On April 11th, Autumn Games/Konami released the Reverge Labs developed 2D fighter “Skullgirls” via Xbox Live Arcade and we couldn’t resist the opportunity to experience the sore thumb inducing action for ourselves.
“Skullgirls” tells the story of eight unique women that are caught up in a dangerous battle when a mysterious being known as the Skullgirl appears after a long absence. The girls range from a princess and daughter of the former Skullgirl named Parasoul, a schoolgirl with amnesia named Filia to a girl that looks like she was dragged out of a 1930s cartoon named Peacock and even a thief that can’t die and literally falls to pieces named Ms. Fortune. Each has their own reasons for wanting the Skull Heart, an artifact that has the ability to grant the users wish.
Along their journey, which may start off with nothing to do with the Skullgirl, like the circus performer Cerebella, the girls square off with one another and eventually work their way to their goal. The Skull Heart comes at a price however and no matter how pure their hearts may be they quickly learn that things aren’t always simple and you should be careful what you wish for.
The game’s story is actually pretty entertaining, though as with all fighting games it is pretty short and there aren’t many twists. Each of the girls has their own story though and each play through offers a fun and very dark experience.
Visually the game fits the story’s theme very well; the art style actually resembled that of a graphic novel I reviewed not too long ago called Vampire Cheerleaders/Paranormal Mystery Squad, which had a dark look and offers a twisted take on some familiar concepts. Some of the most unique looking characters were the human experiment Painwheel, the nun that turns inside out named Double and the psychotic old school cartoon character, Peacock. The character’s voice actresses also fit well and the snarky comments they make towards one another are just like many other fighting titles, though a bit funnier in this case.
As for the gameplay it should be noted that I played through the game with a standard Xbox 360 controller and am not an advanced gamer when it comes to fighting games. That said the game really does offer an experience that can appeal to both advanced and new players alike.
For those gamers that play fighters often “Skullgirls” offers a fair level of challenge and doesn’t seem to allow much for button mashers to take advantage of, meaning that the best way to play is to know what you’re doing. Players can have up to three character teams to battle with in modes other than story, which means there is plenty of opportunity for team based combos and action. The combo system is easy to pick up and the speed of the game makes for a unique combination as players attack from high and low while dishing out some devastating special attacks. Many of the special moves take some time to learn to use but once you figure them out they not only deal out heavy damage but may even make you laugh.
New players don’t have to feel left out with “Skullgirls”, it offers a fairly extensive tutorial that shows how to block at different levels, dish out combos and special moves as well as throw some impressive aerial combos. The button setup is easy to learn as well and many of the attacks don’t require insane button combinations to pull off. Another nice touch for gamers not used to more technical fighters is that it also offers two easier difficulty levels, so you can enjoy the stories and also work your way up to the higher levels, which also add a normal and two harder difficulty levels for advanced players.
Players also have multiplayer to take advantage of, which lets them battle it out against another player on their system or online against friends. There are options for both ranked and unranked matches online, which should also help gamers find players to suit their needs as far as challenges go. It is difficult to really tell you about multiplayer, if you’re confident in your ability then multiplayer will offer a higher level of challenge and if you’re not then it may end up providing a beat down like you’ve yet to experience.
All-in-all “Skullgirls” is a beautifully drawn fun 2D fighter filled with a unique art style and some crazy and unique characters. The game offered a high level of challenge and once my thumbs stopped hurting I realized just how much I was actually enjoying playing it.
The one drawback with the game was that it doesn’t play well with the Xbox 360 controller, but that isn’t the game’s fault it has more to do with the controller really not being very good for these types of games. An arcade fight stick or even a gamepad geared towards fighters would be a recommended purchase for “Skullgirls” though if you’re interested in this game you may already own one or the other.
If you’re a fan of games like “Street Fighter IV” or “King of Fighters XIII” then “Skullgirls” is one game you’ll definitely want to try.
Publisher: Autumn Games/Konami
Developer: Reverge Labs
Price: 1,200 Microsoft Points ($14.99 via PlayStation Store)
Release Date: April 11th, 2012
(A code for “Skullgirls” was provided for review. To learn more about this game you can visit the Official Site.)
If you would like to purchase a Microsoft points or PlayStation Network card locally here are the listings for some of the game stores in the Las Cruces and Albuquerque areas.
Game Stop 2633
1455 HICKORY DR
Las Cruces, NM 88005
550 Walton Blvd.
Las Cruces, NM 88001
Game Stop 2294
4411 SAN MATEO BLVD NE
Albuquerque, NM 87109
Game Stop 1638
330 Eubank NE
Albuquerque, NM 87123