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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  • Robx - September 28, 2010 10:13 p.m.

    A nut-punch followed by an upper cut? That's just brilliant... ...and cheap...
  • ventanger - September 28, 2010 10:14 p.m.

    Hahah! Cody's uppercut is the wallpaper on my phone. Great article Mikel, when I read the title I knew it was probably you.
  • SeattleSound - September 28, 2010 10:19 p.m.

    Mortal Kombat takes the cake.
  • Drawed - September 28, 2010 10:20 p.m.

    There's an Assassination in Reach that is an uppercut with a knife. It's pretty damn satisfying to spin somebody around and uppercut them upside the head with a knife/Energy Sword.
  • paganpoet - September 28, 2010 10:22 p.m.

    Ryu's Metsu Shoryuken and Cammy's Quick Combo are the two SSFIV ultra combos that make me wince a little.
  • Valcrist - September 28, 2010 10:25 p.m.

    Mmm, isnt the uppercut in the last part of Dan´s super/ultra actually a Koryuuken?
  • Redeater - September 28, 2010 10:25 p.m.

    I'm waiting for the article gaming's most satisfying dongs.
  • FNG - September 28, 2010 10:28 p.m.

  • mEgAzD - September 28, 2010 10:38 p.m.

    You forgot the Ume Shoryu, the Daigo variation of the Shoryuken lol.
  • TheWebSwinger - September 28, 2010 10:39 p.m.

    GamesRadar never finds ceases to find silly gaming minutiae for Mikel to turn into an article. Thank god for that. Awesome, awesome article. @RedEater: #1 - Brett's.
  • sutrebla15 - September 28, 2010 10:41 p.m.

    You forgot Gouken's! Which is basically Ryu's, but still!
  • 510BrotherPanda - September 28, 2010 10:42 p.m.

    Hooray, another concise, informative article by Basque-paraz about punching stuff!
  • Nin10DOH - September 28, 2010 11:01 p.m.

    Allright! Dan is awesome!
  • Tenfey - September 28, 2010 11:02 p.m.

    All great uppercuts involve Jungle cats.
  • 8bitBaby - September 28, 2010 11:16 p.m.

    nothing beats a good kidney punch. NOTHING.
  • ShittlesMcDuckstain - September 28, 2010 11:17 p.m.

    Breakdown on the original xbox had some pretty satisfying uppercuts. First-person-lightning-flowing-through-your-fists satisfying.
  • batman5273 - September 28, 2010 11:22 p.m.

    This article is totally biased against the Roundhouse Kick. The upper cut must have paid Mikel a ton of money. That must how they afforded Vegas on their meager editor salaries!
  • Kouin - September 28, 2010 11:41 p.m.

    Kazuya is actually doing the Electric Wind God Fist in the Street Figter x Tekken screen shot. I think that's more satisfying that landing the Lightning Screw Uppercut. Especially when you connect 4 or 5 in a row in one juggle!
  • MrSuitMan - September 28, 2010 11:57 p.m.

    You guys actually put in Lightning Screw Uppercut? Sweet. I thought the majority of Gamesradar HATED Tekken.
  • belthasar - September 29, 2010 12:05 a.m.

    What about Donkey Kong's awesome uppercut in Donkey Kong Country 2?! That one was EPIC! 03:40 - 03:50 in this vid:

Showing 1-20 of 45 comments

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