Bowser, known in Japan as Koopa (クッパ, Kuppa), is a character in Super Smash Bros. Melee and is available from the start. Announced at E3 2001, a stronger form of Bowser also appears as the "final" boss in Adventure Mode.
Bowser is currently ranked 24th in the F tier in the current Melee tier list. Among Bowser's positive traits is his difficulty in getting KO'd due to his high weight and rather fast falling speed; additionally, he has among the most powerful attacks in the game (most notably his forward smash), as well as some very good aerial attacks, most notably his forward and upward aerials. However, he suffers due to his large size and weight and also his large periods of hitstun, making him extremely easy to combo. His moves are also very sluggish, and his approach is among the worst in the game, with laggy aerials, poor jumping ability (leading to an awful SHFFL), a short wavedash, poor projectile, and slow, predictable recovery. Bowser is among few characters to lack any positive matchups, and only two, against Yoshi and Pichu, are considered even.
Bowser acts as the game's primary "slow and powerful" fighter; other equally heavy and powerful characters, such as Donkey Kong and Ganondorf, are of considerably higher speed than Bowser in a variety of ways. Bowser has an average falling speed, and a below average air speed, as well as high traction and a surprisingly fast dashing speed. These characteristics, however, also give Bowser a short and slow wavedash.
One of Bowser's greatest strengths is his raw damage output and KO potential. Many of his attacks are the strongest of their type, and their damage output can reach perhaps ludicrous levels; his side smash, for instance, deals 24% when not charged, and his down tilt has the second highest damage output in the game for a tilt (behind Ganondorf's incredibly slow up tilt), dealing a potential 22% if both hits connect. As a result of this high damage output, Bowser's KOing options are possibly the most numerous in the game, with his up and down tilts, all of his smash attacks, forward, back, and up aerials, Koopa Klaw back throw, Whirling Fortress, and even his jab becoming potentials for garnering KOs. In addition to their high power, Bowser's attacks also have very large hitboxes, leading to a rather large range.
In addition to this, Bowser has a surprisingly high amount of tricks that can be used to aggravate opponents. The set knockback of his down throw can allow for chainthrowing on fast fallers, while his up air, when L-cancelled and set up after a short hop, can infinite fast fallers. One of Bowser's most versatile moves takes from as his up special move, Whirling Fortress. In addition to a potential 32% it can cause, it is amongst the most flexible moves in the game, acting as a combo breaker due to its paltry 5 start-up frames, a potential edgeguard, and a dangerous substitute to Bowser's poor defensive roll.
Bowser's extreme power that sacrifices speed, however, is what causes him to be considered a poor character. Due to a metagame that favours fast characters such as Fox and Marth over slower characters such as Bowser, Bowser can quickly find himself overwhelmed, with very few ways to effectively counter faster attacks. A very large hitbox and a high weight that prevents him from travelling far also invites frequent combos against him, leading to few opportunities to counterattack. This is exacerbated by a poor defensive game, with a small shield that invites shield stabbing, as well as slow defensive rolls and sidesteps.
Bowser's approach in both the air and the ground are poor, and in both cases, they're considered amongst the worst in the game. On the ground, a slow dash attack, slow attacks in general, and a short, situational wavedash prevent Bowser from effectively approaching the opponent without setting himself up for counterattacks; the lack of a long-ranged projectile also hampers this. His aerial approach is of equally poor quality, due to a very slow jumping speed and high-lag aerials, leading to a poor SHFFL that is, ironically, very easy to perform.
Bowser's lack of low-knockback moves, coupled with high ending lag, also lend themselves to a poor combo game; most of his combos require precise timing and L-cancelling, and even then, these combos are limited to two or three hits, with the last hit often not being one that can lead to a KO. Bowser's slow speed on both the ground and in the air also prevent him from easily "pursuing" foes after they've been sent back, leading to opponents to easily recovering from hits and being able to counter Bowser's further attempts at comboing.
For a gallery of Bowser's hitboxes, see here.
 Other attacks
Bowser rears his head back, roaring.
 In Competitive play
 Notable players
 Tier placement and history
Bowser has traditionally always been a very low-tiered character, ranking at or near the bottom on many revisions, due to his negative attributes and his pitiful matchups against top/high tier characters, which led to inconsistent and overall very poor tournament results, even with the innovations of dedicated Bowser professionals such as Gimpyfish, who propelled Bowser to a level of play that many rarely ever saw before. Currently, Bowser is in the F tier in 24th place, and is considered a non-viable character for tournaments.
 Regional differences
Bowser is among few characters to be changed in all three versions of Melee. In the Japanese release, Bowser's name was "Koopa", a reference to how he was an evolved form of a Koopa Troopa. Likewise, Giga Bowser's name in Japan was "Giga Koopa". All such changes of his name can be seen if the game's language is set to Japanese.
Bowser, in the PAL regions, also received a few changes; he was made 1 unit heavier in PAL regions, from 117 to 118, and errors concerning his down throw, such as its inability to hit Mr. Game & Watch, were corrected. The PAL region version of the game also had a bug fix for Bowser from the American 1.2 version: he could no longer "Flame Cancel" by landing during the ending frames of Fire Breath, his neutral special move.
 In single-player modes
 In Classic Mode
 In Adventure Mode
In Adventure Mode, Bowser acts as a final boss of sorts, fought on the last stage, Stage 12: Final Destination. In this appearance, he is larger than usual, and as a result, he is more resistant to knockback. When played on Very Easy and Easy difficulties, or if the player spent too much time in the Adventure Mode, then the game is concluded there. Bowser's trophy falls off the stage, and the player's selected character celebrates with one of his or her Victory poses.
If the player, however, arrives at Stage 12: Final Destination on Normal difficulty or higher in less than 18 minutes, Bowser will appear with his black colour scheme instead of his ordinary green colour scheme. After he is KO'd and the ordinary cutscene is played, another cutscene shows Bowser's trophy returning to Final Destination to face the player's character. The trophy is then struck with lightning, and Bowser turns into Giga Bowser. As a last challenge for the player, they must defeat Giga Bowser in order to clear the Adventure Mode. After he is defeated, a cutscene shows Bowser's trophy falling off the stage again; this time, however, it explodes.
 In All-Star Mode
In All-Star Mode, Bowser and his allies are fought on Yoshi's Island.
 In Event Matches
Bowser makes the following appearances in the following event matches:
 Ending Images
 Trophy descriptions
In addition to the normal trophy about Bowser as a character, there are two trophies about him as a fighter, unlocked by completing the Adventure and All-Star Modes respectively with Bowser on any difficulty: