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.”