[[quoteright:330:[[VideoGame/{{Xenosaga}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/break.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:330:I bet that thing is regretting picking this fight about now...]]

The Break Meter adds another layer to gameplay and strategy by allowing a new route to defeat other than merely depleting {{Hit Point}}s. It fills as a character is damaged and, when full, the character is "broken" and will be more vulnerable to attacks, be hit with criticals more often, and/or be unable to act. Occasionally, attacks or skills will behave radically differently against a broken enemy, with popular changes including the skill knocking them into the air and/or smashing them to the ground. Sometimes, breaking a character does just that; the character flees the battle.

Sometimes, games will provide special skills or abilities that are geared for causing break damage directly rather than physical damage, and strategies can be made up of getting an enemy to the break point, then wailing away on it.

Arcade Rail Shooters, such as the ''VideoGame/{{House of the Dead}}'' series, use a similar mechanic during boss fights: underneath the boss's health meter is a smaller meter that, when emptied, halts the boss's attack. Failure to empty the bar in time typically results in taking damage.

The inverse of LimitBreak, and an aversion of CriticalExistenceFailure. Often goes hand-in-hand with a MoraleMechanic, which represents a unit's "fighting spirit."

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!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Action]]
* In ''VideoGame/{{Arcuz}} II'', depleting a boss' break meter by hitting them enough is the ''only'' way to deal any proper, reliable damage to a boss or champion Mook. They take ScratchDamage from attacks otherwise.
* The large Oni of ''VideoGame/{{Toukiden}}'' can only be damaged after "surface resistance" is depleted; this is a purple bar displayed above their health bar when [[EnemyScan your Eye of Truth]] is active. In addition, severing and then purifying a limb leaves that part permanently vulnerable[[note]]This does not count as Subsystem Damage because the Oni can fight just as well with non-physical limbs[[/note]].

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Eastern RPG]]
* Appears in Episodes II and III of the ''VideoGame/{{Xenosaga}}'' series, where both player characters and enemies can be broken.
** In II, broken characters could be knocked into the air or knocked to the ground, and would take large amounts of damage when hit. They would recover on their next turn. Characters were broken by hitting their weak points consecutively.
** In III, broken characters would be unable to act for two or three turns and would be more likely to be hit by critical hits. Only physical attacks and techniques fill the break gauge, with some techs focusing primarily on causing break damage.
* The ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXIII'' trilogy features this as a crucial game mechanic called "Stagger". By stringing together attacks, characters raise an enemy's "Chain Bonus" (damage multiplier) while trying to keep the timer from running out (which will reset the Chain Gauge to 100%). Once the Gauge hits a certain threshold, the enemy becomes "staggered", at which point the Chain Gauge doubles (and it can still be raised). Certain abilities cause enemies to be knocked into the air, while others do extra damage just as the enemy is about to recover. Certain enemies also lose resistances to certain types of attacks. In addition, the percentage of Break Gauge also influence the damage it takes. Basically, a Chain gauge of 300%, say, will amplify your attacks by 3 times. Certain monsters that are nigh un-Staggerable (having 999% as its Stagger breakpoint) may not even need to be Staggered as long as the Chain gauge is high enough that you're doing around 8x the damage.
** ''VideoGame/LightningReturnsFinalFantasyXIII'' has a variation on this. The Chain Gauge is no longer an explicit bar, instead being replaced by a Stagger Wave. The extent to which an enemy is close to being Staggered is represented by a wave; the closer it is to being Staggered, the wave will be larger and colored red. There are many different conditions for Stagger, and some enemies can be Staggered further ForMassiveDamage. However, some enemies can only be damaged after multiple Staggers, including the BonusBoss. Also, the Chain Gauge-based damage boost mentioned above no longer applies.
* Featured as a prominent battle mechanism in both ''ManaKhemia'' games. Broken enemies are stunned for at least a turn, take more damage and suffer critical hits more easily.
* ''[[VideoGame/{{Boktai}} Lunar Knights]]'' has shields as equippable items, so this comes into play. While it is possible to raise the limit for each shield [[GuideDangIt in its own manner]], if you take too much abuse while blocking, you will be stunned. In the midst of a [[ZergRush Vorn rush]], this is the last thing you want.
* Running out of Hero Gauge in ''VideoGame/ResonanceOfFate'' does this to the player characters. Hero Gauge is consumed to perform a Hero Action, which bypasses the game's default RealTimeWithPause elements and replaces them with stylish aerial GunFu. The problem is that the Hero Gauge is also used to replenish health when any one character's HP hits 0. Run out of Hero Gauge, and effects include: decreased accuracy, decreased firepower, takes extra damage, damage during this Mode cannot be healed, everyone cowers in fear, and [[MusicalSpoiler the BGM changes]]. Even worse, having the Gauge consumed to replenish health makes the maximum Gauge effectively smaller, albeit temporarily. In short, [[NintendoHard you do not want to screw things up]].
** A variation of the break mechanic also occurs here. Hero Gauge can be replenished by depleting an enemy's (or their [[CognizantLimbs parts']]) HP. Dealing Direct Damage to an enemy has a chance to break its HP Gauge, which literally splits the HP bar in two, three, and maximum four smaller HP bars. Not only will this cause the enemy to be stunned for several seconds, emptying any one of the smaller HP bars will award a Hero Gauge back, even if the enemy or its part doesn't get destroyed yet.
* ''VideoGame/TalesOfGraces'' features Arles Rise (for the player party) and Arles Break (for enemies). Both states gives increased power, greater likelihood of staggering, and access to [[LimitBreak Blast Calibers]].
* ''VideoGame/MegaManXCommandMission'' has this as a gauge of the enemy's ''initial'' health at the start of a turn, divided into a yellow and a smaller orange part. It always starts out as full each time a character attacks them, however, it depletes quicker the more damage it takes. Once the health drops to the orange part, the enemy will "Break Down" and the party can use a CombinationAttack to finish it off.
* Almost any video game coming from both Idea Factory and Compile Heart will feature this functionality.
** In ''VideoGame/CrossEdge'', aside from the HP bar, there were three other bars, each one colored green (Break), red (Burst), and blue (Down). Certain attacks from each character would deplete one of these three bars; if the red or blue bars emptied, the opponent was considered ''Guard Broken'', and would take extra damage through the rest of the attack cycle. If the green bar was depleted, the opponent would be hit with an ''Over Break'', and the attacker(s) got their full AP back. However, the enemy is fully capable of throwing these same tactics back at you.
*** In ''VideoGame/TrinityUniverse'', as the Chapter 3 tutorial notes, certain bosses have a ''Soul Barrier'' which dramatically reduce damage taken from the players. If the bar was emptied through repeated attacks, the barrier would break and the enemy would enter ''Soul Break'', which allows the player to deal more damage, but the boss would have increased offense as well. Some bosses would have a second barrier, which has lead to an exploit of double soul-breaking Lurker bosses to reap massive amounts of Experience.
** ''{{Neptunia}}'' simplified it to a single break bar. Once it depleted, the attacker got full AP back, and the broken enemy took double damage.
** ''RecordOfAgarestWar'' and ''Zero'' also had the Break meter but when you deplete it, you get an extended version of a Break Art. ''RecordOfAgarestWar2'' also had a Break meter but what it does is that it gives you an Up Orb to be able to use [[LimitBreak Limit Breaks]].
* In ''VideoGame/TalesOfVesperia'', by wearing down one of an enemy's three different meters -- each of which corresponds to different attack directions -- you can perform a Fatal Strike, a move that instantly kills normal enemies and boost the parties stats.
* ''HybridHeaven'' has both the enemy and the player have body parts that can be attacked over and over again until that part gets heavily injured, resulting in the character having slower speed or weaker attacks. Attacking the head enough times can also cause the character to be dazed.
* A large distinguishing feature of the ''Franchise/ChaosRings'' series. Probably the second game to use the term "break gauge" to describe such a thing. Instead of having a break meter for each participant in battle, there is an overall one for the entire battle, which is filled or depleted as you attack enemies or take damage. When it swings towards the player, you get improved damage from your attacks and take less damage from the enemies. When it swings towards the enemies, the reverse happens.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fighting Games]]
* Used in ''SuperSmashBros'': Each character can use a shield to reduce damage, but it shrinks over time. If you keep shielding until it breaks, you are stunned for a short duration... which is more than enough for other players to brutalize you off the screen. A smash attack with the fan automatically breaks any shield, no matter how much is left. Breaking a shield may also send the character into the air, depending on their weight and damage. The effects range from barely noticeable (Bowser) to sky-high (Kirby). Jigglypuff will actually ''[[TwinkleInTheSky Star K.O.]] itself'' if its shield breaks, regardless of damage.
* Featured in ''VideoGame/DissidiaFinalFantasy'', which is appropriate since it is both an Eastern RPG ''and'' a Fighting Game. Brave attacks may break the enemy, meaning you can get the stage Bravery, which is usually a ''considerable'' boost, often enough to make any subsequent HP attack a OneHitKill. Meanwhile, your enemy's HP attacks won't do any damage while they're in Break. However, landing an HP attack will automatically end Break.
* The Guard Libra gauge in ''VideoGame/{{BlazBlue}}'' fills up as a player guards attacks. If filled completely, that player suffers a Barrier Crush and is paralyzed for several seconds.
** Revised as the Guard Primer system in ''[[VideoGame/BlazBlueContinuumShift Continuum Shift]]''. Every character has a personal number of primers, which disappear one by one as they block specialized guard break attacks. When you lose all of them, you are guard broken and helpless.
* ''VideoGame/DragonBallZBudokai 3'' features a fatigue gauge, that, if filled will cause a character to be tired out if knocked down with less than one Ki gauge.
* ''SoulCalibur IV'' introduces the Soul Gauge, which decreases when attacks are blocked. If it breaks, the player is temporarily stunned and open to a OneHitKO FinishingMove.
** ''Soul Edge'', the first game of the series, had BreakableWeapons that both reduced your offensive output ''and'' made you take chip damage when blocking.
* Taunting in ''VideoGame/ArtOfFighting'' reduces the special move gauge, which leaves many characters without an offensive arsenal. Notable in that the computer is actually bound by this, unlike some games.
* ''VideoGame/SamuraiShodown'' is probably the TropeCodifier. Blocking too much or trading hits with a counter swing may lead up to weapon loss.
* ''VideoGame/StreetFighterAlpha3'' added a Guard meter that would stun you for three seconds if it was broken. You could also [[CastFromHitPoints sacrifice some]] of it for an easy CounterAttack if it was obvious you were going to lose it. This meter also appeared in ''[[VideoGame/CapcomVsSNK2MarkOfTheMillennium Capcom vs. SNK 2]]''.
** In ''Alpha 3'', the Guard meter gets shorter with each successive Guard Break, to discourage turtling.
* ''VideoGame/TheKingOfFighters'' has had this for the last few games. In ''Maximum Impact'', the final boss's most powerful Super Move ''instantly'' breaks the meter if you block it, regardless of how much is left.
* In the levels of ''VideoGame/DragonBallAdvanceAdventure'' where you battle one opponent in a fighting game engine, both you and your opponent have a Rush Gauge. As long as it's not empty, you won't flinch or take damage from attacks, but each attack that you don't block or parry will deplete it. If you empty the opponent's Rush Gauge through continued attacks or a single counterattack after parrying, you break their guard and knock them back for a significant amount of time, and your attacks will make them flinch until you knock them down to the ground. After getting knocked down, their Rush Gauge will reset. It also refills on its own if you're not being attacked. Scoring a hit with a chi blast will immediately empty their Rush Gauge.
* ''OneMustFall'' features an "energy bar" that depletes differently basing on different injuries sustained (quick weak blows deplete it faster than slow strong blows). Once empty, it causes the player's bot to become incapacitated for a few seconds and open for a devastating combo.
* The ''Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure'' fighting game has the Stand Meter. If a character takes too many hits to the Stand, they are "Stand Crushed" - the Stand disappears and they are staggered. (For extra ContinuityNod value, the Stone Mask flashes in the background when this happens.)
* In the story mode of the VideoGame/{{Touhou}} spinoffs ''Scarlet Weather Rhapsody'' and ''Hisoutensoku'', enemies using spellcards have break meters. If you deal enough damage to them, they're stunned until it refills.
* ''Anime/DragonBallZ: Supersonic Warriors'' has a single gauge on top of the screen between each character's health bars, with a mark in the center that moves closer towards each health bar as that player blocks attacks from the other. If the mark is not in the center, and one player fails to block a strong attack from the other, either the first player will be stunned until the mark can reset (if it was closer to his health bar), or it will just reset itself immediately (if it was closer to the attacker's health bar).
* ''PunchOut'' has a stamina meter for the player. Every time the player blocks or gets damaged, their stamina drops and once it is empty, the player becomes too tired to attack. This leaves the player open to attacks from the enemy boxer and the player can only regain their energy once they successfully dodged an attack or get knocked down to the mat and get up again.
* The ManaMeter in the ''VideoGame/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaAsPortable'' fighting games doubles as this. Be wary of blocking after casting a barrage of spells, as having the character's DeflectorShields broken will leave them stunned for a long time.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:FirstPersonShooter]]
* Enemies in ''VideoGame/BrothersInArms'' have a red circle over their heads, which loses slices as you shoot at or near them. When emptied, they're PinnedDown and have difficulty attacking.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:RailShooter]]
* ''VideoGame/TheHouseOfTheDead'' included these for its bosses in later games. More than just shooting at it to kill the thing, often times you'd have to shoot at it in order to get it to stop attacking you for that phase.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:RealTimeStrategy]]
* In ''DawnOfWar'', squads have a morale meter that goes down as the squad takes damage. If this meter is emptied, the squad breaks and its troops become less effective in combat.
** "Less effective" herein meaning "they die twice as quick and deal next to no damage". Can actually be quite amusing, because their animations don't change. Thus, you can have a whole Space Marine Squad unloading MoreDakka into a much weaker enemy squad and doing absolutely nothing.
* In {{Pharaoh}}, your military units have a morale bar that steadily goes down the longer combat lasts, and causes them to run back to their fort when completely panicked, and only move back out when they stop panicking. Ships have a different one depending on how tired the crew is: if they're exhausted the ship doesn't move until they're back at full strength.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: WideOpenSandbox]]
* ''VideoGame/{{Prototype}}'s'' [[spoiler:[[TheDragon Supreme Hunter]]]] goes into a "stunned" mode when you inflict a cascade of sufficiently damaging blows in rapid succession. [[ActionCommands This allows you to get ''literally'' up close and personal for ]] [[ButtonMashing free hits if you wish.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder: {{MMORPG}}]]
* ''VideoGame/EdenEternal'' has a variant only seen on bosses and elites. Depleting it merely staggers the enemy and offers an extremely brief ([[ThatOneBoss but extremely welcome all the same, in many cases]]) respite from attacks, but it ''does'' open up the lower portion of the enemy's [[RandomlyDrops loot table]] where the killer stuff usually is.
[[/folder]]

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