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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 as he appears in Super Smash Bros. 4.
Symbol of the Mario series.
Universe Mario
Other Smash Bros. appearances in Melee
in Brawl
in Ultimate
Availability Starter
Final Smash Giga Bowser
Tier C (24)
Bowser's stock icon in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.

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] Instead of using his voice actor Kenny James who has voiced Bowser since Super Mario Galaxy in 2007, Bowser retains his realistic roar voice clips from Super Smash Bros. Brawl, although they have been heavily altered.

Bowser is ranked 24th out of 55 on the tier list, placing him in the C tier. This is a significant improvement over his bottom-tier placement in Brawl, where he was ranked 33rd out of 38, and is the first time in the series that Bowser has not been ranked as a bottom-tier character, thus resulting in his best placement in the series yet. Many of Bowser's previous weaknesses have been remedied: 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. Lastly, the implementation of rage supplements his already outstanding power.

However, Bowser retains an extremely poor defensive game, despite the addition of universal armor in Tough Guy 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 minimal 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 after update 1.1.3 re-purposed his up throw into a potent combo starter, even leading into kills at certain percentages when comboed into up aerial, Bowser began to experience greater tournament success and a larger playerbase. 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. However, Bowser’s current tier placement is debatable, as his representation and results noticeably declined after Nairo stopped using the character.

Attributes[edit]

Bowser's pivot grab is infamous for its range.

Unlike in Melee and Brawl, Bowser boasts a respectable level of speed to go alongside his renowned power.[2] While he retains slow walking speed and air acceleration and the slowest jumpsquat, and while his air speed and falling speed are much lower relative to the cast compared to Brawl, his dashing speed and double jump's height have both been significantly increased, and he also retains high gravity. This grants him mobility that is average overall, yet fairly balanced compared to most other heavy characters. As the heaviest character in the game, Bowser has the best horizontal endurance of them all, although due to his slow falling speed, his vertical endurance is not the best, but rather the third best, being surpassed only by his fellow super heavies 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 smashes 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 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; button mashing increases the move's vertical distance if done close to the end of the move, while shortening it if done at the start. Whirling Fortress 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 Super Smash Bros. Brawl[edit]

In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Bowser was considered to be an unviable low tier as while he had solid KO power, great endurance, good range, a good Out of Shield game and a solid grab game, due to his effective Flying Slam command grab and his short grab release animation, he suffered from having very poor frame data, a highly exploitable recovery and his combination of having a huge body, high weight and high gravity made him a punching bag for many characters. He overall struggled to approach (especially against projectiles) as he was a huge target without solid enough mobility and he was a very easy target for multiple characters to chain grab, making him struggle against a large portion of the cast.

As a result, Bowser has been heavily updated in Super Smash Bros. 4, with almost all of his animations being completely or at least slightly revamped from the previous game.[2] Bowser has seen a mix of buffs and nerfs in the transition to Smash 4 and while he was not greatly improved in earlier versions of the game, he has seen some rather drastic buffs as of the latest patch, which greatly help him overall.

Bowser has seen multiple changes to his attributes which noticeably help him. His running speed has been significantly increased, which along with his new dash attack, makes it easier for him to approach and run away. He has additionally seen a helpful unique attribute known as Tough Guy, which gives him armor against very low knockback attacks, which allows him to plough through jabs as well as other low knockback attacks, giving him a rather unique advantage. His weight has also been noticeably increased which noticeably improves his endurance even with the removal of momentum canceling (especially relative to the cast), which is especially helpful considering the introduction to rage, which further boosts Bowser's already strong KO potential when he is at higher percents.

Bowser's recovery has also seen some rather significant improvements. While his air speed is slower (especially relative to the cast), his air dodge has much less ending lag and his aerial Whirling Fortress grants much more height which can be increased further with mashing, making it a much better recovery move. The move can also now grab ledges from behind as it is rising and the removal of edge hogging also greatly improves its recovery potential and makes it much harder to edgeguard against. Bowser's significantly improved recovery makes it much harder to KO him, further improving his endurance.

While some of Bowser's moves have seen rather simple animation changes, some moves have been changed completely for the better. His dash attack is a better burst option, his forward smash comes out faster, hits harder and is overall more reliable, his neutral aerial is now an effective damage racker, his back aerial is noticeably stronger and it can now auto-cancel in a short hop and his down aerial is now a hard hitting stall-then-fall, giving his neutral and down aerials in particular more utility than they had in the previous game. Some moves which were not drastically changed such as forward tilt, up smash and forward/back throws saw improvements to their KO potential, which overall gives Bowser greater KO potential than he had in Brawl, which is further compunded with rage.

Bowser's most drastic and useful buffs however were made to his up throw. Up throw has less knockback, less ending lag and it launches opponents at a more vertical angle, which have transformed the move from a very underwhelming spacing throw to one of the most devastating combo throws in the game. At lower percents, it can easily lead into an up tilt, a forward aerial, a back aerial or a neutral aerial, with the latter being able to rack up a lot of damage. The most formidable part of the throw though is that at higher percents, it can lead into an up aerial (which comes out much faster than in Brawl) for an early KO. Rage can allow this to lead into KOes even earlier and as stated before, Bowser can very easily build up rage due to him being the heaviest character in the game, making him one of the largest benefiters of the mechanic.

The changes to this single move have immensely helped Bowser as it further solidifies the buffs some of his other moves have received (as with the case with his neutral and up aerials) and it means that he does benefit from the changes to hitstun canceling and the changes to Directional Influence as without the throw, Bowser still possesses a rather poor combo game and the two mentioned universal changes noticeably increase his vulnerability to combos. While the latter point is true regardless, his up throw acts as an extremely potent compensation, allowing him to make use out of the changes to hitstun canceling/DI, which he otherwise would not be able to.

The changes to gameplay physics and mechanics (as well as the aforementioned changes to hitstun canceling/DI, along with the introduction of rage) also aid aid Bowser. With many projectiles being nerfed, it is much easier for Bowser to approach projectile users, especially with his increased running speed and his faster air dodge (although his is still vulnerable to projectiles due to his large size). The removal of chain grabbing eliminates the zero-to-death or otherwise heavily damaging combos that multiple characters possessed against him, greatly improving his endurance against certain characters. The changes to shield mechanics also help his as the increased shield damage multiplier and the increased shieldstun makes his attacks safer and harder to punish, as well as allowing him to shatter a shield more easily (particularly with Bowser Bomb).

Bowser has however, received a few nerfs. As mentioned before, Bowser is now much more vulnerable to combos due to the changes to hitstun canceling/DI, which is further exacerbated with the changes to weight dependent throws. Weight dependent throws are now faster on Bowser in spite of his increased weight, which makes it harder for him to DI weight dependent throws and it gives them less ending lag against him, making him more susceptible to combos out of weight dependent throws.

Bowser's grab release animation now has 10 extra frames of ending lag to match the rest of the cast. When combined with the general changes to grab releases (particularly aerial grab releases) and the removal of chain grabbing, this completely removes his grab release's utility (although his improved up throw largely compensate for this).

Bowser also has inferior frame data on some of his moves. Some moves such as up tilt and forward aerial have increased startup lag (although the former has decreased ending lag and more range in front of Bowser) while others such as down smash and Flying Slam have increased ending lag. Some of Bowser's moves also have reduced KO potential, such as his up tilt, up aerial (although it comes out much faster to compensate) and his grounded Whirling Fortress. Many of his attacks also have reduced range, with many of his attacks having smaller hitboxes which are not positioned as far away from Bowser, although some of his new animations can compensate for this on certain moves.

Bowser's specials have also seen some nerfs. Fire Breath is inferior at racking up damage (due to its lower damage), its late hit no longer causes hitstun and Bowser cannot turn his head as quickly while using it. While Flying Slam is stronger and Bowser has more control over his trajectory, the move now causes Bowser to be KO'd first while the opponent survives and some characters can even make it back to the stage, making Bowsercide a less viable tactic to KO an opponent. In addition to this, the move has less range, more ending lag (as stated before) and Koopa hopping has been removed, making Flying Slam harder to land and decreasing its utility. Grounded Whirling Fortress has seen the most significant nerfs however. The move is now a weaker, multi-hitting move, with no intangibility on startup, less range, more ending lag, Bowser moves slower while using it and Bowser can no longer slide off edges while using it. This hinders its use as an Out of Shield option and it is overall a less effective attack (with reduced power, reliability and range) with less utility, although it is still an effective Out of Shield option.

Bowser's nerfs however, are notably offset by the very useful buffs Bowser has received (particularly to up throw). Overall, Bowser has seen some rather significant buffs, which work excellently with the game's universal changes. Bowser not only has greater endurance, is overall faster and has a much better recovery but he also has greater KO potential and excellent combo potential, due to his greatly improved up throw. This has resulted in him faring much better than he ever did in Brawl and especially Melee.

In earlier versions, Bowser was still considered to be a low tier character (particularly as time went on, as people figured out the game and realised that Bowser's improvements were not as drastic as initially though). Besides his recovery and improved KO potential, Bowser still suffered from the same flaws he had in Brawl, and he had lost some of his more effective tools (notably his shorter grab release, which noticeably hurt his grab game at the time). Bowser did receive buffs over time though, with his most drastic buffs being introduced in version 1.1.3, which greatly improved his up throw. In earlier versions, up throw was an unimpressive spacing throw much like it was in Brawl (as it dealt more knockback and had more ending lag) but in 1.1.3, it became the devastating combo throw it is known for today. While its combo potential was toned down in version 1.1.4 (and Bayonetta was introduced in the same patch), he received other useful buffs in the same patch, along with the next patch (where some of the top tiers were also toned down), and it still remained an excellent combo tool.

The changes to this one move were enough to push Bowser from low tier to high tier, subsequently improving his results and player base. A consequence this had though is that Bowser became a rather controversial pick. Because his up throw was so much better, Bowser's gameplan suddenly became overcentralised by his grab, as his main goal would be to fish for grabs, up throw and build damage from there (or KO depending on the opponent's percent). This resulted in Bowser's reputation being rather negative, as he was essentially a low tier character, but with one incredibly powerful gimmick (his grab/up throw), which largely carried him, making him a rather one dimensional and predictable character.

Nevertheless, while Bowser is still a giant punching bag, who has really poor frame data and struggles to approach, he is now widely agreed to be a viable character in the latest version of Smash 4 (even if it is largely due to one move), and is overall one of the characters to be buffed the most in the transition from Brawl to Smash 4, alongside Mario, Luigi, Captain Falcon, Sheik, and Mewtwo.

Aesthetics[edit]

  • Change Due to the aesthetic used in SSB4, Bowser has a sleeker design, his pupils are smaller and his overall color scheme is significantly more vibrant, much like his appearance in Super Mario 3D Land.
  • Change Bowser's charcoal-colored alternate costume has been slightly updated. His hair is now orange instead of red. Bowser has also received five new alternate costumes, one of which is based on Blue Bowser.
  • Change Dash, roll, 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 withdraws into his shell.
  • Change Bowser is significantly less vocal. He no longer vocalizes when jumping or performing his dash attack, any tilt attack, and any aerial attack.
  • Change Bowser's body now faces the screen regardless of whether he's facing left or right.
  • Change Bowser's victory theme is now changed into a rock-based remix of the Course Clear Fanfare used in Super Mario Bros.

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. This improves his range, but makes his hurtbox larger.
  • Change Bowser, now stands upright, which is also reflected in his new walking and dashing animations. This makes him harder to hit horizontally but easier to hit vertically.
    • Change Bowser's new upright posture has also been translated into his moveset, be it through a tweaked animation or a completely new move.
  • Buff Bowser now has a unique attribute, Tough Guy. It is universal armor against attacks that deal less than 19 units of knockback, such as the first hit of many neutral attacks, or numerous neutral infinites. It is amplified if he is crouching (due to the changes to crouch canceling).
  • Buff Bowser walks faster (0.8 → 0.858).
  • Buff As with other returning veterans, Bowser walks much faster when carrying heavy items, to the point where it now surpasses Donkey Kong's, although DK still surpasses him in regard to jumping or falling with them.
  • Buff Bowser dashes much faster (1.527 → 1.792), going from the 16th fastest out of 39 in Brawl to the 17th fastest out of 58 in Smash 4.
  • Buff Like all characters returning from Brawl, Bowser’s fast-falling speed is faster (1.946 → 2.224). This improves his aerial mobility and leaves him less susceptible to juggling.
    • Nerf However, since his regular falling speed remains unchanged and most other characters saw an identical increase to their fast falling speed relative to their normal falling speed (60%), his fast falling speed is much lower relative to the cast, going from the 19th fastest out of 39 to the 17th lowest out of 58.
  • Buff Bowser is noticeably heavier (120 → 130), significantly improving his endurance and making him suffer less from the removal of momentum canceling than other returning veterans.
  • Nerf Bowser's air speed is slower (1.034 → 1.0), especially relative to the cast, going from the 11th highest out of 39 to the 31st highest out of 58.
  • Change Bowser’s gravity is higher (0.1027 → 0.11). When combined with his faster fast-falling speed, this allows him to land more safely, but makes him more susceptible to combos, as well as slightly reducing the height of his jumps.
  • Change Bowser has a new double jump animation where he stays upright. This allows him to grab ledges from further below but it also makes him a much larger target.
  • Buff Bowser's item throw is stronger (1 → 1.1).
  • Change The changes to hitstun canceling both help and hinder Bowser. They significantly improve his combo potential (particularly out of up throw), but make him more susceptible to combos.
  • Buff The removal of chain grabbing significantly improves Bowser's endurance.
  • Nerf The changes to weight dependent throws hinders Bowser, as it makes weight dependent throws faster against him despite his significantly increased weight.
  • Buff Rolls have less startup (frame 5 → 4) and ending lag (FAF 40 → 34).
  • Buff Air dodge has less ending lag (FAF 50 → 35).
  • Nerf Air dodge has a slightly shorter duration (frames 4-30 → 4-29).
  • Buff Spot dodge has less ending lag (FAF 33 → 29), no longer being the slowest.
  • Nerf Spot dodge has more startup lag with a shorter duration (frames 3-24 → 4-19).
  • Buff The 1.19x damage multiplier to shields and the increase to shieldstun make some of Bowser's attacks much better at pressuring shields, as they are safer and deal more shield damage.
  • Nerf Bowser's grab release has more ending lag (FAF 20 → 30), now matching the rest of the cast. When combined with the changes to grounded and aerial grab releases, Bowser now has no frame advantage out of a grounded grab release and only a 10 frame advantage out of an aerial grab release (compared to 11 and 31 frames (against most characters) respectively). This removes all of his guaranteed followups out of a grab release which is further exacerbated by the removal of chain grabbing.

Ground attacks[edit]

  • Neutral attack:
    • Change Bowser has a new neutral attack: his claw swipes have been replace with alternating punches.
    • Nerf Both hits have more startup lag (frame 6 (hit 1)/8 (hit 2) → 7/9).
      • Buff However, their total durations were unchanged, giving them slightly less ending lag.
    • Buff The first hit's far hitbox is larger (4u → 5u).
    • Buff The first hit's near hitbox launches opponents slightly higher (83° → 85°), making it connect more reliably into the second hit.
    • Nerf The first hit's near hitboxes are smaller (5u/4.5u → 3u/4u).
    • Nerf The first hit's far hitbox has been moved closer to Bowser (x offset: 8 → 5), while its nearest hitbox has been moved further away from him (x offset: -8 → -7), reducing its range.
    • Buff The second hit deals more damage (5% → 6.5%).
    • Nerf The second hit's near hitboxes are smaller (6u/5.5u → 3u/4u).
    • Nerf The first hit's far hitbox has been moved closer to Bowser (x offset: 7.3 → 5), while its nearest hitbox has been moved further away from hit (x offset: -8 → -6), reducing its range.
  • Forward tilt:
    • Change Forward tilt has an altered animation where Bowser now closes his fist when performing the move.
    • Buff Forward tilt deals more damage (11% → 12%), improving its KO potential.
    • Nerf Forward tilt has smaller hitboxes (5.7u/5u/4u → 5.5u/4u/4u) and the hand hitbox has been moved closer to Bowser (x offset: 7 → 5.1), reducing its range.
      • Nerf In addition to this, the move no longer has a body hitbox, as the previous body hitbox has been moved to the same position as the arm hitbox, with the move now having two overlapping arm hitboxes.
    • Nerf The down angled version no longer has a 40% trip chance, although this does not affect the move under a competitive ruleset.
  • Up tilt:
    • Buff Up tilt has less ending lag (FAF 51 → 41), making it safer and improving its ability to set up juggles.
    • Nerf Up tilt deals less damage (12% → 9%), hindering its KO potential.
      • Buff However, this also improves its ability to set up juggles.
    • Nerf Up tilt has more startup lag (frame 8 → 11).
      • Buff However due to its new animation, up tilt's hitboxes now start right in front of Bowser, allowing the move to hit opponents in front of him.
    • Nerf Bowser's arm is no longer intangible when performing up tilt.
    • Nerf Up tilt has smaller hitboxes (6u/5.5u/5u → 5.5u/5u), the body hitbox has been removed and the hand hitbox has been moved closer to Bowser (x offset: 8 → 6.9).
  • Down tilt:
    • Change Down tilt has an altered animation. It is now an alternating pair of hooks rather than an alternating pair of claw swipes.
    • Buff This new animation properly matches its hitboxes' placements, with the move now fully covering Bowser's hand.
      • Buff This new animation is also shorter (51 frames → 45), allowing Bowser to crawl earlier after performing the move.
      • Change Despite its altered animation and hitbox placements, down tilt still roughly has the same amount of range it had before.
  • Dash attack:
    • Change Bowser has a new dash attack, a side kick, similar to Meta Knight’s dash attack.
    • Buff Compared to the previous dash attack, it deals more damage (11% (clean)/8% (late) → 12%/10%) and its clean hit deals more knockback (120 (base)/30 (scaling) → 110/35), improving its KO potential.
    • Buff Dash attack covers more space in a shorter amount of time, making it a better approach and burst movement option.
    • Nerf Dash attack has more startup lag (frame 10 → 11).
      • Buff However, its total duration was unchanged, giving it slightly less ending lag.
    • Nerf Dash attack's far hitboxes have been moved closer to Bowser (x offset: 18 (clean)/15 (late) → 12/10), reducing its range relative to Bowser.
    • Nerf Dash attack's near hitboxes are smaller (7u (clean)/5u (late) → 4u/3.8u) and the late near hit has also been moved further away from Bowser (x offset: 3 → 4).
  • Forward smash:
    • Change Bowser has a new forward smash: a single hitting dropkick with a clean hit and a late hit, rather than two separate hits.
    • Buff Forward smash has less startup lag (frame 26 → 22).
      • Nerf However, it starts charging much sooner (frame 12 → 4), giving it more startup lag out of a charge release despite this change (frame 15 → 19).
    • Buff Forward smash now grants invincibility to Bowser's feet.
    • Buff The clean hit deals more knockback (25/22 (base)/81 (scaling) → 25/98), improving its KO potential.
    • Buff The clean hit's sourspot launches opponents at a more favourable angle (60° → 361°), improving its KO potential (unless when used near the upper blast zone) and making DI less effective against it.
    • Buff Due to its new animation, forward smash has significantly more range and it can be used to low profile under certain attacks.
      • Nerf However, as this new animation moves Bowser forward, it leaves him in a more vulnerable spot if forward smash is shielded.
    • Buff The clean hit now has transcendent priority. When combined with Bowser having feet intangibility, this allows the move to ignore any hitbox, while still being able to cancel out projectiles.
    • Buff Forward smash now has a late hit which deals 17%/14% depending on where it lands and decent knockback (10 (base)/103 (scaling). This new late hit extends forward smash's duration (frame 26 (hit 1)/28-31 (hit 2) → 22-23/24-27).
      • Nerf However, the clean hit has a shorter duration (frames 28-31 → 22-23).
    • Change The new late hit has anti-rebounding priority.
    • Nerf Forward smash now only hits once, reducing its maximum damage potential (33% → 23%).
      • Buff However, this also makes forward smash more reliable.
    • Nerf The clean hit has smaller hitboxes compared to the previous second hit (7.3u/6.3u → 7u/5.5u), with the new late hit having even smaller hitboxes (6u/5u).
    • Nerf The sourspot deals less damage (21% → 20%).
    • Nerf Forward smash has more ending lag (FAF 66 → 70).
  • Up smash:
    • Buff Up smash's main hit has increased knockback scaling (80 (sweetspot)/90 (sourspot) → 90/100), improving its KO potential.
    • Buff The main hit has a longer duration (frames 16-21 → 16-23).
    • Buff Up smash has an altered animation where Bowser has a more upright posture. This makes it easier for the sweetspot to connect against grounded opponents.
    • Nerf The landing hit has more startup lag (frame 31 → 37), with up smash's total duration being subsequently increased (FAF 52 → 58).
    • Nerf The clean hit has smaller hitboxes (8u/6u/6u → 7u/5.5u/5.5u) and the sourspots have been moved closer to Bowser (z offset: 6/-6 → 5/-5).
    • Nerf The landing hit deals less damage (12%/10% → 6%) with it only seeing an increase to its base knockback (60 → 80), hindering its KO potential.
    • Nerf The landing hit uses one smaller extended hitbox (6u/6u/6u → 5.5u), decreasing its overall range.
  • Down smash:
    • Buff Down smash has a new first hit that is active right before Bowser starts spinning, giving it less startup lag (frame 14 → 10).
    • Buff The weakening of SDI makes down smash significantly more difficult to escape from.
    • Buff The final hit has less startup lag (frame 32 → 31).
      • Nerf However, there is a longer gap between the sixth and final hit (1 frame → 3).
    • Change The final hit's angle was altered (65° → 48°).
      • Buff This improves its KO potential near the horizontal blastzone, as well as making it less susceptible to DI.
      • Nerf However, this hinders its vertical KO potential (including from center stage positions on tournament legal stages without DI), as well as removing its ability to set up juggles.
    • Nerf Down smash has more ending lag (FAF 67 → 72).
    • Nerf Hits 2-6 deal less damage (2% → 1%), reducing down smash's total damage output (21% → 16%).
    • Nerf Hits 2-6 have smaller hitboxes (5.5u/5.5u/4.4u/4.4u → 4.2u/4.2u/3.7u/3.7u), they have been moved closer to Bowser (z offset: -9/9/-6/6 → -7.2/7.2/-5/5) and the upper hitboxes have been moved lower down (y offset: 11 → 9), reducing their range.
    • Nerf The final hit has decreased knockback scaling (140 → 130), hindering its KO potential.
    • Nerf The final hit's hitboxes have been moved closer to Bowser (z offset: -9/9/-6/6 → -7.2/7.2/-5/5) and the upper hitboxes have been moved lower down (y offset: 12 → 9), reducing its range.

Aerial attacks[edit]

  • Nerf All aerials except down aerial have a shorter initial auto-cancel window (frames 1-7 (neutral)/1-8 (forward/back)/1-9 (up) → 1-3 (neutral/forward)/1-2 (back/up).
  • Neutral aerial:
    • Change Bowser has a new neutral aerial: an aerial cartwheel. Bowser's hands and feet consist of hitboxes (which slowly appear as time goes on) which deal 6% each and launch opponents vertically (361° → 75°)
    • Buff All four of neutral aerial's hitboxes can connect, greatly increasing its maximum damage potential (13% → 24%).
    • Buff Neutral aerial has more range overall, as the move now has four hitboxes which circle around Bowser.
    • Buff Neutral aerial has a longer duration (frames 8-13 (clean)/14-23 → 8-29 (hit 1)/14-29 (hit 2)/18-29 (hits 3 & 4).
    • Buff Neutral aerial has less landing lag (24 frames → 20).
      • Buff Altogether, these changes combined with the changes to hitstun cancelling/DI, improves neutral aerial's damage racking and combo potential, as the move launches opponents vertically.
    • Nerf Each hit of neutral aerial deals less damage (13% → 6%) and their knockback was not fully compensated (20 (base)/80 (scaling) → 20/50 (hit 1)/20/100 (hit 2)/60/90 (hits 3 & 4), hindering its KO potential.
      • Buff However, this does improve its combo potential.
      • Nerf In addition to this, the move's vertical launch angle significantly hinders its edgeguarding potential.
    • Nerf Due to its multi-hit nature (along with each hitbox having different knockback), neutral aerial is far less consistent and reliable to use (especially outside of lower percents), making it difficult to effectively utilise.
    • Nerf Neutral aerial's hitboxes are smaller compared to the previous hitbox (8u → 5.5u).
      • Nerf In addition to this, the move now has a large blindspot in the middle of Bowser's body.
    • Nerf Neutral aerial auto-cancels later (frame 40 → 45).
    • Nerf Neutral aerial has a longer animation (49 frames → 66), increasing the amount of time Bowser cannot grab ledges after performing the move.
  • Forward aerial:
    • Change Forward aerial has an altered animation.
      • Buff This new animation more accurately represents the move's hitboxes, with the move now always covering Bowser's hand.
      • Nerf However, this new animation is longer (45 frames → 53).
    • Change The sweetspot has been moved slightly higher up (z offset: 0 → -0.7).
    • Nerf Forward aerial has more startup lag (frame 8 → 11).
      • Buff However, its total duration was unchanged, giving it less ending lag.
    • Nerf The sweetspot has been moved closer to Bowser (x offset: 5 → 4.4), reducing its range.
  • Back aerial:
    • Change Bowser has a new back aerial, a dropkick.
      • Nerf This new animation is marginally longer than the previous animation (49 frames → 50).
    • Buff Back aerial deals more damage (15% (clean)/7% (late) → 19%) and knockback (25 (base)/83 (scaling) → 20/88), significantly improving its KO potential.
    • Buff Back aerial has less ending lag (FAF 50 → 45).
    • Buff Back aerial auto-cancels much earlier (frame 45 → 31), now being able to do so in a short hop.
    • Change As with most back aerial's, back aerial now always launches opponents behind Bowser.
    • Nerf Back aerial has a smaller hitbox (9u/5u → 7u) which is now static, decreasing its range. The move has gone from being disjointed, to now failing to fully cover Bowser's feet, especially during its first active frame.
    • Nerf Back aerial no longer has a late hit, shortening its duration (frames 9-11 (clean)/12-16 (late) → 9-11) and reducing its utility.
    • Nerf Back aerial has more landing lag (35 frames → 40).
    • Nerf Back aerial no longer grants invincibility on Bowser's shell or even on his feet.
  • Up aerial:
    • Buff Up aerial has much less startup lag (frame 16 → 9), making it much easier to land and overall improving its utility.
      • Nerf However, its total duration was unchanged, giving it more ending lag.
    • Buff Up aerial gains head intangibility much sooner (frame 10 → 3).
    • Buff Up aerial has a marginally shorter animation (47 frames → 46).
    • Change Up aerial's hitbox is now displaced horizontally rather than vertically (y offset: 2.4 → x offset: 2.4). When combined with up aerial's new animation, this makes the hitbox more accurately cover Bowser's head but it also decreases the move's vertical range.
    • Nerf Up aerial deals less damage (17% → 15%) and has decreased knockback scaling (93 → 85), hindering its KO potential, although it is still one of the strongest up aerials in the game.
    • Nerf Up aerial has a smaller hitbox (7u → 6u).
  • Down aerial:
    • Buff Down aerial is now a single hitting stall-then-fall which compared to the previous final hit, deals more damage (3% → 16%) and has increased base knockback (10 → 30), drastically improving its KO potential.
      • Buff Down aerial's stall-then-fall attribute combined with its increased strength makes it a much more effective and devastating landing option, especially near the ledge due to the clean hit's meteor smash hitbox.
      • Nerf However, its stall-then-fall properties also make it even more dangerous to use off stage.
    • Buff Down aerial has a larger hitbox (4u/4u → 7u), increasing its range despite only having one hitbox now.
    • Buff Down aerial has a longer duration (frames 14-15, 17-18, 20-21, 23-24, 26-27, 29-30, 32-33, 35-36, 38 → 17-24 (clean)/25-49 (late)).
    • Change Down aerial's angles have been altered (270° (hit 9) → 275° (clean)/56° (late)).
    • Change The landing hit can no longer hit aerial opponents.
      • Buff This prevents the landing hit from cancelling out the knockback from the main attack.
      • Nerf However, this also hinders down aerial's damage racking potential.
    • Nerf Due to consisting of one hit instead of nine, down aerial's maximum damage potential is much lower (27% → 18%).
    • Nerf Down aerial has more startup lag (frame 14 → 17).
      • Buff However, its total duration was unchanged, giving it less ending lag.

Throws/other attacks[edit]

  • Grabs:
    • Change Bowser's grabs have new animations where Bowser only grabs with one hand, as opposed to both. He also no longer topples over during his dash grab.
    • Buff Dash grab has less ending lag (FAF 50 → 48).
    • Buff Bowser's grabs have more range inside of him, especially dash grab (z offset: 8 (standing)/10 (dash)/-8 (pivot) → 5/2/-5).
    • Buff Standing and pivot grabs have larger grabboxes (5.5u → 6u).
      • Buff Pivot grab has additionally been positioned further out (z offset: -23 → z stretch: -26.5), further increasing its already disjointed range.
      • Nerf Dash grab has a smaller grabbox (5.5u → 4.8u).
    • Nerf Standing and dash grab have been moved closer to Bowser (z offset: -18 (standing)/-22 (dash) → z stretch: -14, -15.5), reducing their range.
    • Nerf Pivot grab has more startup (frame 9 → 11) and ending lag (FAF 40 → 46).
    • Change In order to reflect his new grab animations, Bowser now holds the opponent with only one arm, after grabbing them.
      • Nerf This new grabbing animation holds opponents lower to the ground, preventing Bowser from forcing smaller characters into an aerial grab release unless he grabs them in mid-air.
  • Pummel:
    • Buff Pummel deals slightly more damage (3% → 3.1%).
    • Nerf Pummel's hitbox is now static, rather than being attached to Bowser's head. This gives it less vertical range.
  • Forward throw:
    • Buff Forward throw deals more damage (10% → 12%) and has increased knockback scaling (50 → 66), now being a viable KO option at higher percents.
    • Buff Forward throw has less ending lag (FAF 60 → 59).
    • Change Forward throw's animation has slightly changed. Bowser now rears his head to the side and sways it upward to throw the opponent, instead of rearing his head downward and then whipping it upward.
  • Back throw:
    • Buff Back throw deals more damage (10% → 12%) and has more knockback scaling (50 → 66), now being a viable KO option at higher percents.
    • Buff Back throw has less ending lag (FAF 40 → 39).
    • Change Back throw has a new animation where Bowser performs a one-armed throw, similar to Donkey Kong's back throw.
  • Up throw:
    • Buff Up throw has less ending lag (FAF 70 → 64).
    • Buff The first seven hits deal less hitlag (1x → 0.5x), allowing the throw to be performed faster.
    • Nerf The first seven hits deal less damage (1% → 0.5%), reducing the move's total damage output (10% → 6.5%).
    • Buff The eighth hit deals much more knockback (0 (base)/100 (scaling) → 80/200), making the throw much more potent against bystanders.
    • Nerf The eighth hit has a shorter duration (frames 49-52 → 49-51).
    • Buff Up throw launches opponents at a higher angle (70° → 82°).
    • Buff Up throw deals less knockback at lower percents (120 (set)/100 (scaling) → 25 (base)/180). When combined with its reduced ending lag, higher launch angle and the changes to hitstun canceling/DI, this drastically improves its combo potential. It can easily lead into moves such as up tilt and neutral aerial at lower percents while at higher percents, it can lead reliably into an up aerial for an early KO (especially with rage), now making Bowser's up throw his most useful move.
      • Nerf However, the move's lack of set knockback hinders its combo potential at higher percents while still being too weak to KO.
  • Down throw:
    • Buff Down throw's hitbox has a longer duration (frame 45 → 45-46).
    • Nerf The hitbox deals less damage (12% → 10%).
    • Buff Down throw's throw now deals damage (0% → 2%) and has significantly increased knockback (75 (base)/30 (scaling) → 90/80).
  • Floor attacks:
    • Buff Floor attacks deal more damage (6% → 7%) and shield damage (1 → 8) per hit, with minimally compensated knockback scaling (50 → 48).
    • Buff Floor attacks have less ending lag (FAF 50 → 46).
    • Buff The back hits have less startup lag (frame 26 (front)/23 (back) → 22 (both)).
    • Nerf Floor attacks have more startup lag (frame 10 (front)/18 (back) → 19 (both)).
    • Nerf Floor attacks have less intangibility (frame 1-27 (front)/1-24 (back) → 1-23 (both)).
    • Nerf Floor attacks launch opponents at a higher angle (361° → 48°).
  • Edge attack:
    • Change Bowser has a new edge attack, an inward slash similar to his previous over 100% edge attack, albeit faster.
    • Nerf Compared to the previous under 100% edge attack, this new edge attack has much more startup with a shorter duration (frames 8-17 → 22-24), no longer being the fastest in the game.
      • Buff However, this decreases its ending lag as its total duration was not fully compensated (FAF 55 → 56).
    • Nerf Edge attack deals less damage (8% → 7%) and launches opponents at a slightly higher angle (361° → 45°).
    • Nerf Edge attack has less range due to its new animation.
    • Buff Edge attack grants much more intangibility (frames 1-4 → 1-19).
    • Buff Edge attack no longer has set knockback (110 (set)/100 (scaling) → 90 (base)/20).
  • Trip attack:
    • Buff Trip attack deals more shield damage (1 → 8) per hit.
    • Nerf Trip attack has decreased intangibility (frames 1-8 → 1-7).

Special moves[edit]

  • Fire Breath:
    • Buff Fire Breath's flames are larger when it is at full charge.
    • Buff Fire Breath's flames travel faster (1.9 (speed)/2.8 (horizontal momentum) → 3.5/4.0).
    • Buff Fire Breath's far hitbox deals more damage (1% → 1.2%).
    • Buff Fire Breath has a lower SDI multiplier (1.25x → 0.8x) which along with the weakening of the mechanic, makes Fire Breath more difficult to escape from.
    • Change Fire Breath now slightly pushes Bowser back while slightly pushing the opponent away (45 units per hit, after 3 hits).
      • Buff This can make the move safer as it makes it more difficult for Bowser's opponent to punish him.
      • Nerf However, this also significantly hinders Fire Breath's damage racking potential and Bowser can slide off edges during this backwards push, hindering its safety when used near the ledge when facing away from it.
    • Change Fire Breath has an increased hitlag multiplier (0.5x → 1x).
    • Nerf Clean Fire Breath deals less damage (2% → 1.2%).
    • Nerf Fire Breath's turning speed to change its trajectory is much lower (2.8 → 1.55).
    • Nerf Clean Fire Breath has a shorter duration (7 frames → 6).
    • Nerf Fire Breath's flames have a shorter duration (19 frames → 11).
      • Buff Despite this, they still travel a similar distance due to their increased speed.
    • Nerf Fire Breath's flames shrink in size at a faster rate, with the move reaching minimum charge much sooner.
    • Nerf Fire Breath takes longer to recharge.
    • Nerf Fire Breath has increased base knockback (9 (clean)/5 (late) → 20), making it connect less reliably into itself.
      • Buff However, this does make the clean hit safer if the opponent manages to SDI out of it.
    • Nerf Late Fire Breath now no longer causes hitstun, significantly hindering its effectiveness at far ranges.
      • Nerf Altogether, these changes significantly hinder Fire Breath's damage racking potential.
  • Flying Slam:
    • Buff Grounded Flying Slam is now capable of grabbing aerial opponents, although the move has much smaller grabboxes (2u/2u) against aerial opponents.
    • Buff Upon grabbing an opponent, Flying Slam now grants Bowser 23 frames of intangibility after he grabs his opponent, making it harder to intercept.
      • Nerf However, the move has more lag before Bowser jumps (22 frames → 25), theoretically making it easier to DI.
    • Buff Bowser and his opponent have greater initial aerial acceleration when Bowser jumps (0.15 → 0.21 (Bowser), 0.18 → 0.19 (Opponent)). This gives Bowser more control over Flying Slam's trajectory.
    • Buff Flying Slam has received a hitbox while Bowser is falling that can hit bystanders.
      • Buff Altogether, these changes significantly improve its safety.
    • Buff When Bowser lands with Flying Slam after grabbing an opponent, he jumps higher, falls faster and retains much more momentum. This allows him to control his trajectory when he lands and he can now land on platforms above him to reduce its ending lag.
      • Nerf However, Bowser now lands before he can double jump when used on a flat surface. This makes it more difficult for Bowser to utilise his aerial followups if he is at center stage, away from platforms.
    • Buff Flying Slam's throw has increased knockback scaling (50 → 60), improving its KO potential.
    • Buff Flying Slam's throw release hitbox has increased base knockback (30 → 60).
    • Change Bowser releases his opponent sooner from Flying Slam's throw (frame 14 → 8).
      • Buff This makes Flying Slam harder to DI despite its longer startup animation.
      • Nerf However, this increases its ending lag as its total duration was unchanged.
    • Nerf Flying Slam's grab has a shorter duration (frames 8-10 (grounded)/17-19 (aerial) → 8/17).
    • Nerf Flying Slam's grabboxes are smaller (6u/4u → 5u/4u (grounded), 9u/8u/8u → 6u/4.5u (aerial) and the far grabbox does not reach as far (z offset: 20 → 17.5 (grounded), 18 → 15.5 (aerial)), reducing its range, especially the aerial version.
    • Nerf Flying Slam's grab has more ending lag (FAF 38 (grounded)/44 (aerial) → 43/49).
    • Nerf Aerial Flying Slam's grab no longer restores Bowser double jump if he performs a double jump near the ground, removing Koopa hopping.
    • Nerf Bowsercide now always KOes Bowser first and the opponent is released from Flying Slam when this occurs, significantly hindering its utility.
  • Whirling Fortress (grounded):
    • Nerf Grounded Whirling Fortress deals less damage overall (11% (hit 1)/5% (hit 2, clean)/3% (hit 2, late)/16% (maximum) → 1% (hits 1-7)/4% (hit 8)/11% (total)).
    • Nerf The grounded version has more ending lag (FAF 80 → 82).
    • Nerf The grounded version now consistently deals no shield damage (3 (hit 1)/0 (hit 2) → 0 (all hits)).
    • Nerf The grounded version no longer grants intangibility on frames 1-5 upon start up, hindering its use as a defensive move to stuff out approaches, or as an Out of Shield option.
    • Nerf The grounded version has reduced ground speed (1.5 → 1.3).
    • Nerf The grounded version can no longer slide off edges. While this does make the move safer to use, it also hinders its use as a movement option on platforms and it prevents Bowser from using it to grab the edge and reduce its ending lag.
    • Nerf The grounded version is now a multi-hit move, rather than a move with two hits, with the first hit being powerful, while the second hit is weaker. The first seven hits are semi-spikes (180°), with set knockback (50/70 (set)/100 (scaling)) and a below average SDI multiplier (0.8×), making the first seven hits much weaker and making the move less reliable overall.
    • Nerf The grounded version's loop hits have very small hitboxes (5.8u/5.8u → 2.5u/2.5u/2.5u) in comparison to the previous second hit.
    • Nerf Compared to the grounded version's previous first hit, the last hit launches at a lower angle (80° → 60°), and its knockback scaling was not fully compensated (80 → 150), hindering its KO potential.
    • Nerf The grounded version's final hit has smaller hitboxes compared to the previous first hit (9.5u/9.5u → 8u/8u).
  • Whirling Fortress (aerial):
    • Buff Aerial Whirling Fortress grants much more height (1.85 → 2.3), and mashing the special move button can now further increase its height, significantly improving its recovery potential, despite its increased gravity (0.05 → 0.055).
    • Buff The aerial version can now grab edges from behind much sooner (frame 48 → 8), now matching grabbing edges from the front.
    • Buff The weakening of SDI makes the aerial version more difficult to escape from.
    • Change The aerial version has smaller hitboxes (10u (hit 1)/9u (hits 2-6)/8.2u (hits 7-11) → 7u/6u/5u) although they are now extended.
      • Buff This gives them more horizontal range.
      • Nerf However, this also gives them less vertical range.
    • Nerf When Bowser lands with Whirling Fortress before entering free fall, he will now always enter his landing lag animation, rather than transferring the remaining duration of the move into the grounded version. This means Bowser can no longer land just before he enters free fall to eliminate all landing lag, giving the move a consistent 50 frames of landing lag regardless of when he lands.
  • Bowser Bomb:
    • Buff Bowser Bomb has less landing lag (60 frames → 55).
    • Buff The rising hit has decreased set knockback (110 → 90), which along with the changes to hitstun canceling, allows it to reliably lead into the second hit, which is now guaranteed.
    • Buff The 1.19x damage multiplier to shields drastically improves Bowser Bomb's shield pressuring ability, as due to its shield damage, it can now break full shields in a single use if both the drop and landing hitbox connect.
    • Nerf Bowser Bomb has smaller hitboxes (8.2u (rising)/9.7u (falling) → 8u/8.3u) and the rising hit has been moved closer to Bowser (z offset: 19 → 17), reducing its range.
  • Giga Bowser:
    • Nerf Giga Bowser has a shorter duration (11 seconds → 8).
    • Change Giga Bowser has naturally seen some buffs and nerfs to his attributes and attacks although unlike his normal self, Giga Bowser's moveset and animations remain largely unchanged.

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.

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

  • Up tilt:
    • Nerf Up tilt deals 1% less damage: 10% → 9%, slightly hindering its KO potential.
    • 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

  • Neutral aerial:
    • Buff Neutral aerial deals more damage: 5% (hits 1-4) → 6%
    • Buff Neutral aerial's landing lag has decreased: 24 frames → 20.
  • Fire Shot:
    • Buff Fire Shot deals 1% more damage: 5% (clean)/4% (late) → 6%/5%
    • Buff Fire Shot's base knockback increased: 25 → 35
    • Buff Fire Shot's hit radius increased: 4u (clean)/3.5u (late) → 5u (both)
    • Buff Fire Shot's late hit's duration increased: 15 frames → 20
    • Buff Fire Shot has less ending lag, now matching 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: 69 frames → 64.
  • 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

Change Old value New value
Ground Hand Hitbox Size 4/3 5/4
Large Hitbox X Position 17 17.5
Ground to Air Hand Hitbox 1/1 2/2
Outer Hitbox X Position 17 17.5
Air Hand Hitbox 5/3.5 6/4.5
Large Hitbox X Position 15 15.5


Super Smash Bros. 4 1.1.5

  • Buff Air speed: 0.98 → 1
  • Buff Weight: 128 → 130
  • Buff Max Walk speed with heavy items increased: 1.31432 → 1.33432


Moveset[edit]

  • Bowser has a unique attribute called Tough Guy. It is universal armor against attacks that 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. It will decrease as Bowser starts taking more damage.[3]
  • Bowser can crawl, although it has no practical use because of his large hurtbox.

For a gallery of Bowser's hitboxes, see here.

  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. This is similar to his defense punches from Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story.
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 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 KOing under 100% at the edge, and even hitting players hanging on the edge.
Dash attack   12% (clean), 10% (late) A side kick, similar to Meta Knight's dash attack. Good for hitting prone or tumbling opponents and has high base knockback.
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. 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 center 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. When sweetspotted, it can KO at 90% uncharged.
Down smash   2% (hit 1), 1% (hits 2-6), 9% (hit 7) Withdraws in his shell and then spins around rapidly. It hits multiple times, and is strong enough to function as a fairly reliable KOing option under 150% and while near the edge.
Neutral aerial   6% (hits 1-4) (occasionally, 2 or more of the hits can combine, dealing their combined damage in one attack) An aerial 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 result in the third hit missing 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 maximum 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) Withdraws 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   3.1% 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 is active on frame 19, enabling it to throw opponents earlier than 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. While it is Bowser's least damaging throw (dealing up to 6.5% damage), it is also his 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. Unlike Fire Breath, it 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 that covers a lot of ground, even in mid-air. It deals moderate knockback, but noticeably less than Flying Slam, along with being weaker, and can be blocked or 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)
Withdraws into his shell and spins around rapidly, similarly to his down smash. It is capable of moving forward or backward while doing so, which makes it a very useful out of shield option. In the air, it propels Bowser diagonally upward, while button mashing enables it to cover more vertical distance. It can travel a deceptively long distance, but can be intercepted quite easily in the air.
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 (contrary to the in-game description saying it deals none), 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. The move goes straight up on the ground.
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. Isn’t as effective in the air as on the ground.
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: Throws his head back and spins it in a circle while roaring and with steam billowing out of his mouth.
  • Side taunt: Leans forward and furiously snaps his jaws five times.
  • Down taunt: Bounces precariously on one leg, as if he were teetering.
Up taunt Side taunt Down taunt
Bowser's up taunt in Smash 4 Bowser's side taunt in Smash 4 Bowser's down taunt in Smash 4

Idle poses[edit]

  • Sways his head around and back while exhaling steam from his mouth and pretending to roar.
  • Clenches his fists and bashes them together, then bends over slightly and pretends to roar.
Bowser's first idle pose in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Bowser's second idle pose in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.

Crowd cheer[edit]

English Japanese
Cheer
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
Bowser's stock icon in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Bowser 1211 1311 3211 3311 1212
1213 1312 1313 2211 2311

Notable players[edit]

Any number following the Smasher name indicates placement on the PGR 100, which recognizes the official top 100 players in Super Smash Bros. 4 of all time. See also: Category:Bowser professionals (SSB4)

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, and 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, followed by his weaknesses starting to come afloat, which were the same as, and as exploitable as they were 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. This ultimately culminated in Bowser being placed at 30th on the first 4BR tier list, resulting in him becoming the second lowest ranking mid-tier character; while a far cry compared to the positive opinions of his viability during the initial release, it was still his best placement in the series at the moment.

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 also brought more buffs to his survivability and recovery by increasing his weight and air speed, respectively. Thanks to the recent results of his playerbase, Bowser only dropped slightly to 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 tier list; in addition to becoming both the second highest ranking mid-tier character and surpassing Donkey Kong as the highest ranking super heavyweight, this tier rise was the fourth highest between the second and third tier lists. He then saw a slight rise to 24th on the fourth and current tier list; the expansion of the tiers have resulted on him now becoming a high-tier character, despite losing his status to the best super heavyweight to Donkey Kong once again.

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
Bowser's stock icon in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. 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.
    • Bowser is also the only one who isn't unlockable, or a clone.
  • Bowser's artwork in this game resembles his artwork in some Mario games, starting with Super Mario Galaxy, although with his head, arms, and feet posed differently.

References[edit]