This article is about Bowser's appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee. For the character in other contexts, see Bowser.
A mighty foe that trades speed for pure power.
—Description from Melee's manual.

Bowser (クッパ, Koopa) is a character in Super Smash Bros. Melee and is available from the start. Announced at E3 2001, a stronger form of Bowser also appears as the "final" boss in Adventure Mode. His design is based on his appearance in Super Mario 64.

Bowser is currently ranked 25th in Melee's tier list, topping over only Kirby. He is located in the G tier, the lowest ranking newcomer. This is due to his large size and weight, which make him extremely easy to combo. His moves are also sluggish, and although he does have a projectile, it does not help him against foe's projectiles, particularly Fox or Falco's lasers. He overall has terrible matchups, with two being even (Yoshi and Pichu) and the rest being negative, and considering that both of his even matchups have risen in the tier since he can be seen to have a losing matchup against everybody else in the game.


Bowser SSBM

Bowser is the heaviest and largest character in the game. This means that it takes many hits to KO Bowser, but landing those hits is easy. Bowser boasts the largest shield in the game, which makes defending against these attacks much easier. As one would expect from such a large heavyweight, Bowser has very powerful, yet very slow, attacks. Bowser's Forward Aerial has great power, and his Up Aerial is one of the most powerful Aerial Attacks in the game. However, all of his aerial attacks are laggy if not L-canceled.

Bowser has decent range and large hitboxes for most of his moves, but his standing grab range is poor, resulting in an unreliable shield grab. Bowser's Side Special Move, Koopa Klaw, can grab opponents and either throw them with 1.3 times the normal throw power or slash opponents, launching them into the air. Bowser is relatively slow on both the air and the ground, and his wavedash is very slow and near useless (except when used as a Waveland) due to his very slow jumping. In fact, this very slow jumping and landing animation is one of the major (if the not the biggest) reasons he is so slow.

Bowser has good edge guarding tactics (e.g. Fire Breath), but a lot of his KOs are dependent upon his ability to edge guard opponents, which means they must first be off the edge. Bowser's Up Special Move, Whirling Fortress, is useful and very fast. However, like Donkey Kong's Spinning Kong, it mostly only goes horizontally and has poor vertical recovery. Bowser's Neutral Special Move, Fire Breath, acts as Bowser's projectile. However, Bowser lacks a reliable way to deal with opponents' projectiles.

What really hurts Bowser the most, however, is combos, or susceptibility to thereof. Bowser is one of the easiest characters (if not the easiest character) in the game to combo, due to being large, extremely heavy, and falling relatively quickly. He also has very poor combos, and the few combos that he has only work efficiently on three characters- and even then, they are not guaranteed (they can be escaped with proper DI). Also worth noting is that they are generally only two-hit combos. These combo-related troubles give Bowser much grief when in a competitive setting.

Regional differences

Bowser is one of the few characters who has a different name in the Japanese version of Melee. In the English version, his name is "Bowser", but in the aforementioned Japanese version, his name is "Koopa". The name "Koopa" comes from the fact that in the original Mario series, he evolved from a Koopa Troopa. Likewise, Giga Bowser's name in Japan was "Giga Koopa". All such changes of his name can be seen if the game's language is set to Japanese.

Bowser, in the PAL regions, also received a few changes; he was made 1 unit heavier in PAL regions, from 117 to 118, and errors concerning his down throw, such as its inability to hit Mr. Game & Watch and Jigglypuff were corrected. The PAL region version of the game also had a bug fix for Bowser from the American 1.2 version: he could no longer "Flame Cancel" by landing during the ending frames of Fire Breath, his neutral special move.


  Image Name Damage Description
Neutral attack Bowser Neutral attack SSBM 5%Bowser swipes his claws at the opponent twice.
Forward tiltBowser Forward tilt SSBM 13% (fist), 15% (arm)Bowser extends one arm and performs a backhanded punch. Deals good knockback for a tilt; in fact, it is the most powerful forward tilt in the game. This attack can be angled up or down.
12% (fist), 13% (arm), 14% (body)
11% (fist), 13% (arm)
Up tilt Bowser Up tilt SSBM 13%Bowser swings his arm over his head. Deals good knockback, which is useful for setting up combos. Second most powerful up tilt in the game.
Down tilt Bowser Down tilt SSBM 13% (hit 1), 10% (hit 2)Bowser slashes along the ground with both his claws. The first hit doesn't have much knockback, and the second hit is fairly slow. Both his deal up to ≈22.1% when fresh.
Dash attack Bowser Dash attack SSBM 11% (clean), 8% (late)Bowser charges forward at the opponent.
Forward smash Bowser Forward smash SSBM 24%Bowser rears back for a short moment and hits incredibly hard with his head. Very high damage and knockback, being by far the strongest smash attack in the game, though it suffers from a lot of lag in general.
Up smash Bowser Up smash SSBM 20% (leap), 12% (landing)Bowser jumps upward, hitting enemies with his spikes on his shell. There is a smaller hitbox inside his shell that does 17% damage, but it rarely connects due to overlapping the bigger hitbox. A powerful attack with a rather long-lasting hitbox. Bowser himself is invincible the moment he jumps off the ground.
Down smash Bowser Down smash SSBM 2% (hits 1-6), 10% (hit 7)Bowser retreats into his shell and spins around hitting the opponent multiple times with his shell. Can combo into itself on fast-falling characters. All hits deal up to ≈20.2% when fresh.
Neutral aerial Bowser Neutral aerial SSBM 13%Bowser spins around in his shell. Low knockback, but long duration.
Forward aerial Bowser Forward aerial SSBM 14% (left claw), 12% (left arm), 11% (right shoulder)Bowser performs downward strike with his left claw. Deals good knockback and is a good edge-guarding option.
Back aerial Bowser Back aerial SSBM 13% (clean), 9% (late)Bowser thrusts his shell backwards that launches enemies at a semi-spike trajectory.
Up aerial Bowser Up aerial SSBM 17%Bowser hits upward hard with his head. One of Bowser's slower moves, but deals very high knockback and is the strongest up aerial and also one of the most powerful aerials in the game.
Down aerial Bowser Down aerial SSBM 3% (hits 1-9), 2% (landing)Bowser spins downwards, hitting enemies with the spikes on his shell. When Bowser lands during the middle of the animation, he emits a shockwave that pushes back nearby opponents.
Grab Bowser Grab SSBM  
Pummel Bowser Pummel SSBM 3%Bowser headbutts the foe.
Forward throw Bowser Forward throw SSBM 10%Bowser throws the foe forward. Can act as a potential KO move at high percentages.
Back throw Bowser Back throw SSBM 10%Bowser throws the foe backwards.
Up throw Bowser Up throw SSBM 1% (hits 1-8), 2% (throw)Bowser tosses the foe upwards, retreats into his shell, and spins, damaging the foe with his spikes.
Down throw Bowser Down throw SSBM 12% (hit 1), 0% (throw)Bowser places the opponent on the floor and then body slams them.
Floor attack (front) Bowser Floor attack (front) SSBM 6%Bowser leaps forward to strike with his head, then back to kick behind, and finally gets up into standing position.
Floor attack (back) Bowser Floor attack (back) SSBM 6%Bowser gets up while swinging his right hand around.
Edge attack (fast) Bowser Edge attack (fast) SSBM 8%Bowser quickly spins onto the stage while inside his shell, then retreats back a bit.
Edge attack (slow) Bowser Edge attack (slow) SSBM 10%Bowser slowly climbs onto stage and delivers a quick claw swipe.
Neutral special Fire Breath (SSBM)Fire Breath2%Bowser lets out a stream of fire that weakens over time the longer the B button is held.
Side special Koopa Klaw (SSBM)Koopa Klaw12%/10% (slash), 4% (bite capture), 3% (bite pummel), 15% (forward throw), 11% (back throw)Bowser does a claw swipe that grabs a nearby opponent and launches any bystanders. Once Bowser grabs a foe, he will perform a quick bite attack and can perform one of the following: another bite attack that deals slightly less damage, a shoulder tackle that awards more damage, and a back throw that gives off more knockback.
Up special Whirling Fortress (SSBM)Whirling FortressGround: 13% (clean), 5% (mid), 3% (late)
Air: 10% (startup), 3% (loop early), 2% (loop late)
Bowser ducks into his spiked shell and performs a spin attack. This move can be used to gain vertical height.
Down special Bowser Bomb (SSBM)Bowser Bomb23% (drop), 8% (landing)If used on the ground, Bowser jumps up into the air then plummets back down to the ground, damaging anyone who's in the way. If used in the air, the move functions the same, except there is no initial jump. The shockwave on the ground can damage nearby opponents.

Other animations


  • Rears his head back and roars.

Idle pose

  • Leans back and roars, exhaling steam from his mouth.


Super Smash Bros. Melee Character Matchups
  Fox Head 01 (SSBM)Falco Head 01 (SSBM)Marth Head 01 (SSBM)Sheik Head 01 (SSBM)Jigglypuff Head 01 (SSBM)Peach Head 01 (SSBM)Ice Climbers Head 01 (SSBM)Captain Falcon Head 01 (SSBM)Pikachu Head 01 (SSBM)Samus Head 01 (SSBM)Dr. Mario Head 01 (SSBM)Yoshi Head 01 (SSBM)Luigi Head 01 (SSBM)Ganondorf Head 01 (SSBM)Mario Head 01 (SSBM)Young Link Head 01 (SSBM)Donkey Kong Head 01 (SSBM)Link Head 01 (SSBM)Mr. Game & Watch Head 01 (SSBM)Roy Head 01 (SSBM)Mewtwo Head 01 (SSBM)Zelda Head 01 (SSBM)Ness Head 01 (SSBM)Pichu Head 01 (SSBM)Bowser Head 01 (SSBM)Kirby Head 01 (SSBM)Avg.

Trophy descriptions

In addition to the normal trophy about Bowser as a character, there are two trophies about him as a fighter, which are unlocked by completing the Adventure and All-Star modes respectively with Bowser on any difficulty.

Bowser has a long history of kidnapping Princess Peach to lure his nemesis, Mario, into traps. He leads an enormous group of mischievous creatures, not the least of which are his seven children. With outrageous strength, flammable breath, and more spikes than you can shake a Star Rod at, Bowser is a constant threat.
  • Super Mario Bros. [10/85]
Bowser (Smash Red)
In many ways, Bowser is the toughest character around. Not only does he have near-impervious hide, but his great mass makes him almost impossible to hurl offscreen. Of course, his weight also makes him rather slow to maneuver, so when facing him in battle, it's best to press your attack and not give him a chance to counter.
Bowser (Smash Blue)
Bowser's Fire Breath strikes continuously, but it grows gradually smaller over time until it's barely smouldering. The Koopa Klaw rakes enemies at a distance and pulls nearby foes in close for a good gnawing. Bowser's Whirling Fortress moves laterally over the ground; it works in midair as a recovery. The Bowser Bomb is powerful and paves the way for more attacks.

Alternate Costumes


Bowser's alternate costumes in Super Smash Bros. Melee.


  • Bowser and Pichu are the only two characters in Melee to have no advantageous matchups.
  • For unknown reasons, Bowser's Down Throw does not do damage to Jigglypuff or Mr. Game & Watch.
  • Bowser is the first starter villain.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.