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 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.

Changes from Super Smash Bros. 4[edit]

Bowser was buffed in his transition from Smash 4 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' shorter distance. Finally, Bowser's heavier weight and faster fall 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.


  • Change As with all veterans returning from Smash 4, Bowser's model features a more subdued color scheme. His colors overall are slightly darker and more monotone, similar to his appearance in Melee, while his scales, hair, horns, and spikes 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 has physics-based movement.


  • Buff Like all characters, Bowser's jumpsquat animation now takes three frames to complete (down from 8).
  • Buff Bowser's universal heavy armor (officially known as "Tough Guy") seems to be amplified; he can now resist all rapid jabs, including some of the rapid jabs he could not resist in SSB4 such as Captain Falcon's rapid jabs.
  • 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). 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 now 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 now has a percent-based heavy 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: 7-9; 4%, Down Tilt: 7-9; 4%, Up Smash: 11-15; 8%, Forward Smash: 17-21; 10%, Down Smash: 5-11; 8%).
  • Neutral attack:
    • Change Neutral attack is now a sumo-style palm strike followed by a punch.
    • Nerf Both hits of neutral attack deal slightly less damage (5%/6.5% (hits 1/2) → 4%/6% (hits 1/2)), and the second hit has less KO potential as a result.
    • 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).
  • Forward tilt:
    • Change Forward tilt is now a swung backhand punch with the arm slightly bent. The fist is enlarged while the hitbox is out, so its range appears unaltered.
  • Up tilt
    • Buff Up tilt deals more damage (9% → 11%), now being able to KO at around 130%
    • Buff Up tilt now 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 now deal more overall damage than the first hit in Smash 4 (14% → 15%).
    • Buff Down tilt's second hit can now 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: a grounded claw swipe that hits forward then backward, similar to Wolf's. This replaces his old down smash, which was notoriously outclassed by Whirling Fortress. This down smash is faster overall, has more range, and deals much more knockback.
    • Nerf Down smash has fewer active frames and slightly increased startup (frame 10 → 12).

Aerial attacks[edit]

  • Buff All aerials have much less landing lag (Neutral: frame 20 → 15, Forward: 24 → 14, Back: 40 → 24, Up: 28 → 17, Down: 40 → 34).
  • Neutral aerial:
    • Nerf Neutral aerial's hits connect less reliably.
  • Forward aerial:
    • Change The lower hitbox no longer sends opponents behind Bowser.
  • Down aerial:
    • Buff Down aerial now has full body (minus the shell) intangibility starting from frame 14, which lasts until 27 frames of the move's landing animation have passed.

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).
    • 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), which, in combination with its increased knockback, severely hinders its combo potential. Furthermore the increased knockback does not grant the move KO potential, so the utility of the move is worse overall.
    • Change Bowser now hops on the final hit of up throw.
  • Down throw:
    • Buff Down throw has faster startup (frame 45 → 35) and deals more damage (10%/2% → 10%/4%).
  • 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 now has the same amount of startup as the grounded one (frame 17 → 6).
    • Buff Flying Slam deals more knockback
    • 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 now has Bowser spin around more dramatically on the way down and now 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 now has full body (minus the shell) intangibility starting from frame 80, which lasts until 13 frames of the move's landing animation have passed.
    • 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 now has Bowser spin more at an angle toward the camera.
  • Bowser Bomb:
    • Change Bowser Bomb now 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 reaches 80% or greater from the punch, they receive an instant Screen KO, otherwise they receive mediocre knockback.


  • 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 can crawl, although it has no practical use because of his large hurtbox.

The following damage values were calculated without the 1.2x damage multiplier that is activated during one-on-one fights.

For aerial attacks, full hop damage values are shown. Hovering over them shows the short hop damage values (aerial attacks performed during a short hop have a 0.85x multiplier.) 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.
Forward tilt   12% Bowser does a swung backhanded punch, with his arm slightly bent. Has the exact same properties as Bowser's previous forward tilt.
Up tilt   11% Does an arcing claw swipe. Comes with wide range, and makes Bowser's arm intangible for 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.
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. Its clean hitboxes render Bowser's legs intangible, whereas its late hitboxes have anti-rebounding priority. Even from the center of the stage, it can KO opponents at 70%.
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.
Down smash   16% (hit 1),
15% (hit 2)
Does a grounded claw swipe, hitting opponents in front and behind him. Deals more knockback than his old down smash.
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, 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.
Up aerial   15% An upward headbutt. Does significantly less knockback and kills later than its variant from the previous games.
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.
Grab   Reaches out.
Pummel   1.6% Headbutts the opponent.
Forward throw   12%
Back throw   12%
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.
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.
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.
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, while button mashing enables it to cover more 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. 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 punch would take an opponent's damage percent to 80% or greater, they are instantaneously K.O.d.

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
1 Mii Brawler (×2), Mii Gunner and Mii Swordfighter Find Mii Airship Theme - Super Mario Bros. 3
2 Ken Suzaku Castle Ken Stage
3 Samus Norfair Brinstar (Melee)
4 Giant Charizard and Giant Incineroar Pokémon Stadium 2 Victory Road - Pokémon Ruby / Pokémon Sapphire
5 Diddy Kong Kongo Jungle Stickerbush Symphony
6 Rathalos ? Roar/Rathalos
Bonus Stage
Final Mario, then Metal Mario New Donk City Hall (Ω form) Ground Theme (Band Performance) - Super Mario Bros., then Metal Battle

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

Role in World of Light[edit]

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.

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.
  • In World of Light, Bowser is one of two villains that is unlockable in the Light Realm, the other being King Dedede. 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.
  • On the "No Contest" screen, Bowser's model is significantly smaller than it is during normal gameplay.
  • 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 9, they were also opposite event spaces that either benefited or harmed the player that landed on them.

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