Skullgirls is a product of this generation’s resurgence of the fighting game genre. Does this downloadable title hold its own against competition or does it fail to hold up?
Platform: XBox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network (Reviewed)
Developer: Reverge Labs
Released: April 11th, 2012
MSRP: $14.99 USD
Skullgirls has most of the modes you would expect from a fighting game. The game includes a story mode for each of the available fighters. Most of the stories are either boring or cliché but most people don’t go to fighting games for deep storytelling so I found this to be easily forgivable. The game also has an arcade mode for those who just want to beat on some AI opponents. This mode suffers a bit due to the games small cast but is still fun to play. The AI is also very punishing but once you get used to the games systems this become less of a problem. Versus mode is also available for both local and online play.
Online play feels great; I was unable to tell the difference between playing online and playing locally which is a huge plus for a fighting game. This is probably thanks to the use of GGPO netcode. There is also your standard practice mode as well as a very in-depth tutorial mode for the game. If you come into Skullgirls expecting a lot of extras you will be disappointed but considering the price I think it offers a fair amount of bang for your buck.
The actual fighting in Skullgirls feels very solid. When playing you can choose up to three fighters per team. Like in Capcom vs. SNK the more characters you choose the weaker the individual characters get; however, this is somewhat offset by the ability to use assist attacks with your extra team mates. The fighting style is very combo friendly with the potential to put together large strings of attacks that can do massive amounts of damage but if you ever begin repeating attacks your opponent can press any button to break out of the combo. I had a lot of fun finding new ways to string together different attacks into devastating combos.
The game’s tutorial mode is probably the best I have ever seen in a fighting game. Recent fighting games have modes where they teach you how to perform specific character combos but Skullgirls goes in-depth on how and when to you should use them. Skullgirls is also the only fighting game I can think of that actually effectively teaches you how to effectively block.
As you delve deeper into the tutorial you will begin to learn things like how to effectively chain combo’s, when to counter while blocking, and when you should use throws. What’s really cool about all this is the lessons learned are ones you can use in most 2D fighters on the market.
The game features an all female cast that ranges from Women with Parasitic Hats to Shape-shifting Nun monsters. There are 8 playable fighter and 1 boss character but since each play very differently I never really felt that more characters were necessary. The art style of the game aside from a few exceptions is very anime inspired and it shows as many well-known anime troops are found within the game. Most characters have attacks that show gratuitous amounts of panty shots while fighting and it’s obvious that the games creators are pandering towards the male demographic. That being said the art itself looks fantastic and the sprites of the fighters animate beautifully. You would be hard pressed to find a better looking 2D fighter in existence. The game almost looks like a high-def anime is being played on your screen rather than a video game.
The only real complaint I have with the game is the lack of an in-game list of characters moves. This is honestly baffling to me as in-game move lists have become a staple of the genre. It doesn’t really ruin the experience but it is disappointing. In this day of age the idea of going to the web or buying a guide for a fighting game just seems very archaic. Other than that though, Skullgirls is definitely the best fighting game I have played in a long time. The in-game tutorial actually teaches you useful skills for not just Skullgirls but fighting game genre as a whole. The fighting is fast fun and satisfying and the online play is smooth and responsive. I highly recommend it to both newcomers and fans of the genre.