Woo boy where to begin? Do I tackle its mechanics or aesthetics first? What’s more important about a game that’s both flashy and technically sound? Well hit the jump to see whether or not the game is [negative skull pun] or [positive skull pun].
Playability is key in a fighting game. It needs to be balanced, it needs to be varied, and it needs to be adjustable. It’s quite the tall order and one that’s far more scrutinized in a fighting game than any other genre. With that said I have to applaud Skullgirls for its amazing job of crafting a fighting system that feels new and interesting while remaining incredibly competent. It still retains the staples of fighting games so fighting game fans should know what to expect. It just makes things more interesting with some of the new additions it does make. For instance you can craft a team of one to three characters. If you have a team of a single character it will be adjusted so that the character is incredibly powerful while a team of three will give you a more varied style but will adjust your strength so as to not overpower anybody else. The game however leaves out any in-game combo manual for each fighter so playing the game for the first time was a bit of exploration hit-and-miss after understanding the basic controls and combo system. I found myself going “Oooooo…Neat!” after pulling off a new combo or special move that wasn’t intended.
A few grievances namely a difficult AI and learning curve that will not be and is not very friendly for newcomers to fighting games. I’m not a hardened fighting game vet but I have played my fair share of fighting games with varying degrees of success so as an average player I was able to jump into the game relatively easily but was subject to a fairly challenging progression. So I suppose it speaks volumes then that even after (numerous) defeats I was in no way willing to put down my controller in frustration. I was learning as I went so each defeat was just another lesson.
The training mode will get the player acclimated to the game mechanics as well as fighting games as a whole. Hitboxes, basic combos, etc. all are nice aids for practice while actually explaining and teaching everything there is to learn about fighting games. Again this is where the lack of an in game combo guide hurts (but one can be downloaded off their official website) but as far as training modes go, newcomers will actually learn how to play fighting games with this one. Minor issues with online connectivity involving lag but for the most part the online net code works. Also a couple frame rate stutters every so often but nothing to write home about. Mainly this game is an engaging and effective fighting game that was built for tournament style play and shows off a finely tuned system that any fan of the genre would probably be excited to play.
[Engaging fighting system][Interesting additions but still a fighting game][Training mode should be called teaching mode which is a good thing][Difficult AI][Steep learning curve][Moderately successful online play][No in game combo-guide]
[Small amendment. My internet isn’t the best around so your experience with online play should and will probably be better than mine.]
Not since the last Guilty Gear game has a cast of characters been nearly this interesting, or at the very least, this aesthetically unique. The best thing however is the references that found itself into the game. Off the top of my head there are references to The Peanuts, Franz Kafka, Castlevania, Animaniacs, Looney Toons, H.P. Lovecraft and several internet memes that can range from clever to a bit groan inducing (cheeseburger anyone?). Still it can’t be denied that the game has personality. Even the design choices in gameplay add interesting new ideas, the most novel of which is how the body of your teammate remains on screen even after her defeat. Each character is of course designed for their archetype (i.e. tank, zoning, range) but that didn’t stop the design team from creating eight incredibly interesting individuals. Some characters made me laugh out loud (Peacock) while others were quite the tragic heroines (Painwheel) but each of them defied my initial, somewhat unimpressed, view of the game’s characters. Story mode is interesting and fun depending on the character but the mode still has much to desire. You can probably find out more about each character from the official website than you can in the game’s actual story mode and many endings leave lots of unanswered questions that’s either begging for DLC or a sequel. There’s surprisingly little meat on that bone which sort of disappoints me but makes me eager for any additional content (Damn you industry trends!!!).
The sound department is top notch with incredible voice work that suit the characters perfectly and only improve their already interesting personalities. The soundtrack is also quite a bit of fun with a few standout tracks and maybe a few weak ones. Overall the music is very enjoyable and matches the aesthetic design choice which is something I should probably get into.
I really dug the 1920’s feel that harkens back to Bioshock which would place the art style in deco territory to mine and Google’s understanding. The flapper, Fitzgerald style is always a favorite of mine but it’s still something new and refreshing that feels very much alive. Originally I felt myself spoiled by Blazblue’s intricate background work but the more I paid attention the more astonishing all the attention to detail became. Hilarious, beautiful, all around pleasing, the art and design department certainly didn’t hold anything back.
Arguably the fighting game genre is a hot pot for eclectic design choices with lots of variety and interesting choices. Skullgirls is yet another fighting game that breaks the mold and if it has anything at all, it’s very pretty.
[Unique, unique, unique][Pretty, pretty, pretty][References out the ass][Hilarious character dialogues][Did I mention how pretty it was?][Sounds good][Great Voice Acting][Story mode is sparse and begs for additional content][Probability of said additional content very high]
For value it actually all depends on what you’re looking for. If you want a game that rewards you for completing its challenges and unlocking additional material then you probably won’t find a lot that would justify a fifteen dollar price tag. Additionally with only eight characters you better bet that DLC characters will be announced soon. Of course the dev team seem like nice people so perhaps free DLC characters might be in the cards. Still the overall content here is minimal.
However, if you’re looking for a new fighter to master and pour hours of training into as well as fun and engaging online matches then you will only have to look this way for your needs. The asking price may be a bit high but you will not be able to deny just how fun and technically challenging this game is. This will definitely keep you preoccupied for months to come.
(Also for you tournament fighters out there, this game seems to be making its rounds around the circuit so there’s also that)
[Loads of play time][The path of a master is a long and grueling one][Still not a lot of bonus content][Eight characters]
I enjoyed my time with Skullgirls. For all its worth it’s a new fighting game overflowing with personality and as a bonus is a fun, challenging, exciting addition to the genre that any fan of fighting games should definitely not pass up. Those of you waiting for a new Guilty Gear or Darkstalkers should be able to find comfort in knowing that Skullgirls has your needs in the department of curiously interesting characters with wholly original concepts that can only belong in this game. There’s a lot in here that fighting game players and gamers in general will enjoy but if fighting games just really aren’t your thing then I can’t blame you for moving on. If however you do like fighting games or want to learn how to play fighting games then this is the game for you.
[Engaging fighting system][Interesting additions but still a fighting game][Training mode should be called teaching mode which is a good thing][Unique, unique, unique][Pretty, pretty, pretty][References out the ass][Hilarious character dialogues][Did I mention how pretty it was?][Sounds good][Great Voice Acting][Loads of play time][The path of a master is a long and grueling one][Difficult AI][Steep learning curve][Moderately successful online play][No in game combo-guide][Story mode is sparse and begs for additional content][Probability of said additional content very high][Still not a lot of bonus content][Eight characters]