I’ll start this by saying that I suck at fighting games. This won’t be an indepth mechanical analysis describing possible issues with hitboxes, framecount, characters balance, or other issues highly relevant to the core set of arcade fighting game enthusiasts. (STEAM CODE ONE! VT88Y-J2XKH-AY6FW )
Yet, I’m intrigued by them. Playing Mortal Kombat, Tekken, and Samurai Shodown at arcades when I was younger was always a treat (at least until my inevitable defeat). Though I’m terrible at them I do try to pick up new series when they come out. BlazBlue, BattleFantasia, and most recently Skullgirls.
Skullgirls was brought to my attention because of it’s origins: Starting off a very indie work between Alex Ahad and Mike Zaimont, getting a publishing deal with Autumn Games, then getting mired in an unrelated legal battle. Wikipedia has a concise timeline of the development.
The game was recently released on PC after being out on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 for a year. It came with the expected balancing tweaks, expanded roster (still growing!) and additional matchmaking. I started it up on Steam and unlocked the Kickstarter funded new character Squigly. BAMN art just exploded everywhere on my screen. A sepia tinted intro video shot through 1930’s film explaining the universe, some fast paced character intros, and then the main menu.
The music and voice-acting are much better than most fighting games. My personal favorite is from the Darkstalkers franchise, and I’m convinced this is on par. The movements and playstyle reminds me of the speed of Marvel vs Capcom. It doesn’t have the heavy and deliberate actions of Virtual Fighter or Street Fighter. The character switching and response feels great to me. (STEAM CODE 2! XMDFD-X5NVW-3ZEG6 )
The main menu had all the modes I expected. Single player, Arcade, VS, Training room, options, etc. Jumping into the training room helped me pick up the basics. It is very fleshed out and I hadn’t finished it by the time I started a story mode with Squigly. Even Easy punished me (I do suck), but the storyline pushed me forward and I was able to begin learning. Maybe starting with the newest character wasn’t a genius move?
Tonight I went to set up a game with a friend and he had already sent an invite via Steam. He is an old-school fighting game fan and prefers the console experience over PC. I’ll note that he was surprised by the ease of setting up a lobby. He played with a Sega Saturn controller, I with a wired 360 controller. Neither of us used an arcade style controller, though the game welcomes it.
It was my first multi-player experience with the game, so I was surprised by the option to have one to three characters on a team. While this isn’t new to veterans of the Marvel vs Capcom games, the fact that I could have one extremely well-healthed character and he have a set of three lower health characters is a mechanic I hadn’t seen before. (STEAM CODE 3! HNEL4-9P88D-3F2G0 )
An unedited vouch for the game from my friend Formalism:
“Tried out this Skullgirls game with Tasty Whale. It was pretty fun. Actually might end up liking it more than street fighter IV, except for the abundance of heaving breasts.”
The number of skin pallets and the ability to deselect a character (usually I choose the wrong one and can’t back out 🙁 ) made me happy. A simple thing, but an important thing. I hate choosing the odd color character unintentionally! Or just plain choosing the wrong character.
While the current roster of 9 characters is low, there should be several more added within the next year further bolster the teams players can make up. Each will be getting a full single player story line helping to flesh out the intriguing “dark deco” universe.
I suppose a qualm I kinda have with the game is that it is full of fan-service. Panty-shots, bouncing boobs with ridiculous cleavage, and as my friend put it an “abundance of heaving breasts”. Really though, this isn’t far from the norm with any fighting game. It is pretty much impossible to avoid that in a plot about fighting women. However, the designers seem to quip at this by having Parasoul’s subordinates willing to do anything to please her.
I’m looking forward to playing more of this and am excited for the growing community. My personal opinion is that a fighting game earns its’ stripes by getting arcade consoles in Japan, which is happening later this year.
You can pick it up on PC via Steam here http://store.steampowered.com/app/245170/ and also on the PS3 and Xbox 360 marketplaces. Or by using one of the four the Steam codes provided by the SkullGirls team sprinkled throughout this article 🙂
(STEAM CODE 4! NJ7V7-EDKEE-CMJEG )