For as long as amiibo training has existed, Bowser has been at the very top of its competitive metagames. For the longest time, the King of Koopas was seen as the strongest FP in the game! That all changed when Incineroar was released, though, and Bowser has been falling off ever since. He was once entirely banned from tournaments, but they’re starting to ease up on Bowser restrictions. For more information on Bowser’s metagame history, check out his wiki page. Otherwise, let’s jump right into today’s training! This character is especially finicky, so make sure your patience meter is high before continuing.
First up: Spirits. The odds of finding a tour that allows both Spirits and Bowser is still kind of slim, but just in case, we’ve included some setups you can use here. If you’d like a full run-down on how Spirits work in this game, feel free to read our detailed Spirits guide!
Super Armor is Bowser’s best bonus effect, as it stops him from flinching at low percentages. This stacks with the built-in armor on his tilts and smash attacks, making him even more formidable! Another option would be Armor Knight and Trade-Off Ability ↑. This setup grants its user huge buffs to attack, defense, and speed, making it a worthwhile investment on Bowser.
Most tournaments keep Super Armor and Armor Knight banned. Some alternative options for a competitive Bowser amiibo include Physical Attack ↑, Hyper Smash Attacks, and Trade-Off Ability ↑. If you’re going the Raid Boss route, some fun Spirits to try out would be Instadrop, Giant, Made of Metal, and Critical Healing and Metal (the latter of which is actually just one bonus). For stats, keep them balanced between attack and defense, and make sure your FP’s Spirit type is Neutral.
Training Bowser is tough. His AI is plagued with several spamming problems, and if you’re not careful, he could wind up overusing Fire Breath, Whirling Fortress, or neutral air. As you train Bowser, you’re going to want to keep him on-stage no matter what. Recent updates have added an unfortunate quirk in his AI where it’ll fall too low to recover and self-destruct. As with most competitively-trained amiibo, walking should be your primary method of transportation (rather than dashing). If an FP is trained to dash too often, it may run right into opposing attacks! Here are all the moves you should use during training:
- Forward tilt: Bowser’s best move, full stop. It balances attack power, speed, and armor, making it an excellent neutral option. Use it as your primary damage-racker! It can also KO when used close to the ledge.
- Neutral attack: This might actually be one of the most useful jabs in the game! It’s a two-hit combo, and it’s one of the only jabs that can KO at somewhat realistic percentages. Its first strike is a bit faster than forward tilt, so you can use it after a parry to keep your FP at a safe distance away.
- Up smash: In addition to being Bowser’s most useful smash attack, up smash is also one of the strongest aerial punishes in the game. When your FP is above you, smack it with an up smash. Its built-in invulnerability is invaluable!
- Forward smash: It’s got quite a bit of startup, but its armor helps make up for it. Furthermore, it’s extremely powerful, and can get KOs at incredibly early percentages as a result.
- Up tilt: This move is fairly quick in comparison to the rest of Bowser’s kit, and its wide hitbox makes it an important key to his success. Most (if not all) aerial assaults will lose to this move, and any grounded opponents hit by it will be launched directly upwards. This opens up a chance for another up tilt or even an up smash!
- Flying Slam: It’s not as strong as it was in the previous game, but it’s still a very necessary part of Bowser’s moveset. He has trouble against opponents who shield a lot, and Flying Slam just so happens to hit through shields. Use it often during training!
- Down smash: This move hits on both sides. It’s especially effective at the ledge, as it covers neutral getups and getup rolls. It can also be used every so often as a neutral option.
- Grab & throws: Teaching Bowser to grab can be risky, as he sometimes uses a hard-coded up throw to neutral air combo to rack up damage. At higher percentages, the AI will switch over to a forward or back throw. When grabbing your FP, don’t use up throw. Use any other throw instead!
As mentioned earlier, Bowser has sort of fallen off in recent tournaments. A big reason behind this drop is Bowser’s highly-flawed AI. He’s got a lot of strange and annoying quirks, and we’re going to list every single one right here for your reference! First, we’ll need to talk about Fire Breath. Bowser’s AI is hard-coded to use it at the ledge, in which it’ll only “press the button” for a moment. During training, don’t use Fire Breath and don’t get hit by Fire Breath, as it opens up an additional AI flaw we’ll talk about in just a moment. For now, let’s talk about Whirling Fortress. Bowser is hard-coded to use Whirling Fortress out of shield if his opponent is nearby. This works well against human players; not so much against other FPs. Keep an eye on your Bowser amiibo after it uses its shield, and try to dodge Whirling Fortress before he’s able to hit you. Finally, we’ve got Bowser’s most significant AI flaw: neutral air spam. He spams this move mercilessly if you’re not careful. You can’t let him successfully hit you with neutral air even one time; if he does, you’ve got to quit the match. It’s frustrating, but it’s the only way! Bowser’s AI often uses neutral air after a ledge jump, after a full hop, or after an up throw, so keep your eyes peeled. Here’s a suggestion: try training Bowser exclusively on Battlefield-form stages, and stand under one of the side platforms at all times. This way, you’ll be more protected against stray neutral airs. It might be a good idea to use one or two forward aerials during training so that Bowser’s aerial priorities are shifted to his forward air instead of his neutral air.
Raid Boss Training
Many new trainers start off with Bowser. This makes sense, as his amiibo figure is fairly easy to find and purchase online! In the previous section, we covered a whole bunch of Bowser’s AI flaws, and sadly those all apply here too. If you want to read more about them, backtrack a paragraph or two and read up! As you train your Raid Boss Bowser, stay on-stage whenever possible. Unlike our competitive section, you’re encouraged to dash and jump as often as you want! During training, avoid taunting and charging smash attacks. Use the following moves against your FP:
- Neutral attack: Bowser’s jab is great! It’s a two-hit combo that deals respectable damage and can KO at realistic percentages. Use it often!
- Forward tilt: A fast forward punch with a good bit of startup super armor. It’s especially effective when used at the ledge. Use this attack often too!
- Grab & throws: Bowser’s AI often uses an up throw to combo into a neutral air. If you’re okay with your FP learning to spam neutral air, you can use a bunch of grabs during training. They’re important here, as Bowser has no other way to beat an opponent who shields a lot.
- Up tilt: A great anti-air option, and a really fast one at that! Up tilt can link into itself, and you could even follow up with an up air or up smash.
- Forward aerial: You should stay grounded for the most part, but you can use some aerials every so often. Forward air is one of Bowser’s best!
- Up smash: A super-strong smash attack that grants Bowser’s shell full invincibility. Use it to KO! This move is great at punishing landings.
- Whirling Fortress: Bowser’s AI likes using Whirling Fortress out of shield. This behavior isn’t too good against other FPs, but it’s perfectly viable against human opponents! Only use Whirling Fortress when you’re on the ground. Don’t attack with it when you’re in the air!
- Down smash: Use this at the ledge. It covers both sides, so it can catch neutral getups and getup rolls!
- Flying Slam: A fast command grab that you can mix in every so often. Don’t use it too often, though, as an FP that spams Flying Slam can get predictable. As a side note, Bowser FPs can’t learn to Bowsercide. In fact, amiibo in general can’t learn to KO themselves on purpose, so keep that in mind!
In terms of moves to avoid, it’s mostly the same as the last section: don’t use Fire Breath or neutral air. Additionally, you’ll want to avoid down air and Bowser Bomb as well, as they’re rather predictable when used too often. If you’d like to learn even more about amiibo training, you can read our general training guide for more tips and tricks! It’s tailored to trainers who are just starting out, so if you’re one of them, this post is perfect for you!
Bowser used to be the king of the metagame, but he’s really fallen off over time. In a way, this is a good thing, as more and more tournaments are starting to allow him to participate! By all accounts, Bowser is a frustrating fighter to train, and if you don’t want to have to deal with that, you might consider trying to raise a different heavyweight character instead. If you have any additional questions that haven’t been answered here, feel free to check out our Discord server! You can also use our Powersaves guide or mobile backup guide to enter an online tournament. As always, if you like what you’ve read today, we appreciate donations to keep the site running. Thanks so much for reading! Until next time — happy training!
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