Bowser Jr. (SSB4)
Bowser Jr. (クッパ Jr., Koopa Jr.) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. Alongside Mr. Game & Watch, Bowser Jr. was officially revealed during the Super Smash Bros. for Wii U: 50-Fact Extravaganza on October 23, 2014, being the second-to-last newcomer shown by an official source. Prior to that, he was leaked by ESRB on August 29th, 2014 alongside Shulk and Ganondorf. Bowser Jr. was also among the sixth wave of amiibo figures that are compatible with SSB4. Caety Sagoian reprises her role as Bowser Jr.'s voice actor, albeit via recycled voice clips from various Mario spin-off games. The Koopalings also use their voice clips from the New Super Mario Bros. games, which were voiced by Lani Minella (Larry, Morton, Wendy, and Lemmy), Mike Vaughn (Iggy and Ludwig) and Dan Falcone (Roy).
Bowser Jr. is tied with Wii Fit Trainer for 46th/47th out of 58 on the tier list, placing them in the G tier. Bowser Jr. has one of the best neutral games among the cast, as Clown Kart Dash functions as an excellent approach option and provides an impressive amount of versatility, while Mechakoopa is a very useful pressure option. Despite being a heavyweight, Bowser Jr. also sports a deceptively good air game, courtesy of his fairly fast aerial mobility and his aerial attacks' follow-up and juggle potentials. In addition, Bowser Jr. is notably the only character in the game who has disjointed hitboxes on all of his attacks. This distinctive trait enables him to attack from a reasonably safe distance, which is supplemented by a number of his attacks being powerful enough to KO under 100%.
Despite his strengths, Bowser Jr. has noticeable flaws. His overall grounded mobility is slow, which necessitates using Clown Kart Dash in order to keep up with faster opponents. Lag is another glaring issue; many of Bowser Jr.'s attacks have among the largest amounts of ending lag in the game, while his grab game suffers from his standing, pivot and dash grabs' overall lag. His grab game is further compounded by very unimpressive throws, with only his back throw being somewhat viable at best as a KOing option. Lastly, Bowser Jr.'s recovery can be problematic despite his good aerial mobility. This is due to Abandon Ship! offering no overhead protection and thus being very susceptible to gimps, as well as being unable to be re-used if he is hit by a weak attack.
Overall, Bowser Jr. is a character who can pressure and combo certain opponents easily once he is mastered. However, due to his current position in competitive play, Bowser Jr.'s impact on the current metagame is very low despite the efforts of Tweek, who notably spearheaded his metagame before dropping him. This is also reflected in his tournament results, which are currently below average due to his very small playerbase. Nonetheless, he has still made waves of attention from time to time, such as with Jade defeating Trela's Ryu at CEO 2016. Additionally, Tweek announced after CEO 2016 that he would resume playing Bowser Jr., which may result in his tournament presence improving.
How to unlock
Complete one of the following:
After completing one of the two methods, Bowser Jr. must then be defeated on 3D Land.
Bowser Jr. does not have to be unlocked in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.
Bowser Jr. is tied with Samus as the sixth heaviest character, yet he possesses overall decent mobility. While he has slow walking and dashing speeds, a fast falling speed and above average gravity, all of which are typical of a heavyweight, he has a surprisingly fast air speed and above average air acceleration. Outside of this, Bowser Jr. possesses a few unorthodox, yet noteworthy, traits. Like Duck Hunt's dog and duck, he and his Junior Clown Car have two separate hurtboxes, although this is much more apparent for Bowser Jr. and his Clown Car: attacks that hit the Clown Car will deal 0.88x damage, whereas those that hit Bowser Jr. himself will deal 1.15x damage. Another quirk Bowser Jr. possesses is his vast amount of disjoints, as he is the only character in the game whose every attack has disjointed hitboxes.
Clown Kart Dash is considered to be Bowser Jr.'s best move overall because of its versatility, with its most apparent benefit being much better movement to make up for his slow dashing speed (which can be made even faster via jump canceling) and grants him an excellent approach option. Clown Kart Dash is also integral to Bowser Jr. due to its mindgame and damage racking potentials. It can function either as a strong head-on attack or initiate aerial combos due Bowser Jr. being able to jump during it, which are further improved by jump canceling. Lastly, it can function as a horizontal recovery option, which is further supplemented by its doughnut-based attack and having armor that can withstand a maximum of 7%.
Abandon Ship! is another useful move that possesses impressive knockback and grants Bowser Jr. considerable vertical distance. Unlike most recovery moves, Abandon Ship! does not initiate helplessness; this allows Bowser Jr. to not only air dodge if necessary, but also allows him to perform a powerful hammer swing upon pressing the attack button, which is an almost guaranteed KOing option when used in sync with Clown Kart Dash at high percentages. Mechakoopa is a very useful tool for zoning, combos, follow-ups, and even defensive purposes due to its ability to block incoming projectiles like Link's and Toon Link's Bombs can.
Bowser Jr.'s good aerial mobility supplements the utility of his aerial attacks. His neutral aerial is useful as both an edge-guarding and out of shield option. His forward and back aerials are useful as edge-guarding, spacing and KOing options. While Bowser Jr.'s up aerial only hits above him, it is capable of juggling and can KO on stages with low ceilings, such as Battlefield or Town and City. Down aerial can shield stab and works well used out of Clown Kart Dash at lower percentages due to the hitbox it produces compensating for its high landing lag.
Despite his great aerial mobility and damage racking potential, Bowser Jr. is not without his flaws. One of his biggest problems is that his recovery is glaringly susceptible to gimps. While Abandon Ship! grants him impressive vertical distance, a weak hit from an attack can result in Bowser Jr. not being able to respawn his Clown Car if the player does not button mash. Another major problem that Bowser Jr. faces is a lack of viable options on shield, making him susceptible to punishes. Bowser Jr. is also a very straight-forward character, which can make him quite predictable at times. In addition to this, Mechakoopa is the crux of Bowser Jr.'s neutral game, making it easy (especially for characters such as Rosalina & Luma) to shut down his options. Also, his Clown Cannon is a slow move that, unlike most chargeable projectiles, cannot be stored. Despite his grab range being rather long-ranged and his back throw being a somewhat viable KOing option, his grab comes out very slowly (on frame 12) and his other throws are not very useful in general due to their inability to KO reliably or initiate combos. Finally, Bowser Jr. suffers from poor KO potential due to having very few reliable KOing options.
Bowser Jr. gains very few buffs from his custom moves. Piercing Cannon is faster and pierces opponents, but it deals less damage and knockback. Air Cannon is also faster and briefly stalls Bowser Jr. in midair, but replaces the cannonball with a windbox, which re-purposes it from an offensive option to a defensive option. Big Mechakoopa is stronger and larger, but it sacrifices Mechakoopa's ability to trip up opponents. Outside of these, Bowser Jr.'s remaining customs are less effective than the default versions.
Overall, Bowser Jr. fares well with a bait and punish playstyle like his father, but he can also be potent at pressuring the opponent thanks to Clown Kart Dash and Mechakoopa. However, his slew of his easily exploitable weaknesses can make him a bit underwhelming overall and greatly overshadowed compared to the rest of the cast. While his flaws have result in his lack of representation in the Western scene, the Japanese scene views him more favorably. Additionally, professionals like Tweek have shown that he can be viable when his strengths are played wisely and to their fullest.
Bowser Jr. has been slightly buffed via the game updates. The most notable instance occurred in update 1.1.4, which moderately decreased his smash attacks' ending lag and made his forward and back aerials stronger. The changes to the shield mechanics in updates 1.1.0 and 1.1.1 also slightly help him due to some of his moves possessing high damage outputs and/or hitting multiple times.
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Bowser Jr. was initially considered to be a high-tier character due to his attacks having disjointed hitboxes and Clown Kart Dash's incredible versatility. However, like many other characters, Bowser Jr. began to drop on the tier list once players discovered that his he has a very linear neutral game, lackluster shield pressure, laggy grabs, and exploitable recovery. All of these attributes resulted in him struggling against many top-tier characters. However, Tweek still managed to achieve impressive results with Bowser Jr., such as placing 25th at EVO 2015, which was especially significant due to Bowser Jr.'s lack of improvement with custom moves. Tweek also managed to place 33rd at GENESIS 3 and consistently achieve top 8 placings in his region. As a result, Bowser Jr. was ranked 34th on the first tier list, placing him in the F tier.
However, after Tweek dropped Bowser Jr. in favor of Cloud, his tournament prominence has dropped significantly. While he still achieves decent results thanks to many dedicated players, such as Vicegrip and Jade (the latter of whom notably defeated Trela at CEO 2016), Bowser Jr.'s lack of high placings at tournaments resulted in him drop to 46th/47th place, tying him with Wii Fit Trainer and placing them both in the G tier.
In Event Matches
Instead of alternate color schemes, Bowser Jr.'s alternate costumes consist of all seven Koopalings. Bowser Jr.'s Junior Clown Car is the only one with black eyes and horizontal orange "eye paint", while the Koopalings' Clown Cars have yellow mechanical eyes with vertical black "eye paint".