Lights! Camera! ACTION!
Fighting games has been bringing out our aggression since the early days of gaming. Women in revealing clothing, muscular men and special attacks have been delighting us since Street Fighter. What sets Skullgirls apart from its predecessors? Quite a bit it turns out.
The first thing I noticed when I started this game was the animation. It's crisp, clean and tight. The character designs are refreshing and unique. The game boasts that it "features the most frames of animation per character of any fighting game, hand-drawn at high resolution and enhanced by real-time lighting courtesy of a powerful 3D engine." The backgrounds are equally impressive, and sometimes a bit distracting if your admiring them a bit too much. Though, most seasoned fighters won't have an issue with that. Even the menus are well done and overall the game is beautiful.
To accompany the visual beauty, there is also the amazing soundtrack. The music in this game was composed by Michiru Yamane. Yamane has composed music for such games as Suikoden III, The Sword of Etheria and Castlevainia: Symphany of the Night.
The next thing to notice is the challenge. If you're a button masher, make sure you take a walk through the tutorial. However, it's a long walk. It's designed to ease new players into the hardcore fighting scene. It does a good job of this, but inexperienced players may find it frustrating. I did try just button mashing on the easiest setting when I first got the game. It was not a wise choice, and I went down quickly. Even if you're quite the Tekken player, make sure to brush up at least with this new game.
One interesting aspect of the game is the tag mode. Players can bring one to three players into battle, even if your opponent brings a different combination. For example, if Player A brings Filia and Peacock (a tag team of 2 characters) and Player B brings one player Valentine (just one character) the game will balance the difference to make the fight fair. It leads to some really interesting matches. A single character that is more powerful since she does not have team mates is easier to manage. Yet, a three-character team is more diverse with a wider range of skills.
Like most fighting games, there is a story to inform us why these girls are fighting. In the Skullgirl universe there is a magical item known as the Skull Heart. The "Skull Heart" has the power to grant any young woman's wish, but if the girl is impure of heart, her wish will be twisted and she is transformed into something monstrous. The different characters of the game are in some way related, either helping the current Skullgirl or is against her.
There are a couple negative things about the game though. For one, there is no replay. A player has no option to record the match to study later. This is a big downer for tournament players. Another thing missing is character-specific move lists, so have a copy of your moves nearby. The last thing is that the character design is not for everybody. Most girls are dressed rather skimpy, with bouncing chests and short skirts. There are a lot of panty shots.
The game is available on both PSN and Xbox Live. The game is well worth the price; it's addicting and great for fighting game fanatics.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.