Skullgirls is a beautiful unnoticed gem in the massive pile of fighting games. It has everything that makes an amazing fighter: balanced and hectic gameplay, crisp and appealing graphics, solid netcode for online play, an excellent soundtrack, and developers that listen to the fans. There are a few flaws present but in the grand scheme of things, they matter very little.
Skullgirls plays like your typical 2D fighter but with the option of being able to form teams like in Marvel vs Capcom. Players can choose to have one super strong character, two not as strong characters, or three normal characters. One advantage that comes with having multiple characters on a team is the ability to send them out and assist whoever’s currently fighting. The different options available for forming teams help add to the variety while still maintaining balance.
Skullgirls features its own version of special attacks. Characters can store up to five bars on their special meters to execute said attacks. Attacking or being attacked adds to the meters. While we’re on the topic of attacks, executing them is simple enough for those who have played a Capcom fighting game before. If you can perform a Shoryuken, Hadoken, Tiger Knee, etc., then you’ll do just fine in Skullgirls. The game is lenient enough on move execution so if you don’t have access to an arcade stick, don’t fret over it too much. One minor complaint that needs addressing is the lack of an in-game move list. You’ll need to look the move list for each character up on the Internet.
Being able to play Skullgirls is easy and so is playing it at a proficient level. There’s an in-game tutorial that not only helps newbies to the fighting game genre but also provides insight on advanced game mechanics that can apply to any fighting game for the more skilled player. After completing the tutorial and learning how a few characters work, you’ll be able to compete with even the best of players (the ones that go to competitions such as MLG or EVO).
Online is most likely going to be your most played mode unless you have fellow Skullgirls players near your location. Thankfully though the vast majority of your fights will be as smooth as the ones that you have offline. Thanks to the game’s GGPO technology, you should only have matches with slight input delay if you’re on a yellow or red bar. There’s a few things missing online that would be nice to have such as the ability to record and replay matches and the ability to spectate a match between two other players.
If you’re not looking to play against other people however, Skullgirls probably won’t be your cup of tea. There’s only an extremely short story mode and arcade mode available. There’s eight characters to choose from which is why you’ll probably do all there is to do in the game in a couple of hours. There will be some new characters that will join the roster as downloadable content in the near future but if you’re going to buy Skullgirls, it should be with the intent to play against others.
Fighting games shouldn’t be expected to have the most complex of stories and Skullgirls serves as a good reminder as to why that is. There’s an artifact called the Skull Heart that is said to grant one wish to any woman who manages to possess it. There’s a catch however: if the one who asks the Skull Heart for a wish is even slightly corrupted, they’ll eventually be turned into a Skullgirl, a being whose sole purpose in life is to cause destruction. What Skullgirls lacks in terms of a long, detailed story it makes up for with character development. Skullgirls makes each character in the game have their own unique personality and gives them believable reasons to find the Skull Heart.
The graphics are very detailed and will easily draw your attention. Each stage fits the game’s jazzy atmosphere with its brightness and vibrant colors. The characters themselves are even more detailed than the stages. Each animation that they perform is smooth and really helps accommodate Skullgirls‘s gameplay. The cutscenes in the game’s story mode also deserve credit even though they’re not animated (they’re just slide show images unfortunately).
Skullgirls is all about capturing the Jazz Age or Roaring Twenties in U.S. history. The music along with the graphics help bring the historic time period to life. The game features jazz music which is a genre that very few games have ever included. It’s a welcome change of pace from the often used rock, classical, techno, and dubstep music.
It’s a shame that Skullgirls isn’t as popular as it should be. It’s the perfect gateway into the fighting game genre and it still has more in store for those who are patient. For $15 USD, there’s no reason why anyone who’s even remotely interested in fighting games shouldn’t give it a try. Just make sure that if you’re playing this in front of others that they’re okay with seeing scantily clad women beating each other to a pulp.
For more information on Skullgirls, check out its official site at skullgirls.com. Skullgirls is out now for the PS3 and Xbox 360 on the PlayStation Store and Xbox LIVE Marketplace respectively. Skullgirls will also be released on the PC later this year.