In a fighting game
, one fighter initiates a combo by launching his opponent into the air with a strong attack, then following up with a combo or meteor move
. This is a good strategy in many 3D fighting games, as most characters have limited air options and, in many series, can't defend when airborne. Of course, because of varying movesets among characters and series, some characters are better at it than others.
When the subsequent attacks keep the character in the air, it's called a juggle attack or air combo.
- The trope codifier is arguably Devil May Cry, which had a lot of hype by introducing the "High Time" move, after which you could stylishly suspend enemies in the air with sustained gunfire. Sequels later introduced air combos, and a number of action games since, from Bayonetta to God of War have their own dedicated air launchers.
- In Naruto the titular character uses his shadow clones to do this to Kiba in the Chunin exams.
- in X-Men: Next Dimension, a fighting game, these are called "Air Seeks".
- Henry of No More Heroes does this twice to start off his Meteor Move.
- The best combos in Prince of Persia (2008) all involve these. The launching itself is always performed with the gauntlet.
- Sonic Unleashed has the Sho-Hog-Ken, to the amusement of all Street Fighter players in the vicinity.
- This is one of the key factors to winning in Sonic Battle if you don't have good specials. Or if you're slow. It's done either with an 'upper' attack, slamming an opponent into a wall, or several other moves.
- In the Guilty Gear series, each character can do a "Dust attack", a slow hit that knocks the target skyward if it connects, thus setting them up for a nasty combo.
- Most sandbox superhero games have this, such as Spider-Man and Prototype.
- Dragon Ball and related games have quite a bit of this.
- The fighting style of Super Smash Bros. relies on this kind of move, since ring-outs reduce lives, and the sequels rather uniquely give characters multiple mid-air defense capabilities. You can also launch in each of the directions.
- The game is explicitly not a combo based fighter, but any combos that DO exist are always air combos that start with a launcher of any kind.
- A fundamental move in most fighters in Capcom vs. Whatever games. Every character in Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age Of Heroes has one, where they set up infinite Air Combos. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 actually assigns a Guilty Gear-style launcher button as part of its simplification of the standard Capcom control scheme.
- This can be done in the Bleach fighting games, although it's often better to combo on the ground instead. At least, it is if you're good at comboing.
- Kingdom Hearts includes launcher moves assignable to the square button for extended combos.
- Ninja Gaiden's Ryu Hayabusa uses this to precede an Izuna Drop.
- In the Tekken series, Jun/Asuka might as well call 2 (or right punch) the launcher button, Mishimas have their Wind God Fist options, etc.
- Not to mention almost every character has a d/f 2 and/or u/f 4 launcher.
- Street Fighter X Tekken adds Tekken style launchers to the standard 6-button Capcom control scheme.
- One of the most significant differences between Simon and Trevor in Castlevania: Judgment is Simon's high reliance on launcher combos, while Trevor prefers hard hits that keep the opponent grounded.
- A key move for each character in Fist of the North Star is an attack that launches the enemy into the wall.
- Super Robot Wars Endless Frontier has every move carry a launcher element, since the game's combo system only counts juggles.
- Taken Up to Eleven in Avalon Code with the Judgment Link, which you have to do to get goodies, and which can launch enemies into space, and then out of the galaxy.
- Along with Endless Frontier, this makes its rare RPG appearance in Final Fantasy XIII via the Launch command. Enemies are completely defenseless when staggered and juggled, so time your moves right.
- In fact, juggling makes up about 80% of the game towards the end- eventually, all combat eventually revolves around this mechanism.
- Viewtiful Joe: "Up you go, fella!"
- In the Soul Series every character has at least one on d/fB (kind of like its sister series Tekken). Unlike Tekken, there are a heap of other over the top ones sprinkled about, especially in Cervantes' moveset. The game encourages Meteor Moves over Air Combos, however, as after one hit in midair you can control your character's fall.
- Dissidia: Final Fantasy features a variation on this: Specific moves available to every character initiate the option of starting one of the game's midair "chase sequences" at the end of successful execution. "Chasing" is a sort of quick time event involving dodging certain attacks with correct timing/executing certain attacks in such a way that they are not dodged. The game seems to give a slight advantage to the initiator of the sequence—even a merely moderately talented player can easily repeatedly smash their opponent across the stage until the wall is impacted. However, expect rapid turnarounds when playing against talented human opponents and high-level AI opponents, who can and will dodge with single-frame-precision.
- It also features more standard aerial launchers and juggles. The majority of characters have at least one attack that will send the opponent into the air, but the character Zidane is most notable in this regard: he is designed to be lethal in midair fighting, and as a result most of his ground attacks are designed to knock the victim into the air where Zidane reigns supreme.
- Thanks to the real-time combat in Star Ocean: The Second Story, you can set up situations where you knock an enemy back with one of your attacks. The skill Strong Blow gives your attacks a chance to simply knock enemies backwards, but if an enemy is jumping or otherwise above you, you might send them flying in the air when Strong Blow triggers. The skill Float has to be unlocked in the Cave of Trials, but it enables you to randomly knock an enemy straight into the air no matter what attack you use which triggers it. There are some Killer Moves which have their own upward knockback, like Claude's Twin Slash.
- War in Darksiders can use his BFS to launch an enemy into the air in two different ways. One of them also lets him optionally jump after, ripe for any of a number of air attacks.
- The second Xenosaga game had launcher moves as well as attacks that would only be used on airborne or knocked-down targets. The fact that it uses Turn-Based Combat was somewhat hilarious if you took a while planning your attacks while the enemy was frozen in midair...
- In Mugen Souls, there are a few moves you can use on enemies where you launch them up in the air and hopefully hit the objects up in the air. If you're at Fever Time and you hit them at one of the four spheres floating in the air, say hello to a lot of money dropping to you.
- In Tales of Vesperia, quite a few of Judith's artes launch the target into the air where she can take advantage of her aerial comboing expertise.
- Tales of Xillia also allows basically anyone to use up+attack to launch an enemy, jump and attack, but it's much simpler and more effective to combo on the ground as most artes can only be done then. There are some artes specifically to follow up with in the air, and some artes that can be done in the air, but the only character that it's recommended to air combo with is Milla due to having double jumps and dash/drop cancels as well as most of her artes being possible in the air.
- Each class in Dungeon Fighter Online starts out with one of these.
- In Gundam Extreme Vs., the Back + Melee command is a launcher for most machines; a few eschew this in favor of other moves, like God Gundam's God Shadow or Red Frame's Counter Attack.
- Any melee character worth their salt has a launcher in Playstation All Stars Battle Royale, usually mapped to Up+Square. Obvious examples include (new) Dante, Kratos and Heihachi (all mentioned above).
- Up until the combat engine revamp in 6 and 7, Dynasty Warriors actually gave each character two (sometimes more) launchers, a 'low launcher' that was usually quicker but only targeted a single opponent and a 'high launcher' that hit enemies higher to follow up with either a Meteor Move, or to set up longer combos from the ground. In Dynasty Warriors 4, the only game with both one-on-one officer duels as a game mechanic as well as the launcher moves, it was almost mandatory to learn how best to juggle with a character, given many enemy officers had a tendency to block constantly when on the ground.
- Dynasty Warriors: Gundam gives each ace suit at least one launcher. Their effectiveness greatly decreases on higher difficulty levels (and become an outright liability on the highest levels), as enemy aces tend to recover then boost away and/or counterattack before the player can follow up with an aerial attack of their own.
- Mortal Kombat has uppercuts, though it varies by game whether this can be used for effective air combos.
- Injustice: Gods Among Us has uppercuts like the Mortal Kombat example above and can be used more effectively. Their are also Ground Bounces and Wall Bounces that have a bit of start up but you can add super Armor to them, as well as certain moves or combos that you can follow up with an air game. Most characters stay on the ground, however, as the combo system is based on juggles, and once a character is in the air, any move has small launcher properties to keep the combo going.
- The Matrix: Path of Neo has kicks, uppercuts and throws to start off, continue and finish air combos.