Platform: Xbox, PC
Release Date: 11/04/2012
Download on XBLA
Can I ask you a question? Does this make any sense to you – “cr.LK, cr.MK (1-hit), cr.HP, j.HP, AD, j.MP (3-hits), j.HK, j.LP, j.MP, j.HK, s.LPx3, cr.MP, s.MK, cr.HP, j.LK (1-hit), j.MP (5-hits), j.HP, s.MPx2, s.HKx3, qcf.HK, super.”
To me it looks like something you would see scribbled across a whiteboard in Ant’s laboratory, a chemical equation perhaps? Could this hold the key to curing cancer? No, it does not – that my friends is one of the combos that you can pull off in Skullgirls. As soon as I read that my heart sank. I am utterly useless at fighting games, they have never been a genre that I have actively pursued and I don’t think they ever will be. Saying that though, sometimes it’s nice to try your hand at something out of your comfort zone and Skullgirls certainly is that.
Skullgirls is a downloadable fighting title available on PSN and XBLA, which features an all-female roster of nine who are trying to hunt down the aforementioned Skullgirl and defeat her. Now, according to the fancy intro sequence that greets you before you even get to the title screen each of the ladies are trying to track down a mysterious artefact called the Skull Heart, which will grant the holder one wish but, if the person who obtains the Skull Heart is impure, the Skull Heart consumes that person and turns them into the Skullgirl. Queue the overly sexualised cartoon ladies fighting one another without much reason to gain control of the Skull Heart.
Now, one of the main reasons that I don’t play fighting games is because I’m terrible at them so I was happy to see a tutorial mode on the menu screen – I jumped straight in and started to learn the basics. After a while I was able to do the basics with competence; punch, kick, jump, double jump and dash so I decided to carry on with the tutorial and learn some of the more advanced techniques, and this is where things started to go downhill. Whilst I applaud Skullgirls for having a tutorial, it is clearly a fighting game that wants to seem accessible to those people like me, but as soon as you try and learn more advanced tricks and techniques your brain just melts.
After about thirty minutes of tutorials I could hardly remember what button did what let alone how to pull off a super move. I just couldn’t get my head around how to pull of certain maneouvers or remember that I needed to try and fake my opponent into blocking high attacks then go in for low ones. Yes, the tutorial is a nice touch but you will have to spend a lot of time in there if you are a curious newcomer to the genre, but then if you are a veteran it may just be teaching you to suck eggs.
I jumped into the story mode where you can take control of one of the varied ladies, and play through six fights that are supposed to tell a semi-coherent story. Some of these do a good job and at times are surprisingly bleak, but others just make no sense whatsoever with a random fight with someone who had no point in being there and no explanation as to why. With an online mode where the elitists will sit and spit out newbs like me and also an arcade mode where you just fight through lots of different challenges there is enough in Skullgirls to keep you coming back for more. So, maybe I should talk about the fighting itself now; it’s a fighting game and that’s what you want to know about. It took me ten attempts to get past the second fight in the story mode, on the easiest setting.
For a game that thinks itself as more accessible than others in the genre, when it comes to actually fighting it is one of the most difficult things I have ever done. The fights play smoothly though, they look delicious as well with a beautiful art style that you could just sit back and watch (and I found it more enjoyable to watch someone playing the game). I never really felt like I had much of a game plan going into each fight – I seemed to find one combo that worked for me and spammed it, it certainly wasn’t going to guarantee me a victory but I managed to make my way through to the final boss…Then I launched my controller across the room.
Now, in previous fights your opponents are extremely aggressive but you can block or dodge most, if not all of their attacks and when you on the defence it does stop them from attacking. All of that goes out of the window when you face the Skullgirl. Attacks are relentless, even when you are in the middle of a semi decent combo and the final fight becomes a luck fest. The final boss takes three forms and I usually found I had to rely on spamming a certain combo for each form and hope that I got lucky with the attacks she was throwing my way.
I can imagine if you get two people who know what they are doing with Skullgirls you could have some pretty spectacular fights, and like I have mentioned previously I think I would rather sit back and watch this happen, as opposed to play it myself and just feel like I am relying on luck to get me through a lot of the game. I did ask a friend of mine who is a fan of fighting games to come around and play it with me to get another view and he reliably informed me that if you know what you are doing, it is a very good game from a fighting purist’s point of view.
- Beautiful art style.
- Some great use of music and sound effects.
- Difficulty level to suit genre veterans.
- Although appearing accessible to newcomers, it certainly isn’t.
- Slutty looking character models.
- Final boss will want to make you launch your controller.