Combination attacks are cool when it’s just one character executing them. You see these in fighting games and they’re pretty sweet. I love to see a well-executed combination occur on-screen, and beautifully orchestrated finishing moves are truly splendid to behold. But I have a hankering for something harder to come by…

Multiple character combination attacks are effing sublime.

I think I got my first taste with Chrono Trigger. There wasn’t anything else quite like it. Earning new powers and then having characters fighting alongside each other earning powers to work in combination was just sweet. Chrono Cross continued the tradition, albeit in a far more subtle fashion. You had to experiment a lot to find them.

Hey, Mario RPG and Final Fantasy 8 had Timed Hits. Those were pretty cool.

One of the things I’m looking forward to in Guild Wars 2 is the inclusion of cross-profession combos. This YouTube video describes a bit how they work. Guild Wars 2 will also feature “sequence” skills, which are a lot like normal combos performed by characters, basically a bunch of attacks following an escalating pattern.

Diablo 2 had some cool cooperative effects, like a Paladin dropping an aura on a bunch of Necromancer minions, or a hero with knockback pushing an enemy through a fire wall or some other stationary effect. That was pretty much the extent of those combinations though. Still, it’s cool stuff and it’s rewarding for being cool.

Combination effects occur to a far lesser extent in games like Magic: the Gathering or Dungeons & Dragons. While it’s possible to set up the conditions for spectacular effects like the Diablo 2 examples, Magic and D&D unfold in a turn-based game, where the effects require appreciation on a far more abstract level.

You might set a particular enemy up with vulnerability to a particular energy type (like fire, ice, or lightning) and then have your allies unload an arsenal of energy-typed weapons on the target. Magic allows enchantments to be placed on creatures and players, potentially creating new avenues to destruction.

Still, it isn’t quite the same. Really, the closest D&D gets is with readied and triggered actions, but even then – due to priority and the turn-based nature of the game – combination attacks like those found in Chrono Trigger aren’t really possible.

Or are they?