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I am preparing a conference session about game design, and a question occurred to me that I haven't been able to answer with Google:

In Mario the player varies the height of Mario's jump by holding down the button while Mario is in the air. Has this approach ever been used to vary the power or attacks, i.e. hold down for a hard attack, tap for a fast attack. I feel like this must have been done many times but I can't think of a concrete example.

UPDATE 1: I'm specifically thinking about systems where the attack is launched as soon as you press the button, but gains power as you hold it down (like Mario's jump), rather than systems where you hold down to charge-up and release to attack.

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This looks like a "list of" question. Converting to CW. – Tetrad Aug 25 '10 at 7:51
I dunno any examples, but I like the idea of being able to choose to leave your back exposed in a brawler in order to get a few extra points of damage in on a stronger enemy that's in front of you. – michael.bartnett Sep 27 '11 at 7:02

11 Answers 11

up vote 3 down vote accepted

A few fightings games do this. Normally it's a hold to charge and then release to attack, but in a few cases holding changes which later attacks you can combo off the initial attack. In those cases holding is just keeping the combo going until the next branch point in the animation.

Hold as an analog continuation is less common in attacks because of the nature of animation. With a jump you can just loop a "launched" position as the player continues to rise, so the effect is easy to pull off. However for an attack, strong attacks tend to look different before contact is even made so it's difficult to transition them post starting an animation.

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In Street Fighter 4, you can charge the hadoken fireball of Sakura or shoot it just like it is without charging. Also, you can start a 'focus attack', which let's you charge an attack which may be cancelled anytime. If you charge it through to the end, it damages even a blocking character. – Michael Barth Aug 25 '10 at 12:41
  • On the Wii, in Super Smash Bros. Brawl you can 'charge' up smash attacks (powerful attacks) by holding the button down for longer.
  • In fact, a significant amount of items on that game use that principle (i.e. one of the guns switches between rapid fire and a large energy ball depending on hold length)
  • Not sure if it counts, but golf simulations tend to rely on it; the longer the button is held, the harder you hit the ball.
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+1 for Super Smash Bros, it came to mind for me as well. – Ricket Aug 25 '10 at 17:04

Most of them are used in fast paced or brutal games.

EDIT: After your update only one game comes to my mind right now: Fable 2, for magic you had to press down and hold one of the controllers trigger to build up bigger more powerful levels of the respective spell.

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I think the games Tobal, The Bouncer, and Crimson Tears fit your description the most. In these games the pressure exerted on the Analog PS1/2 controller gives different results.

I.e. Tapping square gives you a jab, pushing it gives you an uppercut.

I should also add Tekken's Steve Fox has this tap, semi hold system where his attack change properties.

KoF's Shen Woo had the qcf+P where holding slightly makes it into a launcher rather than a flinch.

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the ps1 didn't actually have analogue buttons though, so they would have definitely had to use this technique, right? I don't think there are any controllers that can detect button pressure are there? – Iain Aug 25 '10 at 12:03
Supposedly the Bouncer had a middle ground between tap and pressed but it was very hard to hit it consistently. – Wight Aug 26 '10 at 1:08

My contribution: Tekken. Different moves can be done by holding the button down or just tapping it.

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Soccer games often have something like this: click once for a basic or short pass or shot, and hold down the button to ramp up the power and kick it harder and further. While not exactly an 'attack' this has the same time/potency tradeoff that you're presumably thinking about.

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Yes, this mechanic is common enough that there's a name for them: "charge attacks".

I've seen them mostly with side-scrolling shooters; it was popularized by R-Type (which is the earliest game I know of that had this mechanic) but some of the Gradius and Raiden games featured this as well.

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Isn't this true for any game where you are shooting a stream of bullets and don't have to release the button/key? If the enemy can be struck by three shots instead of one, is there any difference between that and making the attack stronger? (Sure, it also widens the area of attack over space or time, but it's still kinda the same.)

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i was thinking something like street fighter where slow attacks leave you open... – Iain Aug 24 '10 at 15:40

A thing to note also is the running within GTA. Holding A does a fast run but you get tired fairly quickly whereas tapping A makes you do a fast jog that you can keep up for a prolonged pierd of time. (I may have the presses the wrong way round)

Regards Mark

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Slightly different, you can sprint for a while by tapping and run forever by holding the button (at least in GTA4 on PS3) – Bart van Heukelom Aug 25 '10 at 11:36

In most Arcade style SHMUPS, if you tap the shot button it fires regular shot, but when you hold it down, it turns into a laser that is more powerful.

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I don't think you could do exactly what you're talking about. You would need at least a short delay to tell if the player is just tapping or holding the button. Unless the animations for a powerful and weak attack start the same. Alternatively you could just have your weak attack followed by a stronger one if the button is held down.

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"Unless the animations for a powerful and weak attack start the same" - yeah that's how you would have to do it. – Iain Aug 25 '10 at 12:02

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