Bowser (SSB4)

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This article is about Bowser's appearance in Super Smash Bros. 4. For the character in other contexts, see Bowser.
Bowser
in Super Smash Bros. 4
Bowser
MarioSymbol.svg
Universe Mario
Other Smash Bros. appearances in Melee
in Brawl
Availability Starter
Final Smash Giga Bowser
Tier C (25)
BowserHeadSSB4-U.png

Bowser (クッパ, Koopa) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. His return to the series was indirectly announced during the E3 Nintendo Direct on June 11th, 2013.[1] Bowser retains his voice clips from Super Smash Bros. Brawl, although they have been heavily altered.

Bowser is currently ranked 25th out of 58 on the tier list, placing him in the C tier. This makes him the second highest ranking mid-tier character, the highest ranking super heavyweight, and is a vast improvement from his bottom-tier placement in Brawl, where he was ranked 33rd out of 38. Incidentally, it is also the first time in the series that he has not been ranked as a bottom-tier character. Many of Bowser's previous problems have been fixed: he is much more mobile,[2] has much greater range, and has noticeably improved combo and grab games. Aside from his new benefits, he retains his excellent endurance, overall high damage output, and very strong KOing options. Bowser is also buffed by the presence of rage in SSB4.

However, Bowser still suffers from having an extremely poor defensive game, and it is considered among the worst in SSB4; Bowser's only effective out of shield option is Whirling Fortress, and both his rolls and sidesteps are short-distanced and grant a inimal amount of intangibility frames. His large size and status as a super heavyweight also make him extremely susceptible to combos, which is further compounded by his lack of effective combo breakers. Although Bowser retains Fire Breath as a projectile, his large size nevertheless makes him vulnerable to camping. Bowser's recovery is also unimpressive, as Whirling Fortress' general linearity and predictability make him vulnerable to gimping.

Bowser's perception in the metagame has fluctuated over SSB4's lifespan. He was initially considered a poor character in the first year of release for SSB4, but update 1.1.3 strongly buffed his up throw, allowing Bowser to more effectively combo and KO opponents, and he began to experience greater tournament success and a larger playerbase as a result. Greward has won a few regional and national tournaments, while LordMix and Nairo have been able to win difficult matchups against high-level players of top-tier characters; LordMix has defeated Vinnie's Rosalina & Luma and VoiD's Sheik, while Nairo has defeated ZeRo's Diddy Kong, Tweek's Cloud, Zinoto's Diddy Kong, and Mr.E's Marth.

Attributes[edit]

Unlike in Melee and Brawl, Bowser boasts a respectable level of speed to go alongside his renowned power.[2] While he retains slow walking and falling speeds, high gravity, average air speed, slow air acceleration and the slowest jumpsquat, his dashing speed and double jump's height have both been significantly increased. This grants him mobility that is average overall, yet balanced compared to most heavyweights. As the heaviest character in the game, Bowser has the greatest level of horizontal endurance, as well as the third greatest level of vertical endurance, being surpassed only by his fellow super heavyweights King Dedede and Donkey Kong.

Bowser's greatest strength is his immense power. Since most of his attacks are highly damaging, Bowser has an easy time racking up damage, especially when compared to combo-oriented characters like Luigi and Sheik. In addition, most of his moves have high knockback, granting him numerous (if not the largest number of) KOing options. Some of his moves are among the strongest of the cast, including the one of the strongest meteor smash in his down aerial, one of the strongest semi-spikes in his back aerial and the second strongest forward smash, which is surpassed only marginally by King Dedede and maximum Aura Lucario's. The introduction of rage further amplifies the power of his moves without reducing the efficiency of his combos. Bowser's great endurance can also allow him to take full advantage of it, as it is very difficult to KO him without a strong attack. Furthermore, Bowser has great range in many of his attacks, allowing him to space opponents more easily than many other characters. Combined with the aforementioned perks, Bowser is proficient at edgeguarding.

Bowser also has a formidable grab game. While not particularly fast, his grabs have among the longest ranges in the game, with his pivot grab being notoriously effective, making it easy for him to grab opponents that are not right next to him. His pummel and his forward, back and down throws deal respectable damage. His up throw's low damage output is counterbalanced by its low knockback, which grants Bowser many reliable follow-ups until around 75%, depending mostly on the opponent's falling speed. His down throw is the optimal choice for either forcing opponents off-stage for an edgeguard or preventing his other throws from becoming stale. His back throw is among the strongest, being surpassed only by Ness, Toon Link, Mewtwo, Villager, Lucas, Dr. Mario, and Mario's, and can KO at 180% from center-stage. His forward throw is the strongest of its kind in the game, reliably KOing any character at 180% from center-stage.

Lastly, Bowser has a versatile special moveset. Fire Breath is Bowser's only projectile, which can be used to fend off opponents or gimp recoveries due to it ability to be angled, while the nerf to SDI makes it quite difficult to escape when caught up close. Flying Slam is a command grab, allowing it to ignore shields and counterattacks. Upon a successful grab, Bowser is invincible up until he jumps to perform a flipping belly-to-belly suplex that deals enough knockback to KO around 120% or even earlier if he lands on a platform. After getting grabbed, the opponent cannot do anything other than slightly alter the move's trajectory. Whirling Fortress is Bowser's primary means of recovery, granting below average vertical distance but good horizontal distance, with the former increasing if button mashing is utilized. It is also a phenomenal out of shield option, as well as Bowser's fastest attack. Lastly, Bowser Bomb is very powerful and can be used as an alternative to fast-falling, making it useful for grabbing the ledge while at the same time threatening edgeguarders. It also deals additional shield damage, meaning that a shield break will occur if both of its hits connect.

However, Bowser has some glaring flaws. One of his biggest problems is air-to-ground transitioning. All of his aerials have at least 20 frames of landing lag, with his back and down aerials having 40 frames each. As none of his aerials have favorable autocancel windows, returning to the ground is very difficult for him, or even impossible without air dodging and/or fast-falling, due to his slow aerial mobility. As a result, Bowser is quite vulnerable to combos and heavily susceptible to juggling, making it easy for opponents to rack up damage on him, further worsened by his large size. His down aerial is his only move that can help mitigate these issues, but its aforementioned landing lag and stall-then-fall status can make it quite unreliable most of the time. His moveset, while fast compared to most heavyweights, is slow when compared to the rest of the cast, limiting his combo starters to only up throw and jab canceled neutral attack, and making it difficult for him to keep up with faster opponents, such as Sonic. This also compounds another noticeable problem: his ability to escape pressure. Due to his slow rolls and sidestep, with the former also being short-distanced, Bowser's only real method of dealing with pressure is Whirling Fortress, which can be punished if executed too late. Some of his moves are also inevitable KOs if used off-stage, namely his two stall-then-falls, down aerial and Bowser Bomb, as well as Flying Slam. Lastly, despite his recovery being rather long-distanced, it is among the slowest of the cast, making aggressive edgeguarding more than enough to KO Bowser.

Bowser benefits greatly from custom moves. Compared to Fire Breath, Fire Shot is slower and has noticeable intervals between each fireball, but has more range and deals consistent damage, which make it better for Bowser's neutral and edgeguarding games. Dash Slam is drastically weaker, but has a lower launch angle and propels Bowser forward, making it easier for him to grab opponents. Dash Slash deals less damage, but deals high knockback, hits throughout most of its animation and maintains the default version's autocanceling, granting Bowser a very reliable move for approaching and setting up combos. Both Flying Slam alternatives can also improve his recovery. Lastly, Flying Fortress cannot be used out of shield, but grants twice as much vertical distance at high speed, significantly improving Bowser's vertical recovery.

Overall, Bowser is a surprisingly speedy powerhouse who relies on a defensive, bait and punish-oriented playstyle. As such, he requires timing his attacks carefully or focusing on punishing his opponents' mistakes in order to avoid serious punishment himself. While Bowser's overall representation in high-level and top-level play has been smaller than higher tiered characters, players such as LordMix and Nairo have managed to achieve notable results, with many players arguing his tier placement should be higher. The most notable instance of this is ZeRo, who considers Bowser to be a high-tier character.

Changes from Brawl[edit]

Bowser has been buffed significantly in the transition to SSB4. Most of his moveset and animations have been completely revamped for the better: his range has been increased and his mobility is much faster overall.[2] His endurance and recovery have also been greatly improved, which improves his survivability, whereas his attacks have become even more powerful than they were in Melee. Lastly, Bowser now sports a significantly more reliable combo game thanks to his up throw receiving immense buffs in update 1.1.3. All of these improvements have rendered his disadvantage state and punishment games safer and more rewarding, respectively, than in previous games, while also remedying many of his flaws.

The changes to gameplay physics and mechanics brought about by SSB4 also significantly aid Bowser. The universal nerfing of campable projectiles significantly helps his approach, although he still susceptible to it because of his larger size. The removal of chain grabbing eliminates the zero-to-death or otherwise heavily damaging combos that plagued Bowser in Melee and Brawl. The changes to shield mechanics, namely the bonus shield damage and the increased shieldstun makes his attacks safer and harder to punish, as well as allowing him to shatter a shield more easily. Lastly, the introduction of the rage mechanic results in his outstanding endurance and power becoming even more useful than ever before.

Bowser has, however, received a few nerfs. While helping his endurance, his increased weight and the changes to hitstun canceling now render him more vulnerable to combos, similarly to in Melee. The frame data on his attacks is also slightly slower in general to compensate for the increased power in many of his moves. Lastly, Flying Slam also now causes Bowser to be KO'd first while the opponent does not go through their grab released animation, making Bowsercide a less viable tactic to KO an opponent. To compound these nerfs, a great number of Brawl veterans, notably his fellow bottom-tier characters such as Mario and Captain Falcon have also been buffed to various degrees in their transition as well. These changes, however, are notably offset by the great buffs Bowser has received, which has resulted on him becoming much better than he has been ever before in previous iterations.

Aesthetics[edit]

  • Change Due to the aesthetic used in SSB4, Bowser has a sleeker design, and his overall color scheme is significantly more vibrant. Unlike in previous installments, he now stands upright, and his pupils are smaller. Altogether, these changes make Bowser virtually identical to his appearance as of Super Mario 3D Land.
  • Change Dash, roll, double jump, air dodge, crouch, and crawl's animations have changed. Bowser now dashes on both legs instead of shuttling along the ground, and he remains upright instead of retreating into his shell when rolling, jumping, or air dodging. Bowser's crouch also appears similar to his crouching defensive stance from Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story.
  • Change A shadow has been added to the interior of Bowser's shell, which obscures his face (except for his eyes) whenever he retreats into his shell.
  • Change Aside from his star KO voice clip, Bowser's other voice clips from Brawl have been heavily altered.

Attributes[edit]

  • Change Like other large characters, such as Donkey Kong and King Dedede, Bowser's general size in proportion to the other playable characters is also greater than in previous installments.[3] This improves his range, but makes his hurtbox larger.
  • Change Bowser's new upright posture has translated into his moveset, be it through a tweaked animation or a completely new move.
  • Buff Bowser now has universal light armor against attacks that deal less than 19 units of knockback, such as the first hit of many neutral attacks. It is amplified if he has low damage and/or is crouching, but not while crawling or attacking, and its effectiveness wanes as Bowser receives more damage, to the point that it will eventually become unusable. This is referred to in one of the tips as Tough Guy.
  • Change Bowser is heavier (120 → 130). This improves his endurance, but makes him more susceptible to combos.
  • Buff Bowser walks faster (0.8 → 0.858). His walking speed while carrying heavy items also now surpasses Donkey Kong's, although DK still surpasses him in regard to jumping or falling with them.
  • Buff Bowser dashes faster (1.527 → 1.792).
  • Nerf Bowser's air speed is slower (1.034 → 1.0).
  • Buff Double jump is higher.
  • Buff Item throw is stronger (1.31432 → 1.33432).
  • Buff The removal of chain grabbing significantly improves Bowser's endurance.

Ground attacks[edit]

  • Buff Bowser has a new neutral attack, an alternating pair of punches. Compared to the previous neutral attack, its second hit deals 1.5% more damage (5% → 6.5%).
  • Buff Forward tilt deals 1% more damage (11% → 12%).
  • Nerf Up tilt deals 3% less damage (12% → 9%) and has increased start-up lag (frame 8 → 11).
  • Buff Up tilt has decreased ending lag (frame 51 → 41) and significantly increased overall range, as it no longer whiffs against opponents in front of Bowser.
  • Buff Down tilt's second hit has increased range.
  • Buff Down tilt's animation has slightly changed. It is now an alternating pair of hooks, instead of claw swipes. This animation change also now fully matches its hitboxes, whereas in Brawl, the hitboxes did not cover the entirety of Bowser's hands.
  • Buff Bowser has a new dash attack, a side kick. Compared to the previous dash attack, it deals more damage (11% → 12% (clean), 8% → 10% (late)), has more knockback scaling (30 → 35), and has significantly more range.
  • Nerf Dash attack has less base knockback (120 → 110) and more start-up lag (frame 10 → 11) compared to the previous dash attack.
  • Buff Bowser has a new forward smash, a dropkick. Compared to the previous forward smash, it has more knockback scaling (81 → 98), making it better at KOing. Additionally, it has less start-up lag (frame 27 → 22) and significantly more range. Lastly, its late hitboxes have anti-rebounding priority.
  • Nerf Forward smash has weak hitboxes throughout the later portion of its animation that deal 6% less damage than its initial hitboxes (23%/20% → 17%/14%). It also has more ending lag (frame 67 → 70). Unlike the previous forward smash, due to having different hitbox placements, its overall damage potential is lower (33%/31% → 23%/20%), and its lack of a weak initial hitbox means that opponents cannot use it to avoid its strong primary hitbox.
  • Buff Up smash has increased knockback scaling (80 (sweetspot)/90 (sourspot) → 90/100), improving its KO potential. Additionally, its first hitbox has a longer duration (frames 16-22 frames → 16-23) and its sweetspot can now hit grounded opponents. Lastly, it grants invincibility and anti-rebounding priority to Bowser's shell, significantly improving its safety.
  • Nerf Up smash's landing hit deals less damage (12%/10% → 6%), significantly hindering its KO potential in spite of its increased base knockback (60 → 80).
  • Nerf Down smash deals 5% less damage (21% → 16%) and has decreased knockback scaling (140 → 130), hindering its KO potential.
  • Buff Due to one of its loop hitboxes being transitioned into a separate hitbox that is active right before Bowser starts spinning, down smash has decreased start-up lag (frame 15 → 10).
  • Change Down smash's angle has been altered (65° → 48°).

Aerial attacks[edit]

  • Buff Bowser has a new neutral aerial, a cartwheel. Due to having different hitbox placements and consisting of multiple hitboxes, instead of a clean hitbox and a late hitbox, its overall damage potential is higher by 11% (13% → 24%). It also has larger hitboxes, a longer duration (frames 8-23 → 8-29), and less landing lag (24 frames → 20).
  • Nerf Neutral aerial autocancels later (frame 40> → 45>) than the previous neutral aerial.
  • Buff Forward aerial has increased range above and below Bowser. Its sweetspot also covers a much larger portion of Bowser's arm, granting it edgeguarding potential.
  • Nerf Forward aerial has increased start-up lag (frame 8 → 11).
  • Buff Bowser has a new back aerial, a dropkick. Compared to the previous back aerial, it deals more damage (15%/7% → 19%) and has different knockback (25 (base)/83 (scaling) → 20/88), making it significantly better at KOing. It also has less ending lag (frame 50 → 45) and can autocancel from a short hop (frame 45> → 31>). It additionally is now a semi-spike, similar to his old back air in Melee.
  • Nerf Back aerial has smaller hitboxes compared to the previous back aerial (9u/5u → 7u/5.5u). It also has a shorter duration (frames 9-16 → 9-11) and more landing lag (35 frames → 40). Unlike the previous back aerial, it lacks a sourspot to keep opponents at bay.
  • Nerf Up aerial deals 2% less damage (17% → 15%) and has decreased knockback scaling (93 → 85), hindering its KO potential. It also has a smaller hitbox (7u → 6u).
  • Buff Up aerial has decreased start-up lag (frame 16 → 9), granting it KO confirm potential as a follow-up from up throw.
  • Change Up aerial's animation has slightly changed. Bowser now swings his head in a backward motion, instead of in an overhead arcing motion.
  • Nerf Due to consisting of one hit instead of nine, down aerial deals 13% less damage (29% → 16%). It also has slightly increased start-up lag (frame 14 → 17).
  • Buff Down aerial is now a stall-then-fall, instead of a drill. It has a larger hitbox (4u → 7u), increased base knockback (10 → 30), it meteor smashes during its first few frames, deals vertical knockback during its later frames, and produces a shockwave upon landing. Altogether, these changes grant it KO, edgeguarding and anti-juggling potential, and improve its safety while on-stage. Because it is now a stall-then-fall, it can also be used to down aerial stall.
  • Nerf Down aerial can no longer edge sweetspot or be canceled until it ends, significantly hindering its safety while off-stage.

Throws/other attacks[edit]

  • Buff All grabs have increased ranges, to the point that they are now among the longest ranged non-tether grabs in the game.
  • Buff Dash grab has decreased ending lag (frame 50 → 48).
  • Nerf Pivot grab has increased start-up (frame 9 → 11) and ending lag (frame 40 → 46).
  • Change Grabs' animations have changed. Bowser now grabs and holds opponents with one arm, similarly to Koopa Klaw's grab from Melee, instead of clinching them with his arms and mouth. Bowser also no longer falls over when he whiffs a dash grab.
  • Buff Forward throw deals 2% more damage (10% → 12%) and has increased knockback scaling (50 → 66), granting it KO potential.
  • Change Forward throw's animation has slightly changed. Bowser now rears to the side and sways his head upward to throw the opponent, instead of rearing his head downward and then swinging it upward.
  • Buff Bowser has a new back throw, a one-armed throw, similar to Donkey Kong's back throw. Compared to the previous back throw, it deals 2% more damage (10% → 12%) and has more knockback scaling (50 → 66), making it significantly better at KOing.
  • Nerf Up throw deals 3.5% less damage (10% → 6.5%).
  • Buff Up throw has altered knockback (120 (base)/100 (scaling) → 25/180), decreased ending lag (frame 32 → 25), and its angle has been altered (70° → 82°). Altogether, these changes now grant it combo potential from low to high percentages.
  • Buff Down throw's damage output altered (12% (hit 1)/— (throw) → 10%/2%) and it has increased knockback (75 (base)/30 (scaling) → 90/80). These changes grant it KO potential.
  • Nerf Bowser has a new edge attack, an inward slash similar to his 100%+ edge attack in previous games. Compared to the previous edge attack, it is slower and has less range.

Special moves[edit]

  • Change Fire Breath now deals consistent damage (2%/1% → 1.2%).
  • Buff Fire Breath has larger hitboxes, decreased start-up and ending lag, and increased range.
  • Nerf Fire Breath's farthest hitboxes no longer cause flinching.
  • Change Fire Breath now slightly pushes Bowser back while slightly pushing the opponent away, similarly to neutral infinites. This improves its safety, but hinders its damage racking ability.
  • Buff The weakening of SDI makes Fire Breath and Whirling Fortress significantly more difficult to escape from.
  • Buff Flying Slam has increased knockback scaling (50 → 60), improving its KO potential. Additionally, Bowser is now invincible before he leaves the ground, while a whiffed grab autocancels upon landing for its entire duration, improving its safety. Lastly, Bowser has more control over Flying Slam's trajectory, and it received a hitbox during its landing portion that can hit bystanders.
  • Nerf Flying Slam's grabbox has decreased vertical range, making it more difficult to grab aerial opponents and removing Koopa Hopping.
  • Nerf Bowsercide now KOs Bowser first and the opponent is released from Flying Slam when this occurs, significantly hindering its utility.
  • Nerf Grounded Whirling Fortress deals less damage (16%/14% → 11%).
  • Buff Due to consisting of eight hits instead of two, grounded Whirling Fortress has significantly improved out of shield potential.
  • Buff Aerial Whirling Fortress covers significantly more distance. When button mashed, vertical distance now increases further. It also ascends faster and can now grab edges from behind. Altogether, these changes significantly improve its recovery potential.
  • Buff Bowser Bomb deals more shield damage (0 → 5). When coupled with the 19% damage increase to shields and the significant increase to shieldstun, this significantly improves its shield breaking potential.
  • Buff Bowser Bomb descends faster and Bowser performs it much faster when performed from the ground.
  • Nerf Some of Giga Bowser's attacks deal less damage. He also has a shorter duration (11 seconds → 8).
  • Buff Some of Giga Bowser's attacks have decreased start-up lag and increased knockback.

Update history[edit]

Bowser has received numerous buffs from game updates. However, he received one major nerf in update 1.0.4, as Flying Slam no longer KOs the opponent first if a Bowsercide is performed. On the flipside, Flying Slam has been significantly compensated for, as Bowser now has more control of its trajectory, it transitions faster, has a larger grab range, and now has invincibility frames before he leaves the ground. His up tilt, neutral aerial and Fire Shot have also been improved to varying degrees, while he significantly benefits from the changes on shield mechanics in updates 1.1.0 and 1.1.1; the changes grant his attacks even more chances of breaking a character's shield and give him an open attacking opportunity, but weakens his out of shield punishes with his Whirling Fortress. Update 1.1.3 heavily buffed his grab game by re-purposing his up throw into a very reliable combo starter, though this was toned down somewhat in update 1.1.4. While Bowser's buffs do not address his more critical weaknesses, they have arguably helped to counterbalance them.

Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS 1.0.4

  • Nerf Self-destructs using Flying Slam now KO Bowser first instead of the opponent. When Bowser is KO'd, the opponent is released from the grab, potentially allowing them to recover back onto the stage.
  • Change Certain properties of Fire Breath have been adjusted.

Super Smash Bros. 4 1.0.6

  • Buff Bowser has more control over Flying Slam's trajectory.

Super Smash Bros. 4 1.0.8

  • Nerf Up tilt deals 1% less damage: 10% → 9%.
  • Buff Up tilt's start-up: frame 12 → 11 and ending lag decreased: frame 51 → 41.

Super Smash Bros. 4 1.1.0

  • Change Down smash's angle altered: 60° → 48°.

Super Smash Bros. 4 1.1.1

  • Buff Neutral aerial deals more damage: 5% (hits 1-4) → 6% and its landing lag decreased
  • Buff Fire Shot improved. It deals 1% more damage: 5% (clean)/4% (late) → 6%/5%, its base knockback increased: 25 → 35, its hit radius increased: 4u (clean)/3.5u (late) → 5u (both), its late hit's duration increased: 15 frames → 20 and its ending lag now matches Fire Breath's.

Super Smash Bros. 4 1.1.3

  • Buff Up throw's knockback and angle altered: 90 base/80 growth → 25 base/155 growth, 70° → 82°. These changes repurpose it into a combo starter, which can be performed even up to high percents.
  • Buff Up throw's ending lag decreased: 68 frames → 61.
  • Nerf Up throw's loop hits deal 0.5% less damage: 1% → 0.5%.
  • Change Up throw's loop hits' hitlag multiplier decreased: 1x → 0.5x.
  • Change Up throw's final hit's knockback increased: 0 → 80 (base), 100 → 200 (growth).
  • Buff Flying Slam's grab to slam transition speed increased. This makes it function similarly to how it did in Brawl.
  • Buff All variations of Flying Slam now have invincibility frames before Bowser leaves the ground.
  • Buff All variations of Whirling Fortress can now grab ledges from behind.

Super Smash Bros. 4 1.1.4

  • Buff Dash attack damage: 10%/8% → 12%/10%.
  • Nerf Up throw knockback growth increased: 155 → 180, reducing its combo potential at high percentages.
  • Buff All variations of Flying Slam's grab range increased.

Technical changelist 1.1.4

Super Smash Bros. 4 1.1.5

  • Buff Air speed: 0.98 → 1
  • Change Weight: 128 → 130
  • Buff Item Toss strength increased: 1.31432 → 1.33432

Moveset[edit]

  • Bowser has a unique attribute referred to as Tough Guy. He has universal light armor against attacks that deal deal less than 19 units of knockback. This is most apparent when Bowser has low damage, and it can be amplified by crouching, but not while crawling or attacking, and will decrease as Bowser starts taking more damage.[4]
  • Bowser can crawl, although it has no practical use because of his large hurtbox.
  Name Damage Description
Neutral attack   5% Two alternating punches. Both hits render Bowser's arms are intangible throughout their durations. The first hit has set knockback and can be jab canceled into other moves, such as a dash grab or Bowser Bomb. Conversely, the second hit deals more damage, and is strong enough to KO around 140% near the edge.
6.5%
Forward tilt   12% A backhanded punch. Fairly powerful with fast start-up and good range, it also renders Bowser's arm intangible throughout its duration. It is based on the second hit of his Drill Claw attack in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. Can KO at around 110% near the edge.
Up tilt   9% An overhead arcing claw swipe. It has respectable utility, as it can be a good combo option at low percentages either by starting and then chaining into itself, acting as a follow-up from up throw, or acting as a KOing option around 150%. It also renders his arm intangible throughout its duration. However, it has a blind spot right next to his torso.
Down tilt   14% (hit 1), 11% (hit 2) Lays in a prone position and throws two alternating hooks. Both hits render his arms intangible throughout their durations. It has a chance to trip at low percentages, but the first hit does not connect into the second hit past medium percentages. The first hit has slightly higher base knockback, whereas the second hit has slightly longer range, making it a decent KOing option near the edge, with the first hit killing under 100% at the edge, and even hitting players hanging on the ledge.
Dash attack   12% (clean), 10% (late) A side kick, similar to Meta Knight's dash attack. Good for hitting prone or tumbling opponents.
Forward smash   23% (clean feet), 20% (clean body), 17% (late feet), 14% (late body) A dropkick. It is the third strongest forward smash in the game, being surpassed only by King Dedede and maximum Aura Lucario's. Its outstanding damage output also threatens shields, as they will receive severe damage from it, so much so that they can almost break from a fully charged forward smash. When spaced properly, it can even hit opponents hanging on an edge or lingering just below it. Its clean hitboxes render his legs intangible, whereas its late hitboxes have anti-rebounding priority. Even from the centre of the stage, it can KO at 70% uncharged.
Up smash   20% (hit 1 center), 15% (hit 1 sides), 6% (hit 2) Lays in a prone position and then hops to thrust his shell's spikes upward. It renders his shell invincible and grants anti-rebounding priority throughout its duration, which make it all but impossible to challenge from above. However, it will still clank against a move that has invincibility frames. It also hits on both sides when Bowser lands from his hop, but these hits lack KO potential because of their significantly lower damage outputs. Sweetspotted, it can KO at 90% uncharged.
Down smash   2% (hit 1), 1% (hits 2-6), 9% (hit 7) Spins around in his shell, hitting multiple times with his spikes. A fairly reliable KOing option under 150%.
Neutral aerial   6% (hits 1-4) A cartwheel. It can combo into forward and up aerials at low to medium percentages. It is a mechanically unusual attack, as both its third and fourth hits are present at once (on Bowser's top and bottom half respectively). As such, connecting with the fourth hit before the third hit will mean the third hit will not connect with the opponent. Despite this quirk, it is the third most damaging aerial attack in the game, being surpassed only by maximum Aura Lucario's back aerial and Yoshi's down aerial.
Forward aerial   13% (hand), 12% (arm), 11% (body) Swipes downward with his claws. It has quick start-up, a respectable damage output, and great range, as it can even hit opponents below him. It can also autocancel from a short hop. Altogether, these traits make arguably Bowser's most useful aerial.
Back aerial   19% A dropkick. It is very powerful, as it can either KO around 100% from center-stage and as low as 60% at the edge, though it does not have much vertical range. The second strongest and most damaging back aerial in the game behind max Aura Lucario's back aerial. Autocancels from a short hop.
Up aerial   15% An upward headbutt. Although it is not as strong as in Brawl, it is still a viable KOing option due to KOing around 100% while near the upper blast line. By extension, it is a KO confirm follow-up from up throw at high percentages.
Down aerial   16% (drop), 2% (landing) Retracts into his shell, turns upside down, and propels himself downward. A stall-then-fall, it emits a small shockwave on both sides when he lands. It meteor smashes during the first few frames and deals respectable diagonal knockback during its later frames. Due to its large hitbox, its meteor smashing hitbox can effectively edgeguard when near the edge. Like other stall-then-falls, it will almost certainly cause a self-destruct if used off-stage.
Grab   Reaches out. Bowser has a fairly large grab range for a non-disjointed or non-tether grab, especially when pivot grabbing, as his pivot grab can cover the entirety of a Battlefield platform.
Pummel   3% A headbutt. Moderately slow, but one of the most damaging pummels in the game.
Forward throw   12% Places the opponent in between his horns, rears his head back, and then powerfully sways his head forward to launch the opponent. It is the strongest forward throw in the game, KOing around 120% near the edge. However, its throw hitbox is not active until frame 36, which results in it taking longer to throw opponents than back throw.
Back throw   12% Throws the opponent backward in a sideways motion. It has the exact same damage output and knockback values as his forward throw, which make it a viable KOing option around 120% near the edge. However, its throw hitbox comes out on frame 19, enabling it to throw character opponents earlier than the forward throw.
Up throw   0.5% (hits 1-7), 1% (hit 8), 2% (throw) Throws the opponent slightly upward, withdraws into his shell, and then spins rapidly in order to repeatedly stab them with his shell's spikes. It is Bowser's best combo starter, as it can combo into up tilt, up smash, neutral aerial, up aerial, forward aerial, back aerial, and even Flying Slam. Its aerial combos are especially effective against fast-fallers, although its Flying Slam combo requires a hard read. The final hit before the throw deals very high knockback to fighters who are caught in the crossfire. On a side note, unlike in Brawl, instead of always dealing fixed knockback, the throw hitbox's knockback now grows stronger as the target's damage increases.
Down throw   10% (hit 1), 2% (throw) Places the opponent on the ground and splashes them. Its high base knockback, low knockback scaling, and high ending lag prevent it from having any follow-ups. Despite this, it actually has KO potential unlike in Brawl, thanks to its throw hitbox now dealing damage. Its first hit can also damage nearby bystanders. It KOs around 150% near the edge, and can be used as an alternative to his forward and back throws for setting up an edgeguard.
Floor attack (front)   7% Swipes his claws behind himself and in front of himself while stumbling to his feet.
Floor attack (back)   7% Swipes his claws around himself while getting up.
Floor attack (trip)   5% Swipes his claws around himself while getting up.
Edge attack   7% Swipes inward while climbing up. One of the longest ranged edge attacks in the game.
Neutral special Default Fire Breath 1.2% (loop) Expels a stream of fire from his mouth. It gradually loses strength and range, but will slowly regain its strength when not in use. It can be angled upward or downward, which can potentially gimp recovering opponents, although the flames at the very end of the stream do not cause flinching.
Custom 1 Fire Shot 6% (clean), 5% (late) Expels a large Fireball from his mouth instead of a stream of fire. The Fireball pierces opponents similarly to Super Dragon's and, unlike Fire Breath, will not weaken over time when used in succession.
Custom 2 Fire Roar 2.7% (clean), 1.8% (late) Deals more damage and has longer range, but loses range quickly and takes longer to recharge.
Side special Default Flying Slam 18% (throw), 15% (collateral) Grabs an opponent, jumps with them into the air and backflips repeatedly before belly-to-belly suplexing them onto the ground. It deals immense vertical knockback that can KO at 120%, making it a very reliable KOing option. Its power and launching angle makes it difficult to properly DI, especially if the user has high gravity. The suplex can also hit other opponents on the ground that it lands into for similarly powerful knockback. It can be used to dive off-stage with the opponent for a potential sacrificial KO.
Custom 1 Dash Slam 12% (throw), 10% (collateral) Dashes forward before performing the belly-to-belly suplex with less vertical distance, but deals less damage. Its angle is more horizontal than vertical.
Custom 2 Dash Slash 8% (clean), 6% (late) A dashing slash. It deals high knockback, but noticeably less damage, and can be blocked and even countered. Despite this, it is considered one of the most useful special custom moves in the game, due to its complete autocancel property and pseudo-wavedash, which makes it a fairly safe approaching option and grants it combo potential. It is comparable to Koopa Klaw, albeit without the grab.
Up special Default Whirling Fortress 1% (grounded hits 1-7), 4% (grounded hit 8)
10% (aerial hit 1), 3% (aerial hits 2-6), 2% (aerial hits 7-11)
Enters his shell and spins rapidly, being able to move forward and backward while doing so. It acts as a recovery when performed in the air, propelling Bowser diagonally upward, but Bowser remains grounded when he performs it on the ground. Very versatile and a useful out of shield option. When used on the ground, the attack can deal up to 8 hits, with the final hit delivering the most knockback. The multiple hits also make the attack safer to use against enemy shields. In the air, button mashing enables it to cover more vertical distance. Surprisingly long-distanced, but it can be intercepted easily.
Custom 1 Flying Fortress 4% Covers more vertical distance, but at the cost of horizontal distance. It deals less damage due to only hitting once, but its single hit launches opponents. If used immediately out of knockback, the move may not offer any vertical movement at all, drastically hindering Bowser's recovery.
Custom 2 Sliding Fortress 6% Covers more horizontal distance, but at the cost of vertical distance. It only hits once, deals less knockback, and has increased ending lag.
Down special Default Bowser Bomb 4% (hop), 20% (Ground Pound), 11% (landing) A Ground Pound. It deals immense vertical knockback to anyone hit and can KO under 100%, making it one of Bowser's most reliable KOing options. On the ground, Bowser performs a weak headbutt that drags opponents into the main attack. If performed in the air, Bowser performs the Ground Pound after a brief pause instead of leaping first. Emits a shockwave upon landing and will break full shields if all of its grounded hitboxes connect. It will almost certainly cause a self-destruct if used off-stage due to its ending lag, though it can grab ledges if Bowser directly faces one while falling, and starts the move at a full-hop height.
Custom 1 Turbulent Bomb 4% (hop), 9% (Ground Pound), 9% (landing) The Ground Pound emits a gale instead of a shockwave at its impact, pushing away any opponents next to where Bowser lands instead of damaging them. It deals less overall damage and knockback. Bowser also leaps lower, but it covers more horizontal distance, making it useful for gimping opponents with poor recoveries, such as Little Mac and Captain Falcon.
Custom 2 Slip Bomb 18% (Ground Pound), 13% (landing), 2% (shockwave) The Ground Pound trips any opponents standing near Bowser at its impact, although its high ending lag means it can still be punished by those who trip near Bowser. Bowser also leaps higher, covering more vertical distance, but at the cost of horizontal distance and its leaping hitbox.
Final Smash Giga Bowser Transforms into Giga Bowser, the final boss of Melee's Adventure Mode. Giga Bowser has total flinch resistance during his transformation. Instead of using the moves that Bowser gained in SSB4, Giga Bowser reuses all of Bowser's moves and animations from Melee and Brawl, complete with his smash attacks inflicting elemental effects. The transformation lasts for 480 frames, but some of Giga Bowser's attacks are actually inferior to Bowser's attacks in terms of damage or knockback dealt, and the attacks are far less potent when compared to a Bowser who acquires a Super Mushroom, or is made giant-sized by a Lightning Bolt.

On-screen appearance[edit]

  • Emerges from a wall of flames.
BowserOnScreenAppearanceSSB4.gif

Taunts[edit]

  • Up taunt: Sways his head backward around while roaring and exhaling steam from his mouth.
  • Side taunt: Leans forward and chomps his jaws furiously.
  • Down taunt: Balances precariously on one leg, as if teetering.
Up taunt Side taunt Down taunt
BowserUpTauntSSB4.jpg BowserSideTauntSSB4.jpg BowserDownTauntSSB4.jpg

Idle poses[edit]

  • Leans back and exhales steam from his mouth.
  • Clenches his fists and performs posterior shoulder stretches while exhaling steam from his nostrils.
BowserIdlePose1WiiU.jpg BowserIdlePose2WiiU.jpg

Crowd cheer[edit]

English Japanese
Cheer
Bowser Cheer NTSC SSB4.ogg
Koopa Cheer JP SSB4.ogg
Description Bow-ser! Koo-pa! *claps 3 times*
Pitch Group chant Male

Victory poses[edit]

A rock-based remix of the Course Clear Fanfare used in Super Mario Bros.
  • Takes a step forward while swiping his right hand's claws, then takes another step forward while swiping with his left hand's claws.
  • Leans forward and then rears back triumphantly.
  • Repeatedly spins around in his shell, similarly to his down smash, before emerging to strike a pose while grinning.
BowserPose1WiiU.gif BowserPose2WiiU.gif BowserPose3WiiU.gif

In competitive play[edit]

Official Custom Moveset Project[edit]

Character Custom sets available
BowserHeadSSB4-U.png Bowser 1211 1311 3211 3311 1212
1213 1312 1313 2211 2311

Notable players[edit]

Active[edit]

Inactive[edit]

Tier placement and history[edit]

Opinions on Bowser's viability have greatly fluctuated through SSB4's metagame, but the general opinion is that he has fared much better than in Melee or Brawl. Around the metagame's early lifespan, due to all of the top spots taken at early SSB4 tournaments (including a Bowser ditto for the Grand Finals in the pre-release San Diego Comic Con Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS tournament), Bowser was initially considered the best character in the game. Players took little time to notice the significant buffs he received to his mobility, recovery, already high power, range, and frame data. To further compliment this, characters that were excessively challenging for him in Brawl, such as Marth, Meta Knight, Falco, the Ice Climbers and most notoriously King Dedede, were either heavily nerfed or, in the case of the Ice Climbers, removed entirely.

However, as time went on, perception on Bowser's viability noticeably fell. The first instance of this came about from a significant nerf to vectoring in update 1.0.4, alongside his vulnerability to combos, his aerials' significantly high landing lag, considerable start-up on a majority of his combo starters (like up tilt), and unsafe landing options all plagued him, as they did in previous installments. He also lacked any noteworthy results at high-level play in a heavy contrast compared to the early lifespan of the metagame, and his perception began declining much like in Brawl.

Despite his lowered perception within the community, update 1.1.3 brought immense buffs, the most notable of which were to Flying Slam, Whirling Fortress and his now-infamous up throw. These buffs allowed Bowser to perform considerably better at locals, as his playerbase managed to achieve a few placements at high-level play, largely thanks to players such as LordMix and KingKong. One notable instance of Bowser's improvements was apparent with LordMix taking a set off of Vinnie's Rosalina & Luma. This ultimately culminated in Bowser being placed at 30th on the first tier list, resulting in him becoming the second lowest ranking mid-tier character. While it was a far cry compared to the positive opinions of his viability during the initial release, it was still his best placement in the series to date.

However, update 1.1.4 nerfed his infamous up throw by weakening its guaranteed KO set-ups, though it brought further buffs to Flying Slam. Update 1.1.5 would also bring more buffs to his survivability and recovery by increasing his weight and air speed, respectively. Thanks to the recent results of his playerbase, Bowser was ranked 32nd on the second tier list. As the tiers were expanded for the second tier list, Bowser maintained his status as a mid-tier character despite his placement drop, with the drop being largely attributable to the inclusion of Corrin and Bayonetta into the game between the first and second tier lists.

In the current metagame, many argued that Bowser's tier placement was somewhat low, with ZeRo considering Bowser to be a high-tier character, and Nairo utilizing Bowser to great effect in a number of upsets. This was later reflected with Bowser's placement of 25th on the third and current tier list, making him the second highest ranking mid-tier character. In addition to causing him to surpass Donkey Kong as the highest ranking super heavyweight, this tier rise was the fourth highest between the second and third tier lists.

Trophies[edit]

Bowser
ntsc Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS The archenemy of Mario and the reason Peach spends more time kidnapped than in her own castle. His plans aren't always the best, and occasionally he even finds himself on Mario's side. In Smash Bros., he's a serious heavyweight who laughs off weaker attacks. Hit him hard to send him flying!
ntsc Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Mario's archnemesis and the reason Peach spends more time in "another castle" than in her own. His plans almost never work out, and occasionally he even finds himself on Mario's side. In Smash Bros., he's a serious heavyweight who laughs off weaker attacks. You've gotta hit him hard to send him flying!
pal Mario's princess-kidnapping arch-enemy. Yes, he's quite the villain, but he can also be a bit of a buffoon, too. And sometimes, he even ends up on Mario's side! As a serious heavyweight, he's tough to launch, and using standard attacks on him will only make him laugh. If you want to send him flying, make sure to whack him really hard!
NES: Super Mario Bros. (10/1985)
N64: Super Mario 64 (09/1996)
Bowser (Alt.)
ntsc Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS Bowser makes good use of his heavy physique with his down special Bowser Bomb, slamming down with his bottom. If he's on the ground, he'll jump into the air before crashing down. Also, he can gain a bit of altitude if you press the special button repeatedly while executing Whirling Fortress, his up special.
ntsc Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Bowser makes good use of his heavy physique with his down special Bowser Bomb, slamming down with his backside. If he's on the ground, he'll jump into the air before crashing down. Also, he can gain a bit of altitude if you press the special button repeatedly while executing his up special Whirling Fortress.
pal Down special Bowser Bomb makes good use of Bowser's bulky physique to crush opponents. If you use it on the ground, he'll jump first, hitting anyone on the way up with his horns, then hit for a combo on the way down. When you use his Whirling Fortress up special in the air, press the button repeatedly to climb higher.
NES: Super Mario Bros. (10/1985)
N64: Super Mario 64 (09/1996)
Giga Bowser
ntsc Prepare to behold Bowser in all his Koopa glory. This fearsome form first appeared all the way back in Melee. While transformed, Bowser deals extra damage, is better at launching foes, and even gains special effects on some of his attacks. He won't flinch and can't be thrown, but he does still take damage.
pal The definitive way to prove that Bowser's the king. This fearsome form made its debut all the way back in Melee. While transformed, Bowser deals more damage, launches foes further, and certain attacks have extra effects like freezing opponents. He won't flinch, and he can't be thrown either, but he will still take damage.

In Event Matches[edit]

Solo Events[edit]

Co-op Events[edit]

  • A Lurking Menace: Mario and Luigi must defeat Bowser Jr., but if the match lasts too long, they must also defeat a giant Bowser.
  • A Royal Errand: Robin and Marth must collect 500G from Bowser and Wario in a Coin Battle.
  • Final Battle Team-Up: Bowser appears as an opponent to be defeated.
  • Peach in Peril: Bowser and Bowser Jr. must defeat all opponents except Peach, where KOing her results in a failure.
  • Solidarity: Olimar and Rosalina & Luma must defeat Mario and Luigi, and then they must defeat Bowser and Bowser Jr.
  • The Ultimate Battle: Two players select a character and must defeat the entire roster.

Alternate costumes[edit]

Bowser Palette (SSB4).png
BowserHeadSSB4-U.png BowserHeadBlackSSB4-U.png BowserHeadYellowSSB4-U.png BowserHeadGreenSSB4-U.png BowserHeadGreySSB4-U.png BowserHeadOrangeSSB4-U.png BowserHeadRedSSB4-U.png BowserHeadBlueSSB4-U.png

Gallery[edit]

Trivia[edit]

  • Although Bowser was the last veteran confirmed during the E3 2013 event, he was the first veteran to debut in Melee to be confirmed.
  • Bowser is the only veteran in SSB4 who has a new victory theme.
  • Bowser's alt. trophy in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U resembles his All-Star Mode trophy in Melee.
  • Bowser, Dr. Mario, and Lucina are the only characters who are not playable in a Solo Event unless selected.

References[edit]


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