Published on January 21st, 2013 | by Duke0913
Developer(s): Lab Zero Games, Reverge Labs
Publisher(s): Autumn Games, Konami (2012-2013), Marvelous AQL (2013-presnet), CyberFront (Japan only)
System(s): PlayStation 3 (PlayStation Network), Xbox 360 (Xbox Live Arcade), Microsoft Windows
Release Date(s): April 10, 2012 (North America, PlayStation Network), April 11, 2012 (Xbox Live Arcade), May 2, 2012 (Europe, PlayStation Network), August 22, 2013 (Microsoft Windows)
Skullgirls is a game I never really paid attention to when it was first announced. In fact, I wasn’t fully aware of what it was about till quite some time after it was released. Once I found out that it was a fighting game, it caught my attention and I decided to give it a try. After playing it for a while, I actually felt kinda bad for completely overlooking it at first.
Skullgirls is a 2D fighting game that’s not only fast paced, but very simple to learn. You can move with either the analog stick or the D-pad (preferably the latter), and your offensive actions are mapped out to the four face buttons, as well as the trigger buttons. You can either punch or kick, and depending on which button you press, you will perform a small, medium, or high attack. Every character can guard by moving backwards, and if your timing is good, you can push your opponent away. What sticks out more than anything else in your arsenal in the game are Blockbusters, special moves that vary from character to character.
Blockbuster attacks are the hardest moves to land, but cause massive damage if you do. They can only be pulled off if your special meter, which is located underneath your health meter at the top of the screen, is filled up to at least level one. It will take some practice to learn the button inputs, but it’s well worth the time to try them out.
You have the option to learn more about the game mechanics in training mode, which is divided into two separate modes. Training Room allows you to choose any girl (all of the characters are female in Skullgirls? What a surprise), and practice combos and movement at your leisure. Tutorials is more of a mission based mode that’s divided into chapters. Each chapter is divided into sections that teach you everything in the game; from simple combos, to air dashes, this mode will teach you everything about the game. I found this mode extremely helpful since there’s a bit of a learning curve with the game, but it feels like you need to be precise with what they ask you to do, even if there is an alternative way of doing a task. At least the last couple of chapters goes over the strengths and weaknesses of each character, so that you can learn about them here in this mode as well…all eight of them.
That’s right, there are only eight playable characters in Skullgirls; two of them which have to be unlocked. They all have different play styles, and their personalities show in the heat of battle. You can learn more about each character by playing through Story Mode as they fight their way to challenge the Skullgirl, who holds an item that grants any girls wish, the Skull Heart. I do like that each character is expressive and unique, but again the roster is one of the smallest I’ve seen in a fighting game. DLC for two characters that were originally going to be in the game, but as of now, there’s been no word on when that will happen, but it’s a safe bet that we’ll here something after the PC version is released.
The modes in this game are nothing new, but they’re all enjoyable nonetheless. Along with Story Mode, you have a standard Arcade Mode, but with a twist. You can have a team of up to three characters, and the more you have in your party, the less HP your characters have. Characters in reserve can also perform assists, and recover health if possible. When fighting solo, the character has more HP and is slightly stronger than the team of two or three they face, and I really like how it helps balances things out so that the player stands a chance, even if there’s a situation where it’s a three on one match.
The same can be said for online mathces, which for the most part, run smoothly thanks to the GGPO netcode. With this middleware, you can set the “rollback” to put any lag ahead of what the player does, essentially reducing the lag to where it’s not even noticeable. The game can even tell you what level the GGPO should be set to when facing a friend online, giving you the best experience possible. I really hope this is used in future games, as it provided one of the best online gaming experiences I’ve had in a fighting game. Even the visual quality help up nicely.
The overall presentation is amazing in this game, both visually and musically. Every character and her animations are fluid, all coming back to how expressive they are. You can unlock variations of their costumes to match color schemes of other game characters such as NiGHTS, or Megaman. The areas you fight in also look great and vary in appearance, such as a populated park or an empty cathedral. The soundtrack is composed by famous game composers including Michiru Yamane (Castlevania: Symphony of the Night), Vincent Diamante (Flower), Blaine McGurty (Retro Remix Review), and Brenton Kossak. Coupled with the movie theme the game has, it presents a calm yet tense atmosphere that’s perfect for a fighting game of this nature. It’s a soundtrack that’s well worth your money, and I highly recommend listening to it if you ever get the chance.
Skullgirls is a game I almost completely ignored, and I’m glad I didn’t. The arcade style fighting system, along with the presentation are great. Thanks to the GGPO this is one of the better online games you’ll find out there, which is very much appreciated since it’s a blast playing with friends online. This game is not perfect though, since it lacks a decent character roster in terms of numbers, and the training missions can be finicky at times. Overall though, Skullgirls is a solid fighter that should please anyone that likes the genre.
+ Fantastic hand drawn visuals
+ Catchy soundtrack
+ Smooth online play
+ Unique presentation
– Training missions can be picky at times
– Incredibly small character roster
Final score: 4 out of 5