Who’s the Boss? The Legend of Zelda’s Gohma

When it comes to bosses, rarely has any franchise come close to the level of quality (and quantity) as The Legend of Zelda. An action/adventure series built on intricate puzzles, colorful characters, and fearsome foes, bosses have been a staple since it launched in 1986. We will often see multiple interpretations of the same boss across different games. This acts as a way to directly see the evolution of gameplay and storytelling through console generations.

One of these foes is Gohma, a massive arachnid that has appeared in seven core installments of The Legend of Zelda. Unlike previous columns of Who’s The Boss, I won’t be evaluating a single version of Gohma, but diving into each version to determine which one is the best. When deciding on which Gohma is the greatest Gohma to every Gohma, I’ve considered mechanics, difficulty, the boss’s context in the story, and general visual design. I promise I won’t make any eye puns either. I will spare you from that terrible fate.

Author’s Note: I am only including Gohmas from the mainline series. This is not only to show the natural evolution of this boss but because other iterations have the flexibility thanks to not being apart of a specific genre.

Every Gohma Ranked Worst to Best

7. Link’s Awakening (1996)

Look, I know that Gohma is technically a sub-boss here so the battle doesn’t need to be too complex, but god, is this fight boring. The big twist is there are two Gohmas this time around, neither of which put up any much of a fight. Instead, they walk from side to side waiting for Link to just stab them. That’s it. That’s the entire thing. Yeah, two are technically deadlier than one, but the encounter lacks compelling mechanics, unique visual design, or any sense of difficulty. It took you longer to read this entry on Gohma than the actual fight. I will give some bonus points for the remake’s version being so damn cute.

6. Four Swords Adventures (2004)

This fight is literally just a copy of The Legend of Zelda’s version of Gohma. While this room is bigger, you’re still just dodging fireballs shot from lanterns and Gohma until you hit her eye enough to kill her. There’s really not much to say about this battle, as it doesn’t shake up the formula in any way. It’s an unremarkable boss that fails to build upon Gohma’s previous installments in any meaningful way. Things get even sadder when you encounter the Gohma in the field which just shoots easy to dodge projectiles at you.

5. Oracle of Seasons (2001)

Gohma has grown a large crab-like claw which is not nearly as sturdy as it appears. For this fight, the player must first cut Gohma’s claw off before, once again, attacking her large, singular eye. This version of Gohma gets some points for actually trying to attack Link. Her lunge attack can be tricky to dodge if you’re cornered, which acts as a nice way to teach players about positioning.

What I like most about this fight is how Gohma’s attacks evolve throughout. After disarming her, she will begin to run around the arena, spewing fireballs all around her. It builds upon teaching the player about positioning, but in a more chaotic way than the claw attacks. That being said, I do wish that the fight wasn’t over in a matter of seconds if you get good RNG.

4. Wind Waker (2002)

I’m torn about my thoughts on Wind Waker’s interpretation of Gohma. On the one hand, it’s an epic fight that wonderfully combines the game’s playfulness with an epic sense of scale. Yet, it’s also comically easy and really doesn’t introduce any interesting gameplay mechanics. While the idea of using the grappling hook to pull the roof down onto Gohma is fun, it’s undermined by the fact that the boss just kinda lets you do it. Don’t get me wrong, Gohma fights back, but you would need to go out of your way to actually take damage from this massive centipede.

Where this fight succeeds is in making Gohma feel truly intimidating, based on sheer size. The saturated orange color pallet perfectly contrasts Gohma’s bright blue eye, making her weak point easily identifiable in all the chaos. This is an aspect the 2D Zelda games always struggled to capture, as Gohma often seemed like a slightly overgrown spider rather than a massive, threatening foe. Despite some issues, this is still a relatively fun boss encounter that won’t require much work from the player.

3. The Legend of Zelda (1986)

The first time you ever meet Gohma in this franchise, the fight is pretty simple. Where things differ is you will face this one-eyed fiend multiple times. Red Gohma isn’t anything too special, so we will be focusing on the blue variant which is much more terrifying. Instead of simply firing one projectile, four lanterns around the room will flood the area with fireballs. This forces users to quickly maneuver around all of the attacks while using the brief opening to stab Gohma in the eye.

It’s a level of challenge rarely seen in Zelda games and this design for Gohma only appears once more. Yet, I really think this is the best iteration of Gohma in the 2D Zelda titles. The constant pressure on you really adds a sense of urgency and danger to the battle. You can never stop moving and it makes Gohma feel like an actual threat rather than just a goofy bug who can barely defend herself.

2. Twilight Princess (2006)

There’s a strong argument to be made that Twilight Princess’ Gohma battle should be number one on this list. It’s definitely the creepiest, makes good use of the dungeon’s gimmick, and has a great twist at the end. Unlike the other iterations of Gohma, this one is just a giant spider. Armogohma feels like an evolution of all previous iterations of this enemy, pulling weapons from various versions. She boasts ranged attacks like her 2D sisters, and spawns waves of smaller enemies as first seen in Ocarina of Time, Armogohma uses every trick in the book to kill Link. This gives her terrific variety that makes the encounter feel like it’s constantly evolving over time.

Opinions tend to differ about the second phase. After dealing enough damage to Gohma, her body will crumble and all that’s left is a small spider attached to her eye. What follows is a slapstick moment of Link chasing around this scared bug that’s frantically trying to escape. It’s a great way to end the battle, and is especially cathartic for all the arachnophobes out there. My only complaint is I wish the first half of the fight was a little tougher. The level of challenge doesn’t reflect where this boss appears in the Twilight Princess, which makes the whole thing less rewarding.

1. Ocarina of Time (1998)

Here’s the version of Gohma the majority of Zelda fans think of when this fearsome arachnid is brought up. Hidden deep within the Deku Tree, Gohma is the very first boss in Ocarina of Time and one of the most memorable battles in the entire game. I struggled a lot whether to place this version of Gohma above or below Twilight Princess, but I feel the fantastic narrative design of this foe cannot be overlooked. For many, Gohma was a pretty easy fight that emphasizes the same idea we’ve seen countless times with this boss. Say it with me. All together now.

The eye is the weak spot. 

Sure, Ocarina of Time’s Gohma isn’t breaking the difficulty scale, but the battle makes up for this thanks to the sheer, terrifying atmosphere of the arena. Entering the room and having to physically look up at Gohma to trigger the boss is a stroke of brilliance. It emphasizes the sheer sense of scale between the player and the boss, allowing us to quickly come to grips with the overwhelming size of Gohma. Remember, this is the first time we’ve ever seen Gohma in 3D, so making this your introduction really lets you soak in a sense of dread.

As for the fight itself, Gohma acts as a tutorial for how bosses will work in Ocarina of Time. She teaches you about exploiting weaknesses, using additional gear outside of your sword, and how bosses will sometimes have multiple attacks you’ll need to deal with. Every moment is meant to instruct the player about dealing with future bosses and how to evaluate a fight while it’s going on.

You can see this displayed in the amount of time the player has to actually knock Gohma off the ceiling. Her eye will glow a deep shade of red, which to us indicates either a change or a moment to strike. It’s up to us to see if she can be hurt and we’re rewarded with a window to deal damage if you do shoot her in the eye.

It’s this mix of design and cinematic storytelling that makes Ocarina of Time’s Gohma so damn memorable. There’s a reason she is one of the most recognizable bosses in the 3D Zelda games.

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Collin MacGregor

Collin MacGregor is the Guide Staff Writer at Fanbyte. He's also the person who willingly plays the support class (you're welcome) and continues to hold out for an Ape Escape remake.

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