Fighting games have seen the biggest resurgence in the last decade. With the release of Marvel vs Capcom 3 and Super Street Fighter IV 3D, an update to BlazBlue, and a plethora of other titles, the genre is back from the dead. Oddly, the lowest common denominator between them is a Japanese development team.
Other than the upcoming Mortal Kombat title, westerners just don’t seem interested in making fighting games. The audience exists, certainly, but no one wants to put in the effort or energy to bring these games to fruition. Skullgirls, an upcoming fighting game from Autumn Games and Reverge Labs, is a substantial leap into Western fighting game development.
The first thing people will notice about Skullgirls is the art direction—drawn by Alex Ahad, who worked on the Scott Pilgrim franchise. At first glance it could seem like a Western-styled anime fighter, but the more you play, the more it's clear that Skullgirls is visually pleasing. What at first seems practically bland or second rate is actually quite arresting. The two fighters are thick and heavily sexualized, but in a way that is unique and special.
There are only two fighters shown: Filia and Cerabella. Filia is your standard rush-down school girl fighter, capable of attacking with her violent hair. Cerablla also fights with her head, only she uses a magical hat that sports a massive pair of arms. She’s curvy and sassy and is the grappler character of choice. Both characters are different and entertaining, and each is hand-drawn frame by frame. It’s pretty impressive, and while the UI are in need of some cleaning up, the fighters themselves look fantastic. Some may hate the “girl on girl” fighting action—a complaint levied against Japanese fighter Arcana Heart—but as it stands, Skullgirls looks great.
While no other characters were shown off, there is a list of potential fighters on the Skullgirls website, advertising a third named Peacock, who's designed to resemble an old-timey cartoon character. There seems to be eight characters in total, a substantial number for a fledgling fighting game.
When asked about DLC, developer and tournament level champion Mike Zaimont was open to the idea, though neither he nor Autumn Games would go into detail. They are also open to patches, although they'd have to deliberate when to apply them.
This brings us to the most important element of the game: the fighting itself. Zaimont knows his fighting games, and Skullgirls owes much of its style to Street Fighter II and Marvel vs Capcom 2. Players can either rock a single character with more health and more damage, or they can do go tag-team with an “assist” mode, calling in a second character to deal damage. The second method will probably be more popular, but either one is a valid form.
Attacks mimic the Street Fighter-type dragon punches and fireballs. Cerabella will perform 360 throws, but most attacks are fairly easy to perform, and everything from “on the ground” attacks, snap-backs, ultras, and all the standard high-level mechanics are built into the game. Interestingly, Zaimont has developed an anti-infinite system, where the game recognizes a cheap and easy loop, letting players break out of it easily. It’s a ballsy attempt to say that your game is infinite-free, but I look forward to seeing if the claim proves true.
Skullgirls is an incredibly promising fighting game. Out this summer for PSN and XBLA, the title will be reasonably priced, and looks capable enough to rival its more experienced peers. If the characters stay interesting and dynamic, Skullgirls could be the next game worth fighting for.