All fighting games essentially boil down to the same thing: hit your opponent with various combinations of attacks until their health meter drops to zero and they stop fighting back.
However, different fighting franchises use gimmicks to differentiate themselves from the rest of the genre and keep players hooked. Mortal Kombat has copious amounts of violence, Marvel vs Capcom lets you make teams out of all your favorite Marvel and Capcom characters, and Dead or Alive throws the anatomy of its well endowed cast in your face every five seconds.
The hook for Skullgirls is its art style. It is like a mix between anime and an Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoon. It has an Art Deco aesthetic to it as well, that really seems to tie it all together into a package that is a delight to feast your eyes on.
The mix of smooth jazz and opera that accompanies the visuals matches so well that it’s difficult to describe as anything other than perfect. The whole package is quite wonderful and it’s very obvious by the amount of detail that a lot of love went into crafting this game.
The attention to details doesn’t stop at the surface; it also manifests itself in the gameplay. The controls are tight and responsive and they feel great, though they aren’t very well suited for a standard controller, as due to the lack of buttons some punches and kicks will have to be relegated to the trigger and shoulder buttons. The game was clearly crafted with a fighting stick in mind, and I highly recommend it to get the most enjoyment out of the game.
When picking characters you can choose between one super powered character or two or three lesser powered characters that can call in assist attacks from one another and can heal when they aren’t the ones fighting. This changes up the established 2D fighting formula quite a bit as each match can be as simple or hectic as you want. Each character has been balanced perfectly, so whether you have a team of one or three it never feels unfair. It’s a good system and I’d love to see it implemented in more games.
There is plenty to do in Skullgirls. You can hit up arcade mode or challenge a stranger online. There’s even a story mode where you can follow each character as they attempt to claim the wish-granting Skullheart for themselves and become a titular Skullgirl. The story isn’t spectacular and really just gives the characters reasons to bump into each other and get into spontaneous brawls, but it’s still entertaining while it lasts.
The real meat of the game is in its training mode where you can learn the basics as well as more advanced tactics that all carry over to any other 2D fighting game on the market. It’s perfect for those new to the genre as well as veterans looking to refine their skills.
One major complaint I have with the game is that there isn’t any place to view a list of attacks for each character. The Skullgirls website contains a list you can download to your desktop, otherwise, if you want to learn how to use each character, you’ll just have to go through some trial and error. It’s odd and frustrating that such a staple in modern fighters wouldn’t be included as part of the initial release of the game.
Before you dive in to the world of Skullgirls be warned: the entirety of the all-female cast is hyper sexualized. Each character’s proportions are outrageous and you’ll constantly be seeing absurd amounts of cleavage and upskirt shots. It’s enough to make Dead or Alive blush. However, if you can see past all that you’ll find a fighter that is well worth the price of admission.
If you’re an enthusiast of fighting games or then Skullgirls is an obvious must buy. And with a slew of new characters coming soon as free DLC thanks to a crowdfunding campaign earlier this year, there’s never been a better time to hop on the bandwagon.