Koopa (Bowser's species)
Artwork featuring various members of the species aboard an airship
|First appearance||Super Mario Bros. (1985)|
|Variant of||Koopa (species)|
Koopas are a race of large, powerful creatures designed with a mix of traits from softshell turtles, oxen, hippopotamuses, Ankylosaurian dinosaurs, and dragons, which serve as leaders in the eponymous Koopa clan. The most notable member of this group is Bowser, who is also the first introduced and most recurring; all other members are based off him in some manner, and the species name is interchangeable with his own name in Japanese. Koopas tend to have great strength, magical abilities, and fire breath, and even the smallest adolescent ones are about as large as fully-grown members of many other species. Koopas are fairly uncommon, with only a very small amount appearing in most games, and most of those being named characters rather than generic members.
Koopas stand upright, though depending on the game, they may have a pronounced slouch. Their shells usually have large carapaces with seven to ten spikes on them, though early adaptations have as few as one spike on certain individuals; the spikes sometimes have rings around the bases. The shells can come in a variety of colors, though green is the most common. Sometimes, the shells are shown with rough, hexagonal plates, while other times, the non-spiked area is shown as smooth, sometimes varying between individuals in the same game - generally, Bowser and other large members have the plates, while smaller members like the Koopalings lack them. Their shell's tan-colored plastrons (i.e., the undersides) are disconnected from the carapaces in a manner that makes it look simply like a padded belly, though when they retreat into their shells, the edges of the two halves pull tight against each other. Motley Bossblob notably lacks a visible shell over his jester outfit, despite otherwise resembling other members of the species.
Rather than beaks like most turtles, Koopas have a fleshy, mammalian snout containing sharp teeth, though as Dry Bowser shows, the beak still exists on the skeleton. They can open their mouths wide to breath fire in small bursts or long jets, and Bowser is also shown to be able to jet steam through his nostrils in the opening to Super Mario Galaxy. The remaining portion of Koopas' heads are scaled, as are their bodies; the scales between the head and body often differ in coloration. Koopas can also grow hair on their heads in addition to the scales, and a few members even grow a pair of horns. Koopas' eyes are shown in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and have sometimes been shown to glow yellow in the dark.
Koopas typically have large, somewhat flat bodies with proportionally short-but-thick limbs. Most of the time, they have squat, stout torsos, though Iggy Koopa shows they can be tall and lanky. Their body scales are usually a yellowish-orange color, though Bowser's Brother has a blue body and Morton Koopa Jr. a brown one. Koopas have four short fingers on each hand including thumbs, each ending with a bony claw. Their feet have three toes each, also ending with bony claws, as well as a round pad underneath each foot. Koopas also have short tails, which sometimes grow a series of spikes or plates along the spine.
Most Koopas shown in the games are male; the only female one in first-party media, Wendy O. Koopa, only differs from the males physically by having a large pair of lips and somewhat curved legs with small feet. A conceptual design for the Broodals in Super Mario Odyssey depicted them as four female Koopas with diverse designs, with one being extremely heavyset and another having a thinner, more humanoid torso.
In certain early western adaptations, some Koopas (notably Bowser himself) have almost entirely green heads and bodies, more crocodilian faces, and yellow sclera. Despite this, some others (notably the Koopalings) are depicted more similar to their game appearances. In the earliest of these, they are often generically called "lizards," though after the Koopalings were introduced, this occurred less.
Koopas are in general fairly strong, with some also being heavy enough to create shockwaves by stomping extra hard after a jump; they can also jump quite high in most of their appearances. When retracted into their shells they can spin to move around and are able to control their speed and path, as well as jump. Sometimes, the shell can even be rolled into a Spike Ball similar to a Spiny Egg. On rare occasions, they are shown to be able to walk on walls and ceilings, similar to certain Buzzy Beetles.
A recurring trait is the ability to breath fire in various ways; originally this was displayed almost exclusively by Bowser himself, though as time went on, other members were shown to be able to do so as well. The fire can come in small flares (often in large arrays) or large streams, with more powerful bursts requiring a deep breath or, as shown by Bowser Jr. in New Super Mario Bros. Wii holding the mouth shut for several moments while exhaling to store it in the cheeks before finally letting it out. The fire itself can be highly destructive, as in many games it can destroy Brick Blocks and stone platforms; in Super Mario Galaxy, Bowser can even breath solid meteors. As shown in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, the fire is dependent on a particular tube near the lungs called the Flame Pipe, which nullifies the ability if obstructed. Long jets can only be breathed for a certain amount of time, as the length and power peters out after too long a use, causing the user to run out of breath.
Koopas are capable of magic, particularly when in possession of a Magic Wand; this is primarily shown by the Koopalings, though Bowser occasionally uses it as well and was originally introduced as a master of dark magic. Usually, the magic manifests as a brightly glowing projectile that purely acts as a painful attack, though they have also been shown to use transformative, summoning, and teleportation magic, while Bowser combines dark magic and physical strength for a claw-swiping attack in Super Mario Galaxy. It is implied by the Koopalings in New Super Mario Bros. 2 that they can combine their magic to increase its power, but that they are individually less strong magically than experienced Magikoopas like Kamek.
An ability used almost exclusively by Bowser is a large, mighty roar, which is powerful enough to shake the surrounding area. In general, Bowser has a very deep, gravelly, and animalistic voice (an exception being Super Mario Bros.: Peach-hime Kyūshutsu Dai Sakusen!, where he has a comically high-pitched voice), while smaller members tend to have more varying human-like voices. As a baby, he also has a high-pitched voice like a human toddler, implying that this ability comes with age, like many real-world creatures capable of roaring.
As with certain other members of the Koopa clan, Koopas' shells can be removed, though this is rarely shown; in the PC versions of Mario is Missing!, Luigi yanks Bowser's shell off, but in first-party games, this is only shown via empty Bowser's Shells appearing as offensive items or armor upgrades in a few games. Super Mario Galaxy shows that the shell's spikes can be shattered with enough force, but can also be regrown instantaneously.
In most cases, the only clothes Koopas are shown wearing are simple black cuffs, sometimes with pointed studs. On rare occasions, Bowser has been shown wearing more clothes, with usually only the front half appearing over his shell. Super Mario Odyssey notably features him fully dressed in a tuxedo with a matching pair of shoes and hat, showing they are capable of wearing full outfits. Wendy O. Koopa is also generally shown wearing a pair of high heels, Iggy Koopa and Roy Koopa wear differing types of glasses, and Motley Bossblob wears a full jester outfit.
Koopas are heavily implied to be naturally carnivorous; this is most notably shown in Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story, where Bowser eats Hot Drumsticks rather than mushrooms to regain health in standard gameplay (though he does eat mushrooms as Giant Bowser), and he expresses disgust at eating vegetable matter in Dimble Wood. The same scene implies he has difficulty digesting the Giga-carrot without internal assistance, further indicating the species is obligately carnivorous, while most of the junk food he is fed after his second battle with Midbus is also meat-based, albeit intermixed with grain-based pastries. The game's remake expands on this by having drumsticks be additionally used by Bowser Jr. and the Koopalings, while also showing Bowser can eat cheeses as an analogue to Syrup Jars. In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Bowser uses meat as his sole power-up, and in Paper Mario: Color Splash, Larry Koopa orders a massive steak at the Tangerino Grill. However, in Super Paper Mario, Bowser can eat all of the same items as Mario, Peach, and Luigi, including Fresh Veggies. In Yoshi's Story, Baby Bowser says the fruit from the Super Happy Tree tastes "rotten" to him (though it is implied this may be because he is a selfish bully), and in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, he enjoys drinking milk if he is told it is from "an evil cow." In various games, notably Super Mario Galaxy 2, Bowser states he enjoys cake, especially ones made by Princess Peach.
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (proof-of-concept sketch)
The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 ("The Trouble With Koopas")
The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 ("Mush-Rumors")
The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 ("7 Continents for 7 Koopas")
The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 ("The Beauty of Kootie")
Names in other languages
- William Andureau (December 06, 2018). "Les confidences du dessinateur historique des personnages Nintendo". Le Monde. Retrieved December 14, 2018 (English translation available here)
- Nintendo.com. Iwata Asks: Nintendo DSi, Volume 8 - Flipnote Studio - An Animation Class (part 4). Retrieved April 30, 2023.
- Size comparison chart
- 1993 Nintendo Character Guide Comparison Chart that includes some Koopalings and 1993 Nintendo Character Guide Comparison Chart that includes Toad. Press The Buttons. Retrieved October 14,2015.
- page 89 of the Super Mario Complete Encyclopedia (「スーパーマリオ全百科」), in which the various types of Koopas are put in groups according to how they are related.
- page 193 of the Perfect Edition of the Great Mario Character Encyclopedia (「パーフェクト版マリオキャラクター大事典」), in which the various types of Koopas are put in groups according to how they are related.