From a design standpoint, what do Mario boss fights strive for?

YoshiGa

Goomba
I've been thinking of making my own Mario fangame someday and it's gotten me thinking, what makes for a good or challenging boss fight in a Mario game? I've noticed that in a lot of cases, Mario can't harm the bosses he fights unless he either A) waits for the boss to do a specific attack or B) Jumps on a switch to reveal a bosses weakness. So are Mario bosses a bit like endurance tests, so is there a little more too them than that, and if they are how would I go about making a good challenge around that? If any of you could also include some examples of what good Mario bosses should be like, that would also be really helpful in my case. Thanks.
 

Meta Knight

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I would love more Mario bosses in the style of Shadow of the Colossus where you have these epic showdowns scaling great beasts. Especially if they're going to continuously make giant enemies for boss battles it's kinda lame many of them just boil down to "jump 3 times".

It's not even that farfetched of an idea for Mario, they've already done it with Megaleg from Mario Galaxy
 

Mcmadness

The idiot who puts things in the wrong board.
They strive to be short but sweet (in theory anyway) as a capstone for a world or level, usually at the end of a level as well which justifies their shorter length as if you lose to them you often have to repeat half the level (if not the whole thing) as well.
 

Ray Trace

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I'd like them to actually take advantage of Mario's platforming strengths (not combat strengths) and have their boss battles be based on platforming similar to Rayman Origins/Legends bosses.
 

I Argue About Politics

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Boss fights are never the strong point of the series IMO. The real "boss" is the level you have to go through before you reach the boss. I do like to see Mario go more to that direction where the level itself is the boss fight

I would love more Mario bosses in the style of Shadow of the Colossus where you have these epic showdowns scaling great beasts. Especially if they're going to continuously make giant enemies for boss battles it's kinda lame many of them just boil down to "jump 3 times".

It's not even that farfetched of an idea for Mario, they've already done it with Megaleg from Mario Galaxy
That jumping three times part should probably change to maybe several goal points like in Rayman. See the last fight in Rayman Origins. I do like to see Mario trying to scale through Bowser super sized. Imagine if a giant Bowser had to be scaled. Of course, he's super monstrous and is in a powerful form. His armbands would be like rotating spikes Mario has to avoid. Bowser's shell itself looks like a friggin' platforming hazard already, but why not make it more scary. His hair could be fire. Mario could reach weak points on his arm, hair, tail, etc but Bowser's whole body is like an obstacle course.
 

winstein

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I think Mario boss fights should have a quick-out option, where for each of the phases, you have the risky option to take down the boss quickly. As an example, Hariet has periods of time where she hides in her hat to fly all over the place, but if you stomp on her quickly, she doesn't get to do that and move on to the next phase. As far as 2D Mario goes, there is the option to throw fireballs at a boss near them to spam them quickly (since you can only have two of them at once) to make quick work of them as opposed to going for the axe or trigger.

This is an aspect that makes speedruns very impressive to watch, if they need to take down the boss.

Thank you for reading.
 

MnSG

Cosmic Beauty
A lot of the boss fights in the Mario series were designed with accessibility in mind. But that does consequently make them feel too easy for the players who want a bigger challenge.

But once in a while, you do get a harder incarnation of a boss you've fought previously, while keeping the battle strategy the same.
 

Kinger

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Something I notice most Mario bosses have is repetitiveness. Not in the sense of "The boss is the same the whole time", which is fine, as Mario bosses aren't meant to be long. Rather, the majority of 2d Mario bosses are just a normal enemy or another boss with a gimmick, or with more health and projectiles, or even sometimes just the same boss. Some 3d games do this, too. Looking at you, the three times I had to fight Gooper Blooper. This would be one thing I'd advise people not to follow. Original bosses keeps games from getting stale. The one exception is for a rival character who gets new tricks every time you fight them. Bowser or Bowser Jr. is usually in this role, but really any interesting character could be a rival.
 

Fleur de lis

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Fun. Did you have fun fighting Wendy O Koopa when she flooded the stage, thus dragging the fight out? I didn't.
Did you have fun completely deleting Iggy in 3 second during World? I did, but it wasn't as fun the second time with Larry.

The boss should be fun to fight. If I want to go fast I should need skill, not patience. The boss should be unique when judged against that games other bosses. I'm not gonna be excited to fight a dude who fights the same as the first one.

The best boss should be hard, lack padding, be unique, and be Bowser based.
 

Ray Trace

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Something I notice most Mario bosses have is repetitiveness. Not in the sense of "The boss is the same the whole time", which is fine, as Mario bosses aren't meant to be long. Rather, the majority of 2d Mario bosses are just a normal enemy or another boss with a gimmick, or with more health and projectiles, or even sometimes just the same boss. Some 3d games do this, too. Looking at you, the three times I had to fight Gooper Blooper. This would be one thing I'd advise people not to follow. Original bosses keeps games from getting stale. The one exception is for a rival character who gets new tricks every time you fight them. Bowser or Bowser Jr. is usually in this role, but really any interesting character could be a rival.
I don't think the boss's general design is the issue here, since the counterpoint I'd like to use is Yoshi's Island bosses. All Yoshi's Island bosses are large versions of some generic enemy in some manner, however they do have creative ways to dispatch them such as pushing Roger the Potted Ghost over the edge, fighting some Frog Pirate's innards, or having a giant Bungee Piranha Plant chomp at a rock and hurting it while it's vulnerable. Even Kamek in Yoshi's New Island employs more creative use on how to damage him, as his boss fights are centered around manipulating hazards to hurt him (such as throwing eggs at Arrow Clouds that point to him, using buckets to throw a missile at him, or ground pounding a stake he is standing on). Mario on the other hand has a far more limited moveset than Yoshi and relies on his jumping abilities (power-ups are all situational based, save for Hisstocrat's boss fight where it provides you with Super Bells, I think more Mario boss fights need to do something like that), so like, jump on Koopaling's head three times doesn't really take advantage that Mario's strengths are obstacle course platforming, NOT jumping on enemies (who are designed to be obstacles as part of an obstacle course to begin with).
 
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