When thrown into battle, many video game characters turn to the trusty firearm as a means to defeat their foes. Others prefer the deadly and effective blade to cut down their enemies. Several characters may rely on hi-tech gadgets and heavy duty vehicles to gain the upper hand. Magic and supernatural abilities are also popular methods of attacking amongst those who are fortunate to wield such powers. And then there are those who don’t need any fancy bells or whistles. For these particular folks, all they need for a weapon is their own clenched fist, and the ability to throw a good old fashioned punch.

Throwing a punch is one of the simplest ways to show your opponent the amount of badassness you possess, for when you plant your fist into your foe’s skull, you are demonstrating the awesome power of your own body as a weapon. It’s a philosophy that several video game characters have taken to heart when developing their fighting repertoires. While countless characters can throw a punch, only a fraction of them have made a name for themselves by crafting their own signature punch. This list aims to highlight some of these punches.

In the interests of variety, the following punches will try to hit different video game series and genres. Ideally, any punch on the list will have an identifiable name and will be often synonymous with the character that dishes it out. Since video games are the focus, the punches will only come from characters who originated from a video game (no punches from characters who originated from TV shows, movies, comics, or anime, for example). Lastly, the list will only contain punches that can be executed by you, the player. Let’s start punching!

Welcome to the World Video Boxing Association. In one corner, you have heavyweight boxers who are taller than six feet, weigh over 250 pounds, and are capable of knocking out a full grown man with just a single punch. In the other corner, you have Little Mac, a boxer who stands four feet, eight inches tall and weighs about 100 pounds. You’ll be playing as the latter in the NES classic, Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! So… ready to, uh… kick some ass?

Despite apparently being placed in the wrong weight class, Little Mac is actually very capable of holding his own against the behemoths of the WVBA. One of Mac’s equalizers comes in the form of his signature Star Punch, but you’ll have to earn the right to use it first by catching the other boxer off-guard. If, for example, you punch Piston Honda in the gut while he’s preparing for an uppercut, or strike Bald Bull in his menacing mug while he’s rotating his fists, or deliver a right hook to Super Macho Man’s face after he whiffs on his uppercut, you may see a star appear above your opponent’s head. Earning these stars is your ticket to unleashing the Star Punch. Once you use a star, Little Mac will crouch down, pull back his right fist for a second or two (all while a classic 8-bit “wind up” sound effect plays), and then leap high in the air with a devastating rising uppercut right into the opponent’s kisser. Needless to say, the recipient of the punch will take massive damage, even to the point of literally flying six feet into the air and getting sent clear across the ring in some cases. With such destructive power in one punch, you can make short work of your fellow boxers, no matter how big and tough they are.

If Commander Shepard begins his sentence with, “I have had enough of your…,” there’s a good chance that he’s preparing for one of Mass Effect’s time honored traditions. No one knows this better than Khalisah Bint Sinan al-Jilani, reporter for Westerlund News. Case in point…

Exhibit A: Mass Effect
As Commander Shepard, you’ll eventually bump into Khalisah, who requests to have an interview with you. The questions start off innocently, but soon the reporter will start asking malicious questions in order to portray you and your recent accomplishments in a negative light. You have several ways to respond, including an option that will eventually pop up as the interview gets more hostile that says, “Time to shut you up.” If you opt to go that route, Shepard will utter the words, “I have had enough of your snide insinuations,” at which point he’ll briskly walk up to Khalisah and casually deliver a swift roundhouse punch to the reporter’s face. The move is super effective, so much so that Khalisah goes down like a sack of potatoes in just one hit. As Shepard nonchalantly walks away, Khalisah will cuss him out and threaten to show everyone what he just did.

Exhibit B: Mass Effect 2
Two years later, Khalisah will once again ask Commander Shepard for an interview. Like the first encounter, you’ll be bombarded with loaded questions and not-so subtle pot shots. If you’re aching to do the Renegade Punch again, Shepard will utter the words, “I have had enough of your disingenuous assertions,” at which point he’ll briskly walk up to Khalisah and deliver yet another swift roundhouse punch to the reporter’s face. As Shepard nonchalantly walks away, Khalisah will cuss him out and threaten to show everyone what he just did.

Exhibit C: Mass Effect 3
Yep, you see Khalisah again, who for some reason wants to interview you once more. Should you choose to go for another Renegade Punch, Shepard will utter the words, “I have had enough of your tabloid journalism,” at which point he’ll briskly walk up to Khalisah and deliver yet another swift roundhouse pun--- wait, what?! The reporter will suddenly duck and get into a fighting stance. If you fail to improvise after Khalisah dodges your attack, you will get struck down by Khalisah’s Anti-Shepard Punch. But if you react quickly enough, Shepard will just headbutt the reporter, which sadly robs you of the chance of executing the Renegade Punch. At least Shepard was still able to show his masterful use of the thesaurus.

Upon completing Resident Evil 4, players were rewarded with access to the minigame, “The Mercenaries”. The premise was simple: get as many points as you can by quickly and efficiently killing the never-ending wave of enemies coming your way within the time limit. Only Leon is playable in the beginning, but as you complete the different levels with high enough scores, you will unlock more characters, one of them being the long standing villain of the series, Wesker.

Playing as the sunglasses-wearing superhuman comes with several perks, namely a stylish suit, access to some of the best weapons in the game, and an epic music theme to accompany your killing exploits. You also have the privilege of using Wesker’s melee attack, the deadly Thrust Punch, which can be used when you stun an enemy (either by shooting their face or limbs, or simply using a flash grenade). Once the opportunity presents itself, Wesker will pull back his fist and, within seconds, lunge his open palm forward with blinding speed. The impact of the thrust is so tremendous that the screen temporary blurs as if a shockwave was produced, and the unlucky recipient (or recipients) will literally be knocked back over 30 feet into the distance. The move usually results in a one hit kill, so all the ganados, zealots, chainsaw-wielding villagers with potato sacks on their heads, and other parasite infected enemies have much to fear when Wesker is about to perform it. With such a punch at his disposal, Wesker can easily accumulate an impressive body count, bringing him one step closer to achieving complete global saturation.

As the hand-to-hand combat specialist in Final Fantasy VII, Tifa is accustomed to getting right in the face of her enemies and delivering a multitude of punches. It doesn’t matter if it’s a member of Shinra, a towering Midgar Zolom, or a certain silver-haired masamune wielder, Tifa will still rush forward with fearlessness and show them the awesome power of her bare hands. Sure, the enemies of the FFVII-verse can try to slow her down by following the creed of all RPG bad guys (i.e. damage her as much as they can). However, doing so is just asking for certain death, because if Tifa maxes out her Limit gauge, she will unleash an ass whooping of epic proportions in the form of her Limit Break.

What follows is a string of devastating attacks, determined by how many “Yeah!s” and “Hits” you get during the initial slots phase. Assuming you don’t get any misses, the pain starts with Beat Rush (a rapid punch combo), then Somersault (a flipping backwards kick off the enemy), followed by Waterkick (a sweeping roundhouse kick). Things get more intense with Meteodrive, where Tifa grabs the enemy and performs a brutal German suplex (a funny sight when done on gigantic enemies like Emerald Weapon). Next comes Dolphin Blow, where Tifa executes a rising uppercut while summoning a dolphin out of thin air for some reason. Afterwards, Tifa will miraculously lift the enemy over her head with just one hand, at which point she’ll jump high into the air and viciously throw her victim straight down to the ground with Meteor Strike.

For the coup de grace, Tifa will execute Final Heaven, her ultimate punch. It begins with Tifa charging massive sums of energy into her right fist, which she slowly pulls back behind her. Once her fist illuminates with blinding white light, Tifa will literally punch through the enemy with the impact of a freight train. As a parting gift, Tifa will leave behind an intense explosion that will engulf whatever’s left of the victim. It’s no wonder why countless enemies (and even heroes from the entire Final Fantasy series, thanks to Dissidia 012) regret picking a fight with Tifa. For Tifa, it’s just another day at the office.

One of the many staples of the BlazBlue fighting game series is the ability to instantly kill your opponent with a single move. These instant kill techniques (known as Astral Heat) are spectacular displays of ass-kicking, which often include beating the opponent to a pulp with a staggering number of hits, using supernatural tools of mass destruction, or simply using one powerful strike to obliterate the victim. For only a few characters in the series, that “one powerful strike” comes from a single punch. One of the individuals is Makoto with her Planet Crusher, which involves her first punching the living daylights out of the victim, then finishing off with a skyward punch that sends the opponent literally through the moon. Another is Azrael and his Patriot Apocalypse, where he rips a chunk of earth right under the opponent, tosses it into the air, and then delivers a manly punch to it with the force equivalent to a nuclear blast. As for the third individual…

Introducing Bang Shishigami, resident ninja and self-proclaimed hero of love and justice. If the opponent fails to avoid getting hit by Bang’s trusty 55-inch nail, Bang will set into motion the Shishigami-style Forbidden Technique: The Ultimate Bang. While the opponent is pinned in place by the nail, Bang will ninja vanish away and dash through a series of sliding doors for some reason. The entire screen will then show a close up of Bang’s wild expression, his fist locked and loaded. Like a speeding rocket, Bang will rush back onto the stage with flames trailing behind him, his sights (and his fist) set squarely on the nail that has entrapped the victim. Once Bang’s knuckle collides with the nail, the opponent will literally be vaporized from the punch. Not only that, but the impact is so monstrous that it apparently blows Bang’s clothes off (save for scarf and banana hammock). They don’t call it The Ultimate Bang for nothing.

Mr. X and his crime syndicate have overrun the city streets once again. With the corrupt police force standing idly by, criminals do as they please, terrorizing the citizens with their reckless abandon. Enter Axel Stone, ex-cop and bare knuckled vigilante. As Axel roams the thug infested streets to the sweet beat of adrenaline pumping techno, the minions of Mr. X rush out in hordes to snuff him out. But when a guttural and amusingly unintelligible, “GRAND UPPAH!” pierces the air, Mr. X’s goons will soon realize that they got more than they bargained for.

In the beat-‘em-up classic, Streets of Rage 2, there is no move that the enemies fear more than Axel’s Grand Upper. By simply pressing forward twice, followed by the Attack button, Axel will duck, rush forward, and perform a vicious uppercut into the enemy. The velocity of the punch is so extraordinary that Axel’s fist radiates like a burning meteor. Not only can Axel dodge most attacks during the startup of Grand Upper, he can hit the foe multiple times while his fist makes its ascent. The damage caused by the Grand Upper is downright ridiculous, as it’s not uncommon for the typical fodder to lose half or even all of their life in a single punch. And the kicker: Axel doesn’t need to deplete his life (something you’d expect in a beat-‘em-up) to use the punch. That means the street punks will be hearing a lot of “GRAND UPPAH!” whenever Axel’s around. Well, that plus several “UWAAAH!”, “YAAAH!”, and other classic 16-bit death cries from all the victims of the mighty Grand Upper.

In any fighting game series, there’s going to be tons of punches being thrown around, and The King of Fighters series is no exception. As a result, picking just one signature punch out of the enormous cast of characters is quite the challenge. There’s Terry Bogard’s horizontally charging Burn Knuckle, Maxima’s autoguarding Vapor Cannon, Vanessa’s quick striking Dash Puncher, Shen Woo’s hard hitting Gekiken, and Ryo’s deadly counter hitting Tenchi Haoh Ken, just to name a few. One character stands out from the rest, though, with his extremely painful punches, and that man is Ralf Jones.

Boasting the resistance capable of surviving a nuke and packing the destructive power of a WMD localized entirely in his fists, Ralf decimates whole armies with just pure brawn alone. So when someone has to face Ralf mano y mano, the natural course of action would be to crap one’s pants in fear. Being on the receiving end of any of his punches is, to understate it completely, not a fun experience, especially if Ralf is executing the almighty Galactica Phantom. This move is so grand that Ralf has to wind back his fist and take several seconds of going “RARRRRRGGHHH!” to charge it up. It’s so invincible that attacking Ralf while he’s preparing for it doesn’t faze him at all. And it’s so monstrously powerful that when Ralf finally unleashes the super charged punch, anyone who comes into contact with it (even if they’re blocking) will lose most, if not all, of their life. Not to mention they’ll feel like a freaking rocket just launched into their stomach or skull at full force. Sure, the opponent can grab a bite to eat, take a nap, go watch a movie, come back, and then jump over Ralf before he can even pull off the attack, but that doesn’t take away from the incredible badassery of the Galactica Phantom.

For the fighters who participate in Mortal Kombat, there are many, many things to fear. These worries include facing a guy who, after commanding you to “Get over here!!!”, won’t hesitate to impale you with a harpoon to make good on his command; getting your heart ripped out Temple of Doom style; having your head separated from your body with spine still attached; free falling into a pit full of spikes; and… getting punched in the jimmies?

Why, yes, the last item is a legitimate concern when facing the martial artist/action movie star known as Johnny Cage. That’s because if you get careless, even for a second, you may find yourself going cross-eyed and singing a high-pitched tune after Johnny Cage executes his signature Ball Breaker move. This painful attack involves Cage doing the splits and, from his advantageous position, delivering a full-forced punch to your crotch. The move is understandably debilitating, as it causes the victim to be stunned with agonizing pain for several seconds. It’s a simple, yet effective punch that has become one of the most iconic attacks in the Mortal Kombat series.

But wait, what if the opponent is female? In that case, Cage will simply do the splits, realize that there are no balls to break, and stand right back up. It wasn’t until later in the series when Cage decided he’d let the female combatants experience the fun as well (of course, he had to make some adjustments to the angle of the punch to make it work). Cage is just an equal opportunity kind of guy.

Shoryuken! (Street Fighter Series)

When that battle cry pierces the air, chances are some unlucky individual just got their chest or face smashed in by a flying uppercut. Not just any flying uppercut, but one of the oldest punches around. Responsible for making leaping fighters regret their decision to jump since 1987, the Shoryuken aka Dragon Punch has built quite the reputation as the quintessential anti-air attack in fighting games. Ryu (well, technically Ken too under special circumstances) first showcased the move in Street Fighter 1, and ever since then the Shoryuken has evolved with every sequel, prequel, and updated version of aforementioned sequel/prequel.

In its purest form, the Dragon Punch is just one rising uppercut that skyrockets diagonally upwards, usually preceded by a classic “Shoryuken!” exclamation, and executed by inputting the iconic Dragon Punch motion (Forward, Down, Down-Forward+Punch). Ryu and Ken both used this form of the punch in Street Fighter 1 and 2, but once Street Fighter 2’s numerous turbo/super/hyper subseries surfaced, that’s when the Dragon Punch variations started coming. Ken began differentiating his Dragon Punch from Ryu by surrounding his fist with fire during the punch. It was made even deadlier in one of Ken’s signature hyper combos, the Shinryuken, which includes a purely vertical Shoryuken that spirals in a spectacular display of flames. Ryu also crafted his own Shoryuken hyper combos, the most notable one being the Shin Shoryuken, where Ryu first delivers a standing uppercut to the gut, strikes the opponent again with another uppercut with the other hand, then rises emphatically with the same hand to deliver one epic looking Dragon Punch. Other fighters in the series followed suit by introducing their own variation of the Dragon Punch, whether it meant adding a dash before the uppercut, incorporating multiple hits during the ascent, stringing together successive Shoryukens, exclaiming something different, throwing both fists up, or reducing the horizontal range of the punch in hilarious fashion. Even fighters from other fighting games started developing their anti-air attacks in the same style as the Shoryuken.

The Shoryuken’s influence simply spread like wildfire, and it wasn’t just limited to the video game realm. Deadpool famously performed a Dragon Punch against Kitty Pryde in the comics, for example. Characters in movies and TV shows have also been known to partake in a Shoryuken every once in a while. Even people in real life have been compelled to use it, notably NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers after he completed a touchdown pass against the Chicago Bears. It just goes to show you that there are a lot of fans of the venerable Shoryuken. Well, not everyone is a fan. Just ask a certain eye patch wearing Muay Thai fighter how he got the massive scar across his chest.

Gather ‘round folks as I speak of the legend of one Captain Douglas Jay Falcon. The year is 1991. Nintendo releases the intergalactic racing game F-Zero for the SNES. Commandeering the Blue Falcon hovercar is Captain Falcon, mysterious bounty hunter slash racing extraordinaire. Although Captain Falcon gets to race on tracks all over the galaxy, compete against different species, and drive to some awesome tunes, he is unable to do anything outside the Blue Falcon.

Flash forward to 1999 with the release of Super Smash Bros., where Captain Falcon is no longer confined to his racer and is instead putting up his dukes against Nintendo’s all-stars. Now with the freedom to walk around and communicate with the outside world, Captain Falcon felt compelled to speak. During battle, Captain Falcon would enthusiastically shout, “Show me your moves!” to any opponent within hearing distance. On occasion, he’d happily exclaim, “Yes!” to let everyone know when he was excited, or let out a disgruntled, “C’mon!” whenever he was displeased. He even started shouting out the names of the moves that he was about to perform, a decision that proved to be the beginning of something epic.

The epic thing in question is none other than the Falcon Punch. Before executing this signature move, Captain Falcon will get on one knee and start channeling all of his manliness into his hand. While charging up, Captain Falcon will kindly announce his upcoming attack by first exclaiming, “FALCON!!!” After enough build up, Captain Falcon will charge forward with his fist engulfed in the flames of a falcon emblem, at which point he’ll emphatically let out a thunderous, “PAWNCH!!!” If the opponent hasn’t already made a quick exit off the stage after getting punched, he/she will feel a homerun worthy knockback, as well as the pain that comes from one of the most damaging special moves in the series. The attack quickly became a real crowd pleaser, as the self-announcing aspect and the sheer power of the Falcon Punch made battles more exciting, and the ensuing knockouts more epic.

With the advent of the Falcon Punch, Captain Falcon’s popularity skyrocketed to new heights, not just on the battlefield but in other domains as well. Captain Falcon made his presence felt across the Internet, as countless animations, pictures, and videos involving an intense punch were made infinitely more awesome just by simply adding the sounds and/or imagery of the Falcon Punch to them. Captain Falcon also made a splash in the anime realm, thanks to the final scene of the F-Zero anime where Captain Falcon defeats his arch nemesis, Black Shadow, by leaping out of the Blue Falcon, letting out an echoing, “Falcon… PUUUUUNCH!!!” while his helmet flies off, and then subsequently striking a vehemently protesting Black Shadow in the face with said move moments before both of them are consumed by a galaxy sized explosion, all while a Japanese singer belts out song lyrics capable of making one shed manly tears. The legend will hopefully continue in the next Super Smash Bros. game, although at the time of this writing, Nintendo hasn’t announced Captain Falcon’s inclusion yet (“C’mon!”). There’s no telling where Captain Falcon will end up next, but wherever he goes the Falcon Punch is sure to follow.

With so many punches out there in the video game universe, ten spots are simply not enough to showcase all of them. Here are some other notable video game punches that got snubbed or belong to a series that has already been mentioned.

Doom Guy’s Melee Punch (Doom)
Who needs the BFG when you can make demons explode with your own bare fists?

Kazuma Kiryu’s Tiger Drop (Yakuza 2)
When trapped in a room with two feral tigers, most people would be sweating buckets. Fortunately, if you’re Kazuma Kiryu, you are capable of punching lunging tigers directly in the face with the Tiger Drop finisher, one of many special attacks from the Yakuza series’ signature Heat Actions.

Hard Man’s Hard Knuckle (Mega Man 4)
Obtained by defeating the Robot Master, Hard Man. You can shoot rocket powered knuckles. They are hard.

Knuckles the Echidna’s Hammer Punch (Sonic Adventure Series)
An earthquake inducing punch that Knuckles executes by leaping high into the air, followed by driving his spiked glove into the ground, stunning anyone nearby.

Kirby’s Megaton Punch (Kirby Super Star)
Kirby delivers a downward punch that can exceed 200 megatons. Capable of splitting the planet in half.

Punching From Your Motorbike (Road Rash Series)
What’s better than driving on the open road at speeds of over 120 miles per hour? Punching your rival bikers in the face and causing them to wipeout while you’re driving your motorbike at 120 miles per hour.

Rash, Zitz, and Pimple’s Smash Hits (Battletoads Series)
By morphing their hand into a giant fist or stone in exaggerated fashion (a staple of the series), the three Battletoads can send the Dark Queen’s minions into oblivion with one heck of a knockout punch.

Asura’s Six-Armed Vajra (Asura’s Wrath)
The constantly angry demigod, Asura, is a walking punch generator. One of his abilities is to grow four more arms, giving him a whopping six arms to punch enemies with.

Gene’s Roulette Wheel Punches (God Hand)
One of the perks of possessing a God Hand is the ability to use extremely powerful special attacks with the series’ Roulette Wheel system. Some of the punching related ones include Divine Smash (a simple charged up punch), La Bomba (a ground punching attack that hits surrounding enemies), One Inch Punch (short distance punch, long distance knockback), and 100 fists (machine gun punches to soften the enemy up, followed by one final strike that sends the enemy flying into the horizon).

Zell Dincht’s My Final Heaven (Final Fantasy 8)
Zell’s final limit break. He literally runs around the world before executing the punch.

Vi’s Vault Breaker (League of Legends)
According to Vi’s official bio, “To Vi, every problem is just another brick wall to punch through with her gigantic hextech gauntlets”. She likes to demonstrate that mindset with her Vault Breaker move, where she swiftly dashes toward wherever you point her to and gives anyone in her way a charging gauntlet sized punch to the face.

Hitmonchan’s Mach Punch (Pokemon Series)
A classic punch known for striking first.

Akihiko Sanada’s Earth Breaker (Persona 4 Arena)
Akihiko descends from the sky like a meteorite to deliver a colossal punch that instantly kills his opponent.

Zenia Valov’s Howling Black Hurricane (Arcana Heart 3)
Zenia delivers a brutal straight punch, which is made even more painful when she fires her pile bunker right in the face of her opponent at point blank range.

Potemkin’s Magnum Opera (Guilty Gear Series)
Before there was BlazBlue, there was the Guilty Gear series, which also utilized the one-hit kills. Potemkin’s Magnum Opera is one of the instant kills that involves a single punch, while the other is…

Slayer’s All Dead (Guilty Gear Series)
A super punch that the vampire, Slayer, delivers that causes the recipient to fly into the deeper reaches of space. While the victim disappears into the cosmos, Slayer will recite a gentlemanly haiku.

Balrog’s Turn Punch (Street Fighter Series)
Balrog turns his back to the opponent, only to turn back around abruptly with a surprise straight punch. One of his super moves in Street Fighter Alpha 3, the Gigaton Blow, is a beefed up version of the Turn Punch. According to Street Fighter canon, Balrog used this move to kill Dhalsim’s elephant for some reason.

Dudley’s Corkscrew Blow (Street Fighter Series)
“Gutter trash!” A classy straight punch surrounded by the force of a cyclone. Dudley makes this move even deadlier as an Ultra Combo in Street Fighter 4 with the Corkscrew Cross.

Makoto’s Seichusen Godanzuki (Street Fighter Series)
A five punch technique that many fighters fear due to the initial shot to the groin.

Gun Jack’s Gigaton Punch (Tekken Series)
A good old windmill punch that can instantly kill your opponent if you wind it up long enough.

Kazuya Mishima’s Lightning Screw Uppercut (Tekken Series)
Kazuya crouches down, spins around for a few moments, then rises up with a lightning charged uppercut. Sure, he’s totally vulnerable while he’s spinning around, but that just makes landing a successful punch all the more satisfying.

Jin’s Blodia Punch (Marvel vs. Capcom Series)
Jin throws a punch, which is then followed by his trusty giant mecha Blodia throwing a full screen punch.

Spencer’s Bionic Lancer (Marvel vs. Capcom 3)
A powerful dashing punch that is invincible upon start up. Includes Spencer shouting, “BIONIC… ARRRM!!!”

Liu Kang’s Fist of Flames (Mortal Kombat 9)
A fatality where Liu Kang literally punches a hole through the victim’s chest. Ouch.

Several Other Punches from Various Fighting Games
As the number of punches from fighting games suggests, you could fill a Top 100 list of punches solely from that genre.


Phew, that’s a lot of black eyes and knuckle sandwiches being delivered, and there are countless more out there that are worth checking out. It just goes to show you that there are plenty of ways to punish your adversaries with just a simple punch, as many video game characters have shown over the years. Hopefully we’ll continue to see characters creating new and spectacular ways to punch the opposition in the games to come. After all, nothing beats triumphing over your enemies through the awesome power of the almighty bare knuckled punch.

List by VinnieMac (07/07/2014)

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