Bowser Jr. (SSB4)
Bowser Jr. (クッパJr., Koopa Jr.) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. After initially being leaked on August 19th, 2014 as part of the ESRB leak, he was revealed as a fighter with Smash for 3DS's launch in Japan on September 13, 2014, followed by his official trailer being shown off during the Super Smash Bros. for Wii U 50-Fact Extravaganza on October 23rd, 2014. Caety Sagoian reprises her role as Bowser Jr.'s voice actor from Mario Strikers Charged and onwards, 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), in place of their respective voice actors (except Roy) from Mario Kart 8.
Bowser Jr. is ranked 48th out of 55 on the tier list, placing him in the F tier. He is able to attack from a reasonably safe distance, which is supplemented by a few of his attacks being powerful enough to KO under 100%. He also has a very capable neutral game: Clown Kart Dash functions as an excellent approach option and provides an impressive amount of versatility, while Mechakoopa is useful for pressuring and stage control. 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 juggling potentials.
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, requiring players to use reads or baiting in order to secure KOs with him. Bowser Jr.'s grab game also suffers from his standing, pivot and dash grabs' overall lag, and his grab game is further made worse by very unimpressive throws, with only his back throw being useful, as a situational KOing option. Lastly, Bowser Jr.'s recovery is predictable and unsafe, as Abandon Ship! is very susceptible to gimps due to offering no overhead protection, it can only travel in one direction, and it can be rendered unusable if he is hit even by a weak attack.
Bowser Jr. has minimal presence throughout the entire metagame, owing to a small playerbase and results. Although he previously attained stronger tournament results and a deeper metagame from Tweek, he later switched to using the higher-tiered Cloud, leading to a stagnation of Bowser Jr.'s own metagame. Bowser Jr. has still made waves of attention from time to time, such as with Jade defeating Trela's Ryu at CEO 2016, but he struggles to make an impact at most tournaments.
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. 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. However, the properties of Bowser Jr. and his Clown Car's hurtboxes are much more apparent: attacks that hit the Clown Car will deal 0.88× damage, whereas those that hit Bowser Jr. himself will deal 1.15× damage. However, Bowser Jr.'s hitbox takes priority over the Clown Car's hitbox, making him vulnerable to receiving more damage more often than not. Although the knockback calculation ignores this, he will still be KO'd earlier than most heavyweights, as the knockback formula takes the target's damage after the attack damage has been added. One unique quirk Bowser Jr. possesses is that all but one of his attacks have disjointed hitboxes (with the only exception being Clown Kart Dash), which gives him decent overall range.
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 doughtnut-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 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, 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 overall grab range being rather long, his grabs have very high start-up and ending lag, while his throws are not very useful in general due to their inability to KO at reasonable percentages or initiate combos. Lastly, Bowser Jr. suffers from poor KO potential due to having very few reliable KOing options (his smash attacks and his forward/back aerials), which is further compounded by said options being burdened with considerable ending lag.
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 does, 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 resulted 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 buffed slightly via 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.
For a gallery of Bowser Jr.'s hitboxes, see here.
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.
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), and his metagame keeps being developed, Bowser Jr.'s lack of high placings at tournaments have resulted in him tying with Wii Fit Trainer for 46th/47th on the second tier list, and then slightly dropping to 48th on the third tier list. Currently, Bowser Jr. remains ranked as 48th on the fourth and current tier list, which can be attributed to players like Kub4444 achieving good, albeit scarce, placements in their region. Despite this, his tier placement remained debatable throughout the game’s competitive lifespan; some players advocated that he should be ranked even lower due to his mediocre neutral game and poor recovery, whereas others argued that he should be ranked slightly higher thanks to his previously attained success and decent disjoints.
In Event Matches
Instead of alternate color schemes, Bowser Jr.'s alternate costumes consist of the 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".