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ISMs, or Fighting Styles, are types of fighting styles used in Street Fighter Alpha 3. There are 3 different ISMs: A-ISM (Z-ISM in Japan) - Standard , X-ISM - Simple, and V-ISM - Variable. The Super Combo Gauge type depends on the fighting style selected.

This feature allows the player to choose between different sets of fighting mechanics for any character that not only affect the way the Super Gauge functions (something which had already been seen in The King of Fighters '97 prior), but can also radically affect their movesets. As a result, most characters have certain moves only available in specific ISMs.


Air blocking No Yes Yes
Air recovery Yes Yes Yes
Ground recovery No Yes Yes
Taunts Dan only Yes Yes
Guard power rating High Varies Varies
Gauge fill speed Slow Normal Fast
Gauge stock count 1 3 2 (50% / 100%)
Alpha counter cost N/A 1 SC + 1 GP 50% OC + 1 GP
Damage Rating x1.2* x1.0 x0.8
Defense Rating x0.8 x1.0 x1.0

* Does not include Super Combo damage.


X-ISM (Super Street Fighter II X)[]

  • + Longer Guard Power gauge than in A-ISM and V-ISM (so it is harder to get Guard Crushed).
  • + All attacks (excluding Super Combos) do more damage.
  • - No air block.
  • - No ground recovery roll.
  • - No Alpha Counters.
  • - No taunting (except for Dan).
  • - X-ISM characters have access to only one predetermined, Level 3 Super Combo.
  • - Characters take slightly more damage from attacks (blocked or not).

A-ISM (Street Fighter Alpha 2)[]

  • + Air blocking.
  • + Both ground and air recoveries.
  • + Alpha Counters (these cost 1 level of the SC gauge and 1 notch of the Guard Power gauge).
  • + Taunting (once per round only, excluding Dan).
  • + SC gauge charges up faster than in X-ISM.
  • + Access to all Super Combos (excluding Dhalsim).
  • - Damage per hit is average (less than in X-ISM and more than in V-ISM).
  • - Shorter Guard Power gauge than in X-ISM (so it is easier to get Guard Crushed).

V-ISM (Variable)[]

  • + Air blocking
  • + Both ground and air recoveries.
  • + Alpha Counters (these cost 50% of a full Original Combo gauge and 1 notch of the Guard Power gauge).
  • + Taunting (once per round only, excluding Dan).
  • + Determine which range of attacks the character uses (far or close), by leaving the controller neutral or holding it forward/back when a Punch or Kick is pressed (does not apply to the button used to grab nor generally apply to all characters).
  • + OC gauge charges very quickly.
  • + Can only use Custom Combos instead of Super Combos.
  • - Damage per hit is lower than in any other mode.
  • - It costs half an OC gauge to use an Alpha Counter.
  • - Shorter Guard Power gauge than in X-ISM (so it is easier to get Guard Crushed).


Interestingly, the ISM selected can also change the appearance of certain graphics -- the most apparent cases being the following:

  • Ryu's Hadoken:
  • On X-ISM, Chun-Li's costume is the one she uses in Street Fighter II and its many iterations. On A-ISM and V-ISM, her costume is the one featured in the Alpha series. Her portrait changes accordingly as well.
  • On X-ISM, Sodom will use his katanas from Final Fight. On A-ISM and V-ISM, he will use his pair of jitte.
    • When fighting X-ISM Sodom, his theme music will also be different.
  • On A-ISM and V-ISM, Sagat will have his Tiger Blow (from the previous Alpha games) as his anti-air move, and on X-ISM he will have his Tiger Uppercut from SFII. The main difference is the recovery animation.
  • On X-ISM, Gen will not use two different fighting styles, but rather a combination of both.

Other ISMs[]


There is also an unnamed ISM, nicknamed the Shadaloo-ISM, which is used by some bosses in Arcade Mode, specifically Balrog, Juli, Juni and M. Bison. Despite appearing to be a 1-level gauge like X-ISM, it actually functions like A-ISM, with three gauge levels. However, as the three segments are not indicated, the player has to judge which level they are at by looking at how much of the gauge has been charged up. In addition, the characters have access to air blocking, taunting and all of their Super Combos, just as in A-ISM. Instead of a letter, this unnamed ISM displays the Shadaloo logo next to the Super Gauge.

Extra ISMs[]

The Hyper Street Fighter Alpha mode included in the Street Fighter Alpha Anthology has several extra variations of the ISMs:

  • Shadaloo-ISM C (Green): This mode gives the characters access to ground and air Chain Combos, Push Block (performed like the Saikyo Defense) and Alpha Counter. Characters in this mode will have their A-ISM movesets. It is speculated that this is in reference to the Darkstalkers engine as it has many similarities.
  • Shadaloo-ISM B (Blue): This mode gives the characters access to Super Cancelling and Parrying, but they are no longer able to block in the air. Characters in this mode will have their X-ISM movesets. It is based on the Street Fighter III series.
  • Shadaloo-ISM D (Pink): This mode is only available to characters that appeared in Street Fighter II': Champion Edition. It mirrors the gameplay of said game: the fighters deal higher damage, but have no access to Super Combos. No other characters can select this ISM.
  • Shadaloo-ISM A (Red): Also known as the "Boss Mode" or Superhero Mode". This mode changes the properties of some characters' special moves, and some instances result in the adding of special moves or effects; many of these changes were previously seen in the Marvel vs. Capcom series. Other characters simply act as in the Shadaloo-ISM C (Green).