The dungeon boss strategies are covered on their respective dungeon pages; see the following links:
This fight is straightforward; if you jump on its head, it will not shake you off before you can hit the spike in. So follow this plan:
It is possible to skip the cutscene that follows hitting the spike into the Imprisoned's head. The method is similar to staying on the Imprisoned 2's head (see below), except that it doesn't work for the Imprisoned 1 as you will phase through him during the cutscene. However, after performing a vertical spin attack followed by a jump, jumpslash, you have a little bit of time where you can sidehop off the Imprisoned's head. Doing so skips the cutscene of the Imprisoned throwing you off him.
The second Imprisoned fight is the most difficult boss fight in the speedrun. There are two main parts to the fight: getting on its head quickly, and staying on its head permanently.
The fastest way to get on the Imprisoned's head is to immediately destroy all the fingers on its left hand. To do so, when the fight starts, sprint backwards for about a second, then turn and do vertical sword slashes while Z-targeting. If done correctly, all the fingers will be destroyed, and the Imprisoned will retaliate with a charged attack. However, while it is charging, the first air vent will be active, and you can ride it up to the next level.
Once on the next level, you must be careful about getting onto its head, as in many places it is still too high to jump onto. You can either wait and be cautious, or run backwards slowly until it finishes its charge attack, then jump for the head at that point.
To stay on the Imprisoned's head, we will use a jumpslash to avoid the cutscene where we are thrown from the beast. Start back and a tiny bit to the right of the spike, get the first two hits using a vertical spin attack, then take a small step back and pause for about a second, until he flashes from white back to black. Then do a manual jump forward with an immediate jumpslash. If timed correctly, the jumpslash will hit, but the cutscene will not immediately play. Use these couple seconds to position yourself just to the side of the sealing spike. The cutscene will begin to play, but Link will not be performing his unsteady animation.
After the cutscene, pause for a beat, then repeat the above. If done correctly you will stay on the head again during the ensuing cutscene, and can deliver the final three blows quickly before you are thrown off.
If the fight goes wrong, you can use the Groosenator to help you stun the Imprisoned and get back on its head that way, then try to resume the jumpslash strategy if necessary.
When you're using the Groosenator in the second two Imprisoned fights, you can avoid watching the shot fly by pressing B right after pressing A. This allows you to move Link around while the shot is flying, enabling you to get into better position.
During the Levias fight, it is possible to skip destroying the eye tentacles and trigger the second phase early. However, Bilocyte will be invisible for the second phase, since the game hasn't loaded the appropriate data. This can be done by running next to Levias' blowhole and doing a horizontal spin attack at the right angle. This will hit Bilocyte and cause the second phase to trigger. This is the fastest method; you can also perform this skip by exploding a bomb next to the blowhole as well.
There are several small timesavers for the second phase of the Bilocyte fight.
After defeating Bilocyte, the place you spawn afterwards in the Thunderhead is random and can be quite far away from the entrance. By properly manipulating your health, you can deathwarp quickly and avoid that randomness; this is not faster than the best spawn, but is faster on average.
At the beginning of the third Imprisoned fight, it's possible to use the first vent to get to the upper ledge. Fire the Groosenator (with cancelling) as its third step lands (or about 4.1 seconds after the fight starts). If the timing was right, the first vent should be active between the Imprisoned's arms, and carry you to the upper ledge where you can then jump on its head for the first strike.
This trick saves about 5 seconds, but if you miss it costs 30-40 seconds. The window for the shot is somewhat precise.
The general strategy for this fight is as follows:
Alternatively, if you don't want to try the quick shot, take the second vent up and use the Groosenator to stun the Imprisoned, then jump on its head and get the first hit in.
Hug the left wall and roll into this barrier cutscene; this will spawn the Bokoblin leaders away from the horde following you. Do straight slashes on the one that spawns behind you, then turn and do straight slashes on the other four. Once they are dead, use a Skyward Strike to kill most of the regular Bokoblins; this will help set up the next barrier.
The last group of Bokoblins that spawns before this barrier should have two rows of Bokoblins in columns; you want to enter this barrier cutscene by running between the second and third columns from the left, as close to the Bokoblins on your left as you can get. When the Moblins spawn, one should be in the back-left corner.
Hold the control stick up and left as the cutscene ends, then flick it halfway towards straight up after half a second. If done correctly, you'll run up the Moblin's shield at an angle, leaping over the fence and landing on the lower tier.
This trick skips the obnoxious Blue Bokoblin at the third barrier completely, and skips killing the Moblins at the second barrier, saving about 40 seconds and making the fight much easier. If you miss the jump over the fence, stay in the back corner until the Bokoblin's bombs explode. This will often (but not always) kill all three Moblins, allowing you to continue right away.
The Blue Bokoblin here can take a ton of damage before falling, but will die instantly if you knock him over the inner fence.
Enter this barrier cutscene hugging the left wall. When the cutscene ends, do one horizontal spin attack, then a second to clear space around you. When the Blue Bokoblin charges you, a third horizontal spin attack should knock him over the edge.
If the quick kill fails, just try to lure the Blue Bokoblin to the inner fence and knock him over the fence with a horizontal spin attack.
The positioning for this barrier cutscene doesn't really matter. Each Stalfos will take three strikes from the True Master Sword; just try to aim for their openings. Spin attacks are recommended to help clear out the Bokoblins that will be swarming you.
For the fight at the bottom of the spiral, start by charging a Skyward Strike and swinging horizontally. This will clear a large swath of the Bokoblins, and you can repeat this once or switch to spin attacks. Once there are just a couple stragglers left, a single strike from the True Master Sword will finish them, so just hunt them down.
For the first part, he will likely try to punch you right away. You can knock him back by shield bashing this attack; then continually slash to knock him back off the edge. As he falls off the edge, doing a front hop and jumpslash will land you in front of him, making the ensuing final blow quicker.
For the second two parts, when Ghirahim gets too close to the edge he will block certain directions with glowing purple hands.If you can lure him into an attack before he gets to that point, you can shield bash him backwards and skip some or all of this section.
Using a skyward stab, it is possible to beat this phase in a single cycle. Spin attack right-to-left twice to knock Ghirahim's sword out of his hand, then stab twice. Take a step back while charging a skyward strike then skyward stab him. This will stun him again. Then finish him with 4 stabs. Note if you are too close, the Skyward Strike won't hit him and stun him, so make sure you're at the edge of his range for this.
If you do not have the True Master Sword, it is recommended to have a shield. Charge a Skyward Strike and wait for Ghirahim 3 to attack you. Shield bash the attack, then skyward stab. Make sure your sword doesn't connect with G3, and only the skyward strike. From there, the strategy is identical to the True Master Sword strategy: 3 stabs, charge a skyward strike, skyward stab, stab until Ghirahim 3 phase 2 is defeated.
Stay close to Ghirahim and he'll attack you. Shield bash, then immediately do a left-to-right spin attack. This will start to chip away at his sword and he'll reorient it; do a second spin attack in the right direction to destroy the sword, then stab him once. Repeat this process once to defeat him.
This phase is the same as with a shield, with the exception of backflipping to dodge his punches instead of shield bashing.
This phase is the same if you have a shield, since the shieldless strategy is faster here. However, if you only have a Master Sword or below, then performing a one-cycle is more difficult. The stunlock strategy is still possible with a well-timed skyward stab that hits Ghirahim's sword right as he attacks you, as seen in the video below.
Take a step back while charging a Skyward Strike and immediately shoot it vertically. Ghirahim will block, and you can then destroy his sword and stab him. Repeat once to defeat Ghirahim.
Demise does not have a health pull and instead works with hit counters.
There are 2 ways to end the first phase: you must either hit Demise 30 times, or stun Demise 3 times and hit him 5 times during that 3rd stun. During the first and second stun, Demise will always block the 6th hit, so be prepared for that to happen. No matter the method used, ending phase 1 will automatically set his hit counter to 30.
Just like phase 1, there are 2 ways you can knock down Demise during phase 2.The first way is to hit him 20 times during phase 2 (to reach 50 total hits). The second way, most commonly used in speedruns, is to stun Demise without a lightning strike, then attack him. If you stunned Demise 3 times during phase 1 it will only take 5 hits for him to get knocked down. If you only stunned him zero times, once or twice during phase 1 then it will take a few more hits, because the stun counter carries over from phase 1 to phase 2. Luckily, if you stun Demise regularly during phase 2, he cannot get out of it if you just slash him a bunch and will always end up being knocked down.
The first time Demise is knocked down, he will stay down for 25 frames. The second time it will be for 40 frames, and after that it will be for 70 frames. While it is not possible to land a final blow the first time he is knocked down as you do not have enough time, it is possible the 2nd time. When Demise goes back up after being knocked down, his hit counter is automatically set to 45, which means you only need 5 hits to knock him down again. It is also interesting to know that if you stun Demise with a lightning strike he will always block the 8th hit.
During the second phase, if Demise is able to charge lightning into his sword, he emits a shockwave that damages Link if he is too close.
After knocking Demise over, when he gets up he has about a second of invincibility, so if you charge Link's sword with lightning before he gets up, wait a moment before attacking him.
Do the following sword slashes:
The starred (**) slashes above can be difficult to get in real time; if you slash in the wrong direction, Demise will counterattack. There are two ways to deal with the counter attack
As long as you deal with Demise's possible counterattacks correctly, you'll be able to maintain the stunlock for the entirety of this phase.
Start by closing distance with Demise, it is possible to continue the stunlock from Phase 1. How you do this depends on whether you have a shield.
In general, using a shield is a more consistent method of fighting than shieldless, but it is slower by a few seconds over the optimal shieldless strategy.
In the Lightning Round Boss Rush minigame from the Thunder Dragon, you must fight several bosses in a row in order to acquire several items: 4 bosses to obtain a piece of heart, 8 bosses for the Hylian Shield.
You are allowed to choose your first fight, but you cannot choose the following fights, as they are picked by the Thunder Dragon for you. It turns out, the way the next fight is chosen is only partially random. The game has 3 ordered lists of bosses. The game picks one of those lists randomly, and it gives you the first fight in that list that you haven't fought yet in the session. This results in some fights being given more often than others, and some fights can't appear before others do.
On Hero Mode, the 3 lists are displayed in the following table. Because Demise is always last and is a fast fight, it is generally best to pick it as your starter. Ghirahim 2 is also a good starter as it is an even faster fight that is far down on 2 of the lists, and also locked behind long fights. Despite Ghirahim 1 being the fastest fight, it is a bad starter because you are likely to get it early anyway.
The most common strategy is to pick Demise as a starter, and see what are the first four fights you get. If these fights are good, then stop to get the piece of heart and start over with Demise as your starter again for the hylian shield. If they were bad, then settle for the hylian shield first, then pick Ghirahim 2 as a starter for the piece of heart. The set of 4 fights has a bigger variance in terms of time than the set of 8 fights, and fights that are bad for the set of 4 can be good for the set of 8 (like Imprisoned 3 or Tentalus). As such, it is much easier to lose a lot of time because of the set of 4 fights, and you should prioritize settling with a good set of 4 rather than a good set of 8 if you have the choice.
The best set of 4 obtainable is the following set. Getting Ghirahim 3 instead of Molderach loses about 55 seconds, and getting the Imprisoned 3 instead of Molderach loses about 100 seconds. Selecting Demise as a starter loses about 20 seconds:
The worst set of 4 with a Ghirahim 2 starter is the following set. It loses about 5m30s:
The three best sets of 8 obtainable with a Demise starter are as follows (from fastest to slowest). Note that these sets can appear in various boss orders. The first set is about 20 seconds faster than the other two. A Ghirahim 2 starter for the set of 8 is risky because only the second of these sets stays compatible with it.
The worst set of 8 with a Demise starter is the following set. It loses about 3m20s seconds over the best set.
|List 0||List 1||List 2|
|Ghirahim 1||Ghirahim 3||Imprisoned 3|
|Molderach||Imprisoned 3||Ghirahim 2|
|Imprisoned 1||Imprisoned 1||Ghirahim 3|
|Koloktos||Ghirahim 1||Ghirahim 1|
|Imprisoned 2||Imprisoned 2||Scaldera|
|Imprisoned 3||Tentalus||Imprisoned 1|
On Normal Mode, the lists will be different depending on your progression in the story. No matter what, Demise cannot appear in Boss Rush on Normal Mode. The best sets and strategies are also completely different from Hero Mode. You can find the various lists below.
|Normal Mode (after Ghirahim 3)|
|List 0||List 1||List 2|
|Ghirahim 1||Scaldera||Ghirahim 1|
|Imprisoned 1||Imprisoned 3||Ghirahim 2|
|Koloktos||Imprisoned 1||Imprisoned 1|
|Ghirahim 2||Imprisoned 2||Horde|
|Imprisoned 2||Horde||Imprisoned 3|
|Imprisoned 3||Ghirahim 1||Scaldera|
|Ghirahim 3||Ghirahim 3||Ghirahim 3|
|Normal Mode (before Ghirahim 3, after Horde)|
|List 0||List 1||List 2|
|Ghirahim 1||Imprisoned 3||Tentalus|
|Imprisoned 1||Ghirahim 1||Imprisoned 3|
|Tentalus||Ghirahim 2||Ghirahim 2|
|Imprisoned 2||Imprisoned 2||Imprisoned 1|
|Imprisoned 3||Tentalus||Imprisoned 2|
|Normal Mode (before Ghirahim 3 and Horde, after Imprisoned 3)|
|List 0||List 1||List 2|
|Ghirahim 1||Ghirahim 2||Imprisoned 1|
|Imprisoned 1||Ghirahim 1||Ghirahim 2|
|Ghirahim 2||Scaldera||Imprisoned 2|
|Imprisoned 2||Koloktos||Ghirahim 1|
|Imprisoned 3||Imprisoned 3||Imprisoned 3|
|Normal Mode (before Ghirahim 3, Horde and Imprisoned 3)|
|List 0||List 1||List 2|
|Ghirahim 1||Tentalus||Imprisoned 1|
|Imprisoned 1||Koloktos||Ghirahim 2|
|Imprisoned 2||Imprisoned 2||Imprisoned 2|