In real life, people can't magically propel themselves forward through the air as if they were bounding off an invisible wall. In the realm of fiction though, especially in Video Games, this is a common and effective form of movement.
Air-dashing is a unique movement option from more basic actions like running and jumping. It grants an added boost of horizontal or lateral movement which can have a number of useful applications either as a traversal mechanic or a power in a story.
Many platforming heroes use this as a tool to traverse the game world and reach objectives. 3D games may be more limited with this ability since with the exception of jumping, most movement is lateral, making it difficult to precisely aim a dash across a three-hundred-and-sixty degree radius. 2D platformers meanwhile have the benefit/constraint of a flat plane, which gives the player a full radius of directions to dash in.
Air-dashing is a common ability in many 2D fighting games, some mainstream examples being the works of Arc System Works, Capcom and French Bread.note Air dashing gives characters another option for advancing towards an opponent and be applied in all sorts of mix-upsnote or be used to cross over an opponent to attack from behind.
How an air dash actually happens is a whole other question. It may be the result of magic or superpowers that let a character bound across the air. Technological characters like robots might have thrusters that perform a similar function. Other times it could just be pure cartoon physics at work.
This trope can overlap with offensive abilities like Dash Attack, but for the most part is limited to being purely for mobility rather than attacking.
A sub-trope of Videogame Dashing.
Contrast to Rocket Jump.
Video Game Examples
- ANNO: Mutationem: After taking down The Warden at the Walter Raleigh, Ann acquires a booster that she can use to air dash past obstacles and reach long distances.
- Control: One use of the Evade power, which is all about high-speed burst movement. Used in the air to move forward, in mid-air, with no loss of height. Can be chained which causes a small drop during the gap between uses.
- Devil May Cry:
- From Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening onward, Dante's Trickster Style grants him the ability to perform a dash in the air. This is manifested as a red, circular incantation that he bounces off of.
- Devil May Cry 5: Nero's Gerbera Devil Breaker can fire a concussive blast that propels him through the air, making this a prime tool for maneuvering around enemies.
- DmC: Devil May Cry: Dante can perform an airborne dash using his Angelic powers.
- Dynasty Warriors 9 includes this maneuver, referred to in-game as somersault, presumably because of the spinning a character performs when doing it. The somersault allows for the player's officer to move into or away from combat quickly, and is useful for moving across structures in the game's open world. The somersault can also become a Wall Jump if used close enough to a wall. There is also an accessory that can be equipped that allows for multiple somersaults to be performed in succession.
- Genshin Impact: Xiao's Elemental Skill: Lemniscatic Wind Cycling, allows him to lunge forward at enemies twice to deal Anemo damage. He can also use it mid-air to increase his air time while traversing the overworld.
- In Ghostrunner, you can propel yourself forward in the air to clear large gaps, smash into air-borne enemies, or simply move a little faster. There's also a unique air-dash you can perform if you slowing time. Whatever direction you're facing when the slow-down ends, you'll be launched in that direction, allowing you to totally inverse your momentum and dodge bullets with ease.
- Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy: Once you progress far enough in the story for your Force Jump and Force Speed abilities to be maxed out, it is possible to easily traverse the Dark Forces Saga's famously huge maps, by combining the two in the form of a long-jump. It can only be done from solid ground, however.
- Kingdom Hearts: The majority of games have the Air Slide ability,note which grants a burst of speed while in midair, allowing the user to propel themselves forward.
- Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep includes Ice Slide, which is functionally the same as Air Slide but with the added ability of coating the user in ice that deals damage to enemies.
- Downplayed with the Dash and Surge abilities in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. Air Dash, Fire Dash, Dark Haze, Fire Surge, Barrier Surge and Thunder Surge are all attacks that coat the user in the respective element as they charge forward to strike an enemy. Though intended as an offensive action, these actions can also be used out of combat while in midair as long-range air dashes.
- Monster Hunter:
- The Insect Glaive introduced in Monster Hunter 4 allows hunters to propel in the air for a short bit and use aerial attacks to knock down monsters.
- Monster Hunter: Rise: The Insect Glaive's aerial capacities are boosted, with certain arts allowing hunters to boost themselves in the air multiple times over and remain there simply by hitting their targets. Also the Gunlance gets a new technique that allows Hunters to traverse the map by using the weapon's firing exhaust as a rocket boost in the air.
- Shows up in SAR: Search and Rescue, an old arcade game, and probably one of the few that allows this option. Hitting the jump button while mid-jump allows you to dash in a straight line, an ability that comes in real handy during the level where half it's floors are collapsing into killer drops, where you can just air-dash to the nearest uncollapsible platform while your enemies get thrown to their deaths.
- In Spider-Man (PS4), pressing the jump button in the air causes Spider-Man to pull himself in the direction he's facing, giving him a sudden burst of speed and just enough height to slow his fall.
- The Venom Dash from Spider-Man: Miles Morales can be used while web-swinging across the skyline to launch Miles forward in the air, building up more mid-air speed even if you've flung yourself into an area with nothing to web onto.
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and its sequel, which are about playing as a exaggeratedly powerful Sith Apprentice Starkiller who turns good, often requires you to use The Force to do this for platforming, and it's combined with other abilities for Combos.
- BlazBlue: Similar to its predecessor Guilty Gear, air dashing is a central mechanic to the series that most characters in the roster can perform. A variation called an "instant air dash" can be performed by inputting the command right as a character jumps.
- The Trope Codifier for this mechanic in fighting games is widely considered to be the Darkstalkers series; more specifically the character Lord Raptor who is the only character in the first game to have an air dash. Later entries in the series would add more characters with air dashes: Hsien-ko, whose dash is functionally very similar to Lord Raptor, Huitzil, who combines the ability to air dash with his special hover jump, Q-Bee, whose air dash can home in on the opponent, and Jedah Dohma, whose air dash doubles as a direct attack.
- In Dissidia Final Fantasy, air dashing is the most common method of movement. By default, you dash towards the opponent, and it can be modified to make it dash faster in any direction but without vertical movement or dash away from the opponent.
- Dragon Ball Fighter Z: Every character can make use of a horizontal air dash, by double tapping the respective direction in the air. Some characters can get an additional air dash. Frieza gets one upon becoming Golden Frieza, Gohan(Adult) gets one after hitting Potential Unleashed level 3, and SSJ4 Gogeta gets one by default.
- Guilty Gear: Air dashing is a central mechanic to the series that most characters in the roster can perform. A variation called an "instant air dash" can be performed by inputting the command right as a character jumps. Along with allowing the aerial attack follow-ups, air dashing is another method for building the tension gauge, the series' resource for performing supers and special actions like Roman Cancelsnote .
- Marvel vs. Capcom: Several characters like Dante, Tron Bonne, and characters with Flight powers have access to an air dash. There's also an "8-way air dash" used by characters like Magneto and Captain Marvel which gives even more versatility in their movement.
- The King of Fighters:
- In Maximum Impact 2, Luise Meyrink can dash forwards or backwards in the air. In addition, she can also side-step in the air by tapping up or down twice.
- New protagonist Shun'ei can dash in the air using his Thruster Vision special move.
- Pokkén Tournament: Certain Pokémon such as Blaziken and Lucario have access to an air dash in Duel Phase.
- Skullgirls: Many characters have access to an air-dashnote , sometimes supplementing a Double Jump. It's mainly applied to rushdown, though zoners like Peacock also have one which improves her hit-and-run capabilities.
- Street Fighter: Akuma's "Ashura Senku"note lets him dash forward in the air, giving him greater mobility than many other fighters. He's also completely intangible during the duration of the move, though he does need to be careful about where he lands so his opponents can't attack him once it ends. Evil Ryu and his successor Kage can also use this ability.
- Them's Fightin' Herds: Tianhuo can Air Dash forward or backwards while in midair. Justified as she uses her fiery wings to help propel her. Her Firecracker dashing attack can also be used while in midair.
- Bioshock 2: Subject Delta eventually obtains the "Drill Dash", an attack that makes him lunge hard through the air while swinging his drill weapon, dealing heavy damage to anyone in the way.
- Both titles in the Destiny series have some form of air-dashing in addition to all player characters standard Double Jump abilities:
- D1 grants Titans a dash with the Twilight Garrison exotic chest armor, activated by double-tapping the crouch button while airborne.
- Destiny 2 follows this up by granting Dawnblade Warlocks using the subclasss top tree the Icarus Dash ability, which works in a similar fashion but doesnt require any additional armor to use.
- DOOM Eternal: The Doom Slayer's Dash ability propels him a short distance through the air and can be used twice before recharging. Perfect for getting face-to-face with any demon he's about tear apart.
- Overwatch: Hanzo has this as an ability. Tracer, Genji, and Brigitte can all do this as well by using their respective Blink, Swift Strike, and Shield Bash abilities while in midair.
- Quake Champions: Clutch has mid-air dashing as part of his "Hydraulic Dodging" passive ability. He performs this the same way as ground dodging, by pressing any direction key twice.
- In Metroid Dread, one of the Aeion Abilities that Samus obtains is the Flash Shift, a move that lets her instantly warp forwards or backwards up to three times in a row. This can be used on the ground, but is just as effective in the air, allowing Samus to cross very wide gaps.
- Hollow Knight: The Mothwing Cloak lets the Knight air-dash in the direction they're facing. It can be upgraded into the "Shade Cloak" which allows them to phase through enemies and shade gates with the dash, and with the Dashmaster and Sharp Shadow Charms which enable downwards air-dashing and the ability to damage enemies that are dashed through, respectively.
- Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow: The Black Panther Soul lets Soma dash at high speeds both on the ground and in the air in the direction hes facing. It requires MP to use, but the Chaos Rings limitless MP pool allows Soma to use it infinitely.
- Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl: Every character can dash in the air, a more offense-oriented substitute for Smash's air dodging. Airdashing into the ground lets you wavedash, just as air dodging into the ground would in Melee.
- In the Super Smash Bros. series, some characters have specials moves (most of the time their up or side specials) that propel themselves forward both on the ground and midair. Some such as Fox, Pikachu, Captain Falcon, Ike, Squirtle, Charizard, and Banjo-Kazooie have dash-like attacks that can be used as a recovery, in order to get back onto the stage.
- Azure Striker Gunvolt:
- Gunvolt can dash mid-air using EP if he has the Ring gear that grants him one. Most of them are mutually exclusive to Double Jumping, and better gear reduces the amount of EP used for air dashing.
- Copen in Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 has a playstyle built around dashing. He stores Bullit Dashes in stocks, which can be used dash sideways or diagonally a great distance, and refreshes a stock when he collides with a wall or enemy. Most of his damage comes from dashing into enemies to tag them and shooting them, and he builds combo points by killing multiple enemies without landing.
- Chantelise: Granted by the Winged Boots. Performing the regular Dash, but in the air, allows forward travel mid-air, with no loss of height. Can be chained which causes a small drop during the gap between uses.
- Celeste: Madeline's signature mechanic is a multi-directional dash that functions as this trope when used in the air. The dash has to recharged by touching ground, preventing Madeline from using it infinitely. Though there is an in-game option to enable infinite dashes for players who want an easier start with grasping the game's mechanics.
- Cuphead: Both Cuphead and Mugman have the ability to dash in midair, propelling themselves forward after a jump or fall. With the Smoke Bomb charm, they even gain temporary immunity while using it.
- Flea (2020): Henry gains the ability to dash in mid-air around the middle/end of the game.
- Gato Roboto: One of the mechsuit upgrades is a dash module, propelling it a few meters forward.
- Mega Man:
- Mega Man X: Starting with Mega Man X2, X's legs can get upgraded to allow him to use their propulsion system to dash in the air when he finds a specific capsule in a level. The propulsion that allows him to air dash also allows him to Double Jump, so in most games he can only use one of the two before landing. Zero can get a similar ability in some games.
- Mega Man ZX: Model H provides this thanks to its jet boosters and not only boosts left and right, it can also boost upwards which can serve as an effective triple jump when combined with the Double Jump.
- Mighty No. 9: The game's titular protagonist Beck as well as RAY possess the ability to dash midair multiple multiple as along as they are airborne, and they also can quickly descent to the ground with the Dive Dash maneuver but they won't have any control until they have landed. The Dive Dash maneuver, however, can be used offensively when up close to enemies while in a position to dish out damage. Call can also dash in midair too by using a Patch plugged into her back but she lacks the Dive Dash ability that Beck and RAY are capable of.
- Psychonauts 2: After helping Dion setup the "Aquatodome", Raz will remember a trick he was taught which allows him to perform a diagonal dive midair to either escape a sticky situation or squeeze more distance out of a jump.
- Rogue Legacy: One of the first runes the player has access too, the Sprint Rune, allows the player to dash short distances in the air as well as on the ground.
- Sonic the Hedgehog:
- If Sonic is equipped with the Fire Shield in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Sonic Generations and Sonic Mania, he can perform a forward air dash by pressing the jump button twice.
- In Sonic Advance 3, teaming up Sonic with Cream gives Sonic a move similar to the Homing Attack, which can be used without a target to simply dash forward.
- From Sonic Adventure onwards, Sonic can do a short air dash by performing the Homing Attack without locking on to anything. And in Sonic Unleashed and later games that use the boost formula, Sonic can perform the Air Boost, which covers a longer distance and obliterates any enemies that come in contact with him.
- Super Mario Bros.: In many of Mario's 3D outings, he can perform a dive maneuver in the air by double clicking the crouch command, effectively functioning as an air dash. This greatly improves his ability to reach far-off platforms and can synergize with the respective mechanics of each game, like how in Super Mario Odyssey the dive can be combined with Mario's hat toss to bounce up and gain more vertical ground.
- Vibrant Venture: This happens to be one of the two abilities exclusive to Azura. She achieves this through her water powers, using them to propel herself in midair, in addition to taking out enemies and clearing obstacles.
- The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction: Hulk can learn how to perform an air dash, and eventually upgrade it to go further and gain the ability to dash multiple times in a single jump.
- In Saints Row IV, the player can learn how to perform an air dash, and can upgrade it to be performed a maximum of three times.