Bowser Jr. (SSBU)
Bowser Jr. (クッパJr., Koopa Jr.) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. He was revealed for the game along with the rest of the veterans on June 12th, 2018. He returns with his Junior Clown Car, and the Koopalings return as alternate costumes alongside him. Bowser Jr. is classified as Fighter #58.
As in Smash 4, Caety Sagoian's portrayals of Bowser Jr. from various Mario spin-off games, along with Lani Minella's portrayals of Larry, Morton, Wendy, and Lemmy, Mike Vaughn’s portrayals of Iggy and Ludwig, and Dan Falcone's portrayal of Roy from the New Super Mario Bros. games, were repurposed for Ultimate, in place of the Koopalings' respective voice actors (except Roy) from Mario Kart 8 onward.
How to unlock
Complete one of the following:
Bowser Jr. is a unique heavyweight fighter because his Junior Clown Car has a separate hurtbox from him, making his survivability variable. Bowser Jr. sports the 20th slowest walking speed (tied with Peach and Daisy), the 21st slowest dashing speed, the 26th fastest air speed (tied with Ike and R.O.B.), the 30th fastest falling speed (tied with Ike, Corrin, Sonic, Ganondorf, and Duck Hunt), slightly above average gravity and air acceleration, and low traction. All in all, these stats render his mobility somewhat poor except in the air, and as a result, many characters supersede him in terms of approach.
Bowser Jr. and his Junior Clown Car both have separate hurtboxes, much like Duck Hunt. He possesses a unique mechanic where the Clown Car takes less damage from all incoming attacks, whereas he himself takes more damage in comparison. Unlike in SSB4, the Clown Car's hurtbox takes priority over Bowser Jr.'s hurtbox: when combined with his heavy weight, this gives him above average survivability compared to a good majority of the rest of the cast, or possibly even a good majority of other characters that are of his weight class. Bowser Jr. also possesses a purely disjointed moveset and two good projectiles in Clown Cannon and Mechakoopa.
Clown Cannon can have two cannonballs in play at the same time, deals good damage and knockback, and its cannonballs travel quickly. This makes Clown Cannon good for disrupting or throwing off approaches, as well as KOing at high percentages. This is further compounded by its outstanding shield damage, making Clown Cannon a viable punishing tool. Mechakoopa is also disruptive due to its explosion effect upon being hit. The Mechakoopa always follows opponents no matter the circumstances, and explodes upon contact, serving as an excellent KO setup against launched opponents.
Clown Kart Dash travels extremely quickly, vastly making up for Bowser Jr.'s poor approach and allowing him to easily cover long distances, both on the ground and in the air. Clown Kart Dash also deals above-average damage and knockback at maximum speed, enabling it to KO opponents at mid-high percentages. Junior can also double jump out of it, granting him potential aerial follow-ups. Abandon Ship! travels good vertical distance, allowing Junior to return to the stage if he is right below it. The Junior Clown Car itself damages opponents upon exploding, serving as a potential KO option at later percentages. While outside of the clown car, Bowser Jr. is gifted with a hammer, which deals high damage, high knockback, and has quick startup, making it a good KO option in its own right. Clown Kart Dash and Abandon Ship! can be mixed up with an air dodge, combining to give Junior an impressive recovery.
Bowser Jr.'s aerials have great utility, going hand-in-hand with his specials. Neutral aerial has edgeguarding capabilities and is effective out-of-shield because of its lingering hitbox. His forward and back aerials are great for edgeguarding, spacing, and KOing because of their high knockback, high potential damage, and good range. Bowser Jr.'s up aerial is good for juggling because of its decent speed and vertical range and serves as an additional KO option. Lastly, down aerial can shield poke, and works well with Clown Kart Dash when initiating follow-ups.
Bowser Jr.'s smash attacks are go-to KO options, all dealing high knockback and overall damage: forward smash has low ending lag, pokes shields, and can be angled; up smash has very quick startup and ending lag, pressures shields, and denies any aerial approaches; and lastly, down smash has high range and KOs, the earliest out of Junior's smash attacks.
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 considerable vertical distance, any weak hit 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 straightforward character, which can make him quite predictable at times. For instance, Clown Cannon and Mechakoopa are important to Bowser Jr.'s neutral game, making it easy (especially for characters such as Fox) to read and shut down his options. Despite his grab range being rather long, his grabs have noticeable start-up and ending lag, and his throws have low utility due to their inability to KO at reasonable percentages, with only up throw possessing some combo potential. In addition, despite his high power, Bowser Jr. suffers from poor KO potential due to having very few reliable KOing options (his neutral attack finisher, smash attacks and his forward/back aerials), which is further compounded by said options being burdened with considerable ending lag. Many of his attacks, such as his tilts, also have poor range, so he fares surprisingly poorly against swordfighters considering his disjointed moveset. Finally, Bowser Jr. takes more damage if he is hit instead of his Koopa Clown Car, so he is very vulnerable to aerial approaches.
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 Cannon, Clown Kart Dash, and Mechakoopa. However, his slew of exploitable weaknesses can make him a bit underwhelming overall, and frequently overshadowed compared to the rest of the cast. Because of this, his results and representation have been below-average overall, like in SSB4.
Changes from Super Smash Bros. 4
Near the end of Smash 4's metagame, Bowser Jr. had been considered a low-tier character (48th out of 55 characters), due to his linear playstyle, poor disadvantage state that included a very gimpable recovery despite its long distance, and his susceptibility to being racked damage on easier than most other characters due to the Clown Car mechanic. Likely as a result of this, Bowser Jr. was noticeably buffed in his transition to Ultimate.
One of the biggest changes include the Junior Clown Car now taking priority over Bowser Jr.'s hurtbox, which allows him to more reliably tank damage on average more compared to any other fighter, and making his survivability comparable to heavyweights like Donkey Kong. The other most notable buffs come from Bowser Jr's special moves, which were previously notorious for their lag and/or situational use. Clown Cannon, a previously slow projectile with limited use, is now less punishable due to its decrease in lag and increase in lifetime if fired in the air, and two can be in play at once. It also deals far more shield damage; an uncharged landing cannonball can now hit twice to almost break a full shield. Clown Kart Dash travels faster, allows Bowser Jr. to keep his double jump if cancelled, no longer requires travel time to deal maximum damage and immediately deals higher damage if the directional key is held forward, while its spinout deals far more knockback, making the move harder-hitting in general and more versatile. Abandon Ship!'s hammer swing has more range and a longer duration. Finally, Mechakoopas start moving quicker and bite onto victims, guaranteeing that the second hit will connect.
Aside from the buffs given to his survivability and special moveset, Bowser Jr. has also received several quality of life changes. Many of his moves either connect better (such as his jab and dash attack, the latter being especially relevant as the final hit has good KO potential) or have had their misleading hitboxes adjusted or their blindspots removed (such as up tilt and grab, the latter being given more range). Up throw has less endlag and knockback that renders it now capable of starting combos, while his down throw now deals much more damage, improving his previously lackluster grab game. Finally, Bowser Jr. benefits from some of the changes to universal game mechanics: the universal frame 3 jumpsquat allows Bowser Jr. to use his formidable aerials more effectively, and the increase in mobility contributes to both a better grounded approach for Bowser Jr. and improves his air game and recovery. The reintroduction of directional air dodges slightly improves his recovery, allowing him to mix up his long distanced recovery with more ease. The lower landing lag on his aerial attacks also improves their combo and spacing potential.
However, Bowser Jr. has received some noticeable nerfs. His neutral attack deals much less damage, especially in the infinite part, his forward tilt initially lost its KO potential until patch 9.0.0 where it was given a substantial increase in knockback, and neutral aerial has a sourspot that, while removing the blindspots, has more priority than the sweetspot and makes the attack less consistent. Some of his moves, such as forward smash and down aerial have altered hitbox placements that worsen their consistency, the cannonballs of Clown Cannon can only KO if fully charged, and he cannot air dodge out of Clown Kart Dash anymore. Additionally, Mechakoopas fall over if they walk into a shield, no longer penetrating them and can then be picked up by the opponent, making them much easier to deactivate and the opponent can use them against Bowser Jr. more easily because of this, thus forcing him to be more cautious of his tools. Also, the alteration of priority in his hurtboxes cause Bowser Jr. to take more damage if he is hit instead of his Clown Car, making him more vulnerable to aerial approaches and making his recovery even more vulnerable to gimps after using Abandon Ship!. A few of the universal changes hurt him overall, as his grabs have overall less range (other than his standing grab) and are slower in terms of ending lag. The changes to air dodge mechanics make him easier to edgeguard. The weakening of rage also slightly hinders his KO power, which lessens the reward and doesn't allow him to take advantage of it as easily due to his lower susceptibility to KOs compared to Smash 4. Bowser Jr. also retains several of his weaknesses from the previous game, including his poor disadvantage state, vulnerable recovery, poor range despite disjointed attacks and a somewhat linear playstyle.
In the end, Bowser Jr's moveset, while not significantly changed in terms of functionality, has been heavily adjusted to be more consistent, granting many of his moves less situational use than in Smash 4, whereas the more notable changes to his special moveset and his faster mobility allow him to zone opponents more effectively and approach with less risk. He has also received a few notable changes in game updates, further contributing to his notable buffs. Although many top-level players claim Bowser Jr. has not significantly improved from Smash 4 due to retaining many of his weaknesses from the previous game and several veteran characters also being buffed to varying degrees, this is contentious due to having a few notable performances in competitive play, thanks to players such as Young Eevey and Ketchup. As such, Bowser Jr's true viability remains debatable.
Throws and other attacks
Bowser Jr. has been buffed by game updates. Update 3.1.0 granted Bowser Jr. several useful buffs. Up tilt and aerial Clown Cannon had their lag decreased by varying amounts, which improved their combo potential and safety, respectively. Dash attack's edge-guarding potential was improved, thanks to its last hit's angle being lowered noticeably. Up smash's KO potential was improved slightly, thanks to a small knockback increase.
Clown Kart Dash's travel speed was increased (which also heightened its damage output by extension) and its hitbox now remains active upon its bounce, the latter of which improved its consistency. Lastly, Abandon Ship! became slightly more consistent: its grounded Junior Clown Car hitbox connects better with its explosion hitbox, while its hammer's duration and hitboxes were lengthened and enlarged, respectively.
After update 7.0.0 enlarged Bowser Jr.'s shield as part of a near-universal buff, update 9.0.0 granted Bowser Jr. his most useful buffs to date. Forward tilt and especially forward throw gained considerable knockback increases; while the former is now better for spacing and safer on hit, the latter is now a viable (albeit situational) KO option, which is something Bowser Jr.'s grab game lacked following back throw's nerf in the transition to Ultimate.
Up smash underwent several hitbox, knockback and angle adjustments in order to improve its consistency, while down smash's overall lag was decreased. Clown Kart Dash became safer thanks to its armor threshold being noticeably increased. Lastly, Abandon Ship!'s recovery potential was improved, thanks to its start-up lag being decreased.
In update 13.0.1 Bowser Jr received some more buffs and a nerf. Clown Kart Dash was given more base knockback on it’s spin, dash attacks damage was increased and it’s first and last hits had their base knockback decreased. Down tilt’s first and second hit were given less knockback growth and less base knockback, and it’s final hit had it’s launch angle adjusted to launch at a lower angle. However, Bowser Jr’s down tilt also received a nerf, only the first hit of his down tilt will hit opponents that are hanging on the ledge preventing the full move from connecting properly.
As a result of these changes, Bowser Jr. fares better than he did at Ultimate's launch.
For a gallery of Bowser Jr.'s hitboxes, see here.
Note: All numbers are listed as base damage, without the 1v1 multiplier.
In competitive play
Bowser Jr. was initially thought to be one of the worst characters in the game. People immediately noticed that he retained his weaknesses from Smash 4 (poor grounded mobility, susceptible to gimps, lack of range and his playstyle being linear). Despite improvements towards his survivability, Clown Cannon (widely agreed to be one of the worst projectiles in Smash 4) and his grab game, many players claimed that the improvements were not significant enough to compensate for his retained weaknesses. As such, Bowser Jr. was considered a low-tier character at best, with some even going as far as claiming him to be a bottom 3 character.
This negative perception would change as the metagame progressed thanks to noteworthy results from players such as Young Eevey and Ketchup. Notably, Young Eevey placed 7th at Albion 4, the highest placement for a Bowser Jr. player at a national tournament, while Ketchup picked up notable wins over several top players. Even following the online era, players such as Yoda Cage have seen relatively high placements at major tournaments. This has since led to a reevaluation, with many players believing the character is mid-tier and nowhere near as bad as initially perceived.
Most historically significant players
Classic Mode: Mama Peach, Where Are You?
Most of Bowser Jr.'s opponents are princesses, some of which are teamed up with their love interest (or in Lucina's case, her father). The title refers to the event of Super Mario Sunshine where Bowser Jr. called Peach his "mama".
Role in World of Light
Although Bowser Jr. does not appear in the World of Light opening cutscene, he was vaporized and later imprisoned alongside the rest of the fighters (except Kirby) when Galeem unleashed his beams of light.
Bowser Jr. was one of the many fighters that fell under Dharkon's control upon Galeem's first defeat. He is found in one of two alternate pathlines on the Triforce of Power segment of the Sacred Land sub-area, guarded by various Legendary spirits.
Bowser Jr.'s fighter spirit can be obtained by completing Classic Mode. It is also available periodically for purchase in the shop for 300 Gold, but only after Bowser Jr. has been unlocked. Unlocking Bowser Jr. 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. Additionally, due to being alternate swaps, each of the Koopalings possess their own fighter spirits, which can only be obtained by purchase in the shop. Each fighter spirit has an alternate version that replaces them with their artwork in Ultimate.
Bowser Jr. also appears as a primary spirit in the form of Shadow Mario.
In Spirit Battles
As the main opponent
As a minion
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". All of the Koopalings have their own models and voice clips.
Fighter Showcase Video