It's-a Mario World: Mini-Boss Mayhem

Last week we prompted some rich scholarly debate about Bowser's kids, as literally hundreds of comments (precise statistics unverified) argued back and forth as to whether the Koopaling characters are worth a damn. Today we return to pose another question: What are mini-bosses, exactly? Are they, like, regular Koopas after chomping down a few mini-mushrooms? Are they the less-popular bosses who have shrunken from our memories? What is so miniature about a mini-boss? Size? Reputation?

Well, neither, really. A mini-boss might be defined as an antagonist too powerful to be categorized as a standard henchman, yet too weak to provoke any controller-throwing frustration. Much like their more difficult counterparts--area and final bosses--mini-bosses are usually faced in an enclosed, 1-on-1 setting, albeit with considerably less fanfare. With some exceptions, no trumpets sound as they enter, and no medals are award when they are defeated. Mini-bosses occupy a liminal position in villainy as the halfway hurdles of an overarching challenge. Mario has encountered dozens of these types, a few of which have continued their careers as playable characters in sports and party titles. But do you recall the most famous reindeer mini-bosses of all? We hope so, because we've stuffed a piping hot new gallery full of 'em.

It's-a Mario World is a weekly feature in which the ubiquity of Nintendo's flagship character is celebrated: We'll incessantly ruminate about mustache wax, debate the curious whereabouts of the princess and covet the luminous power stars strewn about the galaxy. Check back here every Friday to find out what strange and wonderful thing has got us tipping our caps. And if that isn't good enough, check out the retro Mario you never knew in the latest, greatest Virtually Overlooked.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.