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This is a Video Game trope where the game provides a button or command that serves no tangible gameplay function, but is included for atmosphere or effect. This can be particularly noticeable on game platforms with a limited number of available buttons.
The earliest and most common form of this trope is the ability to make the player's character perform a taunting gesture (hence the title), this context occuring earliest in 2D arcade fighters and their ports. (In some cases the taunting action is allowed to inflict Scratch Damage if it connects with another player, but the effect is so trivial that it may be ignored, save for the occasional Cherry Tapping.)
In some games, mostly action games, this can raise the Awesomeness Meter, or make enemies more aggressive. Making enemies more aggressive actually has a gameplay purpose, as it tends to open them up for a Counter Attack or make them more predictable.
Not to be confused with the Context Sensitive Button (which may perform a cosmetic gesture if there is no context for it to perform a useful action in), or the Idle Animation (which is performed in response to a lack of input from the player).
Compare and contrast Emoticons and the Emote Command, which are used for in-game social interaction instead of a gameplay function. Most examples are subtropes of Emote Animation, save for those which activate dialogue.
- Tournament fighting games with Taunt Buttons are so common that it's almost a tauntology and not worth listing every example of.
- The first taunt button ever was in Art of Fighting, although it performed an in-game function by decreasing your opponent's spirit gauge.
- The Super Smash Bros games have a dedicated Taunt Button, Super Smash Bros Brawl has three dedicated taunt buttons in fact. Of interest is Luigi's taunt, more of a quirk, a bashful scuffing of the ground but it is the only one to do some damage - 1%. In Melee, if you managed to KO someone with a taunt, you got a trophy, but if Luigi did it to someone hanging onto a ledge, they would burst into flames and be sent hurtling downwards.
- In Brawl, every character has three different taunts. Fox, Falco, and Snake can also access Easter Eggs on their home stages through taunting (Corneria/Lylat Cruise and Shadow Moses Island, respectively); these are known as Smash Taunts at the official Smash Bros. DOJO!!. In addition, Snake's taunt can hurt people too, but it's not as effective as Luigi's.
- Taokaka's taunt in Blaz Blue does damage. Really weak damage, but it still causes hitstun, and therefore, extends Combos. The only reason it can be considered a taunt at all is because every other character in the game has a meaningless taunt for that button.
- Spiritual predecessor Guilty Gear had Taunts on one button... and if pressed with the Forward button, they became Respects. These were, of course, indistinguishable to non-Japanese speakers.
- This had a very small effect on the metagame, as while Taunts cannot be canceled out of, Respects can, allowing you to feint.
- Dan Hibiki of Street Fighter often has multiple taunts. He even has a super that is basically an extended, glorified taunt that does nothing other than raising his and his opponent's super gauges.
- Taunting in Third Strike powers you up or provides some other form of status buff, such as invisibility. Tourney players like using these for combo opportunities.
- Taunting in Art of Fighting (which may have invented it) is actually a vital part of gameplay - it lowers your opponent's ki meter, which is needed to perform special moves (even if it's the CPU).
- And then there's Joe Higashi's infamous taunt animation - in which he moons his rivals.
- Taunting in Capcom vs. SNK 2 actually builds YOUR OPPONENT'S super meter, pretty much discouraging anyone from taunting for any reason (other than maybe they feel charitable.)
- Parodied in Marvel vs. Capcom 3 by regular Fourth Wall Breaker, Deadpool. His taunts consist of him merely yelling out, "Taunt button!" and "This is my taunt! (Heh! Get it?)" Hitting the opponent with the speech bubble also does a sliver of damage. Amusingly, it comboes into his "Shootin' Time" super.
- First Person Shooters as well, to the point at which games like Unreal Tournament had auto-taunting after kills, and that includes the AI taunting you as well.
- Bayonetta. Oh, so many. The most common is Bayonetta striking a pose and cooing, "Do you want to touch me?" Others include spreading her legs while taunting. Yes, it's that kind of game.
- Rise of the Triad provided "remote ridicules" in its multiplayer matches, which sent a voice taunt effect to the player's opponents.
- Ditto for at least a few other games with 3D Realms/Apogee involvement, such as Duke Nukem 3D and Terminal Velocity.
- Team Fortress 2 - You can even earn achievements for giving your opponent a freezecam shot of yourself taunting.
- In Team Fortress 2, you can actually One-Hit Kill someone with some of the taunts, which also earns you an achievement the first time you do it. However, taunts are slow to execute and must be well-aimed. Taunts depend on your active weapon aswell, and many classes can't perform a lethal Taunt at all unless they use a specific weapon.
- The Team Fortress 2 taunt button gets kills after the end of the round even if you are on the losing team, which can be amusing if a victorious player isn't paying attention.
- Finally, there are some non-lethal taunts. The Medic can heal himself slightly with one, and slowly heal nearby allies with another one. The Heavy simply eats his lunch with the according taunt.
- Then there's the Soldier's Equaliser taunt which consists of him blowing himself up with a grenade.
- Age of Mythology included prerecorded audio taunts that could be accessed by typing a number into the chat bar, which had a few lines from the campaign characters. The best are undoubtedly Gargarensis' "Turn back now, mortal!" and Ajax's "You may feel less like fighting after I pull off your head!"
- The infamous "999" taunt is "THIS IS RTS 3" sung repeatedly in a very-high-pitched voice. Players LOVE spamming this taunt. Also, "wololo!"
- In Jedi Knight II, Kyle had an Idle Animation whereby he would twirl his lightsaber with the force in his hand while waiting around. This could be activated with the "Taunt" command which could be set to a particular key if you wanted. When activated yourself you could do it with the lightsaber still on so you'd twirl it and the blade would harmlessly pass through your body.
- In Saints Row 2 there is a taunt button, but taunting after killing someone earns extra points, so it does have a purpose.
- The Devil May Cry games have a Taunt button that, when used within a certain distance of enemies, raises your style rating and gives you extra DT orbs. The taunt animations themselves change based on what your current rank is and/or how long you hold down the button.
- Myth and Oni have a unique taunt for each unit which can be activated manually, and is also used as a victory cheer at the end of each level in Myth.
- Racing games may allocate one button for sounding the vehicle's horn. While this is to be expected from any vehicular Simulation Game, it occasionally turns up in other vehicular subgenres.
- The GBA Super Mario Kart: Super Circuit, for example. In Double Dash, pressing the "use item" button with no item in hand causes the driver to honk and the passenger to taunt.
- One The Dukes of Hazzard racing game featured a "Yee-haw!" button.
- Earthbound: While riding the bicycle, you can ring the bell. Enjoy.
- The Leviathan and the Hellbender in Unreal Tournament 2004 are intended for multiple users, so one of the buttons is reserved for the horn, calling friendly NPCs to join you. All vehicles also have a more humorous horn melody for drive-by taunting, but it isn't bound to any key by default.
- In Looney Tunes Racing for the Play Station, characters have taunts that they do when the player presses the button that is used for firing weapons if they don't have any. Examples:
- Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (2010) removed the horn in exchange for a button to allow you to shut off and restart the engine of your car. While more subtle, it can be used to taunt your opponent by racing ahead (Racer or Cop), park in a safe spot and then shut off the engines to wait for them and then start them back up once they're approaching, even better if you're in a car with a long start up (I.E. the Murcielago and SV version).
- Taunting in God Hand enrages enemies, causing them to more damage to you for a brief period, but it also raises your Tension Meter so you can bust out your God Hand more often and is handy for drawing in enemies one by one so you don't have to fight several at once.
- In Ballz, taunting will increase the damage of your next attack, as long as you're not hit first. Multiple taunts stack, and this is actually the key to defeating one of the bosses- an ostrich who sticks his head in the ground to heal when you're far enough away.
- Monday Night Combat technically requires you to press two buttons at once to taunt (the console version, anyway), but it does so nonetheless. Taunting actually plays into the gameplay quite a bit, with the setting beind a Blood Sport. When you taunt, you show off to impress the audience, which awards some extra cash. Taunting after a kill gives you more money than the kill itself. Taunting while Juiced also pays nicely. Finally, if you take damage while taunting, your juice increases. Of course, all these benefits are counterbalanced by the fact that you are wide open to enemy attacks.
- Assassin's Creed II gives Ezio the opportunity to insult his enemies (and their mothers) during battle. The point is to enrage them into attacking directly, making them vulnerable to Ezio's devastating counter-attacks.
- The multiplayer in Assassin's Creed: Revelations has taunts you can perform after killing an enemy.
- The Taunt power in City of Heroes allows the player to force enemies to target them, pulling their attention away from other players (and NPCs) who may not be able to take as much punishment.
- Champions Online has a basic taunt on all melee Energy Builder skills. This animates as your character pointing his/her finger at the enemy, and makes any enemy mobs attack you for several seconds, regardless of other aggro.
- Mortal Kombat games allow some characters to taunt as function for one button. This serves a purpose - it recovers a little health.
- Xbox Blood Sport game Deathrow has a taunt button, used for drawing aggro from CPU-controlled opponents.
- Every Mario Party game since Mario Party 2 includes taunts. However, starting with Mario Party 6, you have to actually buy them first.
- In New Super Mario Bros Wii, if a character loses all of his lives in multiplayer, he's out of the game until the level's over. Until then, he's free to press a button to honk a horn at everyone else.
- Mario Golf and Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour let you either praise or taunt the player taking their turn while you wait for yours. Naturally, how the taunting goes depends on the character (for example, Wario and Waluigi seem to be purely made for taunting). Mario Golf: Advance Tour lets you write your own cheers and taunts, which can be transferred to Toadstool Tour for every character to say.
- Similarly, Mario Power Tennis lets you taunt by pressing the A button if the ball is not being sent to you. Doing a taunt would lower the opponent's power meter, making them wait longer to get a power shot. Hilarity rages on if you managed to smack someone in the face with the ball as they taunt you.
- The first Oddworld game allows Abe to fart on command. This serves absolutely no purpose in-game.
- Typing "/rude" in World of Warcraft will cause your character to make a funny or insulting gesture at their target. For instance, blood elves make silly faces and female trolls mime 'kiss my ass.'
- Scarface the World Is Yours has a taunt button. Used in battle after wounding or killing an enemy, it gains the player bonuses. Used with no one around, Tony sometimes becomes introspective.
- Comix Zone lets you assign a key to a "macho yell", which doesn't seem to have any purpose.
- 50 Cent Blood in the Sand, has a button relegated just to swearing and trash talking. You get bonus money for taunting people you've killed, moreso if you buy upgraded ones.
- Portal 2 calls them Gestures, since there aren't that many reasons to taunt your friend. One of them has the bot you control perform an acrobatic feat and fire their portal gun, actually placing a portal in the process.
- Star Wars: Racer had a useless Taunt function that had to be assigned to a button, whether you employed it or not. Unfortunately, since only one playable character (Anakin) was human every single other racer taunted in an alien language, which basically turned it into a Pardon My Klingon Button. Half the time Anakin himself yelled in Huttese, and the few English taunts contained gems such as "Eat fumes, wormo!"
- In TNBC: Oogie's Revenge, Jack's Taunt (where he cracks his weapon like a whip and yells "Come on!") actually does something useful: it upgrades enemies so that they become stronger and drop better items/exp. It's actually required to reach many of the level goals.
- In Gears of War, you often must execute enemies who are down to their last health. There are quick and dirty ones for times when enemies are near, or longer and more elaborate kills when you really want to rub it in.
- Blood 2: The Chosen had a button relegated to making the player character quip something at nearby enemies/corpses. Served absolutely no purpose other than letting the player hear the character talk about death and destruction more than he would on his own.
- Some games in the Tales (series) have a taunt that characters can perform, usually to fill one Awesomeness Meter or another. For instance, in Tales of Symphonia, it fills the Unison Attack gauge, which when activated pauses the enemy in its tracks to allow each character in the party an uninterrupted special attack move; in Tales of the Abyss, which has no Unison Attack, it instead brings the taunting character closer to Over Limit.
- ↑ The part in brackets does not appear in his speech bubble. He just says it without one.