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In most Fighting Games, each attack you do has a "lag time" or "recovery": The amount of time after your attack connects before its animation finishes and/or you can begin executing another one. This limits the rate at which a player's character can throw out attacks in-game (compared to how fast the player can physically mash their attack button).

However, in many fighting games, a skilled player can interrupt or reset this recovery time by performing certain other actions (such as a blocking or dodge maneuver), possibly enabling them to launch their next attack(s) sooner than normal. These recovery-shortening actions are known as canceling.

For example, let's say that Mighty Glacier Bob has a special attack called Punch Rush, and that after it connects he is in recovery for three secondsnote  before he can do another Punch Rush. On the other hand, Bob can duck immediately after performing a Punch Rush, an action that takes only one second to perform, and it resets his recovery time. So, if Bob executes a Punch Rush and then Ducks, he is able to cheat the system a little and launch another Punch Rush after just one second of his first. And when fans discuss the whole maneuver amongst each other, they'll no doubt refer to it as his "Punch Rush Cancel".

This trope is almost completely ubiquitous in Fighting Games these days, though it is by no means exclusive to them. For example, shooter games allow you to interrupt the reloading animation without stopping the reload itself.

It might also be worth noting that, when used in a platforming or action title, "dash canceling" or "jump canceling" combos can be used to make your character move absurdly quickly; though it may require frame-perfect timing, meaning that this can only be performed with any consistency in a Tool-Assisted Speedrun.

Compare Knockback Evasion for Knockback cancelling and Perfect Reload Command, and Attack Speed Buff for in-game mechanics intended to achieve a similar overall effect.


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    Fighting Games 
  • Arcana Heart allows you to pull homing canceling, which causes the attacker to do a dash that homes in on the opponent after connecting with their attack.
  • A staple in many fighters developed by Arc System Works.
    • Guilty Gear:
      • The series' unique version of trope is called a Roman Cancel, introduced in X. Roman Cancels can be used to cancel almost any attack in the game, which has many tactical benefits. They're very costly (half of a full Tension Gauge) and only work when an attack hits, but in the XX games each character has at least one move that can be cancelled at a very specific point with only 25% Tension bar and regardless of whether or not it hits; this special technique is called a "Force" (sometimes localized as False) Roman Cancel. Later entries like Xrd and -STRIVE- altered these mechanics slightly; in addition to a new version of Force Roman Cancel, attacks can now be Roman Cancelled if they miss, and successful use temporarily slows down the rest of the game (with the exact duration of slowdown dependent on the Roman Cancel's color).
      • The first game had Charge Cancelling. Most of the cast (with the exception of Axl, Testament, and Justice) have one special move that can be charged by inputting the move with the Respect button instead of the usual button input. The charging animation can be canceled into like any other special move, can be dropped at any point by releasing the Respect button, and has no endlag, allowing it to be used as a sort of proto-Roman Cancel.
      • In a character-specific example, Jam's card abilities allow her to cancel certain attacks into an enhanced version of an attack that she created a card for earlier in the match.
    • BlazBlue, Guilty Gear's Spiritual Successor, has Rapid Cancel, which is effectively the same mechanic as Roman Cancel but without the ability to Force Roman Cancel. Additionally, Hakumen's specials can be freely canceled into one another, but only as long as his Magatama gauge holds out.
    • Fist of the North Star: Twin Blue Stars of Judgment has the Boost mechanic, which combines this trope with Video Game Dashing; the character activating it is quickly propelled forward, even from a stationary position, and the dash can be used to cancel attacks on hit. This dash, in turn, can be canceled with any other move. The only caveat is that players have to wait a few seconds after depleting one Boost stock before they can use another, but the ability to cancel or link moves that normally can't be canceled (throws included) is invaluable.
    • Persona 4: Arena has the One More! Cancel, which is effectively a Persona-themed version of the Rapid Cancel.
    • DNF Duel has Conversion, which, at the cost of your health (a mechanic similar to Baroque from Tatsunoko vs. Capcom), allows you to cancel your moves to extend your combo, as well as refill some of your meter if you have any White Damage.
  • Capcom vs.:
    • Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has several noteworthy cancels, including:
      • X-Factor, which will cancel anything that's not a straight cutscene. The catch is that it can only be used once per match (and becomes more potent and longer-lasting in proportion to the number of downed teammates you have).
      • Morrigan can use Flight to cancel a Soul Fist (L or M) and then cancel Flight with Soul Fist H, giving her some zoning possibilities. Adding Astral Vision and/or X-Factor (and Doctor Doom's Hidden Missiles Assist) into the mix, on the other hand, can turn the game into a Bullet Hell.
      • C. Viper can cancel three of her four (five in Ultimate) special moves just by pressing the Launcher Move button. The advantages of this vary depending on the move.
      • Dante's Bold Move is the only move that can be cancelled out of his Stinger command normal; Bold Move can also be cancelled into any special move if you're quick enough. Thus, many advanced Dante combos involve Bold Move cancelling out of Stinger and into other special moves. This can prove to be quite Difficult, but Awesome.
      • Iron Fist can cancel his special moves into other special moves. Using this, he can chain up to three special moves together, having more options on the third move. The only catch is that he can't chain a special move into itself.
    • Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has Heroes and Heralds mode, which introduces some ability cards that allow players to cancel moves in ways not available in the normal game (dash cancel, jump cancel, special cancel, and so on), usually at the cost of Hyper Combo meter.
    • The earlier Tatsunoko vs. Capcom had a similar mechanic to MvC3's X-Factor called Baroque. By sacrificing all of your current red health, you can cancel any move short of a Hyper Combo, which is useful for extending combos and forming combos with normally laggy moves. It also gives you a damage boost proportional to how much red health you had before activating it. Unlike X-Factor, Baroque can be used as many times as you want as long as you have some red health.
    • Marvel vs. Capcom 2, (Ultimate) Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and Tatsunoko vs. Capcom all feature Delayed Hyper Combos, where you can cancel a Hyper Combo by inputting the command for a partner's Hyper Combo during the first one.
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy:
  • As Spiritual Successors to the below-mentioned Street Fighter EX series made by the same developer, both Fighting Layer and Fighting EX Layer retain the core gameplay mechanic of being able to Super Cancel one Super Combo into another Super Combo.
  • Dashing cancels the recovery period of some attacks in Fight of Animals. Light attacks can also be chained into Heavy attacks.
  • The Gundam Vs Series gained more of these as it went on and became more technically complex. In Gundam vs. Gundam, the Freedom had it as a unique special move (SEED Mode), which made it a Game-Breaker. Gundam vs. Gundam Next made this part of the game engine under the name Next Dash, executed by double-tapping the Jump/Boost button. Gundam Extreme Vs. added in Extreme Action, performed with side-step (double-tapping in any direction). Boost Cancelling is typically used to string together ranged attacks while Extreme Action is used to string together melee combos. Additionally, there's Brake Cancelling, which is used with units whose "Boost" involves running and is done to cancel the lag caused by the "skid to a halt" animation at the end of a run.
  • Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations added in a new cancel called the Chakra Dash cancel, which is done by pressing the triangle button which activates a character's chakra and pressing "X", which is normally the jump button. This will allow any character to cancel a combo into another combo seamlessly, and is a good way to do a massive amount of damage in a short period of time, but takes out a bit of chakra to do, and can't be done anymore until you charge your chakra back up.
  • Equipping Kinetic Advance in Rising Thunder, instead of Kinetic Deflect, lets you cancel out of most attacks by dashing or jumping. There's a Kinetic meter that's used just for these two abilities, which drain half of it with each use.
  • Skullgirls has two invoked examples.
    • Parasoul has the special move "Egret Call", which interrupts the animation of whatever she is doing and causes it to end quicker. This allows her to fake opponents out by cancelling unsafe moves into the Egret Call and trip the opponent up while trying to "punish" the move as well as make moves safe that might not be otherwise. Egret Call can affect almost all of Parasoul's grounded attacks, including her most powerful Limit Break.
    • Squigly can do this via her Stance System. Cancelling a normal into a stance move and then quickly hitting another button causes Squigly to immediately come out of her stance and into a position where she can continue her combo or blockstring. She also has special shortcuts made specifically to facilitate this kind of canceling.
    • Skullgirls is also unique in the fact that the kind of canceling seen in most other fighting games can be done even if the move to be canceled completely misses. (In other fighting games, one's attack normally must hit or be blocked by an opponent before it can be canceled.)
  • Street Fighter:
    • Street Fighter II is the Trope Maker. Specifically, the original cancels were a glitch that the developers decided to leave in as an Easter Egg. After word spread about these, and how they could be used, the very idea of the Combo was born. The standard fighting game cancels were born here, namely Special Cancels (cancelling a move with a special move) and Super Cancels (cancelling a move into a super move).
    • Street Fighter III allowed you to cancel certain attacks with a super jump which allowed you to extend some combos. These carried over to characters with super jumps in Street Fighter IV.
    • Street Fighter IV:
      • The game universally allows you to cancel certain special moves with a Focus Attack at the cost of some Super Meter, and then cancel that attack with a forward or backward dash. "Focus Attack Dash Canceling" (or FADC for short) became a very important part of the game's early metagame since it allowed certain characters to combo reliably into their Ultra Combos.
      • C. Viper in particular can cancel/feint her Thunder Knuckle and Seismic Hammer specials by pressing any two punch buttons. Some of her more damaging combos use these heavily.
      • Ibuki can jump and super jump cancel many attacks which can cancel the recovery of said attacks, she can then further cancel the pre-jump frames into a special attack, focus attack, or Ultra Combo which is the best way to use her Ultras as she doesn't benefit from the Focus Attack mechanic as much as the rest of the cast.
    • Street Fighter V keeps up the legacy. While it's not as cancel-heavy as its predecessor, it still has V-Trigger Cancelling, which works similarly to the Marvel vs. Capcom example below. For some characters, activating V-Trigger to cancel an attack and build a bigger combo is arguably more useful than the effects of the V-Trigger itself!
    • Street Fighter EX has two examples.
      • The first is the ability to perform a Super Combo and then, provided the player has enough meter, Super Cancel it into another Super Combo, something no other Street Fighter entry has allowed by default. note  In the rare event a character is given infinite meter or the ability to hold more than three bars of super meter, they can even Super Cancel into a Meteor Combo to lethal effect. This, along with the somewhat faster-than-usual rate of meter gain in the EX series, is why high-level play can feature rather drawn-out combos, particularly in the second entry.
      • The second, introduced in EX2, is the Cancel Break: the ability to sacrifice a bar of the Super Combo Gauge during a special move or Super Combo in order to cancel into a Guard Break. By default a Guard Break will either dizzy the opposing player (if they're standing/crouching) or cause a juggle (if they're airborne), allowing for a variety of extensions if it connects mid-combo. As with several of the mechanics introduced in EX, this likely served as a precursor to the Focus Attacks of IV.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • Because they were designed to facilitate 4-player free-for-alls, the Smash games replace the traditional Fighting Game block mechanic with an omnidirectional "bubble shield" which shrinks when held or when it takes damage from an attack. Although a full shield will block any attack (whether high or low) from any direction, a player's options are very limited while shielding: they can only grab, roll, spot-dodge, or jump. To do anything else, normally the player must release their shield, which triggers a short animation before they can move or attack (the actual length of the animation varies between games). However, jumping turns out to have many uses: not only does it allow the player to launch an immediate aerial out of shield (often being a faster option than jabbing after a shield release), but it was quickly discovered that the initial "jumpsquat" animation (the brief startup to a jump before the character leaves the ground) could be cancelled into an up-smash attack or up-special note . This was referred to as "jump-canceling", and it provided many characters with a powerful punish option after shielding an attack, such as Fox's up-smash. Eventually, Ultimate would streamline the process by allowing characters to up-smash and up-special directly out of shield without needing to jump-cancel them first.
    • 64 and Melee have smooth landing (nicknamed Z-Canceling and L-canceling respectively), where most air moves can have their landed lag halved by shielding at the right time. This can make aerials much safer against block (and much more effective as combo tools) than they would otherwise be.
    • Another variation of this is the auto-cancel, where an aerial attack's landing lag animation is canceled into a much shorter animation by landing within a certain frame-window (usually during the attack's endlag, but also sometimes in the attack's startup). Failure to do so causes the attacker to suffer the entire landing lag animation, increasing vulnerability. Auto-canceling is present in every smash title, but is comparatively strengthened by the removal of L-canceling from Brawl onward.
    • Landing out of a jump can shorten the ending lag of several specials. The most (in)famous example of this is Falco's laser in Melee, whose aerial version is superior than its grounded version in virtually every way (to the point where a player would only fire a grounded laser by accident): not only does it have a significantly faster startup and higher rate of fire than its grounded version, but it allows Falco to maintain control of his movement in the air, including triggering a fastfall. This combines with his high fallspeed to allow him to autocancel out of his aerial laser and be actionable far more quickly than his grounded laser would allow.
    • Melee features a unique movement technique called "wavedashing" which combines the game's directional airdodge mechanic with the ground's low friction value: by airdodging forward/backward and slightly down, they can slide along the ground for a certain distance (which is different for each character; Luigi has the longest wavedash and Peach has the shortest). This allows for more precise movement which is less laggy than rolling and typically faster and more versatile than running (which prevents characters from using most of their normal attacks).
    • Certain characters like Ness, Yoshi, Mewtwo and Peach have access to "double-jump cancels" (or "DJC"), which allow them to cancel the initial ascent of their double-jump with an aerial attack and immediately fall back to the ground. This can dramatically reduce the lag between attacks, especially combined with the aforementioned L-cancels. This was mostly removed after Melee, although some characters have retained some semblance of a DJC: in Ultimate, Peach can abuse her float in a similar fashion to halt her ascent and instantly fall, Ness has unique double-jump cancel mechanics with his PSI Magnet, and Lucas can cancel his upward momentum and fall back to the ground by pressing Jump+Grab in midair on the same frame.
    • Certain attacks and animations can be cancelled out of with a jump. The most famous of these are Fox and Falco's down-special "Reflectors" in Melee (which players often refer to as a "Shine"). Not only do both of these attacks have a total lack of startup frames (both hit on frame-1), but players can also cancel their endlag by simply jumping out of them. This can be combined with the wavedash mechanic to form a potentially-infinite technique called "Waveshining", although the maximum potential of this technique is considered beyond the limits of human execution.
    • Some characters in Brawl can cancel their fast-moving dash attacks with up-smashes, letting them keep their momentum far longer. Snake is known for this in particular, since he has a particularly fast dash attack and low friction. He can cross stages almost immediately.
    • In 3DS/Wii U some specific character examples include Greninja who could, before the patch, cancel out of its up-smash into anything and cancel any aerial into its side-special, and Shulk, who can cancel the landing lag for his aerials by activating a Monado Art, though this is trickier as the stance has to be inputted before he does the attack and he has to land before the stance activates.
    • Ryu takes it further by bringing some mechanics from Street Fighter with him. If they hit, the "weak" variations of his tilts can be cancelled into his "strong" tilts, and in the case of down tilts he can cancel those into special moves; something pretty bread and butter in traditional fighting games, but unique to him in Smash. Additionally, his Focus Attack from Street Fighter IV can be cancelled into a dash, either while charging the move or after striking, just like the Focus Attack Dash Cancel technique in that game.
    • The Brawl mod Project M and fan game Super Smash Flash 2 have a special Turbo Mode in which any attack that connects can be cancelled into any other attack, which can lead to extremely long combos. PM also restores many of the lag cancel techniques that were removed by Brawl, as well as expanding on those that Brawl introduced.
  • Back dash cancelling (also called "Korean Back Dashing") is an important skill in high-level Tekken. It involves cancelling a back dash with a crouch, both allowing the player to block, while also keeping them close enough to punish any whiffed attacks from their opponent.
  • The bootleg Beat 'em Up Titenic allows canceling any of the player character's animations... including death.
  • In Touhou Hisouten ~ Scarlet Weather Rhapsody, canceling is an integral part of gameplay, as it can allow players to rack up mean combos. And the rules are fairly simple: you can cancel into more powerful attacks. So a B-button attack can be canceled at any time into a C-button attack, which can be canceled into a Spell Card.
  • In Tough Love Arena, you can perform a Rapid by pressing Forward and Throw when most attacks connect. This cancels the move's recovery at the cost of a bar of LOVE, allowing you to extend combos, secure hit confirms, and make moves safe in situations you otherwise couldn't.
  • Some fighting games take this one step further with a jump cancel cancel. You do a move, cancel it into a jump, then cancel the jump into another move before you leave the ground. It's easier than it sounds, you do the directional input for the attack, then input "up", then press the attack button before the game forgets the input. For example, to JCC an attack into a move with a quarter circle forward motion,note  you simply extend it so that you end with a diagonal up-forward input before you input the attack button for the second attack.

  • Asura's Wrath has jump canceling to follow up with a launcher attack to do an air combo and a homing cancel that's used to home in onto locked on opponents after an air combo knocks them out of the sky, allowing for more follow-ups and higher scores.
  • Bangai-O Spirits has EX canceling, performed by hitting a regular attack button while charging an EX attack. Different from most examples here in that it prevents an attack instead of interrupting it, but it's useful if you start up an EX attack but change your mind before you fire it.
  • BioShock allows you to cancel the cycle time of your slow-but-powerful crossbow by switching to your plasmid and then back to the crossbow, allowing you to effectively machinegun your bolts until a reload is necessary, oftentimes killing a Big Daddy before it can even properly react and attack you. Defied in an annoying manner with all other weapons, however — cancel e.g. a machine gun's or chemical thrower's lengthy reload animation a fraction of a second before it completes, and you have to start the whole process over.
  • Melee attacks in Borderlands, for both slow firing weapons (but not Sniper Rifles since you need to aim) and reloading (as soon as the magazine/clip is inserted).
  • Call of Duty games also have this.
    • All firearms have their ammo count updated before the animation ends, so it's usually interrupted with a melee attack, weapon switch (especially the fast-switching pistols), or even just sprinting for a split second from CoD4 onward. Especially valuable for notably longer empty-reload animations, like those of the light machine guns, which usually have their ammo counts updated right around when your character has closed the top cover and lets you skip the next three seconds of slowly cocking the bolt and bringing it back to bear; there are some weapons in some games where taking advantage of this even obsoletes (or completely breaks) the game's "intended" method of speeding up reloads, like the SCAR-H in Black Ops II which already has a pretty quick animation, but updates its ammo count almost as soon as you drop the old mag, or the dual Rangers in Modern Warfare 2 which have a very slow animation, but update their ammo count in about a second.
    • Bolt-action sniper rifles and pump-action shotguns also have two distinct timing values for their effective fire rates: the 'actual' fire rate of the gun, and the bolt/pump animation time. Quickly cancelling the second by double-tapping the weapon switch key allowed players to shave off fractions of a second off their overall delay — a tactic often used by more skilled quickscoping snipers. Later games make it so that the bolt/pump animation must play out, either doing so before letting the player switch weapons or forcing them to do it after switching back to that weapon.
    • The China Lake pump-action grenade launcher in Call of Duty: Black Ops has a similar exploit — to balance out its power as a multi-shot grenade launcher, it has a much slower pump animation than a shotgun. However, reloading immediately after firing off a grenade is noticeably faster, even without the in-game perk to let you reload faster, and nothing is preventing you from immediately triggering the reload after firing off a grenade. This only works as long as you have ammo in reserve, of course.
  • Castlevania:
    • In the Metroidvania-style games, there are a few methods of canceling, the most universal being the back dash and landing. Many of the Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow souls and Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin subweapons are amazing when canceled (Killer Clown, Dart, etc.), making them key for Boss Rushes. Dawn of Sorrow also has the Succubus cancel, which, when combined with a special dagger that temporarily moves you forward, lets you teleport though walls.
    • This started in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, where the backdash has no lag. The designers wised up and added lag or animation time to it in subsequent games, but often a backdash still gives you a net gain, and landing still lag cancels in every game.
    • Even back in Symphony of the Night there were weapons that couldn't be cancelled, typically the slower ones or those designated as two-handed. This could mean the difference between something being a Game-Breaker (such as the Claimh Solais in Aria of Sorrow) or being Awesome, but Impractical (such as the Pluto/Black Dog card combo in Circle of the Moon).
    • Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance doesn't let you cancel an attack with a backdash twice. But you CAN cancel an attack that was cancelled out of a backdash with a forward dash, and cancel that into an attack, which you can then cancel into a backdash. Results predictable.
    • A technique that works in any game with a backdash but gained prominence in Castlevania: Harmony of Despair due to greater importance for having a high DPS is canceling the backdash with a crouch. Since an attack that is done out of backdash can't be backdashed out of, cancel the backdash AND THEN attack, by crouching. So it goes attack, backdash, crouch, stand, attack, backdash, etc. Go online and no doubt you'll find people doing this so fast it simply looks like they're cancelling attacks into attacks and maybe SLIGHTLY moving backwards.
      • Another one in the same game: Jonathan can cancel any aerial attack into a guard. Guards don't have any lag upon releasing it. Again, go online and you can find people doing this fast enough you'd have no idea he was guarding in between each attack.
  • Counter-Strike:
    • A rather obsucre example appears in the games up to 1.6 for guns with the option to attach/detach silencernote . If you also needed to reload, it was better to toggle the silencer and then imediately tap the reload key, as the animation wasn't mandatory to finish to switch the gun fire. You could also just switch to your other weapon and back immediately and the gun was customized and ready to fire.
    • One of the more well-known examples outside of Fighting Games. Most, if not all, snipers cancel the animation that plays after each shot for bolt-action rifles by double tapping the "switch to previous weapon" button. Sadly, this was eventually changed in Global Offensive by giving every weapon a Dramatic Gun Cock as part of their draw animation, forcing AWP users to wait for the amount of time the animation would have taken before being able to fire again.
    • Global Offensive made it so players slowing to a stop, and thus regaining weapon accuracy, take a fraction of a second after the arrow keys are released, whereas in previous games it happened instantaneously. However, pressing the key to move in the opposite direction increases acceleration in that direction, thus if you tap that key just after letting go of the first one, you regain full accuracy almost instantly.
  • In Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back and Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped (as well as those same games in the N. Sane Trilogy), sliding normally has about a second of endlag where Crash/Coco comes to a standstill, but this can be eschewed by doing a spin or jump out of the slide, which allows you to keep moving and skips the ending. Naturally, this is invaluable for getting great times on Time Trials.
  • In Defense of the Ancients, this technique is considered a critical part of the balance of the game, especially for heroes with ranged orb attacks i.e. Sacred Warrior, Netherdrake, Enchantress, etc. Drow Ranger's manual-casting of the orb effect plus animation-cancelling allows her to chase down any hero during the early game, even past towers.
  • There are quite a few cancels in the Devil May Cry series.
    • "Jump Cancel", wherein you perform an aerial move, use Enemy Step to bounce off an enemy while both of you are airborne in order to reset your aerial state, repeat the move that can normally only be done once in a single jump, and then jump off the enemy again. Done right, you stay airborne until your enemy dies and rack up Style Points very quickly. This is technically "unofficial" (since Enemy Step is really meant as a tool to change your direction in the air when near an enemy) but Capcom has never removed it (back when it was originally known by fans as "Shotgun Hiking" in the first game), DmC: Devil May Cry made it official via some loading screen animations that briefly demonstrate it, and by Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition, Capcom actively acknowledged its existence for the first time on their official YouTube channel.
    • Quick movements can also cancel an attack's animation, allowing the player to input another move earlier than intended. For example in the first game, moving just a fraction while using the Shotgun cancels its reloading time, and jumping or rolling cancels the (longer) reload time on the Grenadegun. In Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening and onward, cancelling short hops and rolls into the guarding animation of the Royalguard Style is a very effective defensive tactic. In Devil May Cry 3, you can also cancel the after-shot lag of the Spiral rifle and Kalina Ann rocket launcher by either switching to Ebony & Ivory immediately afterwards or properly timing the Royalguard Style's Block skill.
    • The long cooldown at the end of many of Vergil's attacks (specifically, ones where he sheathes his sword) in DMC4:SE can be cancelled with a Summoned Swords teleport, with the downside of also cancelling the Concentration Gauge boost that occurs when the sword clicks fully into the sheath at the end of the animation.
  • In Dirty Bomb, your gun is fully loaded once the magazine is inserted, and sprinting cancels the rest of the animation. This is enough to halve the reload time of most guns, and is also why the "Double Time" perk is disliked on cards without a shotgun because it nullifies this.
  • High-level players of Doom (2016) and Doom Eternal employ weapon switch canceling extensively to down powerful demons quickly.
  • Dragon's Dogma has an actual cancel ability called Reset. It's available to Striders and cancels all animations except hit stun. Its upgraded version, Instant Reset, allows you to cancel out of hit stun.
  • Dungeon Fighter Online:
    • Moves can't be cancelled by default, but you can purchase the ability to cancel individual moves with skill points. Said cancels can be attained for most of your skills, which lets you cancel straight into your skill from the middle of your basic attack combo.
    • The female Sword Master additionally has a passive skill (Blade Dance) which provides a regenerating resource expended to allow any of her attack skills to cancel into each other. (This does not mix well with button mashing.)
  • In Dungeons & Dragons Online, tumbling moves (unlike regular blocking) cancel a melee attack. Many enemies in the game have nasty special attacks with longer animations. The fact that it's possible to instantly roll away from one of these, whereas blocking has to wait until the character's attack and follow-through is over (and both are safer than fighting while running), is one reason why many character builds go cross-class to get 1 rank in the Tumble skill.
  • Similar to the Gundam Vs. games (see the Fighting Games tab above), everything except SP attacks is cancellable in Dynasty Warriors: Gundam by dashing in any direction. It does however cost more on the heat gauge than regular dashing. On mobility-focused machines, however, this makes them more than able to stand their ground against tougher ones. What isn't cancellable is, as stated above, SP attacks and stumbling due to being hit.
  • The End Times: Vermintide and Vermintide II:
    • The first game allowed long guns to be reloaded by canceling part of their recoil animation when firing from the hip. This was eventually patched out because the long guns started being used for DPS and wave-clear, especially with the correct weapon traits. Those were not at all their intended usage.
    • In both games, tapping the block command interrupts the attack animation. This is used extensively to cancel the follow-through after attacks land and to cut off less desirable parts of a multi-attack animation cycle, especially for slow-moving heavy attacks with a lot of lag.
  • Far Cry 3 allows Jason to skip the animation for injecting any type of syringe, except for the basic healing one, by trying to use it as he's in the midst of any sort of "transitional" movement animation, e.g. starting or leaving a sprint, in the midst of the sprinting crouch-slide, or even shifting into and out of the faster crouch-walk you can unlock with the "Jungle Run" skill.
  • In Final Fight, players could cancel their characters' combos by quickly tapping away from an opponent; this could be used to perform an infinite combo if you repeated the process. The Level 3 version of Cody's Final Destruction Super Combo in Street Fighter Alpha 3 acknowledges this trick, with him performing this trick four times before launching into the end of the combo.
  • Barret in Final Fantasy VII Remake has a way of charging his Overcharge attack faster than just mashing a button repeatedly until it refills itself. Simply just use his standard attack and when the last bullet has him reeling, quickly press the Overcharge button to save on the animation time and at the same time, dish out enough damage and refill the ATB gauge more quickly for his other attacks.
  • Lilac from Freedom Planet can cancel out of her Dragon Cycle move with a Hair Whip (or a Dive Kick while mid-air), which not only gets her out of her recovery animation, but also kickstarts her energy meter's recovery.
  • God Hand is basically built around canceling out of your moves by dodging.
  • God of War:
    • A huge part of the combat system is the ability to cancel Kratos' standard blade combos with a press of the block button, so if the player is fighting a mook and his buddy attacks, one can quickly press the block button without breaking the combo.
    • Kratos also has the ability to do a dodge roll straight out of his attacks, as well as cancel the ending lag on his roll by doing another attack. This allows him to pretty much move twice as fast via a perpetual cycle of cancelling his roll by attacking and then continuing to roll immediately.
  • Gorf, like many other shmups from the late '70s and early '80s, only lets you fire One Bullet at a Time, so if you fire a shot and miss, you have to wait a bit before firing the next shot. However, Gorf allows you to cancel your current shot and immediately fire your next one, simply by firing when you have a shot on the screen.
  • Granblue Fantasy is a rare (and rather bizarre) RPG example. The game has relatively standard turn-based RPG combat, but there are real-time elements such as many debuffs having durations in minutes rather than turns, and the need to race against other players in raids to secure MVP and blue chest rewards. As soon as you press the "Attack" button, all of the damage of your party and the enemy is calculated immediately server-side, and then you watch the animations play out. You can outright cancel the entire turn's worth of animations by... simply refreshing your browser. Upon reload, you will be at the beginning of the next turn immediately (though some actions like Charge Attacks will enforce a waiting period before you can act again). High-level Granblue play generally involves you hammering the hell out of the Attack and Refresh buttons like a madman to rack up your Honors score in a raid, up until a certain point where you have the highest reward chance. Rinse and repeat for the next raid.
  • GunZ: Cancel-based techs have dominated the game after their discovery.
  • Before Halo: Combat Evolved came out, most shooters didn't let players interrupt animations like reloading and attacking at all. Of course, even it forgot to let you cancel the Context-Sensitive Buttons, making you slowly clamber into nearby vehicles, though the animation is made a lot quicker in later Halo games.
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed has the dash cancel where the game only allows players to dash and then dash attack, then pressing the dash button again to allow players to move farther than what characters should. By repeatedly alternating the buttons, players can go miles from one area to another.
  • Hyrule Warriors allows you to cancel out of some attack/recovery animations by dodging, which is helpful for the characters that are either vulnerable during their long charge-up periods, or just take a moment to get readjusted afterwards. This also breaks Light Arrows significantly since you're only supposed to shoot them once every 3 or so seconds, whereas dodge cancelling pretty much reduces them to pure Macross Missile Massacre levels.
  • Killing Floor:
    • The first Killing Floor lets you cancel most of the animation for injecting yourself with the medical syringe by swapping to a different weapon/tool. note 
    • Killing Floor 2 embraces this as part of an effort to ease several issues that plagued the first gamenote  — whereas KF1 reloads had specific frames in their animation they had to reach before the game would acknowledge your attempts to switch weapons, KF2 has an "active reload" exploit, where you can melee or switch to a different weapon/gear at any point during any reloading animation, making it good for both cancelling a reload once the ammo counter updates and cancelling out of an inconveniently-timed reload if you still have ammo left. Reload cancels might not always save that much time, but you can throw a punch in the middle of your reload, which is great when fleeing while trying to reload and you get grabbed by a clot. And then, for good measure, once you've cancelled the reloading animation by a punch, that punch can itself be cancelled by shooting. A patch made this significantly less effective with dual pistols, as your ammo counter only goes up when both magazines are loaded, not just one, but most of the rest of the guns still benefit from the technique - in fact, at least for some DLC weapons it's been made even easier, as you can now cancel out of other animations by simply aiming.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Most games allow players to Dodge Roll out of your basic attacks, which is a big help when an enemy breaks out of your combo. You're also usually able to guard, but not in II where the button is used for extra attacks. Which may be why the Final Mix+-exclusive Limit Form has the ability to guard during a combo as an ability.
    • You're also usually able to take advantage of the low landing lag in the series by jumping before attacking even grounded enemies, as you can get right to the next combo faster, until it was nerfed in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep.
    • Taken to new heights in Kingdom Hearts III where any action can be cancelled with a dodge or a guard unless it slows time (such as situation commands or transformations), at any time, regardless of whether you're on the ground or in the air. The recovery on dodges can also be cancelled right back into attacks unlike in previous games, making extended combos easier and also letting you travel great distances while airborne. You can also aim your S at any point during attack animations, and anything you can cancel with a guard or dodge can also be cancelled by airstepping or releasing a shotlock. On top of that, you can use Situation Commands to cancel all the same actions as well, making it a cinch to set up extended combos in the game, much further than any other game in the series. Finally, you can jump cancel out of the animation you normally get when you guard an attack if the game lets you counter attack off that guard, which both provides a viable alternate option if you think it's not worth going for a counter attack, and can punish players trying to riskdodge the wrong attack (as it uses the same input as a jump).
  • League of Legends preserves and evolves "orbwalking" out of the succession schism following Defense of the Ancients as mentioned above (its ongoing rival and corporeal successor, Dota 2, does not have such a gameplay element). Known more colloquially as "kiting", League implements this in virtually every champion in the gamenote , especially squishy ranged marksmen who want to fire off as many shots as possible while keeping distance from enemies. There's also a few individual characters that toy with this mechanic a bit:
    • Riven is explicitly designed to have a very fast, combo-rich gameplay style inspired by fighting games, where cancelling attacks into other attacks is imperative to mastering her. In general, there are several melee duelists that have at least one ability that cancels their current basic attack animation (Riven is exceptional because all of hers do), with the very basic combo being to basic attack → immediately cancel into an empowered basic attack → normal basic attack.
    • Kalista is an example of a champion who doesn't have this feature, contributing to how much harder she is to play than most of the roster. She cannot cancel the windup of her basic attacks, but instead has a feature of allowing herself to dash a short distance in any chosen direction with each one, replacing the easy cancelability of usual kiting with a much trickier, but also much more effective form of running-and-gunning (though she still has some of this with her "Pierce" ability, which is effectively the same as her usual basic attack+jump combo, except 1) she can cancel a follow-through animation, and 2) she can manually aim her attack with it).
    • Akshan has a feature with his basic attacks that gives him two options to work with on the fly: if he stays put the split second after firing his first shot, he automatically follows up with a second, much weaker shot. If he cancels the follow-through animation, he instead trades it out with a short burst of movement speed, making kiting a lot easier. He contains an additional feature that should he land three consecutive attacks on a target, he deals slight bonus damage and gains a protective shield, so whether you cancel your attacks or not is also a matter of playing offense or defense.
  • An old bug in Left 4 Dead allowed you to use your regular melee attacks at insane speeds by way of this. Shoving has a cooldown before you can shove again, but you're not prevented from switching to another weapon during that cooldown. The bug came in where switching to another weapon or piece of equipment also reset that cooldown, so the actual speed you could repeatedly shove at was only determined by how quickly you could alternate switching weapons and shoving. A patch later eliminated this, where you're still able to switch weapons at any point during a shove, but the cooldown between shoves is universal so you can only do so as fast as you're supposed to be able to.
  • The most notable advantage of Lord of Arcana's 2H Sword weapon type is that the second and third swings of its combo can be canceled into a block, allowing for much safer attacks.
  • In Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals, all characters' charged special attacks will cancel out of most other attacks.
  • Mass Effect:
    • In Mass Effect 2, a number of powerful weapons, such as the Widow and the Claymore, can fire only one shot before overheating, and the reloading animation can be longer than one can afford in the middle of a heated battle. However, the actual reloading happens in the middle of the animation, so a player with good timing can perform a melee attack when the weapon reloads, which happens quicker than the rest of the animation. This trick is essential to getting the most out of the Claymore, as it almost doubles the DPS one can get out of it.
    • Mass Effect 3:
      • This is extremely useful in multiplayer with the same single shot weapons. Additionally, performing one of several actions (dodge, light melee, using a power) will interrupt the reload sequence.
      • Done deliberately with the Geth Juggernaut multiplayer character, which is completely unable to run or use cover. Instead, the controller button that normally governs these mechanics can only be used to cancel reloads.
      • This is also very useful for Nova Guards as they can cancel their Nova ability into either a roll or a punch to abuse the invincibility frames this move grants. It's incredibly useful when the class is relegated to the pizza delivery objectives and for holding control points; both being objectives that completely negate the class's greatest strength: mobility.
  • Mega Man:
    • Mega Man games that include dash commands are notorious for Dash Canceling, where you can maintain the fastest part of the dash command way longer than the dev team intended you to by constantly performing some other button press.
    • In Mega Man X4 and Mega Man X5, you can cancel Zero's Z-Saber with a dash, and a dash with the saber. With fast Button Mashing, this becomes a Game-Breaker because not only can you swing the saber much faster, but most bosses are designed only to activate their Mercy Invincibility on the third swing of Zero's three-hit combo. By never using that third swing, bosses can be killed in mere seconds. Mega Man X6 nerfed this by forcibly adding lag after a certain amount of cancels and it's still a viable tactic. Funnily enough, this actually got in as one of Zero's attacks in Project Zone!
  • Metal Gear:
    • An unusual genre for this, Metal Gear Solid has the "Quick Reload" technique. Normally when you exhaust a magazine you have to reload normally, which actually does take about two seconds; in a boss fight this is often about 1.9 more seconds than you have to spare. By unequipping and reequipping a weapon, it automatically reloads for you. On top of that, the manuals actually tell you about this technique. After the penultimate boss of Metal Gear Solid 3 was made into a complete joke by abusing this technique (since it requires use of a single-shot RPG launcher that normally requires multiple seconds to replace the warhead... or a quarter of a second to double-tap R2), every Metal Gear since then has forced the player to take the time to let a reloading animation play out as part of the gameplay overhaul bringing the series more in-line with a Third-Person Shooter.
    • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, being a spectacle fighter developed by PlatinumGames, naturally boasts a lot of this. There are three types of animation-cancelling. The first and most important is parrying, which can interrupt any of Raiden's attacks. The second is dodging, which doesn't work during the recovery animations for some of the more powerful moves but boasts invincibility frames and the ability to maintain your place in your combo. The last is known as "blade-cancelling," in which the player taps the Blade Mode button to make Raiden enter and immediately exit Blade Mode. This cancels the recovery animation for more attacks than dodge-cancelling and is much quicker, but this is an intentional mechanic rather than a developer oversight, so there are still a few moves it doesn't work on.
  • In Metroid Prime, it's possible to cancel missile lag by firing your Power Beam, allowing you to fire missiles at a much faster rate than normal.
  • Monster Hunter:
    • Several weapons have some lengthy animations that lock your character in place, but some can be canceled by blocking, dodging, or re-sheathing your weapon. The Great Sword has particularly excruciating animations where a hunter brings the weapon back to a ready position after a big attack, making this technique an absolute necessity.
    • A more specific example comes from the hammer weapon. The weakest level of charge attack can be chained into the weapon's basic attack combo. You can cancel the basic attack combo before the third hit into a charge attack. Put two and two together, and you have what's supposed to be a weapon that does more damage in fewer hits at a time having the hit rate, and much more DPS as a result, of some of the faster weapons. This was nerfed in 3 Ultimate.
  • In NieR: Automata, any attack you use with your standard weapons can be canceled into your Self-Destruct command, which can be immediately stopped and allow you to follow up with another quick attack. This inevitably became an exploit that people who make combo videos use to juggle enemies indefinitely, but when used in tandem with some aerial attacks it allows you to do things like continually rise in the air.
  • In the modern Ninja Gaiden series, you can throw a single shuriken to cancel the basic attacks' rather long recoveries (it doesn't work for strong attacks, though); especially useful when using the sword or the scythe in in the second and third games. In Razor's Edge, the Cicada Surge also allows you to escape attacks or grabs that enemies frequently attempt during recoveries, although using it effectively requires very good reflexes.
  • In Rabi-Ribi, Erina's fifth Hammer Combo attack has her do a "drill" attack that does multiple hits, but renders her unable to move for its duration. The Frame Cancel badge allows her to get around this by pressing down to cancel the attack immediately.
  • In Resident Evil 7 and Resident Evil Village, you are able to cancel almost every regular animation by guarding. This allows you to reload some weapons, like the M21 Shotgun, faster; swing the knife more than two times in a row and skip the healing animation when using First Aid Meds.
  • This is sometimes used to train faster in RuneScape; an example is eating while fishing.
  • Sailor Moon Arcade allows Sailor Jupiter to cancel her second attack by turning backwards. Professional players can use this to hit twice, turn around, then turn back to hit twice again to rinse and repeat. While very difficult due to her faster recovery and dangerous due to her highly damaging Neck Snap, this trick even works against Queen Beryl.
  • Secret of Mana:
    • Magic attacks normally require the caster to recover before being able to cast magic again. However, as the result of a possible glitch, if you can pull up the menu just before the recovery animation, you can cast another spell. Also, since spell animations are at least long enough as the spell casting animation, you can use this to stunlock an enemy to death.
    • Running allows you to run straight in one direction but puts you in recovery just like regular attacks and charge attacks, making it risky to move around with it usually. However, if you attack while running you cancel the run animation and do an attack, making that the only recovery period you have to deal with. This makes running much more useful as you can dash out of range of an enemy attack and then do a running attack once you find an opening—especially useful for the main character who does not have access to spells.
  • In Spiral Knights, tapping the shield button will stop the attack animation short, giving a few extra precious pieces of a second. Interestingly enough, when doing this with swords, if you attack quickly enough after shield cancelling, it will be the first strike of your combo, and attacking immediately afterwards will result in the third (and usually final) strike of your combo, resulting in a combo of 1-shield cancel-1-3 rather than 1-2-3. Naturally, mastery of this technique is highly valuable in the later part of the game.
  • SSX 3 was the first game in the series to allow the player to hold Übertricks for as long as they wanted, rather than being a canned animation that was the same length every time (a sort of inversion of this trope that has the same effect, as one long trick is better than two you can't safely pull off). More than that, you could now freely change the mid-air spin direction however you pleased, compared to the first two games where once you started spinning, you could slow down and stop the turns but never change to a different one.
  • Star Wars Jedi: Survivor introduces the dedicated Dual Wield Stance, where you can cancel an attack animation by either blocking or dodging, thus allowing you to do something else if the situation requires it. The other stances avert this trope: once you command Cal to attack, he's committed to that animation no matter what.
  • Steel Battalion has clip dumping. Main weapons will have a firing delay after firing a set number of rounds-one for smoothbore cannons, three for rapid-fire rifles, and five for assault rifles. By holding down the main weapon button such that the initial weapon switch selects the desired weapon (it won't cycle after that) and hitting the magazine change button, one can cancel the delay-but weapons only get three to four clips maximum, with 20 to 30 rounds each, thus burning a lot of spare ammo for an extra shot in quick succession. Furthermore, it's a very frowned-upon tactic in the Line of Contact community and will likely earn the ire of other players unless specifically permitted before the match (say, a match that pits one 3rd-gen VT like an Earthshaker against several 1st-gen VTs).
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Completely useless in every way, this was nonetheless present in Super Mario World. You can spinjump out of a fireball throwing animation to throw a second fireball almost immediately in the same direction. Carried over to the New Super Mario Bros. series, but still basically useless.
    • Super Mario Galaxy 2 has a glitch that allows you to cancel the delay between Yoshi's flutterjumps by immediately ducking before the flutter's almost finished, allowing you to reach places with Yoshi that would normally be impossible (like fighting Bowser while still riding him, reaching Tall Trunk Slide from the mission involving him (although jumping on the slide freezes the game) or even beating Grandmaster Galaxy's The Perfect Run with him).
  • Tales Series:
    • Various Tales games have different forms of canceling. Some even have unlockable equippable skills that let you cancel in various ways, such as dash cancelling, jump cancelling, cancelling in ways normal attack chains wouldn't allow, etc. Also in many games, a Limit Break can only be done as a cancel.
    • From Tales of Symphonia, five out of the nine available characters can start casting a spell and quickly cancel it to more or less break the game by pulling off infinite combos. Later on, someone discovered Auto Spell Cancelling, allowing Raine to join in the sadism, like so.
    • Tales of the Abyss had Over Limit cancelling, which worked similarly to X-Factor cancelling above. Over Limit was a Super Mode but the biggest advantage it gave was that it could be activated out of any other action, and even counted as a hit as it blows an enemy sky-high.
    • Tales of Vesperia builds off Symphonia and Abyss so it has spell cancelling and Over Limit cancelling as well... but the Updated Re-release for the PlayStation 3 and the later Definitive Edition added Free Run Cancels, or Manual Cancels as they are only possible in Manual Mode. (Sorry, semi-auto players!) To put it simply, any action in the game can be cancelled by free running forward so long as you're in Manual Mode, which not only greatly increases combo options, it also makes every attack safer to pull off. Essentially, you should be ending any action that you don't plan to chain into another action with a free run.
    • Tales Of The Rays lets you chain all attacks into other attacks and any of those into (and out of) a backstep. While the obvious use of this is to backstep at the end of a combo to act faster or else to quickly dodge an attack, this mechanic also leads to Rays' own version of spell cancelling, which is to start a spell and then backstep during the casting animation, which is the fastest way to advance a chain and reach requirements for Master Artes. Notably, the developers eventually added a feature that let you resume casting where you left off if you successfully dodge an enemy attack using this cancel.
  • On release, the Sniper's Rifle in Team Fortress 2 worked in an identical manner to the Counter-Strike example above — you could cancel the bolt-action animation by switching weapons. However, this was eventually averted as subsequent patches made it impossible to switch out of that animation.
  • In some Tetris games (such as the TGM series), there is a short delay between when you lock a piece into place and when the next piece appears. One Tetris fangame, DTET, features this, but allows you to cancel it and immediately spawn the next piece by performing an input.
  • The original Tomb Raider games have many different ways to cancel recovery times from different moves.
  • TRON Deadly Discs for the Atari 2600 and the Intellivision lets you recall the disc you use to defeat the MCP's warriors after it's thrown in case it misses its target and you don't want to wait for it to return.
  • 3D Beat 'em Up Urban Reign allows players to cancel virtually any of their normal attacks by performing a meter-dependent special art.
  • In Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria, you can cancel your R1 dash into your attack. Attacks themselves can be canceled into the next attack in your sequence. Then there's Break Mode, which encourages canceling completely.
  • Most of your attacks in Viewtiful Joe can cancel each other, noticeably so in VFX Slow. It is very much Difficult, but Awesome, making an already steep learning curve in a Nintendo Hard game even nastier by making you interrupt half of your own attacks, but providing a great amount of control over shifting attacks very quickly once mastered. Infinite Slow Motion Uppercuts, anyone?
  • The entire gameplay premise of the four Virtual-ON games are built upon knowing when to cancel moves. The most well-known and important move accepted by the players community is "jump-cancelling", which can do anything from reducing time spent frozen after landing from a full jump (and thus being a very tantalizing target) to avoiding melee attacks, and in later games, set up for other forms of attacks.
  • Warcraft: Some units in Warcraft III (notably the Archmage) have spellcasting animations that last longer than the spell's effect. Here, it's a simple matter of telling the unit to cast, making sure the spell gets cast, then issuing a stop/hold position/attack order so it gets back to fighting instead of waving a magic stick.
  • In The Warriors video game, you can do sweeping attacks with a weapon. Normally you can only do one at a time, but if you hold down the block button and then rapidly hit the sweep attack button, you'll be able to do several attacks in succession.
  • In a very rare RPG example, Wild ARMs 3 has this. As long as you have at least 25 Force Points, you can cancel the move you just queued at that character's turn to move, enter another move and you will start your action without waiting. While not often used, it is important if you suddenly want to stop attacking the enemy for whatever reason (the enemy is preparing an instakill move, or a reflect barrier, for example).
  • For a non-Video Game example, when Paul is teaching Komand'r and Koriand'r to use orange power rings in With This Ring, they discover that they can quickly stop their attacks by focusing on a different emotion instead of avarice, which will switch off their rings. However, Paul doesn't want them to rely on that, because while the ring is off, they're sitting ducks for any enemies in the vicinity. A better approach is to develop a level of understanding and connection with your desires where wanting to end the attack is as natural as starting it.
  • Xeno series:
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 1 has a variation, in that one of Sharla's Aura-type moves resets her other moves' cooldown timers, letting her use a healing or attack move that much faster.
    • Xenoblade Chronicles 2 uses this rather extensively for an RPG. Auto attacks can be canceled by Arts, and Arts can be canceled by Blade Specials. Properly timing the cancel makes the following attack significantly more powerful. Each playable Driver can also obtain an upgrade that allows them to cancel Arts with other Arts, with can quickly build up Blade Special levels.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Animation Cancel, Cancel



The Russian Badger explains that, while Fencers in the game Earth Defense Force 4.1 are technically Mighty Glaciers due to their slow speed, exploiting their dash cancel makes them faster than the Wing Divers.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / LightningBruiser

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