Gaming’s most satisfying uppercuts

Fight Night knockouts

Injecting a bit of realism into fights doesn’t mean they have to be any less satisfying when it comes to the crunch of knuckles on jawbones, as the ultra-technical (and ridiculously fun) Fight Night series taught us. Pulling off an uppercut as a knockout move here gives you a slow-motion, multi-angled view of the hit, as your glove’s impact sends ripples through your opponent’s face (and a good amount of spit, sweat and blood flying in all directions).

We could just show you a few more pictures of this, but that wouldn’t do it justice. And if you haven’t played the Fight Night games, then you really need to see it in action:

Dudley’s Rolling Thunder

As intensely gratifying as realistic knockouts can be, a little over-the-top silliness courtesy of Street Fighter IV doesn’t hurt. Seeing an opponent collapse after a straight-up power shot to the dome is great, sure, but it can’t quite compare with launching them about 10 feet straight up after a flurry of punches.

Here, watch the whole thing in action for maximum enjoyment:

Mortal Kombat’s basic uppercut

Easy to perform and screen-shakingly devastating, uppercuts in the first four Mortal Kombat games were simple attacks shared by nearly every character. They were an icon of the series, as well as an easy way for beginners to kick ass and see lots of blood in a hurry. They were also a reasonably satisfying finisher, if you didn’t know any real fight-ending Fatalities.

Of course, they became an actual Fatality once you reached the Pit stage, where a post-fight uppercut would send your opponent careening off the narrow platform…

… and into a bed of bloody spikes:

Above: OH NOES

The stage-Fatality became so popular that the next game featured three of them, and they quickly became a staple of the series – especially in the third game (where it was also possible to uppercut your opponent through the ceiling and into a completely different stage). Rather than recap them all one at a time, here’s a handy YouTube video that details every Pit Fatality from the first three games:

Of course, uppercuts were an actual part of several legitimate Fatalities, most notably Liu Kang’s somersault-kick-and-uppercut combo. While an insufferably lame way to finish off an opponent in the first game (apart from maybe over the Pit), the move gained a considerable amount of savagery the second time around.

Of course, it was still fairly gentle compared to Johnny Cage’s primary Fatality, which was to uppercut his opponent’s head right the hell off:

As if that wasn’t a rewarding-enough way to end a match, holding down a few extra buttons in the second MK would make him do it again…

… and again.

Sadly, the uppercuts became less of a universal staple when MK moved into its more “realistic” phase with Deadly Alliance, Deception, Armageddon and vs DC Universe, but we know for a fact that they’re returning exactly as we remember in the new, upcoming Mortal Kombat. Here’s to once again spilling a quart of the red stuff every time we connect.


Before Street Fighter II’s release, uppercuts were a badass way to floor your opponents. After Street Fighter II’s release, they were a damn art form. This is almost entirely because of Ryu’s Shoryuken (aka dragon punch), which quickly became one of the franchise’s most recognizable signature moves, as well as the basis for one of gaming’s most legendary April Fool’s jokes).

It’s not difficult to see why, as the basic dragon punch is so instantly fulfilling that it’s been ripped off by just about every 2D fighter worth a damn. This is even after Ken’s arguably superior version added flames to literally set opponents on fire, something that hasn’t been as widely copied.

It’s also not even counting all the other SF-specific imitations that sprang up in the dragon punch’s wake, like Sagat’s Tiger Uppercut. It’s more or less indistinguishable from the Shoryuken, apart from the flip at the end, the multiple hits on the way up and the amount of damage it deals out.

A couple of our other favorites: Sakura’s Shouoken, a multi-hit dragon punch with a running start for an extra thrill:

And Dudley’s Jet Upper, which looks even cooler as the three-stage, whirlwind-enhanced Rocket Upper:

Despite his hundreds of imitators, though, Ryu’s ordinary Shoryuken remains the untouchable classic. Even in Super Street Fighter IV, you can tell where the developers’ real love lies; while Ken gets a flashy Ultra Combo Shoryuken that looks like this:

Ryu’s is possibly the single most dramatic move in the game, actually muting the music so you can hear every detail of how cool it sounds to punch a human chin in slow motion:

Sep 28, 2010


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  • Devil93065 - October 12, 2010 5:24 a.m.

    They should have added Megaman X2's Shoryuken to the list to make it even better.
  • t3rry747 - October 6, 2010 11:01 p.m.

    I think the kurby fighter uppercut and the original mario jump uppercut should of been on this
  • Matedawg11 - October 1, 2010 2:17 a.m.

    I actually got chills when I watched the Shoryuken video at the end :D!!
  • Romination - September 30, 2010 9:54 p.m.

    I beg to differ on Punch-Out, it's possible on a few enemies to knock them completely out with a star punch.
  • RushLight - September 30, 2010 4 p.m.

    What about Spider-Man 2's uppercut? I always found it incredibly satisfying to punch and thug the chin, watch them go flying then hit the ground again with a thud. Good times.
  • Dondada - September 30, 2010 1:42 a.m.

    Great article, nice homage in the end to SF and all its clones. I see you Rock'em sock'em robots...I mean Tekken.
  • FauxFurry - September 30, 2010 1:39 a.m.

    You also overlooked Fatal Fury's Joe Higashi's Screw Upper. It should have been right beside Kazuya's Lightning Screw Upper. Of course, neither compare to BlazBlue: Continuum Shift's Makato Astral Finish that has her upper cut her opponent straight through the moon.
  • sniperscope - September 30, 2010 12:07 a.m. That's just plain cool! I love this article.
  • Clovin64 - September 29, 2010 11:43 p.m.

    Killer Instinct references make me happy. I remember that game came with a free watch when got it. Yay!
  • blam57 - September 29, 2010 9:34 p.m.

    its all about the mk uppercuts, cept for the remake versions...they dont look that effective
  • Boxer47 - September 29, 2010 7:04 p.m.

    Great feature those were some awesome uppercut ko it funny i got a boxing match two day in Chicago lets see if i can get an uppercut ko if i do it would be epic lol
  • AlaskaGrown - September 29, 2010 5:49 p.m.

    Bravo Miguel....bravo! I have to admit, the first thing popped into my mind when I read the headline was Mortal Kombat. Never been a huge fan of the games, but uppercuts are so fucking visceral. I think it's the combination of the screen shake and the sound. BLAM!
  • SonicX_89 - September 29, 2010 4 p.m.

  • philipshaw - September 29, 2010 2:53 p.m.

    Classic Mikel article,I think you hit everything I could think of when reading the headline. I think like most I associate the uppercut with SF and MK
  • gmknoble - September 29, 2010 2:26 p.m.

    Lovely article Mr. Reparaz
  • deathrebellion - September 29, 2010 12:35 p.m.

    BLOODY ROAR Yugo The Wolf has THE best uppercut watch this -->
  • FauxFurry - September 29, 2010 11:52 a.m.

    No Grand Upper in an article on Gaming's Greatest Upper Cuts? That's one thing that Streets of Rage did beyond a shadow of a doubt better than Final Fight! Is Mr. X behind this omission?! That's the only logical explanation!
  • d3v - September 29, 2010 10:01 a.m.

    Funny that Cody's uppercut is the one uppercut that you do not want to see because it means that you screwed up his infinite. Also, Balrog is bad ass, he's always one of the best characters in any Street Fighter game he appears in.
  • Ninjadmin - September 29, 2010 8:05 a.m.

    M-Bisons duck face FTW!!!
  • Xenos - September 29, 2010 3:55 a.m.

    Ahh how could you forget the game that is named after one of the main characters moves? "BARE KNUCKLE"!

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