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Concept and creation
The reason for the fake Bowsers in the original Super Mario Bros. is due to the fact that, while the game was still in development, since all enemies have their sprites flipped upside-down when they are defeated (except for Piranha Plants, which simply disappear, and Bullet Bills, which stay rightside up, while defeated Koopa Troopas and Buzzy Beetles turn into upside-down shells), one of the programmers accidentally inserted an upside-down Koopa Troopa shell when portraying Bowser's death animation as if he were defeated with fireballs. The developers liked this idea, and as a result, this idea was kept.
Super Mario series
Super Mario Bros. / Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
The seven fake Bowsers are placed in each castle, with Bowser's Castle containing the real one. Defeating a fake Bowser with five fireballs reveals that they are really just common enemies disguised as Bowser. The enemies and their abilities are:
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels additional worlds:
The "You VS. Boo" challenge of Super Mario Bros. Deluxe:
Like Bowser, the blue Bowser's Brother in World D-4 is also a fake revealed to be a Spiny when defeated with fireballs, and only breathes fire. In Super Mario All-Stars, both of these fakes are replaced with the real ones, although Bowser's Brother is now green and looks identical to his twin.
Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3
In Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3, a fake Bowser appears as a boss in the World-e level Classic World 1-4, where it plays a similar role to that played in Super Mario Bros., though it looks identical to the game's real Bowser. It is revealed that the fake Bowser is a Goomba if it is defeated with fireballs.
Super Mario 3D Land
Fake Bowsers, also known as Tail Bowsers, appear in the Nintendo 3DS game, Super Mario 3D Land. They have spiky raccoon tails, and they attack like they do in Super Mario Bros., breathing giant fireballs and jumping around the stage, though they do not throw hammers.
However, unlike in Super Mario Bros., only two fake Bowsers appear: one in World 1-Castle and the other in World 5-Castle. They are also immune to projectiles. In order to defeat a fake Bowser, Mario or Luigi has to press a switch at the end of bridge to make it collapse and send the fake Bowser into the lava. After falling into the lava, fake Bowsers bounce upwards and show their true forms (a Goomba in World 1, and a Magikoopa in World 5) with a Super Leaf beside them.
Super Mario Run
Mario & Luigi series
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga / Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions
A fake Bowser makes a cameo appearance in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions. It is seen in a special area inside Bowser's Castle, which is a side-scrolling level imitating a Super Mario Bros. level, and appears at the end of that level. The fake Bowser appears to be made of cardboard, and Mario must run underneath it and hit the axe to make it fall. It neither moves nor attacks, simply being suspended by a pair of ropes over the bridge.
Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam
In Yoshi Topsy-Turvy, a fake Bowser appears exclusively in The Tale of Bowser's Fields chapter. It is made out of cardboard, but it is capable of shooting fireballs at Yoshi which deal two points of damage. At the end of the level, it is revealed that the Spirit Who Loves Surprises was controlling the fake Bowser the whole time, which makes Yoshi angry.
Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games
A fake Bowser appears as a boss in Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, specifically in the Mario World version of Dream Figure Skating. The appearances of the stage and its boss are based off Super Mario 3D Land. He chases the team across a giant collapsing bridge, spitting fireballs at them. The team must hit four buttons at the same time to cause the fake Bowser to fall into lava, where he turns into a Goomba and a Super Leaf.
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