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Top 10 Epic Boss Battles of the 1980s

VO: Dan Paradis

Script written by Alex Crilly McKean

This video is part of a series

They are old school gaming’s greatest challenges. Join as we kick off out Top Video Game Boss Battles Series with our picks for the Top 10 Video Game Boss Battles of the 1980s.

For this series, we’ll be looking at the most enjoyable, influential and well-designed boss battles per decade, starting off with the glory days of the 80s! Only one boss per franchise will be allowed for each list, and we’re ranking the bosses on how well designed the battles themselves are.

Special Thanks to our user "Corey Grill" for suggesting this topic on our interactive Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Alex Crilly McKean

Top 10 Video Game Boss Battles of the 1980s

They are old school gaming’s greatest challenges. Welcome to and today we’re kicking off our series of the Best Video Game bosses, with our first list of the top ten video game boss battles of the 1980s.

For this series, we’ll be looking at the most enjoyable, influential and well-designed boss battles per decade, starting off with the glory days of the 80s! Only one boss per franchise will be allowed for each list, and we’re ranking the bosses on how well designed the battles themselves are.

#10: The Mothership
“Phoenix” (1980)

Not to be confused with Space Invaders Phoenix pitted arcade players against the most dangerous of foes; mechanical birds from outer space. At the end of every round the Mothership would appear, armed with missiles, a conveyer-belt style shield and several minions under its wings. With each new level increasing the speed and difficulty of theoncoming feathered menace, the Mothership provided a fun challenge for players to test their speed, preciseness and just how good they really were with a joystick. Not bad for what is considered to be one of the first ever video game bosses.

#9: Grumple Grommit
“Bubble Bobble” (1986)

Known in Japan as Super Drunk, this final boss certainly seems like something that could only becreated by someone who was incredibly inebriated. He doesn’t come complete with a hangover, but does have an infinite supply of bottles to throw at you. Located on the one hundredth floor in the Cave of Monsters, players needed to be swift to avoid this behemoth’s projectiles and charge attack. Luckily there’s plenty of lightning bubbles around for ammunition, so stay light on your feet and you just might manage to save Betty and Patty from getting popped.

#8: Red Falcon”
"Contra" (1987)

In a game as manly as this you need a boss battle that lives up to the standard set by its testosterone filled protagonists. Luckily the Red Falcon just does that. Clearly taking heavy inspiration fro the Alien franchise, this phalic alien lifeform makes up the final level as players will not only have to blast its monstrous head off but shoot their way to its heart. Of course blasting your way through isn’t as easy as you think as there’s constant swarms of “totally not Face-Huggers” constantly pouncing at our heroes.

#7: Shredder
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (Arcade) (1989)

The heroes in a half shell exploded onto the arcade scene around the same time that the show was blowing up your afternoon cartoons sessions. and brought their most fearsome foe along for the ride. This side-scrolling, beat-em up culminated in a final battle with the Shredder, and much like his cartoon counterpart he didn’t go down easy. Even if you you’re playing co-op with all four turtles in tow, Shredder will appear with a larger number of clones, armed with both swords and lightning that can de-mutate the turtles in a single hit. We hope you’ve been keeping your ninja skills sharp because you’ll need it…

#6: Sinistar
“Sinistar” (1982)

His catchphrases are so hilarious 80s that they have long since worked their way into gaming culture. A creepy as hell spacecraft, the only chance of taking it down is mining various planetoids and assembling Sinibombs in order to destroy it. With each new zone increasing in difficulty and the threat of Sinistar assembling itself constantly looming, this boss offered a great sense oftension in the lead up to the battle, only to provide us with such iconic dialogue such as “Beware, I Live!” and “I hunger!”. Don’t panic too much though, one wrong move and you’ll get sucked into his terrifying screaming maw.

#5: Dark Link
“Zelda II: The Adventure of Link” (1988)

Once again taking up the Master Sword to save the life of the fair Princess Zelda, Link’s journey all over Hyrule would eventually lead players to battling all sorts of creatures in order to earnthe Triforce of Courage. Little did they know that in order to do so they would have to defeat Link’s shadowy doppelganger. Possessing the same moves as the original, players needed to land eight precise strikes in order to defeat this dark copy. He may be no Ganon, but his surprise appearance and tendency to block and attack just as quickly as Link could made him welcome addition to the franchise.

#4: Wart
“Super Mario Bros. 2” (1987)

We’re not saying Bowser isn’t a great villain, in fact he’s right up there with some of video game’s greatest tyrants. However, you have to admit that his boss battle in the original Super Mario Bros can be incredibly easy. As such, we have to hand this entry over to the leader of the 8 Bits. Due to the original Super Mario Bros 2 being considered too difficult for North American audiences, the developer simply imported DokiDoki Panic and rebranded it as a Mario sequel. Regardless, Wart makes for a tricky final boss, which forces players to avoid his projectiles and defeat him…by launching vegetables at him. Huh, who knew eating your greens could be so deadly?

#3: Yellow Devil
“Mega Man” (1987)

And you thought the Robot Masters were all you had to worry about. This fortress boss is the ultimate test for players in terms of jumping and accuracy. Its weak point may be fairly obvious, but managing to land a hit on it is a whole other thing entirely. Able to dismantle its goo-like body into smaller projectiles, this gigantic robot will quite literally throw itself at you as it scatters across the stage before reassembling itself and repeating the process over again. With an irregular attack pattern, the only hope players have is to keep their Thunder Beam charged and pray they can survive the onslaught.

#2: Dracula
“Castlevania” (1987)

Every villain has his beginning, and while his later appearances in the franchise arguably packed more of a punch, Dracula’s first clash with Simon Belmont in the original Castlevania is still a classic boss battle worthy of praise. Able to teleport across the screen and continuously cast Hellfire, players would find themselves frantically using that whip like there was no tomorrow. Later assuming a more demonic form, Dracula would reign down fire from above and try to pin players in a corner. His greatest moments as a boss can be debated, but no one can deny this was definitely a good place to start.

Before we reveal our number one pick, here are a few honourable mentions.

“Final Fantasy” (1987)
“Altered Beast” (1988)
Count Dracula Duck
“DuckTales” (1989)

#1: Mike Tyson
“Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!” (1987)

Have you ever wanted to knock out of a former champion boxer? Well, in this surreal gaming experience, you got your chance! As Little Mac’s final opponent, Mike Tyson is dead set on a brutal fist exchange. The first ninety seconds of this fight are infamous due to Tyson launching a series of uppercuts that can immediately knock you to the canvas. Survive that and you’ll have to navigate your way through a series of lightning jabs and unpredictable blows until you eventually connect with a hit of your own. Despite the ridiculousness of actually fighting Mike Tyson, there’s no doubt it made for the 80s most rewarding boss battle!

Do you agree with our list? Whose you favourite 1980s video game boss battle? With new top tens published daily, be sure to subscribe to


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