List of fighting game terms

From Academic Kids

The terms listed below are used when referring to versus fighting games (a fighting game typically based in the martial arts played for a number of rounds).


2-1 combo

A 2-1 combo (an abbreviation for two-in-one combo) or an interrupt combo is a combo which takes advantage of the fact that after executing a "normal attack" in certain games, you are able to immediately execute a special move faster than you would be able to execute another normal move. It was the first type of combo ever seen in a fighting game, and first appeared in Street Fighter II, as a bug that turned into an unintended feature.

Aerial rave

Marvel vs. Capcom series terminology for a chain combo that is entirely performed while a character is airborne.


When a character is blocking, he is in a defensive state that protects him from being damaged by his opponent's moves (or, in certain cases, softens the damage). 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 same term is known in Japan as guard, or even defense in some places.

Block stun

The term block stun is used to refer to three distinct things: The first and most rare is to refer to the delay after a player ceases to hold back or press the block button before which the player can move again. The second is the delay before which the player can perform another move after successfully blocking a move. The third is the delay before which a player can perform another move if the opponent blocked his move. In Mortal Kombat 1-4, both the blocker and the blocked recover at the same time, while other two dimensional fighters have subtle differences depending on the particular move used. 3D fighters however have a much more varied amounts of block stun time per move and this adds tremendously to the learning curve and complexity of most three dimensional fighters.


  1. In Capcom games, buffering a special move into a non-special move so quickly that the special move comes out before the normal move ends (often making a combo). This use of the term is synonymous with the term "2-1 combo".
  2. Entering the commands for one move while your character is still in the animation of another move, so the second move comes out as soon as the animation ends. This is an important element of 3d fighters, not in and of itself, but because many 3d fighters 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 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 computer will choose to execute the move only if it is in the best interests of the player, a process known as option select

Button mashing/Cheese move

A fighting "style" which involves executing the same move over and over again, usually a special move that is powerful and/or difficult to block. This is generally considered a very cheap way to play (and win) and is thus looked down upon.


In traditional, 2D fighter terminology, a string of attacks that cannot be blocked if the first hit is not blocked. 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").

Counter hit

A counter hit is a term for an attack which hits another player while they are in the process of performing an attack. In most modern fighting games this type of attack is granted bonus damage.

Chain combo

In 2D fighting games, a chain combo is a combo that only uses normal attacks or command moves. Although chain combos allow for a reasonable degree of flexibility, some characters (generally large ones) are unable to use chain combos. In some fighting games (Mortal Kombat being an example), chain combos are an integral part of the game play, and are considered special moves.

Although 3d games have "chain combos" by this definition of the word, most players never refer to them as such, instead preferring to focus on "strings" which may have some sub-elements of chain combos within them but may have some non-comboing elements.

Command move

A simple move, usually performed with a simple combination of joystick and button action. 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.


Criticals are moves that may cause more than the default damage, resulting in critical or more damage. Criticals usually occur at random. One example of a character able to use criticals is the character Shingo Yabuki from King of Fighters, who would randomly have attacks result in a "critical," which did more damage than normal.

Deadly rave super combo

A super combo 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 precision timing. Named after the first combo of its kind, Geese Howard's (from Fatal Fury) Deadly Rave.

Dramatic battle

A type of fighting game match where two teams of characters are fighting each other, all of which are fighting at the same time.

Double KO

Both players are knocked out at the same time. Double KOs may give wins to both players or losses to both players, depending on the game. However, both players will lose the match if there are too many rounds played without a clear winner. If there is a DO on the final round of a match, some games, such as Soul Calibur, will require a sudden death round, in which the characters life bars can be depleted quickly by a few hits.

Endurance match

An endurance match is a match where a limited amount of opponents must be defeated, one after another, on a single life bar. These matches are similar to survival matches, where a player continues to play until defeated (with the timer being reset after defeating an opponent), or 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 incorporates elements from dramatic battles.

Endurance matches were first introduced in Mortal Kombat, where two such matches (both with a single character facing two characters) were played before facing the game's bosses.

Enhanced special move

A special move where attacks can increase in power by using power stored in a super combo gauge. Also known as an ESpecial Move, EX Move, or an ES Move.


The method in which a player is knocked out. For example, a player knocked out by a special move is called a special finish. In Mortal Kombat, a finish is also the method of finishing your opponent when the match is won (also known as a fatality).

Four-button fighter

A type of fighting game controls that uses punch and kick buttons of two different strengths, typical of The King of Fighters series of games.

Guard break

The action of performing an attack which is blocked, but leaves the blocking player open to further attack. This usually happens when a character receives too many attacks from a defense position, thus losing the guarding status. It is also known as a guard crush. There can also be attacks that cause this effect on purpose.

Guard meter

A guard meter is a gauge that drains as a player blocks attacks. When it completely drains, the player is guard crushed, and is vulnerable to attacks. 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 the many countermeasures to prevent turtling.

Half-circle backward

The act of moving the joystick from the forward position to the down position, then to the backward position, forming a half-circle.

Half-circle forward

The act of moving the joystick from the back position to the down position, then to the forward position, forming a half-circle

Hunter chain

In a 2D fighting game with controls similar to Street Fighter, 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 an attack of higher strength.

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 you cannot combo a punch of the highest strength to a kick of the highest strength).


A combo in which the victim is hit multiple times in midair. The move used to start the juggle is called a "launcher" or "floater". This was the second type of combo to ever appear in a fighting game, and first appeared in Mortal Kombat.


Also called "energy", "health", or "vitality", a character's life is how much more damage he can take, represented by a bar at the top of the screen, with the bar depleting inwards in most cases (Vampire Savior being a notable exception). When a character's life bar is completely drained, the round is lost.

Option select

Option select is a term used for any property of a particular fighting game where the player can perform a certain ambiguous action and the computer (most often times through a "glitch" or an overlooked feature) will choose the move that is in the best interest in the player to occur from a few options. The exact nature of the required action or result is dependant on the flaw. 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.

Overhead attack

An overhead attack is an attack (normally a command move) that hits players who are crouching and blocking, and must be blocked standing. It is among one of many countermeasures to deter turtling. Because of the nature of the attack, many attacks done from the air are overhead attacks. Therefore, this term is usually used within the context of a ground attack. Examples of overhead attacks include Sakura Kasugano's Flower Kick and Ryo Sakazaki's Hyouchuu Wari.

Protected block

A protected block is a block that is made just as an attack is about to hit. Protected blocks generally have advantages over normal blocks, with many games that implement protected blocks allowing guard cancel attacks (although this is a reverse way of looking at things, historically games developed guard cancel attacks and then later the required quick interim block became to be known as a "protected block").

The most notable protected block is the Just Defend, used in Garou: Mark of the Wolves, where a character regains lost life energy from a protected block.

Pursuit attack

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.

Quarter circle back

The act of moving the joystick from the downward position to the direction that makes your character move backwards, forming a 90 degree angle, or quarter circle.

Quarter circle forward

The act of moving the joystick from the downward position to the direction that makes your character move forward, forming a 90 degree angle, or quarter circle.

Rage gauge

The rage gauge is a super combo gauge where the only way to gain energy is to get hit. 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 "cools off"), or at the start of every round.

Ironically, the rage gauge was not originally designed to be a super combo gauge: the first Samurai Shodown game did not have super combos, but did allow a player to deal substantially more damage.


A move that parries or reverses an opponent's attack and either damages the opponent or leaves the opponent wide open for a counterattack.

Ring out

A victory achieved by sending the opponent out of the ring (usually in 3D fighting games only).

Shotokan character

a.k.a. Shotoclone. A character whose primary moves involve a projectile and an uppercut attack. Named after the supposed fighting style of Ryu from Street Fighter.

Six-button fighter

A type of fighting game controls that uses punch and kick attack buttons of three different strengths, much like that of Street Fighter.

Special move

A move is simply a fighting technique such as a kick or a throw. Each character usually has many moves, each performed by a different combination of joystick movements and/or button presses. A special move is a unique, sometimes difficult-to-perform move that often has an exaggerated or supernatural effect. Some games also include super combos, powerful but costly special moves.


A sequence of attacks. Usually used to refer to strings that aren't combos. This term is usually used in 3D fighting games to refer to sequences of attacks that execute much faster sequentially than if done out of sequence.


  1. A temporary state of helplessness caused by taking a lot of damage quickly. The opponent is usually guaranteed a free hit. Also called daze or dizzy.
  2. Block stun: a short frozen state after blocking a move or performing a blocked move.

Super combo gauge

A super combo gauge that stores power that can be used for later, primarily in super combos.

There are many types of super combo gauges, including:

  • offensive gauge, where the gauge fills with execution of special moves (and fills faster if the move connects)
  • defensive gauge, where the gauge fills by defending attacks (and fills faster with protected blocks)
  • manual gauge, where the only way to fill the gauge is by performing a move (usually holding down a button) that leaves a player open to an attack

Many super combo gauges employ a combination of the above.

Super stock

Once enough super combo gauge is collected, it becomes a super stock. A stock gauge is a gauge where a visual indicator exists to indicate the number of stocks collected. A levelled gauge is a gauge where a portion of the super combo gauge represents a super stock. Super stocks allow players to use super combos and other moves requiring super combo gauge power.

Survival battle

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 before the next opponent is fought.

Time over

Typically, players have about a minute to try to knock each other out. If time runs out before one player KOs the other player, the player who has done the most overall damage wins the round. This is a time over.


The act of staying in a defensive stance for most or all of the match, only attacking when the opponent misses or with a reversal move. Usually done when far ahead in the match and running low on time. This strategy is almost universally despised by fighting game aficionados, but competitive fighting game tournament aficionados pride themselves on having no scruples in using any particular tactic, including turtling if it works.

Weapons fighter

A fighting game where most or all characters have weapons, and there are gameplay rules that involve these weapons (such as how to disarm and rearm weapons). The Soul Calibur series is a very good example of the genre, as almost all of the fighters are armed with melee weapons (tonfa, sai, katana, quarterstaff, katal, etc).


A move that misses the opponent completely.


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