Paper Bowser

        A while back, I talked about one of the bosses from Paper Mario, Huff N. Puff. While that was quite a difficult fight, it can hardly claim to be nearly as remarkable or memorable as his boss, Bowser himself. Aside from it being, well, Bowser, it is a fight that has been built up the entire game.
        After all, it begins with him easily blasting Mario out a window with lightning. From then on, Mario is facing the Koopa King’s minions, often powered up by Bowser, rescuing the captured Star Spirits, growing stronger and stronger. Meanwhile we hear that Bowser himself is growing stronger thanks to the Star Rod, whether he knows it or not.
        Once all the Star Spirits are freed, Mario will be able to obtain both transportation to Bowser’s floating castle and the Star Beam, a power that can remove Bowser’s invulnerability. With that secured, Mario goes forth into Bowser’s Castle, the final level of the game. After dealing with the toughest enemies, the most tricky puzzles, and a final battle with Jr. Troopa, the recurring boss of the game, you arrive at Peach’s Castle, where that first battle occurred.
        Given the segments after every Star Spirit saved, where you play as the captured Peach, you should be well acquainted with the area. Unlike those times, there are no further enemies to fight- just Bowser. First, when Mario walks into the hallway where the first fight occurs, Bowser shows up, ready to take Mario down permanently.
        He is, quite obviously, much stronger than that first battle. He has 50 HP, the same as Mario’s usual maximum amount, and one defense, making all your attacks just a little bit weaker, except Watt, who can pierce defenses. He can jump on you or slash with his claws, which does 6 damage without blocks or defenses. The claws in particular can poison you. He can also of course breath fire, doing 8 damage instead, and that’s just his usual tricks.
        He can also break out the Star Rod for a few more abilities, first and foremost using it to render himself invincible. If he is allowed to do this, not only will he be impossible to beat, but all of his attacks will double in power. This is, of course, the time to break out the Star Beam, which will revert him to normal. Provided you do this, you’re both essentially wasting your turns- but your partner can still attack, so it works out in your advantage.
        Aside from that though, he can also let out a shockwave from the rod, which does 4 damage to Mario and 3 to his partner. This is actually rather tricky to deal with- if you guard against it as it hits Mario, he will only take 3 damage, but the partner will be out of the battle for three turns. If you defend when it hits the partner, then he will only be out for two turns. This is better for you, since you will need their help, and Mario can be healed. The attack also removes any buffs you’ve given yourself, like enhanced offense or defense.
        Finally, Bowser can heal himself, restoring 20 Health. This is almost half, so that does extend the longevity of the fight a bit. So how do you beat him? With powerful attacks, naturally, and a few other advantages. I’d recommend you use Watt for the fight, since she ignores defenses when she fights, and can temporarily power up Mario as well. Don’t bother using status ailments- while they do work, they only do so rarely, and it’s not worth the effort.
        The badges I would absolutely recommend you to have from this fight onward are Zap Tap, which shocks enemies who hit you with physical blows, like Bowser, Feeling Fine, which prevents status ailments, Lucky Day ,which raises the odds of your enemies missing, and Quick Change, which lets you switch partners without using up a turn.
        Once you beat Bowser, he retreats and flies up to the top of the castle. You follow, naturally, and after one last save block, you rise up a spiral staircase to find a floating platform, obviously set up to be the final battle. As soon as you walk on it, on Bowser pushes a switch, destroying the pathway you used to get there, and says that the platform was created to power him up so that he could finally crush Mario, once and for all.
        Sure enough, creepy organs start to play, lightning falls as the platform/device activates, and Bowser is powered, visibly growing twice as tall and gaining a blue aura. He stomps over to face Mario, and you can quite easily see just how much bigger he is compared to the plumber, but Mario faces him undaunted. All that size isn’t for nothing- he has twice as much health, bringing him up to the highest HP in the game, 99. The aura also isn’t for show, as he has 2 defense now instead of one, making battling him even harder. Also, were before status effects were just unlikely, now they do not work on him at all.
        He has all the same moves, but all of them are powered up by two, except the shockwave, powered up by one. He can restore 30 health now, basically a third of it, against the strongest enemy in the game. He also has a new move where he calls down lightning, doing 10 damage.
        After the fight goes on for a bit, Bowser will power himself up with the Star Rod, but this time, the Star Beam will not change him back, and Bowser instead simply flicks the Star Spirits away, mocking them. At this point you can’t hurt him at all, and the battle automatically ends, bringing you back to the view of the platform.
        Peach, tied up nearby, laments the situation and wishes someone would help Mario. Kammy Koopa, Bowser’s second in command, yells at her to be quiet, only for Twink, Peach’s friend throughout the game, to arrive and knock the old witch down and untie Peach. The Magikoopa quickly wakes up though, and jumps on her broom to fight the two.
        Don’t worry though- unlike the other Magikoopas you face throughout the game, Kammy is far less threatening, using no fancy abilities, just a attack where she conjures up a giant block and drops it on Twink. Also, being a scripted fight, you cannot lose. Twink can attack Kammy, while Peach prays to increase Twink’s power. His attacks, which at first did nothing, while do one more damage every turn, and Kammy’s attacks will do less, until finally she cannot hurt him at all, and he knocks him off her broom, knocking her unconscious.
        Once the two are safe, Twink urges Peach to wish for the Star Spirits to grow stronger, just as she did for him. She does, and this powers up the spirits enough that the Star Beam, now Peach Beam, can effect Bowser. Even better, all of Mario’s stats will be brought back to their maximum to finish the final battle, while Bowser is left with whatever health he has before he made himself invincible.
        Don’t think that will make this easy- not by a long shot. He hasn’t lost any of his power, and the upgrade only makes the battle winnable, rather than impossible. He is still capable of dishing out massive damage, blasting you and your partner, and healing himself to make things drag on even longer.
        I think one of the most annoying features of the fight is how two of his attacks, the shockwave and the lightning, are both started by him raising the Star Rod, making it difficult to tell which he is using. In particular, due to the rarity of him using it and how abruptly it happens, I have never figured out how to block the lightning. Luckily, that rarity also applies to him healing himself, and he rarely opts to do so.
        Ultimately, I don’t find Bowser to be exceptionally difficult, despite all of this, but that could be my many playthrough blinding me. So do not underestimate him, he’s the final boss, after all! Prepare absolutely everything; healing items, attack items, badges, level ups, whatever you feel you will need. Of course, it is also a very long trek back from Peach’s Castle to the rest of the Mushroom Kingdom, so really, it’s best to get all that out of the way long before, before you even enter the castle, and it too is a treacherous challenge.
        But preparations and strategy aside, most of all, I want everyone to have fun with this battle. It is simply and utterly one of the best final bosses I’ve ever fought. I mean, just listen to this music! It blew my mind when I was younger, and it is still unbelievably epic! I would recommend anyone to play this game, for all of the wonderful, amazing things in it, but I’d say all of it is encapsulated in this one fight, a fight that had been building up this entire time, even since Mario was blasted out that window.


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