Let me get this out of the way, I love fighters. Fighting games are just pure bliss for me. Am I the best at them? Well no, but I really like the competitiveness of the genre and with online nowadays it only adds to this. So naturally when I heard of Skullgirls I got pretty excited. A 15 dollar fighting game with a very crisp and hand-drawn presentation, but does it hold up?
The game looks absolutely fantastic. You get a nice intro video before the main menu displaying the basic premise and characters. The whole thing has a bit of a movie feel with the main menu and the announcer’s sayings. Load screens have a very neat animation of an 8-ball bomb wobbling around on its tiny feet. It’s all just very endearing and it definitely impresses. The stories are presented using slides and text and they’re all drawn just as well as the fighters in action themselves. While only 8 fighters, they’re all very unique, full of charm and you’ll be able to unlock about 10 color schemes for each fighter to mix things up a bit. The girls may seem a bit over the top in sex appeal, but when compared to other fighters, that always seems to be the case. Stages are well animated and everything feels part of the Skullgirl universe.
Fighting games are not known for their stories. Skullgirls is no exception but it’s different enough to make it fresh. The premise is there’s an artifact called the ‘Skullheart’ and it has the ability to grant a girl’s wish. HOWEVER, (there’s always a catch) if they’re of impure heart they turn into some kind of monster. The last time a ‘Skullgirl’ emerged it was nothing but trouble for the citizens of this universe so each character has their own motivation to stop the current one (to get a wish, to become the skullgirl, to destroy it eg). So with the 8 characters available you’ll be able to witness 8 different stories each explaining the origin of the girls and their abilities and the type of persons they are. What I really like is how they all seem to know each other and the characters really intertwine with other girls’ stories. The story is presented by slides with text when you start the story, in the middle of some fights and lastly, at the end. While they get the job done, part of me wishes we could’ve gotten some videos instead since the animation is just so good! Still, the way they handle it makes it feel very old school and y’know, it just works.
Skullgirls is a 2D fighter. The objective like in any fighting game is to use combos and diminish your opponents’ lifebar. It kind of feels like a mix of BlazBlue and MvC. When you’re playing story, you’re limited to playing as one fighter only. However in Arcade and in Versus you’ll be able to play as only one fighter, two, or a team of three. You’re able to choose no matter what. With extra fighters however, you’re able to switch them in battle and call in assists. One thing that’s notable about the assists is that you get to choose 2 preset ones, and you’re able to customize the third into whatever you would like. Since there’s only 8 character’s at the moment, it feels tight for the most part and you’ll probably be able to master the characters available faster due to the lack of more. There’s a tutorial section that I must commend since it actually teaches you fighting game 101 along with Skullgirl mechanics. It’s better than most fighting game tutorials since most are just “perform these combos” and don’t actually teach you anything but that. There’s also a system built in where the game won’t allow an ‘infinite’ combo to work on you, you’ll be able to counter such horrible and gamebreaking attacks if they exist. Other fighting games don’t offer this and they’d have to patch the game in order to counter such issues if they even feel like it.A complaint about the gameplay however is that a movelist is not available. You’re able to look at the controller layout and know how to perform your high and low punches and the like but there’s no movelist to teach you how to do Filia’s hair rolls for example. Such a movelist is currently only offered online on the Skullgirls website. There are talks about it coming out on a future patch, but it really should’ve been included day one.
Other than arcade mode and story and training, versus is the only other option available in the game. It comes with online and offline multiplayer. In Versus you’re able to choose a team of three fighters, 2, or one super powerful character. So the health equals out depending on how many characters one decides to pick. I’ve been able to find matches online so there’s definitely a following to Skullgirls. Ranked matches try to connect you with fighters of your tier so you don’t wind up fighting someone that’s miles above your skill. The game’s online system makes you toggle an option to reduce lag and offer optimal gameplay. So when searching for a match it’ll tell you to set the number from 0-9 and as long as you follow it, you won’t encounter a laggy match which is one of the worst things that plagues the fighting genre. You also have unranked rooms where you can just have fun with a stranger and rematch him all you want. You can also invite your friend and show him your superiority or inferiority. Online works and that’s a very good thing considering the game is 15 dollars.
Yes, in my opinion, one of the most important aspects of a fighter is the fighters themselves. This game comes with an all female cast of 8. Filia is a schoolgirl who happens to have amnesia and her hair is actually a parasite named Samson that allows her to fight. Then there’s Peacock, a war orphan who becomes abused and dismembered but becomes a fighting machine (influenced by old school Cartoons) by science! Valentine is a girl who reminds me of Mai Shiranui from King of Fighters in the Sex Appeal aspect. She’s a nurse with an eye patch who uses scalpels, syringes, and even body bags to fight! You also have Ms. Fortune which is basically an anime catgirl with the ability to remove her head and use it in battle, letting you control basically two fighters at once. Cerebella is a girl with a hat with the most long and muscular arms in existence. She’s a grappler and is able to grab you with said hands and then smack you around with her own limbs. You then have Painwheel, she’s similar to Peacock as a monster of science but she definitely got the ‘monster’ part more. She has a giant wheel she uses to fly and saw at enemies. She’s the creepiest girl in the game as she looks like a mix of Psychomantis and Gollum. You then have Parasoul which is a ‘Nazi’ like girl who fights with an umbrella and is able to summon her soldiers (which remind me of helghasts) into battle. Lastly, you have Double, the complete mystery. She appears as a Nun, but then hideously transform into a blobby mass that is able to turn into other fighters and use their abilities! So there’s the playable 8. All unique and all very fun to use. There’s one last fighter which is the nonplayable final boss, Marie. She’s literally, a SKULLGIRL. She appears almost like a maid, but she’s surrounded by bones and is able to summon them in the final battle. She has 3 different stages of being to her and she makes for a challenging final level like other fighting games also tend to have.
Skullgirls is overall a very well done fighter for the price of admission. It’s beautiful, funny, and very charming. The fighting works well and I’ve been having a real blast playing it since release. Having tournament fighter Mike “Mike Z” Zaimont oversee the fighting aspects of the game was a very well done decision as he knows his stuff in order to make this work. I can only hope this game catches on as it really has the potential to be a tournament fighter. The developers promise DLC depending on how well it does and I can only hope they come through with the combo list at the very least. If you like fighting games do not skip over Skullgirls, it’s an absolute steal at 15 dollars.