|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: Reverge Labs|
|Pub: Autumn Games, Konami|
|Release: April 11, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Violence, Blood, Use of Tobacco, Partial Nudity|
The game itself is a six-button (three punch, three kick) Marvel vs. Capcom-style affair. Before each match starts, you get to choose your team size of one to three characters. The fewer characters you use, the more powerful they become, though teams with more characters gain access to assists, DHCs, tag counters, and more. Speaking of assists, you can literally set any move in the game as an assist move for all characters on your team. The game has a built in "unblockable protection system," which allows your opponent to block when you and an assist character hit high and low at the same time. So you can be as creative as you like without putting your opponent in an impossible position.
But more than anything else, the game is fair. Damage is high enough to make combos count but low enough to prevent one-touch deaths. Combos are never long enough to make the opponent feel as if he's not playing the game, due to the infinite prevention system. Zoning characters have incredibly powerful keepaway tools but are weak in ways that allow you eventually close the distance. Rushdown characters can put horrible pressure on the opponent, but can be punished to great extents if they get sloppy. There is even a character with near infinite flight who can't run away while using it, and a grappler that just might be the best grappler in any fighting game ever. Every character has the exact tools she needs and feels incredibly powerful and "correct" without feeling broken.
Then there's the netplay, which utilizes the popular GGPO networking library. When playing online, the game will actually show your ping in plain old numbers and will give you an "input delay" recommendation to make the game feel as smooth as possible. As long as you follow these recommendations, the game has one of the best if not the best online performances of any fighting game yet. However, you can always adjust the delay higher to experience fewer rollbacks (game adjustments when you fall out of synch with your opponent) or lower to experience more with the tradeoff of having split-second responsive controls. You can fight in ranked and unranked fights, but multi-person lobbies are unfortunately absent. Once again, this is something the developers have promised to patch in later.
Skullgirls is as close to art as the fighting game genre is going to get. From its quirky character designs (you just have to love characters based on 1940s cartoons) to its incredible gameplay systems, it shows that the designers of the game put a lot of care into every aspect of it. It's just unfortunate that time and budgetary problems have forced them to leave some features behind. However, many of these features are planned to be released for free as updates in the future, and the team has promised an incredible amount of DLC support, from characters to costumes to story expansions and more. For the low budget price of fifteen dollars, you can't really ask for anything more. Whether you are a fighting game veteran itching to toy with the game's open combo system or a newbie looking to take advantage of the game's amazing tutorial to hone your skills, you owe it to yourself to give Skullgirls a chance.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: April 13, 2012