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The first actual fighting game super meter was found in Samurai Shodown. Appearing on the bottom of the screen, both characters had one, and it filled up as a character took damage, rather than dealing damage like most later fighting games.
The game that named and popularized the mechanic was Super Street Fighter II Turbo. Appearing on the bottom of the screen, the super meter filled up as a character dealt damage. When full, a character could use a super combo; a beefed-up version of one of their regular special moves. These were, and still are, usually performed by doing a specific motion twice on the joystick, followed by the corresponding button (as in two quarter circle forward motions in a row instead of just one). At first, this seemed rather difficult to most players, but over time it became just as natural to every fighting game player as throwing a simple fireball.
Evolution & Variations
Capcom has modified their super meter over the years through various games. In the Alpha series, the meter now had three stages, number accordingly. Characters could use one, two, or all three sections of their meter for their super combo and the move (along with damage) performed would depend on how much of the meter was put into it. While many of the character's super combos could be initiated with just the first portion of the gauge full, some moves such as Akuma's infamous "Raging Demon" attack, required all three.
Being a staple in fighting games, it's no surprise that just about every fighting game developer includes some sort of super meter into their games. Some notable variations include:
- Samurai Shodown: The "Damage" Meter - This meter would only fill when the character took damage. When full, the character would appear red with rage, indicating that they were ready to perform a super combo. Later games in the series allowed the player to put their character into different modes, much like the King of Fighters franchise.
- King of Fighters: The "Stock" Meter - Another SNK original, the gauge here fills the same way as in other games, but the difference lies in the execution. Up to three stocks could be saved up, and then activated by hitting the B and D buttons at the same time. This would make the character more powerful, allow them to cancel special moves, and use what was usually their "ultimate" super combos. Super combos done without activating a stock would be quicker, yet weaker.
- Guilty Gear (X): The "Aggression" Meter - Probably the most fast-paced and often used meter of them all, the gauge in the GG series fills up when any sort of aggressive act is performed, such as running towards the opponent, jumping towards them, and of course, hitting them. The aggression meter is often used throughout the entire round, as it can be used for things other than super combos, such as a block that takes no damage.