Super Smash Bros. Melee/Bowser

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Bowser (known as Koopa in Japan), the arch-villain of the Mario franchise, is currently ranked 24th in the G tier due to his large size and weight, making him extremely easy to combo. His moves are also sluggish, and although he does have a projectile (his neutral special), it does not help him against foe's projectiles, particularly Falco or Fox's lasers.

"A" Moves Analysis

Ground attacks

  • Neutral attack- Bowser scratches with his left claw, and then his right claw. 8%-11% damage when both hits connect. Noticeable killing potential at higher damages.
  • Strong side- Bowser hits with his knuckle. Has a bit of start up lag and little range, but high priority and fairly good knockback for a tilt. 6%-14%
  • Strong down- Bowser slashes along the ground with his claws. Two hits. First hit doesn't have much knockback, but the second hit is fairly slow. 7%-22%
  • Strong up- Bowser claws upward. Good knockback, good for setting up comboes. 7%-11%
  • Dash attack- Bowser charges forward. Decent knockback, but easily countered due to starting and ending lag. 6%-11%
  • Side smash- Bowser rears back for a short moment, and hits incredibly hard with his head. Very high damage and knockback, though suffers from a lot of lag in general. Strongest Smash attack in the game. 13%-32%
  • Down smash- Bowser spins around in his shell, doing great damage with multiple hits from his spines. Subpar range, can be DI'd out of, and has noticeable ending lag, but still powerful nonetheless. 1%-27%, depending on number of hits.
  • Up smash- Bowser jumps upward, hitting with his spikes. A powerful attack in general. 11%-27%
Other attacks
  • Ledge attack- Swings many times inside his shell forwards to the stage. 8% damage
  • 100% ledge attack- Gets up and swipes. 10% damage
  • Floor attack- A laggy attack, Bowser shortly gets up and swipes in front, then gets back down for a second before thrusting both his feet out. 6% damage.


  • Neutral aerial- Bowser spins around in his shell. Low knockback, but long duration. 7%-13%
  • Forward aerial- Bowser slashes forward in midair. Good knockback and edgeguarding option. 9%-14%
  • Back aerial- Bowser hits backward with his shell. Great knockback, good edgeguarding option when used in a SHFFL or ledge hop. 8%-13%
  • Down aerial- Bowser spins downwards, hitting with the spikes on his shell. Not much knockback or damage, small hitbox, but releases a shockwave upon hitting the ground. 1%-15%, depending on number of connecting hits.
  • Up aerial- Bowser hits upward hard with his head. Very high knockback, but one of Bowser's slower moves. It is the most powerful up aerial and one of the most powerful aerials in the game (it is stronger than Ganondorf's down aerial on grounded opponents). 9%-17%


  • Pummel- Bites foe. 2-3% per pummel.
  • Forward throw- Bowser throws his foe forward. Kills at high percentages 5%-10%
  • Back throw- Bowser throws his foe backward. 5%-10%
  • Up throw- Bowser throws his foe upward a short distance and on his shell, doing damage to the opponent while spinning. Has set knockback and can chaingrab fastfallers. 5%-9%
  • Down throw- Bowser throws his foe on the ground and lands on them with tremendous force. 6%-12%

"B" Moves Analysis

Neutral Special

While holding the B button, Bowser continuously exhales a stream of fire in front of him, which gradually decreases in length over time. In Brawl, the flames can also be angled up and down, and they will never completely recede, as they will in Melee, where Bowser will eventually begin to exhale smoke instead.

The move's long duration is useful for staving off opponents and preventing their return to the stage. Unfortunately, an opponent using DI can escape the flames fairly easily in most directions. The fire will flow off of floors and walls, and can actually split in two directions, if the angle is perpendicular.

Side Special

Koopa Klaw: A claw swipe that hits enemies farther away, but also causes Bowser to grab onto enemies very close to him. Foes are able to use their attack buttons and wiggle their control sticks to escape Bowser's clutches quicker, but if they do not move at all, Bowser can bite the opponent up to eight times, doing 2-3% damage with each bite. The Koopa Klaw has the unique ability of allowing Bowser to grab onto an opponent in midair. If Bowser is holding someone in the move, they can be thrown in two directions: pressing forward on the control stick causes Bowser to slash the enemy upwards, while pressing backwards causes him to hurl the enemy backwards with a large amount of knockback.

Up Special

Fortress: Known for the defensive and maneuvering attributes it adds to Bowser's game, it fills several 'holes' in Bowser's otherwise slow metagame, being widely regarded as the only reason Bowser is playable competitively. 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 shieldgrapped 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.
  • It can be used to edgeguard quickly and efficiently. Fortressing off the side of a stage leads directly to an edgehog.

The above properties make Whirling Fortress a versatile move. It can also be used as a damaging and effective replacement to Bowser's quick, yet laggy, roll. Can be jump-canceled out of a shield to discourage overly aggressive opponents. It can be used to clank just about anything with decent timing.

Down Special

Bowser Bomb: If Bowser is in midair when using this move, he slams to the ground with a butt-stomp. If he's on the ground doing this, he will leap forward diagonally before performing the butt-stomp. Unlike Yoshi, whose Yoshi Bomb will produce disruptive stars upon landing, Bowser will not emit any kind of shockwave upon impact. The diagonal jump when used on the ground deals 5% damage, and the landing deals 24% damage.

The Bowser Bomb is also good for edgeguarding. If Bowser does it in the air and just brushes the edge, he will grab on making good for edgeguarding. This technique is good to use on people trying to recover. Also by doing this, instead of suffering lag from landing on the ground, the player can just grab the edge. Bowser can also use it on someone who is hanging on the edge and he will knock them off it and he will grab on instead. It is unsure whether the player has to hold the direction on the analog stick according to what side the edge is on or if they can just Bowser Bomb and he will automatically grab on.


Frame Data




Character Specific

Additional Note


Serious Advantage Match-ups


Advantage Match-ups


Fair Match-ups

Yoshi, Kirby, Pichu

Disadvantage Match-ups

Ice Climbers, Pikachu, DK, Zelda, Roy, Mewtwo, G&W, Ness

Serious Disadvantage Match-ups

Everyone else