NY Comic Con 2011: Hands-On With SkullGirls
At this year’s New York City Comic Con I had the opportunity to play the latest 2D fighter that will soon be hitting everyone’s screen in early 2012 Skullgirls. After being able to get hands on introduction to the mechanics and intricacies of Skullgirls, I can now understand why it is such an anticipated release in the fighting game scene. This unique, cute, fair and addictive fighter is certainly a breath of fresh air to the fighting game enthusiasts who’re tired of games that have balancing issues *cough* MVC. I’m personally excited for this games future release and cannot wait to invest some time in the lab with it.
It is definitely a game I see myself going to tournaments for and taking extremely seriously, Skullgirls might take the place of BlazBlue as my favorite 2D fighter. Now that I have gotten that out the way lets dive right in to what makes this game so awesome. What immediately drew me into the game was the art style that used to create Skullgirls cute/sexy female cast. Skullgirls only has female characters that inhabit it’s 5 character roster; in Japan you might know games like this as “doujin” .The art style draws from many influences that host Japanese anime inspired characters like Guilty Gear and Blazblue and is not limited to those as just inspiration. For example take a look at the obvious differences between Peacock and Parasoul two characters of Skullgirls 5 character roster.
As you can see Peacock draws from a more classic fun, cute, cartoonish art style where Parasoul is more of a cold dictator character that works for the needs of many and not the needs of a few, she reeks the noble vibe.
Now like I said earlier Skullgirls only has a 5 character roster so far with the release of Parasoul. From my understanding the development team plans on adding three more characters by launch date bringing Skullgirls roster to an 8 female cast. Some people are probably saying “what? only eight characters to choose from thats lame” but this is a smart decision in my opinion. With only an eight possible character roster to experiment with people can actually learn their characters one by one and make an educated decision on who compliments who on their 1-3 female team. The developers do plan on adding more character options so don’t worry the game will expand. Reverge Labs obviously wanted their players to not feel rushed in creating their teams but instead have them go in and learn the pros and cons of each possible combination. Now on to the current gameplay mechanics inside Skullgirls engine.
Skullgirls follows the common/traditional fighting game setup that the genre of games has used for years. You have your usual normal attack set up light, medium, fierce, projectiles, and upper-cuts. You also have an assist setup to call in your team mates for some help when you need it. Skullgirls is not a basic fighter though it borrows common features such as the push block that is prevalent in games like TVC, MVC3 it also has a team ratio system, a custom assist feature, and an infinite combo prevention system. The team ratio system affects the amount of health and damage you can do, by having a single character in instead of 3 you gain health and damage buffs but you lose the option to use assists. The custom assist feature allows assigning your own assist action to a button or motion sequence and gives you the freedom to choose what you want your assist characters to do when you call them in.
For example you can call Parasoul in with a <- light input and have her come in and block and not attack.
This adds more of a strategic feel to Skullgirls and gives every player the ability to have their own play style. The infinite combo prevention system which I will now abbreviate as ICPS is Skullgirls most interesting feature. Before we go into depth about the ICPS let’s get little background on what lead to the idea of including it. Skullgirls project lead and head designer Mike Zaimont knows as “Mike Z” on the fighter scene is what you would call a 2D fighting game virtuoso. He is known for being a pro player in MVC2 and as the original iron Tager on Blazblue because of his in-depth combo review of Tager. Since Mike Z is very familiar with infinite combos being annoying like in MVC2 he used that as his drive to create a fair fighting game for competitive play.
I’m excited the development team decided to this take direction instead of falling into the annoyance that are infinite combos. The ICPS works like this when the games system detects a loop being done the game pretty much says “that’s lame we don’t want you to do that anymore”(Peter Bartholow, Lead designer). This allows you to burst out of an infinite at any moment by pressing any button once the system detects it. You can tell if you’re being hit by an infinite combo once the color of the hit confirms change. The hit confirm changes from a light yellow to a very noticeable pinkish purple which signals you’re now in a loop. Once that happens as I mentioned before you can press any button and burst out of the infinite you’re current being caught in. All the fighting mechanics of Skullgirls pushes it in a fair direction and a more enjoyable experience.