Bowser (Mario character)

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First appearance: Super Mario Bros. (1985)
First spinoff appearance: Super Mario Kart (1992)
Species: Koopa

Bowser, named King Koopa in some early Western media, is the main villain and arch-nemesis of Mario throughout most of the Mario franchise. He is a gigantic turtle-like creature (known as a Koopa) who can breathe a stream of fire, like a dragon. He is obsessed with Princess Peach (named Princess Toadstool in media prior to Super Mario 64), and often kidnaps her in the Super Mario series of platforming games. Bowser first appears in the Nintendo Entertainment System game Super Mario Bros.

Bowser's appearance most commonly depicts him as having a large body, yellow skin, a red mane, thick, red eyebrows, a pair of horns, a dark green shell covered in spikes, spiked armbands, spiked wristbands, and clawed hands and feet.

Bowser leads his own army, the Koopa Troop, and his son is Bowser Jr. In some media, such as the cartoons produced by DiC Entertainment, Bowser also has the seven Koopalings as his children, something that Nintendo has neglected to maintain; in an interview with Game Informer in 2012, Shigeru Miyamoto attempted to retcon this by stating that the Koopalings are not Bowser's children.

Though he is the main villain, Bowser has sometimes had the role of being a protagonist, particularly in a few of the Mario role-playing games, including Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Super Paper Mario, and Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story.

Mario appearances

Super Mario series

Super Mario Bros.

In Super Mario Bros., Bowser is the main antagonist, on the account that he stole the Princess, turned most of the Toads into blocks and mushrooms, and planned to take over the peaceful Mushroom Kingdom. He is the final boss, fought at the end of the last level, World 8-4. At the end of the previous seven worlds, Mario or Luigi face off against a Fake Bowser instead, each disguised as an enemy; this can be revealed from Fire Mario or Fire Luigi throwing enough fireballs at a Fake Bowser.

Bowser has the ability to breathe fire, like the other Fake Bowsers and throw hammer, like with Hammer Bros. and some of the later Fake Bowsers. Bowser can also jump, usually providing an opportunity for Mario or Luigi to quickly move beneath him, as Mario or Luigi have to only touch an axe on the other end so that the bridge disappears and Bowser drops into a pit of lava.

Super Mario Bros. 2 (Japan)

In the Japanese Super Mario Bros. 2 (titled Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels since its first Western release in Super Mario All-Stars), Bowser has a very similar role as in Super Mario Bros.

Bowser does not appear in the Western Super Mario Bros. 2, in which Wart instead has the role of being the main villain.

Super Mario Bros. 3

Bowser is again the main antagonist of Super Mario Bros. 3, which is also the first appearance of the Koopalings. Bowser sent out the Koopalings to take over the neighboring areas of the Mushroom Kingdom, steal the respective King's magic wand, and turn them into an animal.

Once Mario and Luigi complete the seventh world, Pipe Land, they receive a letter from Bowser to inform that he had kidnapped the Princess. Bowser is encountered and fought by Mario or Luigi at the end of his own castle at the end of the final world, Dark Land. During the battle, Bowser mainly attacks by Ground Pounding. To defeat Bowser, Mario or Luigi have to trick him into Ground Pounding the Brick Blocks enough times until he falls through. Alternatively, if he is in their Fire form, Mario or Luigi can throw enough fireballs at Bowser until he is finally defeated.

Super Mario World

In Super Mario World, Bowser is once again the main antagonist. He kidnaps Princess Toadstool while she, Mario, and Luigi are on a vacation in Dinosaur Land. Bowser's Koopalings each capture a Yoshi and trap them into one of the Yoshi Eggs. Mario and Luigi go on a journey not only to rescue Princess Toadstool from Bowser, but also to recover the stolen Yoshi Eggs.

Bowser is fought on the roof of his castle, located at the end of the Valley of Bowser. This is the first game where Bowser makes use of his aerial vehicle, the Koopa Clown Car, which is during his boss fight. Bowser attacks by throwing Mechakoopas and Big Steelies at Mario or Luigi. Either Mario brother can attack Bowser by throwing a Mechakoopa as he flies around in the Koopa Clown Car. When hit, Bowser casts flames into the air, which proceed to rain down onto the ground, then Bowser briefly attempts to stomp Mario or Luigi with the Koopa Clown Car. After enough hits, Bowser loses control of his Koopa Clown Car, which flips upside down, allowing Princess Toadstool to float down to the roof, then Bowser spirals away into the distance.

Super Mario 64 / Super Mario 64 DS

Super Mario 64 is Bowser's first appearance in a three-dimensional game. Aside from the usual premise of kidnapping Peach, Bowser steals the Power Stars powering her castle. There are some Power Stars that Bowser is not aware of, and these are named the "Castle Secret Stars."

Bowser is a boss fought three different times: the first time is in Bowser in the Dark World, then in Bowser in the Fire Sea, and lastly in Bowser in the Sky. In the first two stages, Mario can defeat Bowser by throwing him into a spiked ball once, while in Bowser in the Sky, this must be done a total of three times. In the latter stage, when Bowser is defeated, Mario can collect the Jumbo Star, then he returns just outside of Peach's Castle and uses it to release Peach from her imprisonment in a stained glass portrait.

The remake, Super Mario 64 DS, includes slight changes to the story, namely from how Yoshi is the starter character, as Mario, Luigi, and Wario have all been imprisoned by Bowser, and the three of them have to be rescued throughout the course of the journey. Mario is also the only character who can enter Bowser in the Sky and fight Bowser at the end.

Super Mario Sunshine

Super Mario Sunshine is the first appearance of Bowser's son, Bowser Jr., who more prominently serves as main antagonist than his father. Bowser is first mentioned by Bowser Jr. in Pinna Park.

Bowser is first seen at the end of Corona Mountain, where he and Bowser Jr. are fought together as the final boss. They sit in a hot tub filled with green slime for the entire battle. Bowser's main attack during the battle is breathing out massive streams of fire and splashing green slime from the hot tub that he and Bowser Jr. are in. Mario can defeat both characters by using the Rocket Nozzle to perform an impactful Ground Pound on each end of the hot tub.

Bowser and Bowser Jr. are last seen on a miniature island near Isle Delfino, the main setting of the game. Bowser was happy to hear Bowser Jr.'s enthusiasm to challenge Mario again sometime into the future.

New Super Mario Bros.

In New Super Mario Bros., Bowser is somewhat of a lesser antagonist than Bowser Jr., similarly to Super Mario Sunshine, as Bowser Jr. is the one who kidnaps Peach at the start. However, Bowser still remains a major antagonist in the game.

Bowser is the boss fought at the end of the castle in World 1. The battle is designed similarly to the Fake Bowser and Bowser fights in Super Mario Bros. Bowser attacks Mario or Luigi by shooting fireballs at him, and he can also jump into the air. However, Bowser cannot throw hammers like in Super Mario Bros. The main way of defeating Bowser is by having Mario or Luigi activate the skull switch, which functions identically to the axe from Super Mario Bros., as it causes the bridge to disappear. Bowser can alternatively be defeated if hit with enough fireballs from Mario or Luigi, if he is in his Fire form, or if Mario or Luigi touch him while under the effects of the Mega Mushroom. Regardless of how Bowser is defeated, he once again falls into the pit of lava, but a difference from before is that Bowser transforms into a skeletal version of himself, Dry Bowser.

Dry Bowser is the first boss of World 8, where he is fought at the end of World 8-Castle. The boss fight is essentially a variation of the battle in World 1-Castle, but Dry Bowser can also throw bones at Mario, similarly to Super Mario Bros., where some of the later Fake Bowsers and Bowser himself can throw hammers. Just as before, Mario or Luigi can defeat Dry Bowser by activating the skull switch on the other side, causing the bridge to disappear. Fireballs can no longer be used to defeat Dry Bowser, as his skeletal body makes him invulnerable to them.

Bowser is fought a third and final time in Bowser's Castle at the end of World 8. Before the battle starts, Bowser is revived when Bowser Jr. throws his bones into a cauldron, except Bowser comes out larger than before. During this battle, Bowser attacks by approaching Mario, jumping, and shooting fireballs. Later in the battle, Bowser also shoots barrages of blue fire. Like in the previous two battles, Mario or Luigi can defeat Bowser, as well as Bowser Jr., by activating the skull switch on the other side of the room. Like in the first two battles, the effects of the Mega Mushroom can instantly defeat both Bowser and Bowser Jr., and unlike Dry Bowser, they can also be defeated from having enough fireballs thrown at them.

Bowser and Bowser Jr. make one final appearance in a short cutscene after the end credits, where the latter drags Bowser's body.

Mario Kart series

Super Mario Kart

Super Mario Kart is Bowser's first appearance in a Mario spinoff game. He is one of the eight playable characters. Bowser has slow acceleration, but a very high top speed, matched only by Donkey Kong Jr.

Mario Kart 64

In Mario Kart 64, Bowser is one of eight selectable characters. He is one of the three heavyweight racers, along with Donkey Kong and Wario.

Mario Kart: Super Circuit

In Mario Kart: Super Circuit, Bowser is one of the eight playable characters, along with the other seven playable racers from Mario Kart 64. Bowser retains his heavyweight classification, along with Donkey Kong and Wario.

Mario Kart: Double Dash!!

In Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, Bowser is one of the twenty playable racers. He is paired with Bowser Jr. By default, Bowser's signature kart is the Koopa King, and both he and Bowser Jr. have the Bowser Shell as their special item.

Mario Kart DS

In Mario Kart DS, Bowser is one of the starting playable racers. Aside from having his own standard kart, the Standard BW, Bowser's other two personal karts are the Hurricane (modeled after the Koopa Clown Car) and the Tyrant.

Mario's Discovery series

Mario is Missing!

Bowser is the main antagonist of Mario is Missing! He plans to purchase multiple hair dryers to melt Antarctica, which would therefore flood the planet. Mario, Luigi, and Yoshi set out to stop Bowser, although when Mario is kidnapped, forcing Luigi to embark on a journey to rescue him. The group manages to thwart Bowser's plan.

While the premise is identical between the different versions of Mario is Missing!, the events unfold slightly differently. In the main PC release, for example, there is a scene at the start where Luigi stays with Yoshi outside of Bowser's Castle, since he is too scared to go inside, but his journey to rescue Mario begins after Bowser tricks Mario by disguising himself as a butler, giving Mario candy, and then catching him into a net. In the ending of the PC version, there is a comical scene of Luigi removing Bowser's Shell, leaving Bowser embarrassed.

Mario's Time Machine

Bowser is the main antagonist of Mario's Time Machine. Bowser built a time machine known as the Timulator so that he could travel through various time periods and steal historic artifacts to put into his own museum. In the process, this would drastically affect the course of history. Mario uses the Timulator to return the artifacts to their respective time periods and thwarted Bowser's scheme, preventing history from being changed.

Hotel Mario

Bowser is the main antagonist of Hotel Mario. He is first seen in the opening cutscene, letting out a menacing laugh as Mario and Luigi enter the Mushroom Kingdom on their way to have a picnic with Princess Toadstool. Mario finds a note from Bowser, stating that he and the Koopalings have conquered the Mushroom Kingdom and made Princess Toadstool a "permanent guest" in one of the seven Koopa hotels.

Bowser is the final boss, and he is fought in his own hotel, Bowser's Seizures Palace Hotel, after Iggy Koopa is defeated. Mario and Luigi rescue the Princess and thwart Bowser's scheme once more.

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars

In Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Bowser starts off with his usual role of kidnapping Princess Toadstool to his castle (named "Bowser's Keep" in this game). Later, a giant sword named Exor crashes into Bowser's Keep, separating Mario, the Princess, and Bowser and interrupting their usual conflict of Mario saving the Princess from Bowser.

By the time Bowser made it to Booster Tower, he agreed to help Mario until he could get his castle back from Exor and the main villain group, the Smithy Gang.

Mario Party series

Mario Party

Since the first game, Mario Party, Bowser has frequently had the role of an antagonist in the Mario Party series. Bowser usually has his own space, the Bowser Space, and if a character lands on it, they are taken to Bowser, who usually penalizes them with misfortune, such as from taking away their coins and/or stars.

Mario Party 2

In the Story mode of Mario Party 2, Bowser took over Mario Land and nearby lands. The characters competed to beat Bowser the fastest in order to be the "Super Star." Bowser eventually lost control over all but his own land, Bowser Land, which he desperately sought to keep, but the "Super Star" character used the stars they obtained to defeat him.

Mario Party 3

In the Story mode of Mario Party 3, Bowser tries to become a Super Star by collecting the seven Star Stamps, but is unsuccessful due to the efforts of the player's character. At one point, Bowser tries to steal the Mischief Star Stamp, but realized that Waluigi had stolen it. At this point, Bowser's role of being the antagonist is fulfilled by Waluigi instead, and when Bowser tries to confront Waluigi, he quickly defeats Bowser.

Mario Party 4

In Mario Party 4, Bowser claims to have stolen the player's presents and challenges them to get their presents back by winning his board, Bowser's Gnarly Party.

Mario Golf series

Mario Golf (Nintendo 64)

In the Nintendo 64 game, Mario Golf, Bowser is an unlockable playable character, and the player can unlock him by completing the seventh character match.

As a playable character, Bowser has a drive of 280 yards, his shot trajectory is a high draw, and the effect of whenever Bowser gets a nice shot shows a flame ray.

Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour

In Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, Bowser is a character who can now be played from the start. He has a drive of 217 yards, and his Star Drive is at 290 yards.

Bowser has a role in the opening cutscene. When Wario accidentally hits a golf ball into Bowser's eye, this enrages Bowser, who chases Wario and Waluigi across many golf fields. Bowser eventually traps Wario and Waluigi and prepares to throw a Bob-omb at them, but this backfires when one of Mario's golf shots knocks the Bob-omb out of Bowser's hands, instead capturing him, Wario, and Waluigi in the explosion at the same time.

Mario Tennis series

Mario Tennis (Nintendo 64)

In the Nintendo 64 game, Mario Tennis, Bowser is a playable character, classified as being a Power yype.

Mario Tennis (Game Boy Color)

In the Game Boy Color game, Mario Tennis, Bowser is an unlockable playable character, and he is unlockable only from using the Transfer Pak accessory between the game and the identically-named Nintendo 64 game.

Mario Power Tennis

In Mario Power Tennis, Bowser is a playable character, and he retains his Power classification from before. His Offensive Power Shot is simply his Fire Breath, while his Defensive Power Shot is Spinning Shell Dash, in which Bowser ducks into his shell and spins around to recover the ball.

Bowser has a role in the opening cutscene. After Wario and Waluigi lose a doubles match against Mario and Luigi, Bowser decides to train the two to improve their skills at tennis. Later, the three of them interrupt the final match of the tournament. When Bowser shoots out a Bullet Bill from his balloon, Mario deflects it, causing Bowser's balloon to start to crash. Wario and Waluigi try to escape from Bowser's balloon, noticing it is filled with explosive Bob-ombs, but the balloon crashes on them, and Bowser, Wario, and Waluigi are caught in a massive explosion.

Paper Mario series

Paper Mario

In Paper Mario, unlike the previous Mario role-playing game, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, but like most games in the Super Mario series, Bowser has the role of being the main antagonist. With the help of Kammy Koopa, Bowser stole the Star Rod from the Star Haven and used its power to imprison the seven Star Spirits into cards, distributing each one to his most trusted minions. He also lifted Peach's Castle into space. Mario's first attempt at fighting Bowser was unsuccessful, due to Bowser's invincibility, but much later on, after Mario rescues the seven Star Spirits, he can fight Bowser properly, as the Star Spirits use a Star Beam to render Bowser's invincibility useless.

Super Princess Peach

Super Princess Peach is unlike the average installment of the Super Mario series, as Bowser instead kidnaps Mario and Luigi, so Peach goes on an adventure to rescue them, with help from her umbrella companion, Perry.

Yoshi appearances

Yoshi's Safari

Bowser is again the main antagonist of Yoshi's Safari. He took over Jewelry Land not only by stealing the twelve magical gems, but also from kidnapping the land's rulers, King Fret and Prince Pine. As a result, Jewelry Land is split into a Light Realm and a Dark Realm, and both Mario, armed with the Super Scope given to him by Peach, and Yoshi go on an adventure to save Jewelry Land.

Bowser is the final boss. He wears a protective suit of armor and attacks by throwing Koopa Shells and cannonballs. Mario and Yoshi manage to defeat Bowser and save Jewelry Land.

Tetris Attack

In Tetris Attack, Bowser is fought as the final boss in the Hard setting of the Game Boy version and in both the Hard and Extreme settings in the Super Nintendo Entertainment System version.

Other game appearances

Super Smash Bros. series

Super Smash Bros. Melee

In Super Smash Bros. Melee, Bowser made his first playable appearance in the Super Smash Bros. series, let alone in general. He is a very strong character, although his slower movements compensate for this. Additionally, Bowser is the final boss of Adventure mode, and in higher difficulty settings, after Bowser is defeated, the player has to fight an even more powerful, grotesque version of him, Giga Bowser.

Bowser's standard special move is Fire Breath, in which he breathes out a constant stream of fire, similarly to how a Fire Flower functions in the game, except Bowser's flames become increasingly smaller.

Bowser's side special move is Koopa Klaw, in which he slashes his claws, but if the opponent is nearby, Bowser can grab them and then either bite or throw the opponent.

Bowser's up special move is Whirling Fortress, and when used, Bowser hides within his shell and spins around with it in midair. In many cases, Bowser can use Whirling Fortress to recover from falling off of the stage.

Bowser's down special move is Bowser Bomb. When used, Bowser jumps to the right and performs a Ground Pound, an attack directly carried over from Super Mario Bros. 3.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Bowser returns as a playable fighter in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Like every other fighter, Bowser received his own Final Smash, and Bowser's temporarily transforms him into Giga Bowser. His Koopa Klaw attack is replaced with Flying Slam, in which he grabs the opponent and then body slams them onto the ground.

Bowser is one of the antagonists of the single-player mode, Adventure Mode: The Subspace Emissary, in which he is one of the higher ranked leaders of the Subspace Army.