Mechanically Unusual Fighter

Meta Knight doesn't do 'standard attacks.'
A tip from Super Smash Bros. for 3DS/Wii U

While Fighting Game characters often have different attacks and playstyles, they usually still share the same basic commands. Pressing A results in a light melee attack, back results in blocking, double forward results in a dash, and so on...Except this character. This character has bizarre mechanics going on compared to other fighters. Maybe this character cannot jump but instead can float around. Maybe this character's crouching actually makes her taller. Whatever it is, playing this character won't be anything like playing the others. Mastering these gimmicks is a major part of this character.

The result of this weird control scheme can vary. Sometimes it makes the character a difficult to learn but very satisfying to master one, and sometimes it makes the character nigh-impossible to play instead.

This character often uses variations of Confusion Fu. May invoke Damn You, Muscle Memory if one is too used to other characters.

A good way to determine if a character fits this trope is to ask "If the character lost his gimmick, would he still play similarly or very differently?" If the answer is the latter then it is this trope.

Different from Fighting Clown, which is about the character's wacky appearance rather than the actual mechanics (although the two may overlap). Different from Joke Character, Lethal Joke Character or not, as this character is intended to be a viable option without resorting to an obscure tactic. Also compare Mechanically Unusual Class, the more RPG-like sister.


Examples:

  • A number of original characters for M.U.G.E.N can be like this. An example is Omega Tiger Woods, who could deal heavy damage and attack the foe with a crosshair that dropped missiles (and a claw arm) on them, in compensation for being unable to block at all.
  • Some of the Touhou fighting games:
    • Suwako Moriya from Hisoutensoku. Her standing is actually crouching, and her crouching is conjuring a lily pad underneath her, making her taller. Her regular walking is slowly hopping like a frog (and while hopping she counts as being in the air), and her ground dash is swimming underground, making her invincible to all attacks. Her air movement is her flapping her arms around, and is limited to several directions. Her attacks are relatively normal, though.
    • Koishi Komeiji is the whacky fighter of Hopeless Masquerade. To start, like Suwako, her dash is her prancing around while invisible, making her immune to all attacks. Unlike Suwako, her main whackiness is in her attacks. For most of her attacks, she doesn't instantly perform them when you input the commands. Instead, she "stocks" them and use it automatically when certain conditions are met. For example, her 8B is performed only when she's under the opponent, and Catch and Rose is activated only after you hit the opponent with another attack. Also, she needs about 1-2 seconds before the moves are ready to activate, so you really need to predict the situations beforehand.
    • To a lesser extent, Byakuren, who needs to charge her specials first before being able to actually use it.
  • Shadow Labrys from Persona 4 Arena. Other characters' Personas only appear for a short while to perform attacks, and then disappear. Shabrys' "Persona" Asterius however, stays on screen the entire time, follows Shabrys around, and can attack concurrently with her. To compensate for being around all the time, Asterius has armor so it can't be broken easily, and Shabrys' heavy Persona attack is actually telling Asterius to block. Playing Shadow Labrys is effectively controlling both her and Asterius at the same time.
    • Ultimax has two versions of new character Sho Minazuki. One version does not have a Persona, unlike the rest of the cast, and instead fights more like a character from BlazBlue in terms of normal attacks. Because of this, not only is he immune to Persona Breaks, he is also not heavily affected by the Silence status effect, which normally disables the affected character's Persona (the only thing it disables is his ability to Burst). He can also cancel most of his special moves into each other (or into a dodge animation in order to bait attacks).
    • Junpei, also from Ultimax, has a complicated baseball-themed Magikarp Power system. In simplest terms: he starts off very weak. However, upon reaching 10 or more runs, he gains the permanent Victory Cry buff, which increases his stats by a large amount, gives him HP and SP regeneration, and gives his baseball bat attacks additional properties. Every 10 Runs thereafter give him additional stat increases, up to 55 Runs. He gains bases by hitting opponents or reflecting projectiles with his bat. If Junpei fills up three bases, then every successful bat attack he makes will give him a run. Every time he misses an opponent with his bat he gains a strike; three strikes and he gets an out, resetting everything but his runs and bases. Get three outs and everything but the runs reset. Having his bat attacks blocked by the opponent gives him balls; four balls give him one additional base. In addition, once Victory Cry is active, hitting opponents with the sweet spot of his bat counts as a Clean Hit, which increases the damage and hitstun of the affected attack (and may give it additional properties, like being able to cancel from a special move into another special move). If this is done with a super move (and with the proper followup button), Junpei can get a home run, which increases his Runs by the amount of bases he has filled plus 1, but also resets his loaded bases. Got all that?
  • Marvel vs. Capcom 3:
    • Frank West has a Magikarp Power system - his moves aren't so impressive at first, but he can rack up "EXP" by comboing the enemy with enough hits and then takes a snapshot with his camera, in order to "level up." He has 5 levels; higher level means improved moves as well as unlocking certain moves to use.
    • Phoenix Wright plays entirely around "evidence" and Stance System: Investigation Mode (his weakest form) is mainly to find evidence, the Trial Mode is used to use the evidence as weapons. When he has 3 pieces of evidence ready, during this mode he can pull off an OBJECTION! which, if it hits, will allow him to go to Turnabout Mode, with improved normal and special attacks, as well as his Lv 3 hyper that's the second-strongest in the game.
  • Guilty Gear: Robo-Ky has to manage two different meters: A thermostat, which builds up as he fights and can only be vented via a certain command or risk a damaging explosion. He also has a power gauge which, unlike everyone else, cannot be charged conventionally and can only be charged via a laid-out power mat. His special and Overdrive attacks drain from this power gauge.
    • In Xrd Sin has an Appetite Gauge which can be filled with a special move, allowing him to eat. If the gauge is empty, Sin will occasionally drop his combos.
    • Since Zappa is basically a hive for ghosts, he has the ability to completely change his moveset mid-match, depending on which ghost is in control at the moment.
  • In BlazBlue, all characters have a "Drive" action that is unique to them, and which would make most of them qualify for this trope if they were in a different game. But even when going by the standards of the series, a few stand out as unusual:
    • Hakumen is the one that is most different from the game's normal mechanics: while other characters have special attacks that can be used at will and a Heat gauge that fills up by landing or being hit by attacks and is used for Distortion attacks. Hakumen lacks a Heat gauge and instead uses a Magatama gauge, which fills up automatically and is expended while using both special and Distortion attacks, which is balanced by making these special moves more powerful than average and chainable together.
    • Carl Clover is a Puppet Fighter, and plays very differently from the other characters. He has a large "doll" named Nirvana which can perform attacks when the Drive button is pressed. Using both Carl and Nirvana's attacks together effectively is Difficult but Awesome. Also of note is that while nearly all other special attacks are performed by moving the joystick in certain directions, followed by pressing an attack button, Nirvana's specials are done by holding down Drive, inputting the directions, and then releasing the Drive button.
  • In Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, Gold Lightan and PTX-40A are very massive fighters (who are about 3 times the average height of other characters) and so they fight alone, as opposed to fighting in duets. They also move slowly and have to crouch often to attack and they're subject to being dizzied if hit repeatedly, but they also have a ton of range and damage on most of their attacks and only special throws can interrupt their attacks.
  • In Dissidia: Final Fantasy, most characters fight using Bravery attacks to build up Bravery, HP attacks to deal HP damage, and landing attacks generates EX Force that fills an EX Gauge, when filled the character can enter EX Mode for a temporary power boost. With Gabranth however, his Bravery attacks are slow and weak and his HP attack automatically charges up his EX Gauge. When it fills and he enters EX Mode, his entire moveset changes, turning him into a Lightning Bruiser with powerful attacks and high movement speed, but only until the gauge depletes, at which point he goes back to normal and has to charge it up again.
  • In the Bleach DS fighting games, Don Kanon'ji has a "Ratings Meter", befitting his TV personality, where certain attacks do more damage the better he is performing. Missing attacks or calling for certain attacks when he does not have the energy decrease his ratings, while doing damage gains ratings. Taunting significantly increases his ratings.
    • Hanataro Yamada has a weapon that heals instead of cuts, then, when enough wounds are healed, it deals damage in one attack equal to the damage healed.
  • Nariko in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale fights using a "key pose" system that momentarily places her in different stances based on how she uses her Square attacks, made for opening up unique combo-trees. What makes her odd is that the game has a number of conventions tied to the Square attacks, and this in turn influences the button-placement for other common mappings: Up Square is generally a Launcher Move (hers is Up Triangle, which is usually used for Anti-Air attacks), Grounded Down Square tends to be a sweep/tripping attack (hers is a weird ground bounce) and Neutral Circle is a Counter Attack (hers is Neutral Triangle).
  • Dracula in Castlevania: Judgment has little-to-no mobility and cannot be knocked down. His dash/sidestep moves are all changed to teleports, including a variant where he teleports directly behind the opponent. Rather than jump, he teleports into the air and can stay up there for as long as his super meter holds out. The majority of his attacks, including normal ones, are projectiles and ranging moves. Basically, he utilizes a variant of his standard Castlevania moveset, in contrast to other boss characters who are given more traditional fighter designs.
  • Shang Tsung from Mortal Kombat is capable of turning into other characters. In some games he can turn into any character at will, in others he can only turn into his opponent (at least, when used by a human player). In later games, he can also heal himself by taking energy from his opponent.
  • DOTA 2 has a few heroes who are not standard in the terms of 4 abilities / passives.
    • Invoker has Quas, Wex and Exhort, which are orbs that float around his head, giving him different stats. By using his ultimate, Invoke, which he unlocks at level 2, he gains and can store up to two abilities determined by his current set up of Quas:Wex:Exhort.
    • Meepo has an ultimate which creates multiple copies of himself, and can be unlocked at level 2, unlike almost every other ultimate, which are unlocked at level 6.
  • Super Smash Bros. has a number of characters with at least one quirk that makes them different from the standard character template:
    • A few characters in Brawl could switch between different forms that were treated as entirely different characters. Zelda (who could do it as early as Melee) could become Sheik at will, and Samus switched from her power armor to her Zero Suit and back when performing a Final Smash. Pokémon Trainer could also switch between Squirtle, Ivysaur, and Charizard at will; and all three would tire out if used for too long at a time. The fourth game dropped these mechanics; replacing the Trainer with just Charizard and treating Zelda's and Samus' forms as separate standard characters.
    • The Ice Climbers and Rosalina & Luma are both Puppet Fighter dual characters, with the player controlling the lead fighter and the secondary fighter mimicking them; along with a way to split up the two (Ice Climbers have to exploit the AI, while Rosalina has a built-in split-up move).
    • Where most characters' Up-Special moves function as a third jump, Yoshi's and Jigglypuff's do not; with enhanced regular jumping ability to compensate. Ness is similar in that his Up-Special is a remote control projectile that you had to hit yourself with to get an aerial boost. Yoshi, in addition, lacks an ordinary shield, instead covering himself in an eggshell that prevents him from jumping while shielding. Yoshi however gained a proper triple jump in Brawl, and the ability to jump out of shield in 4.
    • Olimar is a Minion Master whose majority of attacks are tied to his Pikmin.
    • Solid Snake has unusual attacks with unusual timing to them, including the ability to plant a mine instead of a downsmash, an extremely high recovery but very vulnerable triple jump, and numerous odd projectile attacks which don't attack instantly or which control strangely (such as grenades and fly-by-wire rockets).
    • Mega Man has several basic attacks replaced with projectiles in order to mimic the run-and-gun playstyle of his original games.
    • Wii Fit Trainer has a Status Buff move that increases his/her attack power, but is otherwise mostly normal.
    • Little Mac is a boxer, and so his power meter and focus on ground combat make him closer to a traditional fighting game character.
    • Robin's home game has Breakable Weapons, so his/her Levin Sword and large variety of spellbooks have limited uses before they have to recharge.
    • Shulk has a Stance System composed of 5 sets of different combinations of buffs and debuffs.
    • Ryu's specials can be used with their inputs from Street Fighter, which results in stronger versions. In addition, his Final Smash changes depending on his distance to an opponent (Shinku Hadoken at a distance, Shin Shoryuken up close), referencing his Ultra Combo Double from Ultra Street Fighter IV. He also has weak and strong attacks depending on how long the attack button is held and even can even Lag Cancel into Combos which no other character in Smash can do. Even his Jump Physics are uniquely abnormal, being relatively stiff with little ability to change direction in midair. In essence, Ryu, the archetype for the Fighting Game character, plays exactly like a Traditional Fighter transplanted into a Mascot Platform Fighter!
  • Both Voldo and Dampierre's from Soulcalibur main attacks largely involve being unable to block due to their stances, be they facing away from the enemy or being downed on the ground.
  • Tekken: Dr. Bosconovitch (only in the third game) spends his time prone to the ground and (at his best) crouching; he never jumps or indeed stand still. It's tricky both to play and fight him.
    • As any fighting game boxer of note, Steve Fox is an Extremity Extremist, only opting to use his fists. To that end, the kick buttons don't attack. Instead they let him bob and weave, which gives him additional punching moves. He has a select few foot attacks but you will be doing all your work with your fists while deftly dodging and evading enemy strikes.
  • Killer Instinct 2013 gives us Fulgore, who does not have a Shadow Meter. Instead, he has a Reactor meter, which is divided in 10 parts unlike the aforementioned Shadow Meter, which is divided in 2. The Reactor meter determines how much energy Fulgore can spend on special attack cancels and shadow moves. During Season 1, the meter can either be charged manually with an special move, or by doing auto-doubles. It also makes Fulgore move faster. His Instinct Mode charges the meter automatically, and also allows Fulgore to spend the fully charged meter by firing a powerful beam that can take up to 40% of damage to the opponent.
    • Fulgore's meter was reworked in Season 2, but it's still different from others. His meter was changed to charge automatically at a set rate, and gain meter faster by playing aggressively. His Instinct Mode increases his charge rate to maximum (a later patch also adds the ability to perform a manual charge during Instinct, similar to Season 1, in order to gain a single pip of energy on command).
    • In all his appearances Spinal has had the unusual property of his floating skulls, which are earned by absorption and consumed by performing special moves. He is less effective if he doesn't have any skulls to cash in.
    • For Maya in Season 2, her daggers enable her different special moves and can be leveled up each time a successful attack is made with them. As a result, if you lose a dagger, your moves become temporarily cut off (to the point that even tapping the punch button that would normally invoke a dagger attack will give you the kick of that strength instead; she has no hand attacks that can be done if she's not holding a dagger in that hand).
    • Season 2 bonus character Omen can stock three Shadow stocks as opposed to two. He also has an attack that will use all three stocks at once (no one else on the cast has an attack like this, Fulgore being the exception but also a Mechanically Unusual Fighter in his own right so he doesn't count).
    • Season 2's final character, ARIA, has three health meters as opposed to two. The other life bars belong to her alternate bodies, which exist as assist drones when ARIA's AI is not inhabiting them and ARIA gains different attacks depending on what body she is currently using. If a drone's vitality is drained (either because ARIA was wearing it when it expired or it was hit too many times when acting as an assist), then ARIA can no longer call on that drone for assistance or to inhabit for the rest of the match. Triggering Instinct Mode will cause all her drones to form on her at once, giving her a complete set of powers but exposing all her drones to damage at the same time.
  • Gundam Extreme Vs. has the Crossbone Gundam Full Cloth, which only really has two weapons (a beam crossbow and a BFS), but also has two temporary super modes. One grants the crossbow's projectiles homing properties, turns its spread shot into a barrel-rolling Beam Spam attack, and grants protection from enemy beams that come at it from either the left or right. The other makes its melee attacks stronger, faster, and able to cancel into one another almost freely. A player able to carefully manage these two modes (along with their cooldown times) can rip through just about any opponent.
    • Also worth mentioning is Gundam Epyon; in a game built around ranged combat, it has absolutely no guns, instead fighting with a segmented whip and giant beam sword. However, its melee is very fast, damaging, and can be cancelled freely, and the rest of its moveset includes a mobility move that lets it dodge enemy attacks or quickly rush into melee range, and a move that empowers its sword even further at the cost of draining its boost gauge more quickly. Even though it's generally ranked low in the Character Tiers, in the hands of a skilled player Epyon can be an unholy menace.
    • Along the same lines is the Susanowo, which is similarly melee-centric. Unlike Epyon it does have a couple of ranged attacks, but neither is a standard move and its shot button instead slightly boosts its melee power for the next few attacks. It also has a one-time use Super Mode that gives it a massive speed increase on an already very speedy unit.
  • Decapre, the newcomer in Ultra Street Fighter IV is an interesting example. While she doesn't have any unique resources, she combines two well-established fighting game concepts into something that's rarely seen. On the surface, she's definitely a aggressive rushdown character with excellent mobility and mix-up and terrific Ultras make her viable threat. However, she's also a charge character, which contrasts her playstyle as charge character in just about any fighting game typically leans toward the defensive side. The biggest draw with Decapre being a rushdown charge character is that while her tools are effective, they're not readily available, especially if you want to walk up to your opponent.
  • In the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm series, the Long Range Fighters have a slightly different control scheme: The button all other characters have assigned to Shuriken, which normally has those characters throwing minimal-damage shuriken as a quick projectile and cannot be comboed into anything, becomes a general projectile button for whatever energy blasts, ammunition, or other signature projectiles these characters are known for. Unlike the standard shuriken, these deal a lot more damage and can be comboed into other projectiles. A more extreme difference are the puppetmaster characters in these games: The puppetmaster does not do any fighting whatsoever, leaving it entirely to the puppet(s). Even blocking is left up to a puppet. The puppetmaster and his or her puppets can be moved around the battlefield independently of each other too. Until Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3, these puppetmasters were considered Game Breakers (except for Kankuro) because the puppets themselves cannot be defeated, meaning opponents had to deal with getting beaten down by an invulnerable being while the character they actually have to defeat is usually standing safe and far away.
  • The tabletop fighting game Burn Legend - which is basically "Exalted Mortal Kombat" and is in Shards of the Exalted Dream - has the Okami and Tennin as entire splats of mechanically odd fighters. The Okami gimmick is that they can shift between human form to use their martial arts moves and beast form to use their native techniques with a minor bonus to one stat; under normal circumstances, Okami generally shift to beast form and stay that way until the end of the fight, not even bothering with martial arts, but it was a decent effort even so. The Tennin, meanwhile, have powerful moves but have to use them sequentially - apart from martial arts styles, their Overdrive and Prayer Strip, their moves are divided into "Terrestrial", "Celestial" and "Sidereal" tier, with Celestial only working the turn after you successfully use a Terrestrial and Sidereal only working the turn after Celestial.
  • A non-fighting game example with Mercedes in Odin Sphere. While other characters use melee attacks to varying degrees, Mercedes wields a crossbow and is purely a ranged character. Being a fairy allows her to fly around indefinitely, and instead of a POW meter that acts as the character's stamina, depleting as you attack, but recharging if you idle long enough, she instead has an Ammo meter that can't be recharged until it's completely empty, and requires the player to manually reload (though absorbing Phozons still recharges it like they do for the POW meter.)
  • There are some other non-fighting game examples in Meteos: Although it's a Falling Blocks puzzle game, each planet has its own set of physics, usually manifested as differences in speed of certain actions and width of the playfield. For most planets, chaining ignitions together creates stronger rockets to clear blocks by pushing them up offscreen, but on Hotted and Megadom, ignitions after the second become weaker, requiring the player to pace his or her gameplay slower than most other players. Mekks, Gigagush, Grannest, and Wuud have fixed-height ignitions, requiring players to use the risky technique of letting their fields pile up to clear blocks. Hevendor and Gravitas are at the extreme ends of gravitational force; Hevendor requires only one ignition to clear blocks, making it play more like a traditional puzzle game, wereas Gravitas has such intense gravity that first ignitions are totally ineffective, requiring two ignitions to launch blocks away. On most other planets, the Speeder speeds up the game, but on Bavoom, the Speeder will slow down the falling blocks but will send far more of them down at a time. On Vubble, a vertical matching of blocks has no effect, requiring players to only match them horizontally. On Ranbarumba, the strength of an ignition depends not on the rocket's size or number of ignitions, but by the total width of the blocks matched. And while it would otherwise play normally, Arod's gravity is so feeble that the entire playfield moves in slow-motion—while this means Arod takes longer to accomplish anything than most other planets, it is also largely able to shrug off attacks from most other planets.
  • In Hyrule Warriors, the DLC character Young Link functions a bit differently. Much like the aforementioned example of Gabranth in Dissidia: Final Fantasy, his strength and range leave a lot to be desired in his normal form. However, he does have the ability to sacrifice his special attack gauge for magic, and when he enters Focus Spirit mode, he turns into the Fierce Deity, becoming much deadlier. The trick when playing as him is to enter Focus Spirit mode as soon as possible, and stay in it as long as possible.
  • Alastor in the first Viewtiful Joe. Characters normally start out in their Henshin form, but revert to human form if they use up all their VFX and have to wait until the VFX gauge refills to transform automatically. Alastor, on the other hand, starts out in his human form and has to manually activate his Devil Trigger to transform, at which point his VFX gradually decreases until he reverts back to normal, making playing Alastor a game of finding the right time to transform and lay the smackdown in Devil Trigger form. He's also the only character who can Double Jump in his human form, and carries a sword to increase his melee range.
  • In a game full of melee specialists, Lady's the only character in Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition with a focus on firearms. On top of that, she doesn't have a Super Mode (with her Devil Trigger gauge instead powering a Combo Breaker that involves throwing several grenades around herself).