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I bet that thing is regretting picking this fight about now...

The Break Meter adds another layer to gameplay and strategy by allowing a new route to defeat other than merely depleting Hit Points. It fills as a character is damaged and, when full, the character is "broken" and will be more vulnerable to attacks, be hit with criticals more often, and/or be unable to act. Occasionally, attacks or skills will behave radically differently against a broken enemy, with popular changes including the skill knocking them into the air and/or smashing them to the ground. Sometimes, breaking a character does just that; the character flees the battle.

Sometimes, games will provide special skills or abilities that are geared for causing break damage directly rather than physical damage, and strategies can be made up of getting an enemy to the break point, then wailing away on it.

Arcade Rail Shooters, such as the House of the Dead series, use a similar mechanic during boss fights: underneath the boss's health meter is a smaller meter that, when emptied, halts the boss's attack. Failure to empty the bar in time typically results in taking damage.

The inverse of Limit Break, and an aversion of Critical Existence Failure.

Examples of Break Meter include:


Eastern RPG

  • Appears in Episodes II and III of the Xenosaga series, where both player characters and enemies can be broken.
    • In II, broken characters could be knocked into the air or knocked to the ground, and would take large amounts of damage when hit. They would recover on their next turn. Characters were broken by hitting their weak points consecutively.
    • In III, broken characters would be unable to act for two or three turns and would be more likely to be hit by critical hits. Only physical attacks and techniques fill the break gauge, with some techs focusing primarily on causing break damage.
  • It is featured in Final Fantasy XIII, where a "staggered" enemy will take more damage, and the multiplication of damage will only get higher as attacks are sequenced right. Special abilities will even knock an enemy into the air, or do extra damage just as an enemy is about to recover.
    • Staggering also changes resistances. An enemy with 50% resistance to all types of damage will suddenly lose those resistances when staggered. Many tougher monsters require you to stagger them quickly to end the battle in a timely fashion and stay alive.
  • Featured as a prominent battle mechanism in both Mana Khemia games. Broken enemies are stunned for at least a turn, take more damage and suffer critical hits more easily.
  • Lunar Knights has shields as equippable items, so this comes into play. While it is possible to raise the limit for each shield in its own manner, if you take too much abuse while blocking, you will be stunned. In the midst of a Vorn rush, this is the last thing you want.
  • A variation appears in Resonance of Fate. Dealing Direct Damage to an enemy has a chance to break it's HP Gauge, causing it to be stunned for several seconds. Additionally, reducing it's HP to the point the gauge is broken restores the party's Hero Gauge by one.
  • Tales of Graces features Arles Rise (for the player party) and Arles Break, which is essentially Arles Rise for your enemies. Features of Arles Rise include increased damage, greater likelihood of staggering the enemy, and access to your Blast Calibers. Arles Break is this for whomever you're fighting.
  • Mega Man X Command Mission has this as a gauge of the enemy's initial health at the start of a turn, divided into a yellow and a smaller orange part. It always starts out as full each time a character attacks them, however, it depletes quicker the more damage it takes. Once the health drops to the orange part, the enemy will "Break Down" and the party can use a Combination Attack to finish it off.
  • Almost any video game coming from both Idea Factory and Compile Heart will feature this functionality.
    • In Cross Edge, aside from the HP bar, there were three other bars, each one colored green (Break), red (Burst), and blue (Down). Certain attacks from each character would deplete one of these three bars; if the red or blue bars emptied, the opponent was considered Guard Broken, and would take extra damage through the rest of the attack cycle. If the green bar was depleted, the opponent would be hit with an Over Break, and the attacker(s) got their full AP back. However, the enemy is fully capable of throwing these same tactics back at you.
      • In Trinity Universe, as the Chapter 3 tutorial notes, certain bosses have a Soul Barrier which dramatically reduce damage taken from the players. If the bar was emptied through repeated attacks, the barrier would break and the enemy would enter Soul Break, which allows the player to deal more damage, but the boss would have increased offense as well. Some bosses would even have a second barrier, which has lead to an exploit of double soul-breaking Lurker bosses to reap massive amounts of Experience.
    • Hyperdimension Neptunia simplified it to a single break bar. Once it depleted, the attacker got full AP back, and the broken enemy took double damage.
    • Record of Agarest War and Zero also had the Break meter but when you deplete it, you get an extended version of a Break Art. Record of Agarest War 2 also had a Break meter but what it does is that it gives you an Up Orb to be able to use Limit Breaks.
  • A variation occurs in Tales of Vesperia. By wearing down one of an enemy's three different meters - each of which corresponds to different attack directions - you can perform a Fatal Strike, a move that instantly kills normal enemies and boost the parties stats.

Fighting Games

  • Used in Super Smash Bros: Each character can use a shield to reduce damage, but it shrinks over time. If you keep shielding until it breaks, you are stunned for a short duration... which is more than enough for other players to brutalize you off the screen. A smash attack with the fan automatically breaks any shield, no matter how much is left. Breaking a shield may also send the character into the air, depending on their weight and damage. The effects range from barely noticeable (Bowser) to sky-high (Kirby). Jigglypuff will actually Star K.O. itself if its shield breaks, regardless of damage.
  • Featured in Dissidia Final Fantasy, which is appropriate since it is both an Eastern RPG and a Fighting Game. Brave attacks may break the enemy, meaning you can get the stage Bravery, which is usually a considerable boost, often enough to make any subsequent HP attack a One-Hit Kill. Meanwhile, your enemy's HP attacks won't do any damage while they're in Break. However, landing an HP attack will automatically end Break.
  • The Guard Libra gauge in Blaz Blue fills up as a player guards attacks. If filled completely, that player suffers a Barrier Crush and is paralyzed for several seconds.
    • Revised as the Guard Primer system in Continuum Shift. Every character has a personal number of primers, which disappear one by one as they block specialized guard break attacks. When you lose all of them, you are guard broken and helpless.
  • Dragon Ball Z Budokai 3 features a fatigue gauge, that, if filled will cause a character to be tired out if knocked down with less than one Ki gauge.
  • Soul Calibur IV introduces the Soul Gauge, which decreases when attacks are blocked. If it breaks, the player is temporarily stunned and open to a One Hit KO Finishing Move.
    • Soul Edge, the first game of the series, had Breakable Weapons that both reduced your offensive output and made you take chip damage when blocking.
  • Taunting in Art of Fighting reduces the special move gauge, which leaves many characters without an offensive arsenal. Notable in that the computer is actually bound by this, unlike some games.
  • Samurai Shodown is probably the Trope Codifier. Blocking too much or trading hits with a counter swing may lead up to weapon loss.
  • Street Fighter Alpha added a Guard meter that would stun you for three seconds if it was broken. You could also sacrifice some of it for an easy Counter Attack if it was obvious you were going to lose it. This meter also appeared in Capcom vs. SNK 2.
    • In Alpha 3, the Guard meter gets shorter with each successive Guard Break, to discourage turtling.
  • The King of Fighters has had this for the last few games. In Maximum Impact, the final boss's most powerful Super Move instantly breaks the meter if you block it, regardless of how much is left.
  • In the levels of Dragon Ball Advanced Adventure where you battle one opponent in a fighting game engine, both you and your opponent have a Rush Gauge. As long as it's not empty, you won't flinch or take damage from attacks, but each attack that you don't block or parry will deplete it. If you empty the opponent's Rush Gauge through continued attacks or a single counterattack after parrying, you break their guard and knock them back for a significant amount of time, and your attacks will make them flinch until you knock them down to the ground. After getting knocked down, their Rush Gauge will reset. It also refills on its own if you're not being attacked. Scoring a hit with a chi blast will immediately empty their Rush Gauge.
  • One Must Fall features an "energy bar" that depletes differently basing on different injuries sustained (quick weak blows deplete it faster than slow strong blows). Once empty, it causes the player's bot to become incapacitated for a few seconds and open for a devastating combo.
  • The Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure fighting game has the Stand Meter. If a character takes too many hits to the Stand, they are "Stand Crushed" - the Stand disappears and they are staggered. (For extra Continuity Nod value, the Stone Mask flashes in the background when this happens.)
  • In the story mode of the Touhou spinoffs Scarlet Weather Rhapsody and Hisoutensoku, enemies using spellcards have break meters. If you deal enough damage to them, they're stunned until it refills.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Supersonic Warriors has a single gauge on top of the screen between each character's health bars, with a mark in the center that moves closer towards each health bar as that player blocks attacks from the other. If the mark is not in the center, and one player fails to block a strong attack from the other, either the first player will be stunned until the mark can reset (if it was closer to his health bar), or it will just reset itself immediately (if it was closer to the attacker's health bar).

First-Person Shooter

  • Enemies in Brothers in Arms have a red circle over their heads, which loses slices as you shoot at or near them. When emptied, they're Pinned Down and have difficulty attacking.

Real Time Strategy

  • In Dawn of War, squads have a morale meter that goes down as the squad takes damage. If this meter is emptied, the squad breaks and its troops become less effective in combat.
    • "Less effective" herein meaning "they die twice as quick and deal next to no damage". Can actually be quite amusing, because their animations don't change. Thus, you can have a whole Space Marine Squad unloading More Dakka into a much weaker enemy squad and doing absolutely nothing. A-Team Firing Up to Eleven, anyone?

Wide Open Sandbox


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