Bowser (SSBM)

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This article is about Bowser's appearance in Melee. For the character in other contexts, see Bowser.
Bowser
in Super Smash Bros. Melee
Bowser
MarioSymbol(preBrawl).svg
Universe Mario
Other Smash Bros. appearances in Brawl
in SSB4
Availability Starter
Tier G (25) (North America)
H (24) (Europe)
#default:
A mighty foe that trades speed for pure power.
—Melee's instruction manual

Bowser (クッパ, Koopa), is a character in Super Smash Bros. Melee and is available from the start. Announced at E3 2001, a stronger form of Bowser also appears as the "final" boss in Adventure Mode. Bowser was added to the game because he won the official poll of desired newcomers for a potential second Smash game with 169 votes.[1]

Bowser is currently ranked 25th in the G tier in the current Melee tier list, making him the lowest ranked newcomer in the series. Among Bowser's positive traits is his difficulty in getting KO'd due to his high weight and rather fast falling speed; additionally, he has among the most powerful attacks in the game (most notably his forward smash), as well as some very good aerial attacks, most notably his forward and upward aerials. However, he suffers due to his large size and falling speed, making him extremely easy to combo. His moves are also very sluggish, and his approach is among the worst in the game, with laggy aerials, poor jumping ability (leading to an awful SHFFL), a short wavedash, poor projectile, and slow, predictable recovery. Bowser is among few characters to lack any positive matchups, and only two, against Yoshi and Pichu, are considered even.

Attributes[edit]

Bowser acts as the game's primary "slow and powerful" fighter; other equally heavy and powerful characters, such as Donkey Kong and Ganondorf, are of considerably higher speed than Bowser in a variety of ways. Bowser has an average falling speed, and a below average air speed, as well as high traction and a surprisingly fast dashing speed. These characteristics, however, also give Bowser a short and slow wavedash.

One of Bowser's greatest strengths is his raw damage output and KO potential. Many of his attacks are the strongest of their type, and their damage output can reach perhaps ludicrous levels; his uncharged forward smash, for instance, deals 24%, and his down tilt has the second highest damage output in the game for a tilt (behind Ganondorf's incredibly slow up tilt), dealing a potential 22% if both hits connect. As a result of this high damage output, Bowser's KOing options are possibly the most numerous in the game (second only to Ganondorf, who has 16 viable KO options), with all of his tilts, smash attacks, forward, back, and up aerials, Koopa Klaw back throw, Whirling Fortress, and Bowser Bomb becoming potentials for garnering KOs. In addition to their high power, Bowser's attacks also have very large hitboxes, leading to a rather large range.

In addition to this, Bowser has a surprisingly high amount of tricks that can be used to aggravate opponents. The set knockback of his down throw can set up tech chases on fast fallers, while his up air, when L-cancelled and set up after a short hop, can infinite them. One of Bowser's most versatile moves takes form as his up special move, Whirling Fortress. In addition to a potential 32% it can cause, it is among the most flexible moves in the game, acting as a combo breaker due to its extremely quick 5 start-up frames, allowing it to serve as a very strong out of shield option, and a dangerous substitute to Bowser's poor defensive roll.

Bowser's extreme power that sacrifices speed, however, is what causes him to be considered a poor character. Bowser is arguably the slowest character in Melee, as he possesses abysmal mobility and among the slowest attacks. Despite an average dashing speed, he has poor air speed, the slowest walking speed, the slowest jump in the game (an 8-frame jump squat) and a short wavedash (that is also among the slowest, if not the slowest wavedash in Melee). Fire Breath is also tied with Zelda's Din's Fire for the worst projectile in the game; with high startup and ending lag, short reach for a projectile, and gradual loss of power, it is almost completely useless. His aerial approach is of equally poor quality, due to his aforementioned slow jumping speed and high-lag aerials. This leads to a horrible SHFFL that is, ironically, very easy to perform. These deficiencies give Bowser one of the most abysmal neutral games in the entire cast.

Bowser's poor neutral game is exacerbated by poor defensive options; his only good option is the aforementioned Whirling Fortress, as all of his other defensive options are among the worst in the game. With a small shield that invites shield stabbing, as well as slow defensive rolls and sidesteps, Bowser has very few ways to escape pressure inflicted onto him. He also has no options against projectiles, due to his massive hurtbox and lack of an effective projectile or reflector of his own. Finally, Bowser's attacks have extremely sluggish frame data, and are extremely easy to punish. Despite his extreme power, Bowser ironically has trouble KOing opponents due to his poor approaching options and the extreme lag in his moves, making him rely on hard and precise reads to land his finishers.

While Bowser does have high endurance potential due to being the heaviest character in the game, it is merely average overall; Bowser's terrible mobility, combined with his very large hurtbox and his high weight, makes him, by far, the easiest character in the game to combo, allowing him to be put into KO percentages very quickly. Faster characters, including Pikachu, Yoshi, and the entirety of Melee's top tier can easily combo, juggle, and chain grab him, with very little chance for Bowser to escape. His slow, predictable, and easily gimped recovery also hampers his survivability; despite Whirling Fortress being a good out of shield move, it is very poor as a recovery move, granting a decent horizontal boost but terrible vertical distance. This makes meteor smashes and spikes extremely dangerous to Bowser, as characters with reliable spikes (such as Falco and Marth) can instantly gimp his recovery, even at extremely low percentages. Bowser's recovery is further hampered by his poor air speed and his lack of alternate options to recover or ways to slow down his falling speed; as a result, Bowser is very simple to edgeguard.

Bowser's lack of low-knockback moves, coupled with high ending lag, give him a near-nonexistent combo game; most of his combos require precise timing and L-cancelling, and even then, these combos are limited to two or three hits even if the opponent DIs poorly, with the last hit often not being one that can lead to a KO. Bowser's slow speed on both the ground and in the air also prevent him from easily pursuing foes after they have been knocked back, leading to opponents easily recovering from hits and being able to counter Bowser's further attempts at comboing. This makes Bowser's punishes highly inconsistent, even at the lowest levels of play.

Overall, Bowser is a very deficient character with few advantages and several crippling weaknesses. His great power is masked by his horrible neutral game, and his survivability is greatly offset by his poor defensive game and ease of being comboed. He also lacks safe moves, with Whirling Fortress often being the only reliable move in his entire arsenal, making him very limiting on players. As such, he rarely sees representation in all levels of play, due to the multitude of hard reads that Bowser players must land to even hold equal footing with other characters in the cast.

PAL Differences[edit]

Bowser was slightly changed in PAL version of Melee. The issue regarding his down throw was fixed, and he is slightly heavier. However, "Flame Cancel", a technique he could use was removed due to the startup frames of Fire Breath being removed.

  • Buff Bowser is one unit heavier (117 → 118).
  • Bug fix Down throw now properly hits Jigglypuff and Mr. Game & Watch.
  • Bug fix Bowser can no longer "Flame Cancel". This was also removed in the 1.2 NTSC version of Melee.

Moveset[edit]

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

Bowser's aerial attacks
  Name Damage Description
Neutral attack   5% Bowser scratches with his left claw, and then his right claw. Resembles a swiping action he performs in Super Mario 64. Noticeable KO potential at higher percentages, being the third most powerful jab in the game.
6%
Forward tilt   13% (fist), 15% (arm) Bowser gives a backhanded punch while leaning his body forward. Has a bit of start up lag and little range, fairly good knockback for a tilt. In fact, it is the most powerful forward tilt in Melee. Can be aimed up or down. The attack is based on the second hit of his Drill Claw attack in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.
12% (fist), 13% (arm), 14% (body)
11% (fist), 13% (arm)
Up tilt   13% Swats the air above him with his left claw. Has good knockback, good for setting up combos. 2nd most powerful up tilt in Melee.
Down tilt   13% (hit 1), 10% (hit 2) Bowser slashes along the ground with his claws. First hit has good knockback, but the second hit is fairly slow and cannot KO reliably. When the first hit connects, it is the sixth most powerful down tilt in the game (Falco, Mr. Game & Watch, Fox, Ganondorf, and Samus surpass him).
Dash attack   11% (clean), 8% (late) Bowser charges forward. Decent knockback at low percents, but cannot KO at very high percents and is easily countered due to starting and ending lag.
Forward smash   24% Bowser rears back for a short moment, and hits incredibly hard with his head. Very high damage and knockback, though suffers from a lot of lag in general. It is the strongest smash attack in the game and KOs at around 18-38% when fully charged.
Up smash   20% (leap), 12% (landing) Bowser jumps upward, hitting with his spikes. A powerful attack with a rather long-lasting hitbox. Bowser has a smaller hitbox inside his shell that does 17% damage, but it rarely connects due to overlapping the bigger hitbox. Bowser's himself is intangible the moment he jumps off the ground. Ninth most powerful up smash in the game.
Down smash   2% (hits 1-6), 10% (hit 7) Bowser spins around in his shell, doing great damage with multiple hits from his spikes. Subpar range, can be DI'd out of, and has noticeable ending lag, but still powerful nonetheless. Combos into itself on fast-falling characters. Sixth most powerful down smash in the game.
Neutral aerial   13% Bowser spins around in his shell. Low knockback, but long duration.
Forward aerial   14% (left claw), 12% (left arm), 11% (right shoulder) Bowser slashes forward in midair. Good knockback and edgeguarding option.
Back aerial   13% (clean), 9% (late) Bowser hits backward with his shell. Has slightly higher knockback than his neutral aerial (base knockback 20 → 25), but a good edgeguarding option when used in a SHFFL or ledge hop. It can semi-spike.
Up aerial   17% Bowser hits upward hard with his head. Very high knockback, but one of Bowser's slower moves. It is the strongest up aerial and one of the most powerful aerials in the game (it is stronger than Ganondorf's down aerial on grounded opponents and being the fifth strongest aerial in Melee, along with Dr. Mario's sweetspotted forward aerial). This is Bowser's only aerial that can KO under 100% damage.
Down aerial   3% (hits 1-9), 2% (landing) Bowser spins downwards, hitting with the spikes on his shell. Not much knockback or damage, but releases a shockwave upon hitting the ground.
Grab
Pummel   3% Headbutts the foe.
Forward throw   10% Bowser throws his foe forward. Can act as a potential KO move at high percentages.
Back throw   10% Bowser throws his foe backwards.
Up throw   1% (hits 1-8), 2% (throw) Bowser throws his foe upward a short distance and on his shell, doing damage to the opponent while spinning. Has set knockback and can chaingrab fastfallers.
Down throw   12% Bowser throws his foe on the ground and lands on them with tremendous force. In the NTSC version of the game, the throw will not hit Jigglypuff or Mr. Game & Watch, but it does hit them in the PAL version.
Floor attack (front)   6% Bowser leaps forward to strike with his head, then back to kick behind, and finally gets up into standing position.
Floor attack (back)   12% Bowser gets up while swinging his right hand around.
Edge attack (fast)   8% Quickly spins onto the stage, then retreats back a bit.
Edge attack (slow)   10% Slowly climbs onto stage and does a quick claw swipe.
Neutral special Fire Breath 2% Bowser lets out a stream of fire that weakens over time. The move has a lot of start up lag, and is really only useful for edgeguarding. However, it can be cancelled by using a technique called Flame Cancel. This attack has transcendent priority.
Side special Koopa Klaw 12%/10% (slash), 4% (bite capture), 3% (bite pummel), 5% (release), 15% (forward throw), 11% (back throw) Bowser does a claw swipe grabs opponents close to him and launches opponents farther away. Foes can escape this move in the same way they can escape grabs: by rolling the control stick. The forward throw awards more damage, while the back throw gets better knockback. The attack hitbox has transcendent priority.
Up special Whirling Fortress Ground: 13% (clean), 5% (mid), 3% (late)
Air: 10% (startup), 3% (loop early), 2% (loop late)
Bowser gets into his shell and spins upwards. A recovery move with very little start up. The attack has great knockback when used on the ground, and in the air, it is good for racking up damage. The attack hits once on the ground, but multiple times in the air. It's great for horizontal recovery, but does not cover much vertical distance.
Down special Bowser Bomb 23% (drop), 8% (landing) If used on the ground, Bowser jumps up into the air, then plummets back down to the ground, damaging anyone who's in the way. If used in the air, the move functions the same, except there is no initial jump. The shockwave on the ground can damage nearby opponents. This move is a stall then fall move.

Taunt[edit]

  • Rears his head back and roars.
Bowser-Taunt-SSBM.gif

Idle pose[edit]

  • Leans back and roars, exhaling steam from his mouth.
Bowser Idle Pose Melee.png

Crowd cheer[edit]

English Japanese
Cheer
Bowser Cheer NTSC Melee.ogg
Koopa Cheer JP Melee.ogg
Description Bow-ser! Bow-ser! Kooo-pa!
Pitch Male Male

Victory poses[edit]

An orchestrated cover of the iconic "Level Completed" music from Super Mario Bros..
  • Steps forward, builds up a little, and roars.
  • Takes two steps forward while swiping with his claws twice.
  • Spins around in his shell and comes out laughing.
Bowser-Victory1-SSBM.gif Bowser-Victory2-SSBM.gif Bowser-Victory3-SSBM.gif

In competitive play[edit]

Matchups[edit]

Super Smash Bros. Melee Character Matchups
  FoxHeadSSBM.png FalcoHeadSSBM.png MarthHeadSSBM.png SheikHeadSSBM.png JigglypuffHeadSSBM.png PeachHeadSSBM.png IceClimbersHeadSSBM.png CaptainFalconHeadSSBM.png PikachuHeadSSBM.png SamusHeadSSBM.png DrMarioHeadSSBM.png YoshiHeadSSBM.png LuigiHeadSSBM.png GanondorfHeadSSBM.png MarioHeadSSBM.png YoungLinkHeadSSBM.png DonkeyKongHeadSSBM.png LinkHeadSSBM.png MrGame&WatchHeadSSBM.png RoyHeadSSBM.png MewtwoHeadSSBM.png ZeldaHeadSSBM.png NessHeadSSBM.png PichuHeadSSBM.png BowserHeadSSBM.png KirbyHeadSSBM.png Avg.
BowserHeadSSBM.png -3 -3 -3 -3 -2 -2 -2 -3 -2 -2 -2 ±0 -2 -2 -2 -2 -2 -3 -2 -1 -1 -1 -1 ±0 Mirror match -1 -2

Bowser's matchup spread is among the worst in the game. He has a matchup rating of -47, which is second to only Pichu. Bowser currently only has just two even matchups, and is soft countered by five characters, countered by twelve, and hard countered by six. Bowser's abysmal speed and frame data allow almost every other character in the cast to beat him in the neutral game, making it difficult for him to land hits consistently on them, outside of hard and committal reads. Additionally, he is among the easiest characters in the cast to combo, which nearly universally amplifies every character's punish game against him. Bowser also has the dubious distinctions of both having a losing matchup against Kirby (the lowest character on the tier list) and having an even matchup against Pichu. Furthermore, he is one of two characters (the other being Pichu) to have no advantageous matchups. Bowser's projected matchups in the current metagame are even worse, as it could be argued that his only current even matchups are losing, due to developments in Yoshi's metagame and the recognition of Pichu's few utility moves that could possibly give it an advantage over Bowser in the matchup, though the latter is debatable.

Notable players[edit]

See also: Category:Bowser professionals (SSBM)

Active[edit]

Inactive[edit]

Tier placement and history[edit]

Bowser has traditionally always been a very low-tiered character, ranking at or near the bottom on many revisions, due to his negative attributes and his pitiful matchups against top/high tier characters, which led to very poor tournament results overall. Even with the innovations of dedicated Bowser professionals such as Gimpyfish, who propelled Bowser to a level of play that many rarely ever saw before, Bowser simply could not reach the ubiquity and consistency needed as a main to be considered as a relevant threat in the top-level environment. Currently, Bowser is in the G tier in 25th place, one spot ahead of Kirby, although some smashers believe that Bowser is the worst character in the game. He has negligible representation in tournaments outside of situational matches where he is counterpicked against players unfamiliar with the matchup (e.g. DJ Nintendo vs. Unknown522 at Zenith 2013), and is considered non-viable for serious play.

In single-player modes[edit]

In Classic Mode[edit]

In Classic Mode, Bowser can appear as an ordinary opponent, an opponent alongside Mario, Zelda, Mewtwo or Peach, a giant opponent, a metal opponent, or an ally in the team and giant battles.

In his appearances, he will appear on either Battlefield or Princess Peach's Castle. Unusually, if fought as a giant character, he will appear on Fountain of Dreams.

In Adventure Mode[edit]

In Adventure Mode, Bowser acts as a final boss of sorts, fought on the last stage, Stage 12: Final Destination. In this appearance, he is larger than usual, and as a result, he is more resistant to knockback. When played on Very Easy and Easy difficulties, or if the player spent too much time in the Adventure Mode, then the game is concluded there. Classic Bowser's trophy falls off the stage, and the player's selected character celebrates with one of his or her Victory poses.

Bowser's trophy returns to face the Ice Climbers one last time.

If the player, however, arrives at Stage 12: Final Destination on Normal difficulty or higher in less than 18 minutes, Bowser will appear with his black color scheme instead of his ordinary green color scheme. After he is KO'd and the ordinary cutscene is played, However, the eerie music continues where another cutscene shows the classic Bowser's trophy returning to Final Destination to face the player's character one last time. The trophy is then struck with lightning, and Bowser turns into Giga Bowser. Then Giga Bowser comes to life when he opens his mouth. As a last challenge for the player, they must defeat Giga Bowser in order to clear the Adventure Mode. After he is defeated, a cutscene shows Bowser's trophy falling off the stage again; this time, however, it breaks apart in which appears to be a "floor" in a pitch black background.

In All-Star Mode[edit]

In All-Star Mode, Bowser and his allies are fought on Yoshi's Island, as the remaining Mario stages were already taken by the rest of the four characters in the cast. When fighting Bowser on Yoshi's Island, the stage will always play its alternate track, "Super Mario Bros. 3".

In Event Matches[edit]

Bowser makes the following appearances in the following event matches:

  • Event 1: Trouble King: Bowser is the first opponent of the event mode. The player plays as Mario, and Mario and Bowser have 2 stock each in an untimed match on the Battlefield stage. KO Bowser twice to win, which is an easy objective because Bowser is lighter than usual and has less competent AI.
  • Event 10: All-Star Match 1: Bowser is the last of five opponents the player must fight in this series of staged battles. The player's character battles him on the Rainbow Cruise stage, and their character has 2 stock while Bowser has 1. With a timer of four minutes, the player must defeat him and the other four characters one-by-one with the overall time and life the player has: Mario, Donkey Kong, Yoshi, and Peach beforehand.
  • Event 17: Bounty Hunters: In this original scenario, the player plays as Samus teamed up with Captain Falcon (with Friendly Fire turned off), and the shared opponent is Bowser on the Jungle Japes stage. With everyone receiving one stock and 2:00 as the time limit, the goal is to be the one to KO Bowser. The player fails if Captain Falcon delivers the finishing blow or if Bowser SDs.
  • Event 19: Peach's Peril: A scenario designed in homage to the standard plot of traditional Super Mario games of Bowser being after Peach and Mario saving her. The player plays as Mario teamed with Peach, whose AI is set on walking to each end of the stage aimlessly, and they each have 1 stock while the enemy Bowser has infinite stock. Bowser is especially strong and durable in this match, and he will attack either of them in the area on the Final Destination stage. The objective is to last a full minute with both Mario and Peach surviving by the end, and high score is determined by how many times Mario can KO Bowser.
  • Event 25: Gargantuans: A scenario designed in homage to old, campy monster movies like Godzilla and King Kong. On the Fourside stage, with unlimited time, the player plays as a giant-sized Bowser (as "Godzilla") with 1 stock against a giant-sized Donkey Kong (as "King Kong") with two stock. Two other characters on the match are a tiny Mario and a tiny Peach, who will be K.O.'d within seconds of the battle between the two main monsters.
  • Event 42: Trouble King 2: This tough event takes place in Poké Floats. The player controls Luigi against a giant Bowser in an untimed match where the two of them have a stock of two each.
  • Event 51: The Showdown: In the game's final Event Match, the player has to square off against Ganondorf, Mewtwo and Giga Bowser on a team. With no time limit, the player is tasked with defeat all three, and everyone is given three stocks.

Ending Images[edit]

Trophy descriptions[edit]

In addition to the normal trophy about Bowser as a character, there are two trophies about him as a fighter, unlocked by completing the Adventure and All-Star Modes respectively with Bowser on any difficulty:

Bowser
Bowser has a long history of kidnapping Princess Peach to lure his nemesis, Mario, into traps. He leads an enormous group of mischievous creatures, not the least of which are his seven children. With outrageous strength, flammable breath, and more spikes than you can shake a Star Rod at, Bowser is a constant threat.
Bowser (Smash Red)
In many ways, Bowser is the toughest character around. Not only does he have near-impervious hide, but his great mass makes him almost impossible to hurl offscreen. Of course, his weight also makes him rather slow to maneuver, so when facing him in battle, it's best to press your attack and not give him a chance to counter.
  • B: Fire Breath
  • Smash B: Koopa Klaw
Bowser (Smash Blue)
Bowser's Fire Breath strikes continuously, but it grows gradually smaller over time until it's barely smoldering. The Koopa Klaw rakes enemies at a distance and pulls nearby foes in close for a good gnawing. Bowser's Whirling Fortress moves laterally over the ground; it works in midair as a recovery. The Bowser Bomb is powerful and paves the way for more attacks.

Alternate costumes[edit]

Bowser Palette (SSBM).png
BowserHeadSSBM.png BowserHeadRedSSBM.png BowserHeadBlueSSBM.png BowserHeadBlackSSBM.png

Glitch[edit]

The glitch in action.

Bowser's giant hand glitch is a glitch in Super Smash Bros. Melee that temporarily makes Bowser's hand inflate to several times its size, as the name implies. However, the glitch is only visible for a brief second.

Method: First, Bowser must pick up a capsule, then short hop. This also works with any item you can throw with the A button. After that, he must immediately perform an air dodge.

  • As Bowser lands from the air dodge, his right hand (the one holding the capsule) will quickly grow many times its normal size, then just as quickly shrink back to normal. It grows and shrinks over the space of only a few frames, so it is difficult to pause the game at exactly the right point. If the game is paused when Bowser's hand is giant, inspection reveals that the giant hand is as detailed as Bowser's normal hand. When in its giant state, the hand can also distort platforms.

Trivia[edit]

  • In the Special Movie, Bowser is the only character not to appear with his series. Bowser is from the Mario series but he appears right after Captain Falcon.
  • Bowser has his own unique landing effect as opposed to the other characters. This effect is also used for his helpless landing animation as well.
  1. [1]
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