Bowser in 3.6

cmart

Smash Lord
Joined
May 2, 2005
Messages
1,101
Location
Savage, MD
#1
Hey guys.

For those who don't know me, I'm cmart, one of Project M's character developers and senior designers. I have been the lead for Bowser since about 2.6 if I recall correctly, which gives me the uncomfortable distinction of having "nerfed" Bowser in every patch that I've overseen him on. While I'm not solely responsible for every change that occurs on Bowser, I have been the driving force behind a lot of them. With the new patch just released, I wanted to talk a bit about how we got to where we are.

First off, Bowser in 3.6B was, as many have surmised, a change of direction. For a long time, I had been pushing for a Bowser with less polarizing design, who relied less on band-aids like Flame Cancel, Heavy Armor, and over-stacked moves and more on Smash fundamentals like other characters. While I'd made some progress chipping away at this in previous patches, I believe 3.6B was the first time I'd really managed to accomplish this in a public release. Bowser was going to be smaller, resulting in less oppressive range and also slightly harder to combo. He was going to be faster to compensate for the range loss, hopefully fast enough to position and exert stage control better. His smashes were all going to have good frame data, and actually be usable beyond down smashing techs or recoveries. His dash attack was going to be reigned in to make it a more reasonable option, rather than a punish answer to every question. His moves in general were going to be fast enough to actually land. I had a lot of goals that I believed would make him a better character.

So what happened? Why was 3.6B Bowser bad? Since we were venturing into new territory like this, I wanted to avoid the specter of an overpowered build as much as I could. Due to that, whenever there was a concern over wether something in the build was too strong, I would err on making it weaker. When that happened often enough and added up, a lot of things I wanted to accomplish (like a usable forward smash) were compromised from what I'd envisioned. In particular, Bowser's punish game seemed weaker than before without adequate compensation. There were also bugs and mistakes. An error in adjusting his airdodge for the size decrease meant all of his waveland timings were off for example. While the core ideas were still there, the build was much less viable than it could've been, and to many felt worse overall than the 3.5 build it replaced.

For all that I can only apologize, learn from my mistakes, and attempt to fix them. Fortunately, with 3.6 releasing in Beta first, the DT had a unique opportunity to respond to feedback in a much faster manner, especially when it came to the almost universally disliked Bowser changes. I want to go over what's been done to help our Koopa Overlord out.

- Fixed the wavelanding issues and increased movement on many moves that were adversely effected by the size reductions. This includes stuff like dash attack, his rolls, tech rolls, and that ledge attack. In addition, tech roll movement was adjusted to make reaction tech-chases more difficult for the opponent.
- Gave Forward Smash some more love. It might never be a safe option in neutral, but you now get medium armor out of the box and more knockback.
- Cut Down Smash startup even more. At only seven frames of start up, you should be able to use this after Crouch Cancel or in reaction to openings or bad approaches. Go crazy.
- Increased Damage on Forward Tilt and Up air, and reduced Forward Tilt's cooldown. In addition to making these moves feel stronger, they should be safer on whiff and block.
- Increased Aerial mobility on fortress. Specifically to make fortress hogging more consistent by allowing Bowser to hug the edge better once he slides offstage.
- Cut cooldown on down throw. In 3.6B this throw was made weight independent in order to make follow ups more consistent across the cast, but I didn't consider that this would actually make frame advantage worse against many of the most popular characters. The cooldown reduction should approximate the advantage Bowser used to have on these characters, but now he gets it on everybody.
- Removed Flame Cancel. Playtesting showed that Flame Cancel mixups were becoming a large crutch in Bowser's gameplay. While it seems strange to remove another option at this point, we've attempted to compensate somewhat with a plethora of flamebreath changes - reduced start up and cooldown, transcendent flames, and a lower minimum duration.
- Partially reverted Koopa Klaw forward throw angle and knockback changes. Follow ups should be a bit easier on neutral DI.


- Added a completely new throw to Koopa Klaw. Press Down and Bowser will slam his victim into the ground, initiating a tech-chase. Each slam is 15 damage, so you should be able to build damage pretty quickly. If you do it in the air, Bowser will brutally sucker punch his victim downwards. As this is a spike, a missed DI out or catching someone offstage should guarantee their death. Together with the Forward Throw changes, correctly DIing against Bowser's Klaw is a lot more important, and missing that DI (or a tech) should result in some pretty severe punishment.

That isn't everything, but I believe it covers the big ticket items. Check out the changelog if you want the specifics on every change since 3.5. While I can't pretend to know the future Meta and where this new Bowser will fit in it, I do think he's both more fun and viable. Thank you all for letting us know what you thought, and providing a ton of Koopa feedback.

Hope y'all have fun
 
Last edited:

Todayyz

Smash Rookie
Joined
Mar 21, 2015
Messages
1
#2
The steps y'all took in 3.6b were in the right direction for him. I'm glad to see that he has received the buffs that he desperately needed though, especially his new KK D-throw ;)
 

cmart

Smash Lord
Joined
May 2, 2005
Messages
1,101
Location
Savage, MD
#10
You mention more knockback on fsmash but I couldn't see it in the changelist.
My apologies, it looks like that change was not correctly highlighted in the changelist (along with the damage change for forward tilt). From 3.6B to 3.6 Full the Growth increased by 10, 70 -> 80.
 

Hobobloke

Atemon Game
Joined
Aug 7, 2008
Messages
3,261
Location
confiirmed, sending supplies
#11
My apologies, it looks like that change was not correctly highlighted in the changelist (along with the damage change for forward tilt). From 3.6B to 3.6 Full the Growth increased by 10, 70 -> 80.
Oh my, I just noticed the new ftilt damage...

I can't thank you enough for what you've done for this character, I feel an actual excitement about the game again that hasn't been present in a long time.
 

themaziest

Smash Cadet
Joined
Aug 22, 2013
Messages
71
Location
France
#14
Bowser feels great.

Flame cancel needed to go but fortunately there is a nice compensation. Forward and Down Smash make sense again. And of course the new Chokeslam is brutal and I love it. Good job.
 

Zigludo

Smash Journeyman
Joined
Mar 20, 2015
Messages
206
Location
Southwest Florida (Naples)
#16
The old size was way better because we could space around shields more easily and cover entire platforms with usmash and utilt. But it's been partially compensated for by the increase in speed on dashattack and dashgrab and the size of ledge attack.
 

Joak.

Smash Rookie
Joined
Aug 17, 2015
Messages
9
Location
Northern VA
#17
Does this mean people will stop complaining about Bowser? His speed might still not be suited well for the tech chase, but seems fine to me as long as you aren't looking to re-grab. There are quite a few punish options for those tech chase situations, so that is a good fit.
 
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