Monday, 16 July 2012

Game Review: Skullgirls

I’ve always played fighting games for the spectacle, even if not just for it. Skullgirls is high on spectacle, setting standards for the quality of 2D graphics and animation. Every move and attack is making good on the promises games like Blaz Blue made but never fulfilled. This 1920s inspired dystopia presents its own twist on the anime style visuals we've come to know and comes with an overly sexualized female cast... offencive and welcomed at the same time.

Gameplay in Skullgirls is solid, if not new. Reverge Labs re-engineered what they knew worked into a game that blends some of the most successful mechanics in previous 2D fighters. The result is very satisfying and allows for layers of complexity that will have both the inexperienced and the hardcore with things to learn and play around with.

Being a cross-bred child of several fighting successes from the past, it's hard not to define Skullgirls by comparison. What you're getting into is a game with a lot of attack variety, speedy land and air movement as well as team mechanics that extend character abilities or compensate for their weaknesses. I'd likely compare it to a restrained version of Guilty Gear with optional team battles and bigger move arsenals.

It'd be a mistake to think this is an entirely derivative experience. The tutorials in the game, for instance, are the best I’ve seen in the genre. They succeed because of their great pacing and because they allow players to learn foundational fighting game concepts that have never been directly addressed by a game before. Not all areas are covered but even then the game is way ahead of the competition and comes across as both accessible and complex.

Are there downsides? Sure. There are some parts of the game that are just not there: things like move lists, in-depth training mode options and a bigger roster. The content and quality well surpasses the price tag and patches are in the works to fix some of the most glaring omissions.

Even with the limitations of rapidly shrinking budgets, post launch support has been stellar. The folks at Reverge Labs interact with the fanbase and involve them on decisions about upcoming patches. This is a product that you feel good supporting, not only because of its quality but also because of the people behind it.

Final Thoughts

Skullgirls is the intersection of craftsmanship and some of the most notorious minds in the fighting game scene. It’s a blast to play and watch for players new and old. Most importantly, it has managed to carve something new out of refining and improving upon what came before. If you are at all intrigued, you should buy this. I meant now.

Developer: Reverge Labs
Publisher: Autumn Games/Konami
Platform/s: PSN, Steam, XBLA
Release Date: 10 April 2012
Players: 1-2
Price: 1200 MS points (XBLA) £11.99/$15 PSN

By Federico Machado


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