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Gamer Roulette: "Skull Girls" Review

Eric Parra |
April 21, 2012 | 11:58 a.m. PDT

Staff Columnist

From Kanto to Hyrule, Mobius to Santa Destroy, Planet Reach to Little Big Planet, Cinema Student, Screenwriter, and all around gamer, Eric Parra is a bad enough dude to bring you your weekly fix on relative gaming. Whether it’s reviews, previews, or FAQ’s, matters that are professional or just personal, make sure you check Neon Tommy every week for all sorts of interesting tidbits in the world of video games. And remember, it’s dangerous to go alone.

The official boxart to a downloadable game. Yeah. (Skullgirls.com)
The official boxart to a downloadable game. Yeah. (Skullgirls.com)
Looking for a new do? How about a hair-raising experience? Something that will split-ends?  Well if you like puns and fighting games, Skull Girls is the answer to your prayers.

Skull Girls is the latest fighting game to hit the scene with all new characters, stories, and styles for gamers to get into. It is not for the faint of heart in terms of gameplay (and bad puns), seeing as the computer difficulty is ramped up to always keep you guessing and the online mode is merciless.

But if you’re new to fighting games, don’t let this detail deter you. The art style is something fresh, though very buxom (the cast is all girls, after all). There’s an excellent tutorial mode that might take some time to get into, but is necessary if you really want to understand the game, and furthermore, it can teach you many fundamentals to all fighting games in general and overcoming simple weaknesses, such as blocking overheads (a basic attack the tutorial can explain).

Now what is Skull Girls about? Well, it’s about the crystal skull, and how any girl who obtains it can get her most desired wish, so long as it is pure of heart.  If their wish is even the slightest bit perverted (which it will always be) than so will it come out and they shall become a skull girl.

Right, it’s a fighting game. The story sucks. There’s so much I don’t understand about it (I had to look up that synopsis), and half of the characters have hats on their heads that take over their hair and change shape and attack and also talk with deep manly voices. That’s nowhere in the story, but I would really like to know what’s up with that.

Also, there’s a huge unrelated desire to be film within the game play. Instead of a generic “Ready…FIGHT” start up, you get “Ladies and gentlemen (?) IT’S SHOWTIME!” and “That’s a Wrap!” when the match is over.  Your special bar that builds when you attack or take damage is called “dramatic tension” and your strongest moves are called “blockbusters.” Furthermore, every combo you let out gives a different caption depending on the number of hits taken, from 2 hits being “adorable” to 18 hits being “barely legal” and 42 being “meaningful.”

All in all, though, it’s a great fighter. It is a fighting game for fighting gamers, so it’s not directed to everyone, but it might be one of the best to learn with. It’s set with so many precautions that so many games lack. Accidentally tapping the start button when your hands are going crazy is something common and frustrating to those you’re playing with, so this game makes it that you have to hold down start to pause. Doing 360 commands (spinning the control stick in a circle to do grab attacks) will often lead to unintentional jumping (which is bad) so the game reads the command as an attack and keeps you grounded even if you mess up.

The best thing, however, is that if the game detects an infinite combo starting up, a player can do an instant combo breaker and get some breathing room to try again. WHY DOESN’T EVERY GAME HAVE THIS?

If you’ve ever played Marvel vs Capcom 2, the style is very similar. From launchers and air combos to assists and knockbacks, hyper combo switch outs and other jargon . You can pick up to three characters in your fighting team and call on them to help you out mid-battle, but if you only pick two characters or just one, then you’ll be compensated in strength and health to stand an adequate chance, making the game pretty balanced regardless of who or how many characters you play. It’s pretty elaborate and kind of awesome in my opinion.

But as much as I like this game, it is missing a few things. Like the fact that there’s no move list. Sure, the attacks are simple,

Some deep integrated well thought out gameplay, or someone mashing buttons (wired.com)
Some deep integrated well thought out gameplay, or someone mashing buttons (wired.com)
standard movement and button combinations, and you can look up the attacks online, but I’ve always assumed move lists were a staple in console fighting games. Why would I not want one? Not to mention, if you can put in an elaborate tutorial, what’s the problem with putting in a simple move list? 

There isn’t any input command list either (which shows you what you’re pressing as you press it) which is also strange considering they did put in a mode where you can see the hit boxes on each character to understand where their attacks will reach and where they can be hit for damage. Most other games don’t incorporate that, but it is something very cool and helpful.

Apparently these functions will be added in patches sometime down the line, so it’s not too big of an issue, but still.

As I mentioned, this game is a bit more for the hardcore audience. You can wheedle your way into it if you’re new, get some good experience, enjoy the puns, references, and word play, which there are probably hours worth, but it’s a much more fun experience if you’re a fighting game enthusiast.  That being said, for a $15, there is a lot of content and a lot of obvious effort put into this game. I definitely recommend it to those old and new, you’ve just got to put some time into it. If I had a grading system for my reviews, this game would definitely get some stars.

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