Created By: Stratadrake on May 12, 2010 Last Edited By: Stratadrake on May 15, 2010


Name Space:
Page Type:
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
Community Feedback Replies: 21
  • May 10, 2010
    Geez, I'd swear we had this, but I can't find it. Compare Mook Bouncer, when an enemy's attack teleports the player to another area.
  • May 10, 2010
    In the Super Smash Bros series of fighting-games, you can't 'kill' your opponents in the traditional sense. You can only win by knocking your enemy offscreen, or down a Bottomless Pit. The more damaged you become, however, the easier you are to knock around... resultingly, once the damage-percentages rise towards the 300-mark, everybody bounces around like ping-pong balls at the slightest provocation...

    Also, in City Of Heroes (and City Of Villains), 'knockback' effects have been redesigned several times. They are necessary for those dramatic 'knock-you-through-a-building' superhero-fights, but also tend to be the biggest single problem for anyone whose powerset DOESN'T include 'Protection from Knockback', due to just how many enemies can do it. The overall effect has been turned up and down half a dozen times - I'm not sure where it stands right now. But it's always been the case that Giant Monsters are capable of knocking you halfway across the zone if you give 'em a reason to...
  • May 10, 2010
    In the Hero System, your character can buy Double Knockback as an advantage for attack powers (and so can NP Cs.) You can also buy Knockback Resistance, which is comparatively inexpensive.
  • May 11, 2010
    Jet Set Willy had an attempt at this which was somewhere between knockback and rollback. It didn't always work, sometimes leading to a string of continuous deaths and a Game Over.
  • May 11, 2010
    Mook Bouncer is not eligible for this trope because it doesn't involve the game's usual physics engine when the player receives damage.

    Speaking of physics... gotta mention Newton's Laws.
  • May 11, 2010
    Excessive in the Castlevania series. Even the easiest game in the series had cases where two mooks could juggle your main character between them until he was dead. And that's not even starting on the Medusa Head to Spikes Of Doom bouncing.
  • May 12, 2010
    Reminds me of how in Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap, if you were hit repeatedly by an enemy's attack (especially the case against bosses), you would receive additional knockback and could easily be juggled. But at least Mercy Invincibility protected you from incurring further damage.
  • May 12, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    In Super Smash Bros Brawl's single player campaign, the very reason for the intentioned Goddamned Bats (forgot what they're called, but they look like wireframe Mr. Peanuts) - they're supposed to impede your progress.
  • May 12, 2010
    Egregious example: Lego Star Wars, where in some cases you could be shuffled off the edge of a platform by one of your ALLIES.
  • May 12, 2010
    This is very closely related to my ykttw for ledge bats. The difference is that's about creatures, while this is the mechanic in general. So they are Sister Tropes.
  • May 12, 2010
    • While Warcraft 3 doesn't feature this, the trope's omnipresence is such that it's a very rare (custom) map that doesn't have this mechanism (such as DOTA and its variants).
    • Dawn Of War has knockback for artillery and some units. Justified for some (Super Strength, Psychic Powers, etc), but it does get a bit ridiculous when the Kroot (lanky hollow-boned bird-men) are upgraded to knockback units such as seven-foot-tall Power Armored Space Marines with the same ease as ordinary Guardsmen and Gretchin. Also a fallen unit ordered to move will do so while playing their "get up" animation, so they end up gliding majestically along the ground before getting up.
  • May 12, 2010
    • Players quickly learned to incorporate knockback in their strategies, as a knocked-down unit naturally cannot fight until it gets back up. Consequently, knockback attacks are usually aimed directly at heavy weapons troopers in a squad.
    • The Disgaea series, as well as Phantom Brave and Makai Kingdom both involve attacks that may not only knock the target back, but may move the attacker as well. This means that in Disgaea, certain attacks may not be usable because the space the attacker or target is supposed to move into is blocked. In Brave and Kingdom, these moves may instead be used to knock enemies into (or out of) position for further attacks (especially in Kingdom, which uses a turn-based combo system similar to Disgaea's), or right off the battlefield.

  • May 12, 2010
    @Sonofrojblade: Deliberately pushing against another player in LEGO Star Wars doesn't count as knockback. In fact LSW doesn't utilize knockback at all; it doesn't interrupt the player's actions, they just lose one heart.

    @SAMAS: Actually, almost any tactical RPG (where positioning/range must also be considered) will provide a few attacks that affect the target's position after inflicting damage. Whether this qualifies as knockback per sé is debatable....
  • May 12, 2010
    2nd degree knockback is one of the possible properties for magic weapons in Diablo II. It's useful for crowd control against swarming monsters, and also against bosses who attack much faster than you can. 1st degree also occurs whenever you take significant damage, and is called interruption. It's dangerous because if you're interrupted near the end of an attack animation, you have to start the attack all over again, so a heavy-hitter or mob can keep you from attacking at all. There are skills and magical items that can reduce this hazard.
  • May 12, 2010
    • Assassins Creed uses pretty much all three levels, depending on what sort of attack was executed (either by you or your enemy!). Fortunately, whether or not you get knocked back, it's unlikely that anyone will attack you while you're down. Also, you can throw enemies down in pretty much the same manner - except you can keep attacking them while they're down.
  • May 12, 2010
    • Final Fantasy Tactics - Rock throw and Tackle have a random chance of knocking the target back by one square. If what's behind them is a sufficiently long drop, this kills them.
    • Team Fortress 2 - The Pyro's default flamethrower has an airblast that can cause knockback, as well as the Scout's Force-A-Nature; bullets from the Heavy's minigun and the sentry and explosions also cause smaller knockbacks.
  • May 12, 2010
    Another interesting angle to City Of Heroes knockback is its interaction with gravity (not Gravity powers, just the plain old 1.0Gs sort.) A mook who's knocked off a high place of some sort will take damage when he falls and hits the surface... but can't be killed by falling. So you can knock a bad guy off the top of a suspension bridge in Independence Port, then he'll fall a long, long way into the water... and if you hang around long enough, he'll come all the way back.
  • May 12, 2010
    In Monster Hunter Tri, quite a few of the monsters have attacks that do third degree knockback. Occasionally, the player can also knock the monsters back.

    In S 4 League, most of the melee weapons have at least one second degree knockback attack, which will occasionally do third degree knockback. If a player is knocked into a wall, a particularly unpleasant sounding cracking noise is made and they're left unable to act on the ground.
  • May 13, 2010
    Compare Blown Across The Room (firearms) and Punched Across The Room (physical attacks).
  • May 15, 2010
    I launched Ledge Bats, but I did leave room to note this trope when launched, since this is what makes those enemies to annoying.
  • May 15, 2010
    If flinching is a subtrope of this, then let's mention Pokemon.