What it is
Super special moves (aka super moves, or even just supers) are great techniques, above the level of special moves. This is a generic term; supers are known by many other different names depending on the games, the history of the fandom, and so forth.
First found in Art of Fighting, it has since been found in many of the subsequent fighting games from SNK and other makers.
Furthermore, they were first accompanied by the “super flash” in Super Street Fighter II Turbo when its “super combos” were activated.
Depending on the game, these moves may actually be some sort of cheats.
The moves become usable when one’s remaining life gets low enough, or if a power meter or its equivalent is sufficiently filled up.
The former status condition once prevailed, but most games these days opt for the latter. In recent games, you don’t necessarily get as much huge damage even when a super special move hits, either.
Other recent trends include having a more exclusive, more flashy, more powerful class of super special move.
Super special moves had their beginnings in SNK’s Art of Fighting, and most SNK games retain this name. In English, the term “(super) desperation move”, abbreviated “(S)DM”, has been used because the earlier games required one’s remaining life to be low (...this is outdated today, and I don’t use this notation, but a lot of people still do).
Even SNK crossover games with Capcom retain this name, but they still made plenty of games without it; regardless, lots of the playerbase will still call them “supers” or something like it, no matter what.
You might expect them to have drastically more offensive throughput if included in a combo, but most of the commands are long, and in games with high game speed, accurately including one takes time.
In combo games, damage correction tends to be pretty harsh; the throughput is better when one goes to the trouble of air combos and such, so ease in landing a super in a single step is important.
Kinds of super special moves
This is a non-exhaustive list of the kinds of supers that are out there. All in all, the differences can be rather subtle at times, if they exist at all.
- SNK types
- Secret super special move (or hidden super desperation move / HSDM; a higher class of super. In the beginning, these really were “secret”!)
- Potential Power / Senzai Nōryoku (from the Fatal Fury series; a higher class of super)
- Overdrive Power (from Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition; a higher class of super)
- Hiōgi (from the Samurai Shodown series; significance differs widely)
- Buki Hakai Waza (“weapon-destroying move” from SS2; also in a coupleSS6 modes)
- Buki Tobashi Hissatsu Waza (“weapon-launching special move” in SS3–5, SS5S, and the corresponding SS6 modes)
- Zetsumei Ōgi (the fatality / one-hit kill move from SS5S)
- MAX version super special move (from KOF ’96–2002; more than a plain old super special move, it requires certain conditions to be met, like being in a “MAX” status)
- MAX2 (from KOF 2002; a level above MAX super moves, even. Originally secret)
- Leader super special move (from KOF 2003–XI; a level above super special move, and only available to the character appointed as the “leader” of the team)
- Gyakuten Waza (“turnaround move” from the Fūun series)
- Chō Ōgi (“super secret” from the Last Blade games)
- Senzai Ōgi (“potential secret” from the Last Blade games, hailing to the FF “potential power” in that it is a higher-level super)
- Ranbu Ōgi (“ranbu secret” from the Last Blade games; a “rave”-style / “custom combo” style super)
- Exceed (from SNK vs. Capcom SVC Chaos; a higher level of super)
- Another Double Assault (from NEOGEO Battle Coliseum; a team-up super)
- Capcom types
- Super Combo (from SSFIIT, found in later games)
- Meteo Combo, Meteo Tag Combo (from SFEX2+ and SFEX3; the former is a high form of super, the latter is a team-up super, higher than the former, even)
- Super Arts (from theSFIII games)
- Ultra Combo (from SFIV; a higher form of the Super Combo)
- EX special moves
- Hyper X (from X-Men: Children of the Atom)
- Infinity Special (from Marvel Super Heroes)
- Hyper Combo (from the Capcom vs. series)
- Mystic Break (from Red Earth)
- Cyber EX (from Cyberbots)
- Mighty Combo (from Pocket Fighter)
- Plasma Strike (from Star Gladiator)
- Burning Vigor Attack (from the Rival Schools games)
- Other developers’ titles
- Fatality (from the Mortal Kombat series; only possible after defeating the opponent)
- Saishū Ōgi (“final secret” from Kaiser Knuckle)
- Chō Hisshō Waza (“super sure-win move” from Fight Fever)
- Ippatsu Ōgi (“one-shot secret” from the Power Instinct series)
- Stress Shoot (fromGroove on Fight and Matrimelee)
- Kinjite (“forbidden tactic” from Matrimelee; secret moves above normal super level)
- Kyūkyoku Ōgi (“ultimate secret” from World Heroes Perfect, and unrelatedly, from the Hokuto no Ken 2D fighting game)
- Jutsu (from Kabuki Klash; the rather generic name comes from the fact that it is based on an RPG series)
- Shin Chōryoku (“true super power” from Ninja Master’s)
- Yami Chōryoku (“dark super power” from Ninja Master’s; above normal super level)
- Tenpenchii Waza (“natural-phenomenon move” from Ragnagard)
- Chō Shinken Waza (“super god’s-fist move” from Ragnagard; above normal super level)
- Doki-Doki Attack (from Waku Waku 7)
- Hara-Hara Attack (from Waku Waku 7; above normal super level)
- Magic Break (from the Asura series)
- Kakusei Hissatsu Waza (“awakening deadly move” from theGuilty Gear series)
- One-hit kill move (from several series)
- Beast Drive (from the Bloody Roar series)
- Offensive Arts, Defensive Arts, Critical Arts (from The Rumble Fish)
- Mana Burst (from Chaos Breaker)
- Arc Drive, Last Arc (from Melty Blood)
- Arcana super special move, Arcana Blaze (from Arcana Heart)
- Critical Heart (from Arcana Heart 2)
- Tokubetsu Kōgeki, Saishū Tokubetsu Kōgeki (“special attack” and “final special attack” from Akatsuki Blitzkampf)
- B Power Arts (from Big Bang Beat)
- Monster Blow, Bash Combo, Absurd (from Monster)
- Distortion Drive (from Blazblue)