Knockback YKTTW Discussion

(permanent link) added: 2010-05-12 21:35:46 sponsor: Stratadrake (last reply: 2010-05-15 08:38:31)

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How Did We Miss This One??

The first and foremost reason why players hate those Goddamned Bats.

In Video Games, when the player's character receives damage from an enemy attack (or simply by touching the enemy itself), this is frequently combined by some degree of physically knocking the character aside to separate them from the attacker; Mercy Invincibility usually kicks in as well at this point.

Depending on the game and context, this can be classified according to three types:

  • First degree. The character "flinches", but receives no effect other than interrupting whatever action (a Charged Attack, for example) the player was taking.
  • Second degree. The character's action is interrupted as they are knocked aside a short distance. The character otherwise remains on their feet and under the player's control.
  • Third degree. The character is knocked off their feet, typically to the ground, and the player is unable to control them until the character recovers from the attack and gets back up on their feet.

While knockback is frequently associated with damaging attacks, it is not unusual to find an enemy whose attack inflicts no damage apart from the knockback itself. If the protagonist is a One-Hit-Point Wonder, this may be used to provide a distinction between "lethal" and "non-lethal" attacks.

Knockback is just an annoyance when it occurs on level ground, but in Platform Games it all too often occurs during the middle of precision maneuvers such as climbing ladders, hanging from a ledge above a Bottomless Pit, or jumping across Spikes of Doom. Throughout the history of Video Games this has culminated in the total loss of millions of lives (and many a controller, too).

The exact details of knockback -- such as its distance and direction, and whether Jump Physics can be applied -- vary with each game engine in question. Games that incorporate physics modeling will employ Newton's Laws of kinematics, calculating knockback as a function of the attack's force and direction, the victim's mass, and other factors such as terrain and wind. Fortunately for videogame players everywhere, these games will usually apply knockback for both sides, forcing the enemies to suffer knockback from the player's attacks as well.

Older games (and, by extension, Retraux games), on the other hand, did not have the luxury of accurate physics and implemented knockback according to very simplistic rules, such as whether an attack originates from the left or right of the player.

Knockback can appear in games of any genre, and a skilled player can occasionally exploit it to their advantage. Examples include knocking an opponent out of bounds in a Fighting Game to trigger a Ring Out, or using the explosive blast from an FPS weapon to perform a Rocket Jump.


Note: Because this is an Omnipresent Trope in Video Games, please limit examples to unusual or egregious occurences.

Platform games

  • La-Mulana utilized significant knockback. Touch even the slightest enemy and the protagonist is sent sailing across the room at full velocity, with no ability to alter their trajectory until they land.
  • The sidescrolling Super Mario Bros. games generally provided Mercy Invincibility without knockback, which allowed players to short-circuit the fights with Bowser simply by running through him and grabbing the axe at the far end of the arena. This was changed in New Super Mario Bros., where coming in direct contact with Bowser knocks Mario back, away from the switch at the opposite end of the arena.

Fighting Games

  • As mentioned previously, any fighting game with the ability to Ring Out one's opponent:
    • The Super Smash Bros. series, a fighting game based entirely around Ring Outs. All attacks have a certain force and all characters have a specific mass; as characters take damage, the amount of knockback they receive increases, until they are inevitably thrown from the arena. In the second and third titles, Fox's bl
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