A powerful attack or technique available after some requirement during battle is fulfilled. Sometimes indicated by a refillable or chargeable gauge on the menu allowing the player to gauge when it will become available, how strong it will be, or so on; and the most common requirement is taking (or giving) damage in combat. Thus, it's usually a kind of Evolving Attack. May overlap with Super Mode, or may be a form of Desperation Attack.
It may be accompanied by a Super Move Portrait Attack.
This trope shows the huge effect Final Fantasy VII had in making RPGs more mainstream, where the term was first used. Later Final Fantasy games started using the term, even if the original Japanese versions didn't, and it's been applied informally to other games that used similar concepts.
The inverse of Break Meter. For when you can make a vehicle do this, see Overdrive or Nitro Boost. Not to be confused with limit breaks in Exalted, which are more like Sanity Slippage.
InuYasha's Bakuryuuha (Backlash Wave) fits, since it turns an opponent's ranged attack back upon him and the opponent's aura has to be weaker than InuYasha's.
Earlier in the series, the Kaze-no-Kizu (Wind Scar) can only be used if Inuyasha can find the "rift" between his aura and the opponent's, and cut through it. Make particularly difficult by Kagura, who can control wind and thus manipulates the flow of their auras so Inuyasha can't find the rift.
Attack on Titan features Eren Jaegar, whose ability to turn into a Titan only activates when he's injured. However, he instinctively realizes that self-harm works as well, and from then on it becomes a controlled ability.
In Dragon Ball Z, the requirements to activate the Saiyan Super Mode are similar to this. Once a Saiyan of sufficient power has been pushed over the Despair Event Horizon, said Saiyan will trigger the golden-haired Super Saiyan state. Part of Gohan's training involved taking control of his anger in this fashion.
Majin Buu's Angry Explosion also fits this trope, as it's only activation is when his massive anger is triggered.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann's GIGA DRILL BREAKER can only be unleashed when the main characters spiral energy peaks (usually caused by an extreme burst of emotion).
In Gurren-Lagann The Satire, when Simon and Kamina use Giga Drill Break, Kamina doesn't shout FINISHING MOOOOOOOOVE! Instead, he actually shouts "LIMIIIT BREEEEEEEAK! GIGA DRILL BREEEEEEEAK!" This is despite the series trying to avoid tropes and main-stream pop-culture references.
Naruto does this as traditionally as Dragonball. Naruto's first activation of the Nine-Tails Chakra occurs after believing that his friend/rival has been killed, enraging him and tapping into his hidden power. Eventually Naruto learns how to activate this power at will, so it's not really a Limit Break anymore. Prior to this, though, it manifested primarily when Naruto saw his friends being injured or killed, ironically, in one incident, this actually caused further harm to his own team.)
In One Piece, Luffy's first use of the Gears is considered a Limit Break, especially Gear Third. So much so that Gear Third shrinks him down to a small, kid-like chibi form (Before the timeskip, anyway). Gear Second, on the other hand, is Cast from Hit Points.
Shinji of Neon Genesis Evangelion can trigger one when he's under extreme emotional duress, whether from battle fatigue or just sheer pressure. His EVA 01 unit goes berserk in a scene usually complete with horror. Unit 01 goes berserk whenever Shinji's life is in danger to the point that he's almost pissing himself in fear. The other, much more powerful kind appeared in the second Rebuild movie and was triggered by his Berserk Button; as such, his opponent is completely fucked. In fact, him going full-power had triggered literally The End of the World as We Know It and turned Unit 01 into a Physical God by vaporizing it's Restraining Bolts. In the same movie, Mari was able to manually activate and control EVA 02's limit break by disabling its Restraining Bolts.
And her Starlight Breaker, which recycles recently used mana in the vicinity, and so gets more powerful the later in the fight it's used.
The eponymous Sekirei have a form of this. A special power-up and attack available only when their Ashakabi kiss them of all things.
A variation is used in Hellsing. As Alucard's powers are controlled by Integra via Hermetic Magic, only she can say how much of his power can be used. This is seen when different levels of Alucard's power are released, culminating in the Godzilla Threshold when Alucard's full power is unloaded, allowing him to call forth the thousands of souls he has consumed over the years to tear the forces of Millenium to shreds.
In Bleach omakes and anime, it's revealed that Hanatarou's zanpakutou is this, absorbing the injuries of others that fills a gauge on the side of the sword whereupon the stored power can be used as a surprisingly powerful, explosive attack.
Rukia's third dance can only be used when her zanpakutou has broken.
Renji's shikai can also perform a special manoeuvre (Higa Zekkou) only when his zanpakutou is broken.
Ikkaku's bankai functions according to this principle. When he first activates bankai, his power is not at a level that would be considered typical for a bankai. He first has to strike his opponent and/or cut his opponent before his bankai starts to awaken. Even then, he has to wait for the dragon crest on his blades to fill completely with the colour red (like a power gauge) before he finally has access to his full bankai at proper bankai-level strength.
Hitsugaya has an immature bankai because his young age limits his power. As a result, to use its more powerful abilities he has to wait for the atmosphere to fill with a certain level of moisture first. Although he can circumvent this by using one of his zanpakutou's most basic abilities to control the weather, he doesn't like using it as it's also the hardest power to control and, because of his immature bankai, his lack of control can potentially be a problem.
Kyouraku's power is based on weaponising children's games. As a result, once activated, his zanpakutou sets the rules by which everyone - including Kyouraku - must fight. In other words, until his zanpakutou decides it's time for the rules to allow Kyouraku to use his more powerful abilities, he can't access them.
All captains and vice-captains have to be sealed to 1/5th of their power in the real world. If the situation is dire enough, they are allowed to break these seals.
Practically every soccer player (including goalkeepers) in the anime series Inazuma Eleven has this, which is called "Hissatsu" (Japanese for "Certain Kill").
In Mobile Suit Gundam 00, all of the protagonists and eventually the antagonists too have Trans-Am. Around mid-way through the second season, the 00 Gundam aquires the 0-Raiser which makes it able to Trans-Am without malfunctioning as before... except that THIS Trans-Am is ridiculously powerful even when compared to the others; even the Gundam's designer is completely shocked at a RealRobotoutputting significantly more power than what it's theoretically capable of.
And in the penultimate episode, Setsuna triggers a Trans-Am Burst which is truly this trope, filling several hundred cubic kilometers with enough GN particles to put everyone inside into a temporary Hive Mind - even ordinary, non-psychic humans. And if that's still not enough, The Movie gives us the Quantum System aboard the 00 Quan[T] which is even more powerful to the point the participants can share memories.
And who can forget "SHINING/BURNING FINGER!!"? Granted, it's more of a finishing move, but in a closer sense, we have Domon's Super/Hyper modes, which (at first) can only be triggered by intense anger, then supreme calm. However, the manis boiling all the time, so it doesn't mean much. However, later, Domon mixes the Burning Finger with Master Asia's ultimate attack, so that has to count for something.
A Certain Magical Index: Accelerator's "Awakened" state, in which he develops black wings made of exotic matter and his powers skyrocket beyond the already ridiculously high level they start at. This only happens when Accelerator is under severe mental and/or emotional stress, so he's rarely thinking straight or even entirely coherently when in that form, making him all the more dangerous. When he finally manages to Awaken consciously, his wings are white and he gets a halo over his head. The exact ramifications of what this means have not yet been explored.
In Tiger & Bunny, the titular characters' Powered Armor enters the Good Luck Mode when they only have three seconds of their power remaining, which involves Wild Tiger's arm and Barnaby's leg virtually quadrupling in size, allowing for one final strike. Hilariously subverted when, immediately following the first time Good Luck Mode is activated, it's revealed that it doesn't raise their power one bit. It was only designed to look awesome.
Thor'sGodly Essence Blast, often known simply as the 'Godblast' is an attack that takes a bit of charge-up time, and can even damage or destroy Mjolnir from overuse. However it lets him do things like drive away Galactus and break the armor of Celestials.
The Hulk's transformation could be seen as this, as it can only be triggered when Bruce Banner is in danger or under emotional stress (typically anger).
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children had the characters using several of their limit breaks from the game. Many of them are not used as "limit breaks", though, after taking enough damage to fill an imaginary bar, but as just special attacks seemingly at will. Anyway, here's a list:
Barret seems to use a combination of his Heavy Shot and Mind Blow attacks.
Cid uses Boost Jump to smack Bahamut right in the brain. Ow.
Cloud uses Blade Beam against his foes in the Forgotten City, then uses Braver, Climhazzard against Bahamut Sin, Finishing Touch against Kadaj, and then finally an upgraded Omnislash against Sephiroth.
In Advent Children Complete, Cloud also uses the original Omnislash against Sephiroth. Sephiroth dodges Omnislash, which for those who don't know was the attack that, two years ago, finished off Sephiroth, banishing him from Cloud's mind. Sephiroth casually dodges it and then impales Cloud before he can come down with the final slash.
Yuffie can be said to have used Greased Lightning, but it's hard to tell.
Even Aerith, who's dead, gets in on the act by healing Cloud, and using Great Gospel to cure everyone of their Geostigma.
Although never said to be this, Thor's use of tornadoes and thunder seems to have one.
Live Action TV
Though nearly all seasons of Kamen Rider have Finishing Moves with awesome titles, Kamen Rider Fourze actually uses the term Limit Break. The trope isn't used, however - no requirement (other than it being the appropriate point in the episode) must be met before using finishers.
Exalted features 'Limit Breaks' as a part of the Great Curse placed upon the various Exalted at the conclusion of the Primordial War. Basically if a character has to act against their inclinations too often they eventually suffer a mental break which makes them even more powerful than they were but sends them out of control, whether on a psychotic rampage, cowering in a cellar or unleashing a hitherto unsuspected sadistic streak it typically ends badly for all concerned.
The only Celestial Exalts not to suffer this are the Abyssals who have it even worse...
This means that tabletop role players who are unfamiliar with the computer RPG meaning will tend to think of a Limit Break as the Exalted version, and thus be confused...
It's not entirely a bad thing; it does provide a Willpower refill. Of course, this has to be balanced against turning into a sadistic bastard, entering an Unstoppable Rage, entering into a temporary Heroic BSOD, or giving away all your cool magical equipment...
Burn Legend, in Shards of the Exalted Dream, has Overdrives, which charge up when you hit your enemies. Overdrive techniques tend to have enormous clash pools, deal massive damage (sometimes to multiple targets), and automatically force the enemy to lose a health stock and take a roll to remain consciousnote except a few oddities like Demon Emperor Shintai, which instead provide you with a significant stat boost or other long-lasting benefit. Of course, if your opponent knows what your Overdrive is, you might be advised to assume they'll try and counter it, so then you use a technique that beats their most likely countermeasure. And then there are the few techniques that force stagger checks or even automatic stagger on an opponent, which will give you a chance to ream them while they can't counter you.
The tabletop wargame Warmachine from Privateer Press features similar abilities amongst the warcasters called feats. Feats can only be used once per game, but when used properly can turn almost certain defeat into victory.
Also from Privateer Press, Monsterpocalypse has Hyper Mode. Every monster can hyper-up by spending power dice, entering Hyper Mode (depending on the figure, Ultra, Mega, or Quantum). Both the Alpha and Hyper forms need to be defeated, so this crosses over with Turns Red.
An optional rule for the free RPG ZODIAC introduces Limit Breaks in a similar style of those of Final Fantasy VII. It only makes sense, as the system itself was designed to give the feel of a Final Fantasy game.
There is a particular rule in Fading Suns, which allows a very unsettled character to snap and go for Unstoppable Rage or other kinds of fanatical fun. If the appropriate test is passed, the character receives bonuses to other tests until the matter in question is resolved. It may require some tact from the GM to execute it properly.
Recently in Cardfight!! Vanguard, the more recent cards have this power called, word-for-word, Limit Break. You need four damage to use them and so are some of the most powerful effects in the game, from Blond Ezel's power to top-deck and swarm, to Kaiser Vermillion's all-killing attack.
Masters in Malifaux can manifest Avatar forms, giving them access to new and improved abilities. To manifest, they have to meet a set of requirements specific to each Master, usually based on using that Master's unique abilities successfully.
BattleTech features the Triple Strength Myomer equipment, which upgrades the battlemech's artificial muscles to work at triple strength and speed. However, they only receive the strength and speed bonus as the mech is nearing critical heat levels. Once at optimal heat from combat or just dumbfiring its weapons (at which point, the targeting computer begins to fail), a TSM equipped mech will be absurdly fast and possess the ability to nearly instantly kick the legs off enemy battlemechs or literally curb-stomp fallen mechs by crushing the cockpit. Pilots of TSM mechs need to be careful to maintain their heat level without increasing it too far, or they run the risk of spontaneous death by causing any ammunition in their mech to explode, or have the fusion reactor burst inside the mech's chest.
In Cardfight!! Vanguard, there is a skill called, word for word, Limit Break, which activates when the player has 4 or more damage (the player loses when he/she has 6 damage). Limit Break skills generally have strong effects such as boosting power, destroying cards on the field, adding extra cards to your hand, etc., to help the player turn the table.
Taken Up to Eleven when Ultimate Break is introduced later. These skills only activate when a player has 5 damage.
There's also the Damage Trigger Check. As you take damage, your Vanguard may grow stronger (so you don't need to defend as much), and in addition, you may draw a card, or even heal some damage.
Yu-Gi-Oh!: Number C39: UtopiaRay can only activate its effect if your Life Points are 1000 or less (you start with 8000).
In Afro Samurai, Afro can go into over focus, which give you a sort of Bullet Time for a short while. In order to activate it, Afro has to fill his Focus Meter by killing enemies.
In Dragon Rage you have the Fury Attack, which you get the option of using after you collect 5 cow souls and deliver them to a ancient shrine.
Final Fantasy VI had a similar mechanic, though it applied randomly (at a low percentage rate, no less)—but damned if it didn't save several players' butts from certain death.
In Final Fantasy VIII Limit Breaks weren’t tied to a gauge, but instead tied to the character being at low health, among other factors. The Aura spell made it possible to trigger it without needing to be at low health.
In Final Fantasy IX the Limit Break system was called Trance. Athough the typical super moves was just one aspect of it, it works more like a Super Mode for most characters and unlike other games, you don't get to choose whether to actually use it when you fill up the bar, meaning you might end up wasting it entirely on weak enemies. It also had plot significance and could be triggered automatically in the key points of the story.
In Final Fantasy X, it was called Overdrive, and you could customize how the gauge was filled up. You started with the standard from VII, where damage is what fills it up. But you could eventually change it to have the charging activity be one of nearly any common activity in a turn based game (Attacking, healing, getting a turn, running away, ect.)
In Final Fantasy XI they are called Weapon Skills, and are far more frequently used. When more than one character uses compatible Weapon Skills together they can trigger a Skillchain to boost damage. Square went to the next logical step and created a job class based mostly on performing Limit Breaks quickly and easily: the Samurai. They even have the ability to fill the TP gauge used for these attacks by 100% nigh-instantly every 3 minutes.
Final Fantasy XII features 'Quickenings' which are similar to your standard 'limit break' in that they deal above average damage and look particularly impressive. You can also chain the various quickenings of each of the current party members into a single chain to increase the damage, and making certain combinations can also result in finishing move called a "Concurrence." (Discovering every one of these Concurrences earns an achievement in the game's "Sky Pirate's Den" feature.) The International re-release ties them to a “mist” gauge to make them more like the standard limit break.
The thirteen Espers play this straighter with a more Limit Break-like attack. Though they have increasingly exotic trigger conditions...the simplest ones trigger when there's less than 10 seconds of the summon time left or when their HP drops below 30%. The most insane ones are Exodus (Exodus must be paralyzed with less than 10 s of summon time left), Hashmal (you must have <10% HP), Ultima (both you and Ultima must have less than 30% of your HP left), and Zodiark (you must be petrified).
Final Fantasy XIII has Limit Breaks in the form of Full ATB Skills, but they limit your battle strategy if you try to spam them FFVIII-style, and by themselves are not particularly impressive: Their true strength lies in the fact that they provide some kind of damage benefit when utilized as part of a longer combo: Sazh's Cold Blood pushes up the Break Meter at roughly 3 times the speed of any other attack; Lightning's Army of One does increased damage on staggered enemies and is best used to lengthen the time an enemy comes out of Stagger depending on when you activate it; likewise, Fang's Highwind and Snow's Sovereign Fist immediately empties the stagger bar, and thus, is used to end combos, but doing it right means they can do upwards of two MILLION damage in one hit. Vanille's Death is a noted Game Breaker and has found a favored use in high-level strategy, thanks to its ability to instantly kill almost any enemy in the game, including the final boss.
Full ATB Skills return in Final Fantasy XIII-2, but now they can only be used once per battlenote Unless you use an Elixir. Serah's Ultima Arrow is the best attack at increasing the Stagger Bar once the enemy is staggered, and Noel's Meteor Javelin empties the stagger bar but is the most damaging attack in the game. The Mon party members have their own form of Limit Breaks known as a Feral Link, which usable upon filling a gauge. Sazh, Snow and Lightning’s Feral Links are their Full ATB Moves from the first game.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Army of One once again returns, and this time, Lightning is required to have activated a time stopping ability before being able to activate it, but to compensate for it, it does a ridiculous amount of hits and potentally a ton of damage while simultaneously healing her.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn possess a Limit Break system designed around party play. When players form a group of either 4 (a Light Party) or 8 (a Full Party) the party gains a Limit Break gauge. Ordinarily only one limit break gauge may be charged, however in certain circumstances two and even three bars may be unlocked with a corresponding increase in the limit break's power. Whenever one or more limit break gauges is fully charged any player in the party may activate the limit break via a general command. The limit break's effect differs based on the class role of the player. Melee damage dealing classes will initiate a powerful single target attack. Magic damage dealing classes will initiate a slightly less powerful area of effect attack. Tank classes will initiate a powerful party-wide defense bonus for a short duration. Finally, healing classes (as well as the Archer class, because they become Bards) will initiate a party-wide healing effect (which at level 3 will also revive all fallen party members in addition to fully restoring the party's HP). Limit breaks may be used in emergencies as well as part of specific strategies to bring down some of the most powerful enemies in the game.
Dissidia: Final Fantasy gives every character a Limit Break, or EX-Burst, to go with their EX-Mode. In many cases, the move is the same as the Limit Break the character had in their own game (Cloud's, Sephiroth's and in the prequel, Tifa's even include a window that says Limit Break, and Cloud and Tifa actually say they're "breaking [their] limits"), and some are references to infamous game breakers. Most characters who have multiple Limit Breaks have their moveset be made up by them with their most powerful, or signature one as their Ex-Burst.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance actually has TWO kinds of Limit Breaks. There's regular Combos, which are easy to pull off and deal massive damage to one opponent (and anyone else who can use combos can join in on the attack), and Totemas. They are a more standard definition of a Limit Break as they are hard to pull off, yet deal incredible damage to ALL enemies. However, you need to advance the plot to unlock those, and each of the 5 totemas can only be used by the corresponding race (and 2 can only damage MP).
Final Fantasy Tactics A2 more or less replaces combos with Opportunity Commands, which pop up at random no matter the state of the unit. The effect depends on who you stand next to on the field and all these abilities can bypass the law system (unless the law says Opportunity Commands are forbidden). Totemas are replaced by scions, which are even closer to traditional limits breaks in that they're powered by a dedicated gauge, but now you need a specific accessory to use them.
Bloodline Champions has an ultimate ability requiring 100% energy (build up by effectively using abilities) and EX abilities that require 40% (usually a added effect onto a current skill, but occasionally a rather different one) for each bloodline.
The first and second Paper Mario games have "Special Moves" that are granted to Mario upon receiving each game's respective Plot Coupon (Star Spirits for the first, Crystal Stars for the second). In both games, each special move is powered by "Star Power", the games' limit break meter. Also, in both games, Mario receives eight Limit Breaks that each use varying amounts of Star Power.
Drakengard involved an effect that you picked up after defeating a 50 enemies in a row (with a time limit between each kill). Your character would get supercharged for a time, basically able to kill most enemies in a few hits.
Freeware RPG Balmung Cycle has this in the form of Hyper Attacks. By building up your adrenaline points, each character can perform wicked, over the top special abilities. You can also spend adrenaline on minor skills.
Need For Speed: Undercover has a similar mechanic. Nitrous and Speedbreaker both recharge normally, but by "pushing the envelope" with dangerous driving techniques like near-misses, trading paint with other cars, and drifting, the player gets more Zone points to signify going deeper and deeper into The Zone. As the meter fills up, the player gets a multiplier, effectively increasing the amount of zone points they get, and the speed at which nitrous and speedbreaker recharge, up to five times. Crash into a wall, though, and you lose a multiplier.
The Burnout series is similar to Need For Speed. But add refilling the boost all the way by making your opponents crash, and triple the fun quotient.
Tales games since the Tales of Phantasia PlayStation remake featured Hi-Ougis. They usually require a huge TP payment as well as low HP. In games that focus more on repeated comboing, the condition may be building up a combo meter instead, a la Valkyrie Profile.
In Tales of Symphonia, Lloyd, Genis, and Colette all have Limit Breaks (called Hi-Ougis), although all of them have different activation triggers. Sheena's summons require similar conditions, even if they don't techinically count as Hi-Ougis. In the Japan-only rerelease, all nine playable characters have their own Hi-Ougis. There's also has a second Limit Break system in the form of Unison Attacks. Once the Unison Attack gauge is full (it fills up for every hit the player lands on an opponent, so techs that land a lot of blows fill up the meter faster) the player can start a Unison Attack, in which all the characters do a single attack on the enemy (chosen from their pool of techs beforehand.) If certain characters do certain attacks (like if Lloyd and Kratos/Zelos both do a Sonic Thrust-type attack,) two of them will even team up to do a follow-up at the end of the attack (in the aforementioned case, Cross Thrust, where both characters do a second, simultaneous Sonic Thrust.).
The official translations of the later games seem to have decided to call them Mystic Artes (granted, the same games changed the translation of regular abilities from "techs" to "artes", so maybe you might call it a "hi-tech").
Later games also seem to have stabilized how hi-ougis/Mystic Artes are used: be in OverLimit and use a high-level arte while holding down the arte button. Some games have other, more powerful Mystic Artes, though, which have other conditions such as holding down different buttons, casting a certain spell, or being under a certain HP threshold.
The attacks in Tales of Graces are known as Blast Calibers. First, you have to enter Arles Rise by attacking or taking damage during combat. Then during Arles Rise, you have to attack and build up charges, which you can then expend to activate one of three Blast Calibers; by expending more charges, you activate a higher-level Blast Caliber. Later on, you can also earn titles that allow you to activate Blast Calibers outside of Arles Rise if you build up a long-enough hit combo. Finally, Graces f introduces a fourth Blast Caliber which you can freely activate during Accelerate Mode if you filled your Accel Gauge to maximum. Additionally, the U.S. version of Graces f calls them Mystic Artes, though the abilities activated during Accel Mode are referred to as "Accel Finalities."
In the Super Robot Wars series, each character has a "morale" or "Will" meter, which can increase and decrease over the course of battle. Nearly every combat-oriented character has some attacks that are only usable with high enough morale. So while a Super Robot may start off with Eye Beams and a Rocket Punch, as the battle rages, it can pull out a big-ass sword and start swinging.
Endless Frontier has actual Limit Breaks, performable by filling up the combo meter. If the character's BGM isn't already playing for the battle, it does now, making this also a case of Theme Music Power-Up.
From Super Robot Wars Destiny onward is when it became the norm for the leads to have a unique final attack complete with a different version of their theme.
Star Power in Guitar Hero, which not only doubles the player's score for each note, but makes the player's "Rock meter" rise more dramatically, which can be a great strategic advantage in beating more difficult songs.
Overdrive in Rock Band, which has the added effect of reviving band members who've failed.
Euphoria in DJ Hero which automatically handles crossfading while active.
Some iterations of the NHL Hockey games allow you to build up power by performing tricks and cool stuff (like scoring from miles away), and once the bar is filled you can hit a button to slow down time for a few seconds, theoretically helping you to plan and execute even more cool moves.
2D fighting games often have a "super bar" that fills up as your character fights. Boss characters may have a super bar that automatically fills up (like M. Bison's in Street Fighter Alpha 3 and Jivatma's in The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact 2).
In terms of game mechanics, the game that most closely fits the FFVII archetype is Samurai Shodown. Bar fills only as you take damage (as opposed to games where your attacks that connect can fill the bar as well), allows a super attack once it's full. In Capcom vs. SNK 2, this is reflected in the "K-Groove" meter style.
Meanwhile, the S-Groove in CvS2 and the super system in early The King Of Fighters games allow for unlimited Supers once the character's health is low, and, if the user has both low health AND a full meter, allows them to perform their Level 3 Super.
In Street Fighter IV there is a Revenge Gauge separate from the usual Super Meter, and the player can execute a cinematic Ultra Combo after it reaches a certain point. However, this applies more to another trope.
Certain games also allow EX special moves, which are a midpoint between special moves and super moves that require meter to use.
Members of the Warrior character class gain "Rage" points from dealing or taking damage in combat (or from certain skills, such as Bloodrage), which they spend on their abilities.
The Rogue class is largely built upon using certain special skills to build up "Combo Points" followed up by a "Finisher", which has a more severe effect (be it more damage, longer incapacitation, etc.) based on how many Combo Points you have accrued on a target.
The druid's bear form has rage like a warrior, and the druid's cat form has combo points like a rogue.
In addition, most if not all classes have abilities that can only be used after something happens in combat. (When available, these abilities are said to "proc".) The warrior ability Overpower can only be used in a window of a few seconds after an attack by the warrior has been dodged, blocked or parried, and the Execute ability can only be used on targets that have been reduced to less than a fifth of their total Hit Points.
Death Knights gain Runic Power as they use their abilities, and depending on how much they have they can empty it to use a special ability; frost spec Knights use a decent strength attack or an aoe freeze (although using the right glyph takes away the latter's cost), blood Knights (no, not those) summon an animate sword to fight with them, and unholy users call a gargoyle in to bombard the enemy. In addition, Unholy Death Knights have Shadow Infusion, which increases the power of the Death Knight's ghoul every time they cast Death Coil; upon reaching five stacks, the Death Knight can consume them to temporarily increase the power of their ghoul even more, and give its abilities additional effects.
Paladins have a resource called Holy Power and several spells or attacks that do more damage/healing depending on how many charges of Holy Power are available. Certain abilities, such as Shield of the Righteous and Templar's Verdict, require the paladin to accumulate 3 charges of Holy Power before they can be used at all.
Prior to the Mists of Pandaria expansion, priests had Evangelism, which had different effects depending on whether the player used shadow or Holy spells. The holy side built up by casting Smite or Holy fire, and gradually increased their power while reducing their mana cost; consuming it restored mana and temporarily improved the priest's healing abilities. The shadow side built charges by casting Mind Flay, and gradually increased the power of their damage over time spells; consuming it restored mana and temporarily increased the power of many of their direct Shadow attacks.
Elemental Shaman have Fulmination. When they cast lightning spells, they have a chance to add charges to their Lightning Shield(if it's up). The charges Lightning Shield has above three are consumed when they cast Earth shock to increase its power. Enhancement Shaman have Improved Lava Lash, which increases the power of Lava Lash for each stack of Searing Flames(a damage over time effect inflicted by Searing Totem) on the target, and Maelstrom Weapon, which has a chance to build up every time the Shaman strikes an opponent and reduces the cast time and mana cost of various spells to potentially nothing.
Marksmanship Hunters have Master Marksman, which gives them a chance to receive a buff whenever they cast Steady Shot; when this buff stacks to three(previously five), the hunter's next Aimed Shot(a powerful attack that normally has a long cast time) cast instantly and with no cost. Beast Mastery Hunters have Frenzy, which increases the attack speed of their pet every time said pet attacks; consuming charges of this restores the pet's Focus and temporarily increases the attack speed of the hunter.
Balance Druid's Eclipse works a bit like this. They have a bar with two halves, Nature and Arcane; casting direct damage Nature spells brings it closer to the Arcane end, and casting direct damage Arcane spells brings it closer to the Nature end. Once the druid reaches one end of the bar or the other, they gain a brief spell haste buff, a mana recharge and a buff to one of their magic schools, depending on which end of the bar they're on, which lasts until they've reached the middle of the bar again.
Warlocks have a Demonic Fury bar. Casting Shadow spells now earns Demonic Fury, and when the DF bar tops out they can transform into a demon version of themselves, which can wreck things.
The Shadow Priest's Shadow Orbs work more like this now: each time the priest casts Mind Blast or Shadow ord: Death, they gain a Shadow Orb. They can obtain a maximum of three and the more used the more powerful the spell. They can use it on a short, powerful Damage Over Time or a single target horror effect.
Paladin tanks now have Bastion of Glory, which they gain a stack of each time they use Shield of the Righteous, up to five. Bastion of Glory increases the amount the paladin is healed by their own Word of Glory, a decent healing ability. Similarly, Death Knight tanks get Scent of Blood, which has a chance to gain a charge whenever the DK auto-attacks, up to five. Said charges increase the amount the Death Knight is healed by their next Death Strike, and increases the Runic Power they gain by using it.
As of the Mists of Pandaria expansion, both DPS Warrior specs have a new one as well. Arms Warriors have Taste for Blood, which gains a charge when their Overpower ability procs another use of Overpower, up to five. Said charges increase the power of the Warrior's next Heroic Strike or Cleave. Fury Warriors get Meat Cleaver, which procs whenever they use Whirlwind, and increases the number of opponents their next Raging Blow is capable of hitting by one, up to a max of four.
Global Agenda has the Morale Boosts, powerful class-specific buffs that affect the entire team. Using them requires the Morale gauge to be full. The gauge charges over a lenghty period of time from pretty much any action taken in combat.
Dominators in City of Villains have the Domination meter, which fills as they attack opponents. When full, Domination can be activated to increase the damage, duration, and effectiveness of all powers for up to two minutes, then it must recharge and cannot be reactivated even if the Domination bar is refilled until the cooldown period is over. Brutes similarly have the Fury meter, which fills up as they are attacked or use their own attacks and boosts their damage output as it rises for a total boost of 200% of their base damage. This Fury boost stacks with all other damage buffs the Brute has on him. Blasters in City of Heroes have a similar system to Fury called Defiance, with the added feature that they can still use their weaker attacks even when paralyzed by a hold power.
In God of War, Kratos has a meter which fills each time he deals damage. When it fills, it allows him to unleash the Rage of the Gods, which lets him attack quicker and stronger and unleash infinite magic attacks for as long as it lasts without draining his magic meter. God Of War 2 upgraded this to Rage of the Titans (which although weaker than Rage of the Gods can be turned off at will), and in God Of War 3, it got upgraded again to Rage of Sparta (where Kratos whips out the Blade of Olympus and the colors are desaturated to only show blue and red).
Darksiders, a franchise widely regarded as the bastard child of God of War and The Legend of Zelda, copies this functionality and call it the "Chaos Form".
In League of Legends, Shyvana has a fury bar which fills up when she deals damage with her abilities and basic attacks. Once it is filled up, she can execute her ultimate, transforming into a dragon and flying for a short while, knocking enemies back in the process. Not only that, but her abilities are buffed, and she can gain more fury in order to extend the duration of her dragon form.
In the earlier Rune, Ragnar also has a meter which fills every time he deals damage (and drains slowly over time), when it's full (or he picks up a red rune) he immediately launches into a berserker rage and the meter starts draining rapidly. Ragnar's eyes glow red and he roars with fury, dealing enormous amounts of damage until the meter empties all the way, although he can prevent the rage from ending indefinitely as long as he causes enough damage continuously to outpace the draining meter.
Devil May Cry2 has an even more powerful one, dubbed the "Desperation Devil Trigger" by fans, that activates if Dante goes into Devil Trigger mode on low HP. It's hard to get into, but a bad thing for any enemies around if it happens.
It's also possible to charge up the Devil Trigger in the third game to create an implosion upon releasing that absolutely destroys most enemies and causes heavy damage to bosses but greatly reduces the lenght of the Trigger.
Ditto for "Onimusha mode" in the Onimusha series. On second thought, a lot of Capcom games have this trope.
The eponymous power in God Hand, which renders the user invincible, unblockable, and immensely strong for a brief period. The same game has God Reels, single-use mega-attacks that are made available by grabbing special power-ups. The two can be combined for exceptional damage.
1080° 2: Avalanche features a power meter that fills up as you perform tricks, when it's full your character glows with exhilaration and can now instantly recover from a fall or smash their way past an opponent.
Final Fantasy Adventure had a meter that slowly charged up automatically, resetting to zero each time you attacked. Attacks were stronger the fuller the meter got, with a full meter releasing a special attack dependent on the type of the currently equipped weapon. Said game also allowed one at level up to choose one base stat to receive the most growth. Savvy players would choose Willpower, the stat responsible for the gauge's refill speed, at every single level, so that by end-game, EVERY ATTACK IS A LIMIT BREAK.
In Mario Power Tennis and Mario Tennis: Power Tour, Each character has an Offense and Defense Power Shot. Offense Shots are powerful shots that affect the player who returns it in some manner (spinning him around, shocking him), Defense Shots can hit the ball from (almost) anywhere and negate the damage done from power shots.
Collecting a certain number of souls in Painkiller causes Daniel to Demon Morph, gaining invincibility and one-hit-kills on almost everything for a short time. It also grants a cool greyscale vision with enemies tinted red and black. One of the key reasons for the leap in difficulty up to the game's final Trauma Mode is due to the removal of souls and thus the Demon Morph.
Demon Morph also activates whenever a boss is killed, though it's largely useless there since, you know, you just killed the boss (except in the case of the first boss, who is still alive when the player goes to Demon Morph, and has to be finished off using the Demon Morph attack). It's all for effect.
In the computer game Sacred and sequel, special maneuvers refill over time (depending on the maneuver and its level this may only take a few seconds, but combos take very very long to reload), or quickly/instantaneous when special potions are used.
In the computer game Dungeon Siege 2 the special class abilities refill only when you fight, but the more you fight the faster they refill, meaning there's no need for tedious hanging back and waiting for your big attack to reload.
Spartan: Total Warrior has rage attacks fueled by attacking enemies. The attack used is based on the weapon the Spartan is holding and if it was a group attack or a single attack. They are all done in slow motion and with lots of gore. The most notable thing is how fast the rage bar charges: in large battles, it is possible to use the rage attack every other attack.
Then there's the God Attacks, fueled by a separate gauge that increases as you kill enemies and doesn't decrease. While Rage Attacks boil down to elaborate sequences of hacking and slashing, God Attacks range from turning enemies to stone and shattering their bodies to making them explode.
Valkyrie Profile has these for each character, and if you play your cards right, you can use them each round. In fact, since the boost to damage is almost necessary to defeat all but the weakest enemies, and you can boost the power by comboing them, it's unlikely that the Limit Breaks are the focus of combat. These are called Purify Weird Soul in Lenneth. Since those sounds rather underwhelming, they are called Soul Crush in Silmeria. The mages, though, gets the biggest and blastiest of them, called Great Magic. Some of your enemies can also do Great Magic.
Legend of Legaia games have Miracle and Mystic Arts, respectively: Miracle Arts combine multiple normal Arts together and have no cost beyond maxed out AP and long enough Arts bar to fit their lenghty input in full, while Mystic Arts also require you to have half HP or less remaining and at least 100 MP but far outdamage any other moves in the game.
The Advance Wars games have "CO Powers" which work like limit breaks.
The second game introduced Super CO Powers which was a buffed/different variant of a CO's normal power.
Dual Strike introduced Tag-Powers which allowed you to execute one Super CO power and then switch to the next CO and use their power next to gain two turns at once, which can be lethal depending on which CO's you pair up together.
Days of Ruin/Dark Conflict changed it that CO's board a unit of your choice at a factory/airfield/port/HQ for half the unit's price and they gain an aura around their unit (excluding one CO) that boosts it's effectiveness and units inside the aura, which increases in radius and power when they fill the meter halfway.
The Warriors had a limit break system called "Rage". Beating up anyone except your allies builds up your rage and when it's full, activating it makes your character invincible and powers up their attacks. Doing a special attack while in rage mode would cause an instant kill most of the time, except against bosses. Once you complete a certain side mission after beating the game, using "flash" while your health was full would give you instant rage.
Medal of Honor: European Assault had a hilariously out-of-place Adrenaline meter that, when maxed, could be triggered at will to give the player total invincibility, unlimited ammo (even for bazookas), and increased fire rate with no accuracy drop. It borders on the absurd, considering this took place in an otherwise totally seriousWorld War II.
Wild AR Ms 1 has a Force meter that increases during a battle. You have 4 increasingly powerful skills that enhance your attacks that can only be used when you have the appropriate level of Force (For example: Rudy has a skill that guarantees a hit when used in conjunction with his ARM weapon, Cecilia has a skill that allows her her to cast two spells in one go and Jack has a skill that guarantees he gets the first move). When a character has reached their maximum Force level, any status changes inflicted by enemies such as sleep, poison, paralyse, etc, will be removed (denoted by the phrase "Condition Green!" appearing in place of the Force meter).
The second and third games even tied it into the basic magic system. You need a certain amount of force points to cast spells, although it doesn't take them away to do so. They left in the super moves that actually take points away, although they became a lot less valuable when they prevent you from doing anything else afterward.
In The Bourne Conspiracy, when Bourne builds up enough adrenaline, he can execute a Takedown that often involves a combination of brutal hand-to-hand moves with using the environment to his advantage, or just a highly stylized shot—on mooks, this is an instant kill, while on bosses, it recovers some health and can possibly disarm them. (The pen stabbing from The Bourne Identity? That's a takedown.) With enough adrenaline, Bourne can also Takedown multiple enemies at once, requiring Action Commands to complete.
Grand Theft Auto V introduces special abilities to the series that last for a short amount of time depending on the special ability meter. Trevor's is greatly increased defense and every attack pulled off from him deals a large amount of damage.
The Medic of Team Fortress 2 has a special ability to give himself and his current healing target 10 seconds of invincibility in the form of the Ubercharge, give his healing target 10 seconds of 100% critical hits in the form of the Kritzkrieg, or give his target immunity to movement impairing effects and 300% heal rate with the Quick-fix. The medic has to build up energy from healing teammates to use it, however.
The Soldier gets one in the form of his Buff Banner. After causing enough damage to enemy players, the Soldier may unleash the Banner and give anyone near him a mini-crit boost. The Soldier also has access to the Battalion's Backup, which acts in reverse, charging when he takes damage and providing damage reduction.
The Pyro's Phlogistinator also requires that the Pyro cause 225 points of fire damage to fill its Mmmph meter. Once full, the Pyro can taunt to activate its effect, which grants a very temporary moment of high damage reduction, full health, and ten seconds of Critical Hits.
The Sniper has a rifle known as the Hitman's Heatmaker, which gains Focus on each kill (less if you merely assist in a kill). Once the Focus meter is full, the Sniper gains the ability to remain constantly zoomed in (normally he would have to zoom out in between shots) as well as a faster charging time for his rifle. This setup is meant to encourage numerous powerful headshots while it lasts. for For a short time, Every Bullet is a Tracer as well, which is more of a downside.
In Anachronox, each character has 4 different abilities that require varying amounts of "stored energy".
In The Punisher, killing bad guys fills up a rage meter that eventually will let you go into Slaughter Mode, where the eponymous protagonist pulls out a pair of knives, with which he can perform both melee and ranged one hit kills, and becomes invincible.
The Legend of Spyro has Fury in all three games, though they differ a bit between games. In the first two the fury bar is filled by collecting purple gems, and obliterates all the enemies onscreen in a blast of whatever element Spyro is using at the time. In the third, it's filled simply by fighting enemies, and when activated briefly allows both Spyro and Cynder to use Convexity/Fury breath, which is ridiculously overpowered.
Several of Mega Man X's armors have a meter that fills up with damage. This full meter can be used for a single powerful attack or a screen-clearing blast. The Ultimate Armor lets you use the attack unlimited times.
Mega Man Battle Network had the Program Advance. If you put certain set(s) of 3 or more specific Battle Chips in your folder, saved them when they were drawn in battle until the full set has been drawn, then selected the set in order, the chips would merge together to form a Program Advance. A Program Advance was extremely powerful (in fact, one of them was a Game Breaker in Battle Network 2), and some came with temporary invincibility for the duration of the attack. However, the same Program Advance could not be used multiple times in one battle from the fifth game onwards.
Mega Man Star Force has the Big Bang attack. When you counter an enemy attack, you get an extra card. But if you are in a special form, then you may get a special Big Bang card, which is ridiculously powerful, hits most enemies, and hard to dodge.
Soul Calibur IV allows characters to use ''Critical Finishers" once their opponent is weak. These attacks can be things such as throwing the enemy into a blackhole, unleashing a barrage of attacks or knocking them out with their butt. Yeah. Aside from Yun-Seong's and Cassandra's (the above butt attack) Critical Finishers, they are all still pretty epic and Limit Break worthy.
In SE, you can unleash a multi-hit combo against your enemy at the expense of a third of your weapon durability meter.
In SC V, Critical Edge attacks use up one stock from your Critical gauge, which is also consumed using Brave Edge (extended combo) attacks and Guard Impacts.
In No More Heroes, Travis has a random chance of shouting an attack name from his favorite anime and going into Dark Side Mode after defeating an enemy. These range from getting a new long-range attack for a short while to increased speed and attack power, and the most powerful of these attacks, Anarchy in the Galaxy, clears the screen of enemies and is triggered whenever the player feels like it. However, beating the level without using it nets you extra money.
In the sequel, he has a standard "Ecstasy" meter which when filled up lets him attack crazy-fast as well the slot-based Limit Break which goes from things like letting him unleash Sword Beams to turning into a tiger and just straight-up maul the mooks trying to get the hell away from you.
The Tequila Bomb meter in the John Woo game Stranglehold is filled up by taking out enemies stylishly, and when the meter gets filled up enough, you can either recover some health or execute a Tequila Bomb attack — sniping someone off from long distance with Precision Aim, doing a rock-and-roll Barrage attack, or wiping out everyone in the vicinity with the Spin Attack.
PlatformerVexx features a meter that fills up as you attack enemies. It fills up quicker with consecutive hits. When full, it can be used to activate a special mode that allows you to run fast and shoot energy blasts from your hands. It's only actually required at one point in the game, though—and that spot has a special area-only powerup that fills it instantly.
The Orochi games also utilize passive skills (which includes a game breaking ability that triples your attack speed) that require a full bar to utilize, further trivializing Musou Attacks.
The Musou attack is upgraded in Dynasty Warriors 7, where rather than just elaborate combos the character unleashes a single powerful move. Some are even grabs that deals particularly massive damage to a single enemy while still having some degree of AOE.
Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals took preceded Limit Breaks with the IP system. Each character has an IP bar (Ikari/Infuriation Points) which fills as damage is taken. Other than that, the bar is treated like Magic Points; IP abilities can be invoked at any time if sufficient charge is available (which might be anywhere from 12% to 50%). However, the attacks available are bound to the character's equipment. Some pieces of gear have good skills, some have lame ones, and some have nothing at all; and the numerical strength of the item may have nothing to do with the quality of its IP skill.
IP abilities return in the sequel, Lufia: the Legend Returns , though this time they are taught to characters rather than being based on their equipment. However, IP abilities require specific amounts of Spiritual Force, which each character has one of four colors of and is shared between all characters in the same row and column. While a character only needs to meet the S.F. requirements to learn the ability, not meeting the requirements causes the ability to require 50% more of the IP meter.
The Gaiden GameRuins of Lore replaces the standard IP abilities with the Installation system, which allows the three main characters to fuse with their Mon once their IP meter is full. The fusion lasts for three turns, during which the fused character is invulnerable and will use a special ability each turn. However, some Installations result in less than favorable transformations.
Live A Live gives you the chance to use ARMAGEDDON as a Limit Break.
Max Payne has a meter that allows him to engage bullet time. Filling the meter involves killing enemies, you get a bonus when you kill an enemy while in bullet time, and you can manually toggle the bullet time. It's possible to stay in bullet time near-indefinitely with well-timed activation, killing, and deactivation.
Max Payne 2 expanded on this mechanic—by killing enemies while in bullet time, the screen would go more and more sepia, and time would move slower and slower and slower, to represent Max getting in the zone.
End War has an unusual form of this—when one side is close to defeat by the opposing side meeting the objective, Defcon 1 triggers and Weapons Of Mass Destruction (ranging from tactical nuclear weapons to orbital energy cannon strikes, along with the ability to crash an uplink, making it irrelevant for the scenario objectives) become available to the losing side for the first salvo, and then to the winning side as retaliation if they're used. These WMDs are a weapon powerful enough to instantly wipe out units at ground zero (at full health and shields), and to cause units to require evacuation at a near-miss.
The World Ends with You has these in the form of Fusion Pins—gather enough stars via the minigame on the top screen during battles and at the highest levels, the player can do things from crushing their foes under a giant tidal wave in the middle of Shibuya to dropping the frickin' moon. Just to sweeten the deal, the latter, appropriately dubbed the Jesus Meteor, deals almost ''100x'' the damage of a normal attack.
zOMG! features a rage meter that slowly fills as the player takes damage and uses rings. By quickly pressing the hotkey, one uses a RR 1 skill, such as a slashing with a sword, shooting a handgun, or tossing a water balloon. By holding the key down, the skill's power increases, and the animation gets progressively more spectacular. For example, the sword now performs a complex combo, the number of guns you wield reaches The Mask-like proportions, and the water balloon turns into a screen filling liquid nuke.
Quite possibly the most hilarious is the RR4 Taunt. The Taunt ring has you gesture at the enemy or yell at them to draw their attention. Rage Rank 4 has you give them The Double Deuce and yell obscenities at them. What enemy wouldn't want to tear your face off after that?
Enchanted Arms has EX skills, which are powerful attacks only humans can use, and require a portion of a shared EX bar. The stronger skills require more of the bar, with some using up all of it. This bar charges, but slowly, usually requiring many battles to fill it. Certain bosses tend to have EX skills as well, though they can charge their EX bar to full over the space of three turns. The computer's EX skills hurt, to say the least, and can one-shot your characters if you are not prepared. It's especially bad when you can get one-hit-killed during a Duel Boss.
A better example would be the randomly-activated mastery skills that the beorc gain upon reaching their final classes.
A few examples of the above:
Leathality: which gives an Assassin a random chance of a One-Hit Kill, no matter how strong the enemy was.
Astra: which turns one attack into five.
Sol: which, when activated, drains the attack's damage into the user's HP.
Luna: which makes an attack deal damage as if the enemy's defense was half its actual value.
Æther: given only to Ike, turns one attack into a Sol attack and a Luna attack in succession.
Persona 3 lets your party do an All-Out Attack against the enemies if they're all knocked down; this usually wipes out anything but bosses. Persona 4 even shows a skull-shaped mushroom cloud afterwards if you obliterate them.
Persona 4 also has Follow-Up Attacks: if you knock some enemies down with an attack, sometimes your teammate will offer to strike them as well, knocking even more enemies down or insta-killing them in style. And if the Follow-Up knocks them all down...
Warhammer Online has Morale abilities: as you kick ass on the battlefield, your Morale gauge builds up, allowing you to make for example a devastating attack at the 25% Morale level that's capable of dropping a weak foe in one hit, or a really devastating ability at the 100% level capable of turning the tide of a battle.
The Vanguard of Ar Tonelico 2 can both build up their attack levels and eventually get out the Lv. EX attacks by doing what the Reyvatiels want them to do.
Characters from the Luminous Arc games appear as a cameo in a battle at the Arena. They can use Flash Drives, but they are treated with less flare than Excel Acts, which they also have (the E As have the Super Move Portrait Attack, not the F Ds).
Michael Jackson's Moonwalker offers a variation where, if they can catch a shooting star, the player will morph into Mecha Jackson, the King of Robo-pop, a 10-foot-tall robot with a pair of rockets strapped to its feet, lasers in its eyes and bombs to scatter all over the screen. Yes, it is exactly as awesome as it sounds.
Skies of Arcadia features a number of "super moves" that can be activated after a certain number of spirit points has been amassed in battle. Prophecy, which requires all party members to be healthy and a full spirit gauge, involves crushing the enemy withthe moon.
Ninety-Nine Nights is an interesting example because it has a Limit Break that is used to charge a second Limit Break. Killing enemies with normal attacks fills the Orb Attack gauge. Killing enemies with Orb Attacks fills the Orb Spark gauge. The Orb Spark kills all the Mooks you can see and heals you and your allies, but the mooks don't award Experience Points directly. Instead, enemies killed by Orb Sparks are worth more points on the end of mission score, which affects your rank and the amount of bonus Exp you get.
The first game gives Sora several physical moves he can use at MP cost. The most impressive being ones like Ragnarok or the Awesome, but Impractical Trinity Limit, both of which went on to be Sora’s signature Limit Breaks
Sleights in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. Every boss has at least one high-powered one that creates a big flashy attack, and Sora, depending on where you draw the line, has a staggering number of Limits, including a repeat performance by Trinity Limit and Ragnarok
Kingdom Hearts II introduced the Limit command, which sends Sora and the current Guest Star Party Member into a big flashy combo attack, ending in a huge finish if they run through all the commands before the Limit Bar runs out. Again, Trinity Limit is one of them, combining attacks from Sora, Donald, and Goofy, and ending with a pulse of light that fries everything on the screen. Much like Trinity in the first game, the Limits drain all of Sora's MP, but there is no minimum cost, so you can use them with 1 MP if you want. Final Mix added the Limit Drive form, which brought back every other Limit Break from the first game, along with other classic moves.
358/2 Days gives each playable character a Limit Break unique to them, which you can activate at low health, most of which are based on characters signature moves, such as Roxas’s pillars of light, Sora’s Ragnarok, Saix’s Berserk, Donald’s Comet and so on. There are also "Final Limits" which do even more damage and look even flashier.
Birth By Sleep has Command Styles, the Finish Command, and D-Links, all brought on by filling the Command Meter with attacks, the difference between them is that Command Styles rely on you using specific Commands and change the characters’ fighting style to various Elemental flavored ones before giving them a powerful finisher, D-Links are a not quite summon like power that changed the characters’ command deck, and gives useful abilities and a finisher based on another character, and the Finish Command is just that, a Finisher that isn’t connected to Command Styles or D-Links
Re:coded has Overclock, similar to the Command Meter in that you fill a gauge with attacks to unlock the use of a powerful finisher, however, this time, for every level the meter goes up, Data-Sora unlocks more passive abilities on his equipped Keyblade.
And Kingdom Hearts 3D has the Link System, when your Dream Eater party members fill up their gauge by taking damage or attacking, you can team up with them to unleash either team up attacks as Sora or power up Riku's attacks similiar to the command modes in Birth by Sleep.
In Iji, Iji can learn to activate Retribution when low on health and knocked to the ground. It's very powerful, theoretically capable of dealing 418 damage, compared to the Nuke which does 5.
In Backyard Basketball, the team gets Hot Hand if it makes 3 shots without the other team scoring, a dunk powerup if it makes 3 outside shots without the other team scoring, and a butterfingers powerup if a player makes a steal when the team has a powerup. Hot Hand and Dunk have shot limits, and Butterfingers has a time limit.
The summons in Golden Sun usually function as limit breaks, as you typically start the battle with all your djinn set to your party (because doing so gives you better stats and spells), then unleash them in battle over the course of several turns before finally being able to use the summon.
In the PSP SRPG Jeanne D Arc, there is a system of transformations that act something like a Limit Break. During the course of the game, several characters find magic Bracelets that let them grow fancy shining armor for around two turns during the battle. While transformed the characters' stats are boosted, they have access to super-strong attacks, and once they kill an opponent they get "Godspeed" - a free turn all for themselves. And since this is a SRPG, having free turns is a friggin' godsend. Played right and just one character can wipe out the enemy team all by herself.
In the X-Men Legends series, once you fill the "Xtreme" meter, you can use the character's strongest attack, complete with shouting the move's name ("OPTIC RAGE!", "SAVAGE RAMPAGE!", "PHOENIX FORCE!"). This continues with its Spiritual Successor, Marvel Ultimate Alliance.MUA 2, on the other hand, trades it for Fusion attacks (when much-easier-to-come-by fusion stars are filled, two characters pull a combined super-effective attack. There are only a few varieties, instead of a unique Xtreme for everyone.)
Also, certain characters (like Hulk or Wolverine) have a 'rage' meter. Once you make enough melee hits, you are for a short time powered up, with advanced, more damaging (and brutal) versions of all your attacks. It's so awesome... that you're never, ever gonna get to use it because by the time you've filled the meter, there aren't any Mooks left and it's expired by the time you find some more.
In Summon Night: Swordcraft Story 2, the Mono Shift essentially functions like this, giving you crazy damage and a crazy damage skill when its activated, it also comes complete with its own transformation sequence, and is actually used as a plot element.
Etrian Odyssey 2 calls these "Force Skills", although not all of them are damaging: the Protector's "Painless" makes your party completely invincible for a turn. The first game instead had "Boost", which increased the effectiveness of a normal skill.
Distortion Drives and Astral Heats in BlazBlue. Tager even says "Limit Break!" during his Astral Heat.
Of a sort. In Japanese, it was more along the lines of "Limiters released!" indicating he is now going full power (a stock phrase dealing with robots and machines).
In Sengoku Basara the Basara gauge fills every time you kill a certain amount of enemies, allowing to to perform a special attack. This attack can be upgraded to the Super Basara Attack if you execute it while in Hyper Mode.
In Children Of Mana, the Fury meter fills as you take and deal damage. Once it's full, it can be activated for a limited time to use special attacks, depending on the weapon type used. If the Fury Reels gem is used, it can also provide benefits such as a full HP refill, or invincibility for the duration of the Fury.
Dawn of War features "Relic Units." These units require a relic to be held (essentially a certain point on the map), tier 3 or 4, and usually a few expensive and time-consuming researches. Relic units generally kick the shit out of most other units, and are limited to one at a time.
Dawn of War II and its expansions, there's a meter for each faction like Space Marines' Fury or Orks' WAAGH, these fill as you kill enemies and your own units die. When it reaches a certain number depending on the faction, you may be able to summon a special unit like Terminators or drop down a turret. When your meter is almost full, you can use your factions' strongest special attack (such as the Imperial Guard's Rocket Volley) to target a visible point on the map.
In the campaign, there's also Thaddeus who may gain an ability (if you attributed his skill points accordingly) to enter a state in which he will be able to use his abilities with no energy cost and no recharge time after he takes a certain amount of damage. Pair that with another ability, allowing brief invulnerability after a successful jump/teleport and you have a Lightning Bruiser/Glass Cannon.
In Runes Of Magic, the entire warrior class is built around this. Warriors have exactly 1 damage skill that can be used without any Rage (warrior mana, basically) and it requires you to be a certain distance from the target, and it's on a 12 second cool-down. As you attack and get hit, you build up rage, which is then used to fuel anything you can do from a big old slash attack to bashing heads to stab-stab-stun combos, boost defense at the cost of attack and vice versa, use area of effect attacks, etc.
Offset by Runes' dual class mechanic, where there are about 5 to 7 skills available from your secondary if both classes are high enough level to unlock them. These skills use Focus (Scout class mana), Energy (Rogue class mana), or Mana, and are usually on short/nonexistent cool-downs. Also, starting at 15/15, then 20/20, 25/25, ... 50/50, you can obtain Elite Skills that are usually either buffs or attacks. those that are attacks are pretty powerful, and normally use your secondary class's energy.
Sonic the Hedgehog's "Super Sonic" form could count as a Limit Break as well as (obviously) a Super Mode, especially in the classic games. In Sonic Adventure 2's two-player mode, characters are granted "special moves" after getting 20, 40 and 60 rings respectively - the 40-ring one is an attack on the opponent which also shows up when said character is a computer opponent in story mode, such as Sonic's "Sonic Wind" and Shadow's "Chaos Spear".
Defeating enemies and collecting rings in Sonic Heroes fills a power meter that allows you to use a "Team Blast" that destroys all regular enemies on screen and gives an after-effect depending on which team uses it that lasts until the bar empties (letting Sonic use the light speed attack, Team Sonic; freezing time, Team Dark; leveling up, gaining a shield and invincibility, Team Rose; and getting rings for every enemy defeated, Team Chaotix).
Defeating Black Arms in Shadow the Hedgehog fills the good side of the Karma Meter that temporarily allows Shadow to use Chaos Control to fly through a large portion of the level (which can ironically lead to Shadow fulfilling the neutral ending for the level rather than the good one), whereas defeating Gun troops fills the evil meter that temporarily lets him unleash a Chaos Blast to attack all surrounding enemies. Both options also make him invincible for their duration.
In the RPG The Last Remnant, many of the main characters have a limit break, usually powered by Remnants (it could be said that some limit breaks belong to the Remnants themselves, rather than the character using them). Rather than a limit break guage, there is a small chance of characters being able to use their limit break on any turn. There's a much greater chance of this happening if your team is losing badly, although many other factors come into play.
David simply pulls out the Gae Bolg and blasts everything on the battlefield.
Wild Guns has the Vulcan gun, which does extra damage, has a wide area of effect, and makes you temporarily invincible. You get it by shooting enemy bullets until you fill up the green meter at the bottom of the screen. Once it's full, boom.
One of the licensed video games based on the Beast Wars franchise, "Beast Wars Transmetals", both fighers could stock up to three Super Attacks as they took damage during the battle. The amount required to earn their next Super Attack was proportional to their current HP, allowing a player at lower health to unleash more Super Attacks more often than their opponent.
Phantasy Star Online featured sidekicks called Mags, who could perform various different Photon Blasts after a gauge filled up. A slight subversion in that these abilities were of extremely limited utility on higher difficulty levels.
X-Men: Next Dimension: as you punch and kick your opponent, you build up a charge bar which can be spent on a number of special powers. These range from simply unusually powerful punches or slides, to spectacular displays of ownage as Magneto sprays magnetic doom everywhere. Due to a quirk of programming, these are also one of the few ways to semi-reliably interrupt enemy attacks.
inFAMOUS and ''inFAMOUS 2 have the Lightning Storm and the Ionic Powers respectively. The lightning storm drains ALL your energy in less then 15 seconds give or take and the Ionic powers have three uses. Then you have to go and kill people to pick up more of them. On the plus side, both of these kill basically anything in one shot.
In addition to their regular supers, each character in Eternal Fighter Zero has a special level 3 super known as a "Final Memory", which can only be activated when low on health. Doppel Nanase's Final Memory even requires that she must have lost a round in the best-of-three match.
The Force Unleashed II has a Force Fury mode, unlocked after a certain amount of hitting the enemy. Stronger strikes, Force powers vaporizing enemies...
Baten Kaitos Origins has the MP Burst. When you fill your MP meter up to level 5, you can perform an MP Burst, which gives you infinite MP for the duration of the combo but shuts down your MP meter for several turns afterwards. Learning the various strategies for this is vital for late-game boss fights.
Syndicate reboot has the DART Overlay, which slows down time and allows you to keep track of enemies, which are highlighted in orange against a darkened background, even through cover.
Xenoblade has chain attacks. When your party meter is full, you can spend all of it to freeze time, have all your party members surround an enemy, and have everyone use one of their arts. With a little luck (which can be improved by increasing Relationship Values), you can get more attacks, up to a maximum of 15. Using techniques with the same color icon in a row increases the multiplier, which affects how much damage or healing is done. It maxes at 5. However, Talent Arts are a sort of wild card for the multiplier and they chain into and out of any other color.
There are also powerful single character moves that are only useable under certain circumstances, like having your tension or talent gauge maxed out.
In AdventureQuest Worlds, the Undead Slayer's Dragon Lance attack, probably the most damaging move in the class's entire arsenal, is only available if you have accumulated 20 or more points of Spirit Power through autoattacks on undead foes. Because Spirit Power powers your attacks and your heals, and using this attack burns ALL of your Spirit Power, its best use is as a Finishing Move against an undead boss, which means you need to bring the boss down to low HP before unleashing on him.
In a variation, the Mega Man Zero series gives limit breaks (known in-game as EX Attacks) to some of the bosses that you fight, especially certain bosses like the Four Guardians or Copy X. Often these manifest as a particularly powerful attack that the boss starts using at low health (and only while you have an A or S rank), and many of these also give the boss a brief period of invulnerability. While Zero doesn't get any limit breaks himself, fighting a boss that's using an EX Attack means he'll get a new technique after beating it.
There are two different examples of this in Asura's Wrath. The first is Unlimited Mode, which basically makes asura's rune like imprints in his skin glow white, and he can effectively run through anything and takes little to no damage from regular attacks. the other example is a unique case that's actually a necessity to get past a level is the Burst mechanic, which effectively allows asura to execute a powerful attack via a Quick Time Event that destroys all opponents in the area, as well as being able to get past an area to the next one. Basically, with each burst done, Asura is technically getting more and more powerful as the episodes progress.
In NBA Ballers, you can "bring down the house" when you fill up the House meter. Performing the move results in a one-man alley oop that destroys the hoop and instantly ends the match.
Dota 2 has ultimate skills which may qualify as this, since they can only be skilled at levels 6, 11 and 16.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is based entirely around a system of limit breaks. Players gather AP from fighting and have access to 3 levels of Super Attacks depending on their AP meter. These Super attacks are the only way to net a kill and gain points.
Neptunia gives its eponymous character the fittingly named attack "Neptune Break," while Nisa has "ZHP Legend!!"
Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 gives every character several Limit Breaks, executed by using standard attacks in a certain order and spending enough SP in the process. Console Patron Units and their candidates can also spend a full SP bar to activate Hard Disk Divinity to get an overall power boost. The two can be combined for more devastating finishers.
Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory simplifies things by giving the party a shared EXE bar, and using EXE attacks consumes a given number of segments. Again, doing so while in HDD gives the best results, and entering HDD is cheaper, just requiring 20% of the character's MP.
The Hiryu No Ken series introduced this trope to Fighting Games with the Hiryu-no-Ken attack, which can only be used when the K.O. Gauge is full.
Star Wars: The Old Republic has this in the form of "Heroic Moments" which heals you and your companion over time as well as reseting the cooldown on your class's stun ability.
Riviera: The Promised Land has both the Overdrive Meter, which gives you a more powerful attack once it's full, and the Rage Meter, which is the enemy's equivalent and which fills up by being attacked rather than by attacking.
In Last Scenario, each spellcard has a special spell that can be used only once its user's crisis bar is full, at a large MP cost (usually) as well.
In Ni No Kuni, performing critical hits or blocking major attacks give a chance of special restorative "Glims" to drop from the enemies. One such thing, the "Golden Glim," restores the HP of whoever picks it up to full, and allows them to perform an incredibly powerful "Miracle Move" at no cost to MP.
The Spirit Attacks in The Last Story. Each character can learn his or her own ability of this type after leveling up sufficiently, and when they do so they can perform it when the Spirit Meter fills after hitting enemies and being hit. The Spirit Attacks are, namely, Accelerate (Zael, attacks much more quickly), Death Sentence (Dagran, kills enemies after 30 seconds), Ancient Barrier (Calista, repulses the attacks landed on Zael and can also be dispelled to share the effect with the other party members), Shadow Stitch (Syrenne, paralyzes enemies), Meteor (Yurick, delivers a big, almighty ball of fire that weakens the defense of the enemy), Revive (Mirania, restores fully the HP of the party members and gives an extra life to each of them), and Glacier (Lowell, casts a big, almighty iceberg that inflicts a slip status ailment to the targeted enemy).
With the change to the Evolution of Combat, Runescape now has a form of this. Before Eo C, some higher-level weapons had a special attack gauge that could pull off powerful abilities when they were full, but it was more akin to a Charged Attack than a Limit Break. Now, all players have an adrenaline bar that fills up over time in combat by using basic-level abilities. Threshold abilities are a sort of mini-limit break that require 50% adrenaline and drain 15%, whereas Ultimate abilities require a full bar and would be of almost game-breaking power if it weren't for the long cooldowns and time needed to build up the adrenaline.
That's how the "Daily Powers" in Neverwinter work, since of course few would want a combat ability with a 24 hour cooldown.
One of these serves as a secret Special Attack in Super Metroid; the Crystal Flash can only be triggered if Samus has less than 50 units of energy, no reserve energy, at least 10 Missiles, at least 10 Super Missiles, and at least 11 Power Bombs. The player must then select the Power Bombs and input a very complicated button combination. If pulled off, it drains 10 of each missile and 11 Power Bombs, but fully replenishes Samus' energy.
The PlayStation remake of Mad Stalker: Full Metal Force introduced this feature in the game. By completely filling the Overdrive Meter, players can perform a powerful Hyper Attack indefinitely for a brief period of time.
The characters of Panzer Bandit can perform a Hyper Attack by filling their special attack meter to full, indicated by the flashing gauge next to their life meter. A Hyper Attack in this game is not just dishing out heavy damage against foes, but also makes them cough up much more coins for extra points.
Krillin of Dragon Ball Z Abridged unleashes his in Episode 7 to kill three Saibamen... and is immediately upstaged by Piccolo. As consolation, Vegeta and Nappa conclude that "Earth's Raditz" is at least not quite as pathetic as their Raditz.
Found all over the place in Pirate Baby's Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006, where the two characters will call out something else to bulldoze through the enemy, including The A-Team and Walter Sobchak.
This entire trope probably originates from stories of people who, under the influence of adrenaline, were able to perform incredible feats of strength they could not possibly pull off normally. Whether or not these stories were true, adrenaline does certainly enhance physical performance in short bursts and can be triggered by emotional or physical stress.
In a fight or flight situation, the body slows down or stops blood supply to non-essential bodily functions, like digestion, in order to give vital organs (eg: heart and lungs) and body parts (eg: muscles) an extra boost in oxygen.
One of the reasons humans aren't as strong as, say, chimpanzees of similar mass is because our Limit Break for muscle-contraction is slower to kick in during a crisis. We don't usually gain the power to use our muscles' maximum attainable force until we've failed to think our way through an emergency, but animals go straight to all-out panic mode exertion.
Similarly, extreme emotions like fear or anger also play a role. A person that experiences extreme fear or anger can also cause their bodies to trigger a fight or flight response since fear has put the person in a heightened state of awareness for survival and anger preps the person's body for a possible fight. Naturally, a person cannot experience an extreme emotion for too long since going through just one will drain the person's energy after the extreme emotion passes.