Almost as famous as his arch-nemesis Mario, King Bowser Koopa fills the standard ‘bad guy' role in the Super Mario series. His one ambition is to kidnap Princess Peach and gain full control of the Mushroom Kingdom. Bearing a grudge against Mario and his friends, he continually tries to defeat them. Intriguingly, though, he has on a few occasions reluctantly teamed up with them.
Bowser's first appearance was in Super Mario Bros. as a boss at the end of every fourth level. His character is hardly developed in this installment, but this is a given due to the style of the game and technology of the time. In Super Mario Bros. 3 further light is shed on the character. His appearance changes (he grows his red mane) and he is revealed as the father of seven children, each of them a boss at the end of a world that Mario and Luigi traverse. In the 3D platformers of the series, including Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, Bowser's role is largely the same, though he is taller and more menacing than in previous games.
Chronologically, Bowser's first appearance in the series is in Super Mario Bros., but in the prequel Yoshi's Island he is a baby being cared for by Kamek, a loyal underling of his army. Bowser's cohorts capture Baby Luigi, and the story follows the Yoshi clan ultimately reuniting Baby Mario with his brother. After being beaten by the Yoshis, Kamek vows to have revenge, foreshadowing the later games.
Super Mario RPG shows Bowser in a different light in which he adds comic relief to the game. After joining the player's party, Bowser constantly complains about the others' heroic attitude toward the quest and reminds them that he is only involved to retake his castle, which was taken over by the game's antagonists, the Smithy Gang. In Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, sections between the chapters allow the player to control Bowser in recreations of levels from Super Mario Bros.
Bowser has appeared in many other games, most of them spin-offs of the Mario series such as Super Mario Kart, Mario Party and Super Smash Bros., either as a playable character or as an antagonist. As a playable character his largeness and heaviness influence the strategy most beneficial to players that control him.
"I know what you're thinking....all this power, and looks, too!"
Selected game appearances
- Super Mario World (1990)
- Super Mario Kart (1992)
- Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (1995)
- Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (1996)
- Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001)
- Super Mario Sunshine (2002)
- Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (2003)
- Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (2004)