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Invulnerable Attack

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Everyone knows That One Boss is so hard (among many other reasons) because he's only vulnerable for five seconds out of every sixty. Won't he be pleasantly surprised when he realizes the Player Character has learned to do this too!

There are two kinds of Invulnerable Attack; the first happens in games that have a Charged Attack mechanic, and while it's charging the player is invulnerable to enemy attacks (though he might still suffer knockback). The second is when the charged attack executes, so while the overly long CGI plays out the player can take a nuke to the face without flinching. The charge part or attack part might make the performer lose their collision hitbox/hurtbox while they're covered in active hitboxes (i.e those that hit things).

The aversion is pretty common though, that being hit during the charge up or execution to the attack does cause damage and may even interrupt it altogether. Usually it's far, far more common for a charged attack to leave you motionless and vulnerable - this is usually an intentional counterbalance to charge up attacks being more powerful.

A savvy player can use this to "block" otherwise unblockable and unavoidable area attacks. Even if the boss is also immune to the charged attack during his own "unavoidable attack", the player can save a boatload of health. Similarly, part of beating most bosses involved players learning to dodge or avoid the parts of their attack pattern where they're invulnerable.

Contrast Mercy Invincibility. May result during a Meditation Powerup. See also Unblockable Attack.

Examples of invulnerable charge ups:

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  • Pokémon has a variety of moves ("Dig", "Fly", "Dive", and "Bounce") that provide one turn of invulnerability to most attacks before striking the opponent on the next turn. This is moderately useful in single player, but less so in competitive multiplayer where an opponent knows how to quickly counter or defend against the incoming strike.
  • Jumping in many Final Fantasy games makes the user invulnerable to all attacks for a while, then letting them deliver Death from Above (and deals more damage with a Spear) as they drop back in.

    Action Games 

  • In the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable games, activating their Full Drive mode will make the character invulnerable to everything while in their power-up animation and will also produce a handy knock back effect if their opponent is too close.
  • Tager in BlazBlue is immune to projectiles, as well as Carl and Relius' puppets, while charging his magnetism. He's still able to be hit by physical attacks, which will knock him out of it.
  • Yukiko from Persona 4: Arena has her Furious Action, Dia, which provides immunity to projectiles in a manner similar to Tager. However, instead of filling a gauge, it gradually restores her health.
  • In the various Marvel fighting games from Capcom, Colossus's Power Tackle and Captain America's Charging Star (if he has his shield) will allow them to crash into enemy projectiles and beams without harm, even super moves of these types can't hurt them while they're still rushing forward. Both moves can be countered with high priority physical attacks.
  • The Special Arts in Tekken Revolution have several frames of invincibility at the beginning, signified by their blur effect. They can be hit/thrown out of with good timing and a clash between two players using Special Arts will usually go to the one who used their attack second.

  • Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero? has this, except you're invincible while charging, and it's not an attack: it's a dash. (Though you can segue from the dash to an invincible slide.)
  • Sonic's spindash charge in the original games left him protected from enemy Collision Damage. He was still vulnerable to attacks, spikes, projectiles, etc., so not completely invincible.
  • Spyro's headbash attack doesn't exactly "charge up," but while he's doing the sort of warm up to it (a flip in midair) he's invincible.
  • Lightning Bolt from Mega Man & Bass ends up becoming one of the most useful weapons in the game, especially for Mega, entirely for its invincibility frames as opposed to the underwhelming damage it deals on most bosses. The attack animation is long and you're invulnerable for all of it, including the charge up. These invincibility frames help immensely with the final boss's fast and erratic bullet patterns, make King's first phase possible to beat by standing in the centre of the room and not moving at all if you have the energy saver and in the case of the King Jet fight as Mega it's almost required to beat the boss since if you use it in mid-air you will hover in place for the duration of the attack animation, allowing you to make otherwise impossible jumps caused by the King Jet destroying platforms while still being safe from other attacks.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • Command & Conquer: Generals: The Aurora Bomber isn't really invulnerable (what happens is that it flies so fast it outruns all projectiles), and is invulnerable only when ordered to attack (so no scouting either). It's especially vulnerable after attacking since it slows down to half speed, making it an extremely expensive suicide unit if used incorrectly.

Examples of invulnerable attacks:

    Action Games 
  • In No More Heroes, Travis is invulnerable while executing a charged attack. It's mostly useless throughout the game, because none of the charged attacks last very long, and they're a huge drain on your weapon's power...until you get the Infinity +1 Sword and its power upgrades. It comes with a charged combo and the upgrades give it infinite energy, making it game-breaking, especially in subsequent playthroughs.
  • Invulnerable attacks are a staple of Beat 'em Up games like Final Fight & Streets of Rage, where they're usually Cast From HP type moves, often used to bail yourself out of a tight situation.
  • God Hand has a glitch that makes the player invulnerable during a charged attack, and only during a charged attack.
    • If you pull off a contextual stun-move, Gene will be invincible while performing it. Except for Stomp.
  • In Ninja Gaiden for the Xbox, Ryu can avoid most attacks by charging up his Nin-po, helpful for avoiding otherwise fatal blows. This also applies to Ultimate Techniques, throws - though not the initiating or recovery frames, so be careful - and off-the-wall attacks. You will need every last invincibility frame you can milk.
  • In Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening and 4, Dante is invulnerable during a Royal Release. Only a Royal Release, mind, not a normal Release. Death or Glory Attack much?
  • Unlike God of War where the enemies practice Mook Chivalry when Kratos is in a grab animation, in Dante's Inferno the enemies will continue trying to attack. However, as long as Dante has already started the kill animation anything that is not a grab will just pass harmlessly through.
  • In the PS2 3D Beat 'em Up Urban Reign, each character has 3 invulnerable attacks, though they require some of your power gauge.
  • In Viewtiful Joe, you are completely invincible during a spin kick.
  • The title character of Batman: Arkham Asylum can learn a One-Hit KO move that can't be interrupted and is usable every time you get 5 hits without being interrupted. On hard mode, you'll probably defeat all enemies in large groups with either this or the Coup de Grâce. (Unfortunately, Giant Mooks can interrupt this attack even though normal ones can't, and it has an Overly Long Fighting Animation, so fights with both giant and normal enemies are the only legitimately difficult battles on hard mode.)

  • I-No's Megalomania attack does this to her when you fight her as the final boss of Guilty Gear X2.
    • Also the Burst attack which every character has. Some Overdrives also have a brief period of invulnerability as they start.
    • This is Anji's gimmick as well. Several of his attacks will automatically block incoming strikes, though only to the extent that a regular guard would.
  • Street Fighter:
    • Many Shoryuken-type attacks (including the Trope Namers make the user immune from damage while going up.
    • In later games, many super and ultra attacks also have invulnerability as they start.
  • The King of Fighters inverts this by having the startup frames of many supers be able to be snuffed by weak attacks such as jabs. Of course, once they get going for a while, the supers are death on wheels.
  • In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, characters are invincible while using their Final Smash. Interestingly, a couple of characters have another attack that provides a brief period of invincibility during execution, but these attacks aren't nearly so spectacular; in Captain Olimar's case, it's his whistle.
    • A few Final Smashes do leave the player open to taking damage during its duration, but prevent any knockback (such as Bowser's Giga transformation). Ike's normal Aether attack works this way too.
    • Marth is invincible during the first 5 frames of his Dolphin Slash special attack. The first hitbox comes out on frame 5, so the attack is uninterruptible.
    • Most of the non-Final Smash attacks don't render the character invincible; rather, it makes the attacker un''flinch''able, so that no matter how much damage they take, their attack won't be interrupted and the attacker won't be sent flying.
    • Notably, even though final smashes makes you invincible/unflinching, you can get damaged if the attack is countered. Only a handful of characters can counter: Ike, Marth, Roy, Lucina, Lucario, Greninja, Palutena, Little Mac and Shulk If they get hit while doing the brief "counter" pose, all damage they would take is negated and the attacker gets hurt instead, unlike a normal shield, where only damage is negated. Most Final Smashes such as Mario's fireballs or the Star Fox characters' Landmaster summon can't be countered, but direct melee attacks like Ike's Great Aether can. It's extremely humiliating to get your presumably invincible instant-kill technique slapped right back in your face.
    • Banjo & Kazooie's Wonderwing special has them do a Dash Attack that's leaves them completely invincible for the whole duration. However, it requires one golden feather to use, and you only have 5 of these per stock. It can be stopped by grabs.
  • BlazBlue's Bang Shishigami has this as a game feature. His drive allows him to do a special attack, and there's a nice, long second during each of these attacks that he's completely invulnerable to damage. If he gets hit during this, and the attack is successfully blocked, you can teleport behind the enemy and hit them there. Jin Kisaragi has something similar with a few of his attacks. Iron Tager has some as well, most clearly with his Magnatech Wheel Distortion Drive, and has been given more invincible attack frames as part of his Continuum Shift buffs. As a counter-example, Hakumen was considered low-tier not just from sloth but also from a shortage of these making him quite punishable.
  • In Bleach: Dark Souls, using a standard throw move grants you temporary invincibility until the opponent is thrown backwards. Also, a number of characters have a charging technique which grants them a momentary no-flinch status.
  • In M.U.G.E.N, this is known as "Infinite Priority", meaning that a character has an attack hitbox but no collision hitbox (aka hurtbox) when attacking, and is therefore immune to attacks. Obviously, this is one of the aspects that makes a character a Game-Breaker.
  • Leon from Brutal: Paws of Fury is invincible when using his guitar riff attack, which hits continuously for its duration. This makes him an excellent choice for fighting Dalai Llama, who is invincible during his smoke attack but can't block immediately as the attack ends.
  • Persona 4: Arena gives Shadow Labrys (and to a lesser extent, Labrys herself) a few actions that provide immunity upon being executed. However, all of them have a drawback if they don't connect, exposing you completely if you didn't set an attack with Asterius as Shadow Labrys beforehand.
  • In the Capcom vs. crossover games, Omega Red becomes immune to projectiles if he hits with his Energy Drain attack. This is actually a contrast to X-Men: Children of the Atom, where a projectile could interrupt him while he was performing an Energy Drain (though generally only Juggernaut could hit him due to his projectile attack traveling low enough that Omega Red's tentacle would go over it).

  • Castlevania has this a lot. Typically when an Item Crash is used like Hydro Storm.
    • In Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, unlockable character Joaquim would be invulnerable when using a powered move that created a massive beam, this was invaluable because he had a very limited move set and could not dodge or block a lot of enemy attacks.
  • Kirby often has these in his Copy Abilities, particularly the Stone ability and moves that involve grabbing and throwing an enemy. These attacks are often utilized against larger bosses, who are easy targets but are often difficult to hit without hurting Kirby as well.
  • The floating skull enemies in They Bleed Pixels are invulnerable when they charge at you.
  • In Kao The Kangaroo: Round 2, the second to last upgrade you get from collecting stars is an infinite rolling ability, which makes Kao invulnerable to almost everything the game can throw at him.
  • In Mega Man X games, quite a number of attacks make the player character invulnerable during their execution, the more notable examples being X and Zero's various Giga Attacks.

  • The "Boss starts charging, use the guard command" is used in a few fights in Persona 4, because 4 introduced the "guard" command.
    • Averted in Persona 3, the best way to avoid The Hermit's charge attack is to score a critical hit and knock him out of it.
  • In The World Ends with You, Shiki is invulnerable during her finisher.
  • Not an attack per se, but in Mabinogi, you can dodge delayed attacks like the generally fatal Fireball by taking advantage of invincibility frames in the throw paper plane action. Which has the effect of the character nonchalantly throwing the plane after being struck (but not affected) by the attack.
  • Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 has a notable example; characters who have a charge-type attack such as Vanguards and the multiplayer-only Turian Havoc can target an enemy and charge across the entire battlefield to deliver the attack. During their charge animation, they are invulnerable. By timing it correctly, the player can avoid a lot of powerful attacks, especially with the Havoc, whose charge is not instant but instead causes him to hop into the air briefly using his jetpack before he charges. The Havoc can tank even the most powerful bosses using this technique as well as his quick evasions.

    Racing Game 
  • Causing an opponent to crash in Burnout Paradise or Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit causes the camera to pan to the disintegrating vehicle. During this time, your own car will drive itself and will be invulnerable to damage. It will even clip right through police roadblocks and get through the sharpest hairpin at any speed.
  • The Autopilot item in early WipEout installments would take over control of your ship when activated, turning it into an AI drone for a few seconds. In this state, it would ignore wall collisions. You could literally head directly towards a crash barrier or plummet towards the ground, activate autopilot at the last moment and flawlessly pull out of the dive or clip right through the wall on your way back to the ideal line. Horribly averted in recent titles where you will actually crash in this situation; not only that, but the autopilot does not know how to activate the airbrakes around difficult corners, which makes you wish the semi-godmode was reinstated.

    Real Time Strategy 
  • Warcraft III has two invulnerability spells: Divine Shield and Big Bad Voodoo. The former turns the Paladin invulnerable (useful since the Paladin can heal other units but not himself), the latter turns every unit around the Shadow Hunter invulnerable but not the Shadow Hunter himself. It's much trickier to pull off, as the game's mechanics make the hero the only available target for every enemy present, and as it's a channelling spell, he can't move, attack or cast a healing spell without interrupting the voodoo.

    Shoot Em Up 
  • Most Shoot 'Em Up games will make the player invincible while they use a Smart Bomb. Taking advantage of this is generally an acceptable technique in some games. Especially the Touhou Project games, wherein it is more a basic survival method rather than a means of dealing damage.

    Survival Horror 
  • Silent Hill 4: The Room has Charged Attacks as a basic combat mechanic, with the charge time directly proportionate to the weight of the weapon being used. When you unleash the charged attack, you're completely invulnerable for the duration of the animation. The Pickaxe of Despair's Charged Attack, a 720º Spin Attack, is the longest-lasting one.
  • Resident Evil 5 makes you invulnerable during melee attacks, as well as during any action you perform via action button, since animations cannot be interrupted. This also makes situations when a giant flaming ax misses you because you conveniently ducked to pick up a coin perfectly normal.
    • Smashing time power-ups also makes you invulnerable for the length of the animation. Being grabbed from the front also makes you practically invincible.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • The Phoenix in Archon as well as the Firebird and Juggernaut in Archon II are essentially invulnerable while attacking. The downside is that their attacks are fairly short-ranged — both birds' attack consists of briefly exploding into a fireball that can only damage a nearby opponent, and the Juggernaut is basically a 'living missile' whose attack consists of trying to run its target over while the player holds down the button.