Appendix:Glossary of fighting games
The terms listed below are used when referring to versus fighting games. In this context, moving the control stick forward refers to moving it in the direction that the character is facing, and moving it back refers to moving it in the opposite direction.
Many specific terms that are being searched for may be grouped into broader/similar categories to allow for a more connected & universalized understanding of key mechanics and/or concepts across multiple fighting games. Certain keywords are highlighted near the top of their corresponding sections in bold or bold italics to help users distinguish between more important fundamental terminology.
2-1 combo [an abbreviation for two-in-one combo]— also known as a 2-in-1 cancel or a special cancel (can be used synonymously with “buffering;” sometimes called an “interrupt combo”)— is a natural combo which takes advantage of the fact that after executing a normal attack in certain games, the player is able to immediately cancel or freely interrupt the animation of the normal to execute a special attack, sometimes without necessarily having to wait for the normal to completely finish. A simpler way to explain this concept is “cancelling or combo’ing a move or string into a special move.”
A term originating from the Capcom vs. SNK 2 scene that refers to a phenomenon in 3v3 team fighters, when the opponent has 3 characters left while the player only has one, and the player still manages to comeback & defeat said opponent.
A circular joystick motion, usually from forward to down to back to up. The 360, along with the similar 720, is often used for powerful command grabs given to grapplers (i.e. Tizoc’s “Justice Hurricane” from Garou: Mark of the Wolves).
Although documented as a 360° special move, Zangief's Spinning Piledriver--the first fighting game 360--can be realized with a 270° rotation. The rotation can be started either clockwise from forward to up, or counter-clockwise from backward to up. Many other games allow similar input leniency, including Potemkin’s namesake Potemkin Buster & Vasuraga’s “Great Scythe Grymoth” command grabs (normally a 632146+Punch input) as well as other select 360 grabs (i.e. Ladiva’s “Jewel Resort Screwdriver” throw in Granblue Fantasy Versus).
A kind of mix-up, that forces the defending player to guess their blocking between two options (i.e. low/mid or low/overhead depending on the game) which are impossible to react to, thus giving the attacker a 50% chance to successfully land a hit. A well-executed cross-up is one of many kinds of 50/50, as is strike-throw mix.
From Japanese verb abareru, meaning "to run amok" or "to rage violently," abare is a term that represents the concept of players attacking when they are at negative frame advantage (i.e. “mashing on the opponent’s plus frames”). Usually refers to trying to land pokes when pressured, during a wakeup, and in-between the opponent's attacks, risking getting hit in hopes of poking through a hole in their offense & landing a potential counterhit for bigger damage and/or hitstun (if not confirming into a full combo).
A type of blocking scheme in a fighting game where once a player blocks a string of hits that combo together, letting go of the block/back button will not make them stop blocking until the hits no longer combo or otherwise give an opening for retaliation. This allows players a bigger window to input a reversal move and/or guard cancel. Vampire Savior (as well as other games in the Darkstalkers franchise) can serve as a prime example of fighting games that have absolute blocking.
The time (in frames) after a character’s move has exited its startup animation that the hitbox on that move is actively able to hit an opponent before it goes into its “recovery” frames (the stage of animation in which the attack is done hitting and the character is reverting to their neutral state).
An advanced block system is one that is made to improve on normal blocking in context-sensitive definitions. This kind of blocking generally has a number of advantages over normal blocking, with the potential trade-off of being either more difficult to execute or having some sort of resource cost related to it.
The first game to use this concept was SNK's World Heroes 2, which allowed the defender to reflect projectiles back at their opponent automatically if blocked at the last possible second. Notable other variants of “advanced blocks” include the Thrust Block from WeaponLord and the later Parry from the Street Fighter III series (which would go on to evolve into a major defensive tool found in many other fighting game franchises), as well as Guard Impact from the Soulcalibur series (which went on to popularize the “repel/deflect” concept that may have also evolved from WeaponLord’s mechanics), and most common in various fighters today, the push blocking system such as Faultless Defense from Guilty Gear.
The key instance of an advanced block mechanic that took inspiration from World Heroes 2, however— the one that truly expands on the core fundamental blocking system— is “perfect blocking” or commonly referred to across numerous games as a Just Guard, where the defender must perfectly time their block immediately as the opponent’s attack hits them (much like a just frame), and in doing so gains a number of additional benefits besides simply guarding the move & avoiding damage. The Just Defend from Garou: Mark of the Wolves is perhaps the earliest serious implementation of such a mechanic— when the defender blocks an attack at precisely the right time, they will flash blue and be granted several benefits: blockstun reduced by 2 frames allowing for faster recovery, no guard meter depletion, and the ability to input a guard cancel move out of blockstun. Just Defend was unique in two other pivotal ways, the first being that the defender would actually gain a small portion of life back, and secondly allowing one to instantly block in the air during a regular jump (since normal air-blocking is not an option in this game as it is in other fast-paced 2D games such as anime or team fighters).
This mechanic was followed in spirit by the famous Instant Block tool of Guilty Gear, first introduced in Guilty Gear X; when executed properly the defender will briefly flash white and a message saying “Just!” (as in “Just Guard”) will appear on their side of the screen. In addition to reducing block stun, successfully Instant Blocking (or “IB’ing”) will also reduce or nullify the pushback normally caused by the blocked move (making it possible to punish moves that are otherwise not punishable), and will also grant additional Tension to the defender. With air-blocking being possible in these games, the effects of instant air-blocking vary from game to game— in GGXrd, landing an Air IB would keep the defending opponent airborne for longer than a normal block, which could be used to throw off the attacker’s timing if they were to continue their combo or mix-up upon seeing the defender land. In Guilty Gear Strive, however, instant air-blocking instead reduces the 19-frame landing recovery brought on by normally air-blocking any move but a projectile to 5 frames, causing the defender to land & recover faster and ultimately giving them more advantage upon landing. It was also amended in Strive to nullify all chip damage much like Faultless Defense, and can now even be combined with said tool to perform an Instant FD (which also prevents the R.I.S.C. Gauge from increasing, as well as taking advantage of FD’s pushback). With the correct timing and rhythm, Instant Block can also be performed while already blocking, in the gaps of certain combos or blockstrings, as a way of exposing holes in the attacker’s offense and ultimately winding up safer or more advantaged at the end of the string.
Another recent example is the newly implemented Flawless Block system from Mortal Kombat 11, which also requires a precise timing in order to counter the blocked move. Much like Instant Block, it can also sometimes be used to exploit gaps in the attacker’s combos. This technique can give the player access to their Block Attacks, which allows them to input one of their simplified “Wakeups” (Up+2 launcher or Up+3 invincible attack) as a guard cancel, either after blocking the initial hit or in the gaps of some characters’ combo strings (acting as a sort of substitute for the pre-existing “Block Breaker” system). It also gives a few additional benefits to the player such as taking heavily reduced chip damage, making certain moves/strings by some characters more minus on block, removing pushback on certain moves (such as Fatal Blows), & most uniquely to this mechanic, preventing the opponent from cancelling their low pokes or jump-in attacks into special moves (or in some character-specific cases, completing certain strings that may normally come out on block).
The Super Smash Bros. games have also erstwhile implemented their own form of perfect block with its “shield” block mechanic— introduced in Melee, the “perfect shield” or powershield allows players to negate shield damage and shieldstun by pressing the shield button up to four frames before an attack hits them, letting them drop their shield instantly & giving them the ability to actually punish opponents who are still recovering in ways that could not normally be done. Melee also gave this powershield technique the ability to reflect projectiles (much like World Heroes 2) if pressed up to two frames before an attack hit them, however this was changed in Brawl to simply redirect projectiles instead; Ultimate has further changed this to only occur when the shield is also released with the proper timing.
Marvel vs. Capcom series terminology for a chain combo that is performed while a character is airborne, either linked from a ground attack or started while jumping. Can be synonymous with air combo. The main difference between an Aerial Rave and a juggle is that during Aerial Raves, both characters are airborne, whereas during a juggle the attacking character is on the ground while the attacked opponent is airborne.
Aggression represents the forward displacement and measure of additional reach that is created by a character's attack, similar to the concept of a character’s range but focusing more on moves that advance the player forward towards their opponent.
A move performed in the air against an opponent's own aerial move.
An anti-air is an attack done from the ground serving the purpose of attacking an opponent who is jumping in the air. Moves of this kind generally enjoy high priority or are upper-body invincible. These can either be a special move (typically a DP style of rising move) or a command normal designed to hit jumping opponents, such as a crouching heavy attack in many games or the more famous uppercuts in the Mortal Kombat & Injustice series. In certain games, landing these moves against a jumping opponent can allow players to convert into a full combo, earning more damage & ergo discouraging the opponent from continuing to jump.
See also: Float
- Big Body/Tank
- Shoto (All-Rounder)
Normally, when a character executing a move gets hit, the move is interrupted and the character is put in hitstun. A move with armor will not be interrupted when the character is hit by an attack. Typically armor is limited to one hit. If the character gets hit twice while executing a move with one “hit of armor,” the move often is interrupted as normal. In some games, damage is inflicted normally through armor, while in other games damage is ignored, reduced, or taken as recoverable health. Certain moves may either be equipped with armor by default (i.e. Tekken 7’s “Power Crush” attacks), while others may be granted armor through specific means such as spending a bar of meter to EX the move.
See: Super Armor
Refers to a move that will break through an opponent’s armor
Street Fighter MD-IV gave each character an “armor breaking move” that could defeat armored moves by default. Reversals in Street Fighter IV break armor, and every character has at least one special move that has higher priority over Focus Attacks.
In the Killer Instinct reboot, all grounded heavy attacks were patched in a later update to be able to ignore (or “break”) armor.
Mortal Kombat 11 also patched many pre-existing moves to become “armor breaks,” which is used to defeat both the armor on Fatal Blows and the armor that protects falling opponents during their Breakaway (basically serving as MK’s version of KI’s “Counter Breaker” mechanic). While some of these normals and specials simply break armor, many of these earn unique new properties upon breaking the opponent’s armor successfully (i.e. a launcher, more damage, a Krushing Blow, a restand, etc.)
Certain platform fighters such as the Super Smash Bros. series may also passively incorporate armor breaks by way of chipping through armor via multi-hitting attacks and/or knockback moves, while MultiVersus has implemented dedicated “Armor Break” moves (indicated by a purple glow).
In lieu of actual “armor breaking” moves or mechanics, many games (such as the recent Street Fighter V or Tekken 7) may just assign certain moves a level of priority that allows them to ignore (or crush) the armor on their opponent’s move, such as a throw or a low attack (this one particularly in the case of T7’s “Power Crush” armored moves).
A feature exclusive to the King Of Fighters series. Armor Mode is activated by pressing BCD. It costs 3 stocks to use, and when activated, the player character will pose momentarily and flash yellow for a brief period of time (indicated by the timer at the top of the screen). During this time there is no Power Gauge and the character cannot amass Power Gauge energy or stocks. Even though the Power Gauge disappears, players can use the Guard Cancel Attack or Guard Cancel Slide (in either direction) as many times as they desire.
While in Armor Mode, all attacks inflict more damage (slightly less than in Counter Mode). Characters also take less damage from attacks. Furthermore, the Dodge Attack will knock down an opponent, much like the Body Blow Attack (Guard Cancel CD attack). Another feature of Armor Mode is that characters take no damage from blocking an opponent’s special moves, or their DMs & SDMs. Although DMs or SDMs cannot be used, the player character cannot be hit out of an attack— an opponent's attack can still push them back, but they will continue their attack instead of being put into hitstun. This does not apply to certain attacks that would knock characters down to the ground or up into the air, however.
An assist refers to a move or command that calls or summons another character (independent of the active player character) onto the screen to perform a normal or special and assist the point character. These can be used to extend combos, as well as enforce pressure and/or mixups among other strategies.
Assists are most commonly found in 3v3 team fighters or other tag games, where the dormant off-screen character can be summoned by the player to perform their assist move; these moves are typically activated by pressing the corresponding “tag” button once (as opposed to holding it down to tag in the other character) and can be used freely as long as the executing player is not in hitstun or blockstun, but they do have a cooldown period before they can be used again— usually a message such as “Assist Ok” or “Assist Ready” will signify when the move is available again for use. Typically these games grant three assists at the character select, allowing players to pick one distinct special move for each character (to serve as their “assist” attack).
Super Smash Bros. Brawl introduced a new mechanic called “Assist Trophies,” items that when picked up by the player will immediately call in a separate non-playable character to assist them in battle for a short period before disappearing (or in other cases being KO’d by the opponent, although this does not affect the executing player’s health as it would for a puppet). In addition to the other traditional benefits of assists, these items can allow players to utilize/explore additional abilities of other popular characters not featured in the main roster (such as Bomberman, Knuckles from the Sonic the Hedgehog series, or even Guile from Street Fighter).
- High/Mid/Low/Overhead (largely exclusive to the recent Mortal Kombat and Injustice series)
An Auto Combo or Easy Combo— also known as an Easy Beat in the context of Japanese fighting games— is a type of built-in combo in some games that is automatically performed by repeatedly tapping one button, such as the 5L & 5M “Super Combos” in DragonBall FighterZ or “Rush Attacks” in recent King of Fighters games; additional games that may use autocombos include but are not limited to:
- Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite
- BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle
- Granblue Fantasy Versus
- Under Night In-Birth
- Power Rangers: Battle For the Grid
- Fighting EX Layer
- Melty Blood: Type Lumina
This ability is featured in some fighting games as either a viable option for amateur players to deal substantial damage without the need to learn inputs or combo routes and timing, and/or a safe & convenient execution at higher-level play. However, since auto-combos are usually limited to a single type of first hit and execution, they may be easy to predict and punish, and are therefore commonly discouraged among higher-skill players. Another reason for their lack of representation within skilled competitive play can also be inferior damage compared to manual and learned "natural" combos.
Some games have “Normal/Traditional” and “Simple” input options [i.e. “Technical” & “Stylish” in Guilty Gear Xrd Rev2 and the BlazBlue games, or “Classic” & “Progressive” in Fighting Ex Layer], which allow players to choose between the normal controls or an easier system that utilizes auto-combos, one-button specials, and/or easy supers— meanwhile, the recent Tekken 7 has both an option for one-button “Basic Combos” & an option to macro “Assists” to one button so that when held down, a small menu will pop up on the bottom of the screen showing a button map that will grant players the listed special moves if they press the single corresponding buttons (both of these can be toggled on/off & are not allowed in competitive Tekken 7 play).
Some games, such as DBFZ, use their auto-combos in a unique fashion. In DBFZ, performing a Light Super Combo to completion will grant one of the seven Dragon Balls. Once all seven have been accrued, either character can connect with one more Light Super Combo while having a full Super Meter to summon Shenron, who can grant them one of four buffs per their choosing (such as recover health or revive an eliminated tag partner).
An auto correct describes when a move is inputted while the player character's back is to the opponent (often times a special), and the game automatically switches the character's direction (& subsequently the move) towards the opponent.
A built-in feature in various fighting game characters that originates from the older Street Fighter series. Moves with autoguard have a specific set of animation frames, during which any move that comes in contact with the defending character is automatically blocked; this is different from regular move invincibility in that autoguard usually nullifies any move that comes in contact with it during its duration by blocking it and thus rendering it harmless (unless the blocked move chips the opponent), while moves with invincibility might run out of invincibility while the attack is still able to connect with the defender, causing the character to get hit regardless.
As a tradeoff, moves with autoguard are often slowed down when they block the opponent's attacks, allowing the other character to avoid getting hit by them if the move they use to trigger the autoguard is fast enough. Moves with autoguard are most effective at going through projectiles due to the fact that projectiles usually hit only once and it is relatively easy to time the move with the autoguard animation frames so that they're active during the point of impact with the projectile. Some supers also have this feature, and the length of the autoguard animation frame might be exceptionally long for them (in some cases even several seconds).
In Tekken games, one can perform a neutral guard by simply standing still & not pressing any buttons, which can still be defeated by a low attack, a grab or other unblockables but will automatically guard against most high & mid attacks.
A term originating (all but exclusively) from recent Mortal Kombat 11 terminology, an auto shimmy is a type of shimmy technique best described as a jab string that automatically baits the opponent into attempting to tech a throw. What typically defines a “shimmy” in this game’s context is being a staggerable string off of a standing jab (i.e. 1,1 or 1,2) where the string’s 2nd hit is a mid that can catch the opponent trying to crouch & counter or tech a player’s throw— in the case of an “auto shimmy”, ideally the string should completely jail on hit; the 2nd hit of the string also must be 9-11 frames of startup & the character should also have a throw with an animation that can easily be confused with the jab’s animation (namely having a throw where both hands come out, that appears to lead with the jab hand). Because throws have a different attack height in Mortal Kombat 11 than in other 2D fighters, being a high that is punishable by ducking (more like 3D fighters such as Tekken or Soulcalibur) and attacking (i.e. with pokes, uppercuts, etc.), the idea is that the throw animation looks similar enough to the jab animation that the opponent cannot quickly distinguish between the two on reaction (much like a 50/50), & by staggering the jab hits, the player can pressure and condition the opponent into having to better read throws (as simply ducking to punish an anticipated throw will expose them to the 2nd hit of the string, which as stated is a mid that must be blocked standing or crouching). The main function of a “true” auto shimmy in MK11 is to deal with opponents who have learned to OS throw techs, as the 2nd hit of the “auto shimmy” string shuts down this option. Examples of characters with a “true” auto shimmy are Shang Tsung, Cassie Cage, Johnny Cage, Sub-Zero, Liu Kang, Kung Lao, and Fujin.
Baiting describes the act of taking certain conspicuous actions, be it moves or movement, in an attempt to elicit a certain reaction or move from an opponent, and then whiff punishing that reaction or move in response.
See also: Conditioning
See: Game balance (external)
A term (derived from balance of power) used in reference to describe the overall playable roster of a particular game, specifically referring to whether or not certain characters are inherently stronger or weaker than others via a great number of factors. "Good balance" or "well-balanced" refers to when most, if not all, of the characters in a game are on generally even footing with one another, and that no character is at a distinct advantage or disadvantage during a given matchup with the other. For example, if one or more characters has distinct advantages over the others by a notable margin that disrupts the game's balance, they can be considered "broken". The larger the cast, the more difficult it becomes to maintain good balance.
See also: Tiers
When a character is blocking or guarding, they are in a defensive state that protects them from being damaged by their opponent's moves (or softens the damage, as in certain cases such as that of chip damage). Blocking in most games is performed by tilting the joystick away from the player's opponent (back or down+back, commonly referred to as back to block), but in select fighters such as Mortal Kombat, Virtua Fighter, and Soulcalibur, a specific button is used to block (called a block or guard button). Usually there is more than one kind of block (most often "high" and "low"), each of which protects against and is vulnerable to different classes of moves. In most games, blocking can be countered by a throw. The term block may be more commonly known as guard or even defense among Asian FGC communities.
The duration in which a character is effectively jailed and unable to switch their guard while blocking an attack. This is also usually the window of time that one is able to input a tech hit and/or a guard cancel (in some games like Vampire Savior), and is a period of time prior to entering blockstun where the character is frozen in place, potentially being combo’d and not being knocked back.
A block string is a series of attacks that is blocked by a defending player. A blockstring may be understood to be a combo string that is blocked, wherein the defending player tries to block every hit of the string, and the attacking player tries to land a hit through the block and subsequently hit-confirm into a combo. Block strings give the attacking player multiple opportunities to apply mix-ups, and are essential to applying pressure.
If a blockstring has no gaps where the opponent recovers from block stun, it is a "true blockstring," and the opponent cannot act unless they utilize a special system mechanic that may be present in the game, such as a guard cancel or pushblock. It is often desirable to also use block strings that do contain gaps, since gaps can create opportunities for other mind games (i.e. frame traps, tick throws).
See also: Hit Stun
The term blockstun is used to refer to a situation where there is a delay after a player ceases to hold back or press the block button before the player can take any action again, such as moving or performing an attack. It may also refer to the delay before a player can perform another move if the opponent themselves has blocked their move. In Mortal Kombat 1-4, both the blocker and the blocked recover at the same time, while in every other 2D or 3D fighter there are subtle recovery differences depending on the particular move used and how advantageous on block it is.
Blow Away Attacks
A particular type of two-button normal move in The King Of Fighters, also most commonly known today as Blow Back or CD Attacks, which grants the player a knockback on their opponent when connected. Blow Away attacks are performed by pressing CD (or HP+HK*) while standing or jumping. They cannot be used while crouching. All characters can use CD attacks, except for May Lee when she is in Hero Mode (she only has a standing CD in this mode, and it functions differently from most CD attacks). Most ground Blow Away attacks can be cancelled, but there are some exceptions. Furthermore, some may only be cancelled into special moves and (S)DMs, while others are cancelled into command attacks. In King of Fighters XIV, their knockback has been changed to provide a bounce back effect that— instead of juggling the opponent off the wall— provides more of a wall splat effect, placing the opponent into a crumple state and allowing for a certain follow-up attack.
Guard Cancel Blow Back Attacks (GCCD Attacks) can only be used while one is blocking from a standing position- they do less damage than normal Blow Back Attacks, have a difference in appearance/performance (i.e. providing a knockback without being able to wall splat in KoF XIV), and cannot be cancelled, but they will push back an attacking opponent and give the player breathing room. Some select KoF installments may only allow the Guard Cancel version of Blow Back Attacks to be used.
Also simply called a bounce attack
See: Wall Bounce
While this type of move is generally synonymous with the term ”wall bounce” (as it bears the same practical effect of bouncing the opponent off the wall to create a juggle state), the distinction between these terms is that a bounce attack can typically be done at any point on the screen, triggering a knockback and either sending the opponent flying all the way back towards the wall or [most commonly] creating a clear or transparent-white type of “ghost wall” that the opponent bounces off of at midscreen for a launch.
The overall concept of wall bounces originated in this style with the wire attacks from the King of Fighters series; some moves would create this effect only on counter-hit (known as a counter-wire), while in some games certain moves could bounce the opponent back automatically (known as a critical wire). While many games may abide by this (KoF) version of the “wall bounce” mechanic, certain other games may only allow a wall-bounce effect to be achieved when both players are in close enough proximity to the wall or corner (hence the distinction).
Some moves like specials are designed to have a bounce-back property, such as Ryu’s (EX) Joudan Sokutogeri (AKA “Donkey Kick”) from the Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom games; other fighters like the Injustice games have a universal bounce-attack mechanic performed via a command normal i.e. “back+heavy” (in addition to a universal overhead mechanic, conversely performed by pressing “forward+heavy”). Recently in Dragon Ball FighterZ, the universal teleport mechanic “Vanish” also grants a bounce back effect, as well as a standing Heavy normal and a 7-hit Light Attack autocombo.
Bread and Butter (BnB)
Refers to a "bread and butter" combo or technique for a character— this term was first applied within the Street Fighter II series. Usually this refers to one particular combo or technique whose use is ubiquitous and highly recommended due to its efficacy, ease of execution, and versatility. In games where auto combos exist, BnB may simply refer to said auto combos due to their ease of performance (i.e. Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite, Under Night In-Birth, Dragon Ball FighterZ, etc.).
See also: Burst
A combo breaker, or more simply a breaker, is a defensive tool that allows a player who is being attacked or juggled to break out of the combo. It was introduced as a staple of the Killer Instinct series and also several later Mortal Kombat games. In lieu of a pushblock mechanic, recent Mortal Kombat and Injustice installments may also implement this as a form of guard cancel, referred to in this context as a block breaker (or a “block escape” in Injustice 2). If a move or combo cannot be broken out of with a combo breaker, the damage received from that combo is referred to as unbreakable damage.
Broken, or alternately busted can refer to both characters and moves (sometimes even entire mechanics). A character or move is considered “broken” when they are so powerful/advantageous that most [if not all] of the other characters in the cast do not have an answer for it; it offsets the balance of the game and therefore is considered “game-breaking.” If a character themselves or at least one of their moves is broken, they may be banned in tournaments at times.
This term unfortunately gets taken out of context mainly due to two things. Firstly, it may be abused during the early days of a game's release when the playerbase has not yet found a counter or vulnerability for it. The other reason why this term is taken out of context is because most players label certain characters/moves as strong even though they are not necessarily unbeatable— "broken" in this context tends to be used synonymously with "cheap", but most people may call a move they generally deem as “cheap” broken when rather it may just be overpowered (the distinction varying from game to game/character to character).
The term buff may carry a couple different contextual definitions in FGC terminology
- To “buff” a move or character refers to the act of a game’s development/programming team patching or updating the game to improve certain moves or tools of a given character, for the sake of balancing the roster as the game’s meta continues to progress & evolve. This can be done to help underpowered or “lower tier” characters compete more effectively at a higher level (or even at a casual level to improve the “fun/creative” aspects of the character), whether by improving one or more attacks/abilities that struggle in certain matchups or by adding/augmenting properties of moves that otherwise would be largely considered “too weak” (even “unviable” or “useless”)by most of the playerbase. By this same measure, to “nerf” a move/character means the exact opposite: to tone down or otherwise inhibit a certain ability, so as to make a character/move less overpowered or moreover prevent a “top tier” character/move from being considered “broken” or “busted” by the playerbase.
- A “buff” may also refer to a special benefit or advantage given to a player, either by way of a universal system mechanic or via a character-specific power-up executed by the player himself (i.e. an install, a special taunt, etc.), that improves their gameplay ability. Damage buffs may be the most popular of such properties, but some abilities may rather buff a character to receive reduced damage instead; other advantages such as a speed buff may also be given. Conversely, an ability or mechanic that is instead applied to the opponent to negatively affect them may be called a debuff, such as a damage debuff ability causing the opponent to take increased damage.
- In most contexts, buffering means entering the command(s) for one move while a character is still in the animation of another move, so by the game's design the second move can come out as soon as the animation ends. This is an important element of 3D fighters, not just in and of itself, but because particular 3D fighters can have "glitches" or "unintended features" which modify the properties of buffered moves compared to if they were simply immediately executed after the last move. The most famous example of this is the tactic in Tekken Tag Tournament of buffering a low parry with an Electric Wind Godfist* movement. If it is buffered, the game will choose to execute the move only if it is in the best interests of the player, a process known as option select. Tekken players of higher levels often emphasize the importance of learning to buffer inputs since it is a game with more complex commands that require players to press two attack buttons simultaneously + a directional input in order to perform the move(s).
- In The King Of Fighters, buffering can be used to describe performing a normal attack and then cancelling it in the middle of its animation with a special move, cancelling the ending frames of the normal move's animation (e.g. Kyo's CD attack into his Aragami Style No. 104: Wild Bite or a R.E.D Kick). This is a tactic usually used to manipulate the rhythm of the opponent or bait them.
- In Capcom games & later Mortal Kombat games (among many others), inputting or cancelling a normal into a special move so that the special move comes out immediately after the normal ends (making a combo by nature). This use of the term is synonymous with the term 2-1 combo or 2-in-1 cancel—- it can still be used in accordance with the first two definitions however, as normals & pokes will not cancel into specials on whiff, so players may OS this by throwing out said normals in the neutral & still inputting the special after (in which case, the special will only come out if the normal connects or is blocked).
See also: Combo Breaker
Named after the Psych Burst tool in the Guilty Gear series (also a staple of the Arcana Hearts series and known as a “Mega Crash” in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom); most often refers to a defensive attack performed by a player being hit or blocking. Bursts can interrupt the attacking player's combo (or sometimes their block string). This tool typically has a special gauge attributed to it (i.e. the “Burst gauge” in Guilty Gear XX and Xrd).
Unlike the combo breaker system used by some games such as Killer Instinct and Mortal Kombat, Bursts can be done raw in the neutral without the player needing to be in hit or block stun. In Guilty Gear this is called a “Gold Psych Burst,” which automatically fills up the bursting player’s Tension gauge completely if landed successfully (and will keep the player safe on hit or on block). In Xrd, the Burst gauge can also be fully spent (in addition to half of the player’s Tension gauge) to perform a “Burst Overdrive” by using the Dust button in the super input instead of the normal attack button, causing them to do 25% more damage than regular Overdrives.
Similar to other games’ concept of unbreakable damage, if a move or combo cannot be bursted out of, it is referred to as unburstable. In Guilty Gear, throws and Overdrives are unburstable moves. Also, as opposed to requiring a specialized move to counter bursts (such as Killer Instinct’s “Counter Breakers” or Mortal Kombat 11’s armor break moves), certain moves and combos can naturally avoid the hitbox of the opponent’s Burst attack (or can bait the Burst out), making it safe to perform regardless of a potential Burst attempt and leaving the opponent open to a further combo. These combos are referred to as burst safe.
The new V-Shift mechanic introduced in Street Fighter V (a corollary of the existing V-gauge comeback mechanic that grants players an invincible backdash which in turn grants a follow-up attack called if successful & pressed again)—although this mechanic works differently & is also unable to be done in hit/block stun or while being juggled— is performed with the same combination of buttons as GG’s Psych Burst [which is ostensibly R1+Circle on PS, or RB+B on Xbox].
Button mashing, or simply mashing, is a [sometimes derogatory] term that generally refers to a playstyle defined by the rapid, repeated pressing of buttons in a random fashion, with or without random joystick movements; it is often used to describe the way in which inexperienced players may play. Some games may have a built-in feature where button mashing on one or more attack buttons executes a specific combo automatically; these are generally called auto combos across the board but may have different names for this mechanic in some games.
It can also be used to describe what occurs in certain situations where buttons must be mashed rapidly to achieve a desirable outcome, such as mashing on buttons to try & escape from a dizzy state (i.e. the “Daze” or the shorter “Stagger” state in games like Guilty Gear Xrd'), successfully winning a “Sword Clash” in the Samurai Shodown games, rapidly mashing punch buttons to increase the damage on a Shoryu Cannon performed by Sean of Street Fighter III, potentially triggering the “Tech Hit” pushblock mechanic in the Darkstalkers/Vampire Savior games, or an attempt to mash out of certain combos like Magneto's Magnetic Tempest combos in Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Mashing against the opponent’s advantage can also be referred to as an abare.
One feature of Mortal Kombat and Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance is a mini-game titled "Test Your Might." It required the player to rapidly bash the buttons to keep a green meter above a certain level when the count-down ended.
When a player is intentionally trying to mash more hits from a certain super, a common technique is to fan or drum the fingers out over the buttons of a fightstick and wave the entire hand back and forth over the buttons.
A cancel, or the act of cancelling— a concept invented in the Street Fighter II series— is defined as breaking out of a current animation or move by inputting another move that cancels the previous one. Attacks defined as "cancellable" often mean they have the ability to be cancelled and effectively combo into another attack, such as a special move or super (the act of cancelling a special move into a super move is usually called a super cancel). It also occasionally referred to as interrupting. In some games, the move which is used to cancel a previous move usually does less damage than if the move is used alone, either by default or through damage scaling.
In some games, certain moves (such as specials) can be cancelled to simply stop the move from coming out altogether, acting as a feint technique.
Special cancels, also known as 2-in-1 cancels or “2-1 combos,” are based on cancelling a normal attack into a special attack. Several games (such as The King of Fighters, Darkstalkers, or Street Fighter Alpha) are also known for implementing guard cancel techniques that immediately put a character out of block stun and allow the player to hit their opponent at the cost of some super gauge. The KOF series has a detailed system of evasion and counter-attacking based on cancelling blocking animation: the “CD Guard Cancel" allows one to knock down their opponent, breaking out of the character's blocking animation to land a CD attack that does little damage at the cost of 1 power bar (which is even cancellable in some cases and allows the player to start combos); the "Guard Cancel Emergency Evade" allows the player to roll both backwards and forwards to evade and punish the attacker if they time it when the opponent is doing an attack whose recovery will leave them open after the player's evasion.
Some games may also allow players to cancel their movements into another ability, such as the “FD Brake” option in the Guilty Gear series or the ability to dash/run cancel into an attack or guard in games such as Fighting EX Layer or the newer Mortal Kombat titles (for example, wavedashing in MK works by allowing players to cancel their dash into the block button & rapidly repeat this sequence)— vice versa, other games may allow certain moves to be cancelled by another movement such as dash, or popularly a jump cancel (in the case of most anime or 3v3 tag fighters).
Systems like the Roman Cancel (introduced in Guilty Gear X) may grant the universal ability to completely cancel [almost] any move a character is doing by pressing 3 different attack buttons (except for Dust) and spending 50% of one's Tension bar— 25% Tension in the case of the “Force Roman Cancels” implemented by Guilty Gear XX, which allow certain characters to cancel specific moves on whiff (as opposed to regular RCs which can only be used on hit/block)— thus completely eliminating recovery time. The Roman Cancel (or RC) mechanic can allow players to extend combos, apply pressure, or make certain moves safe (occasionally may also create new mixup opportunities). This system was altered in Xrd to include new RC colors, performed with the same command but differing in effect depending on the state of the player(s); activating an RC will momentarily freeze the game allowing the executing player to move normally but causing the opponent or on-screen projectiles to slow down, which altogether gives both players time to assess the situation. The Red RC works in the traditional manner, activating only when the player has put the opponent in hitstun or blockstun; however, the added slowdown increases this stun time allowing for new combo routes that would otherwise be impossible. The slowdown length is dependent on the move that the player RCs; certain moves like DPs can only be cancelled with a red RC. While these RCs have only 1 frame of startup, Yellow Roman Cancels (or YRCs) have 6 startup frames and a fixed slowdown time of 16 frames, only costing 25% Tension. YRCs can only be performed while the opponent is not in hit/blockstun; these will activate if the opponent is neutral or attacking, if they are knocked down, or if they are performing a burst. Since they can also be activated on whiff before the player’s cancelled move enters its recovery frames, YRCs in Xrd can be useful for okizeme, mobility, space control, pressure, and setups. A Purple Roman Cancel (or PRC) will occur instead if the player cancels their move late in its animation during recovery. Performing a PRC instead of a YRC costs 50% Tension instead of 25% & has a slower startup of 15 frames, ultimately granting the same effect but at a greater cost & risk.
This RC system has recently been changed again in Strive, with one change being a universal 50% Tension cost for all RCs (since the Tension gauge is now simply divided into two bars); the RCs’ circular flash also now produces a visual shockwave that generally causes the given RC’s effect and slowdown upon connecting with the opponent. Red RCs, while doing no additional damage, will now launch the opponent on hit, allowing the player to juggle them & perform new combos; throws can also be red RC’d, allowing players to convert off of a normal or command grab. A new blue RC has been added, occuring only when the player is neutral or moving without pressing an attack or defending; these RCs slow down the opponent for max duration when the RC’s shockwave connects, which will remain even while the opponent is hit, allowing the player to link attacks that would normally not work together (or simply to respond quickly to neutral situations such as stuffing or countering incoming attacks). YRCs have been changed to only occur when the player is in blockstun, acting as a new form of guard cancel to replace the former “Dead Angle” mechanic; if the shockwave connects with the opponent, they will reel back slightly (in the same manner as the game’s “guard crush” state) allowing the defending player to potentially take their turn back, although this YRC is punishable if blocked by the opponent. PRCs now assume the role that YRCs originally played as well as its original function, allowing players to cancel (usually whiffed) moves on startup or on recovery. In addition to making a normally punishable move safe, PRCs may have unique additional benefits such as allowing certain characters to move freely behind (or even in front of) projectiles that may normally leave them standing in place, or granting players unique combo routes with decreased damage scaling by allowing them to cancel into a taunt out of a normal or a string then immediately PRC their taunt. Strive also implements two new properties to the RC system that apply to all RCs (except yellow): Fast RC (which allows players to quickly cancel out of their RC before the shockwave occurs with any move including specials) and Dash Roman Cancel a.k.a. Drift RC (which allows players to move forward, backward, up or down with their RC by inputting the respective dash command immediately before inputting the RC). In addition to mobility benefits such as moving in closer to the opponent, Drift may also grant unique properties beyond a regular Roman Cancel (i.e. using a blue drift RC to pass through projectiles with invincibility if timed properly).
The free PC fighter Rising Thunder also implements a universal cancel mechanic called “Kinetic Advance,” which allows players to spend meter to cancel their attacks on hit or block (or projectiles on whiff) with a dash or jump in any direction.
A term exclusive to King of Fighters XI is “Dream Cancel,” where the leader of the team of three, the sole character who can use the Leader Desperation Move, can cancel a DM (a 1-stock super move) into a Leader Desperation Move (a 2-stock super move).
Soulcalibur allows players to cancel moves by pressing G (guard) during their startup, sometimes stopping the move altogether (called a “G cancel”). This can effectively be used as a form of baiting, since cancelled moves take little time to finish and can often be followed up by a quick attack.
The term ”carry” can be used in two separate contexts:
- An FGC term (usually used in a derogatory manner) meant to describe the propensity of a specific character, move, mechanic, or general technique to carry a player to victory despite a perceived lack of base fundamental skill. It is a term generally used in conjunction with the label “scrub”; for example, one might say a player who uses a notably busted character to win matches (when they may not be able to achieve the same level of success with other characters) is carried by that character.
- Wall/corner carry— a term used to describe the propensity of a certain move sequence or combo to have enough forward displacement (aggression) and/or pushback to carry an opponent all the way to the corner (or wall).
A type of combo/string system used in several fighting games, in which an attack of lower strength can be combo’ed into a subsequent attack of the next strength (i.e. Light > Medium > Heavy), forming a chain. Popular examples of this attack system include the Gatlings found in the Guilty Gear series and Z-Combos in Dragon Ball FighterZ; it is the combo system most commonly employed by these these types of anime and 3v3 tag fighters (including others such as the Marvel vs. Capcom series, Skullgirls, & others)— chain combos may have also been popularized by early Capcom fighters such as the Darkstalkers series— although certain key combos in these games (be them more complex combos or just BnBs) may still be achieved by precise links that are otherwise impossible via mere chain combos.
French-Bread fighting games such as the Melty Blood series & Under Night In-Birth have also implemented a reverse-chain system, known as a reverse beat, which allows players to also chain attacks from heavy to light, as well as other unique patterns (i.e. L > H > M, H > L > M, etc.)
Channeling is the redirection of an attack to its targeted location before completion, be it the front of the opponent or the rear, as well as high or low.
A charge move is a move whose command input involves holding (charging) either a direction on the joystick or button(s) for a brief period of time. This kind of move is most prevalent in 2D fighters where players must hold back to block, namely throughout the Street Fighter series, although it is occasionally seen in 3D fighters (more commonly as a button charge than a joystick charge).
Several characters in Street Fighter are designed with many of these types of moves, and thus they may be labeled as charge characters such as Guile whose Sonic Boom fireball is done by holding back (or down+back to crouch charge) & then snapping forward + any punch button, and whose Somersault Kick (commonly referred to as the Flash Kick) is done by holding down & then snapping up + any kick button; Chun-Li’s signature “Spinning Bird Kick” is also performed with the latter command. Blanka, M. Bison, & E. Honda may also be examples of characters who incorporate charge inputs in certain specials. Characters like these may tend to sit in a crouching position holding down + back, to ostensibly still be blocking most grounded attacks while “buffering” between two charge moves that have back & down charge inputs.
Examples of charge characters in other 2D games include but are not limited to May (Guilty Gear), Terry Bogard & Joe Higashi (Fatal Fury/King of Fighters), T.J. Combo (Killer Instinct 1 & 2), B.B. Hood a.k.a. Bulleta (Darkstalkers/Vampire Savior), Shuma Gorath (Marvel vs. Capcom), Big Band, Cerebella, and Parasoul (Skullgirls), Kagura Mutsuki (BlazBlue), Vatista (UNI), & Charlotta (Granblue Fantasy Versus).
Cheap / Cheese
Being cheesy or cheap is a derogative term used to point out an overpowering or repetitive tactic, or a player that uses overpowering or repetitive, “spammy” moves and certain other exploitable shenanigans to gain the upper hand. Of course, whether a move or tactic actually is overpowered and broken is a universal source of controversy. Such tactics may be discouraged during casual play with friends, but they are usually fair game during tournament play and amongst tournament players.
It is not so uncommon for a tactic to be deemed cheap by casual players and be considered a poor or weak tactic among higher end players.
In Capcom fighters, this also doubles as an ingame term for defeating an opponent via chip damage from a special or a super move, which fits the above description.
Chicken blocking, a term popularized by CvS and MvC circles, describes a situation in games that feature air blocking (usually anime or team fighters) where a player would jump to block an incoming attack in the air instead of on the ground. The idea comes from when a character lands on the ground and it cancels the recovery frames of their block stun, upon which the defending player is no longer in block stun; meanwhile the attacker is recovering from their attack and is unable to block, leaving them vulnerable to certain counter-attacks and punishes. Also while airborne, the player need only block in one direction thus eliminating high/low mixups. Many players would refer to this is a "chicken's" way to play.
Chip Damage (also Block Damage)
Chip damage or chip refers to the reduced damage a character takes from an attack while blocking (can also be called block damage). Generally an extremely small amount— in some games, normal moves do not cause this chip damage, whereas specials and supers can. Some games also may not allow players to KO their opponent with chip damage; supers may often be exempt from this. The term refers to the visual effect of the player's life bar being "chipped" away, bit by bit (sometimes indicated by this small portion of lost health turning white or gray). Certain games may also allow players to recover this small bit of health lost to chip damage if the player escapes their opponent’s block pressure and goes without being hit for long enough to replenish this health (commonly known as a recoverable health in games like Street Fighter or “white life” in Killer Instinct).
Also refers to a type of fighting that relies solely on causing such damage. [Not to be confused with DOT damage.]
A clash refers to a priority system in certain fighting games by which two attacks— having the same strength and/or by way of mutual hitbox overlap— may connect on exactly the same frame, typically nullifying each other and resetting both players. Whereas a trade would otherwise occur due to both attacks intersecting with each others hurtboxes, generally resulting in both players entering hitstun from their mutual attacks, their respective hitboxes do not collide or overlap with each others’ hurtboxes and therefore cancel each other out.
The first notable example of such a feature was the Sword Clash implemented in the Samurai Shodown series (sometimes referred to as “Locking Swords”), which could only occur once per round when two weapon-based normals (or “Slash” attacks) collided simultaneously, so long as one player had a life-lead of 160 HP and more than 16 seconds remained in the round. This would trigger a short “mini-game” of sorts, in which both characters would enter the classic “clashing” animation together, pressing their swords against each other & struggling in a clinch. Both players would then be prompted to button-mash their Slash attacks quickly; the player who won the clash by pressing the button faster and/or more times would disarm the opponent, knocking their weapon to the floor and consequently limiting their offensive capabilities (i.e. Slash attacks or specials). This situation would then leave the opponent attempting to regain their weapon (by pressing Light or Medium Slash when near the weapon). In the rare event of a tied Sword Clash, both players would be disarmed. This mechanic has remained a staple feature of the SamSho series.
The 3D-fighter Soulcalibur II (2002) was one of the first games beyond this to implement a dedicated system where two moves of an equal attack level— generally “Light,” “Medium,” or “Strong”— would void each other & cause the moves to bounce off of each other, essentially repelling each other mutually & reeling both players back while inflicting zero damage.
The Guilty Gear franchise, as early as Guilty Gear XX (released the same year), was also a popular innovator of this type of clash system, placing their own unique twist on the mechanic by completely resetting the neutral state for both players and allowing them to immediately cancel into any attack, movement, or guard ability (i.e. Faultless Defense). Beyond the simple notion of “light/med/heavy” attack strengths, different attacks are assigned certain “attack levels” (from lvl. 1 to lvl. 4), which each have standardized amounts of frame advantage (i.e. hitstop, standing and crouching hitstun, ground and air blockstun, etc.) depending on their corresponding level. Many other ArcSystem Works fighters— such as the BlazBlue series, Granblue Fantasy Versus, and Dragon Ball FighterZ— have since implemented this same format of “attack level”-based clash system, although the resulting effects of the clash itself may vary from game to game.
Guilty Gear Xrd introduced a short-lived corollary to their clash system called “Danger Time,” which would occur at random in place of a normal clash. When triggered, both players freeze in place & a 3-second countdown occurs, after which all damage is increased by 20% for 10 seconds and any Roman-Cancellable attack landed from a neutral state during this period grants a “Mortal Counter,” an enhanced counter-hit state that also inflicts massive hitstun and/or allows the attacker to follow up with a combo.
For a different example of a game with alternate clash effects, King Of Fighters XII also introduced a short-lived clash system (also called the “Sousai/Deadlock” system), where instead of damage being nullified both players would take slight damage (reduced by 30%) and reel back from each other. Like the previous examples, this clash could be cancelled into other attacks or movements (i.e. pressing/holding forward to dash out of the clash, forward “hyper hop,” etc.), but unlike said examples— most of which do not allow for clashing with projectiles— this game would classify special moves and projectiles as “Strong” attacks, and clashing with them would nullify the projectiles’ damage, allowing the defending player to advance forward on their zoning opponent more easily.
Note: some other games may also apply the term “clash” differently. Guilty Gear additionally refers to a “throw escape” (when a player techs their opponent’s grab attempt) as a “Throw Clash.” BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle also features a dedicated “Clash” button (notated as “C”) that serves as a universal overhead button (similar to the Dust button in Guilty Gear) and can also be used to EX moves. The Injustice series features their own distinct “Clash” system, which can be used only once per match when a player is one their second lifebar and stuck in their opponent’s combo. When activated by pressing “forward+Meter Burn,” the combo will break and a cinematic will trigger where both characters collide in a similar fashion to the aforementioned “Sword Clash” (Samurai Shodown)— however, instead of a button-mashing sequence, a “wager” system is initiated & both players are prompted to press a face button that corresponds with a set portion of their current super meter. If the defending player wagers more meter than their attacking opponent, that player will win the clash & regain a certain amount of health relative to the amount of meter they wagered. In contrast, if the attacker wagers more meter, they will instead do further damage to the defender who initiated the clash.
A clone character is a character whose general moveset is extremely similar (if not identical) to that of another character, despite a potential difference in appearance. In the original Street Fighter, for example, Ken and Ryu were clones. It is not uncommon for clone characters to gain distinct difference with later versions of the game, as well as over the subsequent installments of a series (e.g. Ralf and Clark from KOF, Yun and Yang from Street Fighter III: New Generation, Fox and Falco or Marth and Roy from Super Smash Bros. Melee). A clone differs from a palette swap in that a different actual sprite or model is usually used, but the movelist is still the same; the most obvious difference is that the clone takes up an individual spot on the roster and has a different name. Palette swaps are simply differently-colored sprites (or alternate costumes in rarer cases) for 2D fighting game characters that may still have unique movesets which differ distinctively from each other (i.e. the various ninja & cyborg characters in the early Mortal Kombat era).
In traditional 2D fighter terminology, a string of attacks that cannot be blocked if the first hit connects. The word "combo" is also used presently by some 3D fighter fans to describe simply a series of moves which when done in a certain order perform more quickly than when done out of order (also known as a "string").
Refers to an additional in-game mechanic not necessarily tied to default resources (i.e. health or super meter), that can be awarded to the disadvantaged (or losing) player & help them turn the momentum of the match in their favor (in other words make a ”comeback”) — these often have another kind of unique meter/gauge system attached to them. Comeback mechanics tend to have certain limiting stipulations such as only being gained or built up by taking damage, or in some cases only being available once per match— desperation supers such as MK11’s Fatal Blow or Tekken 7’s Rage moves may also be considered forms of “comeback mechanics” by this nature. Other games may utilize a separate type of gauge that when full will specifically grant certain comeback tools in the form of an install or power-up state, such as Killer Instinct’s Instinct Mode or a wide array of the new V-Triggers found in Street Fighter V.
Popular examples of comeback mechanics in fighting games include:
- X-Factor (MvC3)
- Infinity Stone/Infinity Storm (MvCI)
- V-Gauge/V-Trigger (SFV)
- Instinct Gauge/Instinct Mode (KI)
- Fatal Blow (MK11)
- Rage Art/Rage Drive (Tekken 7)
- Sparking Blast (DBFZ)
- Zord Ultra (Power Rangers: BFTG)
Although these newer mechanics tend to draw due criticism from more traditional players for sometimes being “too strong” and/or rewarding players for losing too disproportionately, their implementation can also be seen as a fun way to freshen up the flow of the combat, providing fresh new mechanics for both casual players trying to get into fighting games and for more experienced players who want an added layer of depth in their gameplay.
A command grab (or command throw) is defined as a throw which is not performed with the universal/standard throw input— they are command moves that require motion input and/or button sequence to achieve (typically categorized as specials), and they are usually unique to the character. Command grabs differ from normal throws in that normal throws can be teched, while command throws are generally inescapable once connected and can also be more damaging than normal throws (as well as potentially lead to a follow-up combo). The tradeoff to this is the fact that most of them require some complex directional inputs to perform (such as a 360 input or even a pretzel motion), and may come out slower than normal throws.
See more about command throws in the boldened links
This can refer to several categories of moves/actions that are done by a unique input or command as opposed to a default universal one
Command Normal: First used in the original Street Fighter, a command normal (sometimes referred to as a directional or unique attack) is a simple or complex move, in execution or animation, usually performed with a simple combination of joystick and button action, such as a 'Forward' Punch or Kick or sometimes Back + Punch/Kick. The properties of these moves are usually not radically different from other normal moves, but rather they are performed with a button press and a joystick action to allow a wider array of normal moves without having to add extra buttons. Many command normals tend to enjoy special properties such as hitting overhead or low, or being a designated anti-air attack with upper-body invincibility. Particularly in the case of The King of Fighters, if a normal attack is cancelled into a command move, the command move loses its special properties but becomes cancellable itself into a special move, while there are others that are immediately cancellable into special or super attacks when performed alone without previous cancelling.
Command Grab: Command grabs are defined as throws which are not the universal/standard throw input— they are command moves that require motion input and/or button sequence to achieve (essentially a special move that acts as a throw), and they are usually unique to the character. These throws typically do not come out as fast as normal throws or are harder to perform (such as requiring a 360 motion or even a pretzel input), but usually either yield higher damage or the possibility for a follow-up combo. To solve this problem, The King Of Fighters was the first game to introduce simple motions for throws and special throws, usually Hcf and/or Hcb— some command throws that had extra properties (such as Iori's Kuzu Kaze, which leaves the opponent open to any attack after switching sides with him) may have an added direction like Fwd then Hcf, Hcb then forward, or viceversa, simplifying the input required and making them far more practical in real matches. Super versions of these moves are often the same motions twice, or sometimes completely different ones.
3D fighting games usually include a multitude of command throws for various characters, which are escapable (unlike 2D fighters), but the complexity of the required tech command may differ from character to character, or even game to game— in the Virtua Fighter series, for example, throw escapes are slightly rarer, whereas in the Tekken series it's often possible for a player to mash their way out of certain throws.
Command Dash: A special move that acts as a dash which is distinct from the game’s universal dash mechanic— command dashes typically enjoy specialized properties that normal dashes do not allow for, such as the ability to pass through the opponent/their attacks and cross them up, being allowed to be cancelled into from other specials, being able to be cancelled out of or feinted more easily, or having built-in follow-up moves. For example, Karin of Street Fighter V has her “Kanzuki-Ryu Hokojutsu Seppo” (also 神月流歩行術 刹歩, Kantsuki-Ryuu Hokoujutsu Seppou) command dash which allows for one of two follow-up attacks: Tenko (which launches the opponent & enjoys special benefits when executed as a just frame) or Orochi (a safe follow-up that has potential to low-profile certain moves such as projectiles, and can be enhanced to put the opponent in a crumple state). The strength of the kick button used in the command dash’s QCF+K input can also determine the distance travelled by the dash. Other examples of characters’ command dashes may include Millia Rage’s “Mirazh” or Nagoryuki’s “Fukyo” (Guilty Gear STRIVE), Lancelot’s “Wirbelwind” character unique and Percival’s “Lord’s Strike” special (Granblue Fantasy Versus), Kan-Ra’s “Sand Dash” trap property (Killer Instinct), or Lord Drakkon’s “Drakkon Dash” ability (Power Rangers: Battle For the Grid).
Command Jump: Can also be referred to as command leap— an ability that acts as a jump which is distinct from the game’s universal jump mechanic. This may simply allow the character to perform their normal jump attacks, or in rare cases even grant them access to new aerial attacks and/or mobility options. Command jumps often appear in the form of special moves but may also appear as a character trait, such as Chun-Li’s “Rankyaku” V-Skill in Street Fighter V; this move also has a slight hitbox on its way upwards & can launch or float the opponent in the air allowing Chun-Li to follow her command jump with her default aerial combos. Other command jumps like Nanase’s & Orie’s “Force Function” in Under Night In-Birth can grant additional mobility (such as forward/backward). These command jumps can also be used to jump cancel from combos or blockstrings into aerial attacks on a grounded opponent either for unbreakable damage or for increased pressure. A popular example of a built-in command jump is Master Roshi’s “Masterful Leap” in Dragon Ball FighterZ, which replaces his universal Super Dash option with a unique jump that is both invulnerable to Ki blasts and directable depending on the directional input combined with the H+S button command (i.e. 4H+S being useful for mixups). Alternately, certain characters’ command jumps like Trunks’ “Cyclone Jump” must be inputted manually with a special input (i.e. 214+L/M/H); some like these can also be performed in-air.
Other command jumps that may work similarly (but also may possibly require a dedicated special input) can also include directable options such as Jacqui Briggs’ “Bionic Leap” and The Joker’s “BOING” (Mortal Kombat 11), augments of another ability such as Kan-Ra’s “Sand Jump” trap property (Killer Instinct), or others with built-in follow-ups such as Ciel’s “Halo” somersaults (Melty Blood) & Jen Scott’s “Flash Vault” (Power Rangers: BFTG).
Command Roll: A special move that allows the character to roll across the ground with forward and/or backward mobility to evade certain attacks— these rolls may move the character safely beneath many high-hitting attacks or even to the other side of the opponent. Certain command rolls may also have follow-up options, either built in or by circumstance— for example, the Guilty Gear character Millia Rage has notably possessed a Forward Roll (214K) ability in most games (prior to Strive) that not only shrinks her hurtbox & allows her to low-profile moves, but can also be followed up with certain built-in attacks. Aside from chaining this roll into another roll (by pressing K again), or into Dust, Millia’s roll can be followed up with her Lust Shaker special by pressing S after the roll, as well as her Digitalis move by pressing H; she may also get away with throwing the opponent after rolling (often after two consecutive rolls) if they are overly respecting the potential roll follow-ups by blocking. In turn, Millia has no invulnerability to throws during the roll, and can also be punished with proper timing during the roll’s recovery.
A further example of a character with command roll follow-ups is Kage Maru of the Virtua Fighter franchise; Kage possesses a Forward (Zenten) or Backward (Kouten) roll option, which can also be repeated once more in either direction, allowing him to confuse the opponent by rolling back & forth. There are also several follow-up attacks that can be used to mix the opponent such as a sweep or a mid-hitting launcher, as well as low & mid tackle options. Other examples of command rolls may include El Blaze’s “Fake Roll” (Virtua Fighter 5), Kevin Rian’s “Abide Mine” (Garou: Mark of the Wolves), John Rambo’s “Shoulder Roll” (MK11), or Red Hood’s “Fatal Drop” (Injustice 2).
Conditioning is an advanced tactic that describes the act of making the opponent become familiar and habitual in response a certain course of action by means of repeated exposure to the same situation. For one specific example, a player can condition their opponent to block low on wakeup if they always attack low after a knockdown; this can then be useful if one wishes to take advantage of some strategy that requires starting with an overhead attack, effectively mixing their opponent. Other fundamentals such as pressure and zoning are considered when speaking in terms of conditioning an opponent’s reactions.
See also: Baiting
A conversion is a counter or reversal situation where a player turns an unlikely hit or scramble into a combo. This term is often used in conjunction with AA’s & floats— players that hit an airborne opponent (or that otherwise execute some sort of launching reversal) can convert the resulting float or juggle into a full combo. Conversions are harder to successfully execute than ordinary combos, because players must react to the less-predictable motion of the juggled opponent using carefully timed (and possibly improvised) moves, as well as hit-confirming into follow-up attacks properly.
Cooldown refers to the window of time in which a player is unable to use a certain move or tool again after using it. This sometimes has a visual/audio cue (such as a message or a timer/gauge) to signify that the cooldown window has ended & the resource is available again. The most common application of cooldowns in fighting games is via assists in tag/team fighters— these assists generally have a brief cooldown period so they are not able to be called hyper-repetitively & thus be too strong, with a message usually saying “Assist Ok” or “Assist Ready” to alert the player that the cooldown period is over.
Certain King Of Fighters installments have also featured the Armor Mode and Counter Mode, both of which will cause the Power Gauge to disappear after the mode is completed for a brief period before returning— during this cooldown period, the player cannot gain any meter.
In games like Granblue Fantasy Versus and Rising Thunder, all specials are thought of as “Skills” & tied to their own individual cooldown meters separate from the standard super meter, while DNF Duel implements “MP Skills” that are directly tied to the game’s universal “Mana Points” gauge, which regenerates over time. MultiVersus also assigns different cooldown rates to various attacks and specials, such as projectiles, moves with armor, or certain setup and trap tools. This design may prevent over-use of these moves throughout the match, as a trade-off for the fact that they tend to have simpler input commands if not just a single “Special/Skill” button.
Various cooldown concepts are present in NetherRealm Studios games; many character traits in the Injustice games will have cooldown periods of varying rates (depending on the character) before they can be activated again. In the recent Mortal Kombat 11, Fatal Blows will enter a cooldown window if they are whiffed or blocked & eventually return, allowing the player more than one chance to land this super. MK11 also introduces a new, unique meter system (divided into two offensive & two defensive bars) that regenerates automatically at all times, including between rounds, which ostensibly will always replenish spent meter after a brief cooldown.
Cooldown rates may vary depending on factors such as the game, character, or move itself, which version was used (light, medium, heavy or EX), how often it is used, or (in the case of GBVS and DNF) whether the “technical/traditional” special input or the easy “Skill” button/input was used.
The reboot of Killer Instinct introduced a new feature expanding on their famous combo breaker system called “Lock-Out,” wherein an incorrect attempt at breaking an opponent’s combo will render the player unable to attempt another breaker for three seconds, leaving them open to further unbreakable damage. These lockouts can occur either by mistiming the break input when there is no allowable break window (formerly indicated by an orange “X” & “!” above the locked-out players head but changed to a gray clock icon), or by using the incorrect attack strength to guess the break (formerly indicated by a red “X” & “!” but changed to a blue L, yellow M, & red H to indicated the corresponding Light, Medium & Heavy strengths). Additionally, being hit by an opponent’s “Counter Breaker” mid-combo will place a purple cross above the player’s head & lock them out for four seconds.
A counter hit or counter is a term for an attack that hits another player while they are in the process of performing an attack. In many games this attack is granted bonus damage and/or additional effects (i.e. extra hitstun, launch, dizzying, etc.).
In The King Of Fighters, aside from adding damage, counter hits are given juggling properties, meaning that an opponent caught in a counter hit is immediately eligible for a followup attack. For example, a jumping CD attack that hits as counter, can be followed up by a second CD attack of the same nature, a special move, a super, or other moves with juggling properties. Certain counterhits in Tekken will also be given launching properties allowing the player to juggle their opponent.
Other games may feature different types or levels of counterhit stun based on the strength of the move used, which may allow for links and combo routes that would normally be impossible. Examples may include Guilty Gear’s “Counter” system as well as Street Fighter V’s heavy “Crush Counters.”
In Mortal Kombat 11, the Krushing Blow mechanic is often triggered by moves or strings that are counters or punishes, rewarding the player’s move with extra damage, launches/juggles, stun, DOT, or other unique perks.
A feature exclusive to The King Of Fighters 99 & The King Of Fighters 2000, the Counter Mode is activated by pressing ABC. It costs 3 stocks to use, and when activated, the character will pose momentarily and flash red for a short period of time (indicated by the timer at the top of the screen). During this time there is no Power Gauge and the player cannot amass Power Gauge energy or stocks. Even though the character's Power Gauge disappears, they can use the universal Guard Cancel Slide (in either direction) or Guard Cancel CD Attack as many times as they desire.
While in Counter Mode, all attacks inflict more damage, and even though there is no Power Gauge, Desperation Moves can be performed infinitely: no stocks are required. Furthermore, the character becomes able to cancel the Dodge Attack into command attacks, special moves, and DMs, just like a normal punch or kick. A unique feature of Counter Mode is that the character can interrupt a special move with a DM, the same way they might cancel a normal attack into a special move.
Counterpicking is when the player picks a character with a statistical matchup advantage over that of the opponent's chosen character. Some people tend to look down upon this practice because it is easy to argue that the player has an unfair advantage over their character, whilst counterarguments claim this is a strategic choice and a matter of opinion, as well as skill among both players. Despite its obvious advantageous nature, counterpicking is usually allowed in tournaments, provided the counterpick character themselves is not competitively banned due to being actually overpowered or broken by default. However, most fighting games online (besides NRS games) force the player to pre-select a character before actually going online, so there is no character select & thusly counterpicking is not as prevalent in online matches.
Criticals are moves that may cause more than the default damage, resulting in critical or more damage. In games that utilize such a feature, criticals usually occur at random (or often on counterhit in games like Dead Or Alive, which may trigger a “Critical Stun”). One example of a character able to use criticals is Shingo Yabuki from the King Of Fighters series, whose attacks always result in a "critical" hit in The King Of Fighters 97 as well as The King Of Fighters 98, doing more damage than normal. Some moves performed as a just frame may also inflict increased “critical” damage (among other gained benefits).
(Not to be confused with Mix-Up.)
A cross-up is a situation where it is more difficult for the player's opponent to determine whether they must block left or right. Most commonly, this is done by attacking while jumping over the opponent so that it hits as one passes over them. Cross-ups are most easily used in many games after knocking the opponent down, as the opponent will be unable to move or attack while the attacker begins the cross-up (see okizeme). Starting combos with a cross-up is preferred because it makes the combo more difficult to defend against, as well as providing an extra hit.
Cross-ups are usually not available in games where blocking is bound to a dedicated button, rather than moving backwards from the attacker, such as the Mortal Kombat series.
The term 'cross-up' generally refers to jumping attacks, but is sometimes applied to any situation in which an opponent may have difficulty in determining which direction to block in. In particular, when a certain character’s dash allows them to pass through an opponent it can create cross-up opportunities on the ground. There are also many moves specifically designed to pass through the opponent or over their head to grant a cross-up that must be blocked in the opposite direction, such as Chipp Zanuff’s “Alpha Blade” in the Guilty Gear series or even some command normals such as Chun-Li’s 3+HK (鶴脚落, Kakukyakuraku a.k.a. "Crane Leg Fall") in certain Street Fighter games.
Cross-ups originated from Street Fighter II as a glitch, though much like juggle combos, they were later intentionally maintained by the developers to add depth to the game, and eventually became a regular features in fighting games as a whole. Cross-ups were not only implemented into the system, but, for example, Iori’s air Back+B command from The King of Fighters actually has him kicking backwards after jumping over an opponent, and is ideally only usable for easy cross-ups. There are also characters like Hsien-Ko, Felicia and Sasquatch from the Vampire Savior series who have dashes that can cross-up with out having to be performed in mid-air.
Cheese Ship is a form of "trash talk" that is written in bad english.
A dash either executed from a crouching position or involving a crouching movement at some point. Seen most often in 3D fighters, particularly the Tekken series, where its command is usually “forward, return stick to neutral, down, down-forward.” Many characters in Tekken have several different moves available from the crouch dash, and a few (the Mishima-family characters in particular) can actually link one crouch dash into another, which creates a movement known as the wavedash (Not to be confused with the Super Smash Bros. Melee version of wavedash). Crouch dashes in Tekken usually have the property of automatically evading high attacks, and some have automatic low parries.
Some moves may leave the opponent in a crumple state, a prolonged state of stun during which the opponent is shown dropping slowly to their knees & falling down. Some games will allow players to attack an opponent who is in this crumple state with a follow-up or full combo before they have fully hit the ground, while others may just allow for a reset by way of a quick poke (this all works similarly to the concept of OTG attacks).
The term “crush” can be applied in a few contexts:
- Crush- generally describes a trade or clash situation when two attacks’ hitboxes collide at the same time, where the attack of a higher priority level beats out (or stuffs) the lesser attack. A practical application of this system can be found within games like Granblue Fantasy Versus, where most attacks deal standarized amounts of advantage (in terms of hitstun, hitstop, blockstun, etc.) all depending on their general Attack Level (from lvl. 0 to lvl. 4). The attack of the higher level will win the trade and defeat the lower level move. Moves with invincibility, while obviously being able to crush non-invulnerable moves, may also be able to crush each other depending on the specific moves/actions (e.g. supers). Crush does not apply to projectiles, which have their own trade system.
- High/Low Crush- In conjunction with the first definition (and perhaps the most common application of the term), a “high crush” or “low crush” is a move/attack that evades or ignores a high/mid or low attack respectively. While many moves may simply do this by circumstances of animation and/or hitbox placement without enjoying actual invincibility to certain attacks— such as a move that low-profiles a high-hitting/upper-body attack, or conversely an overhead command normal that leaps over a low— typically in certain games, moves with a “Crush” property are specially designed to beat any move of the corresponding attack height regardless of the way the hitboxes and/or hurtboxes appear to interact (for example, a “high crush” should defeat any high attack even if the opponent’s hitbox is, by all appearances, connecting with the player’s hurtbox). This concept may have first been introduced in Garou: Mark of the Wolves via High and Low “Dodge Attacks” that (respectively) were designed with upper and lower body invincibility, but since then has been most prevalent in certain 3D fighters such as the later Tekken games (first introduced in Tekken 5) and the Dead Or Alive series. The term sabaki, popularized by the Virtua Fighter series, can also be used synonymously with “crush attack.”
- Guard Crush- also known as guard break
- Crush Counter (SFV)- a special type of counterhit assigned only to select attacks (primarily heavy attacks) that grants the executing player additional hitstun, during which the opponent reels away in a backspin that looks similar to a very small launch, allowing the player to potentially convert the hit into a full combo or at least cancel into their V-Trigger*. If the Crush Counter hit is not followed up with further attacks, the move will still cause a knockdown to the opponent. Certain powerful but punishable moves such as DPs are automatically prone to a Crush Counter if they are hit with such an attack during the recovery of these moves. (Some other games feature similar types of advanced counters, such as “Fatal Counters” from the BlazBlue series or the “Mortal Counters” found in Guilty Gear Xrd)
- Power Crush (Tekken 7)— a type of armored attack that is treated similarly to the Crush attacks mentioned in the second definition, ignoring most high or mid strikes; may still be defeated by most low attacks or throws
Damage Over Time (DOT)
DOT or Damage Over Time, often referred to phonetically as “dot,” or more redundantly (yet frequently) as ”dot damage”— also known as ”damage per tick” or ”tick damage”— is defined by tvtropes.org [] as “a common video game mechanic where, instead of sustaining one-time sums of damage from one attack at a time, a unit receives a negative status that inflicts a small amount of damage at regular intervals, independent of any other factors or further attacks against them. The definition of an 'interval' varies by game: In action-based genres these intervals may be measured in real time, while turn-based genres... ...may measure intervals based on ‘turns’ or ‘rounds.’”
While this mechanic does not seem to be as common in most fighting games, certain titles (such as NetherRealm Studios’ recent Mortal Kombat and Injustice series) have made more frequent use of this mechanic as a means of slowly chipping away at the opponent’s health (not to be confused with chip damage). Because the opponent loses a set amount of health regardless of the moves that follow and can do nothing about this while it is active, inflicting DOT on an opponent can exponentially increase the amount of damage the opponent takes off of other moves/strings. The primary devices that represent DOT in games such as these are “Bleeding,” “Burning,” & “Poison.”
In rarer cases such as Faust’s “poison” item in earlier Guilty Gear installments, F.A.N.G in Street Fighter V (one of the only character in the Street Fighter series to utilize this form of DOT besides one of Gen’s supers in Street Fighter Alpha 3[]) or General RAAM (a Killer Instinct guest character hailing from Gears of War), damage over time continues until the victim damages the user, meaning the user must also be skilled at avoiding attacks to take full advantage of their effects. Valentine from Skullgirls can also use the light [Type A] version of her “Vial Hazard” projectile to inflict DOT to her opponent.
One of the earliest attempts at implementing a DOT mechanic [not tied to a super move à la Gen in SF Alpha 3] was the “Impale” mechanic in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance. Though not universal across the entire roster, some characters (such as Sub-Zero) could switch to their weapon stance and use the throw/special button to stab their weapon through the opponent’s stomach. This would cause these opponent to gradually drain health for the remainder of the round. Once this was performed, the executing player could not access their weapon stance for the rest of the match.
Damage Scaling (proration)
Damage scaling refers to the system programmed into the vast majority of fighting games, by which attacks may sometimes inflict less (or occasionally more, as seen in Guilty Gear) than normal damage due to any number of reasons. Damage scaling can be a result of the number of hits in a combo (many games; numerous), the specific move used to start a combo (Guilty Gear or Third Strike), the amount of damage that has been inflicted so far in the combo, number of uses of a certain attack, or other factors. Damage scaling may also be referred to as proration.
In most of these cases, damage scaling's main purpose is to reduce to overall potency of combos by reducing the damage of individual attacks and moves as the combo progresses, while not negating damage completely. This severely hinders the ability of a player to perform infinites or TODs, and is a standard of balancing in fighting games as a result.
The Guilty Gear series employs a unique, character-specific form of damage scaling pertaining to the (potentially) decreased damage they take the lower their health is, called the Guts system; while default character health is the same value of 420 across the entire roster, certain characters have a specific “Defense Modifier” (or “Defense Rating”) that varies across the cast, which alters the standard damage output of attacks they are hit by; smaller, faster characters may be rendered weaker by having a higher modifier (Chipp Zanuff being the highest) while bigger, slower characters may be made stronger with a lower modifier (Potemkin being the lowest). For example, an attack that would normally do 100 damage on a standard character like Sol Badguy (x1.00 defense modifier) will do 130 damage on Chipp (x1.30) and only 93 damage on Potemkin (x0.93). To complement this system, each character is assigned a “Guts rating” between 0 and 4 or 5– the lower this number is, the more their damage intake will reduce at increased intervals in conjunction with how their health lowers. For example, an attack that would normally do 100 damage on Sol while he is at full health will only do 40 damage when he is at 10% health (due to his Guts rating of 1).
A specific feature in the video game Vampire Savior/Darkstalkers 3, describing a special powered-up state in which the player character activates an alternate fighting mode/ability (by pressing the punch & kick button of one corresponding strength simultaneously) at the cost of one stock. This state has a limited duration and the effects are character-dependent— generally the buffs that are granted either fall under “Super Armor (and/or “Hyper Armor”), assists, or a special Flight stance (sometimes granting a combination of any two or more of these abilities), but there are a few characters that gain other unique advantages upon activating Dark Force. For example, Victor also does gain increased speed and armor, but in turn the Light & Medium versions replace all of his punch attacks with corresponding command grabs, while the Heavy version turns all of his standing normals into their close-range version but powers them up with electricity. Bulleta’s Dark Force replaces all of her punch attacks with varying missiles that correspond to the strength of the attack button pressed, while still allowing her to keep her kick attacks and dashing capabilities. On the other hand, Zabel’s Dark Force enters him into “Chainsaw Mode,” effectively an install that grants him a new set of moves while replacing his special moves and throws as well as changing his dash animation from a crawl to a hop. Hsien-Ko (a.k.a. Lei-Lei) undergoes the most noticeable transformation, gaining complete Hyper Armor and nullifying knockdowns & throws but removing her ability to perform specials, throw the opponent, dash, block, and chain her normal attacks together— in turn, the normals she gains do increased damage.
A dash is a movement which is both faster than normal movement [walking] and requires some sort of input more complex than simply holding one direction on the joystick; dashes are executed in most fighting games by double-tapping the direction such as forward + forward, or back + back (in the case of a backdash, sometimes referred to as a backstep by certain games’ manuals). Some games also allow players to dash by pressing two attack buttons at once or more simply macro this “dash” command to one [shoulder] button. Dashes may have initially appeared in the 1v1 versus mode of Double Dragon, but were first popularly implemented in the Art of Fighting series. Many types of dashes exist, depending on the game, such as air dashes, and some games even include special properties into dashes (e.g. Slayer from the Guilty Gear series is invulnerable during certain portions of his dash). There are often variations on the basic dash, such as the crouch dash (executed from a crouching position) and the KBD (for faster backwards movement), or wavedash (a faster type of dash varying in context among Tekken, the Marvel vs. Capcom series, and later Mortal Kombat series, that is specific to certain characters), and in some games mastering the execution of a certain dash is pivotal to winning strategies.
A dash cancel is a cancel that is inputted by double tapping forward or dashing, often moving the player forward and usually has less recovery than the cancelled move. It is frequently used in anime fighters such as Guilty Gear or BlazBlue. Notable character includes Naoto Kurogane from the BlazBlue series whose combos rely severely on it.
A super move in which a player must press a series of buttons (traditionally, eight button presses and a quarter-circle move) after execution in order to complete the move. Each button press must be performed with precise timing*. Named after the first such super combo of its kind, Geese Howard's (from Fatal Fury) Deadly Rave.
See also: Environmental Hazard
A portion of an arena/stage that can be used to instantly dispatch an opponent. Examples include the cliffs/ledges and pits in the Soulcalibur series which may be used to obtain a simple ring out, or the various, more graphic death traps in Mortal Kombat: Deception and Armageddon.
A hard attack, usually airborne, that causes the attacker's sprite to overlap far into the opponent's own sprite. This results in the attacker being sufficiently close to the target upon completing the attack to allow for the next hit to be part of a combo.
A tool or mechanic in a fighting game that allows a player to defend themselves beyond the conventions of normal blocking, sometimes resetting the neutral or even reversing the momentum of the match [somewhat offensively].
Different types of “defensive mechanics” may include but are not limited to:
- Pushblock & other forms of advanced blocking (i.e. Perfect Block/Just Guard)
- Parry or Deflect/Reflect
- Guard Cancels and Block Escapes
- Combo Breakers and Burst
- Evasive Mechanics- these may include but are not limited to:
- Various other comeback mechanics
See also: Comeback Mechanic
Initially used to describe specific moves that can only be performed when one's health was critically low, it has since expanded to include any super move, but more particularly those that are granted to the player when they are below a certain health value. It is often abbreviated to DM. Until recently this term has been all but exclusive to SNK games, more particularly to games like The King Of Fighters and Fatal Fury, where it was a known feature to be able to perform unlimited supers when a character's energy bar was reduced to a point where it started to flash in red.
An even more powerful version of this move is called Super Desperation Move (frequently abbreviated into SDM), usually a much more potent and far more powerful-looking version of a normal Desperation Move typically requiring either two or more super stocks (usually a maximum of three depending if it is cancelled into from a special move or not), and/or very low life, depending on the game. The King of Fighters 96, 97, 98, 99, 2001, and 2002 featured both kinds of SDMs, one is the normal SDM which requires the player to either have their stocks at MAX (or to be in "MAX Mode" in 2002), or in some cases, a combination of the older feature of red bar (described above) & the power gauge system where one needs to have both a power stock and their energy flashing red, and the other being Hidden SDM which adds low life as an additional requirement.
Starting from The King of Fighters 2003, SNK included another new type of move: Leader Desperation Move (LDM), which is virtually identical to SDM. However, unlike SDM which can be used by any character in previous The King of Fighters games, only one out of three characters chosen in the team can use LDM (this character is called the leader). Since the bosses usually do not form teams, they are already capable of doing LDMs as well.
The Battle Arena Toshinden series is also famous for its Desperation Move system. Whenever a character's energy bar turns red, a Desperation Move can be executed which will result in a critical hit to the opponent if successfully done. Desperation Moves are a big part of these games and will most often determine the victor at high-level play.
While not explicitly described by this term (as DM was more of an esoteric term used all but exclusively within SNK games), many fighting games have introduced super moves (and/or special augmented properties) that are only granted to players after they have fallen below a certain level of health; these supers could be affectionately referred to across multiple fighting game communities as desperation supers. One modern mechanic called Fatal Blow, which was newly introduced in Mortal Kombat 11 (replacing the X-Ray super move from its previous titles), could also be considered a desperation super since it is a super move that is only available to the player when they are below 30% health. Fatal Blows are also only available to each player once per match; however, they have a cooldown period in which the Fatal Blow will return if the initial attempt whiffs or is blocked, allowing it to potentially be saved and re-attempted in the next round.
This varies slightly from the newly implemented Rage Art & Rage Drive moves introduced in Tekken 7, another kind of desperation system granted to players below 25% to 30% (approx.) as additional options from their “Rage” state; these moves are available to use in every round but can only be attempted once per round & will not return for the rest of the round if the move whiffs or is blocked.
DNF Duel has also recently introduced its own form of desperation mechanic called Awakening— players start each round with 100 MP (Mana Points, the game’s cooldown-based special gauge), and with each interval of 7% damage taken the ceiling of MP that can be gained by the damaged player increases by an interval of 10 MP (capping off at 200 MP). Once the player are down to 30% health, they will not only have reached a full gauge capacity of 200 MP but will also “Awaken,” a powered-up state (indicated by the orange health inside the lifebar glowing red) that grants two new options to their character. When they have entered this “Awakened” state, characters can access their Awakening Skill, a super that is highly damaging but receives no invulnerability and removes the Awakening state from the player altogether when used. However, players may also save this super move to remain in this state, allowing them to utilize their character’s Awakening Effect, a special trait granted by Awakening that is unique to each character and may vary in benefits from damage buffs to taking reduced damage to health and/or meter gain, as well as other more specialized buffs (i.e. changed or augmented move properties, additional added abilities, increased mobility, etc.). Players can still remain Awakened while regaining white life until either the white life is removed (by the player using the Conversion mechanic or by the opponent landing an MP Skill) or until the player spends their Awakening Skill.
While these games’ systems are examples of desperation supers that are not locked behind any additional resources besides health, some games’ desperation supers may require super meter in addition to low health (such as the Super Skybound Arts found in Granblue Fantasy Versus, as well as the Infinite Worth EXS moves specific to Under Night In-Birth).
A directable attack, sometimes called a “ranged-directable,” is a move (usually a special that may either act similarly to a projectile or actually be one) which can be channeled or directed to a different section of the screen/floor than its original trajectory places it— this differs from a “tracking” move that will automatically track to the opponent. Typically in games with light, medium, & heavy classes of attacks (where these can provide different versions of the same special), many different moves can be directed based on which strength of attack button was used. Some specific examples of this may include but are not limited to Hsien-Ko and Peacock’s item-drops (in Darkstalkers and Skullgirls, respectively), both of Gill’s “Pyrokinesis“ & “Cryokinesis” fireballs in Street Fighter, Venom’s pool-ball setup projectiles or Chipp’s “Tsuyoshishiki Ten’i” teleports (in certain Guilty Gear games), Deadpool’s “Trigger Happy” gunshots in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Filia’s “Ringlet Spike/Feint” in Skullgirls, and numerous other examples.
In other cases, a move with directable options may be done by inputting the special and then either guiding the joystick or directional buttons to channel/direct the move/projectile while it is active, or by inputting an additional direction immediately after the special input (such as down or back for a “close” version, as well as forward or up for “far” & “very far/fullscreen” respectively; up & down can also be used for “high” or “low” placement depending on the move). Examples of these types of directable moves include but are not limited to Ness’ “PK Thunder” from the Super Smash Bros. series, Wolverine’s “Drill Claw” & Storm’s “Lightning Attack” (or Spiderman’s mobility-based “Web Glide”) from certain games in the Marvel vs. Capcom series, Hisui’s special item toss in Melty Blood— which allows Hisui to predetermine which items are thrown out in addition to the direction they are thrown in, based on the directional input pressed— or more recently Geras’ “Sand Trap/Quick Sand” ability or Skarlet’s “Blood Tentacle” in Mortal Kombat 11.
Many teleports can be directed as well, be it based on button strength in the manner of Chipp’s “Ten’i” teleports or Kukri’s “Genei Sajin” sand teleports from KoF XIV, or via the latter directional method. Directables can also be ideal for traps and other kinds of setup tools, allowing the player to place these tools strategically in various spots on the stage & ultimately control the space.
May be associated with: Channeling
Describes a “tie” situation when both players are knocked out at the same time, requiring a trade against each other when both players are at critically low health. Double KOs may award wins to both players or losses to both players (the behavior is dependent on the game).
In The King Of Fighters, a double KO results in both characters being taken away from the fight and both of the next characters jumping in to continue. If both KO’d characters were the last ones, they are pitted against each other in a last round with only 25% of their energy and a full 60-second timer— if a Double KO occurs again, the game ends in a tie for both.
In older Mortal Kombat games, it was a known trick to cause this tie to continue playing extra rounds.
In the case of Guilty Gear, if wins to both players would result in the end of the match, a win is given to the player with the lesser number of wins only. If the number of wins is tied, an extra, "FINAL" round is played. If there is a draw in that round, the game ends in a draw.
If there is a DKO on the final round of a match in Soulcalibur, a “sudden death” round will occur, in which the stage area is shorter. The Virtua Fighter series has occasionally incorporated sudden death in similar fashions; while Virtua Fighter 2 would simply reset both players for a final 7-second round if they tied or caused a DKO in the last round, later Virtua Fighter installments reworked this time limit (originally 30 seconds in VF4, changed to 15 seconds in VF5), while also giving both players roughly 1% health, essentially meaning the first hit wins. Sudden death could occur even if both players were to draw on the final round via ring out, regardless of the difference in player health. Another form of sudden death is also featured prominently throughout the Super Smash Bros. series, in which both players have insanely high damage (extremely low health) and the player who successfully lands the next big attack ostensibly wins.
The unpopular 1992 fighter Dino Rex (considered a loose precursor to 1994’s Primal Rage) featured a secret Easter-egg where a DKO or draw on the final round in the game’s versus mode would trigger a “Sudden Death” round that plunged both players into what was basically a separate fighting game, allowing them to control the human warrior/trainer characters in the same manner as the arcade mode’s final boss battle (instead of the regular dinosaur fighters)— this would give the game different controls & even grant them new abilities that more accurately embodied standard fighting game designs (i.e. DP, fireball projectiles).
In Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, if both players each have the same amount of wins and are in the final round, a DKO will incur a Judgement, the first of its kind in the fighting genre. In this case 2 of the 3 judges must turn over a "paddle" with the player's character's face on it based on fighting prowess (i.e. number of combos, longest combo, number of parries, etc.) for them to win the match and receive a “J” victory symbol.
In Marvel vs. Capcom 2, if a DKO happens during 1 player mode, the screen will say "Draw Game", but the player loses automatically.
In Tekken 3, if a DKO occurs during the final round of a match, the first player wins automatically.
To download one's opponent is to analyze the mannerisms, reads, habits, & overall playstyle of said player in order to gain the advantage over them. Sometimes, a player will dedicate an entire round to testing and observing their opponent without actually trying to win, using the rounds ahead to capitalize on that time they used to gain information on said opponent.
See also: Yomi
Dragon Punch (DP)
The term “dragon punch,” usually called “DP” for short, is used to describe a few different things, sometimes all at once:
- A motion in 2D fighting games consisting of moving the joystick in a forward, then down, then down+forward motion (also notated as 623 in numpad notation). First seen in the very first Street Fighter game.
- A move, typically using the above motion, which is invincible during its startup, and serves as an anti-air or reversal.
- Ryu's and Ken's trademark rising uppercut move from the Street Fighter games, done with the motion described above and any punch button. Also called Shoryuken in its native Japanese, or Rising Dragon Fist.
A type of match where two teams of characters are fighting each other, all of whom are fighting at the same time. The first instance of this was in the original Fatal Fury, however the term is derived from the Street Fighter Alpha series, where two characters fight a single (usually stronger) character at the same time.
A term used in platform fighters, primarily Super Smash Bros., that describes the technique of defending the ledge of a platform after a player has knocked their opponent off of said stage, in an attempt to prevent the opponent from grabbing onto the ledge & recovering back onto the stage (ultimately leading to a ring out KO). Sometimes this strategy can be as simple as standing near the edge of the platform & throwing out pokes in hopes of striking the opponent as they float back towards the ledge, or as complex as jumping off the platform & intercepting the opponent themselves with an attack before jumping back up to the ledge. One advanced edge-guarding tactic present in older SSB installments is known as an “Edge Hog,” wherein the edge-guarding player will drop down and grab onto the ledge, preventing the recovering opponent from being able to grab onto it & causing them to fall to their defeat. This mechanic was replaced in Super Smash Bros. 4 with a newer “Ledge Trump” mechanic, which instead allows the edge-guarding player to grab the ledge while the opponent is already grabbing, resulting in the player grabbing the ledge from underneath & thusly forcing their opponent into the air. Another advanced tactic for edgeguarding is known as “ledgetrapping”, which refers to players using certain traps and/or setup tools (be them various items such as bombs, or moves/objects that are part of the characters’ base moveset) and placing them strategically around the ledge, conditioning the opponent to avoid these hazards & ultimately preventing them from safely reaching the ledge.
An endurance match is a match where a limited amount of opponents must be defeated, one after another, with only a single lifebar. These are similar to survival matches, where a player continues to play until defeated (with the timer being reset after defeating an opponent), as well as time attacks, where a player continues to play until time runs out or is defeated. Unlike survival matches or time attacks, endurance matches are not one-round affairs, but are typical three-round matches.
A dramatic endurance match is similar but will also incorporate elements from dramatic battles.
Enhanced Special Move
A special move with increased power and/or additional, advantageous properties, performed by expending power/meter stored in a super gauge. Most popularly referred to as an EX Move, but can be known by other names in various games such as an ESpecial Move, ES Move, a meter burn special, or an amplified special move.
Aside from increased damage, an enhanced special move has bonus effects. These can include, but are not limited to:
- setting up combos where the normal version of the move would not
- allowing combos to be continued with more ease
- performing the move faster, making it more difficult to react to and/or punish, or otherwise affecting the timing of the move
- changing the property of the move to be more difficult to defend against (e.g. making a normally high-hitting move into a low or an overhead, improving block advantage to make the move safer, or making the move outright unblockable)
- having armor or even invincibility during the move's execution, which can be used for reversals & wakeups
- providing decreased damage scaling, allowing more total damage to be dealt within the combo the enhanced special was used (in place of its normal variant).
See also: Interactable
An environmental interaction or hazard— sometimes called a “stage interaction” or “stage hazard”— describes a feature in certain fighting games which allows players to interact with elements of the stage being played on, whether purely for aesthetic/style purposes or for actual combat & gameplay.
This concept may have originated in part from the 1992 SNK arcade fighter World Heroes, as well as its sequel, especially with the “Death Battle” mode. In comparison to the feature of stage transitions innovated by some early Capcom arcade fighters around the same time, these SNK games contained stages with objects that could be knocked into by players through combat (e.g. barrels that can be knocked over, crates/vases that can be broken, etc.), although these were mostly just for additional visual effect & did not inflict additional damage to the players. However, in addition to this design feature, the “Death Battle” mode would place the players on one of several unique stages, each with a different hazard that would affect gameplay in its own way. Some stages would place explosive landmine traps on the floor randomly that caused damage as well as a knockdown; other floor hazards included an electric floor that might stun the players, oil puddles that would cause characters to slide across the ground, or other miscellaneous modifiers (e.g. ground sawblades, satellite beam, etc.) which would damage the players. Other stage modifiers would affect the boundaries of the stage, either through a “Metal Mesh/Cage Match” that decreased the stage size via a small cage, or by placing explosive hazards in the corner (emphasizing the danger of corner carry).
Killer Instinct 2, released in 1996, also incorporated interactive objects that could be knocked into by players (e.g. trash cans on T.J. Combo’s street stage, the crates on Spinal’s ship stage, or the smoke valve in Fulgore’s museum, among some notable examples), albeit these too were purely for visual effect, with the exception of two stages; the Helipad stage had interactive barrels that could be broken (triggering an explosion that caused slightly extra damage and opening up slightly more room on the stage), as well as having interactive blades on top of the helicopter in the stage’s background (which could be knocked into, spinning the blades but also cutting the opponent’s launched state short). Sabrewulf’s Castle also featured a breakable wall on the right side of the stage which could also open up more of the stage, as well as make the stage finisher available. This may have been one of the earliest implementations of a wall break feature, which would evolve to become its own unique mechanic in several later fighting games.
In contrast with the stage transitions found in its prior installment, certain stages in Mortal Kombat 4 featured random boulders or skulls on the ground, which could be picked up by pressing “down+run” when near them and as a result be thrown at the opponent like an actual projectile, causing damage to be inflicted. This feature may have been one of the pioneers of the interactables found in later games, as they began to exhibit a more practical application within competitive gameplay. Additionally, this game featured unique weapons that each fighter could pull out with a special command, which could also be knocked out of players’ hands by their opponents & dropped, allowing the opponent to pick up this weapon with the same “down+Run” command and use it for themselves. This concept was removed in the following installment, the fully 3D-mapped fighter Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, in favor of new stage hazards that could afflict players who may sidestep into or be knocked in their direction, such as breakable pillars or the Acid Bath stage that would spit acid onto nearby players causing momentary DOT damage. The follow-up Mortal Kombat: Deception would see the evolution of these mechanics begin to come full circle, as not only were environmental weapons & items once again able to be picked up and used offensively on certain stages that had them, but several stages featured walls & floors that could be broken through, inflicting damage and triggering a transition to another portion of the stage. In addition to the latter, certain stages also contained new death traps, a variant of the ring-out feature found in other games which would allow players to knock their opponent into a marked “hazard” section of the stage that would instantly kill them & end the round.
Upon the Midway Chicago team’s acquisition by Warner Bros. games & the subsequent transformation into NetherRealm Studios, these previous environmental interactions did not return in the Mortal Kombat (2011) reboot but would be reimagined in their following title, Injustice: Gods Among Us— this game was the first to coin the term “interactable” featuring many stage elements that could be utilized by pressing the “Interact” button whenever the on-screen indicator above the lifebar notifies the player they are near an interactive object or area. The effects of these interactables varies not only depending on what kind of object or area it is, but also occasionally on what kind of character is being used— for one example, a bigger/heavier [or canonically stronger, à la Superman] character may be able to lift a larger object such as a vehicle and hurl it at their opponent, while lighter/faster characters may instead throw their opponent into said object or place a detonating device on it causing it to erupt in an explosive blast. There are still also several universal interactions that can be triggered, such as being able to evasively jump out of the corner by running up the wall, or the ability to launch the opponent off the background object in the center of select stages, allowing the executing to player to follow up with a juggle. This game would also reimagine stage transitions in the form of a universal wall break that could be found on select stages, triggered by hitting the opponent with a “back+Heavy” bounce attack when near a certain wall, and initiating a cinematic sequence that would inflict unbreakable damage & end with both players being transported to a new section of the stage.
Although Mortal Kombat X would not revisit stage transitions or wall breaks, this similar use of interactable environments/objects would be implemented in this game as well as its successor Mortal Kombat 11 (albeit the effects when used were universal as opposed to that of Injustice). Like with its predecessor, these interactions may be used to escape corners or swing from one location to another, be thrown at opponents like a projectile, begin or extend a combo, create a reset, or even just stylishly finish the opponent with a Stage Brutality. In Mortal Kombat 11, some environmental interactions may also trigger a Krushing Blow, inflicting massive damage to the opponent.
Meanwhile, the Dead Or Alive franchise is also largely popular for its early incorporation of stage hazards known as Danger Zones. The first Dead Or Alive (1996) consisted of stages that had an open boundary, but instead of triggering a ring-out when knocked out of bounds, the opponent would be struck by an explosion that inflicted massive damage & launched the opponent, leaving them vulnerable to a follow-up attack (this could be avoided by a well-timed defensive roll). The sequel Dead Or Alive 2 replaced this stage format with various interactive boundaries such as breakable walls or floors, and “Falls” that players could be knocked into to trigger a stage transition and inflict massive damage, as this installment introduced multi-tiered stages (borrowing this & its related stage-hazard mechanics from an earlier 1997 release Samurai Shodown 64). The damage sustained from these “Falls” would not be able to KO an opponent unless they were already at a critical point, but could leave them with very low health. Dead Or Alive 2 also introduced stages where players would fight on unstable surfaces such as ice or water; in addition to inhibited movement, fighting on these surfaces would result in any connecting attack that does not launch or cause a knockdown to grant a stun state against the attacked opponent. The series would go on to incorporate various instances of these interactive stage hazards, such as ceiling hits & throws, charged or explosive surfaces (à la the original DOA), or of course the standard miscellaneous breakable objects (e.g. tables, statues, etc.) that would apply additional Critical Stun to the afflicted opponent.
Eventually Dead Or Alive 5 would expand on these stage hazards by incorporating two new types of Danger Zone interactions; the first was the new Cliffhanger mechanic, an extension of the Falls performed on certain stages which would trigger an interactive cinematic, during which the attacked opponent is shown hanging onto the ledge they were knocked from. The attacking character is then shown charging at their opponent to dive after them & from there the player can choose to execute a Cliffhanger attack or a throw, causing more damage as well as a knockdown for oki. Correspondingly, the defending opponent could read the player’s attack and defend by either correctly blocking the attack or teching the throw, taking no additional damage and landing on their feet at the end of the stage transition, resetting the neutral. The other newly introduced mechanic was the Power Blow attack given to each character, which could be charged up by holding the punch & kick buttons combined with a unique directional input, triggering a slow-motion cinematic sequence which allows the executing player to aim the camera left or right, deciding where they want to knock back the opponent to. These can only be performed when the player is below 50% health (similar to a desperation move), but can be used in conjunction with special Danger Zones on certain stages (i.e. “The Show” stage allowing players to knock the opponent into the giant clown head’s mouth, which will spit them out the other side of the stage).
Exclusive only to Street Fighter IV, an EX Focus describes the ability to cancel out of a cancellable normal or special attack with a Focus Attack, expending two bars of the Super Combo Gauge and ergo EX’ing the Focus Attack. Using EX Focus attacks to interrupt a wide array of moves with a Focus Attack Dash Cancel is an essential component of high-level play.
Derived from the boxing term feint (meaning “a deceptive blow or movement during a fight; showing your opponent an intention to do one move but ‘faking out’ with another i.e. a feint jab”)—- a type of cancel that allows the player to fake out a move or movement in a way that conditions the opponent to brace themselves for a follow-up attack. This can be useful for creating spacing from the opponent in order to keep the player safe, as well as for pressuring or otherwise mixing them up. In 3D fighters, this may be achieved by cancelling into a stance that has punch or kick attacks which can be feinted; a popular example of a character that can feint their attacks this way is Hwoarang from the Tekken franchise, who can cancel into his [Left or Right] Flamingo Stance which hikes his corresponding leg up as if to kick his opponent but also allows him to inch forward or backward while “faking out” his kick (referred to as a “leg feint” or “kick feint”).
In 2D fighters, characters may also have additional moves (usually a special move or added properties to a certain special) which allow them to fake out (or cancel) the given move and condition the opponent. Killer Instinct 2 is perhaps the earliest instance of a game giving several characters a “fake” version of one of their pre-existing specials (i.e. Fulgore’s “Fake Laser Storm,” which mimics the startup animation of his classic Laser Storm but does not complete the move)— however the concept of “feinting” as an intentional (or at least named) technique in 2D fighters likely originated later from Garou: Mark of the Wolves, which actually gave all characters two universal “feint moves” (performed with down + Light Punch [A] + Heavy Punch [C] and forward+A+C). These moves would imitate the startup animation of another special and could psych the opponent out by bracing them for that specific special, allowing for the executing player to enforce mind games on the defender. By cancelling a normal into one of these moves (referred to as a Feint Cancel or FC), the player could also used this tactic in blockstrings as well as creating new combos, being able to link heavier attacks that would not normally combo into each other. One example of this is Terry Bogard’s forward FC, which had the same startup animation & sound as his famous “Burning Knuckle” special— Terry could use this feint version to cancel his standing C normal into another standing C, which would also move him slightly forward allowing him to repeat this. On the other hand Hotaru Futaba, who had a Light and Heavy version of “Soushoushin” (a multi-hitting spinning backfist flurry triggered by QCB+Punch, which was used for combos), could press down+A+C simultaneously after a normal to do a quick fake-out spin in-place that had a very similar animation but did not strike the opponent at all and therefore had little to no recovery, allowing her to pressure her opponent with safer/faster attacks or even go for a throw if performed close enough to the opponent.
A more popular modern example of feint specials is Sol Badguy’s “Gun Flame Feint,” an additional move that pairs with his “Gun Flame” projectile— the attacking player may special cancel into the Feint version on block (perhaps after a neutral or forward Heavy Slash), conditioning the defender to expect the normal version & allowing the attacker to punish their reaction, as they are effectively eliminating the recovery that the actual Gun Flame would cause. In Guilty Gear Xrd, Slayer can also feint his Forward+Kick by holding down the kick button, granting him a strike-throw mixup.
Certain other games with “feint” specials may include Skullgirls— Filia has an actual feint version of her “Ringlet Spike” special (a sharp-spiked tendril that appears from the ground & is directable), while Cerebella can feint her “Tumbling Run” crossup move after side-switching by tapping the kick button again to cancel the follow-up attack— as well as certain characters in the Marvel vs. Capcom series, such as in MvC3 with X-23’s “Mirage Feint” cancels.
NRS games like Mortal Kombat and Injustice may also grant certain characters feint specials, such as projectiles (by holding the corresponding attack to delay the move and then use another command to cancel out of this held animation) or specific teleports that may have an “in-place” option allowing the player to essentially “feint” the side-switch & condition the opponent to expect them from the other side while remaining in the same spot. Some of these cancels may cost a bar of meter to perform while others are meterless.
A dash feint allows players to cancel their dash movement (similar to Cerebella’s aforementioned run cancel) either stopping the character in place or retreating backwards. In Guilty Gear for example (where holding forward after inputting a dash will allow the player to run for as long as it is held), the run can be stopped at any point by holding down+back (crouch), causing the player to slide a very short distance but still allowing them to stop themselves before fully reaching the opponent; this can bait the opponent to throw out an attack in anticipation of countering the incoming rushdown attack(s), allowing the approaching player to whiff punish this attempt. Alternatively, these games also allow players to utilize the Faultless Defense pushblock mechanic to stop their movement in place without any sliding and block any incoming attacks (contrary to the former method which can leave the approaching player open to attack). The player can simply tap & release the FD input along with the normal dash feint input (d+b) to quickly brake themselves or continue holding the pushblock at will. This technique is called a Faultless Defense Brake (or FD Brake for short).
Other games may give characters a command dash equipped with an additional feint option— Lancelot from Granblue Fantasy Versus has a Unique trait-button that acts as a command dash (called “Wirbelwind”), which has multiple follow-up options. In addition to crossing up the opponent & switching to the other side by pressing Forward+Unique after the initial Unique press, Lancelot can also choose to “Quick Stop” by double-tapping Unique and brake himself in place, or he can perform a “Feint” option by following up Unique with Back+Unique and quickly retreat backwards away from the opponent.
A colloquial abbreviation used to collectively refer to the fighting game community.
In the Street Fighter series and related Capcom six-button fighters (as well as Killer Instinct), a heavy punch.
The method in which a player is knocked out. For example, a player knocked out by a special move is called a special finish. A dedicated special move that knocks out an opponent in spectacular fashion is called a finishing move. Many games display special effects (i.e. flashing screen, darkened background, etc.) if a character is knocked out with a powerful finish.
In Mortal Kombat, a finish is also the method of attacking the opponent with such a move after the match is won; a special window of time is given to the winning player allowing them to execute one last move, indicated by the announcer’s famous “Finish Him!” line. Another type of finisher can be performed during this window, wherein a complex input (different for each character) can trigger a special sequence depicting the winner killing the loser in a bloody & gruesome fashion— this is known as a Fatality and is a staple of the series. This style of finish has spawned a number of different variations throughout the Mortal Kombat series, including “Stage Fatalities” that show the loser being knocked into a previously inaccessible stage hazard (i.e. floor spikes on the various Pit stages), “Brutalities” that must be performed as the last hit/string of the match (as opposed to being performed after winning by KO, “Mercy” which would allow players to grant a small amount of health back to their opponent, “Animalities” that must be performed after a Mercy & show characters morphing into different respective animals to maul their opponent, “Babalities” that turn the opponent into a baby, & numerous others.
Typically used in Tekken terminology, an attack (that may not normally be a launcher) which grants the player a conversion by countering their opponent’s movement or attack attempt and consequently juggling or ”floating” them, such as by landing a standing jab against an opponent attempting to jump or hopkick and using the resulting juggle to continue with a full combo.
See also Anti-Air
Focal Adherence represents the mechanical laws of battle that two combatants must adhere to in relation to their focal point: the opponent.
See also: EX Focus
Called "Saving Attack" in Japanese, and often abbreviated to "FA,” Focus Attacks were introduced in Street Fighter IV and are a core gameplay mechanic that makes the game unique. Performed by pressing both medium kick and medium punch at the same time*, Focus Attacks grant the player character super armor— as soon as this move begins, the character is able to absorb a single hit of an opponent's attack without being interrupted, unless that attack is an armor breaker (e.g. Ryu's hurricane kick [tatsu] is his armor breaker attack). Every character has one attack that can specifically break armor. Some characters, however, have moves that hit multiple times before the player is able to release MP and MK to counter, and will thus break their focus (Cody is a great example of this).
There are three levels to a Focus Attack charge. The longer the inputted button is held, the more damage it will do and the more potential one has for a follow-up attack. A level 1 Focus Attack will not put the opponent into a vulnerable crumple state that allows for a follow-up attack (unless it is a counter hit). A level 2 Focus Attack will put an opponent into a vulnerable crumple state if it hits, allowing the player to dash out of the recovery and perform a follow-up attack. A level 3 Focus Attack becomes unblockable along with its ability to put the opponent into a vulnerable crumple state. As a drawback, it takes a long time to charge, allowing the opponent to react and counter before the Focus Attack is unleashed. This perceived vulnerability is often exploited to bait the opponent into making a mistake, jumping, or whiffing a move.
All the characters have different ranges on their focus attacks. The lengthiest focus attacks belong to Fei Long, Makoto, & Vega, while one of the shortest belongs to Balrog.
Focus Attack Dash Cancel (FADC)
In the Street Fighter IV series, during the charging/armored/"saving" part of a Focus Attack or during its recovery, the player can input dash to cancel the recovery animation. The player cannot dash out of the recovery if their Focus Attack whiffs. The ability to FADC is not limited to landing the FA on the opponent, as the player may still dash out of the recovery upon connecting with anything.
While the literal definition of FADC is just dash-cancelling a Focus Attack, "FADC" is more commonly referred to by the playerbase as a means of making some special moves safe on block or using it to extend combos. For the cost of two bars of the super meter, one can cancel the majority of special moves with a Focus Attack.
See also: “Playing the neutral”
Footsies refers to the mid-range ground-based aspect of fighting game strategy. It refers to a situation where both players are outside of attack/combo range and are attempting to attack each other with mid- or long-range, generally safe attacks (e.g. pokes). The ultimate goal is to control the flow of the match, bait the opponent into committing errors, and attempt to punish every action.
In the Street Fighter series and related Capcom six-button fighters, a medium kick.
A type of fighting game control scheme that uses punch and kick buttons of two different strengths ("light" and "heavy", typical of The King of Fighters and other SNK fighting games. This can also reference the “four limb” attack button system utilized by games like Tekken and recent Mortal Kombat titles, which use Left/Front & Right/Back punches & kicks corresponding to each limb (similarly to the way light & heavy punches and kicks are mapped out).
Four Fierce Combo
Attributed to Guile from Street Fighter II, his lack of delay after executing a Sonic Boom allowed him to follow up with another attack that proved to be one of the most devastating and difficult combos in early Street Fighter II history. Fully executed, it drained 60% of an opponent's full life.
This combo was generally done once an opponent was dizzy to aid in setup: jumping FP (fierce punch), standing FP, sonic boom, FP backfist (-> FP). While there are actually only 3 punches, all 4 attacks can be done with only the Fierce Punch button. Expert players could add a Sonic Boom to the beginning of the combo, making it a 5-hit, 70% damage combination. Oftentimes, this combo also "redizzied" the opponent, making them vulnerable once again to a very potentially round-ending combo or attack.
In the same vein, Ken had this ability as well after Street Fighter II: Champion Edition was released. His standing FP Shoryuken DP would hit twice, so a jumping FP and standing/crouching FP into a similar Shoryuken would deliver as much, if not more than Guile's combo.
A frame is a single still picture on a display screen such as a television set or computer monitor. Fighting games generally run at a fixed 60 FPS (frames per second) which means they show 60 still pictures every second to simulate motion. Thus, the time that a move takes to start, how long it is considered to actually be hitting, and how long the character takes to recover immediately after the move can all be measured in frames. One frame is 1/60th of a second, so a move that takes 10 frames to start up equates to 1/6th of a second.
Refers to a move allowing the attacking player to recover and act before their opponent leaves either hit stun on-hit, or block stun on-block; this is most commonly referred to as “being plus (on hit/on block).” Moves that enjoy frame advantage on-hit are often used in links to perform combos or used to jail the opponent, while moves that enjoy frame advantage on-block are often used as pokes or pressure tools.
Frame Data is information about the exact duration, measured in frames, that a attack or move spends in different phases. At a minimum, frame data can include:
- start-up frames (how many frames must pass before an attack's hit box becomes active
- active frames (the amount of frames that an attack can hit the opponent)
- recovery frames (after performing the attack, how many frames must pass before the attacker can take another action)
- hit- and block-stun frames (the number of frames the opponent is disabled when hit by the attack)
- total frames (the total duration of the attack from beginning to end)
- frame advantage (or disadvantage) on both hit and block (the number of frames between when the attacker can act after using a move and when the defender can act after being hit by the move).
Frame data can be used to answer which moves can be combined into a combo, which moves are safe on block, which moves are fast enough to punish an opponent's [unsafe] move, or any other timing-related query.
Used to describe the action of performing attacks and moves that appear to be punishable but are actually advantageous on block and will bait the opponent into being punished when they attempt to retaliate & take their turn back. This is very useful for pressure and setups. An example of this would be in the Darkstalkers series: Lilith's c.HK canceled on-block into her Luminous Illusion.
Also known as Dokomademo Cancels. Often making reference to the MAX Mode feature of The King Of Fighters 2002 that gives the player the ability to cancel their normal attacks, command normals, and special moves into other command and special moves, “Free Cancels” is the term used to describe these types of cancels. Free Cancels work in the following manner:
- Any Normal attack can be cancelled into certain special moves (e.g. Kyo's far standing D into Dokugami).
- Any jumping Normal attack, Command, or CD attack that hits or is blocked can be cancelled into certain special moves (e.g. Kensou's jumping C into Ryuu Sougeki).
- Any normally uncancellable Normal, Command, or CD attack can be cancelled into certain special moves (e.g. Ramon's standing CD into Tiger Road).
- Any command attack can be cancelled into certain special moves (e.g. Benimaru's Flying Drill into Kuuchuu Raijin Ken).
- Many special moves can be cancelled into other special moves (e.g. Maxima's Double Bomber into Vapour Cannon).
Each time a Free Cancel is used, the character flashes white and a small amount of energy from the MAX timer is lost.
Free canceling an attack into a command attack or (HS)DM is not possible (unless that attack is cancellable under normal circumstance). It is not possible to Free Cancel a special move into itself, although moves that can be done on the ground and in mid-air are an exception. For example, one could free cancel a (C) Psycho Sword into a mid-air Psycho Sword, or the ground Minutes Spike into the mid-air Minutes Spike.
One advantage of using free cancels is that the player can cancel moves that might lose their properties otherwise.
Fuzzy guard has different definitions depending on the game, and can refer to both offensive and defensive techniques (usually the latter).
In 3D games such as Virtua Fighter and Tekken, fuzzy guarding is a defensive technique performed by the defender holding guard and quickly tapping down on the controller and releasing with a particular timing. With correct timing, when an incoming attack strikes the defender, the game picks the correct guard automatically, making it an option select, and allowing the defender to block both high and low attacks.
In 2D games, fuzzy guarding can refer to both an offensive and defensive technique. For the offensive “fuzzy,” the attacking player forces the defending player to block standing by using an overhead attack, then follows with a high-low mix-up, where the high attack would normally whiff on a crouching opponent. However, because the defender is stuck in the standing blockstun animation (also referred to as blockstop), the second high attack will instead connect (or jail), and will hit the defender if they switched to low block. Offensive fuzzy is often mixed with Instant Overhead attacks, but can also be performed with double jumps or other aerial mobility tools.
As a defensive technique in 2D fighters (the more common application), fuzzy guarding is a method of switching between standing and crouching block at key moments during an opponent's blockstring to defend against high-low (or low-overhead) mix-ups. If the defender knows the typical timing of the highs and lows in the attacker's string, they can defend against both possibilities without needing to react to the attacker's decision. The attacking player can defeat the defender’s fuzzy guard by changing the timing of their attacks, such as by delaying a low attack to strike an opponent who switched to standing block to defend against a possible high attack, by delaying and staggering their offense, or by otherwise executing some sort of frame trap. Fuzzy guarding is one of several defensive techniques that utilizes the defending player's knowledge of the attacker's typical timing to reduce the need to react to the attacker's mix-ups.
The other “Fuzzy” defensive options include:
- Fuzzy Jump, which defeats throws (including tick grabs)
- Fuzzy Abare (aka Fuzzy Poke), which lets the defender interrupt the attacker's offense with fast attacks
- Fuzzy Backdash, which can be used to escape pressure or defeat throws by dashing backwards
See also: Pixie
Glass cannon refers to a sub-archetype of characters with very high, powerful offense, but very low defense (or health) in exchange. They are typically used for the role of an "all-out attacker", with rushdown strategies aimed to capitalize on their offensive capabilities to defeat one or more opponents while not giving them any opportunities to strike back and take advantage of the fighter's low defensive capabilities; characters of this nature can typically be very oppressive in terms of combo damage and mix-up resources, but can in turn be KO’d with a few good hits or combos.
Akuma is considered to be the genesis of this concept, initially designed with the same shoto moveset as Ryu & Ken but given additional, oppressive capabilities (i.e. aerial Zanku Hadouken fireballs, Demon Flip mixup, etc.) that made him very overpowered in comparison. By the time of Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Akuma was largely banned from the competitive tournament scene on the grounds of being considered too “broken” (despite having no super combo); Capcom attempted to solve this in the “HD Remix” of Turbo II by lowering his stamina and adding a blowback effect to his Zanku Hadouken but it was futile in nerfing the character. The Street Fighter Alpha series marked the beginning of Akuma’s notable handicap in health value, while in return also expanding on the weak super granted to him in the SSFII Turbo HD Remix by introducing his famous unblockable “Raging Demon” super. Akuma has maintained this design tradeoff for many key Street Fighter installments (namely 3rd Strike and SFIV), as well as certain Capcom crossover fighting games such as Marvel vs. Capcom 3 & Capcom vs. SNK 2— he appeared as one of the two bosses “Shin Akuma” (along with Ultimate Rugal), both of whom (while still designed with SNK boss syndrome) took more damage than other characters.
Other popular examples of “glass cannon” characters may include Makoto from Super Street Fighter IV, Magneto & Phoenix from Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Chipp Zanuff from the Guilty Gear series, Bao & Shen Woo from the King Of Fighters series, Mira from Killer Instinct, Ragna the Bloodedge from BlazBlue, Seth from Under Night In-Birth, & several various characters from the Super Smash Bros. series (i.e. Jigglypuff, Mewtwo, Pichu, Little Mac, etc.), as well as every MultiVersus character that has been categorized within the “Assassin” class (Finn, Harley Quinn, Arya Stark), all of whom take an additional 14% damage as a result.
Grapplers are characters designed around throwing the opponent to open up their defense, typically defined by their strong command throws and overall strike-throw mix. Characters of this archetype are typically large, less-mobile, have higher health, and can have hard-hitting moves with good reach. Grapplers may often have movesets that are comprised of 360 or 720 motions on the joystick, such as Zangief of Street Fighter with his SPD grab, and commonly have moves with armor.
Other examples of traditional grapplers include King from Tekken, Potemkin from Guilty Gear, Bane from Injustice, Haggar from recent Marvel vs. Capcom games, Android 16 from Dragon Ball FighterZ, Goro Daimon from The King of Fighters, Tizoc from Garou: Mark of the Wolves, Iron Tager from BlazBlue, Cerebella from Skullgirls, Tina & Bass of Dead Or Alive, Ladiva of Granblue Fantasy Versus, Waldstein of Under Night In-Birth, and Darun of Fighting EX Layer.
See: Guard Meter
Also popularly known as a guard crush; describes a system found in some fighting games where a player’s guard can be broken through or crushed by a certain attack (or series of attacks), resulting in the blocking player being opened up. This usually occurs in a game with a guard meter when a character blocks or turtles for too long & receives too many attacks from a defensive position, thus losing the guarding status and being left open to further attacks. The first known instance of guard breaking in this manner was in the original Samurai Shodown, where continual blocking can actually cause the defender's weapon to break. It has remained a staple feature of the series, and has been similarly implemented by other games such as Soulcalibur.
See also: Stun (typically a polar opposite to this mechanic, affecting an opponent more on hit rather than on block)
Some games may also feature attacks that are specifically designed to cause this effect (similar to an unblockable but slightly different), although the guard-broken opponent may still block again afterwards, typically as their only option. Whether it is a character-specific move (e.g. Sol Badguy’s “Fafnir” or Potemkin’s “Garuda” in Guilty Gear Strive) or a universal mechanic (such as Crush Trigger from the BlazBlue series), these moves will break open the opponent’s guard and effectively jail them, allowing the guard-broken opponent only to block again or burst— or in the case of Crush Triggers, may cause the opponent to enter a delayed crumple state.
- This is also the name of a common exploit in Marvel vs. Capcom 2 in which a character is rendered unable to block in mid-air. In the game, when a character is considered to be in a "normal jump" state (either a standard normal jump or coming into the screen after another character was defeated), the character can only block once— this blocking action will expire after a certain amount of time passes without blocking any attacks. Therefore, any attack executed after the character is no longer blocking cannot be blocked.
Cable is especially notorious for this strategy and combining it with his Air Hyper Viper Beam (AHVB), however all characters are capable of exploiting the phenomenon (if not with the same ease or to the same extent).
- A variant of this exploit (in terms of dealing with airborne/jumping opponents) also existed in Vampire Savior, where a player who read that their opponent would attempt a chicken guard could perform an extensive aerial combo to keep them airborne whilst landing, and upon landing, hit the still-aerial opponent with a grounded normal (which can not be blocked in-air in this or other Darkstalkers games as well).
A guard cancel is the defensive action of cancelling out of block stun with another move to counterattack, sometimes inflicting slight damage but mostly just resetting the neutral either by knocking the opponent away or merely pushing them back.
A popular instance of this mechanic’s presence is in the King Of Fighters series, where many types of guard cancel techniques exist that immediately put the defender out of blockstun and allow them to hit the attacker at the cost of some super gauge. The "CD Guard Cancel" allows the defender to knock their opponent down acting out of a blocking animation to land a CD attack that does little damage at the cost of 1 power bar (which is even cancellable in some cases, and allows the defender to start combos), while the "Guard Cancel Emergency Evade" allows the defender to roll either backwards or forward to evade and/or punish the attacker if timed when the attacker is performing a move whose recovery will leave them open after the defender's evasion.
In the Darkstalkers/Vampire Savior games, certain base special moves are specifically designed to act as the character’s “Guard Cancel move” and be inputted while still in blockstun, as opposed to waiting until the first possible frame after block stun like a normal reversal— because these games have absolute blocking which allow players to continue guarding after letting go of “back,” the defender has more time to input this special and break the attacker’s blockstring. Some moves in these games may only be available for use while in block stun, whereas others are just normal specials otherwise.
In some other SNK games, as well as other Capcom games (like certain Street Fighter titles), the attacker can break out of their defense in a reversal fashion using specials, supers, Alpha Counters, and similar moves. Recently Street Fighter V also allows players to spend 1 bar of their V-Gauge to perform a type of dedicated guard cancel attack called a V-Reversal. Another recent game that has utilized its comeback (or “revenge”) gauge to grant players a guard cancel is the 3v3 fighter Power Rangers: Battle For the Grid, which allows the defender to use a bar of their “Megazord” gauge to perform a unique Zord Counter, a guard cancel that covers the entire screen & can be performed out of block from any point on the screen.
Systems like Guilty Gear XX (as well as the following game Guilty Gear Xrd) feature Dead Angle attacks, in which the blocking character presses forward and two attack buttons (besides Dust) to move out of blockstun and knock back the opponent (though a Dead Angle is blockable itself, and costs 50% tension).
In the Rival Schools series, these are known as "tardy counters."
Mortal Kombat X and Injustice 2 both respectively brand guard cancels as “block breakers” and block escape, which can generally be performed after any hit in the string that is being blocked and are not blockable.
Dragon Ball FighterZ allows players to use 1 super stock to execute a guard cancel either by tagging in one of their assist characters or by using Sparking Blast*; one can also guard cancel out of the blockstun from projectiles such as Ki blasts by using Z-Reflect or Super Dash.
In some niche cases, this term can rather describe the action of an attacking player to instantaneously stop the attack while it is in progress by using the guard button (i.e. G Cancel in the Soulcalibur series). This can be used many times to instantly transition into other attacks without recovery.
A guard meter is a type of gauge (commonly found either below the lifebar or otherwise combined with it) that corresponds with the amount of blocking being done by the defending player. The most common style of this is a gauge that drains as a player blocks attacks. When it completely drains, the player is guard crushed, and is completely vulnerable for a short period of time. In some games, the length of the guard meter may shrink after repeated guard crushes to the point where a character cannot block at all. Like low and overhead attacks, the guard meter serves as one of many countermeasures to prevent turtling.
In other games, such as Guilty Gear, a guard meter (called the “RISC gauge”) fills up as a player blocks attacks, and the higher it gets the more damage (including chip damage) the player receives from all attacks. When the opponent’s RISC gauge is full & flashing, the attacking player’s next move will grant an automatic counterhit and all of the damage scaling will be removed from their successive attacks.
Half Circle Backward (HCB)
The act of moving the joystick from the forward position to the down position, then to the backward position, creating a half-circle motion.
See also: Qcb
Half Circle Forward (HCF)
The act of moving the joystick from the back position to the down position, then to the forward position, creating a half-circle motion.
See also: Qcf
The act of catching both the opponent and their assist(s) with an attack in tag games such as Marvel vs. Capcom. A Happy Birthday is an opportunity to deal damage to more than one character simultaneously, and is seen as an error by the player who summoned the assist.
See also: Hurtbox
Behind the aesthetic of the sprites in fighting games lies the actual coding. This includes hit boxes or hitboxes. Hit boxes are named as such because the windows for the virtual space that comprise individual attacks, as well as zones of player collision detecting a hit are actually boxes. For instance, when a character performs a short forward jab, the actual attacking zone is a short rectangle in the approximate location of that character's arm. When one instead performs a low sweeping kick, the hitbox would be a skinny, low and long to the ground rectangle. The player's themselves have hitboxes. For an attack to hit, it has to make contact with the opponent's hurtbox. It is noteworthy that performing any attack (or motion) changes your character's hitbox. Hitbox data is another powerful study tool in addition to frame data. Hitbox data shows visual images depicting the hit boxes of individual attacks, as well as how a character's hurtbox is affected by a particular attack.
A hit confirm, or the act of hit-confirming, is the act of waiting to see if an attack lands, then reacting by continuing into a special (via a 2-in-1 cancel) or another type of combo. Hit-confirming may also refer to using a safe attack to see if one is able to continue a combo or not. This is usually done by hitting the opponent with light attacks (e.g. jabs) and other pokes. If the attack connects then the attacker may carry on into their combo. If it is blocked then the attacker can end their attack string safely. The reason why the attacker would hit confirm is so that they do not put themselves in dangerous situations when attempting combos, namely being unsafe on block.
See also: Block Stun
Hitstun refers to the amount of time (in frames) it takes to recover after being successfully hit by a certain attack. This, combined with recovery time, is what determines whether or not an attacker will have enough frame advantage after an attack to either execute a link, or jail their opponent (depending on the game).
Not to be confused with: Stun
Hood Flawless/Hood Perfect
Winning a match having only received chip damage.
See: Chain combo
This is a type of chain combo where:
- any punch can combo into a kick of the same strength, and
- an attack of lower strength can be comboed into the subsequent attack of the next strength forming a chain.
The name is obtained from Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge (Vampire Hunter: Darkstalkers' Revenge in Japan). This is sometimes known as "the chain combo", and variations of this exist in many other games, the most common being a two-chain (where only the first applies), three-chain (where only the second applies), and the five-chain (where one cannot combo a punch of the highest strength to a kick of the highest strength). It's a most common feature in the crossover series of X-Men vs Street Fighter and Marvel vs Street Fighter.
Essentially the equal opposite to a hitbox, describing the area on a character that is hit by an opponent’s hitbox.
FGC slang meaning “to stall between matches in order to throw off an opponent's hot-streak.”
A term specific to 3D fighters like Tekken (sometimes used in Super Smash Bros. terminology) that describes the impact execution frames of a move in a way that ostensibly combines startup and active frames into one unit of frame measurement, excluding the time taken by input execution. For example, if a Tekken character’s jab has 9 startup frames and the first active frame of the move hits on the 10th frame, the move will be labeled as ”i10” to describe how fast the move actually impacts the opponent.
An AI opponent reading the players inputs and acting accordingly. While all AI opponents do this to some extent, the term is generally considered a negative one, used when input reading is obvious and makes the player feel like they are fighting an AI opponent incapable of human error. Most frequently seen in bossfights.
See: Rubberband AI
An infinite is a combo that can be continued indefinitely, typically by looping the same sequence of attacks by combo’ing into the attack that started the sequence. Infinites are generally impossible to escape or break when executed correctly, and require a defensive mechanic like Guilty Gear's "Burst" to break the combo. Infinites are synonymous with Touches of Death, but are explicitly repetitive and near-exclusively the result of developer oversight.
An install super, dragon install, or simply install, is a move (often a super) wherein a character enters a powered-up state that can change the properties of their moves, as well as possibly grant them new moves, improve the speed of their movement, and/or increase their damage. Installs are attached to a timer, after which the character will return to normal (& potentially enter a cooldown state). The most notable install is Sol Badguy’s “Dragon Install” Overdrive from the Guilty Gear series, which is where the term originates. Other popular examples include Dante’s “Devil Trigger” Lvl. 3 Hyper Combo in the Marvel vs. Capcom games, Painwheel’s “Hatred Install” in Skullgirls, and Frieza’s Meteor Attack in Dragon Ball FighterZ that allows him to transform into Golden Frieza once per match. Other games utilize certain comeback mechanics, which are not tied to super meter, that grant an “install-like” power-up such as Instinct Mode (and corresponding Instinct gauge) featured in Killer Instinct, the X-Factor mechanic featured in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, or some characters’ V-Triggers in Street Fighter V.
When you use a tool or move instantly after jumping. This might give the tool more usage, or make it come out faster, but the main advantage is being much lower to the ground when doing so.
May be related: Tiger Knee
Instant Air Dash
In games where dashing in the air is possible, such as Guilty Gear, it is possible to use an up-forward, neutral, forward motion to air dash very close to the ground, which is called an Instant Air Dash (IAD). It can usually also be done in reverse, for an instant air back dash. IAD is combined with other movement options to maneuver around the screen.
Instant Air Fireball
Refers to using a fireball or another aerial projectile instantly after jumping or hopping. Some games may require the executing player to TK the input while others are more lenient with allowing players to cancel the full jump animation with aerial specials. Characters that can perform an IAFB may include Akuma and Kage from Street Fighter, or Liu Kang from Mortal Kombat.
This concept was first implemented by Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior (1987), which featured violent & gory finishers years before Mortal Kombat (1992)— players were given a special “decapitate” move that had a slow & reactable startup but, if timed correctly at the opponent’s head/neck, would instantly kill them and end the match. Two similar mechanics called a “Death Move” and a “Super Death Move” (performed by pressing every attack button simultaneously) would later be implemented by the weapon-based fighting game Time Killers (1992), as well as its spiritual successor BloodStorm (1994).
The most popular example of this type of mechanic is the eponymous “Instant Kill” move found in the Guilty Gear series. This move was introduced in the original installment (formerly referred to as “Destroy” attacks), allowing players to trigger a special “Sakkai” state simply by simultaneously pressing punch (P) & kick(K)— if the attack connected, the screen would turn red for a few seconds and give the executing attacker a brief window to input “qcf + any attack button (i.e. Heavy Slash)” which would perform a super-powerful move that instantly ended the entire match regardless of remaining rounds. Defending players would have the chance to escape this attack by inputting the opposite direction “qcb + attack (HS)” at the proper reversal time. Guarding or countering certain attacks at the right moment may also trigger these Destroy attacks.
This mechanic was later reworked (and renamed) in the following installments as an ultra-powerful super with more specific requirements & stipulations. Players could press all attack buttons (except Dust) together at once to activate their “Instant Kill Mode,” during which the Tension gauge would turn red & begin gradually depleting either until the mode is deactivated with the same command or until the player performs an Instant Kill attack; if the gauge depleted completely before the mode had been deactivated, the player’s lifebar would begin to deplete as well. During this period, all moves that utilize Tension meter are disabled, such as Overdrive supers and Roman Cancels. Once in this state, players could activate their Instant Kill generally with a “double-qcf + HS” input— this move was only available once per match. Whether the move connected or missed, the executing player would lose access to their Tension for the remainder of that round. Upon successful execution, the round would immediately end (as opposed to the entire match, per the stipulations of the first game). As of the most recent installment Guilty Gear -Strive-, Instant Kills are no longer present.
A similar mechanic called “Astral Heat” is present in most of the main BlazBlue games (sometimes called an “Astral Finish”); it is available on the third round where both opponents are tied. The executing player must have 100 SP meter (a.k.a. “Heat”) while the opponent has under 30% health. Once available— indicated by the player’s character portrait flashing white— the player will be able to input a unique super command & perform their Astral Heat, which will instantly win the match if landed successfully. Alternatively in BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, Astral Heats are available when the opponent has no tag partner left and the player has both Resonance Blaze (lvl. 4) active & 9 Skill Gauges at the moment of activation.
Persona 4 Arena also implements Instant Kill attacks similarly to Astral Heats, requiring the player to be tied at match point with the opponent & to have 100 SP meter, although there is no health requirement & the command input is universally “222+C+D” across the entire roster. Some characters may also have unique abilities that can IK the opponent— in addition to Naoto’s IK that sets target traps which are unblockable, she also has a character unique mechanic called the “Fate Counter,” a numbered-counter which consists of 13 skulls beneath the opponent’s lifebar. Certain moves, such as the various traps she sets, will lower the skull counter (typically by about 3 skulls), eventually reaching 0. When the Fate Counter hits 0, Naoto gains the ability to use certain supers to instantly kill the opponent (independent of her default IK).
“Critical Edge” supers were replaced briefly in Soulcalibur IV by a new mechanic called “Critical Finish,” a finishing blow that can be triggered when the opponent is put into a “Soul Crush” state (essentially a guard crush that affects the Soul Gauge rather than having its own separate meter)— when the gauge begins blinking red, the next one or few attacks (usually heavier attacks) will break the opponent’s guard; blocking the opponent’s heavy attack or repelling it with a Guard Impact will also bear these effects. Once the opponent reels back from this, a red flash will appear & indicate that a Critical Finish can be used by pressing the left bumper (L1) or all four face buttons. This window of opportunity only lasts for a split second & essentially works like a just frame, but is powerful enough to defeat the opponent instantly. Critical Finish was reverted to the Critical Edge mechanic in Soulcalibur V and has not returned to the series since.
The various ring outs found throughout the Soulcalibur franchise, as well as the death traps in the 3D Mortal Kombat games, could also be considered “instant kill” mechanics as they immediately end the round once they are performed.
Android 16 from Dragon Ball FighterZ has a Lvl. 3 super that can instantly KO one of his opponents— it is a command grab equipped with super armor, although it has a fairly slow startup and can only be used once per match.
In very rare instances, some games might develop their entire combat system around the notion of a “one-hit kill,” so as to simulate the risky & spontaneous circumstances of realistic combat (i.e. swordfighting/fencing). Games like this may include Bushido Blade and the upcoming Hellish Quart. The comedy/parody fighting game Divekick, which features only two functional buttons (“dive” & “kick”), presents a lifebar for both players at the top of the screen merely as a joke and/or for stylistic purposes, as the round is won immediately after the first hit.
Certain attacks have invincibility frames (sometimes referred to as i-frames) during a certain window of the attack (such as on startup), if not for the duration of the attack. During these frames, the player is considered invincible (or invulnerable), and any attack will simply go through the player without doing damage or inducing hitstun. Moves with invincibility on startup are ideal for reversals and wakeups.
Invincibility differs from super armor in that the attack is not registered as connecting at all, as opposed to connecting and being absorbed accordingly. Depending of the game, an attack hitting an invincible foe might still be considered as having hit for the purpose of cancelling. For example, in the Injustice series, a normal can be cancelled into a special move, but only if it is a hit or it is blocked (in other words, it cannot be cancelled on whiff). However, if a normal makes contact during invincible frames, it can still be cancelled into a special move even though it did not truly hit the opponent.
See also: Environmental Interaction
An item refers to a random object that is picked up or thrown out by a player. Some of these may behave similarly to a projectile, but also tend to have differing effects (depending on the game, the item used, etc.)
The most popular implementation of this concept has historically been featured in the Super Smash Bros. franchise; introduced in the very first installment, these games feature various items that spawn at random from the sky onto the stage, which can then be picked up by any player and utilized in different, unique ways. Some items may be used as a weapon for melee and/or zoning purposes (e.g. homerun bat, beam sword, ray gun, star rod, etc.), while other items like the heart or Maximum Tomato may simply be used to restore the player’s life. Other popular items & their uses may include but are not limited to:
- Motion-sensor bomb— can be placed as a trap to control the space, detonating upon contact & sending whoever activated it flying
- Poké Ball- an object (which can also be thrown as a projectile to attack the opponent) that summons a random Pokémon with a unique (usually offensive) ability
- Hammer- grants invincibility to the player and automatically rocks them back & forth swinging the hammer, dealing heavy damage & usually triggering an automatic KO
- Barrel/Crate/Capsule/Egg- objects that can be broken to reveal one or more items
- Assist Trophies- an item that acts as an assist, bringing an otherwise non-playable character to aid the player with unique attacks & abilities
The concept of interactable stage objects (that were already part of the stage itself) may have began with Survival Arts, an obscure Japanese clone of the popular American series Mortal Kombat that was met with much criticism but may have preceded these later Mortal Kombat games in terms of its weapon implementation— in addition to some characters possessing certain weapon abilities in their regular movesets (such as Gunner & Mongo, whose gun abilities also predate that of Mortal Kombat 3 character Stryker), stages would also typically feature one to three weapons on the ground which would glow green, indicating that they could be picked up & utilized by players (by holding down near the weapon & pressing punch). While this excluded Mongo & Tasha who were disabled from picking up items, the remainder of the roster could hold onto the weapons, which included a sword, a bat, & a mace (all of which replaced the heavy punch with a massively damaging weapon swing), as well as a pistol that could fire single bullets at a short distance before running out of ammo. These weapons could also be used as the final hit of a match to finish the opponent in a gory fashion, à la the Mortal Kombat series.
Later Mortal Kombat games would begin to loosely adopt these concepts, starting with Mortal Kombat 4, which featured select stages that would have an object (e.g. a boulder or a skull) randomly placed on the ground at the players’ feet. Players could pick up & hurl this object at the opponent by crouching near it & pressing the Run button. The same command could be used to pick up a weapon dropped by either player. Mortal Kombat: Deception, in addition to featuring stage transitions, would also feature special weapons on some stages that players could pick up to replace their weapon stance, allowing them to wield the stage weapon indefinitely. The latest Mortal Kombat games, as well as the Injustice series, would eventually reintroduce & expand on the concept of interactable stage items that could be thrown at opponents or strike them at a fixed range, dealing varying levels damage and possibly having other effects (i.e. knockdown, launch, stun, etc.)— certain interactables may also trigger a “stage Brutality,” reminiscent of the aforementioned Survival Arts weapon finishers.
Select characters in certain games may possess the ability to throw out or summon a randomly occurring item, all or most of which may vary in its available utility and/or its effect caused to the opponent. As stated, these items are generally randomized and cannot be consciously selected, but may still be efficiently utilized on a whim in setplay.
The first notable character with such a special was Hsien-Ko (a.k.a. Lei-Lei) of the Darkstalkers franchise. Hsien-Ko was first introduced in Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge with the unique “Anki Hou” special, which allowed her to summon random objects to throw at her opponent. These objects were directable depending on the strength of the punch button used in the command input; the light version would throw the object straight in their direction at a moderate range, the medium version would throw the object far across the screen at an upward arc (suitable for hitting jumping opponents), and the heavy version would throw the object up at a very close but high range (hitting as an overhead). While the light version would only throw “light” objects that inflict mild damage (i.e. shuriken, boomerangs, daggers, axes, spiked balls, and what appear to be Vega’s claws), the medium and heavy versions had a chance to randomly toss a “heavier” object (i.e. boulders, hammers, bonsai trees, etc.), which would knock down the opponent on hit and immediately stand them up in a temporary dizzy state. In the following installment Vampire Savior/Darkstalkers 3, Hsien-Ko would be given additional new items, ranging from light (i.e. kunai or statues) to heavy objects (namely the “star” item). Moreover, the EX version of this move was also changed from solely throwing three larged spiked balls straight forward, dealing a greater amount of damage with each hitting projectile, to also being able to randomly throw a new “bomb” object towards the opponent— this object would display a six-second timer next to it upon being thrown, after which the bomb would detonate, inflicting damage and sending the opponent flying upwards before falling.
When Hsien-Ko was added as a DLC character in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, this bomb was added to Hsien-Ko’s regular item set, & was also able to be knocked around by the player. Originally at launch, this bomb was one of only 5 items that could be spawned— however by the time of the Ultimate update, her item list had been greatly expanded, as well as no longer being dependent on button strength and thusly allowing the player to fully utilize the straight Light version. The bombs now had three, six, and nine-second versions, allowing for varied detonation times; connecting a bomb on an opponent would grant a hard knockdown as well as OTG. The “light” Anki Hou items (those that did not cause a stun) were mostly expanded to simply include more various random items such as Chun-Li’s bracelets, the yashichi pinwheel emblem, a barrel (that actually could push the opponent towards the attacker instead of away), a cat mascot, or even a piece of meat. However, other added items could produce variants of the stun effect caused by the “heavy” objects, such as the Stun Rod’s shock/stagger effect or the Snowman’s “freeze” ability. Upon further exploration, it was discovered that players could control which follow-up item would come out after a first item toss, depending on how long after the initial item toss the command was inputted. If the proper (corresponding) amount of time had elapsed from the first item toss, players could loop the command at perfectly regular intervals and receive the same following item every time. This allowed dizzy-inducing items to be looped with precise timing (likely a 1-or-2-frame link), creating an infinite.
Faust of the Guilty Gear series is one of the more prominent examples of an item character in fighting games. Reintroduced in Guilty Gear X (formerly appearing as Dr. Baldhead in the original Guilty Gear game), Faust was given the “What Could This Be?” special, which has become a staple tool of his moveset. This move allows Faust to summon one of numerous random items, some of which may also be utilized by the opponent (e.g. the bomb or the donut); these items all vary greatly in their effects & may change from game to game (despite certain objects recurring across all games). Faust usually also has an Overdrive version of this ability which allows him to rapidly summon multiple varying items at once.
Faust’s array of random objects in these games can include but is not limited to:
- Bomb- a bomb that may launch the opponent; can hurt both players; has been changed in Guilty Gear -Strive- so that players can move the bomb’s location by attacking it
- Hammer- causes high stun, hits both on the way up & down (à la Hsien-Ko’s hammer)
- Meteor- a descending projectile that inflicts fire damage
- Donut- an item that grants a small portion of health back to the player who touches it first
- 100 Ton Weight- knocks down grounded opponents and can also hit airboronents
- Small Faust- a creature assist summon that appears as a miniature version of Faust that tracks the opponent, slowly advancing towards them before attacking when in close enough proximity; some games may allow Faust to knock Small Faust into the opponent with certain attacks, such as Faust’s Dust attack
- Poison- an object that can control the space and inflict damage over time if touched (continues for short duration or until Faust is hit)
Faust’s only item-based property that can be accessed intentionally without a random item summon is his recent “Afro state” in Strive, which is usually caused by his Afro (an item that gives the affected character a large afro & acts as a greatly expanded hurtbox on their head)— this state can also be activated against the opponent with Faust’s command grab.
Another modern example of an item character may be Peacock of Skullgirls, who can use her “Shadow of Impending Doom” ability to summon a random object that drops from the sky, hitting the opponent overhead. This move is also somewhat directable, with the attack’s placement depending on the strength of punch button used in the QCB input— the light version drops the object directly in front of her at a fixed location, whereas the medium and heavy versions are homing attacks that will follow the opponent (at close and far range, respectively). The punch button used in this command can be held to increase the size of the object; the sizes come in “Small” or “Level 1” (i.e. bowling ball, shoe, bottle, flowerpot, etc.) which does minimal damage & occurs immediately or if held less than two seconds, “Medium” or “Level 2” (i.e. anvil, safe, TV, etc.) which deals twice as much damage & is achieved after holding for at least two seconds, and “Large” or “Level 3” (i.e. piano, elephant, fridge, etc.) which deals twice as much damage as Level 2 & is achieved after holding for five seconds. While the corresponding attack button is being held, the player can freely move around, attack, or block the opponent’s moves. Peacock also has a rare Level 3 item that can be achieved by executing her taunt and then performing a fully charged “Shadow of Impending Doom” at any point; this will replace the next Level 3 item drop with a “Tenrai Ha” (reminiscent of the Hsien-Ko Hyper Combo in MvC3), wherein Peacock drops an anvil quickly followed by a barrage of spiked balls onto the opponent, knocking them down and inflicting heavy damage.
In the Street Fighter series and related Capcom six-button fighters, a light punch. (Can also be associated with any light or front/left punch attack, typically the fastest of any given character’s moves)
Jailing, or to jail— a term more popularly used within the NetherRealm & Bandai Namco communities, whose respective games function somewhat differently from the linking system found in most other fighters— describes a method by which two moves connect, when one move is followed up by another move whose startup frames are less than [or equal to] the amount of the first move’s hit advantage frames. The term refers to the opponent being “in jail” since they are stuck in hitstun, meaning they cannot react to the next move with anything other than blocking. For example if a character has a poke with a hit advantage of 14 & a standing jab with 7 startup frames, a player can jail their opponent with this poke— this means because the opponent is in hitstun for 14 frames, if properly timed the player’s 7 frame move will connect before the opponent can duck, jump, or attack.
A juggle describes the state during a combo in which the victim is hit multiple times while they are in mid-air (typically by a grounded opponent in this context). The move used to start the juggle is called a launcher (or in some cases a floater). This was the second type of combo to ever appear in a fighting game, and first appeared accidentally in Mortal Kombat (and later Killer Instinct) as a glitch where players could perform certain moves after each other with precise timing (such as an uppercut followed by a projectile) and inexplicably keep the opponent afloat in mid-air for a short duration. It has since become a staple feature of this franchise and of fighting games as a whole, serving as the key component of most games’ combo structures.
A jump cancel describes the action of cancelling the recovery of an attack with a jump input. This mechanic/technique is mostly only found in team or anime fighters where there is an emphasis on fast-paced combat with lengthy combos, and by extension, a focus on aerial combos (e.g. “Aerial Raves from the Marvel vs. Capcom games). It is typically used to initiate an aerial combo, either where both players are airborne or where the jumping player is combo’ing a standing opponent while still in-air. Jump cancelling may only be permitted after certain normals and/or specials, such as a launcher or a medium/heavy attack (e.g. a Slash attack in the Guilty Gear games).
Jump installing is a Guilty Gear term referring to an aspect of the engine that was originally a bug, but later became a feature. The idea is to input a jump during a jump-cancellable move, but then cancel the attack into another attack instead of allowing the jump to occur. This "tricks" the engine into believing the player is in an airborne-state. At the end of the attack string, if the player ends up in the air via an attack that would not normally allow them to do anything before they land, they will have all the options available that would normally be from a jump, such as air dashing or double-jumping.
A just frame refers to a move with an input that must be executed precisely on one specific frame in order to be performed. This technique is usually attached to a pre-existing move or ability as a way to alter (and typically improve) its overall properties. The most popular modern example of a just frame in this context is the Electric Wind God Fist, which was first introduced in Tekken 3 as a “hidden move” variant of the pre-existing Wind God Fist attack assigned to the “Mishima” family-type characters*; the “Electric” version was originally only assigned to Jin Kazama but was extended to Heihachi in Tekken Tag Tournament, and eventually all Mishima characters in Tekken 4. To perform this technique, the player must perform a Wind God Fist (inputted as forward, neutral, down, d/f+2) but input the down/forward and Right Punch (2) simultaneously on the exact same frame— when executed correctly, the character will be imbued with blue electrical sparks (along with a unique vocal cue) and the Electric version will be performed. In addition to the pre-existing launch properties of the move, the EWGF has several additional benefits compared to the regular Wind God Fist such as becoming safe on block & having additional pushback, reduced recovery frames, a slightly expanded hitbox that reduced its chances of whiffing, and other traits that may change from game to game (e.g. damage, counter properties, changing from a high attack to a mid, etc.)
The Soulcalibur series also commonly implements just frames, causing the player’s character to flash blue when executed correctly, although the benefits typically only extended to a damage buff and/or increased hitstun. While games such as this & Tekken typically employ these just-frames as a way to merely enhance the base move it is attached to, such as Mitsurugi’s “Feint L” or Taki’s “Shadow Shrine” (both of which have quick “slide” inputs that may even be confused with just-frames themselves), as well as Maxi’s “Fury” string, other characters may have entirely separate, unique moves that can only be performed with a just-frame input; these games may often design characters in this manner to make room for additional abilities that would otherwise conflict with another move, or just to make certain attacks/follow-ups require more skill and timing to perform. One of example of a move that must be executed as a just-frame in order to be performed is Mitsurugi’s “Triple Steel,” an ender of his “Steel Slicer” move that can launch the opponent higher than “Steel Slicer” allowing for a juggle, as well as being able to cause a guard crush— another example includes Ivy’s “Howling Spirits,” an extension of the “Mistress’ Justice” string only available in her Serpent’s Embrace stance that adds more hits to the string and transforms it into a Break Attack. Setsuka is known to have some of the most just-frames in her moveset, with many moves requiring just-frame timing to be performed, making her one of the most technical and execution-based characters in the franchise.
While perhaps not quite as commonly or openly as in 3D fighters, some moves in 2D fighters may also utilize just-frames. In Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2, Ramlethal Valentine’s DP-style move “Dauro” (623P) could be enhanced by hitting the down/forward (3) direction and Punch (P) button on exactly the same frame, allowing the move to launch higher and deal more damage. The recent Street Fighter V has given these same benefits to Karin’s “Seppo” (Qcf+K) command dash follow-up attack called “Tenko” (performed by pressing a punch button after the dash), in addition to making the move faster and slightly less unsafe. SFV also gives Cody two just-frame abilities as part of his V-Trigger* II— this unique ability gives Cody a pipe weapon that changes his moves as well as grant him new specials. The “Toss & Smash” command grab, normally causing a knockdown that merely resets the neutral, can be executed with perfect timing to bounce the opponent back, resulting in a closer knockdown that greatly improves Cody’s okizeme allowing him to pressure a rising opponent with moves like his V-Trigger-specific Bean Ball. Additionally, this Bean Ball can be followed up with “Present Delivery”, a swing performed by hitting the V-trigger command again to swing the pipe at the rock, turning it into a projectile. Timing the swing perfectly causes the rock to fly in a straight arc directly at the opponent at a faster speed, as well as hitting three times & causing additional damage. Perfectly timing this move also prevents the projectile from being reflected back at the player.
Perfect blocking (appropriately labeled as a just guard) can also be thought of as just-frame blocking, as it requires players to press the block input within a strict timing window, usually on the exact frame that the opponent’s attack would connect.
A Kara (Japanese for "empty") Cancel is a special type of cancelling that exists in games such as Street Fighter III, Street Fighter IV, Guilty Gear, and BlazBlue. In a typical cancel, the animation of the move is interrupted after it hits the opponent, thereby allowing a subsequent move to follow up the cancelled move in a combo. However, when a move is kara cancelled, it is interrupted while still in its start-up frames before it even hits the opponent. Often, kara cancelling is used to increase the effective range of a certain subsequent move, such as a throw. In this case, the initial move to be kara cancelled is typically a normal that causes the character to move toward the opponent during the move's initial start-up frames (i.e. moves with forward aggression). The throw command is then quickly inputted, right when the appropriate start-up frames have lapsed. By kara cancelling the normal move into a throw, the normal's initial start-up frames are utilized to move the character closer toward the opponent before the throw comes out. A throw executed in this manner is called a "kara throw".
Kara cancelling might also alter the properties of the subsequent move (a throw, in this example). One popular example of a character with a kara throw is Tsubaki in BlazBlue: Central Fiction; her 6C normal moves her forward & can be cancelled during its startup, being used as a tool to close the distance between her & the opponent and allowing her to quickly cancel into a throw. Another newer example would be Potemkin from the Guilty Gear series, who recently in Guilty Gear Strive was granted the ability to kara cancel his 6K shoulder charge into his famous “Potemkin Buster” command grab.
In most games with kara cancelling, only normal moves or command moves can be kara cancelled. Because the kara-cancelled move must be interrupted during its initial start-up frames, the subsequent move must be inputted extremely quickly. The timing is usually significantly more demanding than a conventional normal cancel.
Describes a situation or state in which a player is knocked back a fair distance (sometimes full screen) by a certain move (often a powerful or heavy attack). Moves of this design tend to also automatically cause a knockdown by proxy, but may also be instrumental in carrying opponents to the wall or corner as well as further “wall hit” techniques (e.g. wall splat or bounce). Also commonly referred to as blowback (i.e. Blow Back attacks).
There are also certain defensive mechanics— such as guard cancels, combo breakers or bursts— which typically grant some kind of knockback (or simply pushback) that may not cause damage, as means of getting the attacking opponent off of oneself and resetting the neutral.
A knockdown (occasionally abbreviated as KD) describes a state caused by certain moves in which a player is knocked off their feet and onto the ground. It is among the most common phenomena in fighting games, being the end result of most powerful attacks (e.g. throws, sweeps, launchers, etc.), and it creates the foundation for the “wakeup/okizeme” game that is fundamental across the genre.
Generally speaking, a fighter who has been knocked down is invulnerable to all attacks (except for in the case of games that employ an OTG system). From this position, the knocked down player has a few options to wakeup; the safest option may simply be to block the incoming attacks (such as meaty buttons or setups). However, the most popular option for a rising player to execute is to perform a wakeup attack; while some 3D fighters like Tekken or Soulcalibur (and on rare occasions some 2D fighters such as Mortal Kombat 11) may feature built-in “getup attacks,” most games typically go about this by urging players to input a reversal special, which with the proper timing allows a special move to come out on the first frame of the player’s wakeup. While this can theoretically be done with any special (ideally fast EX specials, moves with armor, etc.), many games will assign one or two moves that are invincible on startup which serve as the ideal move(s) to wakeup with, whether it is a super move or a special such as the famous DP— depending on the game, this may either be a raw, meter-less special or may require at least 1 bar of super.
Players may also choose to delay their wakeup in many games, typically by holding down (or another designated button) for a certain duration after being knocked down. This allows the player to extend the amount of time they are grounded, and thusly control the timing of their wakeup, albeit typically at the expense of being able to perform other wakeup options. Alternatively, the knocked down player can recover the instant they hit the ground (most commonly called a “ukemi” or “teching a knockdown”), the method of which may vary from game to game— some games may require players to press “down” or “back” as soon as they touch the ground to recover straight-upwards or roll backwards (respectively), while some games may simply allow any attack button to be pressed. Some 2D games may also have built-in “wakeup roll” options (e.g. “forward” or “backward” rolls), such as Mortal Kombat 11 or various BlazBlue games, which may have a certain invulnerability window & will allow the executing player to evade incoming attacks from the opponent on wakeup. By contrast, these built-in evasive rolls are quite common in 3D fighters that allow knocked down players to stay grounded for an extensive period of time (sometimes indefinitely), typically also allowing them to roll into the foreground or background (à la sidestepping) for a certain duration until they choose to getup. However, these rolls are not invulnerable and can be hit by grounded/OTG attacks from the opponent until the defending player rises from the ground.
A hard knockdown (often abbreviated by the FGC as HKD) describes a property assigned to certain moves in some games that knocks the opponent down for the maximum window of time and disables certain wakeup options from being performed by them while rising (namely the aforementioned “ukemi/recovery” option, as well as the “delay” option since the knockdown duration of a HKD may be equal to the delay window timing by default). For example, all sweeps in the Street Fighter games cause this type of untechable knockdown.
A phrase specific to Tekken terminology (name after the competitive Korean players who discovered this technique in Tekken Tag Tournament; often abbreviated to KBD) that describes the act of cancelling a backdash into another backdash input repeatedly, allowing for faster backwards movement than would normally be allowed. Because the Tekken games allow players to cancel a backdash into any move or movement/guarding, players can input “down+back [crouch], neutral, back” after their first backdash and repeat this input in rapid succession to continue chaining backdashes together. The idea here is that the “down+back” input cancels the backdash with a crouch, and the following “back” input counts as the first “back” input for the next backdash (which is universally performed with a “back, back” input in almost every fighting game). It can be regarded as the backdash equivalent of crouch dashing or wavedashing. KBDs are very technically complex to execute but are commonly regarded among the competitive Tekken community as a crucial milestone in progressing to higher-level play, as the faster movement can be very pivotal in navigating the stage & playing the neutral against one’s opponent.
See also: Lethal Hit
A unique mechanic to Mortal Kombat 11, Krushing Blows (or KBs for short) are enhanced versions of certain moves that trigger via a specific “requirement,” resulting in the camera zooming in on the opponent to show the move inflicting graphic [typically internal] damage, such as broken bones/impalement/crushed organs/etc. (similar to the “X-Ray” visuals in previous Mortal Kombat titles).
There are Krushing Blows attached to several different types of moves in the game such as normal attacks, combo strings, special moves, throws & more. Many of the KBs share a requirement stating that the corresponding move must be a counter or punish, as a means of rewarding the player for such; however certain moves have different, more specific trigger requirements, including but not limited to “Must hit 2x in a row,” “Must miss 2x in a row,” “Only the last move in the string must hit,” “Must connect at max range,” “Must hit while opponent is stand blocking,” & many more).
There are a number of various benefits to triggering a Krushing Blow; while most of them simply reward the player’s move with extra damage and/or an additional hit, other rewards include popups, restands or stun that help players start or continue combos, DOT, & more. Some characters are rewarded with much higher damage than others off of their KBs and can actually win entire rounds or matches simply by strategically budgeting their KBs (or landing them by chance). This affects the meta of the game greatly, although Krushing Blows are not necessarily crucial or required to understand or succeed in the game.
Every character has a differing number of Krushing Blows, as well as differing requirements for each one, with only the uppercut KB being mutually shared by every character (triggers by countering or punishing a high attack). Several characters have a KB attached to one or both of their throws, with the requirement being that the KB will trigger on the next throw if the opponent incorrectly techs the previous throw. Much like with a “counter” or “punish,” the screen will display “Escape Failed” when this occurs, which notifies the player that they have their Krushing Blow loaded. The KB is reset if the opponent manages to tech the KB throw successfully. Characters with a Krushing Blow on both throws can only use 1 per match.
An option called “Krushing Blow Held Check” is available to toggle on/off, which requires the player to hold down the last [attack] button of the triggering move in order for the Krushing Blow to successfully trigger. A higher level player may select this option to have more control over how they budget their KBs; for example, if they have a move with a Krushing Blow requirement of “countering/punishing an attack,” this option allows them to save their KB as opposed to wasting it automatically when an opponently incorrectly hits a button or whiffs a move (i.e. at the end of a round where the player still has sufficient health left & does not need the Krushing Blow).
A move that launches the opponent airborne into a juggle state, after which they can continue juggling their opponent with a combo to yield more damage. Usually punishable on block with a slower startup.
Describes a prospect of playing in-depth mind games with a character’s mix-ups which allows for the aggressor to force their pressure onto the opponent if they know how to deal with the original mix-up. For example, you might delay your low attack if you know your opponent is privy to fuzzy guarding.
See also: Krushing Blow
The Lethal Hit system is a unique mechanic introduced in Soulcalibur 6 that is evolved from the traditional “Counter” system employed by this and most other games, where enhanced versions of certain select moves will trigger via a specific “requirement” and slow down the opponent’s movements, potentially allowing for even deadlier combos than usual. In addition to simply countering or punishing moves with the corresponding attack, some trigger requirements may include hitting a crouching opponent, punishing a ducked high attack, hitting a backturned or side-facing opponent, landing the same attack a specific number of times, hitting the oppponent directly up-close, landing an attack on an opponent who missed a Guard Impact, and many others of varying specificity. There are Lethal Hits attached to several different types of moves in the game such as normal attacks, combo strings, special moves, throws & more. Every character has a differing number of Lethal Hits, as well as differing requirements for each one, although some Lethal Hits may be universal (such as successfully landing a Break Attack against a Guard Impact or a Reversal Edge). The rewards given to a certain move for executing it as a Lethal Hit may vary from increased damage to granting a launch property, to increased stun time (sometimes causing a crumple state), to even destroying the opponent’s armor*. Landing a Lethal Hit will also increase the player’s Soul Gauge as a bonus, with more difficult Lethal Hits respectively granting more meter.
Most commonly referred to as health (sometimes called “energy” or "vitality"), a character's life represents how much [more] damage they can receive from their opponent and other sources. It is represented by a bar at the top of the screen, with the bar depleting inwards in most cases (Darkstalkers 3 being a notable exception). When a character's life bar is completely drained, the round is lost. Some games like Samurai Shodown, Art of Fighting and Real Bout Fatal Fury, Killer Instinct, Vampire Savior, and Injustice have a total life bar that is composed by two bars, one which is the classic lifebar color [green/yellow/white/etc.], and a red one beneath it. This feature may be used to implement certain super gauge systems and other strategical details. The player who has the “life-lead” is the player who has considerably more health than their opponent & is therefore at an advantage.
Linking moves is the act of performing a move with quick startup immediately after a move with quick recovery has connected while the opponent is still in hitstun, thus linking both attacks together into a combo that cannot be blocked or interrupted by the opponent. In general, a combo can be formed either by cancelling one move into another move, or by linking one move into another move. The difference is that in cancelling, the animation of the earlier move is typically interrupted, whereas in linking, the animation/recovery of the earlier move is not interrupted.
Low profiling describes the phenomenon of a certain move lowering the player character’s hurtbox down far enough to avoid and/or stuff an opponent’s incoming attack that may hit higher up on the body, potentially countering or punishing the attack. This can be very common with low-hitting pokes and certain sliding specials, but some games (such as Tekken) may design certain attacks to automatically crush any incoming low attacks. Games like these or Netherrealm Studios titles like Mortal Kombat and Injustice, which cause high attacks to whiff entirely by being crouched under, may also make it much easier to low-profile these highs with grounded low moves.
Can be interchangeable with MP (Medium Punch) + MK (Medium Kick), or HP + HK for Heavy attacks respectively. This section refers to a somewhat-universal input across several different fighters that differs between each game, wherein the 2 & 4 attack buttons [Western notation] are pressed simultaneously. The reason behind naming this section “M+H” is that the “Medium” & “Heavy” attack buttons (as well as MP & MK, or HP & HK) typically all share this button configuration of 2 + 4 (PS: Triangle + Circle///Xbox: Y+B)
This button combination can have varying effects/utilities depending on the game, such as:
- UOH (3rd Strike, Granblue Fantasy Versus, Fighting EX Layer)
- Blow Back/CD (King of Fighters)
- Blitz Shield (Guilty Gear Xrd)
- Unique trait commands (V-Skill in Street Fighter V) (Force Function in Under Night In-Birth)
- Vanish (Dragon Ball FighterZ)
- easy Lvl. 1 Hyper Combo (Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite)
- Throws (BlazBlue, Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid, also some throws in Tekken; notated as 2+4)
A matchup (often abbreviated by the FGC to just MU) refers to fighting stats as they pertain to two characters who are facing off against each other in a fight. Matchups can be determined either as good or bad depending on a variety of factors, including but not limited to character speed, strength, combo potential, and/or whether or not that character has a hard time getting close to the other character [or “getting in”]. Matchup data is often the underlying basis for tier lists; MU charts show how each character fares against the other characters of the game. A high-tier or “top-tier” character has matchups mostly in their favor, while a low-tier character has mostly bad MUs.
MAX Mode is a feature present in The King Of Fighters 2002, it is a mode which the player can "enter into" or activate. MAX mode costs one level of power gauge to activate (by pressing BC). When the player does this, the character will do a starting pose, then start to flash. During this time, a blue gauge appears above the Power Gauge and begins to slowly drain. Once it is empty, MAX mode ends.
When it is activated, it becomes possible to cancel moves from normal, command, and Special moves into Special moves, and even some Command Attacks. Hence, it is possible to cancel normally uncancelable moves into safer moves, Uppercut moves, and many other types of moves to surprise the opponent, attacking or defending oneself, or to create complex sequences of attacks. As for combos, it is also used to create combinations that otherwise wouldn't be possible, such as repeating one special move into another and canceling into the same previous move again to create a semi-infinite (which is prevented and limited by the bar that depletes from itself a certain quantity of bar energy whenever a move is cancelled). Certain attacks can only be canceled from initially and not into when in the middle of a combo or string of attacks.
Also, to allow the player to activate MAX Mode dynamically, there is a feature called the Quick MAX Mode Activation, performed by pressing BC when one of their attacks hits or is blocked. Quick MAX Mode activation costs 2 levels to use. Quick MAX Activate offers the advantage of canceling instantaneously the animation of any Normal or Command attack, and eliminates its own MAX Mode startup animation. When the current attack is canceled, the player can immediately attack their opponent after pressing BC, having the absolute freedom of continuing movements and taking any action desired, from running forward to continue the combo, to jumping, to evading, etc.
While in MAX mode, the player character's attack power decreases. Only DMs do a normal amount of damage. Furthermore, Power Gauge energy cannot be gained while in MAX mode.
One can perform a DM without losing any levels from the Power Gauge. They can also perform an SDM, which will only cost one level to use. If their Life Gauge is very low (to be exact, below 1/3rd of the total gauge length), they can use HSDMs as well, which have the same requirements as SDMs. In all of these cases, performing the (HS)DM will immediately end MAX mode.
Meaty is a term first used in Street Fighter II to describe the act of attacking the opponent as they are standing up in such a way that only the latest active frames of the move strike the opponent. Since active frames after the frame that connects with the opponent are effectively recovery frames, and because the opponent experiences the same amount of blockstun or hitstun, hitting with later active frames increases the attacker's frame advantage. A meaty attack can also be performed with aggressive attacks that move forward, since hitting at the end of the forward movement will often also be hitting with later active frames; or by juggling an opponent so that they fall into the later active frames of an attack.
"Meaty" also equally refers to hitting an opponent on the first frame possible of their wake-up, usually with an attack with many active frames (your “meaty” button) & ideally in the manner described in the previous paragraph. A well-timed meaty on oki is meant to shut down most of the opponent’s wakeup options & leave the attacker at maximum advantage.
An old courtesy tactic that appeared back when Street Fighter II became popular. When fighting someone in a 2-player game, the winner of the first round lets the other player win the second round. This "mercy" round not only gave players who were clearly outclassed the opportunity to play a little longer, but to also practice moves, learn combos, etc. The term “mercy” was first officially coined in Mortal Kombat 3, which actually implemented a legitimate “Mercy” option where instead of finishing an opponent off, players were able to give their opponent a small portion of life back - executed by holding the “Run” button, pressing “Down” four times and then releasing the Run button. Mercy in this game was often seen as a form of humiliation, given that the executing player often performed it for ulterior purposes such as landing the originally desired final move or finisher (for example, an Animality could only be performed after a Mercy).
Nowadays, Mercy is no longer practiced as much under normal play, In fact, committing mercy is explicitly discouraged at tournaments; Mercy is classified as "intentional underperformance", informally called "sandbagging", and may be punishable by disqualification.
Mortal Kombat 11, on the other hand, reintroduced their old Mercy mechanic, this time changing the input from holding the Run button to the stance-switch button & pressing down three times instead of four. The same original rule of only being available once per match still applies, but it can now be done as soon as the player wins (as opposed to having to wait until the third round). Much like how the Animalities worked in MK3, certain Brutalities (which also returned in Mortal Kombat X) can only be performed after executing a Mercy. Unlike the previously explained context of “mercy rounds,” there is no rule in the tournament scene against performing a Mercy in competitive play, and doing so can actually create a substantial amount of hype among spectators, as the losing player has a chance to make an unlikely comeback & score an upset victory against the player with a life-lead.
An FGC term (short for “meta-game”) used to describe the state of a game’s general strategy, combat system, & overall gameplay (in simplest terms, “the way a game plays”). A game’s meta is realistically determined by the mindstate & general tendencies/techniques of the game’s playerbase just as much as it is by the game itself (i.e. mechanics, roster, character balance, etc.) It is an acronym standing for, "Most Effective Tactic Available."
Commonly referred to as Super Meter, or more simply just Meter and/or Super. Refers to a gauge secondary to the lifebar that increases over the course of a game, either from inflicting damage, receiving damage (e.g. rage gauge), a combination of both, or even over time and under special conditions (some games may reward meter simply for advancing forward towards the opponent, or for perfectly timing blocks). It is usually located at the bottom of the screen, and different games have different systems as well as different names. Some examples of fighting game series that utilize meter are Marvel Vs. Capcom (Hyper Level), Street Fighter (Combo/Critical Bar from SF3 onward), Guilty Gear (Tension Gauge— also shared by Skullgirls as “Dramatic Tension”), and Mortal Kombat (Super Meter from MK9 onward). Most commonly, this meter is used to execute supers, powerful moves that take up some [or usually all] of the executing player's meter. Many fighting games also use the meter for "EX" or "Meter Burn" moves, sometimes normal but most often special moves that take up less meter than supers but make the character's move more powerful. Other uses can include various cancels or even defensive maneuvers like combo breakers, depending on the game.
See also: Bar of Meter
Refers to how much meter is gained from executing an attack. How much meter is gained usually depends on whether the move is normal or special, and whether the attack lands or is blocked.
A term referring to when one uses an attack at mid-range from the opponent. It is used as a safe strategy to test the opponent's defense, while not being in a disadvantageous position. Can be used as a synonym for poke.
Mind games are described as the use of psychology to maximize one's chances of winning. A big part of mind games is archetyping, dissecting the way an opponent plays and then immediately preparing oneself to ready an effective counter strategy, as well as a great deal of other tactics that take advantage of the amount of predictability present within an opponent.
Mind games generally used within fighting games can include:
- Conditioning an opponent into doing a certain move in response to something, then baiting that response to punish.
- Putting forward an incredible rushdown game and then suddenly shifting gears at the least expected moment, and viceversa.
A match in which both players use the same character.
A mix-up, or simply mix, refers to a strategy or technique of making one's attacks more difficult to predict or react to. In 2D fighters such as Street Fighter or The King Of Fighters, it typically involves using low attacks, overhead attacks, throws, and generally any assortment of attacks which require different responses from the opponent in order to defend against them. Mix-ups become more effective as the variety and complexity of the required defenses increases, and as the amount of time available to react decreases. When used in a pressure string, mix-ups can allow a player to open their opponent up & connect a combo or inflict a knockdown to continue the pressure if their opponent fails to correctly guess what to do (how to evade or counterattack, where to block, etc.)
Certain mix-ups are so effective that they are frequently considered impossible to defend against except by luck or knowledge of the opponent's tactics; in this case, they are sometimes called “50/50s,” as the two (or more) options that constitute the mix-up are considered impossible to react between, thus there is a “50% chance of guessing correctly.”
“Mixing an opponent up” can also refer to more meta strategies of baiting and conditioning the opponent such as making certain movements (i.e. shimmy or feint), as well as entering certain taunts, poses, or even stances (which have multiple moves with different attack properties available to them, such as Lei Wulong who can switch between a vast number of stances on command).
(Not to be confused with Cross-Up.)
The list of moves a character can perform. Also referred to as the “command list.”
Use of button release in place of button press within a command input sequence; most Capcom fighting games allow special and super moves to be performed with this method. A number of them also allow throws to be performed this way.
See also: Footsies
The neutral game, commonly referred to as “playing the neutral,” describes the situation where neither player is currently attacking or defending, or when both players are moving/attacking and trying to find an opening (for example at the start of the game). Usually, it emphasizes that no player has an advantage over the other, thus the situation is called 'neutral'. Often, the neutral game consists of each player trying to achieve advantageous spacing or finding a chance to apply pressure.
A normal move or normal attack (often simply called a normal) is any attack performed using a single button press, without moving the joystick and usually without being in midair. They are the most basic form of offensive technique in fighting games, usually dealing the lowest damage of a character's move set, and executing fairly quickly and from close-range. As the basis of all offense and combos, normal moves benefit from features such as free cancelling, Hunter chains, and 50/50s. In many games a normal attack button pressed with one unique directional input will grant a command normal.
Notation refers to how the control inputs for a fighting game (which are universal across all versions of that game regardless of the control method or layout used by the player) are expressed among players throughout the FGC. While some movement notation can often be abbreviated the same from game to game (i.e. “b” for backwards movement & “f” for forwards movement, or “j.” for jump), notation can also vary significantly from game to game in terms of both movement and attack buttons.
For example, single-button attack notation in most Capcom games (namely the Street Fighter series, which are six-button fighters) consists of LP (light punch), MP (medium punch), HP (heavy punch) and LK (light kick), MK (medium kick) & HK (heavy kick), whereas in the Tekken series & recent Mortal Kombat installments (examples of four-button fighters that use a respective limb system as opposed to “light” & “heavy” attack strengths), the attack button notation consists of 1 (left/front punch), 2 (right/back punch), 3 (left/front kick) and 4 (right/back kick).
These three aforementioned games gained large popularity in the West (namely the US & Europe) and developed strong active communities both in arcades and later in online console play. As a result of this, since English is the dominant language in these territories and the Internet had not yet allowed for communication with Eastern players that have their own set notations, these communities developed their own ergonomic notations for their respective games in a way that was easy for English speakers to understand. Each game goes about this in a slightly different way— while Mortal Kombat and Tekken both use the number-limb system & preset/dial-in combo strings (as opposed to a linking or a chain system) and refer to forward, backward, & crouching movements as “F, B, and D (down)” respectively, the way certain moves are inputted still differs based on the way the core game is played.
Mortal Kombat has very simplistic directional inputs but uses a more traditional notion of specials (such as projectiles), & in turn a more traditional system of 2-in-1 cancelling moves/strings into these specials, so a move such as Scorpion’s Spear (back, forward, front punch) would be simply notated as “BF1” altogether, & a combo that special cancels into Spear might read as “B14 -> BF1” or “B1, 4, BF1 amp -> 212” for a longer example. On the other hand, Tekken relies more heavily on various command normals, strings, and even throws that utilize diagonal directions as well, so they may separate their directions and attack buttons with more commas & plus signs for better clarity, and notate a diagonal input with a slash such as “down+forward” being notated as “d/f” (to avoid confusion with DF as “down, forward”). Tekken in particular may have more specific & esoteric abbreviations to describe certain inputs and actions, such as “WS” for “While Standing/Rising” or “N” for “Neutral (returning the stick to a neutral position). A BnB combo from Kazuya might look like “ff+3, d/f+3, Electric Wind God Fist (“f, N, d, d/f+2) -> b21.”
Street Fighter notation is very different from both of these formers, as it uses a stricter link system for its combos & has somewhat more complex directional inputs (such as quarter-circle or half-circle, as opposed to something like a simple “down, forward”). Although the Capcom community still commonly uses English-oriented notation, they tend to use slightly different abbreviations such as labeling crouching as “cr.” (as opposed to “d” for “down”), and “s.” or “st.” for “standing” respectively (can also be “n.” for “neutral”)— special inputs are generally listed as abbreviations of the corresponding motion inputs, which most commonly consist of QCB or QCF (for quarter-circle backwards & forwards respectively), HCB or HCF (for half-circle inputs), and DP (short for “Dragon Punch,” an input commonly used for anti-air and/or reversal moves that is often confusingly displayed as a “Z” or “<“ input but is performed as “forward, down, down+forward”). Typically the links are expressed with arrows (> or ->); special cancels may often be expressed with “xx.” A BnB for Ryu in some games might look like “s.MP > cr. HP xx Tatsu EX (or QCB+Kick),” or perhaps another combo ending in a super cancel might look like “cr.LP > st.LP > st.LK xx qcb+LK xx qcf, qcf+Punch.”
Due to Street Fighter’s equivalent popularity in its native country of Japan and the game’s use of joystick-oriented inputs, players can also refer to these games’ inputs in numpad notation.
While select franchises gained a great deal of popularity in the Western Hemisphere, the East (namely Japan & Korea) was largely the central hub for FGC activity & growth, sporting fanbases of several popular SNK franchises (i.e. King of Fighters and Samurai Shodown) as well as a number of anime-style fighters. With these fighters having such a considerably smaller following in the West, people had to follow these Eastern players to learn strategies & techniques that pertained to the meta of those games. Because these games and the aforementioned games more popular in the West (as well as the entirety of arcade culture) were all established either before or during the early years of the Internet’s innovation, there was not very much communication or interaction able to be maintained between the Asian FGC communities and the European/American scenes. This is what conditioned the Western communities to adopt their own unique notation, much of which is catered to English abbreviations & shorthand. As English is not the dominant language in the Eastern territories, many abbreviations such as “f (forward)” & “b (back)”, or “qcf (quarter circle forward)” do not translate the same and thus are not as universally understood by many Asian players. In contrast, the Eastern communities & their corresponding games generally use numpad notation (as in “number pad”).
In numpad notation, the joystick directions are modeled after the number pad on a computer keyboard, with 5 representing a neutral or standing position, 6 representing “forward,” 4 representing “back,” and 2 representing “down/crouch.” Since “quarter,” “circle,” and “forward” are not the same words/spelling in Japanese as they are in English, the QCF abbreviation would not be as easy to identify & understand across all countries/languages universally. Notating a QCF as “236” instead, however, can be understood by all players who are familiar with the number-pad layout. This can also be useful in shortening the notation of diagonal inputs as “1” or “3” are much simpler to quickly transcribe than “d+b” (“d/b”) & “d+f” (“d/f”). On the other hand, some certain Japanese/anime games such as Guilty Gear have also evolved to include select English abbreviations/initials as a way of notating more specific details, most commonly “close” (c. or cl.) & “far” (f.) distances, as these are rather hard to accurately convey with simple numbers. Similarly to Street Fighter notation, these numbers will be notated with whatever attack buttons the game uses (i.e. in Guilty Gear “Punch = P”, “K = Kick”, “S” = Slash, “HS” = Heavy Slash, “D” = Dust, etc.). A common Sol Badguy BnB may be notated as “5K > 2D > Bandit Revolver (236K)” or also “c.S > 2S > 2HS > 236K.” Many characters’ Overdrives have a more specific input than the standard double-QCF, namely “HCB,F+punch/kick”; this is made easier to write or type to other players universally by notating this input as “632146+P” or “632146+K” (respectively).
Although numpad notation may be more common in 2D fighters, Soulcalibur (which uses 3 attack priorities— horizontal or A, vertical or B, & kick or K) also utilizes numpad notation, in contrast with Tekken’s limb system.
OCV (also Straight)
Abbreviation for “One Character Victory”. It is used to refer when a person wins a match in a team-based fighting game by only using one character on their team (like in The King Of Fighters, or tag games like Tekken Tag Tournament or Marvel vs Capcom). Since the one character doesn't necessarily regain all or any of their energy after defeating an opponent, and has been able to defeat the whole team of the other player by themselves, this type of victory indicates a very decisive win.
Off the Ground (OTG)
A state in which the opponent has been knocked down to the ground/is presently grounded— An OTG attack is an attack that hits an opponent who is in this grounded state. This can be used to extend combos and/or stuff the opponent’s wakeups. Moves that can hit a grounded opponent are more common in 3D fighters such as Tekken, but some team/anime style fighters can also employ the OTG mechanic as a way to extend combos, typically by way of Supers (Hyper Combo in Marvel vs Capcom or Super/Meteor Attacks in Dragon Ball FighterZ), or even to restand the opponent (in the case of games like Skullgirls).
The “OTG” acronym can stand for either "Off the Ground" or "On the Ground", depending on the game and its use in context. In either case, it refers to an attack that can hit an opponent even while they're knocked down. The distinction between "Off the Ground" is that it can typically bounce the opponent back into the air for an extended combo while "On the Ground" may require the opponent to remain down.
Okizeme (a portmanteau for "waking attack" in Japanese), or commonly referred to as Oki for short, is the art of putting pressure on a rising or grounded opponent. This is often done by putting an opponent in a situation in which they must immediately block, often with a new string of attacks & mixups, a meaty, a projectile or trap/setup tool, a throw, or other offensive techniques. This term and the technique's effectiveness is most prevalent in the world of 3D fighters, which generally allow characters to attack downed opponents, something slightly less common in 2D fighters— in 2D games an opponent generally cannot be attacked while knocked down, and can rise [theoretically] counter or block any move immediately, making okizeme more of a psychological concept, known as the wake-up game. This is not always true of 2D fighting games, however; for example, in the Blazblue series, which allows characters who have been knocked down to roll away in multiple directions, pressuring a character as they stand up (as well as trying to predict which direction they will roll in) can have a profound effect on the outcome of the match.
Option Select (OS)
Option select describes a situation in a fighting game where the action of the player is ambiguous, and the game's programming itself will determine the outcome based on the situation. Generally speaking, the result chosen is the one that is best for the acting player. For example, in Virtua Fighter 3 it was possible to do an action for both a block and a throw, and if the throw would have successfully captured the opponent, it would do that, otherwise it would do a block. In SNK vs. Capcom: Chaos, attempting an air throw will result in a light attack if there is no opponent within throw range. In Street Fighter II, a Negative Edge throw will throw the opponent if they are throwable, and do nothing if they are not, allowing a safe throw attempt that cannot be punished. Option select is sometimes the result of a flaw or overlooked feature within the game.
Related: Buffering (definition #1)
Orientation is one of the laws of Focal Adherence that forces all attacks, defense, and movement to relate specifically to the location of the opponent while dictating the direction each character faces. This law prevents a character on the left side of the screen from turning and moving Forward in the direction of the screen when the player presses left. If characters switch sides, Orientation forces both characters to turn and face each other, be it automatically, or upon further action from the character(s). This law defines the difference between the game's acknowledgement of Left/Right and Back/Forward with respect to all character actions. While most fighting games are structured upon this law, some games such as Super Smash Bros. Melee are not.
See also: Universal Overhead Hit
An overhead attack (derived from the naming of "high" or normal attacks and "low" attacks), first used in Street Fighter II, is an attack (normally a command move) that hits players who are crouching and blocking, and must be blocked standing, in direct constrast to low attacks that serve the opposite function. It is generally a staple of mixups & among one of many countermeasures to deter turtling. Because of the nature of the attack, many attacks done from the air are overhead attacks by default. Therefore, this term is usually used within the context of a ground attack. Examples of overhead attacks include Kyo Kusanagi's Ge Shiki: Gou Fu You (Foreign Style: Thunder Axe Positive), Ryu's Sakotsu Wari (Collarbone Breaker), Guy's Neck Breaker or his Run Command into Neck Flip, Ky Kiske's Greed Sever, and Terry Bogard's Hammer Punch. Games that use the convention of "mid-level attack" or "middle attack” [commonly called a mid] in place of overheads to mean an attack that hits crouch-blocking opponents include the Tekken & Soul Calibur series, as well as the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure fighting games and recently Street Fighter.
In some games, these attacks are cancellable and combo-able into special or super moves, or even cancellable into special features of the gameplay system, like The King Of Fighters 2002's MAX Mode, which can be used to cancel the animation of these moves as soon as they hit to run and start a normal combo into anything. In the Mortal Kombat and Injustice series, several characters have normals/directional attacks or hits in the middle or end of their strings that are overheads, which can be staggered, cancelled into specials/supers, or potentially be used to create mixups between lows (see 50/50s).
A parry is a technique introduced in the Street Fighter MD-III series as a means of evading an incoming attack without receiving damage or blocking. The technique is achieved by timing a toward or down controller motion (when on the ground) at the exact moment an opponents attack is about to hit. A successful parry generally leaves the opponent vulnerable to a counterattack. It is also possible to parry in mid-air by tapping the controller down while airborne. Parrying works against regular, special, and super moves. To parry a full special or super move, the player must perform individual parries against every damage frame of the incoming attack.
Tekken also grants all characters the ability to parry lows automatically by pressing down+forward precisely when the low connects, which can put the parried victim in a certain grounded-yet-elevated position that leaves them open to OTG attacks and full combos.
In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle the parry technique takes the form of Stylish Dodging, requiring the defender to guard (backwards stick motion) as soon as an attack lands to instantly slide to the attacker's side unscathed.
See also: Glass cannon
A pixie fighter refers to a sub-archetype of rushdown character that has greatly exaggerated speed/mobility and mix-up options, in exchange for extremely low health/defense and miniscule damage output. Popular examples of pixie characters include Chipp Zanuff from Guilty Gear, Twelve from SFIII: 3rd Strike, Strider Hiryu from the Marvel vs. Capcom series, Filia from Skullgirls, Tianhuo from Them’s Fightin’ Herds, and Sonic from recent Super Smash Bros. games.
Priority linking, popularly referred to as plinking for short, is a fundamental technique in which two or more buttons are pressed in rapid succession, allowing for easier input commands and overall better execution. This technique was popularized in Super Street Fighter MD-IV, when 2 players utilized it to execute more difficult combos.
Plus/Minus/Neutral (on block)
See: Frame Advantage
In an attacker-defender relationship, an attacker's move's ability to be punished or simply strung from against a defender's block is described as being "plus", "minus", or "neutral". If a move is "plus" or "positive" on-block, then the amount of frames it takes for the attacker to recover from executing the move is less than the amount of frames it takes for the defender to recover from block stun; the attacker has the advantage and can act first, which allows a block string to continue among other benefits. If a move is "minus" or "negative" on-block, then the amount of frames it takes for the attacker to recover from executing the move is more than the amount of frames it takes for the defender to recover from block stun; the defender has the advantage and can act first, which can result in the attacker being punished.
If a move, be it normal or command, is "neutral" on-block, then both the attacker and defender will recover from the move and block stun respectively in the exact same amount of frames, giving no direct advantage or disadvantage to either.
These terms, while usually used in reference to blocking, can also be used to refer to the attacker's frame advantage upon a successful hit, such as rare scenarios where an attack or move might be minus on-hit.
A poke is generally a quick normal attack that is done to hit an opponent from just about the maximum range that specific move will allow, generally done as a single attack to accomplish any of the following things (sometimes more than one):
- to stuff an opponent's current attack, even one of their own pokes
- to create distance & spacing between the two players
- to deal "safe", unpunishable damage
- to hit confirm and/or special cancel into a full combo.
A poke can generally refer to any single normal or command normal that is pressed once for any or all of these effects, but often times players may use this term simply to refer to a character’s crouching punches or kicks (i.e. “mid pokes” & “low pokes”).
A mode in most fighting games that allows players to learn the game/characters & hone their skills. Affectionately referred to as the lab, thus practicing in training mode by doing things like recording AI actions to defend/counter against or studying frame data is referred to by the fighting game community as “labbing.”
Pressure involves using a sequence of attacks to keep an opponent on the defensive and often involves fundamental concepts like plus frames, pokes and staggers, okizeme, and other mix-up tactics. The purpose of pressure is to condition an enemy & keep them from effectively attacking back until they make a mistake, usually allowing for a damaging command move or combo to be performed.
The “Pretzel Motion” is a motion introduced in Fatal Fury Special, which was used under series' antagonist "Geese Howard" as his Raging Storm Desperation Move. It is notable for being difficult to pull off, as the motion is done by doing a down-back,Half Circle Back (HCB), then down-forward motion. The name derives from these three motions executed together in sequence. It is also used by Hazama in the BlazBlue series as his Astral Heat.
A descriptive measure of an attack's tendency to strike the opponent when that opponent is also attacking. In general, higher priority attacks always interrupt lower priority attacks. Ideally speaking, a medium attack would beat a light attack, a heavy attack would beat a medium attack, etc......however it is important to note that "priority" is usually simply a term of convenience - very few games actually have an internal mechanism that governs the resolution of attacks via priority. Instead, priority arises as a consequence of the characters' hitbox properties during a move. Typically, hitbox properties can define attack priority in two ways. First, during the move, the character's attacking hitbox can extend far beyond their target hurtbox such that they can hit the opponent without being hit themselves. Second, priority can arise when a move allows the character to attack another character while being invincible for a certain duration of the move (where such invincibility is usually the consequence of the complete absence of a target hurtbox). An example of a high priority move is Ken's Shoryuken in the Street Fighter II series, a move which had extensive invincibility #Frame(s)frames during its startup. In later renditions of Street Fighter II, the amount of invincibility frames was reduced, but even when not invincible, the attacking hitbox remained a great deal larger than the target hurtbox for a relatively long duration of the move.
A projectile— often just called a fireball or beam in some cases, depending on the class of projectile as well as the input— is a move (typically a special) with a hitbox that is not attached to a character’s hurtbox (sometimes called ”disjointed”) & travels independently of the character for a certain distance (sometimes full-screen). Projectiles are usually performed with a “QCF/down, forward” input or a “Back-forward” (sometimes a more complex charge) input. These moves are staples of zoning/keepaway playstyles and space control, as well as setplay.
A punish refers to attacking an opponent who is recovering from performing a move. It is easier to "punish" whiffed attacks, as well as attacks that have long recovery time or attacks that are very minus on block. In contrast with safe attacks, moves that are punishable are referred to as “unsafe.”
A Puppet Fighter, puppet character, or simply puppet, is an archetype of character who has the ability to actively control two separate persons or entities simultaneously. One person acts as the main character, while the other acts as an extra tool that can be summoned (aka the puppet). These types of characters are usually considered to be amongst some of the most difficult characters to play. If played correctly, the player can control most of the screen. These types of characters usually tend to be one of the best characters in their specific game. The puppet playstyle was introduced in the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure fighting game made by Capcom with the character Devo and his Ebony Devil. The playstyle would later be adopted by other fighting games. Some examples of puppet fighters include Zato-1/Eddie of the Guilty Gear series, Ice Climbers from Super Smash Bros. Melee, Carl/Nirvana and Relius of the BlazBlue series, Rosalina & Luma from Super Smash Bros. 4 and Ultimate, Ms. Fortune from Skullgirls, Viola from Soulcalibur V, and Pom or the trap character Oleander (with her “Fred” puppet), both from Them’s Fightin’ Herds.
Although this could be done in Street Fighter II, by some characters, it was not properly implemented until Night Warriors: Darkstalkers Revenge. It is an attack that hits a character who is lying down on the ground. A combo that contains, but does not end with, a pursuit attack is known as an off-the-ground combo, or simply OTG.
When the opposing player's position is moved further away from the opponent as a result of being hit by or blocking an attack.
A defensive technique added to normal block, that pushes away an attacker that is using a combo string against the defender. Often featured in “anime” or “team” style fighting games where one must hold back to block & may even be able to block in the air, it is typically performed by pressing two attack buttons (or sometimes a dash macro button) while holding back—- upon successfully guarding the first hit(s), pressing these buttons will push the attacker further back than normal and potentially throw off their spacing/pressure, which can affect their followups. It is featured in games such as the Marvel vs. Capcom series, Skullgirls and Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid. The name of the pushblock mechanic can vary game to game (i.e. Advancing Guard in Marvel vs. Capcom or “Reaction Shot” in Skullgirls); some games can also provide more advanced traits to these mechanics, such as a perfectly timed pushblock that resembles a Just Guard (for example Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite has an addition to their pushblock system called a Perfect Advancing Guard, where the defender can actually reflect incoming projectiles upon perfectly timing their pushblock). While in most games like these pushblock may not cost meter because it is very fair & universalized in such fast-paced & dynamic games, other games have more advanced forms of the pushblock mechanic that can offer additional benefits & thus require meter to use, such as Faultless Defense from the Guilty Gear series and Barrier Block from the BlazBlue series. Other games like the Injustice 2 & Mortal Kombat X use a form of guard cancel in a lieu of an actual pushblocking mechanic, referred to in these games as a Block Escape & Block Breaker [respectively]—- these mechanics essentially re-appropriate their existing “Combo Breaker/Breakaway” system(s) into a defensive tool that can instead be used while blocking by burning two bars of super meter [and/or stamina in MKX’s case], pushing the opponent back & resetting the neutral.
Quarter Circle Back (QCB)
The act of moving the joystick from the downward position to the direction that makes the character move backwards, forming a 90 degree angle, or quarter circle. Sometimes called a "Tatsu" (short for Tatsumaki Senpuukyaku [Hurricane Kick]), or "Reverse Fireball" motion.
See also: Hcb
Quarter Circle Forward (QCF)
The act of moving the joystick from the downward position to the direction that makes the character move forward, forming a 90 degree angle, or quarter circle. Sometimes referred to as a "Fireball Motion", as it is commonly used to perform a character's projectile attack.
See also: Hcf
Called ukemi (受身) in Japanese. A quick recover describes an instant wakeup recovery & is when a character gets back on their feet quickly after being knocked down. This is performed differently from game to game, however it is usually performed by pressing down, back, jump, or a certain attack button the moment the character hits the floor.
In more recent years, this action is simply referred to as "teching" a knockdown; not to be confused with teching a throw. Both actions have some commonalities, involving a well-timed button press, directional input, or both at once to prevent the character from entering a disadvantageous state.
The rage gauge is a type of super move gauge where the only way to gain energy and fill the gauge is to receive damage exclusively. It was introduced, and most commonly used, in the Samurai Shodown series of games.
Because of the way power in the gauge is obtained, the rage gauge typically gives many bonuses when completely filled up. For example, characters typically deal significantly more damage when the rage gauge is full. However, this gauge often has drawbacks: it is not uncommon for the gauge automatically empty after a certain period of time (when the rage starts to "cools off"), or at the start of every round.
The rage gauge was originally designed as a variation of a super move gauge: the first Samurai Shodown game did not have super moves, but did allow a player to deal substantially more damage when their "rage gauge" was high.
Also featured in Capcom v. SNK 2 as the K-Groove gauge, and in Street Fighter IV as the method for executing Ultra Combos.
A variant of this mechanic entitled "Rage Mode" or “Kombat Rage” was also utilized in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, where the rage gauge would fill when the player received/inflicted damage, had their attacks blocked, and/or had special moves inflicted on them. When filled, players could activate their Rage by pressing both triggers; they could also spend 1 of the 2 rage gauge bars on a combo breaker. Upon activating “Rage Mode,” the player’s moves would become unblockable as well as inflicting double damage.
There is also a Rage mechanic in Bandai-Namco's Tekken 7 that acts as a sort of 2-in-1 desperation move/super, wherein players enter a “Rage” state when their health drops below a certain amount (approx. 25% remaining)— the player then gains a damage buff (which actually slightly increases as the player gets closer to 0 health) as well as access to two additional moves: "Rage Drive" & "Rage Art". A player may only choose one of these two options when using the Rage mechanic:
- "Rage Drives" (also loosely called "blue stuff"; the character is enveloped by a blue aura for a brief moment during the attack) are desperation moves that can do as much damage as Rage Art & potentially allow for a follow-up attack. These moves have no cinematic startup animation like Rage Arts (or Supers in most fighting games) so they can sometimes be unseeable. However it can be interrupted by an opponent's attack if the positioning and choice of attack is appropriate, or if the opponent is looking out for the move & blocks it correctly.
- "Rage Arts" are the game’s desperation super that can absorb an opponent's high & mid attacks with armor during the startup of the move. These deal a great amount of damage & can often finish out the match even at the highest levels of competition.
These Rage moves can only be attempted once per round & will go away if the move whiffs; however Rage is available in every round.
A term for any super move which involves a dash forward followed by a predetermined, auto-executing series of rapid hits, traditionally ending with a powerful uppercut or close equivalent. Named after Ryo Sakazaki's super Ryuko Ranbu.
Reading is when one understands their opponent's playstyle and patterns so that they have a better idea of being able to correctly predict what the opponent is going to do next in a given situation. When a player is very effective at reading their opponent, it is informally referred to as having downloaded them.
See also: (Quick) Recovery/Ukemi
Exclusive to Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, a Red Parry is a parry done while in block stun. Because the stick must return to neutral before one can parry again, the timing window is much more precise than a standard parry. The additional benefit given for executing this move is that it can be executed more safely, since the player starts a Red Parry after blocking an attack. There are many more cases where a Red Parry can be used to effectively punish a predictable opponent than an ordinary Parry can offer. However, the strict timing requirement makes execution extremely risky. The character flashes a reddish-orange color instead of the standard blue when red parrying (hence the name).
A rekka is a type of special move that can be combo’ed by repeating its own motion to preform a sequence of attacks (usually three), creating a sort of “special-move chain combo.” For example, QCF+Punch into QCF+P into QCF+P. Named for Fei Long's Rekkaken move in Street Fighter II.
A rekka-type move may also use a more unique command sequence. For example, Samurai Shodown II's Nienhalt Sieger uses QCF+C (Tigerkopf) into QCF+B (Falkennagel) into HCB+A (Elefantglied) for his back breaker combination move. Other examples like Chipp Zanuff’s “Resshou” in the Guilty Gear games (performed by QCF+Slash) may also show off rekkas as a way to create (low/overhead) mixups against a defending opponent; he can follow this move up with a low (“Rokusai”) by inputting another QCF+S, and then follow that low again with an overhead (“Senshuu”) by inputting QCF+Kick (alternatively, he can just follow Resshou immediately with Senshuu by inputting the first QCF+S into QCF+K). Similarly, Freeman from Garou: Mark of the Wolves can use his “V.O.D.” rekka (QCB+ LP/HP) to begin with a light or heavy starter and then mix & match either QCB+LP (low) or QCB+HP (overhead) after either version; he can input either command one more time after this second rekka hit to end with a universal hit that knocks down the opponent.
A “rekka character” is a character whose moveset primarily involves the use of rekka-type moves, typically having specials or other attacks that branch out or combo into each other organically under the benefit of free cancelling while their overall movelist may still be limited. In addition to the aforementioned characters, other examples of rekka characters may include EX Kyo Kusanagi & “Flame” Iori Yagami from later King of Fighters installments, Yang’s “Mantis Slash” & Rolento’s “Patriot Circle” from the Street Fighter series, “the “Kobu Jutsu” variation of Tanya & the “Tarkatan” Alien in Mortal Kombat X, Ms. Fortune’s “Cat Scratch” in Skullgirls, Byakuya and Hyde in Under Night In-Birth, and even Santa Claus in Fight Of Gods.
Note: For purposes of simple & quick move categorization, many specials that use single-button follow-ups with this same overall function may be loosely referred to by players as “rekkas,” despite not utilizing motion inputs for the followup attacks like the aforementioned examples.
This is a mechanic unique to games like Vampire Savior and Darkstalkers 3. Some characters gain a frame advantage bonus when chaining light attacks into themselves, usually +2-3F advantage bonus over the base amount of frame advantage. However, this is character specific and does not apply to the whole cast, or to every light attack. An example would be Bulleta's far standing LP which is normally +10 on hit, but becomes +13 on hit when chained into itself.
Term used in the Last Blade games, whose command is D or forward/down-forward+D. A repel reverses an opponent's attack and gives the chance to counter with an attack/combo of choice. This way, the player not only can avoid getting hit but also punish the opponent for attacking.
Also present in the Soul Calibur series. If the player guards as they press forward and an opposing attack connects, the attack will be repelled, forcing the opponent off balance and giving an opportunity to counter.
Reset refers to ending a combo in a way that leaves the opponent in a neutral or standing state rather than a knockdown, then immediately attempting a second combo. The first combo does less damage than a full knockdown combo, but the second combo will reset damage scaling and do full damage, inflicting more damage overall. Resets can be harder to defend against than okizeme after a knockdown because the opponent receives no access to wakeup attacks for invincibility, and resets make it difficult to guess when the combo will end or what kind of vortex situation the defender may be placed in. By definition, however (since they effectively end the combo), resets must be escapable, making them fickle to attempt.
Another term to describe this concept (to eliminate confusion) is “restand,” which is essentially used the same way to describe ending a combo with a move that “restands” the opponent instead of launching (and/or juggling) them, or knocking them down. The reason some people prefer this term is because while most moves of this nature tend to reset the neutral, some of these moves may even restand the opponent while leaving them in stun which allows the player to continue their combo (as opposed to having to start a new combo). The other main reason for this distinction is because in certain games there are specific normals and/or specials that are intentionally designed to “restand” the opponent in this way. Killer Instinct brands these restand moves as “Recaptures;” NRS games also have many characters that make use of restand moves like this to enforce their mixups & 50/50s, or just pressure the opponent with frame traps. While games like these tend to design specific moves with this purpose to be done during a juggle, many games go about resets/restands via techniques that are brought on by the mechanics of the game & the general flow of the combat system works— in certain games (such as many anime or team fighters that emphasize heavy mobility both on-ground & in-air and lengthy combos) which have systems implemented to limit the amount of hits (or just specific repeating attacks) before the character falls out of the combo, or which allow the opponent to air tech out of gaps in the attacker’s combo, often times a simple attack such as a standing jab can automatically cause the opponent to flip out of the combo, granting an easy reset to the attacker. Other games such as Skullgirls may place emphasis on certain characters staggering or completing specific chain combo strings OTG after launching & knocking down the opponent, so that those certain hits of said string(s) (& the resulting animation caused by them) will effectively restand the opponent off the ground.
A lesser known type of reset is informally called a American Reset— this type of reset is completely unintentional on the attacker's part ("dropping the combo”). However, the moves in the combo string proceed to hit the opponent again anyway, resulting in the combo completing with the added bonus of having the damage scaling reset.
In the context of fighting games, "respect" has a loose definition. However when players use “respecting your opponent” in the context of a fight, they are commonly referring to an attack/action/move's described ability to demand that an opponent consider it a threat; if a move has to be ”respected”, then it must be taken into consideration by an opponent as a viable action/tactic on the player's part and as a non-negligible tool of the player character's given moveset. The most common meaning of "respecting" something usually means refusing to challenge it and remaining cautious and defensive in its presence. What moves within a moveset can demand respect is subjective and is tied to the meta of the game and match, as well as player skill.
“Respect” can be applied to moves as a form of hierarchy, with higher-respected moves naturally taking the form of superior, more prioritized utilitarian options that are used frequently since they are more advantageous for the one using them (e.g. moves that are plus on-block, 50/50s, certain BnBs, etc.). Also, a move that can be considered weak may find itself garnering respect if used at an opportune moment, when few other options but itself are optimal within the given situation.
Vice versa, to not respect (or “disrespect”) a move or action is to think it weak, situational, or inferior to other options, likely as a move that can consistently be punished or at least countered if used in many situations, or simply dealing less damage in comparison to another move of similar functionality, among other less-than-optimal characteristics. High-level players tend to operate on the basis that they will have less options against an action that demands respect, while random or inopportune use of a less respectable action potentially places a disadvantage on the one using it, with a punish being the most common form. Those that disrespect a move naturally place themselves at more risk around it or attempt to challenge it with one of their own moves, often out of confidence that the move in question will lose out to their own actions. An abare situation can sometimes arise if the player is “not respecting” their opponent’s plus frames and instead pressing buttons or “mashing” against them.
A reversal is a move (usually a special) that generates a certain advantageous situation when done in immediate reaction to an opponent's attack, either punishing the opponent or simply “taking your turn back.” (Overlaps with “Parry”)
Sometimes a reversal is done at what the game considers the optimal time necessary to take advantage of either the move's invincibility frames or general priority for the best possible outcome. The timing window for such moves is generally small. An example of this is present in Street Fighter, where a move done on the first possible frame of a player’s wakeup is considered to have reversal timing. The Dragon Punch (or DP) is a popular move to use as a reversal, especially when enhanced. A “reversal” can also be seen (via on-screen messages) as a special move entered right after blocking an incoming attack. The move will then automatically come out on the first frame possible after exiting blockstun, leaving the opponent little to no chance of defending against it. These two rules of reversals generally apply similarly across all 2D fighters.
Reversals can also refer to moves specifically designed to be used while the opponent is attacking, but do no damage on their own - i.e., if the opponent attacks during the active frames of the reversal within sufficient range of the player's character, an automatic counterattack will be launched. The most prominent and known example of this is Kyo Kusanagi's Nue Tsumi (Style No. 902: Clipping Chimera), another one is Blue Mary's Mary Reverse Facelock and (for short) M. Head Buster (that can even combo into special and/or super moves, as it has juggle capabilities, further expanding on the concept). An easier way to think of this form of reversal is a throw that only deals damage if the opponent attempts to attack while it is active. This kind of reversal move is more common in SNK games and in 3D fighters, where they could also be known simply as "counters", and this form of reversal differs from parries in that parries do not always do damage- they can often simply just interrupt an opponent's attack.
Some games offer command options for escaping a reversal (and thus negating the damage from it), though the complexity of the escape varies wildly. Certain guard cancel mechanics can be seen as “reversal” tools that are universal to the cast (e.g. “V-Reversal” in SFV).
A victory achieved by sending the opponent out of the ring or fighting arena; these are usually only found in 3D fighting games such as the Soulcalibur and the Virtua Fighter series, but some 2D fighters, like Real Bout Fatal Fury, contain ring outs as round ending stage hazards once the barriers are broken. Games like Mortal Kombat Deception and Armageddon helped introduce the concept of ring-out victories via gruesome stage hazards in the form of death traps. Ring outs are recognized as ostensibly the only way to KO an opponent in the Super Smash Bros. series (exception being Stamina Mode).
Rolling is a gameplay feature found in some SNK games, and is an important part of the engine in The King Of Fighters. The entire concept behind Rolling is to evade the attacker either by Rolling forward when the defender knows that the attacker's attack will have a slower recovery time than their roll so the defender can punish it through frame advantage (players can also calculate the timing of the roll to reach the opponent's back before their attack finishes, even if it is an attack that is normally thought to be "safe", anticipating their movements) or by Rolling backwards to prevent any dangerous attacks from the attacker and neutralize any poking attempts. The Rolling moves (otherwise referred to as the "Emergency Evade") can be used by themselves, or while blocking an attack. The defender is immune to attack as the Roll begins, but can be attacked while recovering from the Roll (before they have a chance to block). In most cases, throws of any kind can grab characters out of a Roll at anytime.
A third type of roll was added in The King Of Fighters 2002, the "Quick Emergency Evade." It allows an attacking player to cancel any normal attack, command attack, or Blow Away Attack (CD Attack) into a forward roll, successfully adding another mind game that comes in effect when the defending player tries to knock them down with a Guard Cancel CD Attack. While the defending player spends one power gauge to perform this CD attack to knock the attacker out of any sequences or strings of attack they may be doing, the attacker themselves can spend one power gauge to evade the defender's Guard Cancel CD Attack by rolling forward, which leaves them open to the attacker's attacks. It can be used even if the attack is not cancelable, or before the attack even hits. Canceling a roll in this manner will cost 1 level of Power Gauge, even if the character is in MAX Mode.
In Capcom vs. SNK 2, roll cancelling was an easily exploitable glitch that gave players the ability to cancel the first three startup frames of a roll into a special attack, super, or taunt. This changes the “roll” animation into that of the chosen attack, but the engine does not re-evaluate the invincibility frames from the roll. This means that for the first 17 frames of a character's special (about 1/3rd of a second), they are completely invincible. Players who chose to roll cancel into a taunt could effectively use this tactic to counter and/or punish certain attacks up close that would otherwise connect (such as a DP or super). This option was patched out in later releases of the game, but may have been the inspiration for the “spot dodge” mechanic implemented in Super Smash Bros. Melee and onwards, as well as the “kara” taunt concept present in Street Fighter IV.
Refers to the selection of playable characters in any given fighting game. Also referred to as the cast.
Rubber Band AI
Rubber Band AI is found in several fighting video games, most notably in the Soul Calibur Series. The concept refers to a game where CPU opponents will retaliate with more effective combos after they lose a round somewhat fast or with the human player not taking a certain amount of damage. The CPU will almost appear to have increased difficulty.
See: Input Read
Running [as it literally means] is the act of approaching the opponent through continuous movement much like jumping but unlike it, Running lets the 2 players travel along the ground continously—- it should be noted that this mechanic is implemented either to expand upon or to entirely replace the common dash in some games.
The game that most prominently established the maneuver of running for the first time was in Samurai Shodown, back in 1993. Instead of only walking forward, when the player could just jump instead for added mobility in Street Fighter, the Run came into scene to complement Jumps, effectively giving a better notion of mobility that contradicts the often aerial advancement that characterized games of the past. Other games then, such as SNK's own The King of Fighters 2021 and later Guilty Gear implemented this feature, as did many of the 3D fighters. Mortal Kombat 3 also introduced a run mechanic in 1995 in the form of a dedicated “Run” button and a “Run meter” that would drain when using run & performing combos. This differed from the normal approach of holding down the forward button after a dash or triple-tapping forward at max range (such as was used by most of the aforementioned games). This mechanic returned in Mortal Kombat X with slight differences; the “Run meter” (renamed “Stamina meter”) now would drain only by running, & in place of a “Run” button players would simply press/hold the Block button at the end of their dash [F,F+Block] (since the Block button also serves as the “EX button”). Ring of Destruction: Slam Masters II introduced Backwards Running, which can be served as a basis for Namco's Soul series.
By Running a player can:
- Approach the opponent quickly but sticking to the ground
- Stop at any moment, with freedom to block or perform an attack (i.e. a low, an overhead, a grab, or any other type of movement (such as Jumping or Rolling to evade, retreat, etc.)—- stopping a run suddenly [in the same manner as a dash cancel may cause players to glide on the ground a little bit before fully stopping in certain games (with the exception of games like MK9 & MK11 that allow players to cancel into any attack/throw/super/block/etc. out of a dash automatically), but in the case of Mortal Kombat X a continuous run can be cancelled at will with any attack, blocking, or the stance-switch button. This run cancel technique is often used to extend combos
- When timed well, it can be used to anticipate the opponent's movements by running & attacking (when they attack or try to jump)
- Accompanied with backsteps, it can be used for zoning or space control.
- When a player does a Jump, it can actually pass below it, ending behind that player, and the running character can then turn & attack the opponent in the back, successfully punishing them for jumping.
FGC slang for playing against the same person (often times after a bad loss), asking or challenging them to “run it back.”
The complete opposite of turtling, a rushdown style is considered to be completely offensive; characters of this archetype often use a huge variety of pressure tools, mix-ups, and mind games to force an opponent into a suboptimal defensive situation, seeking to create openings and watching for sudden mistakes to capitalize with proper, devastating punishment and full combos. Because of its overtly offensive, flashy nature, rushdown is generally considered to be a very entertaining -- if risky -- style of fighting. The King Of Fighters is a game acknowledged for having a universal system of movements that allow an evolved form of rushdowns.
A term first used in the Virtua Fighter series, a sabaki (sometimes called a “Sabaki Parry”) is a move that automatically parries an attack during its animation. Sabakis are not necessarily invincible but can absorb, counter, parry, or crush/ignore other attacks; the attack auto-parries the opponent's move allowing the player's sabaki to continue as though it was never interrupted. These moves usually work against specific attacks or specific types of attacks only. If done and an attack is not parried, the Sabaki will usually just run its course as a normal move or special. Examples of a Sabaki are Sarah's FL P+K (Sabakis low punches), or (in Tekken’s case) Bruce Irvin’s f,f+2 (crushes high left punches). An example of a character with special-move sabakis could be Spawn in Mortal Kombat 11; his “Unholy Veil” advancing charge [b,f,2] has a “Krushing Blow” that triggers a launch when Spawn absorbs a projectile during this move’s startup animation. Another custom ability of his, “Blaze of Glory [d,b,1],” acts as a low projectile but also parries low attacks during its startup animation. The move can be delayed by holding Front Punch , & it can be cancelled during this delay with 1 bar of defensive meter by tapping down. Successfully parrying a low triggers its Krushing Blow.
Safe describes a move that cannot be punished if blocked. Usually these moves have a very short recovery time, or they leave the defender in blockstun for a long enough window that the attacker can block before the defender is capable of retaliating. A term first coined in the Street Fighter II series.
The technique of timing an aerial attack against a fallen opponent in such a way that that if they try a reversal upon wakeup, one can recover and defend against it in time, allowing them to punish it. If no such attack occurs, the attacker's jumping attack will hit the defender's block and allow them to continue pressure, often with a mixup or tick throw, followed by another safe jump to repeat— in any case, the defender is ultimately left at a disadvantage. This method generally works in certain fighting games that feature it due to most reversals not actively hitting on their first frame.
A tense moment within a match, where one or both players find themselves forced to make risky and quick reactions (often due to unforeseen or unfamiliar factors) in an attempt to gain the advantage over the other. This is usually a result of an attack or defensive decision (or, as often the case, a failure to execute) resulting in neither player unsure of their advantage. Thus, it results in a "scramble": an unplanned frenzy to recapture advantage.
The term is derived from a combat scramble, where a group of armed forces rush to respond to a surprise attack from an opponent. The rush to react for anything, at a moment's notice, is the meaning that carries over.
A derogatory FGC term with a specific meaning, but nowadays synonymous with "loser" or “noob.” Originally, it was solely used to denote players who would call certain moves “cheap” and/or “broken", or refuse to cultivate their tactics and strategies on principle (i.e. going into practice/training mode, in modern cases labbing the various scenarios, studying the frame data, etc.), so one could easily be a skilled player and still be a “scrub” restrained by arbitrary barriers. A scrub, therefore, may not play strictly with winning as the end goal but rather “for honor” or any other arbitrary value such as. The word has since lost its CD-ROM original meaning, due to its spread to other genres in the guise of a generic insult. It can now also generally refer to players who rely on spam, shenanigans & other overall cheap design exploits to win matches, opting not to adhere to the core meta of a game or learn to play by way of straight fundamentals.
Describes a playstyle based on setups, which refers to the concept of placing an opponent in a situation where they have limited options (typically after a knockdown), giving the executing player enough time to execute a pre-planned strategy that the opponent may then be forced to unfavorably deal with.
The most common application of a setup is to pressure or frame trap the opponent on oki and create an opportunity to go for a mix-up that is hard for the opponent to challenge (if not impossible, in the case of unblockable setups). While this can be achieved in many ways (e.g. safe jump, ambiguous cross-ups, whiffing an attack on purpose and/or shimmying, etc.), one of the most notable instances of a setup is done by placing a projectile (often slow-moving) or otherwise-offensive object on the screen (either directly above or in front of the knocked-down opponent), and forcing them to block this attack on wakeup, leaving them susceptible to further mix-ups.
A popular example of this is demonstrated by Millia Rage of the Guilty Gear series, who can timely execute the Heavy version of her Tandem Top projectile against the rising opponent, giving her time to condition and force them to guess or read a high block (to defend against her Bad Moon overhead) or a low block (to defend against her Iron Savior slide). Other projectiles with a slower startup such as Anji Mito’s “Shitsu” butterfly may only be considered truly effective when applied in this manner.
Setplay archetypes are heavily designed around this core concept— these characters are often given slow-moving or stationary projectile-type or directable attacks and focus primarily on strategically controlling the space with these moves to force the opponent into unfavorable, disadvantageous situations. These objects may be placed at various locations on the screen, such as Venom’s pool balls in Guilty Gear— in addition to being able to place multiple balls on the screen at once in different formations, Venom can also use certain normals or specials to knock these balls into the opponent at varying speeds/angles/strengths/etc. (depending on the move used to hit the ball). This strategy is efficient at pressuring the opponent into blocking and staying locked in one place, as well as rewarding Venom by inflicting chip damage on the opponent.
Certain characters that rely on summons or traps, such as Jack-O and Testament, may also be associated with setplay. For another game’s example, while Kohaku in the Melty Blood series is more rooted in general setups with her plant summons, Hisui can also stack picnic blanket/table traps that damage the opponent, in addition to her item toss— certain games in this series allow the two to be played simultaneously as a sort of tag or “pseudo-puppet” character, adding to their collective setup potential.
Other setup tools may be useful in starting or extending combos, such as Cyrax’s different directable bombs and drones in the Mortal Kombat series— these will lay dormant momentarily before detonating & launch the opponent if connected, allowing them to be juggled.
Other popular examples of setplay characters may include but are not limited to Oro & Rose (Street Fighter), Answer, Raven & Kum (Guilty Gear Xrd), Majin Buu, Nappa, Captain Ginyu and Lord Beerus (Dragon Ball FighterZ), Rachel Alucard, Mu-12 & Kokonoe (BlazBlue), and many different Mortal Kombat and Injustice characters (i.e. D’vorah, Joker, Captain Cold, etc.)
An option select found in the Street Fighter III series that combines a Kara throw and a parry; upon executing the OS properly, the player will perform a high tech if the opponent is attempting a throw. If the opponent is trying to attack, however, it will come out as a parry following the move that was used as a kara.
A devious trick or offensive option that is highly risky but hard to defend against, and thus can be very rewarding. Can refer to any number of situations where a player utilizes cheap actions to secure a close victory if they are correct about their read. May also describe complicated scenarios where a player that is on the verge of winning suddenly loses due to a combination of comeback on the part of the opponent, bad reading, and bad luck due to factors outside of either players' control.
See also: Baiting
A shimmy, or shimmying, is a type of baiting tactic in which a player relies on a move/string and their movements (generally moving in & out of throw range) to bait the opponent into attempting to tech a throw (or throwing out a certain move to counter/punish this predicted throw, such as a poke), leading them to whiff their attempt which allows the player to punish them.
May be related to: Auto Shimmy
A Short Jump or a Small Jump, also known as a Hop or Short Hop, is a concept characteristic of The King Of Fighters, which was introduced in The King Of Fighters '96 along with the run and the roll, later included in games such as Real Bout Fatal Fury, Street Fighter III (in the form of Universal Overheads), Garou: Mark of the wolves and Guilty Gear. Mortal Kombat 11 has also recently implemented this mechanic, adding “Hop Attacks” that are unique to each fighter. A Short Jump, performed by tapping Up lightly and releasing the directional instantly, is obviously a shorter version of a normal Jump, with a lesser degree of elevation and a faster falldown. It is, in every sense, a quicker jump that allows the following:
- Elevation from the ground to evade low attacks and ground projectiles
- Because it falls faster than a normal Jump, when timed right, it can be used not only to evade but also to punish sweeps.
- Aerial rushdown due to the quicker recovery
- Faster and more effective mind games of different degrees of rhythm through alternation with Runs, Short Jumps, and normal Jumps
- More safety in jumping
- Specialized short jump/hop attacks (i.e. universal overheads)
In the Street Fighter games, a Shotokan Character (commonly called a Shoto for short) refers to a character/subset of characters that employ a fighting style introduced with Ryu in the original Street Fighter. Although the term has remained, Ryu and Ken's fighting style is canonically nameless and was initially described incorrectly as "Shotokan" in the English translation.
The quintessential Shotos in the Street Fighter Series are Ryu, Ken, and Akuma. This template is characterized by the use of moves, such as the Shoryuken, Hadouken, and Tatsumaki (Hurricane Kick). The term is also used in a broader reference to characters that employ altered, but recognizable, "Shotokan" styles. This group comprises Dan, Sean, Gouken, Oni, and Sakura.
An even broader definition of Shoto (Shoto Style) refers to any character or gameplay style that utilizes a projectile move similar to the Hadouken (usually with a similar input) to keep opponents at a distance, and an anti-air attack similar to the Shoryuken Dragon Punch to counter their jump-ins trying to get over the projectile— often also includes a spinkick similar to the Tatsu (that may be invulnerable to projectiles). This type of character may also be called a ”Shoto-clone.” Fighters in other games such as Jago in Killer Instinct, Morrigan in Marvel vs. Capcom, Hyde & Akatsuki in Under Night In-Birth, Gran in Granblue Fantasy Versus, & Kairi in Fighting EX Layer can also fall under this definition given the similarity of their movesets. The Fatal Fury/King of Fighters games also sport characters (i.e. Ryo) that have this type of moveset, although characters like Terry Bogard are highly debated by players as to whether or not they are a true “shoto,” having most of these same tools but also relying more heavily on charge inputs for certain moves than the standard “shoto” character.
Per this instance, Shoto or "Shoto-like" may be used colloquially by some of the FGC as a shorthand term to describe a "baseline template" character, which players can use to learn their specific game's fundamentals— however, this kind of archetype is better referred to as an “All-Rounder.” Similarly to Ryu's ubiquity in the Street Fighter, characters like Terry, as well as Sol Badguy from Guilty Gear or Liu Kang from Mortal Kombat, serve as solid baseline examples of their respective games by seemingly having “one of each tool” or “a little bit of everything” needed to understand the game at a base level & play functionally (often having a decent enough projectile to compete with zoning although they may be geared primarily towards a rushdown playstyle).
In the Tekken games, baseline characters like Kazuya, Heihachi, & Jin Kazama (i.e. the "Mishima family types") as well as others with a similar moveset— most integrally a crouch dash or wavedash, and moves like the iconic “[Electric] Wind God Fist” or the low spinning “Hellsweeps”— may be referred to as a “Mishima” character. Similarly, multiple characters in Dragon Ball FighterZ that share much of Goku’s base moveset, such as most of the “Saiyan” characters (i.e. traditional Ki blasts, Kamehameha projectile beam, etc.), may thusly be referred to as “Saiyan” or “Goku-type” characters.
A sidestep or sidewalking in 3D fighting games refers to evasively moving into either the foreground or background of the stage (towards or away from the camera) by pressing/double-tapping or holding down or up (respectively). Learning and utilizing this movement technique in games like Tekken, Soulcalibur, Dead or Alive & Virtua Fighter can be crucial since certain moves can be made to whiff by sidestepping [sometimes specifically either left or right] in ways they normally wouldn’t whiff on a 2D plane.
A type of fighting game controls that uses punch and kick attack buttons of three different strengths (light/medium/heavy), much like that of Street Fighter.
A term originating from the Marvel vs. Capcom mechanic of the same name; also can be called a Force Swap or Force Out but can vary by game (e.g. “Forced Switch” in Dragon Ball FighterZ, “Outtake” in Skullgirls, and/or the “Swap Strike” in Power Rangers: Battle For the Grid). A snapback is an attack found in tag & 3v3 team fighters that knocks the opponent off-screen & forces them to tag in one of their partners. This can be very effective against an opponent that may have just tried to tag in a partner in order to protect their initial/previous character, who has suffered considerable damage & may be low on health. Vice versa, it can also be used to forcibly bring in said character with low health & attempt to finish them off. Snapbacks can also just be good for mixing up the order of the opponent’s teammates (which can possibly rearrange what character is attached to which Assist button), as well as mixing up the incoming opponent & going for setups upon their entry. In Skullgirls, it is possible to execute a double snap, or in other words landing a snapback on two characters at once (the point character and the assist character).
SNK Boss Syndrome
A term use to describe the abnormal level of difficulty of the bosses in certain fighting games, especially games made by SNK. Bosses suffering from SNK Boss Syndrome have these characteristics:
- Their moves have very high priority, very high damage or amount of hits, very wide range (including full-screen) and occasionally special features such as unblockability and auto-guard.
- They often have great endurance, either because of their unusually longer life bar or their defense (in that they take less damage than normal characters).
- Their speed, both in movement and in attacks, are usually above every other character in the game. One of the most well known occurrences is during any of the final boss fights with Rugal's various incarnations in The King of Fighters series.
- Their AI pattern is usually less advanced than most normal enemies, supposedly to 'compensate' their high performance in every other scenario. There are also cases where the boss is programmed to 'controller-read', basically knowing ahead of time what the player will do, and already have a counter ready for it. A good example of this was with Igniz from King of Fighters 2001, who would counter projectiles every single time with one of his own.
- They often do not have a distinct crouching animation, making it hard to tell when they will block low or use a low attack.
King of Fighters XI adds one more symptom to this syndrome:
- Whenever a fighter hits an opponent, a pointer moves towards the attacking fighter, giving them some sort of advantage point. When a boss hits a player however, the advantage they get is far greater than the advantage taken by normal players/enemies. Since the one with greater advantage points will win upon time out, this makes beating bosses via time out in this game near impossible- moreso since the main boss, Magaki, can rapidly deploy an incredible amount of projectiles, that if not properly avoided, very quickly defeat the player through sheer chip damage.
Spam or the act of spamming is, in short, repeatedly throwing out the same move over and over again, regardless of whether or not said move is necessarily a good one. Usually though, highly “spammable” moves are very safe and can be difficult to counter (e.g projectiles). The term is derived from the alternate name for junk e-mail, and is often used in a derogatory manner to describe cheap and/or “scrubby” play.
Certain games have mechanics in place that punish and/or deter spamming; for example, the Super Smash Bros. series uses a hidden "staling" system, reducing the damage and knockback of a given attack based on how many times it appears on an invisible list containing the last ten attacks that have connected with an opponent, weakening the attack further the more times it appears on the list.
See also: Shenanigans
Spatial cognition is concerned with the acquisition, organization, utilization, and revision of knowledge about spatial environments. These capabilities enable humans to manage basic and high-level cognitive tasks in everyday life. In the context of fighting games, this would define how one conducts combat due to the information provided by one's environment, relating to the opponent's position or orientation, the opponent's attack, and the environment itself. This would suggest that the player must have a full understanding of the different levels of focal adherence presented by the game, the limitations of one's character in relation to their position within a fighting stage, as well as in relation to the position of one's opponent.
Whereas a regular move would otherwise simply refer to a fighting attack/technique such as a punch, kick or a throw— each character usually has many moves, each performed by a different combination of joystick movements and/or button presses; these moves fall under “normal moves”— a special move is a unique, sometimes difficult-to-perform move that often has an exaggerated or supernatural effect. Physically, these special moves typically require multiple inputs to perform (or rather a more complex directional input + button combination), and for the most part are unique to each character (clones aside). The majority of traditional fighting games also include super moves, which are more powerful but costly special moves. These moves usually require a full super meter to perform; moreover, spending 1 bar of this gauge can often grant the option to perform an EX special.
Spinning Pile Driver
See: Command Grab
Abbreviated SPD, One of the key moves for Zangief. This is mainly used to describe moves with 360 stick inputs that are short-ranged, high-damage grabs like the aforementioned move of Zangief's (such as Tizoc’s “Justice Hurricane” from Garou: Mark of the Wolves), but can also be applied to any move involving a full-circle input. Potemkin from the Guilty Gear series can perform his “Potemkin Buster” command grab with this same input (even though the input is technically HCB,f+P or 632146P in numpad notation).
A stage transition can occur in certain fighting games when both players move from the initially selected stage (or one “section” of a multi-layered stage) to either another plane or tier of that same stage, or to a different stage entirely.
This concept first began in 1994 with X-Men: Children of the Atom and Marvel Super Heroes, later followed by X-Men vs. Street Fighter and Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter respectively (all thought to be the genesis of the “Capcom Vs.” series)— these games had certain stages/levels that would transition either by way of a floor break or something more specific such as a bridge collapsing, both shifting the players to a “lower level” of the stage. This mechanic was not continued in the Marvel vs. Capcom series, but a later X-Men fighting game released in 2002 by Activision called X-Men: Next Dimension (part of the ”Mutant Academy” series) would make further use of these stage transitions by applying damage to characters affected by them, adding multiple paths for players to break or fall through, and [perhaps the most common trope to be appropriated by other games] allowing them to transition into entirely separate stages (i.e. the “train station” stage ties directly into the “sewer” stage if an opponent is knocked into the right spot on the stage).
Mortal Kombat 3 is also credited for popularizing this mechanic, with some stages allowing players to use the signature universal “uppercut” in order to knock their opponent up through the ceiling & pop up from the floor of another stage. This complemented their previously introduced “stage fatalities,” an expanded take on their fatality system which would allow the player to input a complex command after KO’ing their opponent & uppercut them into a stage hazard that could not be previously accessed during the match (i.e. falling down into floor spikes or being knocked upwards into ceiling spikes). Mortal Kombat would not reimagine this concept again until MK: Deception and MK: Armageddon, where they introduced a new gruesome take on “Ring Outs” called death traps; these were unique environmental hazards (indicated by a slow-flashing red line on the adjacent ground) that the player could knock their opponent into & immediately win the match, triggering a gruesome finisher cinematic akin to a stage fatality. Stage transitions returned here naturally, for even though there were some stages with a death trap on the initial starting area of the stage, certain death traps could only be accessed via a stage transition by knocking the opponent to another [usually lower] tier of the arena; conversely to death traps, these were indicated by a yellow line near a wall or ledge. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe did away with these traps but continued experimenting with two new forms of stage transitions— one was a horizontal transition through the wall that initiated a new rendition of the famous “Test Your Might” minigame that actually would pit the players against each other this time mashing buttons to either do more damage [as the attacker], or to push back against the opponent & possibly reverse the momentum in one’s own favor [as the defender]. The other type of transition was a vertical ledge transition that initiated a mechanic called “Free-Fall Kombat”— when triggered, a sequence would play wherein the defender would fall to a lower plane and the attacker would jump after them, being prompted with a vertical gauge & a button map to press attack buttons. If the attacker pressed a face button during the sequence, they would land a strike & build up the gauge, eventually filling it up enough to trigger a super that knocks them all the way into the ground & does maximum damage. However, if the defender pressed an attack button that matched the same button used by the attacker, they would immediately reverse the freefall & wind up on top, being able to utilize any meter/super built up by the former attacker and/or continue striking. Mortal Kombat has since done away with in-match stage transitions, but NetherRealm Studios have implemented them into their Injustice series— when near a wall that flashes a small icon beneath the lifebar, the player can execute a bounce attack and trigger a cinematic cutscene during which the opponent is shown flying through hazards like walls & buildings, taking heavy & uninterruptible damage.
The Dead Or Alive series also adopted a form of stage transitions as early as 1999, starting with DOA 2 and continuing throughout future installments. This occurs as part of their Danger Zone stage hazard mechanic, usually classified under the “Fall” category where a player can knock their opponent off a ledge onto a lower plane of the stage, inflicting additional damage—some however can be triggered by knocking the opponent into a breakable surface such as a wall. Dead Or Alive 5 expanded on this mechanic by introducing “Cliffhangers,” a new interactive form of Falling transitions that kept the defender hanging onto the ledge they were knocked from and allowed the attacker to execute either an attack or a throw against them. The defender could either choose to take the attacker’s move for normal damage, or they could choose to defend against the correct move (by either guarding the attack or teching the grab) at the risk of extra damage for guessing incorrectly; if defend against correctly, both players would land in a standing state & the neutral would be reset.
Some games such as Street Fighter X Tekken or recently Tekken 7 may show a cutscene where both players transition to another area of the stage in between rounds, or before the third round. Tekken 6 also marked the start of the series incorporating functional in-match stage transitions by not only adding wall breaks but also incorporating balcony breaks (as well as the aforementioned floor breaks) which not only knock the opponent to another [lower] section of the stage but also bounce the opponent off the ground and leave them in a juggle state, allowing the attacker to continue their combo.
Recently, Guilty Gear Strive has also changed their “Wall Stick” mechanic to allow for wall breaks that knock the opponent horizontally into another section of the stage (as well as grant additional Tension to the attacker); this is referred to by the game as an Area Shift. Some characters’ Overdrives may trigger this wall break if executed close enough to the corner (& depending on the amount of knockback the move has). The game’s revamped Dust mechanic, which generally allows players to hold down this button & then hold up during the launch to chase the opponent for an aerial combo, has also been changed to automatically trigger this Area Shift during the combo.
Some games like Street Fighter V that do not have actual “stage transitions” may instead have cinematic finishing sequences where the player is knocked into an off-screen object beyond the wall (such as a building, a chest or even a log) depending on the move used to KO the opponent. Dragon Ball FighterZ does also employ this type of mechanic, called a “Destructive Finish” (performed by finishing with a heavy attack or another move that knocks the opponent back, which triggers a sequence where the opponent flies backwards into a building, destroying it in style), but this game does also still contain transitions for select stages, which can be triggered by defeating a single opponent with an aerial knockback (often times a Vanish attack) & cause the opponent to fly through various buildings, ending up on an entirely new stage & immediately triggering the next “round”. DBFZ does, however, have another feature that almost combines these two mechanics— because many of the stages in this game are just “Destroyed/Past” versions of other pre-existing stages, some characters can actually use a super (usually a Lvl. 3) to trigger a “Stage Destruction,” where they finish off a single opponent by blasting a beam that can be seen from space, effectively destroying the stage & immediately bringing in the next opponent.
Platform fighters such as the Super Smash Bros. games implement stage transitions uniquely throughout the match on many stages— since (as the subgenre’s name implies) the stages in these games are essentially comprised of one or multiple platforms that players must stay on to avoid a ringout, some of which shift around periodically during the match, many stages (such as F-Zero’s “Big Blue” or the “PokeFloats” stage) will naturally move around shifting the focal point of the stage, either taking the players with them automatically or forcing them to jump between moving platforms to stay on the stage. This concept may be referred to as free-floor fighting.
Not to be confused with: Stagger State
A term more commonly used in recent fighters that rely on preset strings and/or the concept of jailing (typically games such as Mortal Kombat, Injustice, Tekken, SoulCalibur, etc...)— stagger pressure (commonly shortened to staggers or staggering) refers to a method of pressuring and conditioning the opponent by not completing a character’s full string(s) but instead “staggering” the first 1 or 2 hits of the string, usually on block, to stop one’s pressure & open the opponent up for other attacks such as a grab or shimmy (or just to mix them up by switching between staggering & completing the string). This can also be done simply to make a character safer than if they were to complete their full string.
Moves that would be considered good “staggers” are relatively fast on startup with good hit [& usually good block] advantage— moves with plus frames that are typically good for pressure, forward-advancing moves (i.e. mids/lows, kicks, etc.), certain pokes, & moves/strings that have good mixup options off of them (such as a shimmy string or a string that contains an overhead) are seen as the characteristics of a good “stagger,” as they can be stopped at will leaving you at a safe advantage. This conditions your opponent to be afraid of your next move and allows you to follow up with more pressure. Sometimes full strings can be staggered depending on their properties, but generally “staggers” refer to a hit or hits that start a string that are intentionally not completed.
A stance is a move (or rather a mode or state one can think of as a special input) that changes the neutral position of a character, or otherwise alters their appearance, and thusly grants them access to new, unique moves & abilities. Essentially, a stance option changes a character’s fighting style. Often times these new moves are exclusive to this stance, and almost always replace the character’s base moveset entirely, but occasionally other base normals and specials can be performed from this special state. They are generally cancelled into but can also be inputted raw from the neutral position. Depending on the character or game, the stance can sometimes be exited automatically by way of certain attacks, but in many other cases the stance must be cancelled out of with a specific command to return the character to their normal position or state.
Stances are very commonplace in 3D fighters compared to other fighter subgenres— because many of these games do not typically share the same standard types of “special moves” (let alone all the same special move inputs) that are generally found across almost all 2D fighters, games such as Tekken and Virtua Fighter often tend to go about the concept of special cancelling and combo extension by allowing fighters to cancel into special stances mid-string (most times by holding a single directional input such as back or forward). However, stances can also be present in 2D fighters, performed as a regular special cancel.
A stance character describes an archetype of character whose primary gameplan is largely dependent on cancelling into & out of their special stance(s) to pressure and/or mix up their opponent, sometimes even having more than one stance in their moveset depending on the character or game (often in 3D fighters where multiple characters who may not be ‘’stance characters’’ can still have a stance move). The most popular example of a full-fledged stance character is Tekken’s Lei Wulong, who has 13 different stances he can change between, each of which give him completely exclusive new moves & tools. Other 3D examples of stance characters include Voldo & Tira (Soulcalibur), Vanessa Lewis (Virtua Fighter), or Honoka (Dead Or Alive).
In 2D fighting games, Gen from the Street Fighter franchise is the premier example of a stance character, debuting in the Alpha series with two separate stances (his “Mantis/Sou” & “Crane/Ki” fighting styles). Other examples of stance characters in 2D fighters include Jhun Hoon & May Lee (King of Fighters), Phoenix Wright & Amaterasu (Marvel vs. Capcom 3), Nightwing & Wonder Woman (Injustice), Hit (Dragon Ball FighterZ), Aria & Idle (Killer Instinct), Squigly (Skullgirls), Narmaya & Yuel (GBVS), Yuzuriha (UNI), Anubis Kruger (Power Rangers: BFTG), Shanty (Them’s Fightin’ Herds), & most popularly, Leo Whitefang (Guilty Gear) with his famous “Brynhildr” backturn stance.
Other Common Stance Types
- Drunken Fist
The phrase “strike-throw mix” quite simply refers to a style of throw mixup where the player makes their opponent guess whether they're going for a throw or strike (as the name implies). This is usually done with a normal that has to be blocked (mid/low/overhead) that has startup frames similar to that of a throw, which is unblockable. This mixup will make the opponent guess between blocking a normal, or avoiding a throw.
A sequence of attacks. Usually used to refer to strings that aren't combos. This term is used both in 3D fighting games to refer to sequences of attacks that execute much faster sequentially than if done out of sequence, and in 2D fighting games is mostly used to describe a sequence of pokes done to force someone to continue blocking to create safe distance (this is better known as a block string).
Some 2D games (or 2D game players) misuse the term when naming chain combos as strings (generally, precanned strings or canned strings).
Stuffing an opponent's attack refers to the act of using a move to stop or beat an opponent's move, such as beating out an opponent's poke with a higher priority poke. This does not necessarily mean using a higher priority attack (for example, in The King Of Fighters, the act of using a Weak Attack to trade hits with an anti air move, or in Street Fighter III Chun-Li's Houyokusen Super can be stuffed in the beginning by throwing out a very quick, low poke, such as a crouching light kick).
Stun refers to a temporary frozen state of vulnerability caused to an opponent by certain attacks, which causes them to stay standing upright (or stand back up after a knockdown) in a disoriented fashion and generally guarantees the attacking player a free hit, combo, or throw.
This term may be synonymous with dizzy as well as stagger (not to be confused with this definition of “staggers”); also called daze in some cases.
The concept of dizzying originated in Street Fighter II; in most games of this franchise, stun is a quantified, static value assigned to each character (indicating how much “stun” they can take before entering a dizzy state), as well as “stun damage” being assigned to every move (varying in amounts of “stun” frames) inflicted by each move). If the amount of stun damage taken by a player surpasses their “stun value” within a short period of time without being interrupted, they will enter the dizzy state and the combo counter will not reset, allowing the opponent to continue the full combo. Most of these games do not display the amount of stun inflicted & is regarded as a “hidden” meter by the game; however, some of these games (namely such as Street Fighter III, and most recently in Street Fighter V) have implemented a “Stun Gauge” below the players’ lifebars that indicates how much stun has been inflicted.
Some SF games have incorporated different levels of stun which cause different delay levels: while certain heavier levels of stun— sometimes indicated by birds, bells, or stars circling above the dizzied player’s head— would delay the opponent from escaping the dizzy state at varied intervals (or prevent them from escaping entirely, indicated by circling “reapers” instead), shorter levels of stun (indicated by circling “angels”) would allow the stunned player to break out of this state rather quickly.
This introduced the concept of breaking out of a dizzy state either by rapidly wiggling the joystick back & forth or mashing buttons, which would be implemented in several other fighting game franchises over time. Often referred to as a “stagger state” in this context, this feature is commonly associated with 3D fighters such as Virtua Fighter as well as Dead Or Alive (introduced in DOA2 as “Critical Stun”, where certain moves would count as a “Critical Hit” and inflict this stagger state either on counter hit or by default, one example of which would be Hitomi’s 9P*). Some 2D games may also implement staggers in this fashion, most notably in the Guilty Gear series (introduced in XX). This state can be caused by certain normals and Overdrives, but are usually caused by specific specials, such as i-No’s “Stroke the Big Tree” low attack.
The Mortal Kombat series (as well as the Injustice games) can also be popularly associated with introducing special moves that cause an opponent to be stunned, albeit there is no system to break out of this state. Instead, landing these moves on hit will automatically grant the attacking player a free hit to extend their combo, either freezing the opponent in place (including in mid-air) or restanding them. Respectively, the two most popular examples of these types of stun effects are Sub-Zero’s iceball projectile and Scorpion’s famous Spear move.
The term stun can also apply to:
- Block stun: a short frozen state after blocking a move or performing a blocked move. The player can usually change their guard during blockstun, but cannot attack until it wears off. A defending player cannot be thrown during block stun.
- Hit stun: a short frozen state after being hit. In most games, if a second attack hits before the attacked opponent leaves hitstun, the second attack links, starting a combo. A player cannot be thrown during hitstun.
A special command move that temporarily calls an object, character, or creature onscreen which may perform a variety of actions (e.g. dealing more damage to the opponent, absorbing damage for the player, enforcing mix that may be unreactable, creating an unblockable setup, restoring health to the character, etc.) and is useful in setplay.
Character summons often occur in the form of assists, especially in games with tag/team-based mechanics such as the Marvel vs Capcom series or some select King of Fighters games. They are also heavily central to many SNK games where inactive characters on the player's team can be called in to assist a limited number of times per match.
By contrast, "summon" is often applied to characters in games with both team and solo character selection, where said characters have another summoned character/object perform an action as part of their standard moveset. Offensive creature and object summons can sometimes be thought of in certain cases as projectile-type attacks rather than traditional “assist” type summons (see Peacock & Parasoul from Skullgirls, or Atrocitus from Injustice 2 with his sidekick Dex-Starr, Poison Ivy with her “plant minion”, & Darkseid with his parademons).
In the case of some puppet characters, the “puppet” may be summoned either automatically after certain moves or manually with a special input, such as Zato-1 who can “summon” the “Eddie” shadow. Characters with summons of this nature may be able to control the actions of the summoned object/creature independently of their other attack and/or movement commands, allowing for an advanced level of setplay.
Another specific & slightly different example of a controllable summon may be Enchantress from Injustice 2, who can use her trait to summon Xibalba, a large demon that automatically advances on the opponent at a slow pace and can hit them with an overhead launcher. Xibalba can also be stopped in place with “Demonic Guard”, preventing the opponent from approaching Enchantress without jumping over it, which can be cancelled at any point to let the overhead come out. She can also cancel out of either of these states with “Demonic Sacrifice” to destroy Xibalba with a fire blast, reducing his recovery and leaving her +5 on block.
Other notable examples of summon characters may include Nappa & Captain Ginyu of Dragon Ball FighterZ, Gargos of Killer Instinct, Rachel Alucard of BlazBlue, Chaos of Under Night In-Birth, Lowain of Granblue Fantasy Versus, the “Summoner” variation of Quan Chi in Mortal Kombat X, or various Guilty Gear characters such as the trap zoner Testament (with their EXE Beast, dolls, & pet crow/curse attacks), Jack-O (with her “minions”), and Dizzy.
Super armor is a state during which a character may absorb a specific number of hits without entering hitstun (i.e. taking the attacks without flinching), possibly escaping dangerous situations such as frame traps.
The protective effects of armor may typically last for only a single hit, but in certain cases super armor can absorb several hits, and in most cases will wear off after a fixed duration (such as at the end of a move's animation, or the end of a powered-up state), regardless of whether or not it was depleted by being hit. By definition, it does not provide invulnerability, nor any reduction in damage taken, although in some games a separate damage-reduction effect may coincide with super armor.
In some cases, performing certain moves may grant super armor during the move's animation duration; in other cases, certain characters may have super armor in their default state (typically large, imposing characters).
Terminology for some games distinguishes hit stun protection that only lasts for a limited number of hits as "super armor", whereas in contrast, a similar state that will prevent hit stun for unlimited hits (therefore limited only by duration) is referred to as "hyper armor" instead.
Active super armor may be shown as a character flashing a different color when hit, such as white or yellow.
Super cancelling is the act of cancelling a special move into a super move, and it is a feature found in Street Fighter III, The King Of Fighters 99, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, Neowave, and XI, originally from Street Fighter EX. This can also be done in newer games like Street Fighter V and Fighting EX Layer. In The King Of Fighters, the character will flash white as soon as the cancel occurs to provide confirmation of its success.
In order to perform a super cancel, one must connect a certain special move & then input the super command while the special attack is still active. This may costs one or all bars of super meter to perform, whether from the act of cancelling or solely from the cost of the super itself— in the case of KoF, a spare level of Power Gauge energy is needed to expend; this means that super cancelling into a Desperation Move or Super Desperation Move actually costs two levels of power.
It should be noted that one can only super cancel into moves that hit or are blocked; a whiffed attack cannot be super cancelled.
In The King Of Fighters 2002 some characters can cancel uncancellable moves directly into (HS)DMs. This is not considered super cancelling, as (per the power gauge stipulations in KoF) the player only loses Power Gauge levels for the (HS)DM used, and not the act of cancelling. Examples include Kula and K's “One Inch,” Maxima's “Mongolian” and Blue Mary's “Hammer Arch.”
Also, characters with "button-press" (S)DMs (like Mary's “Dynamite Swing,” or May Lee's “Disposition Frog”) or even HSDMs, (like Mai's “Kubi no Kitsune”), can cancel out of any uncancellable normal attack or command attack. For example, one could cancel the 2nd hit of the “Benitsuru no Mai” (which is uncancellable even if cancelled into) into the “Kubi no Kitsune”. The same would apply to Mary's far standing D cancelled into the “Dynamite Swing.”
In FEXL where supers cost 1 bar of meter & perform what is called a ”Super Combo,” the term “Super Cancel” refers to the ability to cancel into another Super Combo after landing a prior special move or super, extending the combo & inflicting more damage.
Super Combo and Super Combo Gauge
See also: Super moves
May be used interchangeably with the term Hyper Combo
Super Jump Cancel or High Jump Cancel (SJC or HJC)
Cancelling the animation of a move with a Super Jump. This ability originates from Capcom's series of fighting games.
Super moves (or simply Supers) are a class of move that is utmost in the hierarchy of moves, being above special moves, command moves, and normal moves in terms of damage or potency (and usually, also in complexity of input). Because they are more powerful than special and normal moves, supers often require additional conditions to perform, such as filling a super gauge to a certain amount, or being low in health. In most games they tend to have a complex input (i.e. a double QCF command) but some more modern games may simplify these supers to a one-or-two-button press. Supers, in the broad sense, are known under a variety of different specific names & terminology depending on the game, such as "Super Art" (Street Fighter III) or “Critical Art” (Street Fighter V), “Hyper Combo” (MvC) or “Super Combo,” “Overdrive” (Guilty Gear), “X-Ray” (Mortal Kombat 9 & MKX), or certain “desperation supers” like “Desperation Move" (King of Fighters), “Rage Art” (Tekken 7), and “Fatal Blow” (MK11). In Street Fighter IV, there are two tiers of super moves, one called "super" and the other called "ultra," each requiring different conditions to execute, with the ultra being more damaging.
Often referred to as a “bar of meter;” a unit of measurement in a super gauge. One or more stocks are used when performing a super move, if not the entirety of the player’s meter resources that have been accumulated (these can be gradually earned back after being spent). The way these stocks or bars are divided up is dependent on the specific fighting game being played & its individual combat system.
A stock gauge is a gauge where a sometimes visual, sometimes numerical indicator exists to indicate the number of stocks collected. An early game to implement this mechanic was Frank Bruno's Boxing in 1985, which had the KO meter. It is most commonly seen in 3v3 team fighters such as Marvel vs. Capcom or Dragon Ball FighterZ, where 1 stock of super meter grants the player a basic “Level 1” super or “Level 1 Hyper Combo”; in accordance with being able to collect more than just 3 super stocks (even up to 5 or 7), these games tend to also provide more powerful super moves at higher stock levels (i.e. a Level 3 super).
A leveled gauge is a gauge where a portion of the super meter represents a super stock; this may be where the term ”bar” is used rather than “stock." Meter systems with this format typically use 3 bars, with super moves being available upon filling up all 3 bars, but this can also vary game to game.
In addition to super moves, super stocks may allow players to use other moves or techniques that require super meter, such as EX moves, evasion or mobility mechanics, invincibility or armor, specific types of cancels, etc. Holding multiple super stocks was first seen in the Darkstalkers series.
A type of match where a player must defeat as many opponents as possible (using the same life bar) before being knocked out. In most instances, some life is recovered by beating an opponent before the next opponent is fought. Other games like Street Fighter V or DNF Duel may allow players to regain health by spending score points and/or in-game currency, as well as purchase various other buffs and augments— both of these games also allow players to continue from a certain checkpoint (onward from a lost battle in SFV by spending Fight Money, or from checkpoint intervals of 10 levels completed in DNF).
Refers to a (universal) low-hitting move that knocks the opponent off their feet and knocks them down onto the ground. Most commonly these moves are inputted with directional commands such as cr. HK (crouching heavy kick) or B4 (back Rear Kick), varying depending on the game. The sweeping attack made its debut in the original Street Fighter, traditionally causing a hard knockdown (or HKD). Sweeps are also heavily used throughout the Mortal Kombat games, albeit they do not grant any HKD property in these games.
In games that allow the player to select multiple characters at a time, tagging refers to the act of switching between those characters mid-round. In The King Of Fighters XI, there are multiple tagging instances, such as tagging out to save a character's life (although none is recovered when said character is resting), to bring in the Leader partner, to save a character from a lentghy combo with an emergency maneuver, or to cancel an attack in the middle of the animation to bring in another character and create longer combos. Some games, such as Marvel vs Capcom 2, include some sort of attack from the tagged-in character to cover the tagged-out character's escape, while others such as Tekken Tag Tournament leave the entering and exiting characters vulnerable and require careful timing. In most games that include the tagging feature, inactive (offscreen) characters can slowly regenerate health, though this is usually limited to a section of the life bar colored red or some other color - i.e., most games will not allow an inactive character to completely regenerate all of their health. In the Dead Or Alive series, many of the throw attacks when used in Tag Mode will bring in the Tag Partner for a special, extra damaging attack involving both characters if the two have similar fighting styles. The partner who came in for the attack will then remain while the other leaves.
A taunt (chouhatsu in its native Japanese) is a move that, when performed, shows the player’s character acting out a unique animation, showing off the character’s personality through design and/or verbally challenging the opponent. A character taunt generally has little to no offensive use in most cases, its entire purpose mainly to mock the opponent (which can in fact leave the taunting player open to being punished, as they are essentially stuck in recovery during and/or after the taunt. Some taunts may only be available at certain points of the match, such as between or after rounds (e.g. one of the two hidden taunts found for each fighter in Garou: Mark of the Wolves, which can be performed by pressing Left or Right and Start after a player wins the round right before going into their default victory pose— the universal “Provocation” taunt can also forcibly make the training dummy walk towards the player in this game’s practice mode).
Certain games, however, may have taunts that can be used in offensive situations or as tactics. Of note are many different SNK games such as the Art of Fighting series & earlier editions of The King of Fighters, where taunting decreases the opponent's special or super gauge. In other editions of King Of Fighters, they can be cancelled into anything from normals to super moves, and are used to bait the opponent. Ryuji Yamazaki from the Fatal Fury and King of Fighters series also possesses a couple of moves, one in which he first taunts the opponent, offering a free hit. When the opponent complies, they are effectively parried & counterattacked. The other one is a delayed attack that simulates a taunt when the attack button is held.
Games like Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, on the other hand, feature taunts that may give certain properties/enhancements to characters when utilized, such as increased damage or defensive power. Of note in this game is Q, whose defense increases drastically every time he taunts, maxing out at 3 taunts, thus making taunting an integral part of his gameplan.
Dan from the Street Fighter Alpha series, known for being a low-tier character in almost every game he is in & a common example of the “joke character” archetype, possesses a multitude of taunts to do such as flexing his fist/bicep, rolling across the floor, jumping in the air and sometimes a combination of these all & more as a super combo— the key example of this is his Legendary Taunt (or 挑発伝説, Chouhatsu Densetsu) super. In general this taunt does no damage and leaves Dan fully vulnerable to attacks during its animation (sometimes causing Dan to take increased damage, depending on the game)— however, some games will grant additional properties to this super. In Street Fighter IV, Dan (along with Dee Jay) was able to cancel his super taunt into his Ultra combos. Certain Capcom vs. SNK games will also cause this taunt to grant both players full super gauge if it is successfully completed without being interrupted— Street Fighter V borrows this property, as well as filling up both players’ V-Gauge*. In SFV, this taunt will also result in Dan taking roughly five times the normal amount of damage from moves if he is hit during the very last pose of the full animation (his signature pose where he gives a thumbs up & slightly sticks his rear end out); if punished with a Critical Art super, he can be instantly KO’d.
Other taunts found in certain SF installments may also have very niche & distinct properties, such as in the case of Sean or Dudley whose taunts were considered weak projectile attacks that could be used in setups against an opponent’s wakeup. Dudley’s “Rose Throw” taunt in SFIV inflicted 1 point of damage & 1 point of “stun damage”, and could KO an opponent with chip damage. In SFV, Akuma’s taunt acts as a hitting attack that may launch the opponent and allow him to super cancel, while Zangief’s taunt may simply be used to buffer his super input.
Earlier versions of Capcom vs. SNK 2 featured the roll cancelling glitch, which players could exploit to cancel the startup of their roll into a taunt. This changes the “roll” animation into that of the taunt but tricks the game’s engine into maintaining the invincibility frames of the roll, making the character’s taunt invincible. Players could also use this tactic to counter and/or punish certain attacks up close that would otherwise connect (such as a DP or a super). This option was patched out in later releases of the game, but may have been the inspiration for the “spot dodges” implemented in Super Smash Bros. Melee and onwards. Most of the characters in Street Fighter IV could also perform a “kara taunt,” which allowed them to plink their Focus Attack into a taunt, a method utilized for nullifying the hit effect of fireballs (similar to armor) with the Focus Attack’s invincibility and turning their inflicted damage into recoverable health.
The Guilty Gear series typically features two different forms of taunt: a standard Taunt in which the character mocks their opponent (slightly boosting the opponent’s Tension gauge), and a Respect, in which the character instead compliments the opponent— the gameplay difference is that Respect can be cancelled at any time into any attack (or Yellow/Purple Roman Cancel depending on the game), which can allow certain mind games to be played if the opponent doesn't recognize it (whereas Taunt stops the character from attacking until halfway through the animation). In Guilty Gear XX Accent Core +R, Kliff Undersn possesses a taunt that works as a projectile. This game, as well as the following Guilty Gear Xrd, also allowed players to taunt at the end of a winning round to grant their opponent 50% Tension gauge at the start of the next round (much like a gold burst but applied to one’s opponent instead); this could be seen as a form of mercy from a winning opponent, or could be done by a daring player to simply challenge the opponent by handicapping themselves. Recently in Guilty Gear Strive, the taunting mechanic has been changed so that Taunts cannot be cancelled by attacks at all (besides RC) until the animation is basically complete, while Respects now can be cancelled about halfway through. Players still have always been able to cancel any normal or Gatling chain into a taunt (in addition to being able to Roman Cancel taunts at any time— however, thanks to recent major changes in the RC system as of Strive, players can now use this tactic to cancel a normal or string into a taunt and then quickly RC their taunt mid-combo. This technique causes players to intentionally get a Purple RC instead of the launching Red RC, reducing their damage scaling as well as granting potential new combo routes or setups.
In Tekken Tag Tournament, the previously introduced character Bryan Fury possesses a taunt that deals a small amount of damage & is unblockable, which he can then follow up with his launcher to start a combo; this is popularly known as the Taunt Jet Upper combo (TJU), and has since become one of his staple strategies (notably popularized circa Tekken 4). Most of his more devastating combos from Tekken 5 onwards also begin from a taunt.
Thor is given the “Mighty Speech” ability in later Marvel vs. Capcom games, which if uninterrupted allows Thor to build up his Hyper Combo gauge. In Marvel vs. Capcom 3, this could possibly be used for certain tactics on okizeme such as faking out a command grab, while in Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite this taunt may be seen used more often in tagging and/or assist situations. Mighty Speech can also “lock” the screen’s camera in place if there are two active characters on the screen (especially if Thor activates the taunt from the far end of the screen), until one of the characters goes into their idle animation— this can be used to force the opponent into a makeshift “corner,” locking them down to establish pressure as well as go for devastating mixups, especially if the player does a Team Hyper Combo and the point character completes their portion of the move before the other character(s). This technique may also be easier to utilize in Infinite with the Soul Stone Infinity Storm*, which allows both characters to be active onscreen simultaneously. In UMVC3, Deadpool’s taunt also had a hitbox (as well as slight hitstun) and could be cancelled into his Hyper Combo.
Taokaka from the BlazBlue series has a combo referred to by fans as the "tauntloop." Taokaka's taunt animation is a series of short punches, which the player can use to hit an enemy and briefly stun them, allowing Taokaka to continue into a full combo. Terumi, on the other hand, is able to cancel into his taunt mid-combo, and in turn cancel that taunt into his Astral Heat, ending his combo with an instant kill.
Later entries in the Mortal Kombat series have also experimented with taunts in different ways— in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, characters were given a special taunt or “stance-specific” button that would grant each of the characters’ stances with a different unique ability (which varied from character to character). The most common ability given to fighters was a slow taunt which served to replenish some of their health. Another taunt variant given to some characters was the faster Neijin power-up taunt, which would briefly increase the character’s damage output. Other stance abilities could include a “reversal” (which acted as more of a parry than a traditional reversal, allowing the player to counter an opponent’s attack & respond with a full combo), an unblockable shove (used to break the guard of an opponent, as throws in this game could be blocked), or an evasive backflip. Weapon stances could also possess different abilities, such as a sidestep swing or an “Impale” (which would cause damage over time to the opponent for the rest of the round while sacrificing the player’s weapon for the rest of the match).
Shao Kahn has always had a “Ridicule” taunt in his klassic Mortal Kombat appearances where he taunts the opponent with insults like “You suck!”, as well as having a laugh taunt. As of recently in Mortal Kombat 11, these taunts now act as damage debuffs & buffs (respectively), with Ridicule decreasing the opponent’s damage output & Humiliate (laugh) increasing the damage an opponent takes. Shao Kahn also has a Krushing Blow that triggers only if the corresponding string is done while the opponent is debuffed by one of these taunts.
Almost every character’s hidden taunt in Skullgirls— performed with a complex input and/or button sequence that is unique to each character— has some sort of functionality which can provide a unique character trait to most of the roster. Some characters’ taunts may hit the opponent once for minimal damage (e.g. Filia & Painwheel), while others may replenish health with varying stipulations (e.g. Ms. Fortune, Valentine, Eliza); Double’s taunt can also replenish some her Blockbuster meter, while Fukua’s taunt grants her opponent slight meter in exchange for replenishing 30% of her health lost due to shadows. Other characters have taunts that grant more specialized properties (sometimes even adding additional attacks)— for example, in addition to Eliza’s taunt buffing her “Lady of Slaughter” ability to replenish health, it also causes all blood generated by her Sekhmet assist to be transferred to Eliza, boosting her powers. Robo Fortune’s taunt doubles the amount of missiles fired in her Headrone Salvo special, while Big Band’s taunt adds the “TUBA TUBA” follow-up to his “Super-Sonic Jazz” Lvl. 1 Blockbuster knocking back the opponent (as well as adding the “Death Toll” follow-up to his “Tympany Drive” lvl. 1, which launches them). Squigly gains access to an extra powerful Lvl. 5 Blockbuster (“Shun Goku Saltsu”) only after a successful taunt & as long as she has a Dragon’s Breath and a Serpent’s Tail each charged up. Peacock’s taunt alters her next fully charged item drop to become a Tenrai Ha anvil drop (similar to one of Hsien-Ko’s signature super abilities). Annie’s taunt acts as a parry that can counter most attacks except for lows, projectiles, and throws; she takes more damage the sooner she is hit by one of these moves, and being thrown depletes 2 bars of her Blockbuster meter. Lastly, Beowulf’s taunt will automatically grant him all 3 levels of “Hype,” a unique augment that allows him to EX certain moves in his Grab Stance & enhance their properties (i.e. adding a hard knockdown to EX Canis Major, allowing EX Grendel Killa to be followed up with normals, buffing EX Geatish Trepak to knock back the opponent and/or cause a double snap in the corner, etc.), occasionally sacrificing slight damage for these augments.
This aforementioned concept of “Hype” is also similarly applied to Raphael in Injustice 2; his “Get Hype” special causes him to taunt & builds up his “sai count” meter (up to 10 levels), which enables his trait button (or “character power”) to trigger an autocombo that lasts longer with more hits & does more damage (depending on how many levels have been buiit up). Beyond level 3, Raphael can EX this combo halfway through to juggle the opponent for a full combo.
The DBZ Budokai series uses taunts in a similar fashion to the aforementioned Art Of Fighting system, as a successful taunt deducts one stock of Ki Gauge from the opponent. In the Strikers era, it is used to replenish one stock of the player's Striker bar.
Luigi of the Super Smash Bros. series, another character with a useable taunt, has a ground-kick animation which can (under extremely rare circumstances) deal a point of damage and a minute amount of knockback to an oncoming foe, but it cannot KO an enemy even at 999%. Snake, introduced in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, has a usable taunt that can KO. Similarly, Luigi's taunt in SSBB onwards can be used to 'Meteor Smash' an opponent straight down if done right next to the edge of a stage.
In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle, every character can taunt an opponent while they are down and cause them to lose some of their super meter in exchange for allowing them to wakeup instantly. However, once per match, taunting can be used to force an opponent to wakeup into an active attack or projectile in an obscure-yet-advanced example of oki.
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja also gives some characters the ability to restore small amounts of health by completing a taunt.
Of the few characters with taunts in Fighting EX Layer, only Skullomania’s “Skullo Shock” and Shadowgeist’s “Death Shock” can be cancelled into an attack manually after 1.5 seconds.
The term tech usually refers to "throw teching" (also commonly called Throw Escape or Throw Break) which is when a player counters and prevents the opponent's throw attempt, usually by inputting their own throw. Although the end result of a throw tech can vary by game, both characters typicaly reel back a short distance from the broken throw attempt, and end up out of range of each other's normal throws resetting the neutral.
[The term “tech” can also refer to quickly recovering from a knockdown attack.]
This term was first introduced following later versions of Street Fighter II, where it is also called "Softening" - this is slightly different from Throw Teching as it is conventionally known in more recent games. With Softening, the damage from being thrown is reduced instead of negated entirely, and while they still end up getting thrown after successfully Softening, the character receiving the throw lands on their feet instead of in a knockdown state.
Most games will only allow players to tech a normal throw, with the exception of the Tekken series which also allows players to tech command throws with the correct input(s).
Mortal Kombat 11 places importance on properly reading/teching forward & back throws via its new Krushing Blow mechanic; either one or both of certain characters’ throws will have a Krushing Blow that is triggered if the opponent incorrectly techs the previous throw.
A teleport is an evasive or defensive technique that allows the player to warp to another area on the screen, typically on the other side of the opponent. Teleports are often fixed to one location but occasionally can be directable (having options such as appearing directly in front of the opponent, retreating backwards at fullscreen distance, appearing in the air, or even faking out by teleporting in place).
Most teleports are merely a mobility tool with no offensive properties, but some teleports may have an offensive attack attached to them either as a built-in attack or a follow-up command to be performed after the teleport is executed, varying by character or sometimes even by game— for example, whereas teleport attacks are commonly special moves in most cases, the ”Vanish” mechanic implemented in Dragon Ball FighterZ (performed by pressing medium+heavy) grants players a universal teleport attack for the cost of 1 super stock, which can either be used to extend combos by granting a wall bounce or to end combos and/or “rounds” (eliminating a single character), potentially triggering a stage transition.
Throws (sometimes called grabs) are block-defeating moves that usually involve pressing an attack button and occasionally a direction at extremely close range. A predefined animation typically plays that ends up with the opponent taking a reasonable amount of damage. This can be used to punish turtlers or add to mix-up. It is possible, in some games, to either minimize or negate a throw, usually done by throwing back as soon as one is thrown; this referred to as teching.
Tick Throw: Tick throwing is a technique that involves inputting a throw at the end of the opponent's block stun to give them a very small gap of time in which to counteract the actual throw. Tick throwing is often used during okizeme, where an opponent will often have to rise in a defending position, though it can also be used after a blocked jump-in. The attacker can stick out a safe on block attack while the opponent is rising, which will probably be blocked, then follow with more safe on block attacks which must be blocked if the first one is blocked, then throw the opponent again when they become throwable. Named for the ticking sound that accompanied repeated jabs/shorts in Street Fighter II. Command Throws can be particularly effective for tick throwing, because they often have multiple active frames, and can thus be input before the opponent's block stun ends, and should the opponent become throwable during any of them, they will be thrown. If outside the opponent's throw range, the opponent can't counter throw, and can only escape with a reversal attack, which often requires 1 frame precision. While originally considered cheap by many, they are a staple in the arsenal of grappler characters when the game allows them.
Command Throw: Command grabs are defined as throws which are not the universal/standard throw input— they are command moves that require motion input and/or button sequence to achieve (essentially a special move that acts as a throw), and they are usually unique to the character. These throws typically do not come out as fast as normal throws or are harder to perform (such as requiring a 360 motion or even a pretzel input), but usually either yield higher damage or the possibility for a follow-up combo. To solve this problem, The King Of Fighters was the first game to introduce simple motions for throws and special throws, usually Hcf and/or Hcb— some command throws that had extra properties (such as Iori's Kuzu Kaze, which leaves the opponent open to any attack after switching sides with him) may have an added direction like “Fwd then Hcf,” “Hcb then forward,” or viceversa, simplifying the input required and making them far more practical in real matches. Super versions of these moves are often the same motions twice, or sometimes completely different ones.
Command throws are generally unable to be teched if they connect; they are also effectively used to tick throw the opponent.
3D fighting games usually include a multitude of command throws for various characters, which are escapable (unlike 2D fighters), but the complexity of the required tech command may differ from character to character, or even game to game— in the Virtua Fighter series, for example, throw escapes are slightly rarer, whereas in the Tekken series it's often possible for a player to mash their way out of certain throws.
A “throw loop” refers to the phenomenon by which a player’s throw leaves their opponent right near them & therefore forces them to guess the next move on wakeup, which could be another throw. This term commonly comes into play when discussing the concepts of oki and vortexes.
A relative measure of a selectable character's inherent (or sometimes through engine bugs, circumstantial) attributes and their performance within a hierarchy of characters across a game’s roster; generally this refers to high-level competition play found in organized tournaments. Tiers can be defined by players in the FGC as a way of shaping or outlining the general community perception of the game’s meta. For example, top tier characters are those whose attributes are seen as the greatest and/or strongest (sometimes seen as “busted”), and are the characters most often used in tournaments. On the other hand, low tier characters are those whose attributes are seen as the weakest or , and thus take the most amount of effort to be used properly to be able to win— such characters may not even be considered viable in tournament play at all. A game is considered to have good balance when the differences between tiers are small. A common tier list typically categorizes tiers into letters S, A, B, C, or even D, with “S” representing the highest tier. Some categories are amended to be “plus” or “minus” as a way of almost “fine-tuning” one’s tier list (i.e. “S-“ or “A+”). Tier lists, while sometimes bearing unanimous character placements among the general playerbase, are generally regarded as subjective across all players of varying opinions & skill levels.
Tiger Knee (TK)
Certain aerial moves in some games can be Tiger Knee’d (commonly abbreviated as TK). Originally what was a glitch of sorts now seems to be an intentional addition to most modern games. Tiger-Kneeing allows air moves to be performed either on the ground or extremely close to it; This is done, usually, by performing the required attack motion and quickly pressing up as well as the necessary button, causing the move to go off as soon as the character leaves the ground. For example, Cable's Air Hyper Viper Beam (AHVB) in Marvel vs. Capcom 2 can utilize a Tiger Knee motion so the hyper hits instantaneously. The term comes from Sagat of the Street Fighter series, whose signature Tiger Knee required a Down+Back to Up motion.
See also: Instant Air
A player who intentionally runs down the clock for the whole round the moment a lifebar advantage is gained. No single technique is employed to play keepaway, but turtling and zoning are the two most common [and easy] ways to do this.
Typically, players have about a minute to 99 seconds to try and knock each other out. If the time runs out before one player KOs the other, the player who has done the most overall damage wins the round. In the rare event that both fighters have the exact same amount of health at Time Over, the match is usually declared a draw.
In The King of Fighters XI, when a time out occurs, winner is no longer determined by amount of Life Gauge left, and instead, a judging system determines which party is worthy of the victory, who usually is the one doing more hits and combos. This however, is abused by the game to worsen the SNK Boss Syndrome, in that even when the bosses do minimal damage, they are immediately favored by the judging system by leaps and bounds, thus unlike the previous The King of Fighters games, beating a boss via Time Out in this game is practically impossible.
Touch of Death
A Touch of Death describes a scarce few examples in fighting games where a particular combo or combos, when performed correctly, will KO the opponent from a full life bar with no opportunity to escape; a combo that deals at least 100% of the opponent's health in damage, or at least 50% and dizzys if the person was not already dizzy when the first hit landed. The ability to execute such a feat may be an unintended glitch/oversight and possibly even an example of a broken character and/or poor game design, but it can also be an intentional feature that requires a masterful level of skill, a heavy amount of resources, and some risk to successfully perform. While infinite combos may also be loosely considered “touches of death,” true ToD combos involve complex execution and steps that typically cannot be considered repetitive or cheap, having no exact repeating pattern to them. Examples of games that have Touches of Death include Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite and Dragon Ball FighterZ.
See also: Infinite
See also: Homing
Tracking describes a move that automatically seeks the opponent’s location & aims the attack there, or “tracks” to the opponent, as opposed to being directable. Popular examples of tracking moves may include full-screen [vertical or floor-based] projectile-type attacks (sometimes aerial moves, such as Kan-Ra’s shadow Swarm in Killer Instinct, or more often certain teleport attacks which tend to autocorrect so that the player is facing the proper way after teleporting to the corresponding side (most infamously Sheeva’s or Quan-Chi’s “tele-stomp” moves and Noob Saibot’s “tele-slam” in recent Mortal Kombat titles)— although most teleports tend to track the opponent regardless of being followed up by an attack (i.e. Testament’s “Lucht Warrant” in Guilty Gear XX Accent Core +R). Many supers in certain games also tend to track & are able to reach the opponent’s location on the stage in a matter of mere seconds.
In 3D fighters, some normals may be specifically designed to track sidestepping opponents, such as the homing attacks found in the Tekken series. In addition to Dead Or Alive having many attacks like roundhouse kicks that bear this same property, most grabs also track sidesteps; DOA grants an automatic counter if a sidestep is hit by a tracking move.
A trade occurs when two fighters trade hits with each other, both connecting their attacks at the same time and potentially interrupting each other's full attack animations (if not one attack successfully interrupting the other). This can be due to pure coincidence or it may be sought after because it is advantageous to the player in question. Good trades and bad trades are determined by who receives more damage as consequence of the trade.
A unique character skill or property that is not necessarily tied to that character’s standard specials— character traits may typically be assigned to a dedicated attack/special button separate from the normal light, medium, & heavy attack buttons (although some characters may be automatically designed with unique properties not shared by others). In games like Injustice, these traits are attached to their own separate, unique meter/gauge system that vary from character to character in both their effects and their stipulations (i.e. requiring a charge, a cooldown period, etc.). Other games like Granblue Fantasy Versus do not tie character Uniques to any cost, allowing them to performed freely for the most part. Street Fighter V gives every character one of two traits that can be performed at virtually any point in a match by pressing “medium punch + medium kick*” together, called a V-Skill, which is tied to the game’s “V-System” comeback mechanic & can be used to gradually build up the player’s “V-Gauge.” This can eventually grant players access to one of their two V-Trigger, which (at cost of all their V-Gauge) grants them a more powerful character-unique ability that varies distinctly across the roster. In comparison, Under Night In-Birth causes the unique Force Functions (which are also performed by Medium+Heavy or B+C*) to expend one portion of the secondary “GRD” gauge at the bottom middle of the screen (independent of super meter or “EXS”), although the moves can still be done without any GRD.
An object or item that has a lingering hitbox & is placed in a certain spot on the screen. Traps may often be thought of as having properties similar to projectiles but are typically stationary, although they can sometimes be directable and placed in varying locations. The trap will stay planted in this spot until either the opponent walks into it or after a set duration of time. Activating these traps can have varying effects which may even supercede that of normal projectiles, such as granting a launch or placing the opponent in a stun state.
Characters that specialize in placing traps and/or other setup tools to control the space of the stage and condition the opponent’s movement fall under the trap character archetype, which itself may be seen as a subcategory of the zoner archetype (i.e. “trap zoner”)— this archetype may sometimes be used interchangeably with “Setup” or “Setplay” character, although there can be a slight distinction between the two as Setplay characters may not be able to place their setup tools on-screen for an extended period of time & condition their opponent to eventually walk into them, opting instead to frametrap their opponent with their projectile-type setups in certain situations such as during/after a knockdown.
The most prominent example of a trap character is Testament from the earlier Guilty Gear installments, who has multiple traps they can place near them that are invisible until activated by the opponent, forcing players to memorize where these traps have been placed & traverse the stage with extreme caution. While their launching “HITOMI (tree)” trap may disappear when Testament is hit by the opponent— albeit the trap can still connect within 16 frames of being hit— their “Zeinest (net/web)” trap, which captures the opponent in a stun state & can also be placed in the air, does not disappear when they are hit.
Naoto Shirogane from Persona 4 Arena is another example of a character who can utilize traps as a crucial part of her gameplan— she can set her “Hair-Trigger Megido” either in the air beside her or on the ground (which is very useful in corner combos), and upon activation these traps lower the opponent’s Fate Counter— a unique gauge of hers represented by a counter of 13 skulls beneath the opponent’s lifebar (which allows certain supers of hers to instantly kill the opponent when it reaches 0, regardless of their remaining health)— by 3 skulls each time it connects. Her universal Instant Kill super also sets target traps that are unblockable.
In rarer cases, some trap characters may use the traps they have placed as a means of augmenting their own mobility or offense— the best example of this is the Killer Instinct newcomer Kan-Ra, who has specific command normals and specials that automatically place his “Sand Trap” on the ground, which remains in place until activated. Performing a certain action or move while a Sand Trap is placed down, or while standing above one, will augment that moves properties (i.e. gaining new attacks such as anti-airs and recaptures that spawn from these traps, as well as being able to “Sand Dash” or “Sand Jump” while standing on a trap). Although Geras from Mortal Kombat 11 is not considered a trap character by any means, he does have similar sand-based moves that can be used offensively to control space and assist his mobility (or limit that of his opponent), such as a directable “Quick Sand” attack that hits low and has a follow-up attack that automatically shifts him to the opponent’s location on the other side, as well as a “Shifting Sands” ability that works more similarly to a “traditional” trap by inhibiting the opponent’s movement when they step into it (making them walk or jump in place for the most part).
Byakuya of Under Night In-Birth can also utilize his traps for mobility/offense purposes; immediately after placing one of his web traps (which are directable depending on the button strength used in the input & remain onscreen indefinitely until touched by the opponent or destroyed with B or C strength moves), Byakuya can press any attack button to perform a command air-dash and emerge from the trap (the distance traveled depending on the strength/version of the trap used). This option can also be followed up with an automatic attack by pressing an attack button, all of which have different properties/results. In addition to this, Byakuya can special cancel into one his traps from his rekka at any stage before the final input (“Or...Shredded?”). He also has a teleport move that has a slow startup but acts as an unblockable, sending him forward & either automatically ensnaring the opponent on hit or setting a ground trap behind him on whiff— this move is coupled with a feint version that begins with the same animation but instead has Byakuya stand in place taunting the opponent & still placing a web trap. Another Soft Circle French Bread game, the Melty Blood series, equips one of the maids Hisui with a bento mat trap that can be stacked and improves her okizeme, exploding on contact.
Other notable examples of trap characters may include Rocket Raccoon or Trish from the Marvel vs. Capcom series, Cagliostro (Granblue Fantasy Versus), Oleander (Them’s Fightin’ Herds), the “Hunter” Predator or “Master of Storms” Raiden variations (Mortal Kombat X), and various Super Smash Bros. Ultimate characters (e.g. Duck Hunt, Pac-Man & Steve) who can use their projectile & setup tools to ledge trap the opponent & prevent them from recovering back onto the stage. Some players may also loosely label other setup-oriented characters as “trap” characters in games that mostly lack true traps, based on the unique utilities of their setup tools that can oppressively lock down the opponent and control space, such as Rachel Alucard of BlazBlue, Captain Cold of Injustice 2, or characters in recent Mortal Kombat entries like Cyrax or Rambo (whose “Claymore” mine and “Mace Trap” swinging log closely resemble Rocket Raccoon’s moveset). Likewise, however, there may also exist characters who possess trap moves that are not necessarily “trap characters,” as their gameplan is not designed to revolve primarily around their trap abilities, such as Venom (Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite) or Erron Black (Mortal Kombat 11).
Trip guard describes the ability to block low after landing from a jump.
It is, at times, erroneously used interchangeably as a term for exploiting the lack of trip guard, which lends itself to confusion.
The term gets its name from a common technique in Street Fighter II where a player would catch a jumping opponent with a sweep as an anti-air, hence the "trip". It is particularly common among the shotos, as knocking the opponent down puts them in an excellent position to lay a fireball on top of them as okizeme.
The act of staying in a defensive stance or guarding for most or all of the match, only attacking when the opponent whiffs, or with a reversal move. Usually done when far ahead in the match and running low on time, to avoid unnecessary risk (see time killer).
An unblockable is an attack that cannot be normally defended against through blocking. Such attacks will ignore the fact that the fighter is blocking, thus penetrating their guard and consequently ending up with the fighter taking damage regardless. These are more commonly seen in the Tekken and Soulcalibur series, where they tend to do a great deal of damage but typically have a very slow startup & are possible to sidestep.
Although throws are generally classified as their own category of move & therefore are referred to separately from dedicated “unblockable” attacks, throws can also be considered unblockables since they inherently open up a guarding opponent by design.
This can also refer to unblockable setups, where a player simultaneously hits the opponent with two different attacks that need to be blocked differently. For example, if a character fires a delayed projectile that hits high or even overhead, then does a low attack at the same time the projectile hits the opponent, one of the two hits is guaranteed to succeed if the opponent attempts to block.
A unique attack (or a “character unique”) can refer to one of two things:
- A directional command normal, also simply called a directional
- A character trait or simply trait, which acts similarly to a “Special (S)” button but may rather stand alone from normal specials
Universal Overhead Hit (UOH)
Universal overhead mechanics may have began with the first two Killer Instinct titles, branded as a “Top Attack” & universally performed by pressing “back+Fierce Punch” (or “B+3”). The term “UOH,” however, initially referred to standard overhead attacks that originated from Street Fighter III: New Generation. Executed by pressing down + down + any attack and done in 3rd Strike by pressing medium punch and medium kick*, the character hops to execute a slow attack that cannot be blocked low. This is also known as a “Leap Attack.”
Some fighting games may incorporate this kind of mechanic with similar button commands, but by way of a more grounded attack as opposed to a “leaping” attack. Fighting EX Layer, for example, has “Hard Attacks” (MP+MK*) which serve as a default overhead for all characters. This move may not be as easily telegraphed since it is still a grounded move with no “leaping” animation, but it still has a considerably slower startup than most other normals & can therefore still be reacted to by more ready players.
Guilty Gear is famous for utilizing the concept of universal overheads, albeit more straightforwardly— in addition to the four main attack buttons (Punch, Kick, Slash & Heavy Slash) there is a fifth attack button called Dust. The “Dust” Button simultaneously operates as both the game’s universal overhead (which launches if held) & the universal sweep (if pressed while crouching)— recently in Guilty Gear Strive it was also changed to be the new throw button when pressing forward+D.
Dragon Ball FighterZ also implements a universal overhead by giving all characters the simple command normal of 6M, which shows them leaping into the air slightly (à la 3rd Strike or GBFVS) & performing a two-handed overhead strike.
NRS games have also experimented with their own universal overhead mechanics of both kinds (command normals and “leap attacks”); the Injustice series, along with having universal wall-bounce launchers in the form of a “Bounce attack (B3),” also has a universal overhead launcher (F3). These can also be cancelled into out of strings for the cost of 2 bars of super meter. In Mortal Kombat 11, pressing an attack button while performing a short hop will result in a universal overhead hit referred to as a “Hop Attack.” While these overheads are still considered “universal” in the sense that every character has access to them, these attacks can be different for every character in terms of things like speed or frame advantage. Also in the case of MK11, each fighter has 2 distinct Hop Attacks (tap Up+1/2 & tap Up+3/4, or more simply Hop+Punch & Hop+Kick].
The icon that appears next to the round timer or otherwise near the character lifebars, signifying a round victory. Distinct victory symbols are usually seen in Capcom games, where each symbol represents a different type of victory. They include:
- Cherry - Victory by weak attack (Jab or Short).
- Cheese - Victory by block damage.
- Lasso - Victory by Command Throw.
- Hourglass or T - Victory by Time Over.
- "C" - Victory by Chip Damage (equivalent of Cheese)
- "V" - Victory by Normal Attacks (not including weak attacks, special attacks, or throws)
- "G" - Victory at low health, to mimic Tekken's traditional "Great!" announcement (Street Fighter X Tekken)
- "A" (Street Fighter) - Victory by Alpha Counter
- "A" (Marvel) - Victory by Air Combo
- "S" - Victory by Special Move
- “EX” - Victory by EX special
- "SC" - Cheap Victory by means of Special or Super Moves (see "C" and Cheese)
- "S*" - Victory by Level 1 Super
- "S**" - Victory by Level 2 Super
- "S***" - Victory by MAX Level 3 Super
- "X" - Victory by use of X-Power (Supers in X-Men Children of the Atom), or by Cross Art or Cross Assault (Street Fighter X Tekken)
- Lemniscate (or Infinity Symbol) - Victory by use of Infinity Combo (Supers in "Marvel Super Heroes")
- "P" (Perfect) - Victory achieved with no damage whatsoever
- “D” (Double) - Victory achieved by DKO
- Hand Shake - Victory by Tag Team Attack (Seen in the VS series)
- "Ten" or "天" kanji (Street Fighter Alpha 2, Akuma and Evil Ryu only) - victory by Shun Goku Satsu or by use of Pandora mode (Street Fighter X Tekken)
- "J" - Victory by Judgement, won when the player is awarded majority of the judges' votes after a double KO (Street Fighter MD-III only)
A mix-up situation where one player is continually able to force their opponent to make an unfavorable guess out of a combo or setup, resulting in the opponent getting caught in the same setup all over again. Usually performed after a reset/restand or a hard knockdown and the opponent is forced to guess where to block on their wakeup (i.e. Mid/Low, Left/Right, Low/Overhead, etc.). Originally applied to Marvel vs. Capcom 2 player Michael "Yipes" Mendoza who used it with his Magneto/Psylocke team, but was later popularized in Street Fighter IV by Arturo “Sabin” Sanchez, describing a situation wherein characters such as Akuma, Cammy, and Ibuki could do it after a hard knockdown (such as Akuma’s Demon Sweep). The term also became popular in Mortal Kombat X stemming from the game’s abundance of low/overhead 50/50’s & restand options.
The key moves of a vortex are typically unreactable (either too fast to react to, or have no visual cues), forcing the opponent to guess or read which defensive response to use; selecting the wrong response results in damage, and importantly for the definition, loops back to the starting situation again (such as the opponent being in hard knockdown), looping until the opponent eventually guesses correctly to "escape the vortex". The term is sometimes debated as being “esoteric,” as even though the idea of “a mixup that loops into itself” is a constant, the characteristics that constitute how the mixups are achieved depend on how each individual game works mechanically.
Wakeup- The frames during which a character is considered to be standing back up from a knockdown. In 2D games, the character waking up is generally invincible until fully recovered from the knockdown, and can often transition from the last frame of wakeup to a special, a super or a throw (as opposed to in 3D games, or some 2D fighters, that employ an OTG system where grounded or rising characters may still be vulnerable to certain attacks.
To expand on this, the wakeup game describes the ability for a player to choose how they get up (or often in the case of 3D games, whether to do so at all). Options open to the player may include waking up with a reversal special move or designated wakeup/getup attack, rolling towards or away from the opponent, delaying the wakeup to stand up slower or doing a quick ukemi to recover faster, simply blocking the incoming attacks, or (in many 3D games) staying on the floor. Because 3D fighters still allow a player waking up to be attacked, these wakeup mindgames are considered vital to offset that vulnerability, as a player who is waking up can bait and punish an opponent who thinks they can inflict extra damage while the player is downed.
See also: Bounce Back (distinction)
A feature in several fighting games where certain attacks may cause the opponent to bounce back off of the wall or corner, either initially launching the opponent or further juggling them during an active combo, and allowing the attacking player to continue their combo. These attacks often may only be allowed to be performed once per combo (possibly as a way to avoid infinites).
This concept may have originated from the “wire” attacks that were eventually introduced into the King of Fighters series (as early as The King of Fighters 2001), wherein some attacks can hit a fighter hard enough to knock them back straight onto the wall and get bounced, left very vulnerable to follow-up attacks and combos. This is called wiring. Most wire attacks are usually counter-wires, in that if the attack hits an enemy as a counter-attack, wire effect will occur (otherwise, the opponent will merely be thrown far away). Some KoF installments may feature moves that automatically wire the opponent on hit normally (also known as a critical wire).
Wall bounces may be triggered by certain attacks when close to the corner, such as Sol Badguy’s “forward+Punch” (or 6P*) in recent Guilty Gear games (i.e. Xrd & early versions of Strive). Other titles such as the Injustice series may feature universal mechanics that bounce the opponent back (sometimes from anywhere on the screen), such as the “Bounce Attack” performed with “back+heavy” by all characters— Dragon Ball FighterZ also features several universal moves that grant a knockback which produces this effect, such as a standing Heavy attack, a Light attack autocombo (7 hits), and the “Vanish” teleport mechanic. Tekken 7 was recently updated with new “Wall Bound” moves provided across the entire roster; many existing character moves marked with this property can now bounce an opponent off of the wall if the players are close enough to the edge of the stage.
A term for a type of "Stage Transition" in which a player hits or launches the opponent outside of the predetermined stage into a new area by breaking through a wall or invisible barrier. This is usually done via attacking a cornered opponent, the damage they take corresponding to how damaged the wall gets.
Some examples of games with wall breaks include:
- Guilty Gear Strive
- Tekken 7 (Mishima Dojo)
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (King of Fighters and Mishima Dojo Stages)
Refers to a type of ability in some games that allows characters to interact with the wall/corner, commonly by jumping/running up/off it (or sometimes clinging to the wall); this can be used as an an offensive aerial tool to help land certain jump-in or crossup attacks, start/extend combos, and/or occasionly grant characters new follow-up abilities exclusive to this wall move, as well as used for mobility purposes (i.e. evading the corner). Wall-based abilities are mostly character unique, but on occasions may be available universally across the cast (such as the “Wall Jump” attack introduced in Tekken 4 onward, or various stage interactables in recent Mortal Kombat & Injustice games that allow players to run up the wall and jump out of the corner).
Chun-Li was one of the first characters to be given a wall jump ability (“三角飛び, Sankaku Tobi”; lit. “triangle jump”) originating in Street Fighter II; many other characters (e.g. Vega, Guy, El Fuerte, Rashid, etc.) have since been designed with this option by tapping “up+forward” or a similar input as soon as they have jumped near the wall. This can typically be transitioned into any default aerial normal or special. Several other characters from Capcom series have been designed with this ability like Felicia in some Darkstalkers games, as well as many other characters throughout the Marvel vs. Capcom series (i.e. Strider Hiryu, Mega Man, Wolverine, Deadpool, Vergil, She-Hulk, Iron Fist, X-23, etc.), all potentially varying in their distance jumped from the wall as well as their subsequent benefits. Some characters’ ability to wall jump may vary between games; for example, Spiderman possessed this ability throughout every game until Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite where this was removed. Conversely, Hulk was given a new “Avalanche Jump” ability in Infinite which allowed him to simply press “forward” when jumping back towards the corner, allowing him to dive horizontally from the wall at a generous distance.
Many SNK series, such as the Fatal Fury and King Of Fighters games, have also implemented this same form of triangle wall-jump with several different characters (also referred to as “sankaku tobi” in these games)— characters such as Mai Shiranui, Choi Bounge, Ramón, and Kim Dong Hwan (in Garou) are just some select examples of characters in these franchises who have been given this ability. Several characters in the Samurai Shodown series have also been given a triangle jump, such as Hanzo Hattori, Nakoruru, Basara, Galford, and Earthquake (who defies the traditional wall-jumper design by having this ability despite his massive size, similar to Hulk in MvC Infinite).
Another example of this type of wall-jump ability in other games is Lancelot’s unique “Delta Leap” wall jump and walldive moves implemented in Granblue Fantasy Versus. While the traditional “up-forward” input causes the player to perform a standard wall jump, pressing “forward” allows the player to dive down diagonally towards the opponent. Unlike the aforementioned examples in certain games such as MvC which allow players to wall-jump from the corner at any point on the stage (given a transparent wall much like certain games’ wall bounces), Lancelot’s “Delta Leap” is an example of a wall jump that must be performed by the actual wall or corner of the stage.
Other characters may have moves such as specials or supers that automatically send them flying back towards the wall & allowing them to walldive from there, as well as perform other follow-up attacks. The most popular example of this is Vega’s “Flying Barcelona Drop”— other moves of this variety may include Rolento’s “Mekong Delta Escape,” Gen’s Crane stance move “Oga,” or Adon’s “Jaguar Tooth.” Vega also has a unique wall climb ability (known as “Cage Climb,” or “Bloody Garden” in SFV) that serves as a variation of the Flying Barcelona which is only available on his own signature stage. By charging down-to-up and pressing all three kick buttons— alternatively, one kick button in SFII or two in SFV— Vega can climb up the caged wall of the stage’s background, granting him some invincibility and allowing him access to his Flying Barcelona follow-ups.
This wall-climbing move may have inspired another specific variant of wall-based move found only in certain characters, commonly known as the wall cling— while many Marvel vs. Capcom characters only possess the ability to jump off of the wall, some characters also possess the ability to cling to the wall (either momentarily or indefinitely). Characters like Felicia may perform a wall-cling by pressing back while in-air jumping back towards the corner similar to their wall-jump, whereas other characters such as Strider (and Sonson from Marvel vs. Capcom 2 must perform their wall cling while grounded with a special command; in Infinite, Black Panther can perform his wall cling with either option and can also perform the special command at any point in-air. While Felicia, Sonson and Black Panther do not have default wall jumps, they can performed a built-in wall jump out of their wall-cling state by pressing a certain attack button (or simply letting go of the joystick in Felicia’s case). Although wall clings are similar to wall jumps in that they typically only allow the player to perform standard aerial/jumping attacks out of them, characters like Strider (or those from other games such as Dai Shi from Power Rangers: Battle For the Grid and Shanty from Them’s Fightin’ Herds) may have built-in moves that can be performed in this wall-cling state, such as the ability to climb or run up & down the wall, attacks that keep the player clung to the wall, dive attacks off the wall towards the opponent, or the ability to jump and cling all the way over to the opposite wall.
Another character popular for interacting with the wall is Chipp Zanuff from the Guilty Gear series. Chipp was given a wall cling/dive ability in XX Accent Core +R by pressing towards-then-away from the wall, that allowed him to cancel into and out of all his jumping normals, granting him certain aerial mixups; however this ability was changed in Xrd to be a wall cling stance similar to Strider Hiryu (another fellow pixie character). In addition to free movement up/down/off the wall, Chipp gained access to modified “wall/aerial” versions of select pre-existing special moves (i.e. Alpha Blade, kunai, and grounded or aerial command grabs). This has again been changed in Strive to be a new wall run, which can be performed by holding forward when dashing towards the wall (or after performing certain moves like Alpha Blade in the corner); while running up the wall Chipp has access to all of his neutral attack buttons as well as his forward-Heavy Slash. This allows Chipp to execute extensive “wallrun” combos that do not wall break and thusly sacrifice his corner pressure, as well as granting him “wallrun cancels” which can overall improve his okizeme and mix-up potential.
Certain Super Smash Bros. characters can perform a wall jump off of most solid vertical surfaces by tapping “up-forward” off of them in the traditional manner, beginning in Melee and continuing onward (e.g. Mario, Fox, Samus, Captain Falcon, Falco, Sheik, etc.), while other select characters can cling to walls (i.e. Lucario, Diddy Kong, Sheik, & Squirtle).
A feature in some fighting games where certain attacks (ideally moves with a great deal of knockback) may hit the opponent into the wall, typically sending them into a crumple state & allowing the attacker to follow up by either continuing the combo or going for okizeme and/or setups. This mechanic is mostly present in 3D fighters such as the Wall Hit in the Tekken & SoulCalibur series, but can also appear in 2D games such as the “Wall Stick” mechanic of Guilty Gear (introduced in Accent Core) and recently King of Fighters XIV’s “Blow Back” attacks. The reboot of Killer Instinct introduced a new type of combo Ender called the “Wall Splat Ender”; moves marked with this property can be used to end a grounded combo, bouncing the opponent off the wall slightly and resetting them in a standing position. This can be used to enforce a vortex situation.
Wavedashing is a term used in various specific games to describe an advanced form of dashing that is faster and/or covers more distance than a character’s default dash.
In 3D fighters, wavedashing is accomplished when a character successfully links one crouch dash into another, named so for the bobbing motion this produces in a player character. The primary notoriety of this technique originates from the Mishima family - Jin, Heihachi and Kazuya - in Tekken, where wavedashing by a skilled player using those characters is one of the more frustrating tactics to play against. Many players may consider the tactic almost unbeatable, as wavedashing allows for rapidly closing on the opponent, automatically parrying most low attacks & preparing the character to unleash a signature move called the Wind Godfist, a high-hitting launcher that deals honest damage on its own and can lead into several juggles. This move leaves the player vulnerable to quick attacks afterwards on-block, however there is a faster and much more effective variant that is in turn harder to perform: the Electric Wind Godfist, which pushes the opponent far away on-block and gives the executing player a frame advantage. The Electric Wind Godfist also has better recovery on-hit, so much more effective and devastating combos could be done. Both moves are high, so they can be ducked, but the player has a mix-up with mid pokes and sometimes launchers against those who try to do so. They can also use lows against those who simply try to block. The wavedash is interruptible, but mind-games and mix-ups can trick the opponent. All of this combined makes the wavedash a very rapid mindgame that is difficult to counter. Other characters in the Tekken series have proven to be capable of wavedashing, but their mix-ups are usually not as effective as the Mishimas.
Wavedashing also refers to a form of movement in Capcom's Vs. games, achieved by rapidly alternating between pressing two attack buttons and crouch. By cancelling the slower half of the dash, chaining rapid dashes together is possible. However, unlike the Tekken series, wavedashing has no benefit other than increased speed in covering the screen.
Mortal Kombat 9 & Mortal Kombat 11 also utilize wavedashing in certain characters. The movement specifically in these two titles differs from that of most fighting games in that dashes can be cancelled out of with either normals & strings, specials, or block at any point. Wavedashing works in these games by quickly cancelling out of a dash by lightly tapping the block button, & then quickly cancelling into another forward step or dash & repeatedly cancelling that with block. The input essentially looks like “Forward Forward BLK Forward BLK Forward BLK etc etc.” This allows players to rapidly chain dashes together & quickly cover more distance, similar to the aforementioned Capcom Vs. method but with the added benefit of easily blocking moves immediately upon stopping their movement.
Another form of wavedashing is possible in Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. Melee, in which a character performs a diagonally downward-angled air dodge into the ground from the instant they leave the ground during a jump, allowing a quick burst of movement with 10 frames of time. This is an advanced technique that allows any character performing it to utilize a wide array of attacks in conjuction with quick movement - these attacks would otherwise be available only from a neutral or slow-moving state.
A fighting game where most or all characters have weapons, wherein there may even gameplay rules that involve the function of these weapons (such as how to disarm and rearm weapons). The first high-profile example of this was the Samurai Shodown series; smaller games such as Weaponlord also paved the way for this subcategory of fighting games, being thought of as the inspiration for the SoulCalibur series, which stands as the most popular modern example of a weapons fighter as almost all of the fighters are armed with melee weapons (tonfa, longswords, katana, quarterstaff, katars, etc).
Describes a move that misses the opponent completely. This is what the term “whiff punish” refers to when a player punishes a move that the opponent whiffs. Sometimes used intentionally to bait an opponent, build super meter, or reduce recovery time in slow moves by cancelling them into a quicker move that whiffs.
Yomi (translates to "reading"; from Japanese よみ) is a Japanese term meaning "reading the mind of the opponent", and is essentially an intangible asset required in fighting games. It's the ability to know what one's opponent is going to do, and act appropriately, whether achieved by "conditioning" the opponent to act one way, and then acting in another way, or simply working one's way into the head of the opponent. This term would be used for the name of the card game created by former competitive Street Fighter II player and game designer David Sirlin. Sirlin would also use the term for the automatic counterhit mechanic used to tech throws introduced in his game Fantasy Strike the yomi counter, performed by pressing no buttons and having the stick at a neutral position.
Zoning is a fundamental tactic in 2D fighters typically used at mid-range or far-range, the purpose of which is to control the space of the stage (fundamentally referred to as space control) and/or to keep the opponent far away (fundamentally called keepaway), by using projectile attacks, long reaching pokes, and/or traps. The idea is to space oneself so that they are in a position to respond to or punish any entry angle or attack of the opponent's. Ideally, the player can use certain pokes and attacks to beat the opponent's attacks, punish their advances or jumps, and hopefully shut down their offensive options, while landing hits. In attempting to zone, it is important to know the properties of one's own attacks as well as the attacks of the opponent, in order to find the best move to use in countering the opponent's move. The ability to predict the opponent's next move, and having good reflexes to react to that move, are also important. Characters of the zoner archetype tend to be equipped with numerous ranged tools (i.e. multiple projectiles & long-reaching normals) to help them fight from a distance, but may come with certain tradeoffs to this such as having difficulty getting in & rushing down the opponent and/or being punishable up close.