Developer: Revenge Labs
Publisher: Autumn Games, Konami
Platform: Playstation 3 (PSN),
Xbox 360 (Xbox Live)
Release Date: Out Now
ESRB: T for Teen
This review is based on the PS3 version of the game
Skullgirls is the proof that good things can come from humble beginnings. What was the effort of a group of artists and hardcore programmers has become a rather impressive and deceptively deep fighter, but not without some glaring oversights.
Following in the steps of other 2-D fighters like Blazeblue, Skullgirls has a surprisingly intriguing story to go along with the lovely ladies that make up the cast. The story centers around a fabled artifact called the Skull Heart which will grant its wielder any wish they desire, but with strings attached. If the wielder is impure of heart, the Skull Heart takes over the bearer“s body and warps them into a horrific and destructive force called the â€œSkullgirl.â€ The casts of fighters are all in a desperate hunt for the Skull Heart for just as many varying reasons: revenge, hope, honor, and love. While short, the story mode is well done and has a pleasant flow.
The two things that immediately struck me were how visually stunning the game looks and plays, as the artwork is completely hand drawn and intricately animated. Each fighter moves with such fluidity and liveliness that it“s almost a shame when the fights end. You can really tell how much love and care was put into each character“s design and movesets.
And the characters themselves are all nothing like you“ve ever seen before. The art style is best described as â€œGoth-Decoâ€ with vibrant prints and patterns and sharp angles which fits the cast very well. While the cast tops off at eight playable characters, the players are all very unique in look and style.
One fighter named "Ms. Fortune" is a catgirl who can separate her body parts and use them as weapons. One such move has her throwing her head at her foe and being able to control it separately. Another character named Peacock is a walking 1920“s cartoon, complete with pie-shaped eyes, puffy white gloves, and prop gags. She uses various weaponized cartoon tools like anvils, guns, safes, and powerful future tech like lasers.
The music is also a fitting mixture of jazz and electronica done by the composer of the Castlevania series, and it really does mesh with the mood of the game. Ranging from ninja nurses, shape-shifting nuns, and a woman with a napalm firing umbrella – you can be rest assured you“ve never seen fighters like these before. But no matter how good it looks or sounds, if the gameplay isn“t up to snuff, there“s no hope for it. Thankfully, Skullgirls has the solid gameplay to back it up.
The developers at Revenge Labs set the game up with the idea of making a tournament-ready fighting game. With this in mind, it carries some very innovative features that you will wonder why were never added in other modern day fighters.
Skullgirls boasts the option to have a team comprised of one to three fighters. To balance things out, a single fighter will be stronger and have more health than a multiple member team, but the extra team members can do tag team combos and replenish their health while on stand-by.
One of the special facets that Skullgirls includes is you can also create a custom assist attack for your tag partners (or you can use the stock moves suggested). Another is a technique called â€œinfinite burst,â€ which triggers when the game recognizes a player is caught in an infinite loop and allows the victim to break out of it. This encourages variety in attacks and makes things even more even and straightforward.
The game also has an online gaming option to take on other players around the net. The netcode is the same used for the updated Street Fighter Third Strike and runs just as smoothly and organized. As for other features, it also has a tutorial mode that teaches you the terms and techniques available in the game as well as a practice mode to brush up on your attacks. However, it is during training that one of the few but glaring absences appears – there“s no in-game moves list for the fighters.
While a PDF file is available for download, you are essentially playing blind as to what your fighter can do. Also, there“s no way to track your button inputs during training. While there are only two bits missing, it is all the more glaring in the face of the many other innovative and new things the game does do; to have such rudimentary items missing is rather odd.
The developers have also mentioned that they have two more characters coming as DLC in the next few months which will help boost the scant cast. While I enjoyed the characters, the online match-ups became a lot of mirror matches because of it. Despite the minor hiccups though, Skullgirls is a definite delight to watch and play and will be a perfect addition to any player's hard-drive.
+ Looks and Sounds Gorgeous
+ Gameplay is well balanced
+ Story is simple but impressive
- Small Cast
- Final Boss Suffers from â€œSuper Cheap Syndromeâ€
- Missing Move Lists
Overall Score: 8.5 (out of10)
Once it overcomes some rather odd hiccups, Skullgirls has the potential of being a classic fighting game hit.