Bowser (SSBU)

From SmashWiki, the Super Smash Bros. wiki
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, Lucina, Inkling, and Pichu. 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, being best in the game alongside King Dedede and King K. Rool. 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 rapid jabs and weak projectiles. This lets him tank and approach effectively while at low percents, and allows him to simply break through any rapid jab with a powerful attack, acting as a hard punish.

Among Bowser's greatest strengths is the incredible power his moveset provides. Almost all of his attacks have KO potential, being most notable in moves like forward smash, up smash, back aerial, Flying Slam, and Bowser Bomb. His forward smash is the 4th strongest in the game, with even the uncharged attack KOing at around 60% from center-stage only. His up smash is fast despite its power, KOing at around 75% uncharged and has invincibility on his entire shell and a hitbox on landing that provides safety, making it an excellent anti-air option. Back aerial, thanks to its extremely high knockback growth, KOs at around 100% from center stage, and is fast for an aerial of its caliber. It also autocancels in a short hop, making it a good coverage tool against the ledge. 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 usually needs at least two or three hits in order to score KOs.

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. At high percentages, its looping hits open up KO confirms, notably into his very strong back aerial. Fire Breath is Bowser's only projectile move, but it deals massive damage and shield stun. It can also 2-frame punish if angled correctly, making it a good edgeguarding tool. Whirling Fortress is Bowser's primary recovery move; while it has below-average 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, with its first hitbox coming out 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 are among the longest reaching non-tether grabs in the game. His forward and back throws are among the strongest in the game and are viable KOing options. Up throw can set up combos at low percentages, and create 50/50 KO setups at high percentages. 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 to set up edgeguards. 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. Tying into this 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 is 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 has been buffed in his transition from SSB4 to Ultimate. His excellent mobility and KO potential have considerably improved, allowing him to punish much more effectively. He also received an increase on his defensive play through the amplification of heavy armor on his tilts and most of his smash attacks, toning down one of his biggest weaknesses in SSB4. His grounded and aerial mobility have improved, and his weight is even higher, keeping his status as 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 have 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 losing most of its combo potential due to its increased knockback and ending lag, having previously been a fearsome combo starter with a myriad of followups and KO setups. 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. He also retains some flaws from the previous game, like being heavily susceptible to zoning and pressure. Additionally, he still has trouble landing due to his susceptibility to combos, and he still remains susceptible to tech-chasing as his techs are still slow and short-distanced.

Overall, Bowser's new traits further enhance his damage, speed, and staying power, making him an all-rounder of the game's super heavyweights. Bowser has earned great representation in Ultimate's early metagame, thanks to players such as LeoN, who has taken sets off of top players like Nairo, Cosmos, Marss, Dabuz and Light. As a result, Bowser is generally considered to be viable in Ultimate, and is almost universally regarded as the best super heavyweight in the game.


  • 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 makes roaring noises during his idle poses, instead of being silent like in Smash 4.
  • Change Bowser's shielding pose has changed: he turns around and guards attacks with his shell.
  • Change Bowser's hair has physics-based movement.
  • Change Up and side taunts have been shortened, the latter also updated to match his upright stance.
  • Change Bowser's victory poses have been changed.
    • Change His first one 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 His second one shows him running up to the victory area before slashing the air with his claws.
    • Change His third one is completely new. He breathes fire towards the screen before striking a pose reminiscent of his SSB4 artwork. It replaces his shell spinning victory pose.


  • Buff Like all characters, Bowser's jumpsquat animation takes 3 frames to complete (down from 8), the second largest difference out of all veterans (only behind Snake), greatly improving his ground-to-air transitioning and out of shield game.
  • 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 The universal knockback reduction in rapid jabs allows Tough Guy to resist all of them, including some he could not resist in Smash 4, such as Captain Falcon's.
  • Buff Forward roll has less ending lag (FAF 34 → 33).
  • Nerf Forward roll grants less intangibility (frames 4-19 → 4-16).
  • Nerf Back roll has more startup with less intangibility (frames 4-19 → 5-17), and more ending lag (FAF 34 → 38).
  • Buff Spot dodge has less startup (frame 4 → 3).
  • Buff Air dodge grants more intangibility (frames 4-29 → 4-32).
  • Nerf Air dodge has significantly more ending lag (FAF 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:
    • Buff The first hit transitions faster into the second (frame 12 → 10).
    • Buff The second hit deals more damage (6.5% → 7%), slightly increasing its knockback as a result.
    • Nerf Both hits have a higher hitlag multiplier (1× → 1.4× (hit 1), 1.8× (hit 2)), giving opponents more time to SDI the first hit and DI the second hit.
    • Nerf The first hit has more ending lag (FAF 21 → 26), greatly reducing its jab cancel ability.
    • Nerf The first hit deals less damage (5% → 4%), reducing the move's total damage output (11.5% → 11%).
    • Nerf The first hit has a shorter hitbox duration, with its arm intangibility reduced as well (frames 7-9 → 7-8).
    • Change The first hit has altered angles (30°/50°/85° → 361°/180°) to keep opponents closer to Bowser, and no longer deals set knockback (45/30/18 set/100 scaling → 40/35/30 base/18 scaling). This allows it to jab lock and connect more reliably into the second hit up to high percents, but less reliably afterward, without increasing its jab cancel ability due to its increased ending lag.
    • Change Neutral attack has a slightly different animation, consisting of a sumo-style palm strike followed by a punch.
  • Forward tilt:
    • Buff Forward tilt deals more damage (12% → 13%) with no compensation on knockback, increasing its KO power.
    • Nerf Forward tilt has a slightly different animation, consisting of a swung backhand punch with the arm slightly bent. This slightly reduces its range.
  • Up tilt:
    • Buff Up tilt deals more damage (9% → 11%) with no compensation on knockback, allowing it to KO at around 130%, much like in Brawl.
    • Buff Up tilt has arm intangibility (frames 11-16).
  • Down tilt:
    • Buff The first hit has received set knockback (20 base/100 scaling → 50/30 set/100 scaling), and its outermost hitbox launches opponents towards Bowser (361° → 130°), while the second hit comes out faster (frame 20 → 15). This allows both hits to link much more reliably.
      • Nerf However, the move's total duration remains the same, increasing its ending lag.
    • Nerf Both hits deal drastically less damage (14% → 7% (hit 1), 11% → 8% (hit 2)), still resulting in slightly higher total damage than the first hit alone in Smash 4 (14% → 15%), but significantly reducing it at low percents where the unchanged hits could link, in addition to weakening its shield safety and shield breaking ability.
    • Nerf The second hit's knockback was also not fully compensated (12 base/100 scaling → 20/111), drastically weakening its KO potential, especially compared to the first hit in Smash 4.
    • Buff The second hit has larger hitboxes (5u/4.5u/4u → 5.6u/5u/4.5u), improving its range.
  • Up smash:
    • Buff Up smash deals slightly more damage (20%/15%/15% → 22%/16%/16%) with no compensation on knockback, and its sourspots launch opponents at a higher angle (70°/120° → 85°), further improving its KO ability, to the point the sweetspot is stronger than Ganondorf's up smash.
    • Buff The landing hit deals twice as much damage (6% → 12%).
    • Buff The landing hit has more range behind Bowser (Z offset: 4–-5.5 → 4–-7.5).
    • Nerf The landing hit deals much less knockback (80 base/100 scaling → 30/70), hindering its KO potential despite its increased damage.
  • Down smash:
    • Buff Bowser has a new down smash: a low claw swipe forward with one hand, then another swipe backward with his other hand, similar to Wolf's. It hits only twice instead of seven times, with one hit at each side. This animation gives it more horizontal range.
    • Buff Both hits deal much more individual damage, with the first hit's being the same the total of the previous down smash (2% (hit 1), 1% (hits 2-6), 9% (hit 7) → 16% (hit 1), 15% (hit 2)), and they launch at a lower angle (50° → 40°), with their knockback not fully compensated (40 base/130 scaling → 60/86 (hit 1), 60/92 (hit 2)). This significantly improves its KO potential, with both hits KOing under 100% from center stage, and effectively replaces a highly situational move that was notoriously outclassed by Whirling Fortress.
    • Nerf Down smash has more 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). This makes it less effective for punishing rolls, and drastically reduces the first hit's safety on shield.

Aerial attacks[edit]

  • Buff All aerials have less landing lag (20 frames → 15 (neutral), 24 → 14 (forward), 40 → 24 (back), 28 → 17 (up), 40 → 34 (down)).
  • Neutral aerial:
    • Buff Neutral aerial auto-cancels earlier (frame 45 → 41).
    • Buff Due to its lower landing lag and Bowser's faster jumpsquat, it is a much better combo starter, leading into aerial attacks even up to high percents.
    • Nerf Its hitboxes are smaller (5.5u → 5u).
  • Forward aerial:
    • Buff Forward aerial always sends opponents towards Bowser's front, improving its consistency in edgeguarding and KOing.
  • Down aerial:
    • Buff The landing hitbox has a longer duration (frames 1-3 → 1-6).

Throws and other attacks[edit]

  • Grabs:
    • Buff All grabs have a longer hitbox duration (2 frames → 3).
    • Buff Standing grab has less startup (frame 9 → 8).
    • Nerf Standing grab has more ending lag (FAF 39 → 41).
    • Buff Dash grab has slightly more range (Z2 offset: 15.5u → 16.2u).
    • Nerf Dash grab has more startup (frame 10 → 11), with its total duration increased as well (FAF 48 → 49).
    • Buff Pivot grab has less ending lag (FAF 46 → 44).
    • Nerf Pivot grab has more startup (frame 11 → 12) and drastically less range (Z2 offset: -26.5u → -22u).
  • Pummel:
    • Buff Pummel deals more hitlag (5 frames → 15), but has less startup (frame 9 → 2) and significantly less ending lag (FAF 24 → 8), shortening its duration.
    • Nerf It deals much less damage (3.1% → 1.6%).
  • Up throw:
    • Buff Up throw's eighth hit deals more damage (1% → 2%), and it has an additional hit right before release that deals 4%, almost doubling its total damage output (6.5% → 11.5%).
    • Nerf Up throw releases opponents slower (frame 53 → 57), but has more ending lag (FAF 64 → 75). Although this is somewhat alleviated by Bowser's faster jumpsquat, it completely removes the move's combo potential past mid percents, along with no longer possessing any guranteed KO setups.
    • Nerf The last hit deals much less knockback to bystanders (80 base/200 scaling → 85/80).
    • Change The last hit launches bystanders vertically instead of being a semi-spike (0° → 80°). Coupled with the previous change, this removes its extreme horizontal KO power, but allows it to combo them alongside the thrown victim.
    • Change Bowser hops during the final hit.
  • Down throw:
    • Buff Down throw's release deals more damage (2% → 4%) with no compensation on knockback, although it is still weaker than forward throw.
    • Nerf It has faster startup (frame 45, 56 → 35, 37), but with its total duration not reduced, significantly increasing its ending lag, while it remains easy to react to.
    • Change It has a more exaggerated animation where Bowser leaps upward and collapses belly-first on the opponent.
  • Edge attack:
    • Buff Edge attack deals more damage (7% → 10%).

Special moves[edit]

  • Fire Breath:
    • Buff Fire Breath deals more damage per hit (1.2% → 1.8%).
    • Buff The flames have larger hitboxes (4u → 4.5u).
    • Change It is more vibrant in color as opposed to the more realistic flame in Smash 4.
  • Flying Slam:
    • Buff Flying Slam's grounded version has less startup (frame 8 → 6), while the aerial version has the same startup as the grounded one (frame 17 → 6). This allows Bowser to beat out shielding opponents much more easily when airborne.
    • Change The outer grabbox is smaller (5u → 4u), but further out (Z offset: 17.5 → 19), increasing its horizontal reach but worsening its vertical reach.
    • Buff The inner grabbox is larger (4u → 5u).
    • Nerf It has noticeably more ending lag (FAF 43 (grounded), 50 (aerial) → 53), and the aerial version no longer auto-cancels upon landing, making it much easier to punish.
    • Nerf Upon grabbing an opponent, it has more lag before Bowser jumps (25 frames → 33) making it easier to DI.
    • Change It 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 (grounded):
    • Buff Grounded Whirling Fortress's looping hits use different angles (180° → 160°/165°), deal less knockback (50/70 set/100 scaling → 80/120/50), have a lower hitlag multiplier (1× → 0.7×), weight-independent knockback and have gained an additional hitbox above Bowser that meteor smashes opponents into the attack (180° → 240°). This allows it to connect more reliably, with opponents no longer being able to tech out of it, and increases its vertical range.
    • Buff The last hit deals more damage (4% → 6%), with knockback compensated (70 base/150 scaling → 50/140).
    • Change The last hit uses weight-independent knockback. This hinders the move's KO potential against lighter targets, but improves it against heavier ones.
    • Change The last hit launches at a lower angle (60° → 55°).
  • Whirling Fortress (aerial):
    • Buff Aerial Whirling Fortress has significantly less landing lag (50 frames → 36).
    • Buff The first hit and looping hits use the autolink angle (84° → 367°), with the former also dealing less knockback (80 base/60 scaling → 50/0), and it has an additional finishing hit at the end (dealing 12 hits, up from 11) with significantly more knockback scaling (20 → 180), repurposing it into a more traditional multi-hit move that can rack up damage more safely.
    • Nerf It deals significantly less damage (10% (hit 1), 3% (hits 2-6), 2% (hits 7-11) → 7% (hit 1), 1% (hits 2-11), 2% (hit 12); 35% total → 19%), no longer making it among the most damaging up specials in the game.
    • Nerf The looping hits have smaller hitboxes (6u → 4.3u).
    • Change The last hit launches at a lower angle (84° → 60°).
    • Change Its animation has been altered, with Bowser spinning more at an angle toward the camera.
  • Bowser Bomb:
    • Buff Grounded Bowser Bomb's first hit has different angles (85° → 80°/100°/90°) and deals less set knockback (90 → 60), but uses weight-independent knockback, a lower SDI multiplier (1× → 0.5×), and inflicts 8 additional frames of hitstun, while the second hit has less startup (frame 38 → 37). This makes the first hit impossible to DI, and allows it to connect better into the second hit.
    • Buff The first hit now uses 4 smaller but extended hitboxes rather than one large unextended one. Overall it has more reach.
    • Buff Aerial Bowser Bomb has less startup (frame 32 → 31).
    • Change It meteor smashes at the beginning of its descent (76° → 290°), with knockback somewhat compensated (45 base/75 scaling → 13/65), granting it utility in edgeguarding, but making its onstage KO potential less consistent.
      • Nerf The aforementioned meteor smash hitbox deals less knockback (45 base/75 scaling → 13/65), making it significantly less powerful as a result.
  • 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 moderate knockback.

Update history[edit]

Bowser has been buffed by game updates so far. Update 2.0.0 made forward tilt and down smash better KO options. Whirling Fortress was made better in both 2.0.0 and 3.0.0, with the former update allowing the move to work better as a multi-hit and the latter making it better as a out of shield option, now not allowing opponents to tech the grounded version. 4.0.0 changed his down aerial to fit the universal changes made to stall-then-falls, fixing its downward descent from stalling if the move is used out of hitstun.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 2.0.0

  • Buff Neutral attack's second hit deals more damage (6% → 7%).
  • Buff Forward tilt deals more damage (12% → 13%).
  • Buff Down smash has more knockback.
  • Buff Whirling Fortress' looping hits connect more reliably.
  • Buff Giga Bowser Punch will launch crouching opponents in the same manner as standing opponents.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 3.0.0

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 3.1.0

  • Bug fix Opponents that are hit during Flying Slam's initial grab now interrupt Flying Slam instead of it slamming without an opponent.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 4.0.0

  • Change Down aerial no longer has its downward movement disabled when used out of hitstun.


  • Bowser has universal armor against attacks with low knockback, known as Tough Guy. 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 forward 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, but because it doesn't lower his hurtbox or amplify Tough Guy, his crawl is practically useless.

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

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. 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). It can still hit many ledge hangs, although the first hit having set knockback can cause the second hit to whiff if a ledge hang is low enough.
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. However, its knockback scaling is below-average, preventing it from KOing until around 190%, along with having high ending lag, making it very punishable.
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),
12% (landing)
Hops 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 the edge sourspots or landing hitbox instead. Its sweetspot is among the strongest up smashes in the game, KOing at around 80% uncharged. Grants damaged-based armor (frames 11-15) and invincibility on his shell (frames 14-27), making it an excellent anti-air tool that is hard to compete with.
Down smash   16% (hit 1),
15% (hit 2)
Does two grounded claw swipes, hitting opponents in front then behind him. Active on frame 12, making it Bowser’s fastest smash attack. Deals high knockback, with the front hit being slightly stronger than the back hit. Grants damaged-based armor (frames 5-11), but unlike his other smashes, it possesses no invincibility. It can hit many characters' ledge hangs and is useful for covering rolls.
Neutral aerial   6% (hits 1-4) An aerial cartwheel. While its looping hits are hard to connect altogether, it is incredibly damaging for an aerial, and it can even open up KO confirms on landing, such as into forward aerial, back aerial and up aerial. This makes it Bowser's best combo starter when landing with it, as even at low percentages it is able to combo into up tilt and up smash.
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 auto-cancel 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. It can auto-cancel in a short hop, making it somewhat safe when retreataing. However, it has very high landing lag, making it risky to use when close to the ground. Active on frame 9.
Up aerial   15% An upward headbutt. Deals great knockback, enough to KO at around 100% near the upper blast line, and makes it a good juggling tool. 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. Bowser will hover in the air for a brief period before the active frames begin, allowing this move to stall Bowser’s landing. 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, it doesn't throw until frame 36, which results in it taking longer to throw opponents than back throw, making it more susceptible to DI.
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),
4% (hit 9)
2% (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. Can combo into forward or up aerial at low percents. Furthermore, the latter becomes a 50/50 KO setup at high percentages.
Down throw   10% (hit 1),
4% (throw)
Places the opponent on the ground and body slams them. Its high base knockback, low knockback scaling, and high ending lag prevent it from having any follow-ups. However, its very high damage and base knockback make it a good mixup and an option to send opponents offstage.
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. Has by far the longest range out of any edge attack.
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. It deals notoriously high damage, as at close ranges it can potentially deal over 30% in a matter of a few seconds.
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), and can launch opponents significantly far when falling, although the explosion has no hitbox.
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 starts up on frame 6 and is capable of moving forward or backward while doing so, which makes it an extremely effective out of shield option, launching opponents vertically and easily putting them into a disadvantage. 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 is near one. In midair, the startup can meteor smash, although it is rather weak in knockback despite its high damage.
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]

  • Left: Stomps and spreads his arms while roaring.
  • Up: Runs into the scene and slashes his claws twice.
  • Right: 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]

Any number following the Smasher name indicates placement on the Spring 2019 PGRU, which recognizes the official top 50 players in the world in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate from February 1st, 2019 to July 7th, 2019.

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

Bowser's congratulations screen.

Bowser's opponents are all wearing attire that is red, which is a reference to his mortal enemy (Mario) wearing red clothing. Bowser also fights Rathalos as the penultimate boss. The final battle is against Mario, who transforms into Metal Mario upon defeat.

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 Fighter costume combinations:
  • Mario's Cap and Builder Mario's Outfit
  • Mario's Cap and Wild West Gear
  • Mario's Cap and Ninja Suit
  • Mario's Cap and Toad Outfit
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 Forest Hill 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)
Mario transforms into Metal Mario upon defeat.

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 Super Mario World 2: 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 although Bowser is an anti-hero in some Mario spin off games like Super Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story.
  • 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.
    • Both Bowser & Donkey Kong appear in Melee's event Gargantuans and (along with Charizard, is also unlocked in Donkey Kong's unlock column via Pokemon Trainer) Brawl's event Three-Beast Carnage.
      • All three opponents of which, along with King Dedede who is also in Donkey Kong's unlock column, appear in both Mario and King K. Rool's Classic Mode routes each.
    • Both characters have also served as some of Mario's greatest enemies, and have even been CPU opponents for Mario in The Original Heavyweights in Wii U.
    • Both characters also have their final round in Classic Mode take place on New Donk City Hall's ᘯ form, where they fight Master Hand (with Crazy Hand depending on the difficulty), and Mario (before his transformation into Metal Mario) respectively.
      • On the flipside, both characters are the only fighters who face Diddy Kong for a standalone Classic Mode opponent on Kongo Jungle.
    • Both characters so far, along with Dark Samus, are also tied as the third most common opponents for Classic Mode (all three of which appear in 16 routes in total), thus making Bowser the most common Melee veteran for Classic Mode opponents.
  • 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 three to feature a fight against a boss (in this case, Rathalos) outside of the boss round, the others being Mega Man & Hero, 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).
    • Given that Metal Mario (after defeating normal Mario) is his final opponent, Bowser is one of only two characters whose final round consists of a mini-boss from Super Smash Bros.'s original 1P game, with the other being Jigglypuff, who faces a Giant Donkey Kong for its own Classic Mode route.
    • Along with Hero, Bowser is the only other character to face a unique boss before the Bonus Game in Classic Mode, which happens to be Rathalos for both of them.
  • Along with Link & Meta Knight, Bowser has the most words in his Classic Mode title.
  • Although Bowser's Classic Mode mostly contains characters wearing red, King Dedede, Villager and Shulk do not appear as his opponents.
  • Bowser's Classic Mode route is vaguely similar to Ike's, as both characters face fighters of only one specific color for opponents.
    • The only difference being that Bowser faces every ordinary fighter (who aren't the Mii Fighters in his first round) in their default costumes, while only half of Ike's opponents's costumes are by default.
      • Not to mention Bowser's unique boss, Rathalos has a specific code of red to his appearance.