Skullgirls (Video Game)
Developed by Reverge Labs
Rated T for Blood, Partial Nudity, Use of Tobacco & Violence
Available for PlayStation 3 & Xbox 360 (reviewed)
Skullgirls was created to be a serious contender to all fighting games, not just 2D fighters like itself. The game was designed in partnership with fighting game tournament champion "Mike Z" Zaimont and features a complex system of game mechanics that is simple to understand but very difficult to master. Serious fighter gamers will love this aspect, while more casual gamers will find the complex system and overall brutal difficulty of the game make it nearly unapproachable.
The game's story centers around an ancient artifact known as the Skull Heart. It is understood that the Skull Heart will grant any female one wish, but the wish comes with a stipulation. The Skull Heart eventually transforms anyone who is granted a wish into the evil and deadly Skullgirl, and this transformation will be accelerated if the wish is selfish or impure. The eight eccentric ladies in the game will all have their reasons for going after the Skull Heart, and the other women standing in their way will need to be dealt with, but the fifth and final battle in story mode always concludes with an epic showdown with the current Skullgirl.
Story mode can be fun for most, but it, along with the classic ladder climbing Arcade mode, are far too difficult even on Sleepwalk difficulty. You can take your chances in online battles that run lag free, but you are still likely to run into opponents with more skill than what you'd find in other games. Still the game's quirky characters, amusing storylines and overall fun atmosphere leave the game with a nice charm even when you're getting your butt kicked by your opponent.
Skullgirls manages to create a fighting system that the noobs among us can enjoy, with most characters pulling off special moves with a quick spin forward or backward and a corresponding attack button mash. The game also has special Blockbuster Attacks that can be used at the cost of Super Stock that is gained by successfully landing attacks, and these moves are nearly as simple to perform as special attacks. Still, fighting against any real competition will require the use of much more than these simple techniques, so unless you're dedicated enough to spend some quality time with Skullgirls, you may want to sit this one out.
Fighter veterans will be surprised that the game offers up an option of how many fighters make up your team. At the character selection screen, you can choose whether you'd like to have one, two or three fighters in your team, and life meters and damage modifiers will then be distributed to ensure every fight is fair regardless of the numbers. Infinite combos can be broken with a button mash at the appropriate time, but it is still possible to pull off a string of combos that will leave your opponent hurting and weeping if you work hard enough to mix up your moves.
Skullgirls features one of the more impressive presentations seen in recent gaming history. The graphics and beautiful artwork come together with the highest frame rate around in the fighting genre to create an amazing looking game. The snazzy, upbeat jazz soundtrack and humorous announcer help lower the tension felt during any fight while still keeping you fully immersed in the action. The real fault with the presentation is in the lack of content. When you combine that with lack of game modes (Story, Arcade, Versus and Training), no in-game move list and shallow leaderboards, you've got a game that can make casual gamers lose interest very quickly.
Your interest in Skullgirls will ultimately come down to which type of gamer you are. If you are the casual, laid back gamer who only picks up a controller every now and again, you probably won't find this game nearly as inviting as the sexy ladies and cool style of the game suggests. However if you're looking for a game in which to really invest some time, you won't find a more rewarding game than Skullgirls in downloadable or disc form.
For more information on the game, check out the official Skullgirls website.
4 out of 5