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EX Special Attack

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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 full-on super attack, 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:
    1. Most of the other EX special attacks in the game still fit the above point.
    2. 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 (those would be Super Special Moves). However, a character can have both EX and Super versions of certain special moves.

Some games also allow you to perform "EX Super Attacks", which are stronger Limit Breaks with a higher cost.

Common traits of EX Special Attacks include:

This is mainly 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.


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    Fighting Game 
  • Arc System Works:
    • Guilty Gear XX Accent Core has Force Breaks, which cost 25% of a character's Tension Gauge 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.
    • 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. Out of all the demonstrations from this series listed, his enhanced specials function the most to traditional EX special attacks, and he was the only character to have his Heat Gauge divided into fourths prior to Chronophantasma due to this mechanic.
      • Tsubaki has a separate "Install" bar that she can charge by herself and comes in stocks. Each stock can be used for performing better versions of her special moves (by pressing the D button instead of the usual input).
      • Celica has a new ability in Centra Fiction called "Recover Cap"; her Drive attacks, when they successfully hit, grant her a green bar that extend from her current health. She can use said green bar to either power up her special moves or turn it into HP.
    • 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.
    • 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 was able to take advantage of this mechanic, while most the remaining rosternote  was already capable of using these moves.
  • Battle CAPacity 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 two Xs in play, either spread across both players or all in possession of one player.
  • 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. In a twist, Sosuke Aizen doesn't have these. Instead he just charges his Kido attacks by holding the button down.
  • 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, short for Enhanced Special) or consume multiple meters for super moves (called EX moves, short for Extra Special).
  • 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, serving as more powerful variants of their regular special moves that 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. These use up half of the EXS bar and are more powerful than the usual specials. If performed during Veil Off, they'll use just 1/3 of the bar instead.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us has a Meter Burn button that enhances your attacks at the cost of one fourth of your Super Meter.
  • Hamon users in JoJo's 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 King of Fighters:
    • The King of Fighters XIII introduces EX Specials to the series. They cost 1 stock of Super Meter (as much as a regular Desperation Move) and are performed by pressing both punch or kick buttons during the input instead of just one. There are also EX Supers that cost 2 bars.
    • The King of Fighters 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 performed 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.
  • M.U.G.E.N: Kung Fu Man, the default character that comes with the game has five of these: Fast Kung Fu Palm, Fast Kung Fu Upper, Fast Kung Fu Blow, Fast Kung Fu Knee and Fast Kung Fu Zankou. All of them are faster, stronger versions of his respective special attacks, but require a third of a super bar to use.
  • Street Fighter: Starting with the home versions of Street Fighter: The Movie (yes, really), players can perform EX Special Attacks by pressing two attack buttons instead of one when performing most special attacks. They would be integrated into the main series starting with Street Fighter III: Second Impact, requiring that the player expend part of their Super Meter in order to do so.
    • In Street Fighter: The Movie, once the Super Gauge was at least half-full (signified by the gauge changing colors from yellow to blue), players could use enhanced specials, referred to in-game as Super Specials. Unlike EX Moves in other entries, Super Specials could be used indefinitely until the player used a Super Combo and would not drain meter upon use.
    • 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 stock up on 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 Specials only cost 1), but can cancel the recovery time on most attacks and can itself be canceled by dashing immediately (Focus Attack Dash Cancel or FADC for short). It's the key to longer combos.
    • Additionally, IV reformatted the Super Combo 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.
    • Street Fighter 6: Overdrives, this game's equivalent to EX Specials, are just one of the several mechanics tied to the Drive Gauge, costing two of the gauge's six segments per use. The Super Meter is a separate resource, so players no longer have to worry about sacrificing one for the other.
  • 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.

    Non-Fighting Games 
  • 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.
  • Darkest Dungeon 2:
    • The Occultist's basic skills gain additional effects if he has 2 Unchecked Power tokens to spend, typically stunning the enemy in addition to their regular effect. These compete with his Limit Breaks, which also cost 2 Unchecked Power tokens, but can't be used at all without them.
    • Knights and Arbalists in the Tangle gain access to Area of Effect versions of their regular attacks if granted an "Order" token by a Drummer.
  • Devil May Cry:
    • Devil May Cry 4:
      • The weapon Pandora has a special Disaster Gauge that is filled up by using normal attacks, and can be spent by using Gunslinger Style attacks.
      • Nero's Exceed mechanic requires you to charge up your sword, and then expend the charges to perform a greatly enhanced version of your next move. It's even in the mechanic's naming theme; most powered-up moves are prefixed with the letters "EX".
    • In Devil May Cry 5 not only does Exceed return, but V can expend some of his Devil Trigger meter to power up Griffon or Shadow's next attack.
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia: This game has an interesting case. It is a turn-based spinoff of the fighting games Dissidia Final Fantasy and Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, and like the former two games every character has something that is outright called an EX ability that the ones in Opera Omnia are a reference to. However, in the other Dissidia games, while they are fighting games, EX abilities are what start off EX Mode, which means they do not qualify for this trope despite sharing the name. Opera Omnia's version fits the trope definition better, and there is even a more powerful Burst Mode that the characters get.
  • 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.
  • In Indivisible, Leilani can spend half a bar from the party's shared super meter on her neutral and up attacks, making them do a lot more damage than they normally would.
  • In Toka's 1998 PlayStation fantasy Beat 'em Up Legend, your three warriors have their basic combo from spamming the attack button. They also have three special combos that use your constantly recharging combo gauge and require you to enter a specific sequence of attacks and kicks. Your character will perform 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 5☆ 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.
  • 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.

    Non-Video Games