"Attack" is a term used in music to describe the time from the beginning to the peak of a musical note. I was unable to find a fighting game term for "attack" - the time between pressing the button on the controller and the attack connecting. Is there one and what is it?

I've only found that the time after the attack is called "recovery".

  • Attack frames comes to mind.
    – Frank
    Oct 21, 2013 at 14:57
  • If I'm not mistaken, Attack is when you press an attack button and it lasts until its animation finished. The duration of an attack is usually (maybe only in 2D games) measured in frames. The frame in which the attack connects determines whether it's a fast attack or a slow one, and also determines how long the attack takes to recover, or how long the player has until he has to press the next button in the current combo.
    – Nolonar
    Oct 21, 2013 at 14:57
  • See also "animation cancelling" in DOTA speak, which is the act of aborting an attack "order" before it is "committed" so to speak.
    – badp
    Oct 21, 2013 at 15:02

2 Answers 2


In Fighting games this is generally called an Active Frame.

Each attack has zero or more Startup frames, an animation that plays before damage can be dealt, one or more Active Frames where a "hurtbox" of some sort exists that can cause damage, and zero or more Recovery Frames where your character "winds down" from the attack and can no longer do damage without canceling into another attack (where applicable).

Despite being defined for fighting games (since players often have to actually discuss frame data) any sprite based or even 3D model based attacks can usually be discussed in the same manner.

  • 1
    So this is the music to fingting analogy mapping: attack -> startup frames, sustain -> active frames, release -> recovery frames. Thanks. Oct 21, 2013 at 16:45
  • @AnsisMalins I guess yes; I'm more familiar with frame types than music so I wasn't 100% sure which the "attack" is, the start of the active or the startup
    – Ben Brocka
    Oct 21, 2013 at 18:52

I think what you're asking is what's happening DURING an attack, not necessarily what an attack is. In this case, @Benbrocka is correct. Once you hit the button, the attack animation begins, sends out a hurtbox that can do damage, and if the hurtbox aligns with the opponent's hitbox while they are not in a position that could block the attack, then they take damage.

  • Notice this is a terminology question. It's neither asking what an attack is nor what happens during an attack. Oct 21, 2013 at 16:22

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