Player(s): 1-2 (local or online)
Extra Features: Online Multiplayer (2 players), Leaderboards
Skullgirls is a 2-D fighter developed by Reverge Labs. It retails on the Xbox Live marketplace and PS Store for 1200 points MS points or $14.99 respectively. This game has as many animation frames as Street Fighter 3 in it. It's easily one of the best looking 2D fighters that I've seen in a while. All the fighters in the game are fighting for possession of the skull heart that will grant any female's wish. The skull heart will corrupt any female that is impure and transform them into a skullgirl - a monstrous female being of immense power.
Skullgirls plays much like a Marvel vs Capcom (MvC) game overall. The action is slower than MvC but the game has just about every gameplay mechanic found in MvC along with a few new techniques. Skullgirls has the usual six button layout found in earlier Capcom fighters. Each character can string together moves and combos in the air, on the ground and juggle opponents off the ground with attacks. The game can be played with one, two or three fighters on a team. The game adjusts the fighter's health and defenses based on the number of characters on each team. You might have one character versus three characters or two characters versus three characters at times.
For teams of two or three characters, players can call in other characters for assists. One unique part about the assists is that a player can choose from the usual assist selection or completely customize an assist. The game will actually allow a player to input the motion for an assist and that will be that character's assist when called upon in battle. The custom assist is really great for helping out with moves that aren't that effective per character - basically, you decide!
Skullgirls has a cast of 8 fighters. As you might have guessed, each fighter is female and each of them has one thing in common - they are all willing to duke it out for the skull heart! The cast of characters in Skullgirls are all very colorful and full of life. These femme fatales are all quite unique. A few of them have moves that are reminiscent of Capcom fighting games, but it's mainly for the sake of a pun! The cast of characters are as follows:
Cerebella is the main source of power for Skullgirls. She has two hulking arms that extend from the hat she wears on her head. She takes a lot of damage and she also has special grapples. Double is a demon that takes the form of a female nun. When not in her nun form, she is basically a blob that can take the form of any of the other cast of fighters through her combos and moves. Double has her own move set and super combos that are different from the moves of the rest of the cast - basically, she can do moves that her other cast members can't do once she morphs into them.
Filia has a demon on her head that serves as her purple hair. The demon actually has a name in the story and it teams up with Filia as her guardian. Thanks to her hair attacks, Filia has some great reach! Ms. Fortune is a cat girl that can separate her appendages. She has one move where she actually tears off her head and throws it at the opponent. The head will remain on the ground and a player can make it attack the other player. Ms. Fortune can make her head come back to her body through a certain input. She actually has a super combo where she will explode!
Painwheel is one of Valentine's experiments. This girl is VERY angry! She wears a mask that is strapped to her face. She is quite good at air control. She can hover in the air with many of her moves. Parasol is a princess and a leader of an army. She fights with an umbrella (or parasol) in her hand. She can summon her squad to help her out during battle. Her daughter's name is actually "Umbrella" in the storyline. Peacock is like a twisted cartoon character. She looks like she came straight out of one of the old black and white Mickey Mouse cartoons, except for the fact that those characters didn't look psychotic. She actually has a move where she can make random objects (elephant, fish, organ, etc.) fall on her opponent. Valentine is a sexy psychotic nurse. She attacks with surgery knives, drip stands and syringes. Her level 3 super combo is the most entertaining super in the game - she actually operates on her opponent!
It's easy to tell that the creators of Skullgirls really enjoy old Capcom fighters with the constant puns that are tossed in here and there. The announcer for Skullgirls actually uses some of the same phrases as the corny announcer from Street Fighter Alpha 3. Parasol will say the old Capcom ending phrase "Winners don't do drugs" when she wins. I was also amazed to find puns from the obscure JoJo's Bizarre Adventure in Skullgirls - there are a few references to Dio.
The game has a story mode, arcade mode, tutorial mode, training mode and a versus mode. The story mode goes through each character's main story and tells their story through hand drawn pictures and text. You fight your way through fighters until you get to the final boss (Marie) then beat it to see the character's ending. The arcade mode is a mode where you'll fight through several stages of fighters in random teams of one, two or three fighters. All opponents are completely randomized. The difficulty for all single player modes feels unbalanced at times. Even on the lower difficulty, the CPU would bust out 14 hit combos all of a sudden.
Skullgirls has quite a deep tutorial mode. It actually walks you through many of the techniques and terms that you can only find listed in strategy guides (mix ups, guarding against mix ups, etc) and helps you to perfect those techniques. The game also has the usual training mode where you can practice on an opponent that you can control. The main problem I found with learning how to play Skullgirls is that the majority of the moves to be found for each fighter are nowhere to be found in the actual game. The only place to find the moves are through online sites such as the official site for Skullgirls.
The Versus mode is the online portion of Skullgirls. The online play is overall very basic. It has ranked matches and unranked matches. The gameplay is very smooth while playing online. I had some very silky smooth matches. Moves were easy to perform and lag was unnoticeable to me.
Skullgirls has a total of 11 stages. All of the stages are 2-D with some minor 3-D elements (the stage scrolls with your character as you move). Skullgirls' music is composed of a variety of many tunes. The opening theme is a jazz melody and there are several other very fitting tunes for each stage. Skullgirls definitely has it's own style through its character appearances, music and overall look. It's really a great fighter that just needs a supportive audience to do well. It's got everything that a hardcore fighting game fan will enjoy. Definitely check this game out if you're a fan of 2-D fighters!
+ 2-D characters and backgrounds
+ Very deep fighting engine reminiscent of Capcom fighters
+ Unique overall look and feel for a fighter
- Only 8 characters overall
- Difficulty for single player can get hard no matter the setting
Final Rating: 85%. Skullgirls offers just as much as other current downloadable fighters and should not to be missed by 2-D fighting fans!