A Combo (short for combination) is a common feature in many games in the Street Fighter series.
A combo is a series of successive hits which are impossible to break out of (in the main series). The earliest known fighting game that introduced combos in the genre was Culture Brain's Shanghai Kid, the first installment in their Hiryū no Ken series.
In the Street Fighter series, combos first appeared in Street Fighter II where they were discovered as an accidentally overlooked exploit: specifically, the game's method of 'reading' the player input to make special moves easier to perform had the side effect of allowing special attacks to be performed in the midst of a normal attack(s). This allowed the player to perform said special attacks so quickly that an opponent would not be able to recover before another move struck them. This would later be known as cancelling. Another side effect of accidental combos were CPS1 Chains, the act of canceling weak Rapid Cancelable light kicks into stronger punches.
Since the advent of Street Fighter II, almost every fighting game in the genre has used a similar formula as a deliberate gameplay formula. From Super Street Fighter II onwards, the game will keep track of combos and show rewards onscreen, awarding points for the amount of hits in the combo and type of attacks used.
Depending on the character used, combos can be crucial to learn. It is recommended for players to familiarize themselves with Frame Data to optimize damage and positioning with their selected character. Combo videos are common throughout the web, particularly YouTube; as they showcase powerful combos used in Street Fighter and other fighting games.
A general tactic is to learn combos that are easy to perform and safe on block while still damaging on hit. These are commonly referred to as "Bread and Butter" combo.
In the Street Fighter games, the most basic method of initiating a combo is to jump at an opponent and land a heavy air attack. This can then be followed up with another hit on the ground that is able to be linked (such as Ibuki's medium kick into light kick in SFV which allows for a 2 frame link), before the opponent can recover.
Usually, the next step is to perform a cancel: for example, Ryu can perform a standing or crouching uppercut and then cancel into either a Hadoken or a Shoryuken, creating a basic but powerful 3-hit combo, which the opponent will be unable to block or escape if the first hit connects cleanly.
Various games in the franchise expand upon this by introducing Chain Combos, which are a specific series of regular attacks that can be canceled into each other, juggles, and allowing the canceling of special attacks into Super Combos or Ultra Combos. There are other methods that players use to string together successful combos, including hit confirming.
However, the basic principle always remains the same: using a series of attacks that cannot be defended against once the first attack connects.
Crossover games Edit
Combos tend to be more elaborate with less restrictive juggles in crossover games. Street Fighter X Tekken for example has a much more lenient juggle system that allow characters more freedom than Street Fighter IV.
The Marvel vs. Capcom series is even less restrictive than Namco's X series. With Infinites being staples of the series, resulting in faster kills than in main series games.