A mechanic most prevalent in the Fighting Game genre. Charge inputs require the player to hold a movement stick in the opposite direction their character's facing, roughly around a second (though this can vary depending on the game) before quickly moving the stick forward with a button press to activate their special. They're generally a more complex command than the standard quarter-circle inputs (as the name implies, moving a controller stick in a quarter-circle motion), but reward the player with a higher-payoff ability.
How a charge input might tie into a character's overall playstyle.
- Encourages a patient and defensive playstyle.
- Creates an inherit risk-reward dynamic as holding back may limit your other capabilties.
- Offers a high payoff of some variety in exchange for the charge requirement (i.e. range, damage, good frame data, etc.).
Charge inputs are common for moves with lots of area coverage like long-reaching projectiles, anti-air attacks, or high-mobility Dash Attacks. The Trope Codifier, Guile from Street Fighter, exemplifies this with a with his far-reaching "Sonic Boom" projectile and the jumping "Flash Kick" that covers the space above him. Other payoffs to these moves include higher damage, priority, and locking opponents in place with high stun. Expect to see them from lots of zoners and neutral-orientednote fighters.
Another thing to note is that in most 2D fighting games, the block mechanic is tied to holding the movement stick backwards, which further reinforces the defensive nature of charge inputs by allowing the player to be in a constant state of reactive defense. This also applies to crouching, which both shrinks the player's hurtbox and blocks low attacks.
Charge inputs aren't very common outside of a 2D space due to the added complexity of moving a stick in more dimensions, though the overlying principle of patient play can still apply.
- Arcana Heart has Saki Tsuzura, who has four different charge moves. Besides the standard hold back or hold down, she also has moves that require charging up and charging forward to do. Thankfully, the charging time in Arcana Heart is a bit faster than other games, so it doesn't take too long to get the move you need.
- Played With in Fantasy Strike. Geiger, an Expy of Street Fighter's Guile, has a long-range projectile and anti-air that follow similar principles. Fantasy Strike however doesn't have classic fighting game inputs, instead tying specials to a single button press and directional input (i.e. forward plus special button), not unlike Super Smash Bros.. Geiger still evokes the charge input because his projectile is put on a cooldown every time he uses it, and the timer resets any time he moves forward, invoking the classic method of holding back to charge a move.
- Fatal Fury:
- Terry Bogard's "Rising Tackle" has him leap up from a handstand to perform a spinning kick. The input is quite similar to Street Fighter's Flash Kick, charging down and moving up with a kick input. The start of the move grants Terry invincibility in multiple titles.
- Terry's adoptive son Rock Howard, the protagonist of Garou: Mark of the Wolves, can also perform the Rising Tackle.
- Kim Kaphwan has the Hienzan, a down-up charge move that resembles Street Fighter's Flash Kick. He later gained a second down-up charge move, the Kuusajin, in the Real Bout games.
- Guilty Gear:
- May has charge inputs for many of her specials that utilize her pet dolphins. "Mr. Dolphin" can travel both horizontally and vertically, giving May the ability to close in from multiple angles. Combined with a variety of projectiles and a powerful Grapple Move, May can exert a lot of pressure from all over the stage.
- Leo Whitefang is an odd case. "Gravierte Wurde" and "Eisensturm" function like a standard charge projectile and anti-air respectively. In contrast to the typically defensive archetype associated with charge inputs, Leo's defensive moves can seamlessly transition into a very aggressive rushdown style that makes him a beast at close quarters.
- The King of Fighters:
- Ralf and Clark of the Ikari Warriors can both perform "Gatling Punch", using a back-forward charge. It's a Three-Strike Combo of punches that let's them push a horizontal offense. Ralf also has "Dive Bomber Punch", performed with a down-up input; he flies up in the air and comes crashing down with an explosive punch.note
- Heidern also uses charge-input specials in every game he's in except KOF 2001, where he's a motion-input character instead. His adoptive daughter, Leona, also uses charge-input specials and even shares one with Heidern (the Moon Slasher - performed with a down-up plus punch input.)
- Ash Crimson, who is basically KOF's equivalent to Guile (or Remy in particular, Guile's equivalent in 3rd Strike), the Trope Codifier of the charge-input special. Though he also has a command grab in his earlier appearances (done with half-circle forward plus punch up close) and he gains a special move in KOF XIII done with quarter-circle back plus any button that places a flame at any position in the screen depending on the button pressed.
- Some games (particularly KOF 2002UM and KOF XI) have an alternate version of Robert Garcia with charge-input special moves, meaning he's one of the rare Shotoclones that is also a charge character.
- A more recent example is Meitenkun, introduced in KOF XIV. He only has two charge specials - Sen-Siss Hou (done with a back to forward input whilst having a follow-up) and Geik Hou (down to up). Uniquely, the longer you hold down his charge input specials, the more damaging they become.
- In addition to the down-up charge moves from his home series, some games give Kim the Ryuusei Raku, which uses a back-forward charge input.
- Parasoul is one of two fighters in the game that uses charge inputs. Her projectile, "Napalm Shot", travels a long distance and will create an explosive trap wherever it lands. And her anti-air, "Napalm Pillar", is invincible and launches opponents, with the added function of detonating Napalm Shots. She also has a set of three other charge specials that utilize her soldiers, the Black Egrets. "Egret Call" which resets Parasoul to a neutral position, "Egret Dive" where a soldier jumps in front of her and blocks incoming attacks, and "Egret Charge" where a soldier on a motorcycle comes and slams the opponent into the wall to start a combo.
- Big Band is a Juggernaut style fighter who's Signature Attack, "Brass Knuckles", unleashes a devastating punch that powers through other attacks thanks to his super armor. He has another charge special called "Take the 'A' Train" which is a Grapple Move using the same windup animation as his punch, allowing for mix-ups. Both of this attacks can be used also as anti-air moves.
- The closest to a codifying franchise for this trope is Street Fighter, beginning all the way back with Street Fighter II.
- Guile, one of Street Fighter's premier Long-Range Fighters, is the Trope Codifier of charge inputs. In every appearance, his moveset has always featured his two Signature Attacks the Sonic Boom and Flash Kick. Sonic Boom travels incredibly far compared to other projectiles, but also allows Guile to move alongside it, granting him a greater degree of area control. Flash Kick is a powerful anti-air move that covers most of the space above Guile, being great for catching opponents who try to jump over him.
- Chun-Li like Guile has two recurring signature attacks, the "Kikoken"note and "Spinning-Bird Kick". Though the Kikoken input has ZigZagged across games, sometimes requiring a half-circle input instead. Spinning-Bird Kick is a powerful multi-hitting move that covers a wide horizontal reach. She can also perform a stronger variant that doesn't move her forward, but is invincible on startup, making it a great counter tool.
- The sumo wrestler E. Honda has two charge-input specials, "Sumo Headbutt" and "Sumo Smash". Sumo Headbutt sends him flying forward with a quick but powerful head-ram, and Sumo Smash has him fly up and come down with a powerful Ground Pound. Honda uses these moves to pressure his opponent from across the screen and trick them into blocking, allowing him to use his powerful Grapple Move the "Oicho Throw".
- All of Blanka's Rolling Attacks are performed with charge inputs. The payoff for the charge is an unparalleled range of fast, far-travelling melee attacks that can attack from almost any angle.
- Balrog has to charge to perform his devastating "Dash Punches". These can attack from almost the entire screen with the heavy variant and have a large hitbox thanks to Balrog's massive tree-trunk arms. His Buffalo Head also uses a charge input, save for the V variant that's instead a different command.
- Juni in the Street Fighter Alpha series is essentially Cammy but with two of her signature moves - Spiral Arrow and Cannon Spike - changed to charge inputs (back to forward while in the air and down-up, respectively). Unlike Cammy or Juli, Juni also has a command grab (Earth Direct) that is performed with a 360 motion.
- Oro, the "Enlightened Hermit", can perform Nichirin Shou, with a back-forward motion, and Oni Yanma, with a down-up motion. Both of these moves reward Oro with good space coverage and combo tools if timed correctly; Nichirin Shou lets him both keep out opponents and apply horizontal pressure via the EX version, and Oni Yanma is a solid anti-air and combo ender that pairs well his medium punch-launcher.
- Q, like Balrog, uses charge inputs for his dashing punches.
- Urien has several charge moves such as his Chariot Tackle, Dangerous Headbutt, and Violence Knee Drop. Most of his specials move him forward, and can do some huge combos if strung together. In combination with the Aegis Reflector, Urien can juggle his opponent into oblivion. Some Dexterity Required, as charge partitioning and resource management is key to make Urien effective in battle.
- Decapre from IV can use "Scramble" to do a short-range teleport forward or diagonally upwards, which can be followed up by either landing or slamming straight down, a sliding kick, or a dive kick, depending on the button pressed and which version of the move she did. Her "Psycho Sting" is a fast lunging uppercut, and she also has Cammy's "Spiral Arrow" as a charge input, except it's an air-only move. She's rather unusual for a charge character in that she's very rushdown and mix-up-focused, a very rare trait for charge characters in the series.
- Them's Fightin' Herds:
- Paprika's Cartwheel has three levels of a back-charge move where she either hits by rolling, whacks the enemy with a bouquet of flowers, or flops on top of the enemy with her back depending if a light, medium, or heavy attack is used. She also has a forward charge with Zippy Teleport where she "teleports" in front, behind, or on top of the other fighter.
- Pom's Bark! is activated by holding back and than pressing forward with a heavy attack. Pressing the other two causes her to dash toward the opponent.
- Under Night In-Birth's Vatista might be the ultimate example of this trope. She has the standard charge back and charge down specials, but she also has charge forward then back (Mico Ruseo) and charge up then down (Trans Volans) special moves. Of course, she also has normal command inputs this well. This results in one of the most complex characters in fighting games, needing a lot of practice to maximize her potential.
- Rivals of Aether: Hodan, a workshop-original character, is built around charge inputs with a strong projectile and anti-air. He deviates from standard 2D fighting conventions where characters are constantly facing each other, instead being able to perform his projectile trough a turnaround. And to allow him to work with the mechanics of Rivals, he technically only has those two specials as opposed to the regular four, with his side and downward inputs instead being used to aid his charge inputs.
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Terry Bogard from Fatal Fury appears as a Guest Fighter, bringing his Rising Tackle with him as his up-special move. While the move can be performed with a single directional input, Terry can utilize the same charge input as the original to grant added damage and invincibility.
- In Ninja Commando, all three playable characters have a powerful frontal attack that can be triggered by holding down on the joystick for a few seconds and then pressing forward