Skullgirls (PS3 [reviewed/360)
Developer: Reverge Labs
Release Date: 04/10/12 (PlayStation Network), 04/11/12 (Xbox Live Arcade)
Price: $14.99 (PlayStation Network), 1200 MSP (Xbox Live Arcade)
The developers at Reverge Labs have certainly been busy. Creating such a balanced and beautiful fighting game such as Skullgirls takes plenty of time and effort. After putting the game through its motions with its eye-popping cast of lady killers, it’s safe to say that the effort has paid off immensely.
Skullgirls has a couple of things going for it. First off, the graphics are simply some of the best 2D visuals to date. Each stage is filled with vibrant colors and background characters that’re fit to watch the carnage from a distance. All eight ladies come with their own anime sheen. For instance, Peacock’s look and moveset is inspired by old
American cartoon inspired movies. She and the rest of the girls must be seen in motion in order to be fully appreciated.
Why exactly are these chicks torturing each other in the first place? Well, something called the Skull Heart is said to grant the wish of any woman who comes across it. But there’s a problem: any girl with an impure heart who tries to wield the Skull Heart will morph into an evil Skullgirl. That’s exactly what happens in Canopy Kingdom, so each girl makes it their mission to put her out of her misery and take the Skull Heart for themselves.
The game lets you follow along with each girl’s tale in Story mode. The still pictures and dialogue are easy enough to follow. It’s not exactly thrilling but it provides some semblance of a solid storyline for those who might be interested.
The Arcade mode provides a bit of a change up from Story mode. Players get to go at with the computer with one super-powered character, two evenly matched fighters or a three girl squad. The game automatically applies the settings for each style of play, plus you’re given the option of custom assist attacks. The randomized fights that are thrown at the player seem fresh at first, but the repetition of ensuing Arcade mode runs soon rears its ugly head.
Other modes, such as a tutorial session and training section exist for those looking to improve their skills. The online portion of this fighter is powered by the GGPO (Good Game Piece Out) net code. This means matches over the internet run smoother than a lot of other current fighting games. There might be a hint of lag here and there, but matches tend to run off without a hitch. Spectator lobbies will be making their way to the game via DLC, so gamers shouldn’t fret too much over that omission.
As far as game modes go, that’s all there is to it. No survival mode, mission mode or anything decidedly different from the norm is available to play. There’s not much to do except fight in online matches after every other mode have been exhausted.
Skullgirls’ roster is capable of long lasting combos that are a joy to perform and watch. Each girl comes with a different play style that tournament level players are already accustomed to. Those who prefer grapplers will gravitate towards Cerebella and her Vice-Versa weapon.
Tournament fighter Mike "Mike Z" Zaimont worked on the game’s tight, responsive and balanced fighting engine. Many thanks to him and the rest of the game’s team for making sure unblockable, infinite combos are non-existent in Skullgirls.
The fights are fluid, the sound effects are fitting and the super moves are jaw dropping. These ladies get ran over with cars and get chewed to death by violent parasites. Watching Valentine and her medical slaughter sessions go down will surely make you cringe and applaud her efforts afterwards.
There are plenty of special moves available to each character, but you won’t have any way of looking them up while you play. The game excludes an in-game move list so players will have a problem remembering those command inputs.
Oh and good luck against the sometimes brutal AI. Facing off with the computer is no cakewalk. They’ll pull off amazing combo strings and enrage you at times. We like a challenge every now and then in our fighting games but those who don’t won’t enjoy the high difficulty.
While you’re getting destroyed by the AI, give a thorough listen to the game’s music. The sweet mix of jazz tunes put together by the game’s composers (Michiru Yamane, Brenton Kossak and Blaine McGurty) fits perfectly with the accompanying art style. The credits theme song will probably become a favorite after repeated listens.
Skullgirls now joins the list of other great fighting games to release since the genre resurgence debut of Capcom’s Street Fighter 4. The roster of eight ladies all come with distinguishable looks and attacks, the graphics and audio are top notch and the gameplay is fast and fluid. The only drawbacks to the experience are the game’s difficult AI, lack of game modes, omission of in-game move lists and small roster.
Overall though, this all-female fighter is highly enjoyable and worth the amount of downloadable dough it’s asking for. Fighting game veterans and newbies should take Skullgirls for a spin and see what all the fuss is about.