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.
in Super Smash Bros. 4
Universe Mario
Other Smash Bros. appearances in Melee
in Brawl
Availability Starter
Final Smash Giga Bowser
Tier C (25)

Bowser (クッパ, Koopa) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. His return to the series was confirmed on June 11th, 2013 during E3 2013, during which he was one of the main subjects of the Developer Direct for SSB4,[1] as well as the last veteran confirmed during the event.[2] 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 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, 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.

However, Bowser remains virtually defenseless outside of out of shield Whirling Fortress, and is still very susceptible to combos due to his large size, heavy weight, and lack of combo breakers. This is exacerbated by his lack of good landing options, as well as his rolls and sidesteps being short-distanced and having minimal intangibility frames. Lastly, his recovery is still below average despite its improvements.

Overall, Bowser's drastic improvements have resulted in him achieving a respectable degree of success ever since SSB4's release. While his perception in the metagame has fluctuated over SSB4's lifespan, he is a viable character as of update 1.1.3, and this has been reflected with his playerbase's success. 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 Tweek's Cloud, Zinoto's Diddy Kong, and Mr.E's Marth.


Unlike in Melee and Brawl, Bowser boasts a respectable level of speed to go alongside his renowned power. While he retains a slow walking speed, slow falling speed, high gravity, average air speed, slow air acceleration and the slowest jumpsquat, his dashing speed and double jump 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 max Aura Lucario's. The introduction of rage further amplifies the power of his moves without reducing the efficiency of his combos. Bowser's great survivability 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 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 significantly buffed in the transition to SSB4. Most of his moveset and animations have been completely revamped for the better; he is much more mobile overall (such as being able to outrun Marth, Toon Link, Donkey Kong, Pit and Mr. Game & Watch, all of whom were faster than him in Brawl), his endurance and recovery have been greatly improved, he possesses faster and farther ranged attacks, he has become even more powerful than he was in Melee, and his throw-based combo game is much better than ever before as of update 1.1.3. All of these improvements have rendered his punishment game safer and more rewarding than in previous games, while also remedying many of his flaws.

The general physics and mechanics changes brought about by SSB4 also significantly aid Bowser. The universal nerfing of campable projectiles considerably helps Bowser's approach, while the removal of immediately re-grabbing an opponent after throwing them eliminates the zero-to-death or otherwise heavily damaging chain grabs that plagued him in Melee and Brawl. Lastly, the introduction of the rage mechanic results in Bowser's immense endurance and power becoming even more useful than ever before.


  • Change Due to the aesthetic used in SSB4, Bowser has a more cartoonish and sleeker design, while his overall color scheme is more vibrant. Additionally, his pupils are smaller. Altogether, these changes make him better resemble his appearances in the latest Mario games.
  • Change Like Yoshi, Bowser's posture is more erect and he has a more "battle ready" stance. This is translated into his moveset, be it through a tweaked animation or a completely new attack.
  • Change Bowser's more erect stance has also resulted in his dashing, rolling, midair jumping, air dodging, crouching and crawling animations being changed. He now dashes upright instead of scuttling, and remains upright instead of retreating into his shell when rolling, jumping or air dodging. His crouch also appears similar to his crouching defense 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.


  • 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 is heavier (120 → 130). This improves his survivability, but makes him more susceptible to combos.
  • Buff Bowser walks faster (0.8 → 0.858). His walking speed while carrying heavy items also surpasses Donkey Kong's, although Donkey Kong 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 Bowser's item throw is stronger (1.31432 → 1.33432).
  • Buff Double jump is significantly higher.
  • Buff Bowser has a new attribute, known as "Tough Guy," which gives him universal light armor against attacks that deal less than 19 units of knockback, such as the first hit of many neutral attacks. It is significantly amplified if Bowser has low damage and/or is crouching, but not while crawling or attacking. The effectiveness of the attribute weakens as Bowser takes more damage, eventually becoming unnoticeable.
  • Buff The removal of chain grabbing significantly improves Bowser's survivability.

Ground attacks[edit]

  • Buff Bowser has a new neutral attack, an alternating pair of punches. Compared to the previous neutral attack's second hit, 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 (FAF 51 → 41) and significantly increased range overall, as it now reaches 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 swiping punches, rather than 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 growth (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 growth (81 → 98), making it better at KOing. It also has less start-up lag (frame 27 → 22), significantly more range, and better hitbox placements.
  • Nerf Forward smash has weak hitboxes throughout its later portions that deal 6% less damage than its initial hitboxes (23%/20% → 17%/14%). Compared to the previous forward smash, it has lower knockback, due to its much lower damage output, despite his previous forward smash having less knockback (30 (base)/130 (growth) → 10/103). It also has more ending lag (FAF 67 → 70).
  • Change Forward smash consists of one hit rather than two, similarly to Bowser's forward smash in Melee. Compared to the previous forward smash, its overall damage potential is lower by 14% (46% → 32%). Unlike the previous forward smash, opponents cannot avoid its main KOing hitbox by escaping the weaker initial hit while it still has stronger power.
  • Buff Up smash has increased knockback growth (80 (sweetspot)/90 (sourspot) → 90/100), now being the third most powerful up smash in SSB4. Its first hitbox also has a longer duration (frames 16-22 frames → 16-23), its sweetspot can now hit grounded opponents, and it can now clang with aerial attacks, improving its safety.
  • Nerf Up smash's second hit deals less damage (12%/10% → 6%), significantly hindering its KO potential, despite its increased base knockback (60 → 80).
  • Nerf Down smash deals 5% less damage (21% → 16%) and has decreased knockback growth (140 → 130), hindering its KO potential.
  • Buff Down smash has decreased start-up lag (frame 15 → 10) due to receiving an additional hitbox right before Bowser starts spinning. It is also significantly harder to SDI out of.
  • Change Down smash's angle has been altered (65° → 48°).

Aerial attacks[edit]

  • Buff Bowser has a new neutral aerial, a cartwheel. Compared to the previous neutral aerial, its overall damage potential is higher by 11% (13% → 24%), its hitbox is larger, it consists of multiple hits, its duration is longer (frames 8-23 → 8-29) and it has 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 takes up 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 it has different knockback (25 (base)/83 (growth) → 20/88), making it better at KOing. It also has less ending lag (FAF 50 → 45) and can autocancel from a short hop (frame 45> → 31>).
  • Nerf Back aerial's hitboxes are smaller than the previous back aerial's (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 growth (93 → 85), hindering its KO potential. It also has a smaller hitbox (7u → 6u).
  • Buff Up aerial has significantly decreased start-up lag (frame 16 → 9).
  • Change Up aerial's animation has slightly changed. Bowser now swings his head in a backward motion, rather than in an overhead arcing motion.
  • Nerf Down aerial deals 13% less damage (29% → 16%) due to consisting of one hit instead of nine. 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 be canceled until it ends and does not edge sweetspot, 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 (FAF 50 → 48).
  • Nerf Pivot grab has increased start-up (frame 9 → 11) and ending lag (FAF 40 → 46).
  • Change Grabs' animations have changed. Bowser now grabs and holds opponents with one arm, similarly to Koopa Klaw's grab from Melee, rather than 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 growth (50 → 66), now being able to KO (especially with rage) and is now the strongest forward throw in the game.
  • Change Forward throw's animation has slightly changed. Bowser now rears to the side and sways his head upward to throw the opponent, rather than rearing his head downward 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 growth (50 → 66), now being a reliable KO option (like his forward throw).
  • Nerf Up throw deals 3.5% less damage (10% → 6.5%).
  • Buff Up throw has altered knockback (120 (base)/100 (growth) → 25/180), decreased ending lag (FAF 32 → 25) and its angle has been altered (70° → 82°), granting it significant combo potential.
  • Buff Down throw has significantly increased knockback (75 (base)/30 (growth) → 90/80), improving its KO potential.
  • Change Bowser has a new edge attack, an inward slash similar to his 100%+ edge attack in previous games.

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 slightly pushes Bowser back while slightly pushing the opponent away. This hinders its overall damage output, as opponents will not stay trapped for as long as before. However, this improves its safety, as opponents will no longer be able to SDI through Fire Breath to punish Bowser for using it.
  • Buff Flying Slam has increased knockback growth (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 grab-box 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.
  • Buff Grounded Whirling Fortress now hits eight times instead of once, improving its out of shield potential.
  • Buff Aerial Whirling Fortress grants significantly more vertical distance via button mashing, ascends faster, and can now grab edges from behind. Altogether, these changes significantly improving its recovery potential.
  • Buff Bowser Bomb deals more shield damage (0 → 5). When combined with the changes to shield mechanics, this makes it capable of breaking full shields if all of its hitboxes connect. It also descends faster and Bowser performs it much faster when performed from the ground.
  • Nerf Giga Bowser's duration has decreased.

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: FAF 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


  Name Damage Description
Neutral attack   5% Two alternating punches. Bowser's arms are intangible as long as their hitboxes are active. The first hit has set knockback and can be jab canceled into other moves, such as a dash grab or Bowser Bomb, while the second hit deals more damage and KOs around 155% near the edge.
Forward tilt   12% A backhanded punch. Fairly powerful with fast start-up and good range, it also renders Bowser's arm intangible as long as its hitbox is active, allowing it to effectively disrupt most oncoming attacks. It is based on the second hit of his Drill Claw attack in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.
Up tilt   9% An overhead arcing claw swipe. 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%.
Down tilt   14% (hit 1), 11% (hit 2) Two sweeping, alternating punches. 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 stronger knockback, while the second hit has slightly farther range, making it a decent KOing option near the edge.
Dash attack   12% (clean), 10% (late) A running dropkick, 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 max Aura Lucario's, and is somewhat fast despite its power. Its outstanding knockback also threatens shields, as they will take 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.
Up smash   20% (hit 1 center), 15% (hit 1 sides), 6% (hit 2) Gets down on all fours and hops to thrust his shell's spikes upward. Bowser's shell is fully invincible, nullifying any move that happens to collide with it, making this move 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 following the hop, but these hits deal considerably less knockback.
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 max 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 great range, as it can even hit opponents below him, while its quick start-up and respectable knockback allows it to KO reliably at 100% off-stage. It also autocancels from a short hop, which makes it perceived as being 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 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 an entire 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 whips his head forward to launch the opponent. It is Bowser's strongest throw, alongside his back throw, and is also the strongest forward throw in the game, KOing around 135% near the edge.
Back throw   12% Throws the opponent backward in a sideways motion. It has the same properties as his forward throw, which makes it Bowser's strongest throw alongside the latter. KOs around 135% near the edge.
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. Bowser's least damaging throw, but sports outstanding combo potential, as it can combo into up tilt, up smash, neutral aerial, up aerial, forward aerial, back aerial or even Flying Slam. Its aerial combos are especially effective against fast-fallers, although its Flying Slam combo requires a hard read.
Down throw   10% (hit 1), 2% (throw) Places the opponent on the ground and splashes them. Its high base knockback, low knockback growth and high ending lag prevents it from having any follow-ups, although it deals impressive damage. It KOs around 150% near the edge and can be used an alternative to his forward and back throws for setting up an edgeguard.
Floor attack (front)   7% Stumbles up to his feet and claws at opponents behind and in front of him.
Floor attack (back)   7% Gets up and swipes while spinning.
Floor attack (trip)   5% Swipes around himself while getting up.
Edge attack   7% Swipes inward while climbing up. One of the farthest ranged edge attacks in the game, making it surprisingly useful.
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 that pierces opponents. 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. It deals high knockback, but noticeably less damage. 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 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 forward and upwards, but Bowser remains grounded when he performs it on the ground. Very versatile and a useful out of shield option. In the air, button mashing enables it to cover more vertical distance. Surprisingly long-ranged, 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.
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% (drop), 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% (drop), 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% (drop), 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 he 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.

On-screen appearance[edit]

  • Emerges from a wall of flames.


  • Up taunt: Rears his head back, sways it in a circle, and roars while exhaling steam from his mouth. The voice clip is also used during down smash, much like in Melee and Brawl.
  • Side taunt: Leans forward and chomps his jaws furiously five times, with drool coming out of his mouth.
  • 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
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 Victory Theme used in Super Mario Bros.
  • Takes two steps forward while swiping with his claws twice.
  • Leans forward and then rears back triumphantly before roaring.
  • Spins around in his shell and comes out 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]

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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 grand finals in the pre-release SDCC 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, 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, whileand then 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 and 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 co-maining 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.


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



  • 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 to have his victory theme change between Brawl and SSB4.
  • Bowser's alt. trophy in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U resembles his All-Star Mode trophy in Melee.


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