Created by: Reverge Labs
Skullgirls is the combined creation of renouned tournament player MikeZ along with the artistic and general ideas of Alax Ahad ( or 'o_8' as he is more commonly known ).
MikeZ being a very well known BlazBlue player knows his fighting game mechanics. He understands what problems most fighting games have and what things work wonders. His tournament and just fighting game experience in general really shine through so many different parts of this game. The IPS ( Infinite Protection System ) and ability to block the dreaded High/Low or assist/crossover are two things that bring the high level gameplay up a notch or two compared to games such as MvC. On the other side though, with all his experience in the fight game community. MikeZ seems to understand that not everyone who picks up a fighting game understands things many people take for granted. The ability to spot and defend against a mixup, ADC ( Air-Dash Cancel ), and even the concept of hit-confirming and poking are all explained in a simple yet informative way.
Not being too big in the art community. I do not know much about the artist of Skullgirls, o_8. I do know that in tthe game of Skullgirls though, o_8 dealt with quite a bit of the game. Not only the artwork and animations. He also contributed to the story mode and the general concept of the Skullgirls game ( Having the designs for many of the characters long before the idea of Skullgirls was even born ).
Skullgirls so far feels like another MvC ( Marvel vs Capcom ) game that was released. The only difference, all the problems from the previous games were fixed! Gameplay appears smooth and fluid, keeping up with the fast paced gameplay of MvC while slowing it down enough where it does become TOO overwhelming. The ability to pick your team of either one, two, or three is also a genius idea that has never been done before. Changing character HP and Damage depending on how large your team is. If choosing a team of two or three, you also now have the ability to set your own assists! Another feature never heard of, but very welcome. As of right now there are no Infinite combos ( Although there are some 100% combos for a team of 1v3 ) and no single character has been proven to be over-powered. Meaning balance so far is not an issue, a problem every fighting game is plauged with. Yes, I'm looking at you Yun-Fighter IV! The game in general is very solid, especially for Reverge Labs very first game to ever be created.
The controls are just as solid as the gameplay is. Having three punches and kick buttons makes the combo system much more open. Meaning you can change your BnB ( Bread-and-Butter ) combo up if you feel one of your hits may push your opponent back too far or possible miss, causing you to drop your combo. The ability to air-dash and ADC/iAD ( Air-Dash Cancel and instant Air-Dash ) adds another major gameplay feature. There is also the DHC ( Delayed Hyper-Cancel ) to help with tagging. Many of these features will make you MvC players feel right at home. Anyone else, might have a bit of studying up to do. Negative edge does not seem to be a problem at all, making timing more strict but allowing more precise combos to be formed without the fear of different move coming out and being punished.
The cast of characters at this moment is a full female cast. Eight characters and two DLC already announced. For any of you anime loving horndogs, there is plenty of eye candy here for you. With short skirts, long legs, and bouncing bewbies, some people may even forget they are playing a fighting game! Graphics aside, the cast all feel distinct from eachother while still keeping a balance between characters. Some are heavier, leading to weaker air combos but having more power on the ground. Some are slower with no air-dash but can move in the air in other ways. The character designs are also unique in their own way. My only complaint is that the move sets feel like I've already been here. Many of the characters moves have been... stolen. I understand the game is meant to pay homage to many of the games before it's time. As well as many meme's that have been floating around ( Such as Peacock using Rio Brando's finishing move from JoJo's Bizzare Adventure ). The characters almost feel like I've played them all before though. Filia's hairball is stolen directly from Felicia. Her Gregor Samsom hyper combo seems like an exact replica of Psylocke. Her Updo is simply another version of the Shoryuken. Also, with only eight characters, there isn't a lot of different magtch setups at the moment. Meaning the game will reach it's peak much sooner than the average fighting game, then burn out even quicker.
The game as of right now doesn't have many choices for modes sadly. There is single player. Which you can either play each of the eight characters stories ( Double and Valentine being locked until the other six are used ) and an arcade mode. Storymode is fun and interesting to run through, although no replay value. The arcade mode is more annyoing than anything in my honest opinion. Too many times have I ended up against the same team twice during one arcade run. It gets very annoying very quickly.
The versus mode has three modes. A local, a 'quick match' aka ranked match, then you can create or join an unranked room. These are all the basic essentials to the versus in a fighting game. That is the problem though. Why do we get only the basics when so many other parts of this game shine? A spectator mode and the ability to watch any previous match would be amazing additions. Also, a King of the Hill type game would be very fun as well, and seems to be in every other fighting game.
There is also the training mode. Here you can either play through the tutorials or enter a training room. The tutorials are must play, even for hardcore veteran players. You will appreciate the thought and time that was put into it. Not only to help the veteran player brush up on his ADC to extend his combos, but to help the first time player understand the concept of movement, poking, and the ability to tech. I was literally blown away by how informative and detailed the tutorial was. I also enjoyed the fact that when it came to the hands on piece, you had to complete the act three times flawlessly. So say they are teaching you about a basic high/low mixup. You are told to start a combo, if it's blocked low you want to end with the overhead. If blocked high you want to end with the sweep. You may get lucky twice and the sweep connects both times. You attempt it a third and it becomes blocked. Your counter reduces to zero and it must be completed three times still. This allows not only practice of important techniques. It also makes sure you didn't finish the tutorial without truly understanding what you've done.
The training room is another place where this game tends to shine. It has basics for the average player. It then goes into serious detail for the hardcore player. It gives a list of your life, damage multiplier ( Different for different teams. So say it's 1v2. The 1 will get a 1.3x and the 2 will have a 1.75x ). The damage of each individual hit, as well as the unscaled damage of the full combo. You also have the ability to turn the hitboxes on, or even turn on advanced hitboxes. The simple hitbox shows where you must actually strike in order to hit a character. The advanced hitbox shows things such as where a grab will connect, the attack area of a move as well as how long it is active, as well as throw/hit invulnerability boxes. I only have two complaints, both of which can easily be fixed. The ability to set my training dummy to auto-guard, and the ability to set them to auto-tech as they hit the ground. I have seen many online combos that aren't true combos because a human player would tech out of it as they hit the ground.
There is also a help&Options. Giving an even quicker tutorial on how to play. The basic controls. A basic settings menu, such as round time or number of rounds. Music Volume, etc. Things you would expect from a settings menu. You also have the ability to view leaderboards and achievements.
There also appears to be a section called 'Extras'. For right now, this only holds the gaming credits. It states that art galleries and other things will be coming soon. Personally I have no problem with them doing this. On the other side, this appears to scream the fact this is their first game. I have been following them for quite a long time, and I know there have hundreds of pictures up in an art gallery already. The Extras menu at the moment is simply a place holder, something that many people dislike having in the games they are playing. Also, something I was hoping to find under extras would be a complete character move list. Sadly, the game doesn't have one at all. This is probably the biggest dissapointment of this entire game. They do tell you, during the tutorial, to go to the official Skullgirls website for a full move list. This is something that should be put into the game though. It is a MUST HAVE for any fighting game.
In conclusion, and for all you tl;dr people. The game is solid, and a must buy for any fighting game enthusiast or someone who is playing their first fighting game. Even with the minor training mode problems, no actual command list ( Which, can easily be fixed in updates or patches) and the lack of unique moves for characters. These things do not take away from the major improvments they have made to the average fighting game. This game may not be the holy grail of fighting games as it was meant to be. It is a game changer though, and hopefully games such as MvC or SF will take heed to what they have done.
As a side note, this review was written days after the game was released. I also forgot to add how amazing the music is to this game.
Skullgirls features a stunning score by legendary Japanese game music composer Michiru Yamane, renowned for her classic Castlevania: Symphony of the Night soundtrack. This is the first time a Japanese composer has scored a Western-developed game.
Combining her trademark haunting, gothic melodies with jazz influences, Ms. Yamane’s soundtrack perfectly sets the mood for Skullgirls’ “dark deco” world.
I would also like to note that many of the problems I said in this review are being fixed and should be in the patch update that is being released in a week or so today.
The entire patch notes ( The whole two pages ) can be found here on the SRK forums by MikeZ himself.