A “Finisher” is a type of move or command that can finish off your opponents for good. Sometimes these finishers that can only be used in certain conditions, or have limited use. Finishers can also be synonymous with special moves, super moves, or a combo maneuver, and each finisher is different in every game. In general, though, a finisher is a powerful move or set of moves that can be used to quickly dispatch enemies and attain victory.
For example, fighting games have super moves that can be executed after building up a power meter. If the super move connects, it will deal a lot of damage and gives you an advantage over the weakened enemy. Or if executed just at the right moment, you can win the round with a super move.
But what are the best finishers in gaming though? This article will explore a few games and list down one of the best finishers found in gaming. We will try to include other genres so the list will not be exclusive to fighting games only. Now with all that said, let’s jump into Honey’s Anime's Top 10 Finishing Moves in Gaming!
10. Mike Tyson’s Uppercut – Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!
- System: Nintendo Entertainment System
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release Dates: October 1987
Let’s start this list with a game that gave the player an opponent that can one-shot you right away if you’re not careful. Mike Tyson in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, also known as Mr. Dream in other versions and sequels, is the final boxer the player will have to face. Unlike other boxers the player faced, Mike Tyson can deliver an uppercut that guarantees a knockout.
The worst thing about Tyson is he constantly uses his uppercut and the player’s only option is to dodge. The uppercut itself is blockable, but you still take a good amount of damage, so it’s ill-advised to use it. Beating Tyson requires patience and memorizing his attack patterns. Once you beat Mike Tyson, you survived against a man with a punching power that can end matches in a single round.
9. Axe’s Culling Blade Ultimate – Dota 2
- System: PC, Linux, Mac
- Publisher: Valve Software
- Developer: Valve Software
- Release Dates: July 9, 2013
There are only a few heroes in Dota 2 with an ultimate specifically to deliver a fatal blow. The only hero that can deliver a powerful finisher is none other than Mogul Khan, also known as Axe with his Culling Blade ultimate.
Culling Blade – Axe spots a weakness and strikes, instantly killing an enemy unit with low health.
How this works in the game is once you get your enemy’s health low enough, you can instantly kill them with Culling Blade, or a Slam Dunk, as fans like to call it. Axe delivers a powerful overhead axe swing, that once it connects, the screen shakes and your target will instantly drop dead in a pool of their own blood with an accompanying loud metallic clang. The sound of the dunk and shaking screen are so satisfying, it also boosts the morale of your teammates, both mentally and in-game.
Given enough mana reserve, Axe can potentially kill the entire enemy team since Culling Blade will not go into cooldown unless you misjudged and swung your ultimate at an enemy hero with high health. Axe is also great at finishing off stragglers or great at killing priority targets like the enemy hero carries and support heroes.
In the words of the great Pyrion Flax: “He [Axe] hits you so hard, you turn into an effing number.”
8. The Undertaker’s Tombstone Piledriver – WWE 2K18
- System: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
- Publisher: 2K Games
- Developer: Yuke’s
- Release Dates: October 13, 2017
If we’re gonna talk about finishers, then we need to mention professional wrestling! Pro-wrestling since time immemorial is the home of many childhood heroes and inspirations. While it geared towards a more teenage audience, pro-wrestling also has younger fans that grew up and still remembered the epic tag-team matches, rivalries, sad losses and ridiculous, but fun off-stage drama. Pro-wrestling is like a primetime sitcom but with lots of sweaty men and spandex. And they’re better than actual tear-jerking sitcoms.
Fast forward to the current year, pro-wrestling is still around and reached more audiences thanks to the many wrestling games that came out. WWE 2K18 is the latest line of wrestling games featuring over 200 wrestlers from past to present. Each wrestler has their own personality, moveset, and of course their own finishers. A finisher in the context the story and game is a move that can quickly knock out an opponent for the count.
Of all the finishers available, the most popular and the most recognizable finisher has got to be the Undertaker’s signature move, the Tombstone Piledriver. It’s a variation of a piledriver called belly-to-belly piledriver where a wrestler holds his opponent in a belly-to-belly position, lock the head between the legs and fall to a kneeling position, and the opponent gets knocked out as he hits his head.
Visually, it’s not really spectacular compared to flashier finishers from other wrestlers, but the tombstone piledriver and its lethality have helped propel the Undertaker throughout the decades. Seeing it in action gets the audience roaring with excitement, it made the Undertaker champion multiple times, settle feuds, and, funnily enough, the finisher’s victims became popular. If the Undertaker said he’ll make you famous, that usually means a chokeslam or a tombstone in the middle of the ring. Hey, no one said the road to fame is easy. Tombstone! Rest. In. Peace!
And if ever, the second best finisher is the Rock’s People’s Elbow. It was dubbed as the most electrifying move in sports entertainment history.
7. The Chainsaw – DOOM 2016
- System: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
- Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
- Developer: id Software
- Release Dates: March 13, 2016
DOOM 2016 is a true proper reboot of a beloved classic with a true run and gun gameplay, no weapon reloading, you can carry a ton of weapons, and tons of demons and hellspawns to kill in wide open maps. Iconic weapons have returned like the super shotgun, the BFG, and of course the chainsaw. There are many iterations of the chainsaw, and the most powerful version of them all is the chainsaw of DOOM 2016.
In DOOM 2016, there is a mechanic called “Glory Kills” and that’s basically instantly killing weakened demons with brutal efficiency. One of the benefits of glory killing is demons drop more ammo, health and armor shards. It can be a life-saver when you’re low on health or ammo, but one of the drawbacks is you need to weaken a demon first. If you really want to prioritize killing powerful demons as soon as possible to level the playing field, the chainsaw is your best friend. A chainsaw with full fuel can instantly kill anything in the game that are non-bosses. The sound of ripped flesh, innards gushing out, blood spattered everywhere, the chainsaw is very messy but efficient at dispatching minions from Hell.
The chainsaw kills also acts as a instant glory kill that rewards you with tons of ammo, health and armor shards. Low health with no more ammo and there is hulking Baron of Hell chasing you? Use the chainsaw to instantly kill the demon, replenish your supplies and be ready for the next wave of demons who are eager to rip your head off.
6. Soul of Cinder’s “Wombo Combo” Finisher – Dark Souls III
- System: PC, PS4, Xbox One
- Publisher: From Software, Bandai Namco Games
- Developer: From Software
- Release Dates: April 12, 2016
The Soul of Cinder is the final boss of Dark Souls III, and he is perhaps the most memorable boss in the game, not because he’s on the front cover of the game, rather it’s because how he fights. In the Dark Souls 3 lore, the Soul of Cinder is the amalgamation of past undead warriors who have linked the First Flame. What that also means is the Soul of Cinder has every core fighting style from a sword build, curved sword build, spear build, greatsword build, mage/intelligence build, pyromancy build to a faith build. The boss switches fighting style on the fly and reacts like a human player but without any weaknesses, and that makes him a formidable and fitting final boss of the Dark Souls trilogy.
However, once he gets to his second stage, he’ll be more powerful and he fights similarly like a certain final boss veteran Souls players are familiar with. And in this form, he has an unbreakable attack combo that once it connects, it will most likely kill any player. The Soul of Cinder charges up his swing and unleashes a 5-hit combo that ends with him stabbing the ground for a massive area-of-effect blast. The combo has no actual name, but fans call it the “Wombo Combo.” And like the meme, the combo can most likely end the fight, but in the Soul of Cinder’s favor.
This combo can be considered the Soul of Cinder’s finisher because it’s exclusively available in his second phase and it can potentially kill the player.
5. Mega Man’s "Mega Legends" Final Smash – Super Smash Bros.
- System: Wii U, 3DS
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release Dates: November 21, 2014
A Final Smash is a powerful special move with the potential of giving a KO to any player who gets hit. Performing a final smash is very easy with a push of a button, but the player must first destroy the Smash Ball and survive long enough to activate the move. Once the final smash connects, it can quickly turn the tide of battle either by knocking out your opponents or catch up.
The most popular final smash in the game is Mega Man’s Mega Legends. He deploys a black hole bomb, trapping any player, then Mega Man X, Geo Stelar, Omega-Xis, Mega Man Volnutt and MegaMan.EXE appear all alongside Mega Man to deliver their signature Busters. Not only it’s a very good final smash, it’s also one of the most eye-catching. It’s such a crowd-pleaser, you can’t help but let yourself get intentionally hit so everyone can see Mega Man’s final smash.
The final smash is a constant reminder that there is a developer other than Capcom who still cares for the Blue Bomber, and we will never see a proper reboot in the foreseeable future. Let’s keep on hoping for Mega Man to come back, everyone... Although, and new Mega Man game has been announced [Mega Man 11] so we can definitely look forward to that at least!
4. Cloud Strife’s Omnislash Limit Break – Final Fantasy VII
- System: Playstation
- Publisher: SquareSoft, SCEA
- Developer: SquareSoft
- Release Dates: September 7, 1997
The Omnislash is Cloud Strife’s signature move and is perhaps the most popular finisher in all of Final Fantasy since its debut in Final Fantasy VII, next to Squall Leonhart’s “Lionheart Limit Break” in Final Fantasy VIII. Considered the most powerful Limit Break in the game, the Omnislash (and with the right character stats and level) delivers a devastating 15-hit 9999 damage combo that will surely kill any monster and will speed up the process of beating powerful bosses.
Through normal game progression, getting Omnislash requires the player to complete a side quest as it’s not available through leveling up. Once you’ve acquired this level 4 Limit Break, the game’s late-game enemies and bosses will be a lot more manageable with its quick burst damage. In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Cloud uses the Omnislash once again to defeat the one-winged angel Sephiroth who was strong enough to block Cloud’s other Limit Breaks during their climactic battle.
3. Gouki/Akuma’s Shun Goku Satsu/Raging Demon – Street Fighter Series
- System: PC, PS4, Linux
- Publisher: Capcom
- Developer: Capcom
- Release Dates: February 16, 2016
The Street Fighter series has a ton of iconic super moves from Ryu’s Shinku Hadoken, Ken’s Shoryureppa to M. Bison’s Final Psycho Crusher, but the most popular, and the most powerful story-wise, is none other than Akuma’s Raging Demon. What makes the Raging Demon so popular because of its unique animations and special victory pose if it knocks out your opponent. Akuma glides towards his opponent, grabs them, the screen goes black, and is relentlessly beaten and ends with the opponent lying on the ground either unconscious or dead. The screen then flashes with the icon “ten” symbol behind Akuma. The move is unblockable so once it connects, you’ll pretty much get full damage, unlike other supers where you can recover, block, or if one of the chaining hits misses its mark.
"The Raging Demon... Its power is unequaled... It is not my fist but your past sins that will kill you... The more evil your past doings, the more painful your death..."
How the Raging Demon works is infernal energies pass through Akuma and is delivered to his target. The more negative energy his opponent has, the deadlier the strikes they receive. This is also a very life-threatening move even to the caster, so it’s a move no mere human can perform. The only ways to survive the Raging Demon are one must master the Power of Emptiness, or an opponent is a machine or an entity without a soul.
Gameplay-wise, and depending on what game, the Raging Demon uses the full super meter, so the move must be executed when the opponent is almost at low health. And this is a risky move to pull because, while unblockable, it can be easily countered and can be jumped over. When it does connect at the right moment, it’s a powerful finisher that will guarantee victory.
2. Jack-O' Valentine’s I Want Out Instant Kill -- Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2
- System: PS3, PS4
- Publisher: Arc System Works, Aksys Games
- Developer: Arc System Works
- Release Dates: May 26, 2017
Guilty Gear is currently the reigning champion of anime-style 2.5D fighting games with no real rival other than BlazBlue. Some 2D fighters, if not all of them, from the arcade days, transitioned from 2D sprites to 3D models because, well, everyone wants to jump to the next generation much like Mario did. And while this is an inevitable course, a lot of these games lost its anime-styled charm. Even the King of Fighters series moved to 3D and the new look is not as good as the anime-styled original sprites the games are known for.
The Guilty Gear series did transition to 3D, but in more creative ways while preserving the anime aesthetics using cel animation and illusion techniques to simulate low FPS animations found in anime shows. The end result is a visually stunning game that not only it looks like anime, it plays like a classic 2D fighter in the arcades. Everything you see from character animations, designs, voice acting, sound and special moves are very eye-catching. Everything is just so beautiful to look at. So beautiful in fact that it was very hard to pick which Instant Kill move to put on this list because every Instant Kill move is a work of art!
But what is an Instant Kill (InstaKill)? As the name suggests, it’s a special move you can only use once per round and if the move connects, it will instantly knock out their opponent. A brief flashy cutscene (similar to those spellcasting cutscenes in RPGs) of the character appears to deliver the final blow. A typical match usually ends with an Instant Kill win due to its effectiveness during casual play with friends. Or maybe it’s another Mega Man scenario when the player intentionally gets hit just to see the animation sequence.
To highlight this example, we ended up picking Jack-O' Valentine’s "I Want Out" Instant Kill because of its absurdity — She dives down from the stratosphere after being tossed by her cute minions to deliver a kick so powerful, you can see the blast from space. The sequence ends with Jack-O' Valentine yelping "Yatta!". Additionally, the finisher is very funny to look at, has a ton of personality, and symbolizes that the game’s anime-style graphics hasn’t changed after the transition from 2D to 3D.
1. Sub-Zero’s Spine Rip Fatality – Mortal Kombat
- System: Arcade, SNES, Genesis
- Publisher: Midway
- Developer: Midway, Sculptured Software
- Release Dates: October 8, 1992
The Mortal Kombat games have been known for its graphic violence in the form of Fatalities. Fatalities are brutal finishers that let the player outright kill the opponent after the game flashes the FINISH HIM!! message on the screen and the most iconic of all is Sub-Zero’s Spine Rip fatality—Sub-Zero grabs his opponent by the hair and rips their head off with the spine dangling for everyone to see. It’s brutal and very realistic because Mortal Kombat used digitized sprites of live-action actors.
Some finishers are gory, some are flashy, some are deadly in the context of the story, but there is no finisher that literally shaped the culture of gaming like Sub-Zero’s Spine Rip fatality. Looking at the fatalities of Mortal Kombat is laughable when compared to the gory ones found in Mortal Kombat X, but back in the 90s, the fatalities are one of the very first gory violent acts in gaming. So gory, in fact, gaming got a lot of bad press from the media and got heavily criticized by advocacy groups and the US government.
In response to the backlash, the gaming industry found the Entertainment Software Rating Board, familiarly known as the ESRB, to assign age ratings of every game based on violence and sexual content. Sub-Zero’s fatality, or fatalities in general, and two more controversial games were signs that gaming was still growing and becoming bolder with their designs. Something has to step in and plug any leaks. And as such, the Spine Rip is number one on the list.
And that’s our list! Finishers can come in many forms, and one might argue that the definition is very vague if you consider the many nuances from similar terms like super moves, special moves, ultimates, and so on. This list is also meant to highlight that a finishing move isn’t mutually exclusive to fighting games and they come in many forms from gameplay mechanics to story/lore.
What do you think of our list? Are there any more great finishers that we missed? If you have something in mind, please share it with us by leaving a comment below!