Capcom vs SNK 2/N-Groove

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Cvs2 N-Groove Label.png
CVS2 NGrooveBar.png

N-Groove is one of the six grooves in Capcom vs. SNK 2. It features a meter system with gauge "stocks" that can be used as a Level 1 super or activated on-demand to grant a damage bonus and access to Level 3 supers. It is a groove that has a little bit of everything, giving it movement and attack options that no other groove has. N-Groove is inspired by the Advanced Gauge meter system present in late 90s King of Fighters series games, starting with KOF'98.

N-Groove is the mid-tier groove in CvS2. It has a solid, well-rounded set of features but does not excel in any one area, lacking in comparison to each of the top-tier grooves.

Groove Data

N-Groove Data
Main Feature Meter Stock Activation for an On-Demand Damage Boost
Groove System Advanced Gauge & Special Move System
Groove Subsystems
Meter Length 216 Units (72 units × 3 stocks)
MAX Mode Duration 150 Time Units (15 seconds)
Guard Bar Length 48 Units Standard
Meter Bonuses During MAX Mode: +20% damage

See Groove Subsystems for complete technical data on specific subsystems.

Meter System

The meter in N-Groove is a single bar, labelled "POW," with boxes for three meter stocks at its end. When the meter fills up, it adds a flashing red meter stock to the bar, after which the meter will reset to zero and the player can continue to build meter up for another meter stock. Any action performed that overfills the meter bar will rollover and contribute to the next stock after the meter bar resets.

When three stocks are stored, the meter bar will remain full and no additional meter or stocks can be gained, at which point the "POW" label on the meter bar will change to "POWER UP!" This is merely a visual change and does nothing as far as increasing attack power or granting any abilities.

The player can use a Level 1 super or system ability (Counter Attack, Counter Movement) per one stock. If all three stocks are available, exhausting one will deduct the stock and reset the meter bar to zero, allowing the player to build up a stock again.

Players can also use a stock to activate MAX Mode by pressing Hp.png + Hk.png. Doing so deducts one stock from the meter stockpile and displays a timer bar showing the time remaining in the current MAX Mode activation.

In MAX Mode, attacks do 20% additional damage and enable access to Level 3 supers if an additional stock (not the one used to activate!) is available. If in MAX Mode without an additional stock available, supers or system abilities will not be available since they always require an unspent stock to use.

Meter cannot be gained during MAX Mode. Therefore, it is not possible to gain meter and an additional stock if just short of one after activating.

When performing a Level 3 super, the required additional stock will be consumed and MAX Mode mode will immediately end. (The MAX Mode 20% damage bonus does not apply to super attacks, since the mode ends before the super connects.)

Meter, which includes any stocks and any partial meter in the bar, is shared by the team and persists between rounds, win or lose. If a character was in MAX Mode at the end of a round, the MAX Mode state immediately ends; no meter will be recovered from any time remaining in the MAX Mode timer.

Unique Groove Abilities

MAX Mode

N-Groove MAX Mode is not to be confused with the MAX Mode in S-Groove, which has different features.

MAX Mode is a special meter ability in N-Groove that allows the player to activate a stored meter stock and give themselves on-demand access to a 20% damage bonus and potentially a Level 3 super.

After the player has stored at least one meter stock, MAX Mode can be activated with Hp.png + Hk.png. Stock activation must be done in neutral and on the ground, and cannot be cancelled into from any move or action.

The breaking a stock animation takes a total of 20 frames to complete, during which you are completely vulnerable to attacks. However, the animation can be cancelled out of by a special or super move after the 8th frame, the point at which the actual use of the meter to enter MAX Mode takes place. Due to this startup lag, it is possible to be hit out of the activation sequence before the stock is activated.

Upon a successful activation, a meter stock will be consumed and a timer bar will appear above the meter. This timer lasts 150 time units (about 15 seconds) with the benefits of MAX Mode remaining active during this period.

MAX Mode grants the player a flat 20% damage bonus to all normal/special attacks and throws. Blocked attacks will also do additional guard crush damage.

If the player has an additional meter stock available while in MAX Mode, any super performed will be a Level 3 super. This will consume the additional stock and also immediately exit MAX Mode; the 20% damage bonus will not be applied to the super.

It is not possible to perform a Level 1 super while in MAX Mode. Additionally, no super can be performed if no meter stocks are available after activation.

"Pop Trick" Level 3 Supers

Level 3 supers are not available to N-Groove players without first needing to activate a stock. This is in contrast to C-Groove, P-Groove, and K-Groove, which with the meter available can unload a Level 3 without needing to perform an intermediate action. However, in certain situations N-Groove players can go from their normal state "directly" into a Level 3 super in non-combo situations by exploiting the properties of the activation animation.

From start to finish, the activation animation lasts 20 frames. But after a startup of 8 frames, the remaining 12 frames of animation can be cancelled out of with a special or super move. This allows an N-Groove player with two stocks of meter available to unexpectedly go from a non-threat right into an activation (the "pop") and a Level 3 super (the "trick") in few as 12 frames (adding 4 frames of super startup) depending on the super being used and how quickly it can be buffered.

The most practical uses of this technique are:

  • Punishes from a Distance - Supers that move across the screen quickly can catch out an opponent using special moves with long reach and/or slow recovery. Try to super through a fireball if they are predictable enough in throwing them and your character has a quick super!
  • Anti-air Punishes - If a character has poor regular anti-airs, or the opponent is coming in at a trajectory that makes sense for it, it may be possible to activate directly into an appropriate super.
  • Anti-air Trades - Characters with decent anti-air specials may sometimes not beat the opponent's jump-in attack cleanly. If the attacks clash in a way where you recover immediately but they pop back into the air, there may be time to activate into a super, providing your character has a good one for the situation.
  • Character-specific Setups and Juggles - Some characters also have specific special moves and supers that give them loads of time to activate into super (Hibiki's counter), or buffer super inputs while activating (Akuma's Raging Demon/Morrigan's Darkness Illusion).

A related facet of the N-Groove meter system is having three meter stocks available when a Level 3 super only requires two of them. With an extra stock available, characters have options to use all three stocks of the meter to perform extraordinary actions.

This could mean comboing or juggling into a Level 1 super onto the end of their Level 3 super. (This can also be done in S-Groove during Red Health.) It is also possible for some characters in MAX Mode (the first stock) to perform a Counter Attack or Counter Movement (the second stock), then juggle the opponent or punish counter into a Level 3 super (third stock)! More information on how a characters can take advantage of these unique N-Groove features can be found in Character Considerations below, and on their individual character pages.

Counter Movement

Counter Movement is a set of tactical movement options that allows players to cancel out of blockstun and perform either a Counter Movement Roll or a Counter Movement Backstep. Although technically a Groove Subsystem and not a baked-in feature, Counter Movement is effectively a unique feature to N-Groove given that no other groove has it.

Cancelling out of blockstun in CvS2 is a special system action that requires the equivalent of one super level of meter to perform, which is one meter stock in N-Groove. Once out of blockstun, the player will do either a normal forward roll, or a normal backdash (backstep), as inputted during the Counter Movement command.

To perform a Counter Movement, input one of the following while blocking an opponent's attack:

  • F.png+Lp.png+Lk.png for Counter Movement Roll
  • B.png+Lp.png+Lk.png for Counter Movement Backstep

If successful, the player character will break out of guard and perform the desired action, costing a meter stock and 10 points (about 20%) of guard bar.

All normal properties of the counter roll or backdash apply. Rolls are subject to the regular invincibility, distance, and recovery properties of a character's regular roll. (Characters with faster/better rolls will have better counter roll opportunities.) Backdashes do not gain any special invincibility properties if used as a Counter Movement, meaning they are vulnerable to sustained or follow-up attacks.

Generally, rolls are the preferred Counter Movement action, as they allow characters to potentially punish safe blockstring enders (sweep into fireball, but counter roll off the sweep through the fireball) or other hard-to-punish special moves, escape A-Groove Custom Combos, and survive chip damage death situations, among other uses. The backstep version is almost useless in comparison, though it does have a few specific use cases.

This video has a full overview of what Counter Movement is capable of in CvS2:

Groove Strategy

N-Groove is the mid-tier groove in CvS2. It has a good and plentiful combination of features that give it lots of options against top-tier groove and characters, and benefits greatly from aggressive, offensive gameplay. However, many of N-Groove's benefits turn out to be situational or weaker versions of the features present in the top-tier grooves, often leaving it lacking in comparison.


Pressure On-Demand with MAX Mode - Of the three SNK grooves, all of which have timer-based meters granting advantages, N-Groove is the only one that allows the player to primarily build meter through offensive actions and activate its benefit on-demand. This can help a player pile-on offensive momentum or put the brakes on an opponent's attacks by threatening a Level 3 whenever desired, especially compared to the unique—and sometimes inconvenient—ways meter is filled in S-Groove and K-Groove.

Everything But The Kitchen Sink - N-Groove has the most Groove Subsystems to work with, as well as its own unique features, giving players a myriad of movement and attack options. For example, it is the only groove with run and roll together, making running roll cancels only possible in N. Small jump in combination with rolling can create different spacing and crossups for opponents to deal with. Counter Movement can get you out of bad situations, and put you into extremely good ones.

Good Comeback Potential with Full Meter - When all three stocks are filled, firing off a Level 3 will leave you with one stock in the bag. At this point, only the build-up of another single stock is required to threaten another potential Level 3. This is the shortest fill of meter bar possible for consecutive Level 3 super attempts in CvS2 without having to be near death (S-Groove) or requiring you get hit a few times (K-Groove). Plus, having the option to execute a timely Counter Movement to escape chip death or bust through a laggy blockstring ender and potentially turn that into a super going the other way satisfies in a way that no other groove can provide.


The Longest (and Most Deceptive) Meter Bar in CvS2 - At a chonky 216 units, getting all three stocks lit up takes longer than filling any other meter in CvS2. The bar is even longer than P-Groove's 192-unit monster. Of course to be fair to N-Groove, it only takes 144 units of meter to gain access to a Level 3 super, which is actually less meter than C-Groove's 168 units of meter bar!

Then again, the design of the meter in N-Groove makes it seem like the play is to fill it up and max it out, much like the meter bars of the other five grooves. The game even gives you a visual cue when doing this "successfully," changing the text on the meter to "POWER UP!" as if that does anything of significance; it does not.

The most optimal way to use N-Groove round-to-round is actually to NOT fill the meter completely, instead activating with two stocks and a half meter being most efficient, game circumstances providing. If sitting on full meter for too long, you are wasting meter (and damage!) potential in the form of MAX Mode activations you aren't using and further meter stocks you could be gaining after MAX Mode ends. Even the best N-Groove players fall into the trap of sitting on full meter for too long, losing close rounds that they could have won had they activated for the damage bonus along the way.

Jack of All Trades, Master of None - N-Groove has the Kitchen Sink of movement and system abilities, but what it has in quantity, it lacks for quality. There is no single outstanding feature of N-Groove, particularly when you start to compare it to the top-tier grooves:

  • The 20% damage bonus in N-Groove pales in comparison to the much more threatening up-to-35% damage bonus and corresponding defensive bonus you get while Raged in K-Groove. On top of that, the Rage damage bonus applies to supers (at +10%) in K-Groove; the MAX Mode damage bonus does not apply to supers in N-Groove. That the N-Groove player can choose when the damage bonus comes on is not that special, considering the Rage timer is longer than the MAX Mode timer, and that the K-Groove player will go into the Rage state and have a boosted Level 3 available two or even three times a round—without needing to manually activate beforehand.
  • Access to Level 1 supers is great, but also you get those in C-Groove. C-Groove also gets Level 2s, plus Level 2 cancels, plus non-gimmicky instant Level 3s, plus Air Guard, plus insane meter efficiency out of a meter that is much shorter to fill for the damage output you get from it. In a way, C-Groove out Kitchen Sinks the Kitchen Sink groove!
  • Activating in N-Groove is a good way to build or take back momentum in a round. But when A-Groove does it, it's invincible and leads into a often very damaging custom combo. If you want to talk about swinging the momentum of a match with an activation, A-Groove merely has to threaten it, causing their opponent to change tactics once the A-Groove meter is full. The activation benefit of N-Groove is a level or two beneath that.

Unique Features and Character Gimmicks Aren't Enough - With the right characters or in the right situations, N-Groove can do what no other groove can do. Unfortunately, this is not nearly enough to bring N-Groove up to the same level as C-Groove, A-Groove, or K-Groove. N-Groove can do a lot, but it cannot do it often enough, or efficiently enough, or powerfully enough, for it to overcome what the top-tier grooves have in their arsenal. However, it still has a strong enough toolkit for the right player and character combination to make up the difference, cementing its position as a mid-tier groove in CvS2.

Character Considerations

Characters that work the best in N-Groove not only like the aggressive and offensive nature of the groove, but also can take good advantage of the movement options as well as some of the unique setups that N-Groove can provide. As such, the groove mechanics are there more to enhance a character's base abilities to a level that is (really, needs to be) good enough to where N-Groove not having an overwhelmingly powerful mechanic is less of an issue.

As N-Groove is the middle-of-the-pack groove, it also tends to be middle-in-the-pack as far as where it lies as the best groove for a character. It is hard to say any one character absolutely excels in N-Groove, but there are a few standouts that can use the toolset available to create formidable gameplay strategies. Four characters in CvS2 that have an argument for N-Groove being one of their top 2 grooves are:

  • Blanka - Gains small jump but keeps roll cancel, and can still fire off Level 3s with pop tricks
  • Iori - Run, small jump, and rolls/roll cancels check off all the boxes to make Iori as complete as he can be in netural, plus the best Counter Movement Roll
  • Chun-Li - Run pressure, roll cancels, highest damaging Level 1 supers, and Pop Trick/Level 3+1 super options
  • Akuma - Run pressure, roll cancels, and Pop Trick Raging Demon buffer

All other characters that are good candidates for N-Groove have at least two other grooves that the character is as good or better in. That doesn't mean they don't have good abilities in N, though! Here is a non-exhaustive list with a few examples of them:

  • Sagat - He's Sagat
  • Cammy - Still high tier
  • M.Bison - Counter Attack into Level 3 super option
  • Geese - Guard Crush monster in MAX Mode, Level 3+1 super option
  • Hibiki - Pop Trick Level 3s as anti-air and after counter, Level 3+1 super option
  • Yamazaki - Enhances his default toolset
  • Rolento - Pop Trick Level 3 tripwire super can punish a lot of stuff
  • Kyo - Can Pop Trick Level 3 off trades, also good guard crush momentum in MAX Mode
  • Terry - Level 3+1 Super Option
  • Raiden - Rolling needed for mobility, guard crush monster in MAX Mode, Counter Attack into Level 3 super option
  • Maki - Benefits from run and roll cancel
  • Rugal - Level 3+1 super option
  • Morrigan - Pop Trick Darkness Illusion buffer, gains roll cancels but keeps her unique run flight
  • Vice - Run, roll cancel, and Pop Trick Grab Super
  • Joe - Run/RC hands pressure, Pop Trick Level 3 anti-air super

N-Groove Character Tier List (TBD)

At the moment there is no community consensus on a tier list exclusively for ranking characters in N-Groove. When one has been created, this section will be updated.

Groove Comparisons and Matchups

The info in this section is for direct comparisons between grooves and generic groove vs groove matchups, which may apply differently to specific characters. For more detail on how a character plays in and plays against the different grooves, refer to their character info page.

Cvs2 C-Groove Label.png

The tools available to each groove are two sides of the same coin. C-Groove can Dash, N-Groove can Run; C-Groove can Air Guard for defensive purposes, N-Groove gets Small Jump to add to its offensive options. The neutral game is pretty fair for both sides as a result.

However, N-Groove is ultimately at a pretty big disadvantage here when the rubber meets the road. C-Groove's meter efficiency runs laps around what the N-Groove meter bar can manage in terms of raw damage potential. MAX Mode activations are good to apply pressure and damage, but there will be many lost opportunities for damage when not activated in N-Groove. This is never something C-Groove has to worry about, which can unload the most damaging combo possible without needing to activate.

In this matchup, moreso than in any other groove matchup, N-Groove must absolutely get the most mileage out of their meter to make up the difference. If a C-Groove player is sitting on their meter defensively, it's up to the N-Groove player to wail on them, smartly applying pressure to force a guard crush or costly meter mistake so that the C-Groove player doesn't get a lot of chances to unload their meter offensively.

Cvs2 A-Groove Label.png

This is N-Groove's best matchup by far, enough that you can consider N to be the "anti" A-Groove. The biggest reason for this is having Counter Movement Roll available to have the option to escape blocked Custom Combo attempts. It's not needed for most blocked customs, actually—but you'll be sure as hell glad to have it, and use it, for the most obvious and safest times to do so.

N-Groove can also take good advantage of A-Groove being at its weakest when its super meter is not full and without much in the way of other Groove Subsystems with which it can defend itself. Here, N-Groove players get the rare green light to be as aggressive as they can be, character matchups notwithstanding. Running after opponents that try to stay away to build meter, and then pounding on them for max damage once you've cornered them, is a good idea if you can swing it!

Naturally, the situation changes when the A-Groove player is loaded and ready to drop a custom combo at a moment's notice. The usual "walking on thin ice" approach to offense while the opponent is locked and loaded with full meter still applies here, as does the overwhelming damage and efficiency advantage that custom combos have. Still, N-Groovers can approach things with a tiny bit more confidence than other grooves. If can you call out their custom combo activation, you may be able to turn the tables with a Counter Movement Roll and super—potentially, a Level 3 super!—coming back the other way.

Cvs2 P-Groove Label.png

A closer matchup than you would think, owing to the two grooves being closer in tier to each other than either are to the top three grooves in the game. There's definitely some back and forth that goes down.

For example: In MAX Mode, N-Groove players can whittle down P-Groove's weak guard crush meter in a hurry; some characters can break it in basically two long and heavy powered-up block strings! Heavy attacks, however, are a lot easier to parry away and deal with as the P-Groove player. P-Groove players also have air superiority, being able to jump in with aplomb if confident in their air parry skills. N-Groove players can counter speculative jump-ins with Pop Trick Level 3 anti-air supers, especially those with multiple or sustained attacks (projectile supers, Blanka Ground Shave Rolling, etc.). At that point, if the P-Groove player manages to parry everything on the way down... good for them!

P-Groovers always have the parry up their sleeve. But at the end of the day, N-Groove has more ... sleeves? ... in the form of tools, resources, and meter options to tilt situations to their favor.

Cvs2 S-Groove Label.png

The dynamic between S and N is very interesting. The aggressive nature of N-Groove play often falls right into the clutches of the S-Groove player that likes to dodge through and attack back at over-aggression. Continuing blockstring pressure with a runup is almost a free dodge opportunity for the opponent, since the only things the N-Groove player can do in this situation is attack, roll, or try to skid to a stop for a throw. All of these things can be option selected or reacted to by an S-Groove player on the ball.

This dynamic can flip once the S-Groove player is in Red Health and unlimited Level 1 supers become available. Normally, it's a no-brainer to finish blockstrings with Level 1 supers for free chip damage. However, with plenty of stocks in hand the N-Groove player has an opportunity to bust through a poorly thought-out blockstring or otherwise obvious Level 1 super attempt with a Counter Movement Roll and land a big punish combo coming back the other way.

As such, the advantage in this matchup goes to the player that doesn't overextend with their groove abilities, and can capitalize when the other player does.

Cvs2 N-Groove Label.png

Nothing too fancy about the groove mirror match. N vs. N is fairly basic CvS2, just with the SNK flavorings of Runs and Small Jumps. There will be some trepidation about approaching an opponent in MAX Mode, and some aggression in trying to counter that trepidation and land a Level 3 before the MAX Mode expires. Just watch out for and/or try to land supers off of Small Jump jump-in attacks!

Cvs2 K-Groove Label.png

A matchup that really sucks for N-Groove players. It's not because K-Groove is a hard counter for N-Groove; it's because K-Groove is basically better version of N-Groove, and it's a choice you will have to deal with every time the K-Groove player is Raged or and lands a Level 3. Why aren't they afraid of my MAX Mode in the same way I'm afraid of their Rage state? or Why does my Level 3 super not do nearly the amount of damage as their Level 3 super? are questions you will have to overcome as you try to squeeze out all the damage you can out of your meter.

Still, N-Groove does have enough tools to make it a fairer fight. While they get a nice defense bonus while in the Rage state, you can enter MAX Mode to negate it and still have the damage advantage, at least for normal attacks, specials and throws. Plus, it gives you ammo to land a big punish going the other way should they get too cute trying to land their super before the Rage timer expires. It's not uncommon for a K-Groove player to throw out a safe super in the dying moments of rage—a super fireball, for example—to get in some free and easy chip damage. A savvy N-Groover can spot this and Counter Movement Roll through it for a great chance to super them back.

CvS2 Wiki Navigation

Roll Cancel
CvS2 Versions
Netplay/ Training
Groove Overview
Groove Subsystems
Capcom Characters
Akuma (Gouki)
Balrog (Boxer)
M. Bison (Dictator)
Vega (Claw)
SNK Characters
Boss Characters
Shin Akuma
Ultimate Rugal
Evil Ryu
Orochi Iori