Chain combo

What it is

A system originally characteristic of the Darkstalkers and Marvel games, whereby normal moves cancel into normal moves, generally for a combo, though sometimes for a string.


In the most general incarnations, by pressing buttons in the order of weak, medium, and strong, normal moves have their recovery cancelled, performing sequential hits. As long as the direction is from weak to strong, the type of attack doesn’t usually matter; you may weave in punches and kicks, along with maybe even command moves, to include them in this chain.


This system was first implemented in the original Darkstalkers, where if you were to miss even a single part of the chain in the short timeframe it would be accepted, it wouldn’t happen. The actual name “chain combo” first appeared in Night Warriors and has been in the series since; in this incarnation, the damage correction was made stricter, but in return, input via hitting the same button rapidly and repeatedly (see mashing) became valid, and it was made possible to combo into a punch or kick of the same strength.


Also, in the Marvel series, some characters, regardless of the strength of the attack buttons, can chain from punch to kick or from kick to punch only once.


In Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, in which there is no kick/punch distinction, it is possible to chain from a standing attack to a crouching attack of the same strength (but not the other way around).

Similar systems

There are plenty of other games that have something similar to the chain combo system; these are often called “chain combos” as a generic term, even though they don’t always work in quite the same way.

  • Alpha Combo (Street Fighter Alpha only, with a couple exceptions; it proved unpopular)
  • Target Combo (SFIII, SFIV)
    • Unlike most chain combos, there are lots of restrictions; in fact, the patterns and routes are highly character-specific, resembling the Combination Attacks from the Fatal Fury series (though much shorter).
    • They can lead to powerful combos for some characters, and may even be possible in midair.
    • The slower characters (Hugo, Q, and Twelve) don’t have them in III; in IV, over half the cast doesn’t have them.
  • Plasma Combo (Star Gladiator)
  • Stand Combo (JoJo games)
    • Usable in Stand mode only; Alessy and most characters without a Stand mode can’t use them (Mariah is the exception).
    • The character-specific routes are predetermined; there are ones that can be canceled with a special move, and ones that can include command moves, deriving into overhead and low moves.
  • Flash Combo (Pocket Fighter)
    • In line with the game’s cutesy nature, characters switch costumes at several steps (except Ryū, who the devs decided didn’t seem a cosplayer type...).
  • Nekketsu Combo (Rival Schools)
  • Slash Rave (Fate/Unlimited Codes)
  • Combination Arts / Attack (Fatal Fury series; former name used in 3 only)
    • Highly character-specific routes can be taken; the usefulness of these depend on the game and character.
  • Samurai Combination System (Samurai Shodown games on the HNG64, SSVI)
  • Rensatsuzan(Last Blade games; Speed and EX styles only)
  • Stylish Art (KOF Maximum Impact; intended to be easy)
  • Gatling Combination (Guilty Gear series; usually Punch, Kick, Slash, H. Slash order)
  • Beat Edge (Melty Blood; relatively simple, as it is pivotal to gameplay)
  • Rush Combo (The Rumble Fish; usually weak, weak, strong, strong)
  • Arcana Combo (Arcana Heart; normal moves go from A to B to C, and thereon to a normal combo sequence)
  • Jūren Combo (Tekken; aka “tenstring”)
  • Revolver Action (Blazblue)

Further reading

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Based off the article on the wiki, edited on or before 5 January 2009.
Unofficial translation published by BRPXQZME / Alfie Parthum 1 February 2009. No unauthorized redistribution permitted.