Skullgirls! It’s been a while since it was announced but we can finally play it!
It’s a fighting game, so not much to talk about before reviewing it. So let’s go!
Developer: Reverge Labs
Publisher: Autumn Games
Date of Release: April 10th 2012
Platforms: PS3 (PSN), Xbox 360 (XBLA)
Rated T for Teen
This. Game. Looks. Great. Seriously. Really high-details on every frame of every hand-drawn sprite, incredibly smooth animation (really, some of the smoothest I’ve ever seen with 2D characters… apparently this breaks records in regards to number of individual hand-drawn sprites in 2D animated games), actual lighting effects that affect the look of the characters under different light, good-looking backgrounds with nice parallax scrolling (you don’t hear that term often anymore >_<)… There’s really nothing to complain about here. The graphic style is very anime-like with some american sensibilities… especially Peacock who is an all-out american cartoon character. Pretty cool.
Each character is very well-designed and unique. They each have a very different look and feel, with different quirks that make them interesting, such as Ms Fortune being dismembered (sort of) or Cerebella who’s wearing a big muscle-bound set of arms on her head. There’s lots of originality here. There’s also definitely a lot of fanservice here (dat Double), but I find it dumb to complain about that unless it’s just too much… which it really isn’t in this case. It’s not like something like Highschool of the Dead where it’s all about the fanservice and not much else of anything. You get occasional panty shots and boob bouncing and… Valentine, the sexy big-breasted ninja nurse… but frankly it’s definitely not a deterrent and if you think it is you might want to get your head out of your ass. Because here there’s much more to this game than the graphics.
On the music side… I’m sure I can just say “Michiru Yamane” and certain video game music enthusiasts will cream their pants. She is mostly known for her work on the Castlevania series, SPECIFICALLY the amazing Symphony of the Night, but also great music in Castlevania Bloodlines, Contra Hard Corps, the Rocket Knight Adventures series and more… She’s one of the greats for sure. And she’s doing the music here! It’s all really good and exciting. Thumbs up! The rest of the sound is fairly standard fighting game fare, but all very well done. The voices are all really fun and fitting (though I can’t understand what Double says… lay off on the filters guys!).
There’s a lot of comedy injected into the game, some in the form of references (everything Peacock says is a cartoon reference), some in the way some of the characters act. But the actual story (turns out every characters’ story mode is canon… somehow) has very tragic characters and very serious and mature elements, which I think is very nice when the general fighting game plot tends to be fairly dumb.
Skullgirls is a 1 on 1 2D fighting game. It’s made, partly, by Mike Z, a pro fighting game player (I know him from BlazBlue, he played an amazing Tager), and was worked on for quite a while (Mike Z was eventually introduced to Alex Ahad who was making the Skullgirls world and characters, eventually leading to this game). It’s definitely inspired by many other fighting games, specifically the MvC games, Guilty Gear, BlazBlue and such.
It uses a standard street fighter-style 6-button setup with 3 punches and 3 kicks. You can do a variety of normals, specials and supers (here called “Blockbuster attacks”), you have some basic chains, and of course you can figure out which moves can combo with each other and you can make up your own combos. Overall pretty much all based on previous fighting agmes, but it’s all very fun and smooth and easy to get into. There’s a lot of very solid gameplay mechanics here, including a very innovative (strangely) system where the game detects if you’re stuck in an infinite and enables you to get out of the infinite with a single button press.
Oh, did I say this was a 1 on 1 fighting game? Well, that’s not exactly true. When you start a match in Skullgirls, you get 3 choices. Either use 1 character, use 2, or use 3. The opponent gets the same choice, and said choice might not be the same as your’s. So you may end up fighting 3 characters with 1 character. But this is actually balances out (somewhat), as the single character gets higher stats (attack and health) than the 3 characters in the other team. Same if you take 2 characters, they’ll be a bit stronger than 3 characters. If you take 2 or 3 characters, there’s a few things you can do that you can’t with a single character, that being switching with another character (obviously) and you can also use your “reserved” characters as assists. But be careful since, as in other games with assists, your assist can get hit at certain points in her animation and get caught up in a combo (Happy Birthday!), which is never desirable. You can actually switch out characters with DHCs like in MvC3, as in you do another character’s super during your character’s super and the second character will switch into the playfield and perform that super. So far I’m not 100% sure how a 1 VS 3 situation is balanced, since the lone character lacks tag-outs, assists and DHCs, but maybe the better stats do balance out. We’ll see.
Something else I really enjoy here is the lack of a comeback mechanic. I will say that yes, I do enjoy X-factor and Ultras and those weird super-moves in SCV (but not the dumb X-ray moves in MK9), but it makes for a large amount of unbalance. In U/MvC3, you CAN come back from being nearly perfected with a single character solely due to level 3 x-factor (or level 4 in the case of Wesker). Here, however, you can only come back from a bad situation by putting the pedal to the metal and overwhelming your opponent, which is something I can truly appreciate, and, even considering how crazy fun to watch UMvC3 is, I find comebacks in Skullgirls to be more deserved, more skill-based.
Something else I like? Well, it’s not a “one touch death” game like many people will call UMvC3 (which it is in very many intances), but rather a game where a single mistake won’t kill you. Even the stronger combos won’t kill you (so far) due to the infinite detection. Damage output is at a very nice middle-ground overall… so far.
There are a few minor complaints here, like the fact that you don’t see your opponent’s username or ranking, but there IS a ranking system (check the leaderboards). Otherwise… Best online in any fighting game ever? Very probable. Even though I had a fairly medium-high ping of around 115 and my internet connection is ass and my PS3 is connected to it wirelessly, the few matches I did online were completely lag-less. It’s pretty amazing and makes me wonder why Capcom and even Namco with SCV’s really good netcode can’t get this high quality of online matches. Matchmaking is relatively fast, and the performance during matches is really good. Thumbs up!
There’s one element I want to point out. The game features a very solid tutorial. It shows a lot of things that you don’t see in many other fighting game tutorials. It starts with the basics (movements, normals, specials), slightly more advanced stuff like basic combos, and then you get more complicated things like mix-ups/defending against mix-ups, throw teching, throw teching during mix-up combos, talk about frame data, punishing, advanced combos with air dashes and cancels… It shows quite a few things and it’s very solid. If it made it clear what buttons you have to do for certain moves (someone not familiar with fighting games might not know what “c. B+HP” means) it would be a great introduction to fighting games in general. Very useful I’d say, both for new and intermediate players (and even for fighting game vets as it gives a good idea of the game’s mechanics). There is a minor problem, that being that the tutorial doesn’t talk about everything in the game (DHCs, Alpha Counters (or were they tag counters?), Push-blocking are not covered), but that’s what the internet is for.
Things that may be patched
It was said that certain things will be patched if the game sells well, including better training mode options and a movelist (for now I use this: http://i39.tinypic.com/vy0hoi.jpg). And we may even get DLC characters, some of which are already teased or shown in the story mode… And that may also lead to an extended story mode, since the last story segment leaves a lot of stuff open.
This is a game by a member of the fighting game community (Mike Z) TO the fighting game community… And it shows. It’s solid as fuck, it has very cool mechanics unique to this game, great presentation, it’s fast, it’s really fun…. there’s not really a whole lot to complain about, especially if the few things I mentioned do get patched soon, and if more characters start cropping up. I’m seriously hoping to see more of this in the future in tournaments and such, I think this game can be pretty hype and it’s most definitely very fun to watch.
There are a lot of fighting games out at the moment, but this does manage to be a very solid one and stand out.
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