The patient warrior who waits until their opponent commits to an attack will be rewarded with a good opportunity to smack the other guy, hard. This is the principle behind counter attacks in games and other types of fiction. Often, in exchange for the cost in tactical opportunities (and need for good timing), these attacks will be significantly more powerful than normal attacks, sometimes to the point of being One Hit Kills
See also Action Commands
and Cross Counter
. Some counter attacks require the user to not care about surviving the attack being countered
. However some attacks, like the Unblockable Attack
, can't be countered, only evaded. May lead to Death or Glory Attack
if used to (try and) stop a particularly strong move. May also result in Awesome but Impractical
if the timing is too strict. Characters built around this may become Difficult but Awesome
A necessary strategy for defeating any Tennis Boss
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Anime and Manga
- In Mahou Sensei Negima!, Negi does this against Rakan, absorbing his attack then sending it back along with his own lightning spear in a convoluted yet awesome fight scene. Although it still wasn't enough to take the lunkhead down.
- In YuYu Hakusho, Sensui's entire close combat fighting style revolves around this, deflecting the enemy's punches and kicks with his arms, then while their guard is down, counters back with a kick. This fighting style allows him to completely demolish Yusuke, a physically much more powerful and very skilled fighter, effortlessly during their first encounter.
- Rumiko Takahashi seems fond of giving these to her male protagonists. InuYasha uses the devastating Backlash Wave technique which requires an attack of significant strength to be thrown at him first. Ranma's Hiryuu Shoten Ha technique goes a step farther than most techniques in fiction and requires a psychological component: to use this counter, Ranma must maintain a state of mind with no aggressive intent while his opponent or opponents must be attacking with aggressive intent. The Hiryuu Shoten Ha works on a yin and yang mechanic where two battle auras meet like bodies of cold and hot air to form a tornado. When properly employed the blast of energy can send multiple opponents at their full strength into lower Earth orbit.
- Seigfried's Of Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple entire fighting style consists of him transferring energy back towards his opponents by spinning. He also waits until the last moment possible to jump back, and make it appear like his opponent is hitting him, while he's really not, creates the illusion of him being invincible.
- Series thick with Sword Fights don't hesitate to use these frequently, although they are rarely named. Le Chevalier d'Eon is rife with ripostes, notably at the climax of D'Eon's first fight channelling Lia and Durand's first match with Tiellagory. Served Durand right for messing with Tiellagory's hat.
- Vega Obscura, the pilot of the Berserk Fury in Zoids: New Century, is shown to fight this way. When he gets knocked out while fighting Bit and the Liger Zero in the final episode, the Berserk Fury itself takes over and begins fighting more aggressively, leading to its eventual defeat.
- Baki the Grappler has Kaku Kaioh who can absorb punch from the world's strongest man and send the power of that attack back.
- In G Gundam, Domon devises new attacks specifically to counter the Finishing Moves of the Five-Man Band; the God Shadow creates afterimages which catch Chibodee's Machine Gun Punch and the God Slash Typhoon cuts down George's Rose Hurricane. The God Field Dash doesn't specifically counter Argo's Gaia Crusher, but Domon uses it to put extra stress on the Bolt Gundam's knees, which were already strained by the move.
- Early in Kinnikuman, the titular hero faces off against Jesse Maivia, master of reversing enemies' moves against them. Unfortunately for him, by relying on his move reversals so much, Jesse did not have any techniques of his own. Kinnikuman took advantage of this by doing nothing and then using Jesse's confusion as an opening to perform a move that Jesse had no way of countering.
- Fragile Speedster Miyata's entire boxing strategy is based around using counterattacks to use his opponent's strength against him. Of course, with even the slightest miscalculation his counterattack will lead to a Cross Counter that will probably not fare well for him.
- Kill la Kill: Ira Gamagoori's first Ultima Uniform works by tanking the enemy's blows, absorbing the energy thereof, and unleashing a devastating counterattack.
- This forms the basis of Ryunosuke Tsukue's fighting style in The Swordof Doom, most easily seen in his fight with Bunnojo. Both the cruel nature of the style and its reactionary nature are implied to be caused by or a cause of Ryunosuke's evil but listless personality.
- One piece of Sky Masters tech introduced in the Dale Brown book Rogue Forces is a system that allows a plane to blow up incoming missiles with Frickin' Laser Beams, then attempt to fry the missile-launcher as well.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, there is a lightsaber style called Soresu which revolves around waiting for an enemy to make a mistake...or simply get tired.
- It should be mentioned that Obi-Wan Kenobi is a master of this lightsaber style, which made him the council's top choice for the mission to hunt down and defeat General Grievous in Revenge of the Sith.
- Possibly the largest example ever by scope: in The Wheel of Time, when the Dark One is magically imprisoned, his counterattack taints half the magic in the universe with madness and death for the next few millennia before someone figures out a way to cleanse it.
Live Action TV
- In Kamen Rider Kabuto, the title character's signature version of the franchise-standard Rider Kick involves turning his back to the Monster of the Week, powering up, and then landing an energy-charged roundhouse on whichever opponent was foolish enough to charge at his exposed back. Tendou himself outright calls the move a "counter kick" in the Hyper Battle DVD when Kagami imitates it during his attempt to be like Tendou, and Kamen Rider video games often turn the move into a traditional counterattack.
- Feng Shui's Path of the Healthy Tiger is built upon counterattacks. The second power on the list, Tiger Stance, activates when you take damage from a martial arts attack, and Unyielding Tiger Stance, the next one down, requires only that you get attacked with a martial arts attack, and in both cases allows you to make a free martial arts attack on the opponent out of sequence. Most characters who are serious about Tiger style take the full three-schtick Tiger package which includes both major powers.
- Exalted has a whole slew of combat charms that grant one or more lightning-fast counterattacks. The stronger ones often combine the simple counterattack with a particularly nasty bonus effect.
- Ready in Eight Directions Stance is particularly ridiculous, since it allows you an automatic counterattack at every attack aimed at you for 4-6 seconds. When combined with a perfect defence, attacking a Solar with this Charm active is rather like sticking your hand in a wood chipper.
- The Shard Burn Legend, a love letter to Street Fighter, Tekken and Mortal Kombat, has a number of Defensive Techniques that are non-events if the enemy doesn't attack. Of note is the Tennin technique Bridge of the Resilient Cat, which allows the user to counter bullets by striking their trajectories.
- Mage Knight, in its second iteration, had a Counterattack special ability, though it was activated by the initial attack missing. It was frequently paired with the Parry ability, which gave the defender a better chance of being missed by a melee attack (and thus triggering the Counterattack).
- D&D Minis had a Riposte ability, which did allow the target to make a Counterattack prior to the initial attacker's attack. When two critters with Riposte were fighting each other... it got ugly. And confusing.
- Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 has the feast Karmic Strike and Robilar's Gambit, used to great effect in the famous "Jack B Quick" build, which hit back up to 6 times for every hit it received. Fighters can also take a "Counterattack" alternate class feature.
- GURPS: Martial Arts telescopes most varieties of counterattack into a single difficult to pull off technique. There are also rules for trying a riposte or a stop hit.
- A few characters in Sentinels Of The Multiverse have counter attacks that trigger when they get hit by a target. However, these are not optional: If a hero hits themselves and they have their coutner in play, it triggers and they hit themselves again.
- One of the things that make Shiro Yoshimo so badass in the tabletop version of The Dresden Files is the Riposte stunt in his character writeup, which on a successful defense roll in melee allows him to sacrifice his next action in order to automatically hit the attacker back as though his defense roll had been a successful attack instead — which, given his high skill and especially in conjunction with the damage bonus and supernatural protection-neutralizing powers of Fidelacchius, can potentially end a fight right there or at least seriously skew it in his favor. It's worth noting that while most Fate games feature some stunt like this, those versions are usually more freely usable (i.e., don't require giving up one's entire next action) but also less powerful (often just hitting the attacker back for some small token amount of damage, although that's still automatic); this particular implementation seems to be largely unique to Dresden Files in particular.
- Fable II has these as a buyable ability although the timing can be tricky.
- Found in too many fighting games to count. Many fighting games will have 'Counter' appear if you land your attack while the opponent is attempting their own. Some even give boosts.
- A lot of fighting games feature an ability that lends itself to swift counterattacks — parrying. In the ones that have it, you typically parry an attack by either pressing a button or pressing the joystick forward the exact moment the attack would hit you, and you'll negate the damage. Projectile-based super attacks and other multi-hit moves may have to be parried multiple times in a row, as showcased by insanely-skilled Street Fighter 3 player Daigo Umehara in his Crowning Moment of Awesome against Justin Wong at EVO 2004.
- Carefully timed dodges, blocks, counters, and reversals are the core of Lugaru's one-button fighting system.
- One of the main gimmicks behind Guilty Gear's Baiken is the unique ability to cancel her blockstun with a number of special moves while using no meter. Should the opponent keep attempting to attack her too much, she can choose to counter by either teleporting behind the opponent, stabbing them in the middle of their attack, or leaping behind them and slashing their head.
- Bloodline Champions has a multitude of abilities that do this.
- Immaterial and Missing Power gives a knockback boost which can lead to (stronger) wallslams and (stronger) groundslams, a lot of juggle points, and the inability to tech when a counter on anything stronger than a poke lands. This allows for some massive aerial combo strings if you're good enough. The sequel, on the other hand, had counters launch the opponent 50 feet in the appropriate direction.
- In addition, Sakuya has an attack that automatically counters melee attacks, but leaves her vulnerable to projectiles, Iku has an attack that reflects projectiles, and Youmu has both.
- In the main games, deathbombing/Final Spells can be seen as this.
- The Pokémon series is replete with examples:
- The moves "Counter" and "Mirror Coat" return twice the damage incurred from physical or special attacks, respectively. "Metal Burst" can counter either type of attack (but with a 50% increase in power), and "Bide" makes the user to wait two turns before countering all the damage received during that time.
- "Endeavor" reduces the opponent to the same HP as the user, while "Destiny Bond" causes the opponent to faint if the user was KO during the same turn.
- Wynaut and Wobbuffet are built entirely around counterattacks, their repertiores consisting of the aforementioned Counter, Mirror Coat, and Destiny Bond.
- The move "Sucker Punch" is unusual in that it hits hard and strikes first, but only if the opponent was readying a damage-dealing attack on the same turn. Likewise, the move "Me First" can mimic the opponent's move with stronger power, but only when the user is fast enough to act first.
- Two moves, Revenge and Avalanche are moves that double in power if the user takes damage first. The move Payback is actually an aversion rather than an inversion: it doubles in power if the opponent moves first, regardless of whether damage was dealt.
- Inverted by the move Focus Punch, which is a powerful move but always goes last and fails if countered (i.e. the user gets hit on the same turn).
- Also common in the recent Zelda games. In addition to frequent use of the sword or shield to reflect enemy projectile attacks, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess have melee counters. The "Mortal Draw" in Twilight Princess is especially risky as Link must have his sword and shield put away to use it, though it's still worth using despite that.
- Many tough enemies are almost impossible to harm when they aren't trying to hit you, as well. Especially Darknuts.
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword outright added a parrying ability, used by shaking the nunchuck for Link to thrust his shield forward. Learning to parry attacks is worth it, since timing it right can stun enemies or knock their projectiles right back at them, and it doesn't wear down your shield's durability.
- Mastering the Shield Bash's parrying ability is also just about the ONLY way to survive the final boss fight's first stage without a ton of healing and damage reduction potions; just attacking outright will take him down eventually, but you'll lose nearly all your hearts to his counter attacks in the process, while LINK's counter attack strategy can prevent the boss from ever regaining the initiative until he gets serious for the second stage.
- Assassin's Creed I uses counterattacks to make up most of its fencing system. Altaďr only shoves away foes when countering a grapple, but countering foes' weapon strikes are instantly fatal. This is the best way to depopulate the city guards of the Holy Land given the kindness of the guardsmen in generously waiting their turns to attack you one at a time.
- There are times when countering with either sword only knocks an opponent back unless it's followed up by another button press at the correct moment. The Hidden Blade will always be fatal on the counter attack, though. As for waiting for the guards... the more skilled professional soldiers will gladly let you sit back — and then guard break your weapon and beat the hell out of you.
- In Assassins Creed II, the tougher enemies (correlating to how much armor they wear) have a different animation when a counterattack isn't lethal and can even counterattack you (albeit without damage), but counters remain the best technique to kill everything. The Brutes (wielding axes or bastard swords) and Seekers (wielding polearms) cannot be countered by the longsword/mace/hammer (shared weapon slot) or the short blade, but can be countered by said axes, bastard swords, polearms, the Hidden Blade, or disarmed (as a well-timed "counter attack" with your Fists) when using your hands — at which point you can kill them with their own weapon, or just time your side step/dodge and you're be instantly behind your enemy, at which point any weapon is lethal.
- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is supposed to encourage taking the initiative and attacking first, as the developers felt that the effectiveness of counter kills led to time-consuming encounters due to this encouraging defensive play especially since you could now block with the Hidden Blade equipped. Part of the changes to the combat system is Executions, which allow Ezio to chain One Hit Kills after killing an enemy normally. In practice, a counter is still a perfectly legitimate means of getting that first kill. Also, aggressive countering - staying on the attack and tapping the block button to counter the wiseguy trying to interfere - as opposed to defensive countering - holding the block and waiting for enemies to strike - is now the way to go.
- Connor, the protagonist of Assassins Creed III can counter two attacks at the same time, a la Batman: Arkham City.
- Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time uses this heavily. Beware, however, since some sand creatures are capable of countering the Prince's counter. Luckily, the Prince can counter the counter of his counter, which can itsef be countered, and so on and so forth. Successfully countering a sand creature knocks them down and leaves them open to be Retrieved.
- Also used in the sequels Prince of Persia: Warrior Within and Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones. The effects of successfully countering an opponent change because of the Free Form Fighting system, but they will always give the Prince an advantage.
- Timing a block correctly in Prince of Persia (2008) leaves an enemy open to attack.
- The most common fighting tactic in Prince of Persia is to wait for the opponent to attack, then defend and counter the attack. One of the enemies actually utilizes this tactic himself, and will not attack until the prince attacks him first.
- In Penny Arcade Adventures: On The Rain-Slicked Precipe Of Darkness, Episode 1, Counter Attacks results when you get 'perfect timing' on a block-trigger. Completely nullifies damage, and hits the opponent with a basic attack instead. In the X360 version, there's even an achievement for winning a battle using nothing but counter-attacks.
- In Achaea, the Monk-class has access to the mother of all counters. Once you activate it, the next person to hit you is insta-killed, with a very nice description that involves hovering, Glowing Eyes of Doom, and Eye Beams.
- The most common form of this in the Tales Series is the Pow Revenge skill, which provides a chance for the user to automatically toss a Pow Hammer at the assailant whenever they get hit.
- Perhaps the best known villainous user of this in the series is Barbatos Goetia, whose fighting style in his first appearance revolves heavily around counterattacks that are performed in response to certain common actions, such as using magic, standing behind him, and running away from him. The one counterattack he retains in all of his appearances is performed in response to item usage, and is generally potent enough to discourage one from using items at all.
- He also has a more mundane counterattack that's performed shortly after being struck in Tales of Destiny 2. Your characters can counter this counter with the Guard Strike ability, which in turn triggers another counter from him, which can result in silliness like this.
- In addition to Pow Revenge, Tales of Vesperia has the Guardial Artes skill, which allows multiple characters to use artes immediately after guarding an attack. There's also Raven with his Counter Arrow skill, and Rita with her Counter Spell skill, both of which can be used whenever they stagger from a hit.
- In Super Smash Bros., multiple characters have moves of this nature.
- In Melee, Peach, Marth, and Roy have these, though the last of the three is most noteworthy, due to his counter's strength being based on how much damage the countered move would've caused. There's also Mr. Game and Watch, who after catching three projectiles with his Oil Panic special can unleash their combined destructive force in a single attack.
- Brawl replaces Roy with Ike, whose counter functions in the same fashion. Marth's counter was upgraded to function similarly, but isn't as strong, due it triggering faster. It also adds Lucario, whose Double Team counter can become an extremely powerful KO move if he's at a high damage percentage, but is less reliable due to its physics.
- The fourth games add Greninja who uses Substitute, replacing himself with a doll or Ninja Log and attacking when he reappears. Lucina has Marth's counter (being a Move Set Clone). Little Mac has a similar counter attack and so does Palutena. Shulk's Counter Attack comes in the form of his Monado giving him a vision of the impending attack, this has a very long window but decreases if it is spammed. Finally, Mii Swordfighters can have a Fire Emblem style counter attack for their down special.
- Also common in console RPGs. Chrono Trigger had two accessories, the RageBand and the FuryBand, that would give the equipped characters a 50% and 70% chance to counter any attack that targeted them, and the DS Updated Re-release adds a few more. In this case, to 'counter' meant to slap the foe with a normal attack after they had already damaged you. Fortunately, the game had a broad definition of 'attacks' in this context; the final boss would ocassionally change the Amazing Technicolor Background, and while this did no damage, it could still provoke attacks from characters equipped with these items. Apparently, wearing these headands made people very critical of others' tastes in interior decorating.
- Final Fantasy and its many derivatives often use this trope, usually with the Monk class if there is one:
- The Monk class in Final Fantasy III's DS version has the "Retaliate" ability which causes the monk to counterattack with double his normal attack damage every time he is hit with a physical attack that turn.
- The DS remake of Final Fantasy IV has items that teach abilities with one being a counter ability.
- The Monk job in Final Fantasy V comes with a Counter ability, which gives a (fairly high) random chance for the character to respond to any physical attack that hits them with one of their own. Giving this ability to characters in other jobs (or in the Bare or Mimic jobs, each of which automatically give the character all non-command abilities from classes they have mastered) allows this ability to be effectively combined with other useful combat abilities, such as 2-Swords.
- In Final Fantasy VI, Cyan's second SwordTech ability, Retort, causes him to respond to the next physical attack with one of his own. This ability is the final trigger for the Psycho Cyan glitch., the short version of it being that it causes Cyan to consider his own counter attacks as an attack from the enemy, leading to an endless loop that won't end until every enemy is dead.
- Retort actually responds to any physical attacks between when it's activated and when Cyan's ATB bar fills up again, allowing him to counter multiple moves if he's attacked more than once. Considering the fact that Cyan is the Mighty Glacier, this can be an effective way of getting him to hit powerfully multiple times in a single turn if the enemy keeps attacking him.
- Shadow also randomly blocks certain physical attacks and counters with his dog Interceptor.
- In Final Fantasy VII, certain materia, when equipped, enable counter-attacks. The Counter Attack materia does as it says: every time the character is struck with a physical attack, s/he has a 10%-50% chance (depending on the level of the materia) to hit the attacker right back with a physical attack. If the enemy's physical attack is part of a multi-hit combo, s/he can potentially counter each blow. Additionally, multiple Counter Attack materia can be equipped onto a single character, allowing him/her to counter every physical blow multiple times.
There was also Counter materia you could link to another materia, so you'd counter with a specific spell or command. If used right, multiple pairs of Counter Command + Mime can have you counter attack with a Limit Break equal to how many pairs you have equipped! Even up to 8 OmniSlashes can be done in a single turn this way. Though the materias in question are one of a kind and you need a lot of Level Grinding to get multiple copies of them.
- Final Fantasy X lets characters equip weapons with various perks, including Counter (which triggers when hit with physical attacks), Evade&Counter (which triggers upon dodging physical attacks, AND increases the character's evasion rate), and Magic Counter (which triggers when hit with magic attacks, but the character counters with a physical attack).
- The Monk class in Final Fantasy XI has a Counter trait, which cancels an enemy attack and has you use an attack of your own. There's even an ability that boosts this counter rate, but it also removes most of your defense, so most of the time using the ability is paramount to suicide. Warriors also have a countering move, but it requires them to actually take damage before hitting back.
- The first bosses of IV (Mist Dragon), V (Wing Raptor), VI (Whelk) and VII (Guard Scorpion). They have two phases, one of which is a defensive state that will counter with a strong attack if you hit them.
- Sentinels in Final Fantasy XIII have the abilities Vendetta (endure damage for a set amount of time and deliver a powerful counter afterwards), Entrench (similar, but trades a weaker counterattack for being in guard state the whole time) and can learn a passive ability which lets them auto-counter after dodging at an attack. In fact, counters are their only method of dealing damage at all.
- Final Fantasy Tactics has a number of counter-attacks, one of the most useful being Hamedo. A guy goes to hit you, and you hit him first...hard. (Sometimes enough to kill him. You can actually survive a surprise attack while at near-death by virtue of the fact that he never actually landed his blow before you countered). Unfortunately it only works against humans and even then only physical attacks, making it of dubious usefulness at best.
- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance also has several variations: Counter, which works against all physical attacks whether they hit or not; Bonecrusher (commonly considered the most useful), which deals 50% more damage than Counter but requires that the attack hits and Strike Back which lets you evade and counter but only against basic attacks. There is also a version for spells too (called "return magic") which hits the enemy with the spell they just used on you, but only if you have the mana. And against enemies like the flans which are healed by the element they use, this can backfire badly.
- In Dissidia: Final Fantasy, Exdeath's move set is built around countering and blocking, while Tidus's distinguishing feature is his reliance on Deadly Dodging. Though these two characters are built around the concept of counter-attacking, many other characters dabble in it: Warrior of Light's Shield of Light, Firion's Shield Bash, Cloud of Darkness's [Wrath] Particle Beam, Sephiroth's Scintilla, and Vaan's (switch) Sword & Shield are all block-and-counter moves, while the Cloud of Darkness, Prishe, and Vaan have a couple dodge-and-counter moves.
- Super Robot Wars has a Counter skill, but it works differently, seeing as the defender makes an attack anyways (as long as it can). This variation makes the unit that Counters go first.
- In Super Robot Wars in general, every attack done leave the attacker open for a counterattack. In fact, sending a powerful robot alone among an army of weak mooks will allow you to defeat them much faster that if you attacked them one by one. On the other hand, when facing more powerful foes, you will start to realise that if you don't finish your opponent, it would be wise to outrange them, be able to avoid their counter attack or repair the damage afterward.
- Bastion, the Kid has the ability to counter enemy attacks with the the shield. However, to counter attacks and not merely deflect them, the shield must be drawn the moment before the attack lands. If the timing is right, the attack will be reflected back to the attacker For Massive Damage.
- Live A Live has Loads And Loads Of Counters, both on the Player Character and enemy side. Cube, the robot, even has a counter that heals itself and nearby allies.
- Metal Gear Solid 4 introduces this for the first time in the series, letting Snake return fire if he gets knocked onto his back. There's something very satisfying about reclining comfortably while blowing messy holes in the person that put you in that position to begin with.
- Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has one happen if the player does a well timed parry, called a Parry Counter. This does as much damage as a combo and often makes battles faster while minimizing damage you take. On the hardest difficulty, Revengeance, its power is multiplied by 10, allowing them to hit both mooks and bosses For Massive Damage. Certain enemies however, will either evade the counter or attempt to counter it. You can counter said counter, leading to some potentially long counter wars.
- Sonja in Advance Wars somewhat specializes in counterattacks (which are automatic for all units in the game anyway, but the first strike is generally stronger as the counterattacking unit will take losses first). However, Sonja's units during her super power gain the ability to strike first on defense, and even gain a boost.
- Some abilities in World of Warcraft work as counters, although most of them require the caster to block, dodge or parry the attack first. The Parry mechanic also works like this. It prevents the attack from hitting, and causes the person who parried make their next attack faster, in a clear representation of a parry-riposte.
- The Mark of Kri had a counter move that only worked with your sword sheathed and caused Rau to kill the enemy with their own weapon.
- Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has the Superguard, an Action Command which negates all damage from an attack and damages the attacker for 1HP. It can also deflect some projectiles.
- Vital in the Mario & Luigi series.
- Mario & Luigi: Dream Team also has CLOTHES that automatically counter attacks afterwards (with a bolt of lightning hitting the enemy afterwards to deal out said damage). It's pretty useful on the later bosses, since their attacks do a ludicrous amount of damage anyway. And on Hard Mode, where attacks do about 7 times their usual damage to the hero (letting you get even on harder enemies without moving a muscle).
- In the Heroes of Might and Magic series counter-attacks are usually treated as normal attacks and deal the same damage. However some spells specifically increase the counter-attack damage, making it more potent than the regular attack as long as the spell is active.
- Some units also have special abilities for counterattacks. Griffins especially have a history of being able to counterattack multiple times and may be given abilities like dealing more and more damage with each counterattack within the same turn.
- The Onimusha series lives by this trope. Central to the combat system is the 'Issen' technique, which requires the player to hit the attack button at the precise instant before an enemy attack would connect with you, thus resulting on a one-hit kill of the opponent. When pulled off correctly, it was possible to wipe out an entire room of enemies in under 2 seconds. However Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams simplifies it so that a simple strike from the magic attack button can start off an Issen chain (though doing it the classic way nets you more souls).
- While the Royal Guard style from Devil May Cry 3 and 4 does not need perfect timing to use normally, blocking or releasing at the moment the enemy attack hits completely nullifies the damage and, in the latter case, dramatically boosts the damage dealt. This is one of the ways of pulling off the really difficult No Damage Run and killing the hardest-difficulty bosses much faster.
- By extension, Bayonetta also permits you to counter enemy attacks once you have the Moon of Malaa-Kalaa accessory. If you just tap the left stick towards an attack before it hits you, Bayonetta will parry it and negate the damage. The timing with this isn't very strict, since you can rapidly tap towards an attack and still parry it, but if your timing is exactly right, she'll automatically counterattack after parrying. This is the only way to get Witch Time when fighting some enemies, and it's just as difficult to time correctly as using Bat Within (pressing the dodge button the exact moment you get hit to negate the damage).
- Happens automatically for certain classes in Disgaea. Some classes can perform a counter-counter, and some can counter that, and so on. This can go on for minutes at a time.
- In the second game, Fist weapons add on 2 extra counters and have a higher counter chance, and the Item World can add extra counters to a weapon. The Nekomata class dealt more damage when they countered. There are also Geo Blocks that give extra counters.
- The third game ups the ante with the addition of multiple counterattack related abilities, the most potent of them being Lion Stance, which adds the damage taken from the countered hit to the counter. Coupling this with the Nekomata's ability to counter special attacks can result in some truly ridiculous amounts of damage (In a game where damage is already ridiculous by conventional standards).
- Gets cranked Up to Eleven in the fourth game. There is a Geo Effect called Forever Counter that raises the number of counter attacks so high that if two characters get into a counter war while affected by it, only one them is going to come out alive if they aren't both invincible.
- All physical attacks in Jeanne d'Arc are automatically countered, provided the attacker is in weapon range of the original target. The only exception is with the Archer class, which can't counter anything at all.
- Additionally, there are the Skill Stones Counter and Counter II, which enable the target to preempt the foe's attack and cancel it with one of their own (as long as they're both within weapons' range, again). Attacking a character equipped with Counter II, even with special techniques, is usually an exercise in futility.
- In Mega Man Battle Network 3, delivering a finishing blow using a Battle Chip properly timed to be a counterattack sounded a chime and awarded Bugfrags (a second and much more valuable form of currency) if you went on to win the battle. If the chip can hit multiple enemies, multiple Counter Hits on multiple enemies stack.
- In 4, this was changed to be more intuitive — any properly timed chip counterattack can award a Counter Hit regardless of whether or not it was the finishing blow, but chips which darken the screen are not eligible. The reward was also changed; a Counter Hit briefly paralyzes the enemy or enemies, makes your next chip attack do double damage (which is a lot more valuable than doubling the attack that scored the Counter Hit itself, since the attacks you want doubled are often hard to counter with or not even eligible), and bosses don't get the usual Mercy Invincibility after a Counter Hit. However, the double damage doesn't stack with multiple Counter Hits on multiple enemies, and you lose it if you get hit before your next chip attack, plus Bugfrags became Random Drops and therefore harder to obtain.
- The various Anti chips present throughout the series will automatically trigger a counterattack against the opponent if they attempt to attack in a particular fashion after they've been used. Anti-Damage is the most basic one, allowing Mega Man to negate the damage of an attack by using a ninja substitution technique, then throwing one or three shuriken at the the assailant depending on the game.
- The counters in Dead or Alive 4. It's amazing how much damage some characters can do with them.
- Really, the whole series. Counter attacks are probably one of the most notable aspects of the series...besides that other feature.
- Much like the Jeanne d'Arc example above, Fire Emblem has automatic counterattacks as long as the attacked unit has a weapon with the proper range. What's more, if the defending unit's speed is high enough, it will attack twice. If the attacking unit's speed is high enough, then it will counterattack after the defending unit does. Most of the damage you deal will probably be from counterattacks.
- In addition, in Tellius games your units can learn Counter skill, which has a chance to automatically hit an opponent for 50% of damage he inflicted. In Awakening, it becomes much more powerful - now it reflects full damage and is guaranteed to activate.
- Yagyu Jubei as depicted in the Samurai Shodown games. Starting from the second game onward becomes especially dangerous with the Yagyu Shingan-to, a powerful Counter Attack maneuver where he parries and traps an opponent's weapon with his wakizashi, leaving the target open to an immediate strike from his katana.
- The original Kingdom Hearts had a move literally called counter attack. It was only usable in the quarter of a second immediately after blocking an enemy attack.
- The second also had "Counterguard," which was more forgiving in its timing. Was also technically usable without the Guard ability (attacking at the right moment can yield the same effect), just much more unreliable/risky. Another move, "Retaliating Slash," allows Sora to strike back after a strong attack knocks him off balance.
- Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance follow a similar model. Each character has access to a "counter" move after guarding successfully and a "payback" move when knocked off balance, each tailored to their fighting style.
- The key to victory in Punch-Out!! is to dodge and counterattack. In early fights, the enemies tend to hang open for quite some time; the window rapidly closes as the game goes on. In addition, launching your own attack successfully just before the opponent does theirs deals extra damage and grants you a Star.
- Ever since Resident Evil 4, the series has had Action Commands to counter some attacks, but until 5, they were quite limited in the variety of enemies susceptible to them, what attacks they used and especially the damage they dealt – most of the time, they only serve to leave the opponent with its guard open for a while. Resident Evil 6 expanded the counter mechanic to include nearly every attack from 95% of the enemies, and a successful counter either is a One-Hit Kill or hits For Massive Damage.
- Guarding in the right way into an enemy's attack in Soul Calibur will Guard Break them, knocking them off balance. They can recover in time to guard break your own attack. There are also several more direct counters, when the attack is blocked and prompts a very quick attack in response. The most dramatic may be in Soul Calibur 3, when the Katana and Shuriken style counters by blocking and then hitting their opponent in the face with a giant fiery shuriken.
- Soul Calibur 4's custom abilities meant you could increase the potency of this strategy; with a combination of high level Auto-Impact combined with Impact Edge and Impact Heal, the "offensive counter" strategy mentioned above works quite effectively; so equipped, the character can rush in and do their offensive moves, but with good timing they will do even MORE damage and regain health every time they parry an enemy's attempt to fight back. In the hands of a player who's really good at Guard Impacts, this can turn nearly any fight with special abilities enabled into a Curb-Stomp Battle.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum's combat system is based upon Attack and Counter-Attack, rather than the more traditional Fast and Strong attack buttons. Some of Batman's counters are wince worthy, like grabbing a thug's leg in mid kick, then giving them a kick of your own straight to the groin.
- Hakumen from BlazBlue has several moves of this sort. His standard Drive has him retaliate with various kinds of throws, Yukikaze is a Single-Stroke Battle, while Akumetsu pays awesomely transparent Homage to Shun Goku Satsu.
- Makoto Nanaya's Space-Counter is a command parry rather than a drive like Hakumen's. Successful use will daze the opponent, leaving them open to a direct Impact reprisal that blows through them and sends them spinning skyward. An Extend nerf prevents this from being used too rapidly in succession.
- Bang Shishigami's drive, Burning Heart, is an interesting example. The move contains him doing a fiery punch or kick which still works on its own. However, if Bang is hit before he can do his move properly, he will not only block it, but it allows Bang to teleport certain distance, either to appear behind the opponent or to cover distance.
- The Dark Step is a manuever in No More Heroes that's triggered by dodging just as you block an attack. The background goes black, and Travis can launch a series of hits on the enemy without retribution.
- With the right timing, Kratos could counterattack in the God of War games. The first required a certain level of the Blades of Chaos, while the second required the Golden Fleece to be obtained. The ability to counter is given to you from the beginning since Kratos keeps the Golden Fleece from the last game.
- In Team Fortress 2, the Pyro can essencially do this by reflecting projectiles with the airblasts produced by his default flamethrower. This can be particularly devastating against a critbuffed Soldier, but also works on Demomen, Snipers with the Huntsman, another Pyro's flaregun and even sentry rockets, but it's harder to pull off.
- Zafira's Iron Wall Stance in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha As Portable: The Battle of Aces, which allows him to block long-ranged attacks and immdiately counter with one of his own. In addition, all characters have a generic counter attack when fighting in melee range.
- In Breath of Fire II, Ryu is capable of countering attacks.
- Breath of Fire III has the reprisal attack which your party and the enemies are capable of doing. Peco has the highest reprisal rate and can be used as a front line tank since he has the highest HP growth.
- The Shin Megami Tensei franchise often provides skills of this nature, even outside the natural "Reflect" abilities that demons/Personas can be imbued with. They usually have names such as "Counter" (low chance,) "Counterstrike "(medium chance,) and "High Counter" (high chance.) When these skills activate, the targeted character receives zero damage and the attacker is hit back with damage greater than what would have been inflicted, which makes them essential against physical powerhouses with high defenses.
- The Street Fighter character Akuma has the Raging Demon move (aka Shun Goku Satsu or Instant Hell Murder). While it can be used as a normal attack, it is designed to counter almost any move in the games, as Akuma charges into the opponent while they are trying to attack.
- Half the moveset of Ryuhaku Todoh and Geese Howard revolve around this. "PUREDIKUTABU!"
- Also Ryuhaku's heiress and daughter Kasumi. Makes sense since they both practice Aikido, a martial art based heavily on redirecting the attacks that you receive.
- Guild Wars has the skills riposte and deadly riposte which automatically counter any attack used against the character.
- Mabinogi has the Counterattack skill, which takes an incoming melee attack and sends part of itnote right back, with the defender's attack added to it. Extremely useful against certain bosses.
- And in the prequel, Vindictus, it is a key skill for Fiona, requiring a smash immediately after guarding against a non-smash attack to deliver a vicious attack against the enemy that attacked her (as well as everything else within range!). The skill eats shields for breakfast, though, meaning that a good Campfire skill (which regenerates the quality of your armor and shield after sitting at it) is essential for her.
- Deus Ex had a nano aug that would cause explosive munitions to detonate prematurely within a certain range of the aug's user. Leveled up high enough, it can even make missiles blow up inside the launcher when fired.
- Golden Sun has the djinni Reflux, which when used will attach to a chosen party member and counter every attack inflicted onto that character during the turn.
- Dragon Quest IX gives you the shield ability Back Atcha, which protects against normal attacks and counters with an attack of your own. Available to both ally and foe (the shield using ones), your counter may not always hit the attacker if there are more than one opponents (rather, it'll hit one of them at random).
- The Warrior's Workbook item acquired through a sidequest grants a counter-attack ability to the Warrior class when they're holding the item.
- In SaGa 2 / Final Fantasy Legend II, using the "Counter" and "Revenge Sword" items ("Cross Counter" and "Grudge Sword" in Japanese) would allow the character using it to immediately attack any enemy that attacked him/her/it during the turn. Several monsters also have specialized counter abilities.
- Though the timing is precise to the point where even if you time it right it may just fail outright anyway (if you're lucky it will consider it a block if you're using a shield) it's possible to pull off a counter attack in Demon's Souls by parrying an incoming weapon strike with a small shield, certain weapons, or even your own empty hand, if you immediately press the attack button afterwards your character will dish out a brutal riposte, the style of which are the most damaging physical attacks possible in the game. Even more damaging than sneak-attack backstabs. Gets ridiculous when you learn the timing to parry the BFS wielding Golden Skeletons with nothing but your open hand...
- Parry & Riposting returns in Dark Souls, but with a slightly more forgiving timing window.
- At least one WWE video game had a feature where, if you were able to counter the Stone Cold Stunner, had a special icon available, and had the ankelock as a Finishing Move, your character would grab the opponent's foot and drive him to the ground for the anklelock, in homage to how Kurt Angle defeated "Stone Cold" Steve Austin at Unforgiven 2001.
- Sadly that mechanic has been taken away but you can still counter any move though.
- In Dragon Age II, the shieldmaiden Aveline's unique ability Retaliation allows her to instantly counter every melee attack aimed at her for a short time. In Dragon Age: Inquisition, both warriors and rogues have available powers that allow them to deflect an attack before unleashing a retaliatory strike. The Rogue power Parry does little damage, but can (with an upgrade) be performed for no stamina cost while the Warrior power strikes For Massive Damage. The Champion warrior specialization Counterstrike Focus Power allows you to automatically counter every melee attack that hits you for a short time.
- Some of the Ultra moves in Street Fighter IV must be pulled out when your chara is attacked by their opponent, otherwise they won't work. (If they're blocked, also, you'll be open for a counterattack.) When they conntect, however? Total beatdown. The most obvious examples are Fei Long's Gekirinken and Cammy's Cammy Quick Combination.
- Done in the Suikoden games, with the added bonus of dodging the attack that you're countering. Every game also has a rune that greatly increases the chances of one happening.
- Amaterasu has a counter in Ōkami. Whenever she successfully blocks an opponent's attack with her Reflector (which must be set as a sub-weapon), she can counter with an izuna drop for massive damage. She can still perform this counter in Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
- Ace Combat: Assault Horizon actually manages to incorporate this into aerial combat. If the player is being chased in a Dogfight Maneuver, then with the right positioning they can execute a counter-maneuver to loop behind their assailant and begin a DFM against them. Enemies can do the exact same thing, mind... but players with twitch reflexes and a bit of luck can perform a counter-counter-maneuver, which slows time and puts the enemy right in the middle of your cannon sights for a good couple of seconds, more than long enough to tear apart anything not a boss. Fortunately, that trick is exclusive to the player.
- Effectively every melee-focused combatant in Playstation All Stars Battle Royale is given a counter, besides Kratos, Raiden and Dante mentioned above (in Dante's case, they use his parry maneuver from the reboot instead of the Royal Guard). Other examples include Nariko, Heihachi and strangely Sly Cooper (perhaps to make up for his lack of a block mechanic).
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Heritage for the Future
- Chaka, Khan and Black Polnareff have one of these as specials. Furthermore if they successfully connect, they "learn" the move that they countered so if the opponent uses that move on them again and its blocked, they will flash white and the player can press a button to instantly attack back. Chaka has a super where he can automatically learn ALL of his oppoennts moves at once!
- Rubber Soul also has one.
- Shadow DIO also has a variant Counter Teleport move where he starts reading a book. If the player hits him during this, he instanttly warps (or rather, stops time and walks) behind you whilst his book drops to the ground with an exclamation mark showing up.
- Killer is Dead has the Dodge Burst, Counter Smash, and Counter Shot. Counter Smash works after doing a Just Guard (pressing block when a Wire flashes red) and pressing the button prompt that appears afterward (Y on 360/Triangle on PS3). The Counter Shot works by doing a Dodge Burst on gun wielding Wires. The last two counters you have to buy with your upgrade points.
- Iggy Reckin Balls allows you to counter-slam an opponent if you time it properly. It can be done with both the basic slam and the multi-slam, but not the circular throw.
- As with Heritage to the Future, there are any number of counters in Jojos Bizarre Adventure All Star Battle. Diavolo in particular bases his entire fighting style around countering the opponent; he goes so far as to have both of his Heat Moves built on this trope (his Heart Heat lets him automatically Stylish Evade any regular attack while it's running, and his Great Heat has him pose, retaliating to getting hit with an extremely powerful attack).
- In the game adaptation of One Piece on GBA, counter attacks form the bulk of Tashigi's moveset. If you're not careful, she'll automatically dodge your attack and counter with one of her own.
- The Matrix: Path of Neo has these in well-timed counter throws/blows to knock enemies off balance and open them up to even more damage.
- In Diablo 3, the Crusader skill Punish (Roar) grants the ability to deal area-effect Fire damage on a successful block. As it's not uncommon for certain Crusader builds to block faster than they attack, this can be a significant source of damage. The Retaliate rune grants a more damaging single-target counterattack.
- In Fate/hollow ataraxia, Bazett's Noble Phantasm, Fragarach, is considered "the ultimate counter-attack", and instantly kills any opponent who tries to use their Noble Phantasm against her. Using it as anything but a counter-attack however, makes it little more than an irritation.
- The Twin Rose Style in Flipside solely consists of counter attacks. This is parodied in an omake, where, when faced with an opponent who won't attack (flipside) she's reduced to hurling random objects instead.