Fighting, special moves, and silly stories decorated with pretty animations and cartoony sexy ladies, Skullgirls may be just enough to satiate any 2d fighting gamer. It has a lot to offer, but is it enough to hardcore fighters, while being easily adaptable to the rookies in the genre?
Graphics: Okay, let’s go ahead and break ahead with the criticism of this game, and perhaps diffuse it. Folks complained about the oversexualizing of the female characters. Yes, there are panty shots, and big breasts that are animated with bounce. I am not going to defend that by itself, but it is part of the variety that the lot of female characters in this game. Yes, some of them are sexualized, but others aren’t. May it be too much in some eyes? Sure. Should it be the primary focus of the game, though? No. These are strong female characters of many different visual representations, both sexual and non. The animations are excellent and gorgeous, but the sexual shouldn’t distract from the gameplay. So, there it is. I am done, and not delving in too deep.
The game has smooth flowing animation with beautiful, kind of cartoony representation. You have characters of multiple representations in terms of archtypes, or stereotypes. Some sexualized, while others are cartoony. While the world itself in terms of these female fighters isn’t cohesive, the visual still seems to blend together, and doesn’t distract from the gameplay. Frankly, I like the style, and I think the artist should be applauded. Go here to check out his work.
Audio: A very enthusiastic speaker. Voices to match the females. Snarky comments from the characters, that occasionally seems designed for specific opponents. Background music for each stage, some with the enthusiastic 1940’s to 50’s sound to them. The audio is solid and enjoyable.
Gameplay: When it comes down to it, the game is easy to learn, and can take a long time to master. There are plenty of specially animated moves with differently balanced spread across the stages and characters. The combos seem very intuitive. It is very easy to get started on the game, especially if you are a moderate veteran (if you know me, I go back to Fighting Street).
Everything is here, including the ridiculously overpowered boss. It can be frustrating at times, but when facing the computer AI, it is easy to disseminate what methods work against which characters. Now playing other players…well, I just suck at that, so I couldn’t tell you if there are exploitable methods or not (although I am sure there are). The game receives more patches and more addons, so I have no doubt that the company is still looking for ways to rebalance each character. That’s right, Steam is still updating, and there was a new free character added recently. So, today, you are getting a lot more game for your buck.
Story: Naturally, plenty of holes, but its a fighting game. I have had to go back and play each character multiple times to make sense of it. This world seems to be in the 40’s/50’s era, but with the bending of technology as a background. Some of the characters point to the WWII designs and the themes associated with the era, but then it has 1920’s style Disney influence in some of the characters. There are highly spiritual concepts, and technology advancements that seem to ride more on workings of the “soul” instead of DNA, which is where the design really seems to lean. This is the only explanation (as I see it) where some characters are exceptionally more cartoony than the others.
Anyways, the central object is the Skull Heart. Only accessible and usable by powerful females. This object is a “double-edged” as a form of wish fulfillment, but duly damages the bearer for the rest of their potentially immortal life. The end result is a powerful boss who hangs out in the catacombs for most of their existence…or at least that is what the last skullgirl did as she fulfilled her duty.
As for the competitors, the characters’ backgrounds are from all kinds of influences. Some have living organisms on their heads with no explanations. Some are experiments, looking for the wish fulfillment from their pained life. Others just seek the power. Some are seeking revenge. Some aren’t dead that should be, and are looking to the Skull Heart to answer their past problems. It is nothing too intense or surprising in the flow of things, but there are some sad stories along the way. Nevertheless, the types of characters are still in an unusual world, full of unusual circumstances that make their situation not relatable, but at least they are interesting.
Final: In looking at this game, it is pretty solid. You may have a tendency to criticize the “chauvinistic qualities”, but at the end of it, it is women kicking ass in a 2d combat game. It is balanced, fun, and while frustrating at times due to cheapness, it wouldn’t be a 2d fighter without that specific quality. Think of how Mortal Kombat was treated. Violence was considered a cheap and controversial tactic in bringing players in. The same may be said for SkullGirls with their cartoony breasts and panty shots. However, people stayed for the fun that was Mortal Kombat. If you love 2d fighters…stay for this game. It is a fun alternative to most of the known classics.