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Whirling Fortress

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Whirling Fortress
Bowser Up B SSBU.gif
Whirling Fortress in Ultimate.
Users Bowser
Giga Bowser
Universe Mario

Whirling Fortress (スピニングシェル, Spinning Shell) is Bowser's up special move.


When using Whirling Fortress, Bowser retreats into his shell and spins rapidly while damaging nearby. It is similar in execution to Donkey Kong's Spinning Kong, being a move that causes the user to quickly spin around as a mostly-horizontal recovery.

Whirling Fortress in Melee.

In Melee, Whirling Fortress is known for the defensive and maneuvering attributes it adds to Bowser's game, which fills several holes in Bowser's otherwise slow metagame. As a result, it is widely regarded as one of the few benefits in Bowser’s kit there. Several unique properties make it highly beneficial to play:

  • It has very little start-up (5 frames), during which Bowser is invincible, and has relatively little cooldown lag.
  • One cannot get shield grabbed if one cancels a Fortress directly into another.
  • It hits throughout most of its animation (on the ground).
  • It allows Bowser to move quickly and suddenly in one direction.
  • It has high knockback on the ground, and inflicts high damage in the air (32% if all hits connect perfectly).
  • In Melee, it can be used to edgeguard quickly and efficiently. Fortressing off the side of a stage leads directly to an edgehog, known as Fortress hogging.

The above properties make Whirling Fortress a versatile move. It can also be used as a damaging and effective replacement to Bowser's quick but laggy roll, jump-canceled out of shield to discourage overly aggressive opponents, and clank with an opponent's move with decent timing. However, the ground attack can only deal up to two hits, and if any of the hits get blocked, Bowser will be highly vulnerable to punishment by his opponents, which includes getting grabbed. As a result, the ground attack is not safe to use against shields.

In Brawl, the move has its damage output slightly lowered and its knockback being slightly weaker, though the the aerial version grants slightly more height.

In Super Smash Bros. 4, pressing the special move button repeatedly during the move will give Bowser marginally more height (similarly to Dr. Tornado in said game), and is capable of grabbing ledges from behind. It also travels much faster and further than before. As an attack, the ground attack now delivers multiple weak hits (up to 8 hits, with the last hit delivering the most knockback) instead of two hard hits, making its use as an out of shield option even more reliable. The attack is also safer to use against shields, as the multiple hits make it harder for opponents to punish Bowser; they can still take the full impact of the final hit if they drop their shield too early.

This special attack is shared by Giga Bowser, both in his boss appearance in Melee and in his playable appearance in Brawl and Super Smash Bros. 4. It grants him multiple frames of invincibility, making it difficult to attack him out of the move. In Melee, Giga Bowser's Fortress also gave him much more vertical recovery when used in midair, and the ground attack can deliver multiple hits to nearby opponents; in Brawl, however, the ground attack only deals up to two hits, reducing its overall damage output.

Fortress hogging[edit]

Fortress hogging is a technique in Melee that allows Bowser to grab onto the edge after simply using his Whirling Fortress on the stage. Fortress hogging is performed by timing the Whirling Fortress so that the end of the animation allows Bowser to fall past the stage and in turn, grab on to the edge. However, on stages where there are sloped edges, like Yoshi's Story, Bowser will automatically Fortress hog onto the edge regardless of the position he is facing, given he is not facing away from the stage after falling.

Fortress hogging can be useful to quickly edgehog a recovering opponent, and allow Bowser to reach the edge faster than he normally would by walking or running.

Instructional quotes[edit]

Super Smash Bros. Melee instruction booklet BowserHeadSSBM.png Spin on the ground to launch opponents skyward, or do it to get back onto the stage.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl instruction booklet BowserHeadSSBB.png Get additional loft while airborne to make recoveries a snap.
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS case foldout BowserHeadSSB4-3.png Spin inside your shell, and hit foes with your spikes.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Move List BowserHeadSSBU.png Ducks inside his shell and spins. Can be moved sideways while spinning.


Special Move customization was added in Super Smash Bros. 4. These are the variations:

1. Whirling Fortress 2. Flying Fortress 3. Sliding Fortress
"Duck inside your shell and spin. You can move sideways while spinning." "Spins high into the air but doesn't deal damage." "Spin while sliding quickly to send opponents flying. Less vertical range."
  1. Whirling Fortress: Default.
  2. Flying Fortress: Has slightly increased startup, and increases vertical distance, to about twice the regular height, at cost of horizontal distance and damage dealt. Launches foes sideways, only hitting once for 4% damage clean (despite the game saying it does no damage). Synergizes well with Dash Slash, where the Claw can move Bowser horizontally and then Flying Fortress to go vertically. However, when using this move while taking knockback, it won't rise as high or at all. Bowser also sustains slightly increased landing lag.
  3. Sliding Fortress: Increased horizontal distance, going as far as the entire stage of Battlefield on the ground, and 2/3 the length in the air. Only hits once, doing 6% damage and reduced knockback, however possesses a bigger hitbox, especially in the air. Takes longer to start up than the default move, making it less useful as a quick out of shield option. Also has increased endlag and landing lag as well. Less vertical reach than the standard version.


Ludwig von Koopa's shell move in Super Mario World.

While unique to Smash Bros., it is similar to how Koopas retreat into their shells when jumped on in the Super Mario series which, can be held and thrown or kicked by the Mario Bros. as a spinning attack. In Super Mario Bros. 3, when the player jumps on any of the Koopalings, they will fly in the air inside their shell. Ludwig von Koopa had a move similar to Whirling Fortress in Super Mario World.

Despite the above, Bowser himself never used this move, and in fact was never seen retreating into his shell in any Nintendo-developed game prior to the move's debut in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Like the Egg Roll and Green Missile, however, the move's concept later led back into the Nintendo-affiliated Mario series starting with an appearance as Bowser's defensive power shot in Mario Power Tennis, and Bowser also has used the move in New Super Mario Bros U. In Super Paper Mario, Bowser performs a similar move in one of his Stylish Move animations. In Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Bowser (as MegaDragonBowser) uses the Whirling Fortress during the final phase of the final boss fight.


Names in other languages[edit]

Language Name
Japan Japanese スピニングシェル, Spinning Shell
UK English Whirling Fortress
France French Forteresse toupie
Germany German Panzerfeste
Spain Spanish Fortaleza giratoria
Italy Italian Vortice di aculei
China Chinese (Simplified) 刺壳旋转
Taiwan Chinese (Traditional) 刺殼旋轉
South Korea Korean 스피닝 셸, Spinning Shell
Netherlands Dutch Tollend Schild
Russia Russian Крепость-вихрь