Mario

©Artwork of Shadow Mario

  • Appeared in –Super Mario Sunshine

Shadow Mario takes what I said about Petey Piranha and dials it up to eleven. In all of the Episode 7 levels of Super Mario Sunshine with a few exceptions, you must chase Shadow Mario while getting attacks in with the FLUDD. The difficulty comes from the platforming challenge and the chase. This title’s movement is very different compared to the rest of the Mario franchise and if you’re unable to master it, you’re going to have a bad time.

12. Knucklotec

©Artwork of Knucklotec

  • Appeared in – Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey‘s Knucklotec is a Nintendo staple. Mostly because he follows a boss design trope Nintendo loves to employ, however, this boss fight subverts expectations, instead of trying to wait for a window to attack him like most Nintendo bosses. The trick is in getting him to stun himself and then possessing his fist so you can make him hit himself. Seems simple enough, but when you refight him in the game he becomes a lot harder since he summons smaller enemies to make the fight way more inconsistent.

11. Fiery Gobblegut

©Art of the Fiery Gobblegut

  • Appeared in –Super MarioGalaxy

If you want to make an encounter harder, you can easily do so by adding a fire. Just look at Tranzit in Call of Duty Black Ops II. A common theme in Mario titles is that they introduce normal versions of boss fights just to make them harder later in the game. The way you defeat Gobblegut is the same in both fights but adding in environmental hazards takes the title up a notch.

10. Bouldergeist

©Art of the Bouldergeist

  • Appeared in –Super MarioGalaxy

When you think about it, the Super Mario franchise has a pretty high skill ceiling. Don’t get me wrong the skill floor is still very low, allowing for pretty much anyone to play these games. But when the games require precise timing from you it dramatically increases the difficulty. This mechanical depth is what makes Bouldergeist so difficult. And then when you unlock the second fight, where you die in one hit. This game is a tough one for sure.

9. Big Boo

©Big Boo art from Super Mario World

  • Appeared in –Super MarioWorld

Super Mario World isn’t too difficult when compared to the other games in the franchise but it has that retro challenging feel to it. Big Boo is a secret boss that you can only find in the secret door in the Donut Secret House level. The way he behaves is slightly different from that of other Big Boos: he floats in the air and around Mario rather than chasing him and does not even stop when being looked at. He can only be hurt when he’s visible requiring the player to properly time their attacks against him. Again, it’s not the hardest but it shouldn’t be underestimated either.

8. Mechawiggler

©Concept art of Mechawiggler

  • Appeared in – Super Mario Odyssey

The difficulty of the Mechawiggler just depends on whether you’re comfortable with the tank form. In Super Mario Odyssey, all of the cappy forms change up your control scheme in minor or major ways. If you struggle with aiming your turret to deal damage this boss can be a nightmare. The bosses tracking attacks can be a hassle to deal with so not only do you have to be comfortable aiming, you have to be comfortable doing so while moving as well.

7. Topper

©Concept work of Topper

  • Appeared in – Super Mario Odyssey

This is the first boss you fight in Super Mario Odyssey. Its difficulty mostly comes from being unfamiliar with the game’s systems. This is another one of those “gate-keeper” bosses trying to make sure you know how to engage with the game before moving forward. Super Mario Odyssey isn’t a hard game, but it is pretty different from the other 3D Marios. This boss can easily be one of the easiest or one of the hardest it just depends on how well you gel with the controls and game design of Super Mario Odyssey.

6. Ruined Dragon

©Artwork of the Ruined Dragon

  • Appeared in – Super Mario Odyssey

Mario gets in touch with its Dark Souls roots in this battle. Jokes aside, this fight is different than most Mario bosses in presentation but its mechanics are pretty straightforward. The difficulty comes from the three phases the player has to conquer. Each of these phases gets harder than the last and one false move can easily send you back to square one.

5. King Boo

©Artwork of King Boo

  • Appeared in – Super Mario Sunshine

This fight is difficult for the same reasons as the Bouldergheist. He requires a certain amount of mechanical skill to defeat him. It also doesn’t help that he’s immune to the FLUDD. The game forces you not to rely on the most important aspects of your kit to place you in an uncomfortable combat encounter. Some gamers have expressed that the “FLUDD-less” parts of Super Mario Sunshine are the best. So despite this frustrating battle, it provides immense satisfaction for those who enjoy that sort of thing.

4. Elder Shrooboid

©Screenshot of the Eldershroid boss fight

Appeared in – Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time

Another very different entry on the list, the Elder Shrooboid deploys every gamer’s worst nightmare, a timed encounter. The actual attacks of the boss aren’t too difficult to deal with, it’s juggling both him and the countdown. If the counter reaches 0, it’s Game Over. This fight could honestly be seen as a DPS check where if you’re unable to take him down in time, it can cause a soft lock.

3. Phantamanta

©Art of the super mario sunshine boss phantamanta

Appeared in – Super Mario Sunshine

This is one of the most hated bosses in the Super Mario franchise. The actual mechanics of this fight are pretty straight forward but the process of doing so is an utter nightmare. It’s very easy to get stun locked by this boss which isn’t fun in any game. Some gamers consider this boss, a bottom-three Mario boss, and I agree. The electric slime this thing leaves behind is fun for no one.

2. Axem Rangers

©Axem Rangers from Super Mario RPG

  • Appeared in – Super MarioRPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

The funniest thing about this encounter is that while they are the second-highest Mario boss, they aren’t what makes this encounter so frustrating. It’s the massive ship that fights with them. Most players will make short work of the Axem Rangers but once the ship starts unleashing its “Breaker Beam” attack, it can wipe your entire party.

1. Bowser

©Bowser and Peach in Super Mario Odyssey

  • Appeared in – Super Mario Odyssey

Who else but the original big bad himself to be at the top of the list? Super Mario Odyssey’s final bout with Bowser is debatably the hardest fight in the entire series. Since he’s the final boss of the game, you’re going to have to use every tool in your arsenal to deal with him. He has multiple phases that test you on the mechanics of the game almost as if the game wants you to prove you have mastered it. The fight requires good timing, good platforming, and good reaction speed to complete. A fight truly fitting one of the most iconic bad guys in gaming.

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