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In a Fighting Game, one fighter initiates a combo by launching their opponent into the air with a strong attack, then following up with a combo or Meteor Move. This is a good strategy in many 3D fighting games, as most characters have limited air options and, in many series, can't defend when airborne. Of course, because of varying movesets among characters and series, some characters are better at it than others.

Definitely a Suspension of Disbelief since if you had enough force to launch a human body in the air, you'd have to overcome their weight and that much power could likely do fatal damage.

When the subsequent attacks keep the character in the air, it's called a juggle attack or air combo.

This is a Sub-Trope of Status Infliction Attack, since it inflicts the status of "thrown into the air".


    Action Games 
  • War in Darksiders can use his BFS to launch an enemy into the air in two different ways. One of them also lets him optionally jump after, ripe for air attacks.
  • Devil May Cry had a lot of hype by introducing Dante's "High Time" move, after which you could stylishly suspend enemies in the air with sustained gunfire. Sequels later made this a recurring technique, introduced air combos, character-specific variants (e.g. Nero's "High Roller") and more ways of launching enemies airborne. Several action games since, from Bayonetta to God of War have their dedicated air launchers.
  • Up until the combat engine revamp in 6 and 7, Dynasty Warriors actually gave each character two (sometimes more) launchers, a 'low launcher' that was usually quicker but only targeted a single opponent and a 'high launcher' that hit enemies higher to follow up with either a Meteor Move, or to set up longer combos from the ground. In Dynasty Warriors 4, the only game with both one-on-one officer duels as a game mechanic as well as the launcher moves, it was almost mandatory to learn how best to juggle with a character, given many enemy officers tended to block constantly when on the ground.
  • Dynasty Warriors: Gundam gives each ace suit at least one launcher. Their effectiveness greatly decreases on higher difficulty levels (and become an outright liability on the highest levels), as enemy aces tend to recover then boost away and/or counterattack before the player can follow up with an aerial attack of their own.
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo has kicks, uppercuts, and throws to start off, continue and finish air combos.
  • Ninja Gaiden's Ryu Hayabusa uses this to precede an Izuna Drop.
  • The best combos in Prince of Persia (2008) all involve these. The launching itself is always performed with the gauntlet.
  • Sonic Unleashed has the Sho-Hog-Ken, to the amusement of all Street Fighter players in the vicinity.
  • Given its connection to Tekken, it's not surprising that most characters in the 3D Beat 'em Up Urban Reign have launcher moves that can be followed with further hits to juggle an opponent. Fortunately for whoever's on the receiving end, the follow-up attacks can be escaped with a well-timed press of the Dodge button.
  • Viewtiful Joe: The uppercut (punch while crouching) serves this purpose. "Up you go, fella!"
    Fighting Games 
  • This can be done in the Bleach fighting games, although it's often better to combo on the ground instead. At least, it is if you're good at comboing.
  • One of the most significant differences between Simon and Trevor in Castlevania: Judgment is Simon's high reliance on launcher combos, while Trevor prefers hard hits that keep the opponent grounded.
  • Later installments of the Dead or Alive series have something called "critical state" where certain attacks that hit someone in this state can become launcher moves. Additionally, many characters also have straight-up launcher moves that don't require critical state. These are very important as being airborne is the only time an opponent cannot attempt a counter hold.
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy features a variation on this: Specific moves available to every character initiate the option of starting one of the game's midair "chase sequences" at the end of successful execution. "Chasing" is a sort of quick time event involving dodging certain attacks with correct timing/executing certain attacks in such a way that they are not dodged. The game seems to give a slight advantage to the initiator of the sequence—even a merely moderately talented player can easily repeatedly smash their opponent across the stage until the wall is impacted. However, expect rapid turnarounds when playing against talented human opponents and high-level AI opponents, who can and will dodge with single-frame-precision. It also features more standard aerial launchers and juggles. The majority of characters have at least one attack that will send the opponent into the air, but the character Zidane is most notable in this regard: he is designed to be lethal in midair fighting, and as a result, most of his ground attacks are designed to knock the victim into the air where Zidane reigns supreme.
  • A key move for each character in Fist of the North Star is an attack that launches the enemy into the wall.
  • In the Guilty Gear series, each character can do a "Dust attack", a slow hit that knocks the target skyward if it connects, thus setting them up for a nasty combo.
  • In Gundam Extreme Vs., the Back + Melee command is a launcher for most machines; a few eschew this in favor of other moves, like God Gundam's God Shadow or Red Frame's Counter-Attack.
  • Injustice: Gods Among Us has uppercuts and can be used more effectively. There are also Ground Bounces and Wall Bounces that have a bit of start-up but you can add super Armor to them, as well as certain moves or combos that you can follow up with an air game. Most characters stay on the ground, however, as the combo system is based on juggles, and once a character is in the air, any move has small launcher properties to keep the combo going.
  • A fundamental move in most fighters in Marvel vs. Capcom games.
    • Marvel Super Heroes is arguably the Trope Codifier, while the previous game in the series, X-Men: Children of the Atom allowed for launchers and air combos, possibly serving as the Ur-Example of the trope, MSH was designed around it with the "Aerial Rave" system which had characters automatically super jump after a launcher just by pressing up. Something later games in the series adopted.
    • Marvel vs. Capcom 3 actually assigns a Guilty Gear-style launcher button as part of its simplification of the standard Capcom control scheme.
  • Mortal Kombat has uppercuts, though it varies by game whether this can be used for effective air combos.
  • Any melee character worth their salt has a launcher in Playstation All Stars Battle Royale, usually mapped to Up+Square. Obvious examples include (new) Dante, Kratos, and Heihachi (all mentioned above).
  • Rivals of Aether, having nearly identical gameplay mechanics to Super Smash Bros., also relies heavily on this trope.
  • This is one of the key factors to winning in Sonic Battle if you don't have good specials. Or if you're slow. It's done either with an 'upper' attack, slamming an opponent into a wall, or several other moves.
  • In the Soul Series, every character has at least one on d/fB (kind of like its sister series Tekken). Unlike Tekken, there is a heap of other over the top ones sprinkled about, especially in Cervantes' moveset. The game encourages Meteor Moves over Air Combos, however, as after one hit in midair you can control your character's fall.
  • Street Fighter X Tekken adds Tekken style launchers to the standard 6-button Capcom control scheme.
  • The fighting style of Super Smash Bros. relies on this kind of move, since ring-outs reduce lives, and the sequels rather uniquely give characters multiple mid-air defense capabilities. You can also launch in each of the directions. The game is explicitly not a combo-based fighter, but the combos that inevitably exist anyway are always air combos that start with a launcher of any kind.
    • Some of the Smash characters, usually the Fire Emblem ones, have Final Smashes that is just this trope.
  • In the Tekken series, Jun/Asuka might as well call 2 (or right punch) the launcher button, Mishimas have their Wind God Fist options, etc. As the series' central gimmick is juggle combos, this is a key element.
    • Not to mention almost every character has a d/f 2 and/or u/f 4 launcher.
  • In X-Men: Next Dimension, a fighting game, these are called "Air Seeks".
    Role-Playing Games 
  • Avalon Code: Judgment Link, which you have to do to get goodies, and which can launch enemies into space, and then out of the galaxy.
  • Fairy Fencer F has, well, Launch attacks. If the player quickly follows it with a Pursue attack, it will deal far more damage than usual.
  • This makes its rare RPG appearance in Final Fantasy XIII via the Launch command. Enemies are completely defenseless when staggered and juggled, so time your moves right.
    • In fact, juggling makes up about 80% of the game towards the end — eventually, all combat revolves around this mechanism.
  • Kingdom Hearts includes launcher moves assignable to the square button for extended combos.
  • In Mugen Souls, you can use offensive skills with a "Float" effect on enemies where you launch them up in the air and hopefully hit the objects up in the air. If you're at Fever Time and you hit them at one of the four blue spheres floating in the air, and say hello to a lot of money dropping to you.
  • A big part of Radiant Historia involves moving enemies around on a 3X3 grid, to collect them into a cluster. This can also involve launching them straight up, or down, whereupon they hit the ground and take bonus damage.
  • Rengoku: Using a grapling weapon throws an opponent upwards. Using two graple weapons lets you make the opponent unable to do anything.
  • Thanks to the real-time combat in Star Ocean: The Second Story, you can set up situations where you knock an enemy back with one of your attacks. The skill Strong Blow gives your attacks a chance to simply knock enemies backward, but if an enemy is jumping or otherwise above you, you might send them flying in the air when Strong Blow triggers. The skill Float has to be unlocked in the Cave of Trials, but it enables you to randomly knock an enemy straight into the air no matter what attack you use which triggers it. Some Killer Moves have their own upward knockback, like Claude's Twin Slash.
  • Super Robot Wars Endless Frontier has every move carry a launcher element since the game's combo system only counts juggles.
  • Tales Series:
    • In Tales of Vesperia, quite a few of Judith's artes launch the target into the air where she can take advantage of her aerial comboing expertise.
    • Tales of Xillia also allows basically anyone to use up+attack to launch an enemy, jump, and attack, but it's much simpler and more effective to combo on the ground as most artes can only be done then. There are some artes specifically to follow-up with, in the air, and some artes that can be done in the air, but the only character that it's recommended to air combo with is Milla due to having double jumps and dash/drop cancels as well as most of her artes being possible in the air.
    • Tales of Arise has dedicated "leap" arts, denoted with an upward arrow. If the enemy doesn't block them, these moves will launch both the enemy and the user into the air, allowing for air combos. Notably, one character (Shionne) has no leap artes at all, forcing the player jump manually to use her air artes. Large enemies are immune to launching, but they are so big, that the player can air combo them anyway.
  • Various pins in The World Ends with You function as this, with Vulcan Uppercut and Piercing Pillar being particular examples.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 2 certain attacks can deal with the effect Launch, which can be inflicted on a Toppled enemy, as part of a Driver Combo. Once an enemy is launched, they remain airborne for a few seconds, giving you a chance to perform a Smash attack. This returns in the sequel as one of the reaction combo paths you can carry out in battles.
  • The second Xenosaga game had launcher moves as well as attacks that would only be used on airborne or knocked-down targets. The fact that it uses Turn-Based Combat was somewhat hilarious if you took a while planning your attacks while the enemy was frozen in midair…

Alternative Title(s): Juggle Attack