Bowser (クッパ, Koopa) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. He was suggested to appear in the then unnamed Ultimate in its first teaser trailer at the end of the March 8th, 2018 Nintendo Direct, and officially announced in Ultimate's E3 2018 trailer As opposed to being a starter character like in previous Smash games, Bowser is now an unlockable character. Bowser is classified as fighter #14.
Bowser retains the realistic roar voice clips that he had in Super Smash Bros. 4, along with additional new, less bestial-sounding clips.
How to unlock
Complete one of the following:
With the exception of the third method, Bowser must then be defeated on Mushroom Kingdom U.
Bowser is considered to be the all-rounder of super heavyweights. He is known for being the heaviest character in Ultimate, and some of his other attributes fit in the mold of an archetypical heavyweight: he has a slow walking speed, quick falling and fast falling speeds, and immensely powerful attacks. However, Bowser sports otherwise excellent mobility, as his air speed is above average, his initial dash is extremely quick, and he boasts a surprisingly fast dashing speed that surpasses most of his fellow heavyweights, even outrunning Marth and Inkling. Due to his above-average dashing speed and initial dash, Bowser sports a respectable dash-dance.
Bowser's most notable trait is his impressive endurance. His aforementioned massive weight and fast falling speed make him very difficult to launch and KO, while also letting him stay glued to the ground. Further bolstering this is damage-based percentage armor on the start-up of all his tilts and smash attacks, as well as limb intangibility during their active hitboxes. Unique to Bowser is an attribute called "Tough Guy," which is universal heavy armor that allows Bowser to withstand a handful of weak attacks, like most neutral attacks and weak projectiles. This lets him tank and approach effectively while at low percents.
Bowser's greatest strength is the incredible power his moveset provides. Almost all of his attacks have KO potential. This is most notable in moves like forward smash, up smash, back aerial, Flying Slam, and Bowser Bomb. Forward smash is the 4th strongest in the game, with even the uncharged attack KOing at around 60% from center-stage only. Up smash is fast despite its power, KOing at around 90% uncharged and has invincibility on his entire shell and a hitbox on landing that provides safety. Back aerial KOs at around 100% from center stage, and is fast for an aerial of its caliber. Flying Slam is the fastest command grab in the game, and has incredible power if it grabs an opponent, KOing them at around 100%, and even earlier if he lands on a platform. Lastly, Bowser Bomb meteor smashes near the start of the move, which gives it huge edgeguarding potential at the ledge; otherwise, it still deals very high knockback, and will break shields when all hits land. Overall, his raw power grants him excellent KOing power as well as a formidable edgeguarding game. With hard-hitting and relatively laggy moves like these, Bowser is not a character to string together long combos; rather, he is the kind of character to KO opponents off of 2 or 3 hits at most.
Attacks that have little KO potential still have utilities that make them useful. Neutral aerial does very high damage if all of its hits connect (albeit somewhat difficult to accomplish), being the second most damaging aerial in the game, and using it to land lets it combo into many things, most notably his up tilt. Fire Breath is Bowser's only projectile move, but it deals massive damage and shield stun. Whirling Fortress is Bowser's primary recovery move; while it has a low vertical distance, the horizontal distance gained is above average, and it has decent KO potential in the air. It is also Bowser's fastest attack on frame 6, and this combined with its multi-hit nature makes it an effective get-off-me and out of shield option. Even in areas where Bowser cannot KO, his moveset is overall very well-rounded and versatile.
Bowser also has a noteworthy grab game. While his grabs are rather slow, they have among the longest reaches of any non-tether grab in the game. His forward and back throws are among the strongest in the game and are viable KOing options. Up throw, while not nearly as versatile as in Smash 4, can at least be capable of setting up into 50/50 combos if the opponent's reaction is read. His down throw is one of the most damaging throws in the game and puts the opponent in an unfavorable position offstage, which allows Bowser to utilize his powerful kit. Lastly, the aforementioned Flying Slam can be B-reversed, allowing Bowser to bypass shields unexpectedly, even in midair.
Despite Bowser's many strengths, he has noticeable flaws. One of his biggest issues is his inability to effectively break out of combos; due to his massive weight, large frame, and fast falling speed, opponents can easily combo him if he makes one small mistake. Compounded with his overall below-average frame data, this makes him easy to punish if his attacks are whiffed, shielded, or dodged.
Another flaw is his poor defensive game: despite having armor on his grounded attacks and his signature Tough Guy heavy armor, he is still heavily susceptible to zoning and pressure, especially due to the faster, more offensive-based playstyle of Ultimate. Furthermore, his rolls and techs have low duration and are short-distanced, which makes him very prone to tech-chasing. Whirling Fortress still remains as Bowser's only viable out-of-shield option, as other options can be punished.
Overall, Bowser's playstyle is hugely bait and punish-oriented. To fully utilize his moveset, Bowser may have to rely on baits and pressure in order to gain the upper hand. Once he does, he can continue to dish out large amounts of damage in a short amount of time. However, if Bowser makes one wrong move, he can be easily zoned out and comboed by his opponent, leaving him with little to no options to break out of them.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. 4
Bowser was buffed in his transition from SSB4 to Ultimate. He received enhancements to his already good damage, speed and lag reduction, also receiving an increase on his defensive play through the amplification of heavy armor on his tilts and most of his smash attacks. His grounded and aerial mobility is better, and his weight is even higher despite still being the heaviest character in the game. Combined with him now being considered a fast-faller, the universal reduction to landing lag, and streamlined jumpsquat speeds, Bowser's atrociously unsafe landing options has been significantly improved, which increases his durability on the field.
However, Bowser gained several noteworthy nerfs. Like Donkey Kong, Bowser's main nerf is his infamous up throw combo losing all of its utility with its increased knockback and ending lag, which was previously a fearsome combo starter with a myriad of followups and kill confirms. His recovery was also reduced due to Whirling Fortress's shorter distance. Additionally, his pivot grab, infamous for its massive range in SSB4, now has shorter range. Finally, Bowser's heavier weight and faster falling speed makes him even more susceptible to juggles than ever before, despite his improved survivability.
Overall, Bowser's new traits further enhance his damage, speed, and staying power, making him an all-rounder of the game's super heavyweights. However, it is currently unknown how he fares in comparison to the rest of the cast, due to his very low tournament representation, although he has found some success on a regional level.
Bowser received several buffs through Update 2.0-3.0 making him much stronger and can cause more damage.
Note: All numbers are listed as base damage, without the 1v1 multiplier.
In competitive play
Classic Mode: The Red One. Every Red One!
Bowser's opponents are all wearing attire that is red, which is a reference to his mortal enemy (Mario) wearing red clothing. Bowser unlocks Pokemon Trainer as a playable fighter at completion.
Note: When fighting the Mii Fighters, they all wear Mario Caps.
Role in World of Light
Bowser was among the fighters that were summoned to fight the army of Master Hands.
During the opening cutscene, Bowser was present when Galeem unleashed his beams of light. Bowser attempted to fight back against the beams, using his Fire Breath alongside the Pokémon Trainer and his Pokémon. This effort ended up being fruitless however, as Bowser was vaporized and placed under Galeem's imprisonment alongside the other fighters (except for Kirby). Presumably, it was during this time that he ended up transformed into Giga Bowser and later dispatched to a molten castle to guard it. Eventually, several fighters fought Bowser in his Giga Bowser form and, upon defeating him, he joined the group.
Bowser is later seen among several other fighters, making their last stand against Galeem and Dharkon. He also shows up in the bad ending where Galeem emerges victorious against Dharkon, witnessing Galeem engulf the world in light.
Bowser's Fighter Spirit can be obtained by completing Classic Mode. It is also available periodically for purchase in the shop for 500 coins. Unlocking Bowser in World of Light allows the player to preview the first spirit below in the Spirit List under the name "???". As a Fighter Spirit, it cannot be used in Spirit Battles and is purely aesthetic. Each Fighter Spirit has an alternate version that replaces them with their artwork in Ultimate.
Additionally, Bowser makes an appearance in various Primary and Support Spirits.
In Spirit battles
As the main opponent
As a minion
Character Showcase Video
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