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Smash Bros Creator Talks About The Term “Hitstop” Used In Fighting Games

Super Smash Bros creator Masahiro Sakurai recently took to his column in Japanese gaming publication Famitsu to discuss a fighting game mechanic known as “Hitstop”. Hitstop is when two characters are face to face and hit each other at precisely the same time causing both characters to momentarily freeze. If you’re interested in reading more about this mechanic and how it is deployed in Super Smash Bros you can read the full article, here.

“As a game designer myself, I’d like to use this column to talk about game design every so often. For this entry, I want to focus on hitstop.”

“Hitstop” is a term used to describe a technique employed primarily in fighting games. When you strike the opponent, both parties momentarily freeze, emphasizing the power of impact. It’s a crucial effect.”

“Hitstop features most prominently in 2D fighters. Every time you land an attack in games like Street Fighter and Guilty Gear, the characters appear to stop in place. In games like Tekken and Virtua Fighter, however, you don’t see much hitstop. Perhaps it isn’t very compatible with 3D fighters.”

“Games in the Dynasty Warriors series don’t employ much hitstop, either, probably because you attack large groups of enemies at once. If the action stopped every single time you landed an attack, you would likely end up frozen for a long time, reducing the overall game speed. Conversely, when you get bit by a Shellcreeper in the original Mario Bros., you and the enemy both freeze, and Mario falls off the screen. This sort of effect could also be considered hitstop in a broader sense of the word.”

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Thanks, MasterPikachu6

20 thoughts on “Smash Bros Creator Talks About The Term “Hitstop” Used In Fighting Games”

  1. Hitstop isn’t actually the “clash” function (I don’t know the term) where the two equally powerful moves negate each other. Hitstop is the frozen frames that emphasize the power of the hit, sometimes accompanied by screen shaking if the move is especially powerful. I know because hitstop is one of my favourite parts of fighting games.

  2. I did a hitstop on Smash 4 with a CPU Little Mac. I was testing out Little Mac and I used the super instant KO punch thing, and nothing happened, and then I watched the replay and CPU Little Mac did it the EXACT SAME TIME I did!

              1. Think of Ryu’s Shin Shoryuken (especially the Third Strike incarnation). Notice how both Ryu and the enemy character freeze for almost a full second after each hit? That stop id what’s called hitstop (this is just a very extreme and illustrative case, but every move has it to some degree). It’s has two main functions: to give weight to the moves (the more powerful the move is, the more hitstop it usually has) and to allow the players to feel that a character has been hit, both for offensive (hitconfirm) and defensive (gives the attacked player a small amount of time to react) purposes.

              2. The hitstop in Wind Waker sort of works against the game in the Cave of Ordeals, where you get to hit so large groups of enemies that you, like Sakurai describes here, get frozen for quite a lot of time. – Should you for instance spin attack and connect with every foe.

                1. And they corrected that mistake in SS by replacing hitstops just with audio cues (which Koei implemented in Hyrule Warriors too). I don’t remember if Twilight Princess had something similar.

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