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 are still kind of slim, but just in case, we’ve included some Bowser-specific Spirit builds you can choose from. If you’d like to learn more about how Spirits work in this game, please read our detailed Spirits guide. Now then, here are those setups we mentioned:
- Banned bonuses: Super Armor is Bowser’s best Spirit effect — 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 plus Trade-Off Ability ↑. This setup grants its user huge buffs to attack, defense, and speed.
- Tournament-legal bonuses: Trade-Off Ability ↑ on Bowser is borderline busted. It bestows him with a slew of benefits with the drawback of a barely-noticeable damage penalty. Physical Attack ↑, Shield Damage ↑, and Critical-Health Stats ↑ all work here, though the former two tend to be more consistent. You could also try Floaty Jumps or Lightweight if you’d like to improve Bowser’s recovery, but that’s up to you.
- Raid Boss bonuses: If you’d rather forgo competitive training and take the Raid Boss route instead, that’s fine! You could use a setup including Physical Attack ↑, Move Speed ↑, and Landing Lag ↓, but there are more fun options available if you’re interested. Giant, Made of Metal, Critical Healing & Metal, and Critical Super Giant are all a tad gimmicky, but can make for entertaining interactions between players. Give them a shot!
Regarding stat distribution, just about any build works wonders on Bowser. Your absolute best bet is to go for a balanced setup (2100 / 2100), but don’t worry about getting those exact numbers — they’re just a ballpark range. Make sure your FP’s Spirit-type is Neutral before you begin its training routine.
Raising 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 (or all three). 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 close to the bottom blast zone and self-destruct. As is the case 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’s what an optimal Bowser looks like:
- Forward tilt is perhaps Bowser’s best move. It balances attack power and speed, plus it’s got startup super armor. You should also rotate neutral attack and Flying Slam at close range — do keep in mind that Bowser’s AI tends to shy away from Flying Slam, so if your FP doesn’t use it often it isn’t your fault!
- Bowser’s up smash renders his shell invincible, making it a fantastic aerial punish and kill move. Up tilt isn’t as strong, but is quite a bit faster and can catch opponents standing on platforms.
- From a short distance, attack with forward smash. Sure, it’s got a lot of startup, but it’s immensely powerful and is often responsible for Bowser’s earliest KOs.
- When launching your FP off-stage, don’t jump off after it. Instead, wait at the ledge and intercept its recovery with down tilt and down smash. You’re also welcome to use down smash in neutral at close range! It’s great at catching rolls.
- Bowser’s AI just loves using its neutral air, and one way you can circumvent this is by teaching it to use forward air or back air instead. Try fighting against your FP on Battlefield-form stages and using one of these aerials at the apex of your jump. You can also mix in a bit of grabs if you like.
For your convenience, we’ll explain each and every one of Bowser’s frustrating AI flaws — which are the reason he’s been falling off in recent tournaments. First up is Fire Breath: the CPU is hard-coded to use it at the ledge and after it perfect shields an attack while standing on a platform. Next is Whirling Fortress; the AI uses it out of shield and on occasion when close to the ledge. Finally, neutral air — those two words strike fear into the heart of every Bowser trainer. The FP will often use its neutral aerial after a ledge jump, a full hop, or an up throw, so keep your eyes peeled. If you’re ever hit by this move, quit the match.
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 talked about Bowser’s AI flaws, and sadly those all apply here too. If you want to read more about them, backtrack a paragraph or two. Keep Bowser on-stage whenever possible, and feel free to dash and jump as often as you want! You’ll just want to avoid taunting and charging smash attacks. Here’s what an optimal Raid Boss Bowser’s moveset includes:
- Neutral attack, forward tilt, and grabs are to be used at close range. Bowser’s AI often uses an up throw to neutral air combo; if you’re okay with your FP learning to spam neutral air, then you can go heavy on grabs. Otherwise, you should only use a few (and then attack with forward or back throw when you do).
- Up tilt and up smash are your primary anti-airs. Basically, up tilt is fast and up smash is strong. Both can be used to KO, too — especially the latter!
- For the most part, you should remain grounded during your Bowser training sessions. That being said, you’re welcome to mix in some aerials so often, and forward air is one of Bowser’s best. His other aerials are either too laggy (back air, up air, and down air) or too easily spammed (neutral air, as we discussed earlier).
- Bowser’s AI often uses Whirling Fortress out of shield. This behavior doesn’t work too well against opposing FPs, but it’s perfectly viable against human opponents! Only use Whirling Fortress while grounded.
- Mix in a spot of down smash and Flying Slam while you’re at it. Don’t use either of these moves too often, though, as they can get predictable.
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 guide for more tips and tricks! It’s tailored to new trainers, 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 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 character to train, and if you don’t want to have to deal with that, you might consider raising a different heavyweight fighter instead. If you have any additional questions that haven’t been answered here, feel free to check out our Discord server. If you’d like to start competing and entering tournaments, you should read our guide or at least bookmark it for later! As always, we appreciate donations to keep the site running. We’ve also got a Patreon with subscriber-exclusive rewards if you’re interested. Thanks so much for reading! Until next time — happy training!
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