Publisher: Autumn Games, Konami
Platforms: PlayStation 3 (PSN), Xbox 360 (XBLA), Microsoft Windows
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Way back in June of last year, there was a little game that was introduced to the public, and its name was Skullgirls, created by fighting game tournament player "Mike Z" and artist Alex Ahad. Their goal was to make a beautiful looking game that inherited all the technical aspects of tournament level fighters, while still keeping it accessible to casual gamers. Well, almost one year since the debuted trailer, PlayStation and Xbox 360 owners can now download this game and experience this game for themselves. The verdict? One of the prettiest looking fighting games out there, perfectly enjoyable for both casual and hardcore fans alike.
Skullgirls uses the traditional six button configuration we usually in fighting games. The light, medium and hard punch and kick buttons can be accompanied by certain motion inputs to deliver special attacks, as well as "ultra" type specials, which uses up a super meter. While certain characters may have similar motions to execute their specials, every combatant has a unique style of play. For instance, Cerebella focuses more on close range attacks, Parasoul fights with soldiers and projectiles, Ms. Fortune allows you to fight with her body and head separately, and Valentine can shoot various syringes that can cause different types of effects to the opponent (such as HP reducing or input lag).
And although this game can be labeled a tournament level fighter, Skullgirls does a fantastic job in making itself very friendly to casual gamers. There's an extensive tutorial that teaches basics, like the difference between high and low attacks, to more advanced tactics, like canceling, mix-ups and off the ground attacks. However, despite all the informative game techniques, the Skullgirls lack the one thing every fighter offers it's players: a command list. That's right, the game does not provide a list of special moves. Instead, they suggest everyone to check out their Skullgirls.com website for all of that. Strange, considering all the effort given to the tutorial.
Players are able to choose between eight characters, and pick up to three to simultaneously fight in one battle. Having one character will give you a much stronger fighter, while having two or three will give you variety, but weaker combatants. In other words, the characters you choose will even out in damage and health. This is a great tool to use if you're able to play multiple characters. If you're only good with one, there's no real imbalance either, as you'll have just about the same amount of health as one player using three characters.
This game is probably the best looking 2D sprite fighter I've ever played. The artwork, 3D rendered backgrounds and high resolution character designs are so stylish and colorful, there truly isn't anything not to like about its visuals. The game is just so beautifully animated.
Michiru Yamane, who's mostly known for her work on Konami's Castlevania series, worked on the game's fantastic, jazzy sounding score. The voice acting is also great, packed with tons of one-liners and catch phrases.
But although the game's presentation is probably its greatest strength, there was one thing that kind of irked me, which would be the over sexualized outfits. Sure, bouncing breasts and upskirts are nothing new in the fighting game genre, but this game really emphasizes on all the characters' anatomy a bit too much. The fanservice is just a overdone if you ask me.
Any fighting game enthusiast will find this game appealing, for both for it's awesome visuals and deep gameplay. There's an online multiplayer, which many players will find most of their time on, as well as a tutorial to brush up on skills. Unfortunately, there isn't anything more than that. There's a story mode that kind of gives you a glimpse of the Skullgirls universe, but other than that, the game doesn't offer much else.
On the main menu though, when you highlight the "Extras" section, it does mention artwork and some other features "coming soon," so I guess we'll be expecting more content in the future. Possibly a couple of modes, and maybe some new characters.
The only beef I had with this game was the final boss. If there was one thing I remembered from any fighting game during my childhood, it would have to be how difficult some of the final bosses were. There was Shao Kahn from Mortal Kombat 2, Kouryu from Last Blade 2, Orochi from King of Fighters '97... and now you can throw in Marie to the list. I don't ever remember ever being this frustrated with a last boss. Oh well, fighting games aren't about single player though, so it's not a biggie. Still, I warn you, going toe to toe with this little girl is not for the faint of heart.
Although Skullgirls is a downloadable game, there's so much here that earns it to be just was respected as any high profile fighting game out there. It's probably the best looking 2D fighter I've ever seen, and with a diverse cast of characters, coupled with a fairly deep combo system, Skullgirls is no doubt a well-rounded, yet technical fighter for everyone to enjoy.
8 out of 10
Review by: Richard Fagel
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