Skullgirls (XBLA)

April 22, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

This is a great time to be a fighting game fan, with a plethora of big name franchises back in the hunt, HD remakes of classics, and even a wealth of downloadable titles available. Skullgirls enters this crowded battle and tries to stand out from the pack, but does the eclectic game succeed? Skullgirls follows the adventures of a group of powerful, driven women who all want to claim a mystical relic known as the Skull Heart. The relic can grant wishes to the owner, with some unexpected twists of course, so the women battle it out to stake a claim on the artifact. As far as the playable characters, there has been some claims of sexism, but aside from some revealing costumes (which almost all games feature), there is no ground for those accusations. These are not damsels in distress, these are super powered, ambitious women who stop at nothing to achieve their goals. I found the story mode to be a lot of fun and I look forward to finishing it with all the available warriors.

So how does Skullgirls stack up in terms of epic battles? The controls have a familiar texture, so even casual fight fans should be pulling off some wicked moves right from the start. But as with most games of this kind, there are also mechanics that demand a lot of practice and dedication. So if you just want to button mash and roll off basic attacks, you’ll have fun, but if you spend some time learning some of the tricks, you’ll be much more potent. Skullgirls features an in depth tutorial for all these mechanics as well, which is a great inclusion. The characters have distinct styles and you’ll probably have to try out several before you find the one that fits your personal style well. I still think all can be a blast to experiment with, but given how varied their styles are, you’re bound to mesh better with certain ones. You’re also able to make use of two or three characters in a battle, but the more you bring in, the less powerful each one is. Even so, the ability to use tag-ins and assists adds more depth to the combat, as well as creates some interesting style match-ups.

While story mode is fun, the real draw of this genre is competition. Skullgirls offers on-line battles and uses a system that allows you to have the best possible matches. You’re able to gauge quality of connection, then compensate for potential lag with frame options. This might not always work to perfection, but it does allow some balance and since most games don’t offer even that, it is nice to have the system in place. You’re able to take on all comers in ranked quick matches, or choose more flexible options in the unranked arenas. I ran through quite a few clashes and had a consistent, responsive battle each time. I wasn’t able to say that about many fighting games, so I was impressed. Skullgirls is a lot of fun, has a well designed competitive mode, and features visuals that will have genre fans in a trance. While some minor issues creep in, they’re very minor and overall, Skullgirls more than earns a very high recommendation.

Video: How does it look?

This game looks incredible. A hand drawn, 2-D masterpiece of visual splendor is what awaits those who boot up Skullgirls. I found myself losing battles while I scanned the backgrounds or watched the character animations, that is how beautiful this game can be. The animation is excellent, with each character loaded with unique and gorgeous moves, while the backgrounds bustle with little details to soak in. The game’s visual design is bursting with color and almost leaps off the screen at times, this is simply one of the best looking downloadable titles you’ll find.

Audio: How does it sound?

While outshined by the amazing visuals, the game’s sound design is also rock solid. The musicĀ  is the highlight, with an excellent score to smash heads by. The action sounds good too, with all the impact you’d expect from the punches, kicks, and wealth of special attacks. So while the visuals do steal the show in Skullgirls, the sound design more than holds its own and stands as a terrific presentation.

Disc Scores