The number of candidates for this list is endless. Of all the lists I could make, no other could be as personal or as controversial. There’s no way two separate gamers would both pick the same ten special moves in the same order, the possible options and variations are too huge. In other words, if you don’t like the entries in this list, make your own. I would read it and enjoy disagreeing with it!
10. Gouken’s Ultra
This one is pure personal bias for me. I love Gouken in Street Fighter 4; love him like a stern, disapproving Japanese father who always urges me to do better. Of all the Ultra’s in Street Fighter 4, this is my favourite. The only rival in my eyes is Ryu’s new ultra that was added in Super Street Fighter 4…and that’s because its basically the same move.
9. Screw Attack
An attack so famous it inspired a gaming culture website, this special move is so much more than a way to kill enemies. While many of the other entries on this list allow the player to defeat opponents, this particular manoeuvre is an essential element to progression in the game. Unlocked upgrades and special moves in the Metroid games allow new parts of the map to be explored and obstacles to be overcome. As well as its usefulness to the player, its also one of the most powerful methods of attack for Samus that few enemies can withstand.
8. Falcon Punch
This entry is a special move so famous it became in internet meme, albeit an obscure and somewhat tasteless one about abortion (what did you expect from the people who brought you 2girls1cup and Rebecca Black?). Originally a special move of Captain Falcon – a racer from the F-Zero games that fights in the Smash Brothers series – The Falcon Punch was a slow and predictable but nonetheless powerful move that was perceived by the fanbase to be amusing and embarrassing when it hit it’s target. Impressively flame-y and highly damaging, it earns its place on this list for both its effectiveness and its infamy.
I’m not sure which fighting game had the very first “counter” move, but the first I remember was Pai Chan’s from the Virtua Fighter series. At the time the polygonal fighter was absolutely revolutionary and the sight of Pai’s well animated counter to opponents kicks and punches was a stunning sight. Over various fighting game franchises the counter has popped up again and again, and in series like Dead Or Alive it has become integral to gameplay. While it may even appear in adventure games like Arkham Asylum and Assassins Creed, its in its fighting game form that it earns its place on this list. As an avowed Gouken fan, I have to mention his immensely satisfying version of the move, especially when it is deflecting a…
6. Shun Goku Satsu
Other attacks may kill you, but only this deadly manoeuvre will cause you to “die one thousand deaths”. Akuma’s trademark, the Shun Goku Satsu is based on the Buddhist interpenetration of the 16 levels of hell, all of which you experience during this attack (hence the number of hits in the combo). Supposedly fatal, this attack destroys not just the body but also the soul. Few have survived the Shun Goku Satsu with the possible exceptions of M Bison (who stowed his soul in the female fighter Rose) and Gouken who avoided death by using the “power of emptiness”, although even he was left in a coma and presumed dead. And the most impressive thing about this fearsome move? We never even get to see what it really looks like.
In a post Street Fighter world an “Ultra” means something quite different to a modern gamer than it did to a SNES owner in the 90’s. Back then, an Ultra was used at the end of a combo to finish a defeated opponent and triggered a series of further attacks on the foe, allowing combos to score upwards of 80 hits. The vocal cue of “ULTRA….Ultra….ultra” was enough to send a young gamer into a fits of excitement as gamers accustomed to four and five hit combos from the likes of Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat saw ridiculous barrages of blows rain down on already defeated opponents. Each character had a different Ultra, and as with everything else on this list, agreement on the best will always be impossible….but its still fun to argue about!
4. Omni Slash
Representing the RPG contingent, the Omni Slash is Cloud Strife’s distinctive signature move and his final Limit Break. Attacking with multiple swords at once, the ultimate version of this manoeuvre was seen in the animated movie Final Fantasy Advent Children, where it was dubbed Omnislash Version 5 and was used to defeat the reanimated Sephiroth for a final (?) time. The ultimate move from the best entry of the greatest JRPG franchise of all time, it was impossible to leave this out.
3. Multi Throws/ broken bones
Many of the moves on this list would be brutal and potentially lethal if applied in real life, but this series of moves would cripple you so badly you would be better off dead. It must be said, in a post MMA world you wonder why the victims of this series of breaking attacks simply stand around allowing one limb after another to be shattered. Surely a degree of scrambling, struggling or, you know, fighting back should be involved. Nonetheless this move has never been done as originally or brutally as by its primary exponent, Nina Williams of the Tekken series.
2. Get Over Here/Ice blast
One of the greatest things about Mortal Kombat when it arrived in 1992 was how it took the gameplay features of Street Fighter and added subtle but clever twists to them. What was once a simple fireball was now an ice blast, but instead of simply damaging them it froze them allowing more damage to be done. Meanwhile, a brutal spear could be thrown and impale an enemy before reeling them in with a shout of “Get over here!” before they were once again punished brutally, most often with an uppercut so powerful it sent them flying into the air. This willingness to play with the conventions and rules of the fighting game continued into throughout the series, and the recent (and excellent) Mortal Kombat 9 continues the tradition. It would have been easy to include the Hadoken on this list, but in truth Mortal Kombat’s projectiles are more original, and more fun.
The simplicity of this iconic move is what makes it the number 1 entry on this list. Before Streetfighter, a jumping uppercut wasn’t even a thing. Afterwards, everyone references it. From kids messing around in the playground to knowing references in movie fight scenes, everyone knows that when you jump and uppercut, the accompanying cry should always be Rising Dragon Punch, but in the far superior Japanese: SHORYUKEN!