Not much has come in the way of a successful new 2D fighter in the past several years. With established series such as Marvel vs. Capcom and Street Fighter seemingly owning the market, many competent fighters have fallen to the side in this unforgiving genre. Skullgirls, developed by Reverge Labs and published by Autumn Games and Konami, has managed to hit mainstream success in today’s crowded market.
Part of the draw of Skullgirls is its charm. The cartoony art style and over the top characters make this game far more memorable than even some of the new releases from Tekken or Dead or Alive. Even with this game’s small roster of eight characters, players will have plenty of variety as every character has their own zany quirks. Examples include Ms. Fortune, a cat-girl who is able to remove her own head in battle and control it separately from her body, and Peacock, a cigar smoking throwback to older cartoons that unleashes a never ending barrage of long range attacks.
Don’t let this game’s wackiness fool you, however. Underneath the bad puns and over the top world it’s set in lies a truly solid fighting game at its core. The AI is surprisingly intelligent, and some who are new to the genre may have difficulty even on the game’s easiest setting. One oddity is the exclusion of a move list in game. Instead of being able to pause or look in a submenu, players will have to take to the internet if they want to master their character’s combos. Trying to stay positive, looking up the combos online is at least better than having a friend help you (“you just hadouken and hit ALL the buttons!”). This game also supports up to four players locally and has the standard online multiplayer one would expect. Players can choose between one on one matches or tag team style fights with up to three players per side, with the ability to mix it up according to each person’s preference.
The game also boasts an impressive soundtrack, which is available on iTunes and Amazon, and has already sold quite well. Composed by Vincent Diamante and Michiru Yamane, the game features some rather jazzy pieces that many would not expect from a fighting game. The pieces help set the game’s unique atmosphere and really bring life to the world the characters inhabit.
With the success Skullgirls has already had, don’t be surprised to see a lot more of Reverge Labs in the near future. DLC characters are already in the works, and a portable spin off (titled Skullgals),is set for release sometime next year. With a free demo available, there’s absolutely no reason for fans of fighting games not to check this out.