Skullgirls
Developer: Lab Zero Games
Price: $15
Platform: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
A Steam code for Skullgirls was supplied to us

Skullgirls released earlier this year on the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 and after patiently waiting it’s finally time for PC gamers to get a taste of this neat fighting game.

The basic gist of the story is that there’s a mysterious object called the Skull Heart that will grant a woman’s wish once every few years. Of course there’s always a catch when it comes to wish giving treasures and in this case it’ll corrupt anyone who uses it and isn’t pure of heart. Someone has acquired the Skull Heart and each character has their own story mode to play through in their search for the heart. Something you’ll notice right away is that Skullgirls should probably be played with a controller on the PC. The game tells you to press LK and MK to navigate the menus and you’re left sitting there wondering what the hell that is on your keyboard since the game doesn’t support traditional mouse control. This also transitions to the combat itself since I still don’t think keyboards have reached the point of being comfortable for use in a fighting game. I know there are some out there who like it but I’m not one of them.

Skullgirls has its basic story mode you’ll work through and it’s just like every other fighting game. You’ll pick a character, see a short introduction to their goals/motives, and you’ll fight through most of the roster (interacting with a few of them) before fighting a boss character who unfortunately isn’t playable. There’s also the arcade mode that’ll toss you into a few random fights but besides that there isn’t really anything else. So something that caught me a little off-guard was how aggressive the AI is in the story mode. Even on the normal or easy settings they’ll be throwing some advanced moves your way and even though I managed to get through it fine, newcomers might want to crank it down to the very easy setting. Visually the game is stunning with its hand-drawn characters and environments and it’s complimented by a catchy jazz soundtrack.

There are currently eight characters in the game with five more set to be released as free DLC for the first few months of its release. If you’re familiar with most fighting games then you’ll know what types of characters to expect here with fighters like Double being your typical mimic or Peacock being the wacky mix-up character that tosses random goofy items at you. Despite being familiar types of fighting game characters, the personality and design of each character really helps Skullgirls’ roster stand out from its peers. There’s nothing exactly new about how most of these characters play but they’re fine tuned so well you won’t really care. The controls are simply fantastic and it’s damn impressive to see a fighting game with this much polish at such a low price. The combos are also incredibly newbie friendly with very simple inputs but they’re also deep enough to allow an experienced player to feel satisfied with.

Now what might be the most interesting thing about how the game plays is that you can choose to either play as a single character, two characters, or three characters and the more characters you bring into a fight the weaker they are to compensate. It’s a neat twist on the tag-team formula that makes players give a little more thought in how they want to approach a battle. Do you go in with a single character with buffed up health and damage or do you opt to bring in three characters that are all weaker than your opponent, but allows you to perform assists? The online mode also offers the option of adding input lag to account for a bad network connection. The higher the number the more input lag both players will receive but I never experienced any connection serious enough to have to use this.

Anyone who loathes jumping online only to end up on the receiving end of an infinite combo some guy bothered to memorize and was enough of an ass to use will be happy to know that Skullgirls has an amazing counter to this issue. If the game notices that a player is repeating the same combo over and over in a short period of time it’ll allow the player on the receiving end to press a button to blast the opposing player away, thus ending the combo.

Unfortunately the game is pretty lacking in content. All there is to do is the story, arcade, and versus modes. There is a pretty damn impressive training mode that slowly takes you through every detail of the game and I highly recommend starting with it if you’re somewhat inexperienced with fighting games. It’ll cover things like the basics of a fighting game like chaining combos to more advanced tactics like canceling. It’ll even cover each character and walk you through their moves and what sort of strategies you should focus on if playing as that character. The best part is that a lot of the information you’ll learn here transitions into other fighting games as well. This is something that should definitely be in future fighting games as it helps newcomers and also allows veterans to quickly jump into a character and see how they play.

The Final Word
What Skullgirls lacks in content it makes up for in tight controls and an interesting cast of characters that are fun to play as.

- MonsterVine Rating: 3.5 out of 5 – Fair