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Skullgirls (pc)

August 31, 2013

Skullgirls_boxartSkullgirls (pc)

What’s Good:
-Stylish and excellently animated 2d visuals.
-Creative cast of unique playable characters.
-Great soundtrack.
-Character story-lines give off a good sense of a strange art deco world.
-Fighting system is simple to learn, but offers a good amount of additional depth.
-Great tutorial mode, as well as vs dummy training room options provide a good amount of information to ease newcomers into 2d fighting games.
-GGPO offers irritation-free online matches, typically with no apparent lag.

What’s Bad:
-The available modes are quite slim by modern fighting game standards.
-Small character roster.
-Individual character story mode narratives are pretty short.

If I were to give it a rating: 4 out of 5

Other thoughts:
Now here’s a game with style, but one that knows exactly how to flaunt it. Skullgirls is refreshing in a number of ways, and not only the creative character designs or fluidly animated 2D art, but also in the way it encourages creativity in crafting combos, and gives you all of the information you require to do so.

Skullgirls is a 2D fighter nestled somewhere between Street Fighter 4 and Marvel vs. Capcom 3. The character movement is a little slower, and it is a six button fighter (three punches, three kicks), but the free-form and often elaborate combos which can be performed give it a more flashy feel.
It’s a fun, open system that makes you want to hop into Training mode not only to practice inputs or timing, but to see if move X can combo into move Y, and how.
While combos are very easy to string together, there is a system in place here to counter abusive infinite juggles, where that if a combo goes on for too long, all the victim has to do to break free is hit a button.
You’re able to choose to fight as one lone character, or a team or two or three, and the game adjusts your chosen team’s stats accordingly. While this opens up new possibilities for streaming together combos, I tended to prefer playing as one character, as I felt like having more than one was more of a handicap than a buff (granted, I’m not especially great at 2D fighters. Maybe in the hands of someone more proficient, this wouldn’t be the case).

The Training Mode does an excellent job at explaining to you in plain English how the game’s various systems work, and offer brief but concise explanations into how each of the game’s nine characters work, and what their various strengths are. It’s a very good tutorial, and it boggles my mind at how more fighting game development teams refuse to offer ways to ease newer players into the genre. It’s a breath of fresh air to see someone get it right, or at least make a good stride in the right direction.
While there is no Challenge or Mission mode to give you ideas for how to combo with your chosen character (or team of characters), the game’s training mode has all of the features you would want for testing out new combos, from hitstun bars to hitboxes to color-coded frame data.

While you do get your money’s worth by terms of quality of content (the game is $15), if I had one complaint with Skullgirls, it would be with the limited roster and number of game modes. While each of the characters do feel unique visually and by terms of mechanics (and a few more are on the way as DLC), nine is a somewhat small number compared to many of the 2D fighters out there, and if you’re playing solo, outside of the Training Mode and Story Mode (which is essentially arcade mode, but with a few pieces of artwork and a few scenes of unvoiced dialogue scattered along the ladder), there isn’t a ton to do here. The story mode is interesting, and the world it creates is stylish and mysterious, but at the same time it’s unfortunate that, being a lower budget game, Skullgirls isn’t able to take the narrative as far as it could have with fully voiced and animated cutscenes.
Fighting games are always best played against your friends though, and as this game uses GGPO, that process is most often not an issue. There are lobby and ranked modes, though currently there’s no option to spectate matches while waiting for your turn.

From the big things such as the excellent Training Mode, to smaller things such as opting to rematch without having to load into and out of the character screen, Skullgirls is a 2D fighter that has its mind in the right place. The mechanics are sound, the visual and audio design are both terrific; Skullgirls is a creative and well-crafted 2D fighter, and I hope that even if we don’t see another game in this series, Lab Zero Games sticks around; as I’d love to see what they will cook up next.

From → Games

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  1. Spitz’s Year-end Wrap Up 2013 | Spitz's Soapbox

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