This article is about Bowser's appearance in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. For other uses, see Bowser.
Who's the greatest nemesis of all!? It's King Bowser! In Super Smash Bros. his power and weight make him a reliable fighter. Use his Fire Breath to keep opponents at bay, then use his damaging attacks to launch them off the stage! He transforms into Giga Bowser for his Final Smash and delivers a super powerful punch!
—Description from the Super Smash Blog.

Bowser is a veteran fighter in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, first playable in Super Smash Bros. Melee. His return was confirmed at the E3 2018 Conference on June 12, 2018.

When unlocked, he is fought at Mushroom Kingdom U.



  • Heaviest fighter in the game.
  • Surprisingly mobile for his size, both on the ground and in the air.
  • Has passive Super Armor which allows him to shrug off attacks without flinching. Said attacks must inflict over 19 units of knockback in order to even flinch Bowser.
  • Many of his attacks have intangibility frames, making Bowser extremely powerful when trading attacks with his opponents.
  • Most of Bowser's attacks deal huge knockback, especially his smash attacks, powerful enough to KO opponents at mid-low percentages.
  • Good range on most attacks.
  • Down Aerial and Bowser Bomb are powerful meteor smashes.
  • Fire Breath can rack up damage incredibly fast and is also good for edgeguarding opponents or gimping recoveries.
  • Flying Slam is inescapable once Bowser grabs his opponents, and it can KO opponents below 100% damage once he hits them on the ground.
  • Whirling Fortress gains altitude if the button is mashed, improving Bowser's recovery.
  • Bowser Bomb deals immense knockback and can also break shields if all grounded hits connect.
  • Has an amazing out-of-shield option in the form of Whirling Fortress, which can easily pressure opponents and interrupt combos.
  • Strong grab game due to a decently ranged grab and versatile throws.


  • Extremely susceptible to combos due to his incredibly high weight and large hurtbox.
  • Subpar frame data as many of his moves have considerable startup and/or ending lag.
  • Fire Breath has short range, which prevents it from functioning like an effective projectile.
  • Mediocre and predictable recovery.
  • Has a lack of effective options for landing against opponents, making him an easy target for juggling.
  • Has short-distanced rolls and extremely bad tech rolls.


Changes from SSBWU/3DS

Bowser has been greatly buffed overall. Most of these buffs are due to universal changes in the game engine further increasing Bowser's mobility. Fire Breath deals drastically more damage and Flying Slam is faster.

However, Bowser's biggest nerf was to his grab game. His up throw, previously an excellent combo starter with several KO setups, has lost most of its combo potential past low percentages.


  • Up and side taunts have been shortened.
  • Bowser has two new victory poses.
  • Tough Guy has an amplified effect.

Ground Attacks

  • Down tilt has much less lag and can now trip.
  • Tilts and smash attacks have Super Armor during their start-up now
  • Down smash is now a claw swipe that has more power and range than the previous down smash.

Aerial Attacks

  • All aerials have significantly less landing lag (neutral and back aerials have five frames less, forward and down aerials have ten frames less, and up aerial has sixteen frames less).

Grabs and Throws

  • Grab is faster.
  • Pummel is weaker, but quicker by comparison.
  • Up throw is much stronger and Bowser now hops when executing the final hit of the move.
  • Down throw is faster and stronger.

Special Attacks

  • Flying Slam spins Bowser around more dramatically and now has an explosion effect upon landing.
  • Aerial Whirling Fortress's last hit has greatly improved knockback.
  • Giga Bowser's functionality has drastically changed: rather than utilizing Bowser's Brawl moveset, he teleports to the background of the stage and aims a single punch that will force a Screen KO on its victims or do massive knockback upon them if their percentage is low enough.


  • Bowser has universal armor against attacks with low knockback, known as Tough Guy. This is most apparent when Bowser has low damage, and it can be amplified by crouching, but not while crawling or attacking. It will decrease as Bowser starts taking more damage.
  • Bowser also has damage-based armor on the start-up of his tilts and smash attacks. Each move has a damage threshold: 4% for tilts, 8% for up and down smash, and 10% for forward smash. Any attack that is below the indicated percent will be armored, but an attack with a larger percent won't.
  • Bowser can crawl, but it is virtually useless.

Ground Attacks


  • Neutral Attack: Performs a sumo-style palm strike, followed by a punch. Very strong for a neutral attack, being able to KO opponents at high percentages.
  • Forward Tilt: A swung backhanded punch with his arm slightly bent. Can be angled, and it can reliably 2-frame most characters when angled downward. Has very high power. Also has damage-based armor (frames 7-9) and intangibility on his arm (frames 10-14).
  • Up Tilt: An arcing, overhead claw swipe. One of the strongest up tilts in the game, KOing most opponents around 120%, and has a wide range. Has damage-based armor (frames 8-10) and intangibility on his arm (frames 11-16).
  • Down Tilt: Does an alternating pair of hooks. The second hit can trip opponents. It also has damage-based armor on the first hit (frames 7-9), and intangibility on his arms for both (frames 10-12, and 10-14, respectively).
  • Dash Attack: A side kick, similar to Meta Knight’s dash attack. Deals high base knockback, but is incapable of KOing. Has high ending lag.

Smash Attacks

  • Forward Smash: A dropkick. Deals an extreme amount of knockback and shield damage, being one of the strongest forward smashes in the entire game. It grants damage-based armor (frames 17-21), and the clean hitboxes render Bowser's feet invincible (frames 20-25). Easily punishable if missed.
  • Up Smash: Hunkers down on all fours before hopping to thrust his shell upwards. The strongest up smash in the entire game when hitting with Bowser's spikes. Has damage-based armor (frames 11-15) and invincibility on his shell (frames 14-27), making it extremely dangerous to challenge from above. Also has a weaker hitbox when Bowser lands.
  • Down Smash: A pair of grounded claw swipes, hitting opponents in front of him and then behind him. Bowser's fastest smash attack. Grants damage-based armor (frames 5-11), but unlike his other smashes, it possesses no invincibility. A powerful option for covering rolls.

Other attacks

  • Floor Attack (Front): Swipes his claws behind himself and then in front of himself while stumbling to his feet.
  • Floor Attack (Back): Swipes his claws around himself while getting up.
  • Floor Attack (Trip): Swipes his claws around himself while getting up.
  • Ledge Attack: Bowser slowly climbs up from the ledge, then swipes at the ground in front of him. Has the highest range of any ledge attack by far.

Aerial Attacks

  • Neutral aerial: An aerial cartwheel. Deals incredibly high damage for a neutral aerial if all hits connect. Can combo into other aerial attacks if landing properly.
  • Forward aerial: Swipes downwards with his claw. Has solid power, fairly quick speed, and excellent range. An immensely versatile attack overall and arguably one of the best forward aerials in the game.
  • Back aerial: A dropkick. One of the strongest back aerials in the game, but has a noticeable amount of landing lag.
  • Up aerial: An upward arcing headbutt. One of the strongest up aerials in the game. Also grants intangibility to his head (frames 3-13).
  • Down aerial: A stall-then-fall attack that involves Bowser retreating into his shell while turning upside-down, then propelling himself towards the ground while spinning on a vertical axis. Can powerfully meteor smash opponents at the beginning of the attack and also deals minor damage when Bowser lands. If used offstage, Bowser will almost certainly self-destruct, as the move possesses too much ending lag for him to recover. Grants intangibility on his arms and legs in midair (frames 14-60) and upon landing (frames 1-27).

Grabs and Throws

  • Grab: Reaches with his hand. Has above average range.
  • Pummel: Headbutts the opponent.
  • Forward Throw: Places the opponent in between his horns, rears his head back, and then powerfully sways his head forward to launch the opponent. Among the strongest forward throws in the game, being able to KO characters around 150% near the ledge.
  • Back Throw: Throws the opponent backward in a sideways motion. Can KO characters around 120% near the ledge.
  • Up Throw: Throws the opponent slightly upward, withdraws into his shell, and then spins rapidly in order to repeatedly stab them with his shell’s spikes. He hops up on the final hit, launching the opponent upward. Can combo into forward aerial or up aerial at low percents.
  • Down Throw: Places the opponent on the ground and splashes them. Bowser's most damaging throw, but has no follow-up potential whatsoever.

Special Moves

Bowser's Special Moves
Melee Brawl SSBWU/3DS Ultimate
Standard Special Fire Breath
Side Special Koopa Klaw Flying Slam
Up Special Whirling Fortress
Down Special Bowser Bomb
Final Smash Giga Bowser Giga Bowser Punch


  • Up Taunt: Sways his head backward while roaring and exhaling steam.
  • Side Taunt: Leans forward and chomps furiously.
  • Down Taunt: Teeters.

On-Screen Appearance

Idle Poses

Victory Poses

In competitive play

Before release, while Bowser's mobility seemed to have increased, he lost all of his KO setups via up throw. Thus, many players viewed him rather negatively and even weaker than his previous iteration. After release, however, Bowser's viability immediately soared. The damage-based armor present during his tilts and smash attacks combined with the general reduction of landing lag caught the attention of many players. As other super-heavyweight characters have begun to fall in viability, Bowser still remains a popular choice due to his superior mobility. Bowser is near-universally considered to be the best super-heavyweight character in the game and a very viable character overall.

Classic Mode: The Red One. Every Red One!

Bowser's opponents are all wearing attire that is red, which is a reference to his mortal enemy (Mario) wearing red clothing. Bowser unlocks Pokémon Trainer as a playable fighter at completion.

Round Opponent Stage Music
1 2 Mii Brawlers, Mii Gunner, and Mii Swordfighter Find Mii Airship Theme - Super Mario Bros. 3
2 Ken Suzaku Castle Ken Stage
3 Samus Norfair Brinstar (Melee)
4 Giant Charizard and Giant Incineroar Pokemon Stadium 2 Victory Road - Pokemon Ruby / Pokemon Sapphire
5 Diddy Kong Kongo Jungle Stickerbush Symphony
6 Rathalos ? ?
Final Mario, then Metal Mario New Donk City Hall (Omega form) Ground Theme (Band Performance) - Super Mario Bros. / Metal Battle (Melee)

Role in World of Light

Bowser was among the fighters that were summoned to fight the army of Master Hands.

During the opening cutscene, Bowser was present when Galeem unleashed his beams of light. Bowser attempted to fight back, using his Fire Breath alongside the Pokémon Trainer and his Pokémon. This effort ended up being fruitless however, as Bowser was vaporized and placed under Galeem's imprisonment alongside the other fighters (except for Kirby). Presumably, it was during this time that he ended up transformed into Giga Bowser and later dispatched to a molten castle to guard it.

Bowser can be found in the Molten Castle sub-section in the World of Light, though he is only unlocked after defeating Giga Bowser, with his joining being a requirement in order for the story to progress.

Against Galeem and Dharkon. He also shows up in the bad ending where Galeem emerges victorious against Dharkon, witnessing Galeem engulf the world in light.

In Spirit Battles

As the Main Opponent

  • Bowser (Wedding)
  • Mechakoopa (Tiny; x4)
  • Dry Bowser
  • Paper Bowser
  • Moosh
  • Baby Bowser (x2; Giant and Tiny)
  • Blargg (Curry)
  • Sandshrew
  • Kangaskhan
  • Tauros
  • Heracross
  • Groudon (Giant)
  • Volcanion
  • Pico
  • River Survival
  • Lakitu & Spiny (Tiny; x8)
  • Geno
  • Turtle Bridge
  • Satoru
  • Nibbles

Palette Swaps

Bowser Palette (SSBU).png
  • Default: Based on his appearance since Luigi’s Mansion, Super Mario Sunshine, and Mario Party 4.
  • Black: Based on Morton Koopa Jr. design from recent games. It also seems to combine elements of his black and brown costumes from Brawl.
  • Yellow: Resembles Ludwig Von Koopa and Lemmy Koopa In Super Mario World. Could also possibly reference the Gold Bowser Statue from the same game.
  • Green: Resembles his appearance in Super Mario World and an alternate color in Mario Golf. It also seems reminiscent of Bowser’s cartoon design in the DIC Entertainment shows, as well as the Nintendo Comics System series.
  • Grey: Resembles Morton Koopa Jr. in Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World. It also slightly resembles Dry Bowser. Also bears a strong resemblance to Dark Hammer Slam Bowser from Skylanders: Superchargers.
  • Orange: Resembles Bowletta from Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. It also resembles Giga Bowser in Ultimate.
  • Red: Resembles an alternate color in Mario Golf.
  • Blue: Based on the Blue Bowser impostor from Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels and an alternate color in Mario Golf. It also bears a resemblance to Dark Bowser from Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story.


External links

Official Fighter Page for Bowser

Bowser amiibo Training Guide


  • Bowser is the only unlockable World of Light character who is not directly fought, instead being unlocked after defeating Giga Bowser.
  • Bowser is the heaviest character in Smash Ultimate
  • The screen shakes slightly when Bowser lands on the ground
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