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The First Strike is a technique used in the Paper Mario titles and the Mario & Luigi titles. Bosses, mid-bosses M. Bushes and Hurt Plants cannot be harmed by usage of a First Strike, with the exception of Paper Mario: Sticker Star's Big Cheep Cheep in Surfshine Harbor and the Big Chain Chomp in Chomp Ruins. In Paper Mario, Goompa first mentions this to Mario as they walk through Goomba Village. To do a First Strike, Mario can simply jump on the enemy, hit it with his Hammer or with an attack from one of his partners, depending on whether or not the enemy has spikes. The First Strike helps Mario in battle, as it allows him to damage or drain all HP from an enemy before taking a turn.
The First Strike can also be used against Mario by enemies. For example, if a Koopa Troopa successfully attacks Mario with its shell, Mario will get hit by the First Strike and take damage. Monty Moles are very skilled at making the First Strike by trying to throw rocks at Mario. First Strikes from enemies can be avoided by dodging the attack or by using the Chill Out badge.
First Strikes in the Mario & Luigi titles are similar to Paper Mario's First Strikes with one key difference – a first strike on one enemy in the field will damage all enemies in the battle. However, in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, the First Strike with a hammer works differently. When Mario or Luigi in Superstar Saga, or Baby Mario or Baby Luigi in Partners in Time, hammer an enemy on the overworld, all enemies in the battle become dizzy. In later Mario & Luigi games, a First Strike with a hammer instead damages all enemies. In Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions and Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey, a First Strike with a hammer can also cause enemies to begin battle with the SPD-Down status ailment, and Hand Powers can now be used to perform First Strikes; Firebrand can also burn enemies and Thunderhand can also make enemies Dizzy. Bowser can also use First Strikes by punching or breathing fire on the enemy in Bowser's Inside Story and Bowser's Inside Story + Bowser Jr.'s Journey.
Enemies can also do first strikes to one of the characters. If the enemy or one of its projectiles hits a character in the back, they trip and cannot get up until it is their turn or if they are damaged by an attack.
In Paper Mario: Sticker Star, a First Strike has an added mechanic. By collecting HP-Up Hearts, the Hammer and jump power will increase every time when the one's digit is at a zero from five. If the power is enough to directly defeat the enemy on the course, the enemy will be defeated and will drop a coin without starting the battle. Similar mechanics return in Paper Mario: Color Splash, with attack power increasing with every HP-Up Heart collected and enemies dropping more than one coin when defeated directly on a course with a First Strike.