Bowser (SSBU)

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SSBU Icon.png
This article is about Bowser's appearance in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. For the character in other contexts, see Bowser.
in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Bowser SSBU.png
Universe Mario
Other Smash Bros. appearances in Melee
in Brawl
in SSB4
Availability Unlockable
Final Smash Giga Bowser Punch
Who's the greatest nemesis of all!? It's King Bowser! In Super Smash Bros. his power and weight make him a reliable fighter. Use his Fire Breath to keep opponents at bay, then use his damaging attacks to launch them off the stage! He transforms into Giga Bowser for his Final Smash and delivers a super powerful punch!
Super Smash Blog, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Official Site

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[edit]

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[edit]

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.


  • Change As with all veterans returning from Smash 4, Bowser's model features a more subdued color scheme. His colors overall are now slightly darker and more monotone, similar to his appearance in Melee, while his scales, hair, horns, and spikes now exhibit simple detailing, similar to his design in Brawl.
  • Change Bowser has been made more expressive than previous installments with facial expressions reminiscent of his appearances in the Mario series.
  • Change Bowser now makes roaring noises during his idle poses, instead of being silent like in Smash 4.
  • Change Bowser has a new victory pose. He now breathes fire towards the screen before striking a pose that is similar to his Smash 4 artwork. It replaces his shell spinning victory pose.
  • Change Bowser's roaring victory pose now shows him performing a headbutt with his horns before rearing his head back to roar. His body also faces more towards the screen during said animation.
  • Change Bowser's claw slashing victory pose now shows him running up to the victory area before slashing the air with his claws.
  • Change Up and side taunts have been shortened, the latter also updated to match his upright stance.
  • Change Bowser's shielding pose has changed. He now turns around and guards attacks with his shell.
  • Change Bowser's hair now has physics-based movement.


  • Buff Like all characters, Bowser's jumpsquat animation now takes three frames to complete (down from 8).
  • Buff Bowser's Tough Guy (universal heavy armor) is more effective: He can resist all rapid jabs, including some of the rapid jabs he could not resist in SSB4 such as Captain Falcon's.
  • Buff Bowser walks slightly faster (0.858 → 0.901).
  • Buff Bowser runs faster (1.792 → 1.971).
    • Buff Bowser's initial dash is significantly faster (1 → 2.255), going from the slowest to the fifth fastest. This significantly helps him with his defensive and offensive approach on the ground, and gives him a respectable dash dance.
  • Buff Bowser's air speed is faster (1 → 1.155).
  • Buff Bowser's falling speed (1.39 → 1.77) and fast falling speed (2.224 → 2.832) are much faster, going from 42nd fastest in Smash 4 to tied for 16th in Ultimate, giving him much better vertical endurance and improving his air-to-ground transitioning, but making him easier to combo. The most notable change, however, is this coupled with him receiving less landing lag on his aerials, helps Bowser out with one of his primary weaknesses in Smash 4: his trouble landing safely.
  • Change Bowser is heavier (130 → 135). This improves his already excellent endurance but makes him slightly easier to combo.
  • Buff Spot dodge has slightly less startup (frame 4 → 3).
  • Buff Spot dodge can cancel into any ground attack or special move starting from frame 24.
  • Nerf Forward roll dodge has less intangibility (frames 4-19 → 4-16).
  • Buff Forward roll dodge has slightly less endlag (frame 34 → 33).
  • Nerf Back roll dodge has slightly more startup and less intangibility (frames 4-19 → 5-17), as well as more endlag (frame 34 → 38).
  • Buff Air dodge grants more intangibility (frames 4-29 → 4-32).
  • Nerf Air dodge has significantly more endlag (frame 35 → 47).

Ground attacks[edit]

  • Buff Bowser has percent-based super armor during the startup of all his tilt and smash attacks:
    • Up tilt: Armor active on frames 8-10; resists up to 4% damage
    • Forward tilt and down tilt: 7-9; 4%
    • Forward smash: 17-21; 10%
    • Up smash: 11-15; 8%
    • Down smash: 5-11; 8%
  • Neutral attack:
    • Change Neutral attack is a sumo-style palm strike followed by a punch.
    • Buff The second hit of neutral attack deals slightly more damage (6.5% → 7%), slightly increasing its knockback as a result.
    • Nerf The first hit of neutral attack deals slightly less damage (5% → 4%).
    • Nerf The first hit of neutral attack has fewer arm intangibility frames (frames 7-9 → 7-8).
    • Nerf The first hit of neutral attack has more endlag (frame 21 → 26).
    • Change The first hit of neutral attack sends at an altered angle. This improves its ability to combo into itself and Flying Slam, but weakens its other jab cancels.
  • Forward tilt:
    • Change Forward tilt is a swung backhand punch with the arm slightly bent. The fist is enlarged while the hitbox is out, so its range appears unaltered.
    • Buff Forward tilt deals 1% more damage (12% → 13%), increasing its KO power.
  • Up tilt
    • Buff Up tilt deals more damage (9% → 11%), being able to KO at around 130%, similar to Brawl.
    • Buff Up tilt has arm intangibility (frames 11-16).
  • Down tilt:
    • Buff The second hit of down tilt comes out faster (frame 20 → 15), allowing both hits to link more reliably.
    • Buff Despite each hit of down tilt dealing less individual damage (14%/11% (hits 1/2) → 7%/8% (hits 1/2)), both hits combined deal more overall damage than the first hit in Smash 4 (14% → 15%).
    • Buff Down tilt's second hit can trip at low percents.
    • Nerf Down tilt's second hit has considerably weaker KO potential than the first hit did in Smash 4
  • Up smash:
    • Buff Up smash deals slightly more damage (20%/15%/15% → 22%/16%/16%).
  • Down smash:
    • Buff Bowser has a new down smash: two grounded claw swipes that hit forward with one hand then backward with the other, similar to Wolf's. This down smash has more range and deals much more knockback, and replaces a highly situational move that was notoriously outclassed by Whirling Fortress.
    • Nerf Down smash has slightly increased startup and significantly fewer active frames due to the removal of the looping hits (frame 10, 14-15, 17-18, 20-21, 23-24, 26-27, 31 → 12-13, 28-29). Due to consisting of two hits that hit in front and behind Bowser, it also cannot punish rolls as easily.

Aerial attacks[edit]

  • Buff All aerials have much less landing lag (frame 20 → 15 (neutral), 24 → 14 (forward), 40 → 24 (back), 28 → 17 (up), 40 → 34 (down)).
  • Neutral aerial:
    • Nerf Neutral aerial's hits connect less reliably.
    • Buff Neutral aerial auto-cancels earlier (frame 45 → 41). Also, due to its lower landing lag, and Bowser's much faster jumpsquat, it is a much better combo starter, especially into his up tilt or back aerial.
  • Forward aerial:
    • Change The lower hitbox no longer sends opponents behind Bowser.
  • Down aerial:
    • Buff Down aerial has limb intangibility (frame 14-60 (air), 14-27 (landing).
    • Buff Landing hitbox has a longer duration (frame 1-3 → 1-6).

Throws/other attacks[edit]

  • Grab:
    • Buff Grab has slightly quicker startup (frame 9 → 8).
    • Nerf Grab has slightly more endlag (frame 39 → 41).
  • Pummel:
    • Change Pummel is faster but deals significantly less damage (3.1% → 1.6%).
  • Dash grab:
    • Nerf Dash grab has slightly more startup (frame 10 → 11) and endlag (frame 48 → 49).
  • Pivot grab:
    • Nerf Pivot grab has slightly more startup (frame 11 → 12).
    • Nerf Pivot grab's notoriously massive hitbox has been reduced in size.
    • Buff Pivot grab has slightly less endlag (frame 46 → 44).
  • Up throw:
    • Buff Up throw deals more damage (0.5%x7/1%/2% → 0.5%x7/2%/6%) and knockback.
    • Nerf Up throw has significantly more endlag (frame 64 → 75) and it has increased base knockback but less knockback growth. This makes the move somewhat identical to Smash 4 prior to 1.1.3 update, but it severely hinders its combo potential without guaranteed KO potential, significantly reducing its utility.
    • Change Bowser hops on the final hit of up throw.
  • Down throw:
    • Change Down throw has a more exaggerated animation where Bowser leaps upward and collapses belly-first on the opponent.
    • Buff Down throw has faster startup (frame 45 → 35) and deals more damage (10%/2% → 10%/4%). This also results in increased knockback, however it still has weaker knockback than forward throw.
  • Edge attack:
    • Buff Edge attack deals more damage (7% → 10%).

Special Moves[edit]

  • Fire Breath:
    • Buff Fire Breath deals more damage (1.2%xN → 1.8%xN).
    • Change Fire Breath is more vibrant in color as opposed to the more realistic flame in Smash 4.
  • Flying Slam:
    • Buff Flying Slam's grounded variant has reduced startup (frame 8 → 6), while the aerial variant has the same amount of startup as the grounded one (frame 17 → 6).
    • Buff Flying Slam deals more knockback (80 (base)/60 (growth) → ?/?).
    • Nerf Flying Slam has a longer jumpsquat animation (25 frames → 33 frames).
    • Nerf Flying Slam's grounded variant has significantly more endlag (frame 43 → 53).
    • Nerf Flying Slam's aerial variant has more endlag (frame 49 → 53) and no longer autocancels upon landing.
    • Change Flying Slam has Bowser spin around more dramatically on the way down, which can very slightly increase the amount of damage it gives the more he spins, and has an explosion effect on landing.
  • Whirling Fortress:
    • Buff The final hitbox of grounded Whirling Fortress deals more damage (4% → 6%).
    • Buff The final hitbox of aerial Whirling Fortress has significantly improved knockback, making its ending much harder to punish.
    • Buff Aerial Whirling Fortress has significantly less landing lag (frame 51 → 37).
    • Buff Aerial Whirling Fortress has full body (minus the shell) intangibility starting from frame 80, which lasts until 13 frames of the move's landing animation have passed.
    • Buff Whirling Fortress connects more reliably.
    • Nerf Aerial Whirling Fortress travels a shorter distance.
    • Nerf Aerial Whirling Fortress deals overall less damage, with the first hitbox dealing 7% damage (down from 10%), the intermediate hitboxes dealing 1% damage each, and the final hitbox dealing 2% damage, for a maximum possible total of 19% damage.
    • Change Aerial Whirling Fortress has Bowser spin more at an angle toward the camera.
  • Bowser Bomb:
    • Buff The first hit of grounded Bowser Bomb deals less fixed knockback, making it impossible to use DI to avoid the second hit.
    • Change Bowser Bomb meteor smashes at the beginning of its descent, which grants it utility in edgeguarding, but makes its onstage KO potential less consistent.
    • Buff The second hit of Bowser Bomb has slightly less startup (frame 38 → 37).
    • Buff Aerial Bowser Bomb has slightly less startup (frame 32 → 31).
  • Final Smash:
    • Change Bowser has a new Final Smash called Giga Bowser Punch. Rather than utilizing Giga Bowser's Brawl moveset, he teleports to the background of the stage in giant form, and aims a single punch that does 40% damage. If the opponent's damage percent is at 60% or greater before they are punched, they receive an instant Screen KO, otherwise they receive mediocre knockback.

Update History[edit]

Bowser received several buffs through Update 2.0-3.0 making him much stronger and can cause more damage.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 2.0.0

  • Buff Second hit of neutral attack deals more damage (6% → 7%).
  • Buff Forward tilt deals 1% more damage (12% → 13%).
  • Buff Down smash deals more knockback.
  • Buff Whirling Fortress connects more reliably.
  • Buff Giga Bowser Punch launches crouching opponents the same as standing opponents.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 3.0.0

  • Buff Opponents can no longer tech on the ground between the looping hits of grounded Whirling Fortress.
  • Bug fix The T-Pose glitch involving Superspicy Curry and Screw Attack has been fixed.


  • Bowser has a unique attribute called Tough Guy. It is universal armor against attacks with low 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.
  • Bowser also has damage-based armor on the start-up of his tilts and smash attacks. Each move has a damage threshold: 4% for tilts, 8% for up and down smash, and 10% for side smash. Any attack that is below the indicated percent will be armored, but an attack with a larger percent won't.
    • For example, Bowser will armor the first 4 hits of Limit Cross Slash (which deal 3% each) during his up tilt, but the 5th hit (which deals 10%) will launch him. However, Bowser's forward smash will be able to armor even the last hit of Limit Cross Slash.
  • Bowser can crawl, although due to his crouch not lowering his hurtbox very much it is essentially useless.

Note: All numbers are listed as base damage, without the 1v1 multiplier.

  Name Damage Description
Neutral attack   4% Bowser performs a sumo-style palm strike, followed by a punch. Both hits of neutral attack have decent speed, and deal decent damage in total. Bowser's arms each have intangibility (frames 7 and 8, and frames 9-11, respectively).
Forward tilt   13% Bowser does a swung backhanded punch, with his arm slightly bent. The punch may be angled up or down, but doing so has no effect on damage or knockback. Has damaged-based armor (frames 7-9) and intangibility on his arm (frames 10-14).
Up tilt   11% Does an arcing claw swipe. Comes with wide range and average ending lag, allowing it to combo into itself at low percents. At slightly higher percents, it can combo into neutral air and back air. The attack will almost always send the opponent directly above Bowser. Has damage based armor (frames 8-10) and makes Bowser's arm intangible (frames 11-16).
Down tilt   7% (hit 1),
8% (hit 2)
Does an alternating pair of hooks. Both hits deal 15% in total, only slightly higher than the first hit's damage output in SSB4, being 14%. Down tilt's second hit comes out five frames earlier, and gains the ability to trip opponents, on a positive note. Also grants damaged-based armor on the first hit (frames 7-9), and intangibility on his arms for both (frames 10-12, and 10-14, respectively).
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. Its outstanding damage output threatens shields, being able to inflict significant damage to them. When spaced properly, it can even hit opponents hanging on an edge or lingering just below it. It grants damaged-based armor (frames 17-21), and the clean hitboxes render Bowser's feet invincible (20-25), whereas its late hitboxes have anti-rebounding priority. The fourth strongest forward smash in the game, it can KO opponents at 63% from center stage.
Up smash   22% (spikes),
16% (sides)
Hops a bit to thrust his shell upwards, while spinning. Deals the most damage to opponents who come into contact with Bowser's top spikes, while other opponents get hit by his landing hitboxes instead. Regardless, Bowser's up smash is one of his best KOing options. Grants damaged-based armor (frames 11-15) and invincibility on his shell (frames 14-27).
Down smash   16% (hit 1),
15% (hit 2)
Does a grounded claw swipe, hitting opponents in front and behind him. Active on frame 12, making it Bowser’s fastest smash attack. Deals more knockback than his old down smash. Grants damaged-based armor (frames 5-11), but unlike his other smashes, possesses no invincibility.
Neutral aerial   6% (hits 1-4) An aerial cartwheel. Its hits no longer connect as reliably as in Smash 4, due to each hit's knockback being increased, resulting in less frequent combos. Despite this, Bowser's neutral aerial remains one of the most damaging aerials in the game.
Forward aerial   13% (hand),
12% (arm),
11% (body)
Swipes downward with his claws. It has quick start-up, a respectable damage output, can pseudo-wall of pain with Whirling Fortress as a finisher, and great range, as it can even hit opponents below him. It can also autocancel from a short hop. Altogether, these traits make for, arguably, Bowser's most versatile 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. Active on frame 9.
Up aerial   15% An upward headbutt. Does significantly less knockback and kills later than its variant from the previous games. Grants intangibility in his head (frames 3-13).
Down aerial   16% (spikes),
2% (shockwave)
A stall-then-fall attack that involves Bowser retreating into his shell while turning upside-down, then propelling himself towards the ground while spinning on a vertical axis. The first few active frames being able to meteor smash opponents, in combination with the move's large hitbox and respectable diagonal knockback during the later active frames, make it a moderately effective edgeguarding tool. The move emits a small shockwave on both sides when Bowser lands, which makes the move slightly harder to punish. Should Bowser use the move while he's off stage, it is almost guaranteed to cause a self-destruct. Grants intangibility on his arms and legs in midair (frames 14-60) and upon landing (frames 1-27).
Grab   Reaches out.
Pummel   1.6% Headbutts the opponent.
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),
2% (hit 8),
6% (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. He hops up on the final hit, launching the opponent upward.
Down throw   10% (hit 1),
4% (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. Good for damage racking due to it doing 14%.
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   10% Bowser slowly climbs up from the ledge, then swipes at the ground in front of him.
Neutral special Fire Breath 1.8%xN 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. If the opponent is caught near Bowser’s mouth at full strength, it can do massive damage, potentially up to 30%.
Side special Flying Slam 18% (throw),
15% (collateral)
Grabs an opponent, jumps with them into the air and backflips before belly-to-belly suplexing them onto the ground, causing an explosion effect. Bowser spins around dramatically during the descent. 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, although it is possible to recover if the opponent has a good vertical recovery. The ascent grants intangibility (frames 1-23).
Up special Whirling Fortress 1% (grounded hits 1-7),
4% (grounded hit 8),
7% (aerial hit 1),
1% (aerial hits 2-11),
2% (aerial hit 12)
Withdraws into his shell and spins around rapidly. 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, making it a very effective horizontal recovery but poor vertically. Button mashing at the end can slightly extend the vertical distance.
Down special Bowser Bomb 4% (headbutt),
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, which is not possible to avoid if hit by it. 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. In midair, the startup can meteor smash.
Final Smash Giga Bowser Punch 40% Bowser transforms into Giga Bowser and teleports into the background, where he becomes impervious to attacks. Red crosshairs will appear on screen to indicate where Giga Bowser will aim his punch, which can be moved around with the control stick; the crosshairs also contains a depleting green gauge around their circumference to indicate how much time is left until the attack will activate automatically, though the attack can be activated manually before the gauge fully depletes. If the opponent's damage percent is 60% or greater before they are punched, they are instantaneously screen K.O.d.

On-screen appearance[edit]

  • Emerges from a wall of flames hunched over, before standing up right.


  • Up Taunt: Throws his head back, spinning it in a circle, and roars.
  • Side Taunt: Snaps furiously forward three times.
  • Down Taunt: Balances precariously on one leg, similar to his teetering animation.

Idle poses[edit]

  • Sways his head backward around while roaring and exhaling steam from his mouth.
  • Clenches his fists and performs posterior shoulder stretches while exhaling steam from his nostrils.

Victory poses[edit]

  • Stomps and spreads his arms while roaring.
  • Runs into the scene and slashes his claws twice.
  • Breathes fire and assumes a pose similar to his render from SSB4.
A music piece based on the same melody as the Mario victory theme, but instead of a standard orchestral arrangement, the piece is played with slightly distorted electric guitars. It also sounds similar to the level clear theme of Bowser's sidequests in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.

In competitive play[edit]

Notable players[edit]

Classic Mode: The Red One. Every Red One![edit]

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.

Round Opponent Stage Music Notes
1 Mii Brawler MiiBrawlerHeadSSBU.png (×2), Mii Gunner MiiGunnerHeadSSBU.png and Mii Swordfighter MiiSwordfighterHeadSSBU.png Find Mii Airship Theme - Super Mario Bros. 3 Mii Brawler costume combinations: Mario's Cap and Builder Mario's Outfit, Mario's Cap and Toad Outfit. Mii Swordfighter costumes: Mario's Cap and Ninja Suit. Mii Gunner costumes: Mario's Cap and Wild West Gear.
2 Ken KenHeadSSBU.png Suzaku Castle Ken Stage
3 Samus SamusHeadSSBU.png Norfair Brinstar (Melee)
4 Giant Charizard CharizardHeadSSBU.png and Giant Incineroar IncineroarHeadSSBU.png Pokémon Stadium 2 Victory Road - Pokémon Ruby / Pokémon Sapphire Pokemon Trainer is absent from the battle.
5 Diddy Kong DiddyKongHeadSSBU.png Kongo Jungle Stickerbush Symphony
6 Rathalos ? Roar/Rathalos
Bonus Stage
Final Mario MarioHeadSSBU.png, then Metal Mario MarioHeadSSBU.png New Donk City Hall (Ω form) Ground Theme (Band Performance) - Super Mario Bros. (Against Mario)
Metal Battle (Against Metal Mario)

Note: When fighting the Mii Fighters, they all wear Mario Caps.

Credits roll after completing Classic Mode. Completing it as Bowser has King Bowser - Super Mario Bros. 3 accompany the credits.

Role in World of Light[edit]

Finding the Giga Bowser battle that unlocks Bowser 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.

Fighter Battle[edit]

No. Image Name Type Power Stage Music
Bowser SSBU.png
Bowser There is no fighter battle for Bowser, this fighter is obtained after defeating Giga Bowser


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[edit]

As the main opponent[edit]

Spirit Battle parameters
No. Image Name Series Enemy Fighter(s) Type Power Stage Rules Conditions Music
SPI-Bowser (Wedding).png
Bowser (Wedding) Super Mario series Bowser BowserHeadGreySSBU.png
•Ally: Peach PeachHeadWhiteSSBU.png
9,700 New Donk City Hall N/A •You lose if your CPU ally is KO'd
•The enemy favors dash attacks
•The enemy has increased attack power
Underground Moon Caverns
Mechakoopa Spirit.png
Mechakoopa Super Mario series •Tiny Bowser BowserHeadYellowSSBU.png Team (×4)
3,800 Mushroom Kingdom U (Slide Lift Tower) N/A •The enemy starts the battle with a Bob-omb King Bowser - Super Mario Bros. 3
Dry Bowser (Spirit).png
Dry Bowser Super Mario series Bowser BowserHeadGreySSBU.png
13,500 Reset Bomb Forest (Battlefield form) •Defense ↑
•Hazard: Lava Floor
•The floor is lava
•The enemy breathes fire after a little while
•The enemy has increased defense after a while
King Bowser - Super Mario Bros. 3
Paper Bowser Spirit.png
Paper Bowser Paper Mario series Bowser BowserHeadOrangeSSBU.png
9,300 Peach's Castle (Ω form) •Defense ↑
•Attack Power ↑
•Item: Star Rod
•The enemy will occasionally be invincible
•The enemy's special moves have increased power
Stamina battle
Paper Mario Medley
Moosh The Legend of Zelda series Bowser BowserHeadBlueSSBU.png
1,900 Garden of Hope (Battlefield form) N/A •The enemy favors down specials Tal Tal Heights
Baby Bowser Spirit.png
Baby Bowser Yoshi series •Giant Bowser BowserHeadOrangeSSBU.png
•Tiny Bowser BowserHeadOrangeSSBU.png
13,800 Find Mii (Ω form) •Hazard: Lava Floor •The floor is lava
•The enemy has super armor and is hard to launch or make flinch
Stamina battle
King Bowser - Super Mario Bros. 3
Blargg Spirit.png
Blargg Yoshi series •Curry Bowser BowserHeadRedSSBU.png
3,900 Castle Siege (Underground Cavern) N/A •The enemy breathes fire Melty Monster
Sandshrew Spirit.png
Sandshrew Pokémon series Bowser BowserHeadYellowSSBU.png
1,800 Mushroomy Kingdom (Battlefield form) •Item: Pitfall •The enemy is easily distracted by items Main Theme - Pokémon Red & Pokémon Blue (Brawl)
Kangaskhan Spirit.png
Kangaskhan Pokémon series Bowser BowserHeadYellowSSBU.png
Larry BowserJrHeadLarrySSBU.png
3,700 Windy Hill Zone N/A •Defeat the main fighter to win
•Reinforcements will appear during the battle
Main Theme - Pokémon Red & Pokémon Blue (Brawl)
Tauros Spirit.png
Tauros Pokémon series Bowser BowserHeadYellowSSBU.png
3,800 Gerudo Valley •Uncontrollable Speed •The enemy is very fast and can't stop quickly
•The enemy can deal damage by dashing into you
Main Theme - Pokémon Red & Pokémon Blue (Brawl)
Heracross Pokémon series Bowser BowserHeadBlueSSBU.png
4,400 Distant Planet (Battlefield form) •Attack Power ↑
•Hazard: Sticky Floor
•The floor is sticky
•The enemy's throws have increased power
•The enemy has increased attack power when the enemy's at high damage
Pokémon Gold / Pokémon Silver Medley
Groudon Pokémon series •Giant Bowser BowserHeadRedSSBU.png
4,700 Norfair (Battlefield form) •Hazard: Lava Floor •The floor is lava
•The enemy is giant
Victory Road - Pokémon Ruby / Pokémon Sapphire
Volcanion Pokémon series •Giant Bowser BowserHeadRedSSBU.png
9,800 Norfair •Sudden Damage
•Hazard: Fog
•The stage is covered in fog
Stamina battle
•You'll occasionally take sudden damage
Battle! (Champion) - Pokémon X / Pokémon Y
Pico F-Zero series Bowser BowserHeadGreenSSBU.png
3,500 Mute City SNES (Battlefield form) N/A •The enemy starts the battle with an enhanced Ray Gun Death Wind
River Survival Spirit.png
River Survival Super Mario series Bowser BowserHeadRedSSBU.png
Kirby KirbyHeadOrangeSSBU.png
Yoshi YoshiHeadRedSSBU.png
Rosalina & Luma RosalinaHeadWhiteSSBU.png
5,500 Kongo Falls (Ω form) Bob-omb Festival
•Item Tidal Wave
•Item: Food
•Survive until the timer runs out
•Bob-ombs will rain from the sky after a little while

As a minion[edit]

Spirit Battle parameters Inspiration
No. Image Name Series Enemy Fighter(s) Type Power Stage Rules Conditions Music Character
Lakitu & Spiny Super Mario series Iggy BowserJrHeadIggySSBU.png
•Tiny Bowser BowserHeadRedSSBU.png (×8)
3,400 Mushroom Kingdom N/A •Defeat an army of fighters Ground Theme - Super Mario Bros. Spiny
Geno Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars Sheik SheikHeadIndigoSSBU.png
Peach PeachHeadRedSSBU.png
Kirby KirbyHeadWhiteSSBU.png
Bowser BowserHeadOrangeSSBU.png
Mario MarioHeadBlueSSBU.png
13,700 Mario Galaxy (Battlefield form) N/A •Defeat the main fighter to win
•Timed battle
•The enemy's FS Meter charges quickly
Rainbow Road Medley Bowser
Turtle Bridge.png
Turtle Bridge Game & Watch series Mr. Game & Watch MrGame&WatchHeadSSBU.png
Squirtle SquirtleHeadPurpleSSBU.png
Morton BowserJrHeadMortonSSBU.png
Bowser BowserHeadGreySSBU.png
1,700 Flat Zone X (hazards off) N/A •The enemy favors back air attacks Flat Zone Turtle
Satoru Trade & Battle: Card Hero series Shulk ShulkHeadBlackSSBU.png
Mewtwo MewtwoHeadBrownSSBU.png
Ridley RidleyHeadMetaSSBU.png
Bowser BowserHeadBlackSSBU.png
1,700 Pokémon Stadium 2 •Move Speed ↓ •Defeat the main fighter to win
•The enemy's melee weapons have increased power
•Reinforcements will appear during the battle
Worthy Rival Battle
Nibbles Fossil Fighters series Yoshi YoshiHeadRedSSBU.png
Charizard CharizardHeadRedSSBU.png
Ridley RidleyHeadRedSSBU.png
Bowser BowserHeadRedSSBU.png
1,800 Arena Ferox •Item: Pitfall •Defeat the main fighter to win
•Reinforcements will appear during the battle
Battle Start - Fossil Fighters: Frontier Munchsaurus

Alternate costumes[edit]

Bowser Palette (SSBU).png
BowserHeadSSBU.png BowserHeadBlackSSBU.png BowserHeadYellowSSBU.png BowserHeadGreenSSBU.png BowserHeadGreySSBU.png BowserHeadOrangeSSBU.png BowserHeadRedSSBU.png BowserHeadBlueSSBU.png


Character Showcase Video[edit]


Bowser and Peach Size Comparision 1 (Normal Gameplay).pngBowser and Peach Size Comparision 2 (No Contest).png
A comparison of Bowser's contrasting size
to Peach during normal gameplay (left) vs. the
"No Contest" screen (right).
  • The pose Bowser strikes in his official artwork is similar to artwork of him for Super Mario 64 DS, Fortune Street, and Mario Party 10.
  • Like in Smash 4, he was the first Melee newcomer to be confirmed.
  • During the segment of the E3 2018 Nintendo Direct focusing on Bowser, Sakurai states that the size change made to his Final Smash is an allusion to the boss fight with Baby Bowser at the end of Yoshi's Island.
  • Bowser is the only fighter to be fought in a form other than their regular appearance to recruit them in World of Light.
    • He is therefore the only unlockable fighter in the series who can be unlocked in such a condition.
  • In World of Light, Bowser is the only villain that is unlockable in the Light Realm. The others are unlocked in the Dark Realm, with the exception of Dark Samus, who is unlocked in the Final Battle though she is still affiliated with Dharkon.
    • King Dedede is also a recurring antagonist in his game series that can be found on the Light Realm, making him and Bowser the only two recurring antagonists found under Galeem's control. Unlike Bowser, King Dedede is more of an anti-hero.
  • On the "No Contest" screen, Bowser's model is significantly smaller than it is during normal gameplay. No other character model seems to shrink on this screen, even larger characters such as Ridley.
  • Bowser being unlockable in Donkey Kong's Classic Mode column likely alludes to how the two are the heavyweights in the Mario spin-off games. In Mario Party 5 through 8, they were also opposite event spaces that either benefited or harmed the player that landed on them.
  • There appears to a visual glitch where Bowser's shell model is not used while under the effects of Superspicy Curry.
    • There's also another glitch where if he performs a jump while equipped with a Screw Attack, he will be shown in a t-pose. This glitch has now been fixed.
  • His Classic Mode is one of only two to feature a fight against a boss (in this case, Rathalos) outside of the boss round, the other being Mega Man and one of the few whose boss round does not feature a designated boss, instead fighting characters who are otherwise playable (in this case, Mario and Metal Mario).

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