Created by newcomers Reverge Labs and headed by director, and tournament fighting veteran Mike Zaimont, "Skullgirls" is one of the few unique IPs to be released during the recent fighting game renaissance.
Sporting unparalleled, in my opinion, anime visuals and animation, the title is definitely something to behold, but those visuals sometimes come at the expense of visibility. Amidst the flurry of battle, it can occasionally become difficult to keep track of what's happening, though, the same can be said for a variety of fighters, namely "Marvel vs. Capcom 3."
The core fighting mechanics in "Skullgirls" are solid, sporting at the same time familiarity and innovation, the most notable being able to choose the amount of team members you'll bring into the fight. In "Marvel vs. Capcom 3" you're forced to have three. In "Tekken Tag Tournament," you have two. But in "Skullgirls" you can fight as one against three, or three against two, etc. This brings a big change in fight dynamic and allows players to fight in a way they're comfortable. The power of your fighter scales to adjust for the dynamic, as well.
Also new is the ability to use any move as an assist from teammates, and an anti-infinite combo breaker move.
I can't help but wish that, while beautifully designed, the characters didn't feel like fighter types I've learned to play from countless others in the genre. The small roster of just eight, on the other hand, lends to what I've found to be extremely balanced matches.
There's little variety to the online offering, despite a solid network that makes use of the GGPO-powered service. The title only sports ranked quick-matches and unranked two-player lobbies. Also strange is that you have to manually set the frame delay to optimize your online matches. Solid, but lacking.
What isn't lacking is the training mode available to help you learn the game, offering step-by-step tutorials from movement to cancel attacks in an easy to understand way. The only oversight is that it's rather disappointing that move lists aren't included in the game and must be downloaded from the game's website.
"Skullgirls" is a deep, tournament-ready experience with beautiful animation, mechanics and online play that's only hampered by its own flashiness and relatively bare-bones offering. That being said, at $15 on PSN and Xbox Live Arcade, it's hard to imagine anyone not wanting to pick this up.
(Kins can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and can be followed on twitter @jkinsHS)