Occupying a space between a Special Attack and Limit Break, EX Special Attacks are boosted versions of a character's regular special attacks that require expending a part of a meter to activate. The cost usually comes from the same meter used for Limit Breaks, but some games have a separate meter. They tend to be less flashy and damaging than a a full Super, but easier to hit with or combo into. The two main ways of performing EX Special Attacks are pressing two attack buttons instead of one, or holding down a dedicated button while performing the input.
To qualify, an attack must:
- Be a more powerful version of another attack the character can use. There can be some exceptions, but only if both of the following conditions are met:
- Most of the other EX Special attacks in the game still fit the above point
- The attack is performed in a similar way and has a similar cost to the other EX Specials
- Have some additional resource cost compared to the regular version
- Not be the most costly and powerful attack the character has. If a game has Supers as a regular feature for all characters, they don't count, even if they resemble a bigger and flashier version of the character's special attacks. However, a character can have both EX and Super versions of certain special moves
Some games also allow you to perform EX Supers, which are stronger Limit Breaks with a higher cost.
Common traits of EX Special Attacks include:
- Dealing more damage
- Being faster
- Having a longer range
- Allowing the player to ignore or avoid enemy attacks
- Being harder to block
- For projectiles, being able to go through the enemy's regular projectiles
- Calling Your Attacks (if the regular version didn't already feature this)
- Some visual effect to warn your opponents, such as your character flashing
This is mostly a Fighting Game trope, but some other genres occasionally feature this. Subtrope of Tim Taylor Technology, since you're putting more power into the attack to improve its power. See also Charged Attack for examples where time is the cost for enhancing an attack, and Evolving Attack for longer-lasting power boosts.
Fighting game examples
- Battle CAP Acity has X-Attacks that change your special moves and can only be used if you have an X. Both players start with one X, and they are only consumed if the X-Attack hits or is blocked. Getting hit or blocking an X-Attack also grants you one X, so there are always exactly 2 X's in play, either spread across both players or all in possession of one player.
- Some characters' Drives in BlazBlue qualify as this:
- Jin Kisaragi's Drive lets him spend 25% of his Heat Gauge while executing special attacks to freeze his opponent.
- Tsubaki has a separate "Install" bar that she can charge by herself and comes in stocks. Each stock can be used for performing better (by pressing D button) versions of her special moves.
- Celica has a "recovery gauge" that she gains when her Drive attacks successfully hit, represented by green-colored extension from her current health. She can either use said green bar for powering up her special moves, or turn it into HP.
- BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle allows the player to burn 1 stock of meter to perform an EX special. This was the first time the majority of the BlazBlue cast were able to take advantage of this mechanic, since the majority of the cast (Jin, plus the casts of Persona 4 Arena and Under Night In-Birth) were capable of using them before.
- Darkstalkers is both the Trope Maker and Trope Namer. The game was the first to introduce multi-level super meters which could be used to power up special attacks (known as ES moves), or consume multiple meters for super moves (called EX moves).
- Guilty Gear XX Accent Core has Force Breaks, which cost 25% of a character's Tension and are performed by pressing Dust after the directional input. Most of them are improved versions of special attacks, but some are completely new techniques.
- Injustice: Gods Among Us has a Meter Burn button that enhances your attacks at the cost of one fourth of your Super Meter.
- The King of Fighters
- KoF XIII introduces EX Specials to the series. They cost 1 stock of Super Meter (as much as a regular Desperation Move) and are done by pressing both punch or kick buttons during the input instead of just one. There are also EX Supers that cost 2 bars.
- KoF XIV has MAX Mode. It costs 1 stock of Super Meter and starts a timed gauge, during which EX Special Moves can be executed in a similar manner to KoF XIII, at a cost of a portion of the MAX Mode gauge. Super Moves executed during MAX Mode also become enhanced into MAX Super SP Moves without having to press both buttons, but at the cost of the rest of the MAX Gauge and 1 stock of Super Meter. Climax Super Moves executed during MAX Mode only cost 2 stocks of Super Meter.
- Mortal Kombat:
- Enhanced special moves in Mortal Kombat 9 and Mortal Kombat X are done by pressing the guard button while doing a special attack, and cost one third of your super meter.
- Mortal Kombat 11 changes things so enhanced special moves use your Offensive meter, which automatically regenerates over time and is separate from Defensive Meter (so you don't have to sacrifice your defensive maneuvers to use them). Fatal Blows (this game's version of X-Ray Attacks) are also tied to your Health Bar instead of any meter, so you can use them without worrying about being unable to Amplify. Some Kustom Variation abilities also require some meter to use.
- Skill Boost in Persona 4: Arena allows you to power up your special attacks by pressing two buttons instead of one when doing special attacks, at the cost of 25 SP. Persona 4: Arena Ultimax also lets you boost SP Skills.
- Street Fighter: Starting with Street Fighter III, players can expend part of their Super Meter to perform EX special attacks by pressing two attack buttons instead of one when performing special attacks.
- In Street Fighter III, EX Specials cost half of your Super Meter. Each character has a choice of three different Super Arts that have differently-sized meters and limits to how many full bars you can save up. Choosing a Super Art that lets you save up multiple shorter bars of meter means you can use more EX Specials than one with just one long bar.
- Street Fighter IV has an EX Focus Attack that costs 2 bars of meter (most EX attacks only cost 1), but can cancel the recovery time on most attacks and can itself be canceled by dashing immediately. It's the key to longer combos. Also, IV reformatted the Super Gauge into smaller bars, which made it easier to keep track of how much meter is needed to perform EX Specials. IV had four segments, while Street Fighter X Tekken and Street Fighter V reduced them to three.
- Them's Fightin' Herds has a Magic meter separate from the Super meter, which can be used by some characters to improve their special moves. Each character has a different method of filling their Magic.
- Arizona gains Magic when she successfully grabs her opponent in her lasso, and can spend it to use more powerful versions of her special attacks.
- Oleander gains magic whenever she reads her book, and can spend it to shoot a more powerful Fel Spark, deal damage with her Teleport, or lay down traps.
- Umineko: Golden Fantasia has SP Moves, which cost one bar of your SP Gauge. They are flashier than most examples of this trope, featuring a brief time freeze and cut-in of your character. Most SP Moves are bigger and stronger versions of your special attacks, but some characters have SP-only attacks such as Virgilia's Forbidden Tower and Rosa's Golden Dream.
- French Bread is a regular user of this trope:
- The Queen Of Heart has EX specials in all three games that consumes one level of the Super Bar; They're basically more powerful variants of regular special moves.
- Melty Blood has EX Special Moves for all characters, they're more powerful variants of their regular special moves, and they cost 100% of the Magic Circuit.
- In Under Night In-Birth, EX versions of special moves are executed by using the same command and then pressing the C attack button. They'll use up half of the EXS bar and be more powerful than the usual specials. If performed during Veil Off, they'll use just 1/3 of the bar instead.
- Hamon users in Jojos Bizarre Adventure All Star Battle all have the ability to use Hamon-infused versions of their special attacks. These attacks inflict extra damage that vampires and Pillar Men can't regenerate due to their vulnerability to the Hamon.
- The Bleach DS games have Reinforced or "RF" Attacks, done by either pressing Heavy Attack or using the shortcuts on the touch screen, which players cannot Flash Step out of like they can with normal special attacks. They use the same gauge as the Flash Step mechanic, but take twice as long to refill despite both consuming one bar.
Non-fighting game examples
- EX Abilities in Battlerite cost 25 or 50 Energy and share a cooldown with the regular version of the ability. They often have significantly different effects.
- Cuphead's EX Specials cost one card from your Super Meter, but cannot be done when the meter is full, as pressing the button then will instead activate your Super Art. The attack depends on your current weapon and usually consists of a bigger and more damaging version of your current shot type.
- Devil May Cry 4:
- The weapon Pandora has a special gauge that is filled by using normal attacks with it, and expended by using Gunslinger style specific attacks with it.
- Nero's Exceed (it's in the name) mechanic requires you to charge up your sword, and then expend the charges to perform greatly enhanced version of your next move.
- In Devil May Cry 5 not only does Exceed return, V can expend some of his Devil Trigger meter to power up Griffon or Shadow's next attack.
- Honkai Impact 3rd:
- Luna Kindred (one of Theresa's "Valkyrie Suits") has a special attack where she turns her mechanical cross into a poleaxe and smashes enemies with it. It comes with a special stocks-gauge that is filled with her normal attacks (and evading at the right time) and expended by using the axe move; it can be performed with the gauge depleted but she'll swing the axe slower and deal less damage.
- Night Squire (one of Fu Hua's "Valkyrie Suits") have "special combos" that are done by using different button combinations in her combos instead of just one. The third strike of each special combo will consume one stock of the special gauge (which is replenished with the third strike of her "normal combos") to become stronger; they can be done with the gauge depleted, but they won't give extra effects.
- Warriors Orochi features Type Actions, which are various techniques based on the class of an officer. Technique characters can use an Enhanced Strike, which functions as an altered version of a charge attack, and will drain part of the Musou Gauge.
- The Tales Series has its own variations of this, known as Altered Artes.
- Tales of the Abyss has altered artes known as "Field of Fonons Change". "Field Of Fonons" are areas with elemental residue from previous moves that if you use the correct arte in, changes it to a stronger elemental variant. Notably, they're a level higher than even Arcane artes and can be chained from everything except for Mystic Artes, including themselves. While the game doesn't explain this, they can also be chained into a Mystic Arte, since they're a higher level than Arcane Artes. certain bosses are able to use these moves without FoFs, leaving them as just Altered Artes.
- Subverted with Tales of Vesperia where they appear to work similarly to Abyss, just with elemental skills equipped rather than fields, you can eventually learn to use them without the extra requirements, making them become a regular Special Attack rather than this. Played Straight with Burst Artes, however.
- In Tales Of The Rays they're known as Master Artes. If you have a Five Star weapon equipped (which are shown as character arte rather than a weapon) that slot is occupied by two artes: a base arte and a Master Arte. If you perform the move on its own you get the Base Arte, but if you chain enough moves together before performing it, you get the Master Arte instead, a powered up version of the move that costs much more Chain Capacity to use (often enough to drain your meter completely) but is much more powerful, fills your Mirrage Gauge more, and renders you *completely invincible* for the duration of the move.
- In Indivisible Leilani can spend half a bar from the partys shared super meter on her neutral and up attacks, making them do a lot more damage than they normally would.
- In Paladins, each hit of Vora's primary fire gives her one Stack of Darkness. When she uses her Obliteration or Dark Siphon abilities with five Stacks, the attack gains extra properties (Vora is also healed for each Stack that was consumed, regardless of if she had enough to activate the extra effect):
- Obliteration knocks enemies back and does extra damage.
- Dark Siphon cripples enemies hit, preventing them from using movement abilities.
- In Toka's 1998 Playsation fantasy beat'em up Legend, your three warriors have their basic combo from spamming the attack button. They also have 3 special combos that use your constantly recharging combo gauge and require you to enter a specific sequence of attacks and kicks. Your character will do a powerful combo that hits harder than usual, makes you temporarily invulnerable and often involves fancy acrobatics or new moves (though big guy Karo's Combo 1 is completely identical to his basic combo but slightly slows the timing of each punch). The characters also have a Super Combo that uses all the combo gauge but has a much longer attack sequence than your other special combos.
Non-video game examples
- In Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, psionic classes don't have any per-encounter powers, instead having a Mana Meter which they can spend to "augment" their at-will powers. This augmentation mechanic is adapted from the previous edition, where psionic characters were distinguished by using power points in place of spell slots.
- Pathfinder: In the 3rd-party supplement Path of War (a Spiritual Successor to D&D 3.5's Tome of Battle), certain maneuvers from the Supernatural Martial Arts discipline "Elemental Flux" can be augmented by spending animus (a pool of elemental themed Regenerating Mana). Likewise, anyone who studies the Sleeping Goddess discipline is considered psionic, and can augment some of its maneuvers by expending power points or their psionic focus.
- BattleCON is meant to be a 2D Fighting Game in board game form, and thus includes this in the form of Force Antes, small boosts to your power, speed, or stun resistance you can apply to your attacks for 2 points of your Force Gauge each.
- Both played straight and Inverted Trope in GURPS with the Extra Effort rules: Regular attacks can be buffed by spending Fatigue Points, but so can regular defenses (which would be an EX Special Defense).