Bowser (SSB4)/Neutral aerial
Bowser performs a midair cartwheel, hitting opponents with his arms and legs. It is a mechanically unusual attack: it can hit up to four times, but the hits do not disappear as the subsequent ones come out, instead all staying out until the four are present at the same time on frame 19 of the move (from frame 8, which is when the first hit comes out), on different parts of Bowser's body, then disappearing after frame 29. The third and fourth hits also come out at the same time, and can therefore both hit the opponent within one frame. Each hit deals 6% damage, for a whopping total of 24% if they all connect; this gives Bowser the most damaging neutral aerial in the game, and the second most damaging aerial attack overall without damage modifications (such as from Aura or Monado Arts), surpassed only by Yoshi's down aerial. Most notably, Bowser's neutral aerial can be comboed into from an up throw at low to mid percentages for a whopping 32.025% damage if all hits connect, making it a very important move to his damage racking game. Furthermore, all hits launch at a vertical angle (75°), enabling the move to combo into any aerial (including another neutral aerial) if Bowser lands fast enough, although this is highly inconsistent due to the hits having different knockback values and spinning along with Bowser, making it difficult to determine which one will connect.
While it can dish out large amounts of damage, Bowser's neutral aerial also has poor range, its startup (frame 8) is decent at best, and it has moderate landing lag (20 frames) while being unable to autocancel in a short hop, making it considerably difficult for Bowser to land it safely without a read or comboing from his up throw. Additionally, all but the first hit have independent knockback scaling, with only the first hit's knockback scaling being low enough to ensure the subsequent one connects, and they often fail to connect at higher percentages as a result, dropping the move's damage output to 12%. Overall, while Bowser's neutral aerial possesses overwhelming strengths, it also comes with noticeable shortcomings, requiring the player to use it carefully in order to take advantage of it.
Bowser's neutral aerial has been buffed significantly in game updates. Update 1.1.1 increased the damage of all its hits by 1%, allowing it to rack up 4% more damage if all hits connect and improving its KO ability with the last two hits. Its landing lag was also decreased by 4 frames, leaving it slightly less susceptible to punishment and granting Bowser followups into aerial attacks by landing with the move fast enough. While this is the only update to have directly made changes to Bowser's neutral aerial, it has also seen drastically more use after the buff to his up throw in 1.1.3, as this gave him more opportunities to set up into the move. Overall, it is regarded much better than in the initial version of the game.
- Damage (hits 1-4): 5% → 6%.
- Landing lag: 24 → 20 frames.
The frame strips below indicate the timing for each hit separately.