2D Fighting games have experienced resurgence in popularity in recent years. Since the 2008 release of Street Fighter IV, we’ve seen many old franchises rebooted for modern consoles, but there’s been a distinct lack of new IP’s amongst the torrent of Capcom rehashes. Until now.
From the mind of Mike Z, a well-known competitive player, and Alex Ahad, an artist with a distinctive style, comes Skullgirl; an old-school fighter with all the charm and nostalgic value of the Blazblue series combined with the finesse of Marvel VS Capcom 3. Set in the fictional Canopy Kingdom, Skullgirls follows eight distinct playable characters in their search for the Skull Heart, an artifact with the ability to grant a single wish at a terrible price. Although this sounds dull on paper, the developers have obviously put a lot of thought into the world and every creature inhabiting it. Each stage is dripping with character and although the story itself needs work, the execution of what is there is excellent.
The Character roster is small compared to modern fighters, maxing out at eight characters, but what is astonishing is the range of styles you can find in the group. The fact that each plays completely differently, with Filia relying mainly on combos whilst Double has a huge amount of specials means that it feels like there are more characters than there is. Having any more would be completely redundant. The design of the characters themselves is remarkably detailed, with consistent backstories and little details aplenty. The only cliché the developers seem to have adhered to is blatantly evident and not surprising, but I’ll consider that pair later. The care taken in writing them carries through to their visual style; the actual animation is fabulous. The game claims to have the most frames of animation per character, and I can believe it, with every action looking as smooth and lovingly formed as the aforementioned assets. Even Double’s opening animation, where she pulls her own body inside-out, is lovingly realised in gory detail. The sound design is equally beautiful/revolting, with a background score straight out of the 90’s and all the classic orgasmic “uh”s you would expect from a game of this genre rendered in ear-punching stereo.
The fighting system itself is easily the best I’ve encountered. It caters for casual players with its relative simplicity whilst remaining incredibly deep and difficult to master. The most interesting thing is the fact that it isn’t the massive things which make the system so strong, but the little ones. The free-form combo system, the responsive inputs, the infinite detection and the easy differentiation between variations of the same attack makes it special, and puts it far ahead of its rivals technically.
However, one thing concerns me. Despite all the great things this game has to offer, the animation, the system, the sound, even the design, one thing makes me dislike it. Boob Physics. Is it just me that doesn’t find excessively jiggling assets tantalising? Every single character, even Double, whose aforementioned body bending antics rends her vile, has massive, bouncing breasts. Has the games industry moved so little forward in the last ten years that it is still acceptable to fill an entire game with beautiful women simply to show off their massive assets and make them kick in such ways to show off their underwear perfectly? No, it hasn’t. The excessive cleavage undermines everything, and although it is very pleasant to look at and arguably well animated, I don’t feel entirely comfortable watching an animated Schoolgirl’s enlarged coconuts wobbly furiously whilst she punches an acrobat in her equally gigantic hooters.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.