Focus Attacks are accompanied by black ink streaks, which are featured in the official artwork for the Street Fighter IV series. The presence of the ink may also be a reference to how the fighters use and display a "literal" martial art.
|Street Fighter IV series||Special Attack||Universal||+|
|Marvel vs. Capcom 3||Special Attack||Crimson Viper||+|
During a Focus Attack, the character gains Super Armor (known as Hyper Armor in the manual) against one attack (which will instead inflict provisional damage); as such, it can be used, somewhat sparingly, as a pseudo-counter. The Super Armor is active during charging, but not during the actual attack, meaning that one is vulnerable in the brief window between letting go of the buttons and actually delivering the attack.
The attack has three levels, and gains additional effects, determined by how long the buttons are held down before being released.
- Level 1: this is the default type and requires no charging. There is no additional effect normally; however, if a player lands a Focus Attack against an attacking opponent, it will crumple the opponent (i.e. make them slowly fall to their knees, then fall belly-first altogether).
- Level 2: if the attack is charged briefly (a little less than one full second), it will be inherently capable of crumpling the opponent upon a successful hit. Level 2 will be achieved once the character performing it starts to flash white.
- Level 3: if the charge is held down until the character flashes yellow (at which point it will be automatically executed), it will be unblockable and will crumple the opponent.
A Focus Attack, when timed correctly, can be used to "cancel" a special attack; this is known as an EX Focus, and takes two bars of the four-section Super Combo Gauge. For example, during the first hit of Ryu's Shoryuken, a player can quickly input a Focus Attack to cancel the rest of the move's animation. This is useful if the player only needs the first hit of the move and does not want to, for example, risk being counter-attacked by an opponent who can recover from the attack quicker than the move can finish. It is also useful for continuing a combo by executing the focus attack, or else through "dash canceling", which is explained below. Although an EX Focus Attack can be charged like the regular version it does not have Super Armor properties.
A normal focus attack can be canceled by dashing (quickly tapping forward or backward twice). This also applies to EX Focus attack; the latter is known as a Focus Attack Dash Cancel (commonly abbreviated to FADC), or simply a Focus Cancel. Focus Canceling is a relatively high-level tactic which is often used to string together large combos. Continuing with the previous example, Ryu could cancel his Shoryuken with a Focus Attack, dash cancel the Focus Attack by dashing forward, and continue performing attacks while the opponent is still in the air from the Shoryuken, such as a Metsu Shoryuken. Another common use of this technique is to "make [an attack] safe". This is accomplished by executing an attack and, if blocked, performing an EX Focus and backdashing so that the player is out of range of potential counterattacks.
If the dash is input while the character is already delivering the Focus Attack, the Focus Attack will not cancel but will instead proceed as normal - except the character will immediately dash after hitting the opponent, also allowing for combo potential while the opponent crumples. This is necessary, as usually a Focus Attack will push the character using it back, and takes some time to recover from. A dash follow-up allows the player to perform a combo against a helplessly falling opponent.
C. Viper's Focus Attack is included among her special attacks in the game. It works similar to Street Fighter IV wherein she can absorb a single hit of most attacks and be charged up to three levels for the same types of effects as seen in IV (basic attack, crumple knockdown, and unblockable).
Ryu is able to use his Focus Attack as his Down Special attack. It works the same as it does in Street Fighter IV, allowing Ryu to absorb damage in order to stun the opponent. It deals a high amount of percent damage and can also slow Ryu's fall through the air. The main differences from the Street Fighter IV version are that Level 1 will not cause a crumple in any situation, while the Level 3 Focus Attack causes a longer crumple than Level 2; in addition, the Focus Attack can be reversed (as an adaptation to Smash Bros.), and an enemy who is hit in the air by a Focus Attack will be left shaking in place, suspended in the air until knockback is applied.
Dash Canceling can be performed even in mid-air, giving Ryu maneuvering options.
Rather appropriately, Akuma's Focus Attack animation from Street Fighter IV serves as his Power Crush, allowing him to absorb attacks in order to retaliate without being hit out of it. Dash Cancels are possible as well by using one segment of Akuma's super meter.
- Abel and Seth's Focus Attacks are similar to Urien's Chariot Tackle.
- Balrog's Focus Attack is similar to the punch from his Dash Upper.
- Chun-Li's Focus Attack is similar to her Sou Hakkei.
- Crimson Viper's Focus Attack is similar to Guy's Hozanto.
- Elena's Focus Attack is similar to Abel's Wheel Kick.
- Fei Long's Focus Attack is similar to Zangief's Banishing Flat.
- Gouken's Focus Attack is similar to Ryu's Joudan Sokutogeri.
- Guile's Focus Attack is similar to Alex's Flash Chop.
- Ryu's Focus Attack is the Kaze no Kobushi (Fist of the Wind), featured in the Street Fighter III: Ryu Final manga.
- Sakura's focus attack may be the only time she borrows from Dan's Saikyo-ryu style, particularly, Dan's light Dankukyaku.
- The Focus Attack mechanic shares a great deal of similarity to the Reversal Attack mechanic of the early 3D fighting game series, Battle Arena Toshinden.