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Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS Wii U Bowser.png

The king of the Koopas is back with a refined fighting style! Bowser is the definitive heavyweight and possesses all the traits one expects a heavy character to have. He is relatively large, feels bulky, has somewhat sluggish attacks and each of them hit with immense power. Bowser's power-packed attacks can rack on a ton of damage in just a few hits, and they can KO very early if his opponents' are just a bit careless. Unfortunately, this strength comes at a cost, as Bowser's weight and large size makes him easy to combo, while his attacks are a bit on the slow side. Nevertheless, Bowser is a great choice for any player that prefers bulky heavy-hitters.

Basic Attributes[edit]

Barring equipment and temporary buffs, Bowser is the heaviest character in the game, as well as the largest. These features make Bowser quite vulnerable to combos. Bowser's ground speed is surprisingly good for such a bulky character, with a dash speed that can rival Marth's. However, his air speed is on the lower half of the spectrum, and he fast moderately fast as expected from a heavyweight. Bowser has a crawl, but his profile is so large that this tactic is practically useless.

It is interesting to note that Bowser possesses a passive form of super armor at low percents. When he hasn't taken a lot of damage, Bowser will not get flinched by attacks that deal very low knockback, a feature referred to as "tough guy" in game. This neat ability doesn't come into use very often, but one particular use is to let you blow through weak projectiles at low percents.

Moveset Analysis[edit]

Standard Attacks

Control Attack Info
Wii U GamePad / Pro Controller Wii Remote + Nunchuk Wii Remote (sideways)
Wii Classic Controller GameCube Controller Nintendo 3DS
A button(+A buttonA buttonA button) A button(+A buttonA buttonA button) 2 button(+2 button2 button2 button) Clawed Punches Bowser punches once with each hand. This move is one of Bowser's primary pokes on the ground. While it is by no means a fast attack, it is Bowser's quickest ground move outside of grab. It also has moderate reach and the two-hit combo does solid damage, so it is an excellent option all around. This makes it fairly safe to use when you're trying to find an opening. It can also be a reliable punish against rolls and airdodges close to the ground.
A button(+A buttonA buttonA button) A button(+A buttonA buttonA button) A button(+A buttonA buttonA button)
(Left lstick or Right lstick)+A button (Left nunchuk or Right nunchuk)+A button (Left dpad or Right dpad)+2 button Koopa Backhand Bowser swings his hand out. The attack can be angled up or down with the control stick. This move is another one of Bowser's pokes. While it is slower than his Standard Attack, it has more range and enough knockback to launch foes a safe distance away. Its ability to be angled and pivot canceled out of a dash makes it a moderately versatile attack, letting you stuff approaches, punish or even edgeguard with good spacing.
(Left lstick or Right lstick)+A button (Left control or Right control)+A button (Left cpad or Right cpad)+A button
Up lstick+A button Up nunchuk+A button Up dpad+2 button High Swipe Bowser swipes his hand over his head. This move is a decent anti-air. Although not particularly fast, it has good vertical reach and covers a fairly large arc over Bowser, enough to pass through suspended platforms on some stages. It does have iffy horizontal range, so obviously it's less useful against grounded foes. It does get heavy competition from Up Smash, which is a better anti-air due to its semi-invincibility, but this move's own merits make it a strong alternative for the job.
Up lstick+A button Up control+A button Up cpad+A button
Down lstick+A button Down nunchuk+A button Down dpad+2 button Twin Prone Punch Bowser punches twice while crouching. This move is one of Bowser's better attacks. It comes out as fast a Strong Side Attack and has great reach, not to mention a lasting hitbox due to Bowser's second swipe. Furthermore, it has a lot of shield pushback, keeping you safe from punishes, and also chips down shields a fair bit. These features make the attack a great poke, as it is quite safe to use. It also sees frequent use for punishing rolls due to its long duration, as well as for onstage edgeguarding, as the attack extends off the ledge.
Down lstick+A button Down control+A button Down cpad+A button
A button while dashing A button while dashing 2 button while dashing Koopa Striker Bowser lunges forward and kicks. Bowser's new dash attack has a cleaner animation, but a smaller hitbox. It is less sluggish and launches Bowser forward a nice distance, but is still punishable on shield, so don't use it carelessly. It is usually used as a quick punish, usually against rolls, airdodges, getup options or poor landings.
A button while dashing A button while dashing A button while dashing
A button while hanging A button while hanging 2 button while hanging Bowser climbs up and attacks with his claws.
A button while hanging A button while hanging A button while hanging

Smash Attacks

Control Attack Info
Wii U GamePad / Pro Controller Wii Remote + Nunchuk Wii Remote (sideways)
Wii Classic Controller GameCube Controller Nintendo 3DS
Smash (Left lstick or Right lstick)+A button Smash (Left nunchuk or Right nunchuk)+A button (Left dpad or Right dpad)+1 button+2 button Brick Breaker Bowser performs a powerful drop kick. This move is Bowser's strongest smash attack, able to KO at ridiculously early percents. Naturally, such power comes at a cost, namely, it is extremely sluggish and punishable if shielded. It can be avoided or blocked on reaction, so your best bet with landing this move is through punishes. Usual targets are opponents that flub their recovery or landings, but you may also attempt to read a roll or a missed approach for a high risk high reward attack.
Smash (Left lstick or Right lstick)+A button Smash (Left control or Right control)+A button Smash (Left cpad or Right cpad)+A button
Smash Up lstick+A button Smash Up nunchuk+A button Up dpad+1 button+2 button Spiny Jump Bowser jumps up, impaling foes with his shell. This smash attack certainly has KO potential, but it is often relegated to a utility role as an anti-air. This is because Bowser's shell is invulnerable to attacks, so it is excellent at retaliating against any foes approaching from the air. Bowser even ducks briefly before thrusting up to strike, which can let you occasionally avoid enemy attacks. It can also poke through some platforms, making it a useful general tool to harass opponents above you.
Smash Up lstick+A button Smash Up control+A button Smash Up cpad+A button
Smash Down lstick+A button Smash Down nunchuk+A button Down dpad+1 button+2 button Spike Spin Bowser withdraws into his shell and spins around, trapping nearby enemies with multiple strikes. As per the norm, this move is the weakest out of Bowser's smash attacks, but it makes up for that with its range in both directions. This move has deceptive disjointed horizontal reach, but average vertical range, making it most suited for punishing roll-happy opponents.
Smash Down lstick+A button Smash Down control+A button Smash Down cpad+A button

Air Attacks

Control Attack Info
Wii U GamePad / Pro Controller Wii Remote + Nunchuk Wii Remote (sideways)
Wii Classic Controller GameCube Controller Nintendo 3DS
A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png 2 buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png Cartwheel Scratch Bowser spins around with his limbs extended. This move is Bowser's fastest aerial attack, and serves as a general space-clearing attack, with a wide hitbox that strikes in multiple directions and relatively low landing lag. It has decent reach, but not enough to make it a good poke, so it's still best used defensively. It is possible to combo out of this attack if you land during it, and its large and enveloping hitbox makes it a generally safe move to land with as well.
A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png
Right lstick+A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png Right nunchuk+A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png Right dpad+2 buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png Klaw Slap Bowser swings his hand downward. This is Bowser's go-to attack in the air. It is fairly fast, has decently low landing lag and a nice sweeping motion to give it great range. This move is a reliable attack for air-to-air engagements, as well as to pressure grounded foes on higher platforms. It is also great at edgeguarding, letting you slap foes away from the ledge pretty safely and potentially netting you KOs.
Right lstick+A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png Right control+A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png Right cpad+A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png
Left lstick+A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png Left nunchuk+A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png Left dpad+2 buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png Backdrop Crush Bowser performs a drop kick backward. This is Bowser's airborne KO move, as Forward Air is a better option for most other scenarios. Back Air is the strongest of Bowser's aerial moves, and has plenty of KO power, but is pretty slow. It also has significant landing lag, which makes it very punishable if you fail to hit. However, if you do find an opening, Back Air can KO at moderately early percents, provided you keep it unstaled.
Left lstick+A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png Left control+A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png Left cpad+A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png
Up lstick+A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png Up nunchuk+A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png Up dpad+2 buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png Skull Bludgeon Bowser headbutts above him. While this move has an awkward animation, it comes out surprisingly fast and hits pretty hard. Bowser's head is briefly invulnerable during the headbutt, so it can be a rather effective anti-air if timed right. The move also has strong vertical knockback, making it a possible KO move when used near the top of the screen. It is somewhat sluggish and has serious landing lag, so it is pretty unwieldy when used offensively.
Up lstick+A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png Up control+A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png Up cpad+A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png
Down lstick+A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png Down nunchuk+A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png Down dpad+2 buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png Shell Drop Bowser withdraws into his shell and drops sharply, with spines pointed downward. Bowser will not fall quickly if the move is used after suffering from moderate vertical knockback. This attack is a meteor smash early into the move, but deals angled upward knockback with a late hit. This move launches Bowser down quite quickly and has moderate landing lag, so it's not a move you'll use often. Its most obvious application is for edgeguarding, but since it sends you so far downward, using it for this purpose is suicidal most of the time. However, if you position yourself at the very edge of the stage, you can potentially meteor smash recovering opponents close to the ledge without plunging with them into the abyss.
Down lstick+A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png Down control+A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png Down cpad+A buttonControl-Modifier-Air.png


Control Attack Info
Wii U GamePad / Pro Controller Wii Remote + Nunchuk Wii Remote (sideways)
Wii Classic Controller GameCube Controller Nintendo 3DS
A button after grab A button after grab 2 button after grab Horned Headbutt Bowser headbutts the grabbed opponent. Average damage but somewhat slow. Bowser doesn't get a lot of mileage out of his throws, so you might as well use this once or twice after a grab to rack up some extra damage.
A button after grab A button after grab A button after grab
Right lstick after grab Right nunchuk after grab Right dpad after grab Koopa Throw Bowser swings the grabbed opponent forward. This is a standard sideways throw most often used to get your opponent offstage for a potential edgeguard. It can also be used for damage racking, as it is tied with two other throws in terms of damage. If it isn't stale, it can also be used as a desperate KO move near the ledge.
Right lstick after grab Right control after grab Right cpad after grab
Left lstick after grab Left nunchuk after grab Left dpad after grab Koopa Fling Bowser swings the grabbed opponent backward. This throw is practically Forward Throw in the opposite direction. It shares Forward Throw's damage and knockback, so it is usually used to get foes offstage when your back is closer to the ledge, or for edgeguarding. Lastly, it can also be used as a KO move at extremely high percents.
Left lstick after grab Left control after grab Left cpad after grab
Up lstick after grab Up nunchuk after grab Up dpad after grab Pincushion Bowser spins while grinding the grabbed opponent with his spiked shell. While it has a cool animation and multiple strikes, this throw is the only one of Bowser's that doesn't do 12% damage. It also lacks any combo follow-ups or KO potential to make it unique from the other throws, so it's rather pointless. It does have a very vertical knockback angle, so it could be a launcher against characters that have trouble landing safely.
Up lstick after grab Up control after grab Up cpad after grab
Down lstick after grab Down nunchuk after grab Down dpad after grab Turtle Crush Bowser violently falls on to the grabbed opponent. This throw does the same damage as both of Bowser's side throws and sends them at a greater upward angle. It doesn't have much purpose other than for dealing damage, since its knockback is too high to follow up from and too low to KO.
Down lstick after grab Down control after grab Down cpad after grab

Special Attacks[edit]

Control Attack Info
Wii U GamePad / Pro Controller Wii Remote + Nunchuk Wii Remote (sideways)
Wii Classic Controller GameCube Controller Nintendo 3DS
B button B button 1 button Fire Breath Bowser breaths fire in a somewhat straight line in front of him, but can also be angled slightly with the control stick. The flame can be held by holding the button down, but its range and power will diminish over time if used too frequently. The flame will still damage at the tip, but does not cause flinching. This move is Bowser's projectile, although not one in the traditional sense. It is somewhat sluggish and easily countered if you use it haphazardly. Instead, it is usually used to discourage approaches, cover landings or as a low risk punish against rolls and getup options. Its ability to be angled also makes it a good onstage edgeguard tool, especially against foes with rigid recovery trajectories.
B button B button B button
Fire Shot Bowser breaths periodic fireballs which do not get weaker, but the flame cannot trap enemies. The concept of this custom move certainly sounds appealing. It gives Bowser a conventional and long range projectile, a rarity among heavyweights. However, it ultimately falls apart under scrutiny. Although it is the only variant that doesn't diminish over time, the interval between fireballs are too long for prolonged projectile pressure, and the move is too slow to effectively spam individual fireballs. The fireballs themselves are also disappointingly weak. Not only are they small and slow-moving, making them easy to evade, they also lack damage and stopping power, so it isn't even rewarding to get hits.
Fire Roar Bowser's breath of fire is extra large and powerful, but loses strength very quickly. This custom move is obviously suited for players that rarely use the default Fire Breath. Increased range and damage are big pluses, and the quickly dissipating flames and longer recharge times are negligible if you only use it occasionally for sudden harassment and damage racking. Since the fire peters out rapidly, you do have to time the move better to punish rolls and to edgeguard, and it is barely a threat when used to zone.
(Left lstick or Right lstick)+B button (Left nunchuk or Right nunchuk)+B button (Left dpad or Right dpad)+1 button Flying Slam Bowser swipes his claw forward. Opponents close to him will be grabbed, after which he will take to the skies and slam them into the ground. This attack is one of Bowser's more reliable KO moves. While it is slower than the standard grab, it can be used in the air and handily beats common defenses against aerial approaches like shielding and countering. It also has great KO power, especially if you manage to land on high platform closer to the top of the screen.

One particularly infamous application of Flying Slam is the Bowsercide. This technique is done by grabbing someone with a Flying Slam, then plunging off the stage with them to KO both of you at once. Unfortunately, this tactic is much less useful in practice. First off, your opponents can influence your direction after grabbing, so a smart foe can still save themselves by moving back toward the stage as you plunge. Additionally, the game heavily favors the player getting grabbed when going for a Bowsercide. Most of the time, Bowserciding will just result in a sudden death if both players have one stock left. On some stages, Bowser is actually KO'd first before his opponent. Sometimes, it is even possible for Bowser to get KO'd while the victim is free to recover back on stage. As general advice, avoid using the Bowsercide unless you have a stock or point lead over your target.

(Left lstick or Right lstick)+B button (Left control or Right control)+B button (Left cpad or Right cpad)+B button
Dash Slam Bowser lunges forward while attempting to grab players in his path. He will move a greater horizontal distance at the cost of vertical distance and power before slamming down. The slam is weaker and sends foes at a lower knockback angle. This variant is obviously a mix between Flying Slam and Dash Slash. Bowser's sudden momentum shift makes it easier to land grabs with it, but the reduced power relegates this attack to more of a damage-dealing attack than KO move, especially one used to counter shields. Dash Slam can also be used for waveslashing, a technique that will be detailed more closely in the Dash Slash section.
Dash Slash Bowser charges forward with his claw out for a straightforward attack. This move is a decent surprise attack, but its main draw comes from a special technique: waveslashing. By using Dash Slash in the air and landing during the attack then crouching, you'll get a quick momentum shift on the ground that you can direct in either direction. The big deal about this momentum shift is that you can quickly act out of it, such as by using an attack. This technique greatly enhances Bowser's mobility, letting you swoop in with a quick strike or grab. Waveslashing can also be used with Dash Slam, but the slide is slightly shorter.
Up lstick+B button Up nunchuk+B button Up dpad+1 button Whirling Fortress Bowser gets in his shell and spins upward. Quickly mashing the button will increase the height gained. This attack is not just Bowser's recovery move, but is also a great defensive tool for him in general. It is really fast and the attack covers most of his body, making it an excellent out-of-shield option, letting you safely punish a ton of shielded attacks. Its multiple hits and horizontal movement along the ground also lets you punish and pursue roll-happy enemies. Finally, it is a decent recovery with nice protection from edgeguarders and moderate vertical and horizontal distance, which can be further improved if you mash the button fast enough.
Up lstick+B button Up control+B button Up cpad+B button
Flying Fortress Bowser gets more height from spinning at the cost of horizontal distance. The attack only strikes once. This variant is a stronger recovery, but sacrifices Bowser's best out-of-shield option. It only does one hit and still rises to the air when used from the ground, so it is an overall worse attack. The recovery improvement is also questionable, since it has a pretty predictable trajectory and very poor horizontal movement. Overall, this custom variant is not a popular choice at all.
Sliding Fortress Bowser barely gains any height from whirling, but he travels a great distance forward, even while on the ground. The drawback of this move is pretty obvious: your recovery is overall worse due to the lack of vertical distance. It only does a singular hit as opposed to Whirling Fortress's blender attack, making it a worse attack as well. However, it does have one feature that Whirling Fortress lacks, and that is long distance punishes. The fast movement speed while on the ground lets you cover a lot of ground in a short time and catch foes offguard, and can punish some shielded attacks that the default is too slow to strike. Nevertheless, its cons outweigh its pros, and this move is rarely selected as well.
Down lstick+B button Down nunchuk+B button Down dpad+1 button Bowser Bomb Bowser drops down butt-first to crush enemies below. If used from the ground, he will jump forward before initiating the ground pound, which can also hurt foes in your path. This move is pretty high risk, high reward. It certainly does enough knockback to KO, but like so many of Bowser's attacks, is very telegraphed and punishable. However, it is a surprisingly fast punish as well, since Bowser's rising hit can lead into his finishing ground pound. The leap forward can also catch foes by surprise if they're attacking from out of your range. This move is still very sluggish and terrible when missed, so use it sparingly.
Down lstick+B button Down control+B button Down cpad+B button
Turbulent Bomb Bowser's ground pound is weaker, but causes a large gust of wind to blow foes around him away. This custom move has one of the biggest windboxes in the game, which is pretty much its main draw. The gust fans out around Bowser and is fairly strong as well, so it can protect Bowser if you miss by pushing nearby foes out of range. Unfortunately, the ground pound itself is heavily weakened and just as sluggish, so there's not much purpose in using this move over Bowser's normal attacks. Turbulent Bomb is slightly better at edgeguarding by pushing recovering foes helplessly away from the ledge, but even this tactic is unreliable and rarely nets KOs.
Slip Bomb Bowser cannot hit enemies from his initial jump, but landing will cause him to trip any nearby grounded opponents. Bowser's leap travels less horizontal distance, causing him to slam down near where he initiated the move. As with most tripping and burial attacks, this move sounds great on paper but terrible in practice. The tripping radius is actually pretty large, but Slip Bomb is still very sluggish, so it is easily avoided by all but the slowest characters. Even if you do trip an enemy, none of Bowser's attacks are fast enough to get a meaningful followup. Lastly, the attack itself is weaker than Bowser Bomb, though not as weak as Turbulent Bomb. At the end of the day, you're better off using the default Bowser Bomb instead.


Control Info
Wii U GamePad / Pro Controller Wii Remote + Nunchuk Wii Remote (sideways)
Wii Classic Controller GameCube Controller Nintendo 3DS
Up dpad 1 button Up dpad+A button Bowser rears his head and roars.
Up dpad Up dpad Up dpad
(Left dpad or Right dpad) 1 button+2 button A button Bowser bites relentlessly in random directions,
(Left dpad or Right dpad) (Left dpad or Right dpad) (Left dpad or Right dpad)
Down dpad 2 button Down dpad+A button Bowser balances on one foot.
Down dpad Down dpad Down dpad

Final Smash - Giga Bowser[edit]

Bowser transforms into this monstrous form first introduced in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Giga Bowser has constant super armor, which means his attacks cannot be interrupted for the duration of the transformation. His attacks are also greatly improved in power, and some have added elemental effects, such as his freezing Down Smash. Note that Bowser reverts to a more feral fighting style while in this form, causing him to use attacks from his appearance older Smash titles like his Side Smash and Back Air Attack. This transformation lasts roughly 10 seconds and is quite good. Giga Bowser's super armor lets you play very aggressively without fear, while his massive size give his powerful attacks a lot of range.