In fighting games, a Groove (also known as an ISM, Mode, or Moon, depending on game) is a setting which changes the mechanics of the character in play according to several rules. Grooves have appeared in several fighting games, including Street Fighter Alpha 3, Capcom vs SNK 2, The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match, and Melty Blood: Actress Again.
Grooves are selected at the beginning of a match and aim to direct the gameplay of a character by giving the player a framework to structure the character's gameplay around. These settings usually alter basic mechanics such as dodges and rolls; however, in some cases, the properties of certain moves will be significantly altered and in extreme cases, moves may only be identical in name and nature. In some games such as Capcom vs SNK 2 and Street Fighter Alpha 3, some of these grooves may emulate a certain style of gameplay from another certain game or utilize certain mechanics that may not be available in other grooves, such as Street Fighter Alpha 3's X-ISM's Custom Combo, which originated in Street Fighter Alpha 2, or Capcom vs. SNK 2's K-Groove's Just Defend, which originated in Garou: Mark of the Wolves.
In Capcom vs SNK 2, a special customizable Groove known as the EX-Groove exists, which can be customized by the player to include mechanics exclusive to the game's other grooves with certain limitations, such as certain mechanics being mutually exclusive and each mechanic being limited to a point-spending system, with certain mechanics costing more points than others.
Grooves in M.U.G.E.N
Thanks to the ingenuity of character creators, grooves have been successfully ported to M.U.G.E.N in some characters. These are normally activated via palette tracking or a separate CNS file that is used for settings and variable control.
Characters with groove support may take their grooves from games with a single groove and combine them with other such grooves to make a multi-groove character.
Some character creators, most notably Don Drago, create characters that are not perfectly source accurate, but instead use their favoured combination of mechanics. They can then consider that combination as part of their personal groove.
List of games with multiple grooves
- The King of Fighters' 97 and The King of Fighters' 98 Ultimate Match (Advanced Mode and Extra Mode)
- Capcom vs SNK 2 (Grooves)
- Melty Blood: Actress Again (Moons)
- Street Fighter Alpha 3 (-ISMs)
- The Last Blade series
- Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite (Infinity Stones)
List of creators who have personal grooves
- Don Drago (Drago Groove)
- Seravy (A Touhou inspired card system)