Attention duelists! My hair is armed and dangerous!
It’s a great time to be a 2D fighter fan. It goes without saying that the resurgence of the genre with hits like Street Fighter IV, Marvel Vs. Capcom 3, and Mortal Kombat is a boon, but another side effect of their success is that it gives publishers more of a reason to bank on experimental indie forays into the genre as well. Cue Skullgirls, a frantic tag-team fighter with gorgeous, devilishly creative, hand-drawn 2D sprites of some seriously twisted chicks.
[image1]The heart of any fighter is in the mechanics, and in that respect Skullgirls is more in the vein of MvC2 than anything else. Assists, tag switches, monster combos, blindingly flashy super moves, and a traditional six-button control scheme (unlike the more simplified controls found in MvC3) are the order of the day. Skullgirls, however, offers up more customization in the gameplay.
You can choose the size of your team independent of your opponent. You could take a single, super-powered character up against a team of three, or opt for the middle ground and take two moderately powered girls. Also, instead of just picking from set special moves for your tag assist attacks, Skullgirls allows you to make a custom input. You could have your partners attempt a throw, a low fierce kick, even just dash forward—whatever you think up, you can do, which sets the ground for a lot of experimenting with unconventional combos.
Speaking of combos, I am intrigued by Skullgirls’ built-in defense against infinite combo cheese. The game is programmed to watch all of your inputs as you keep a combo going, and if it detects that you’re doing a particular move repeatedly in a set pattern, the hit indicator flashes red, which allows the opponent to press any attack to break out of the combo. Ostensibly this means that you can’t rely on repetitive attacks for your combos—the more creative you get by mixing up as many attacks as possible, the more hits you can get in before your combo ends.
[image2]On the graphical front, the game is just gushing out of its girl-parts with style (yeah, I went there). Two of the characters we’ve seen so far, Filia and Cerebella, are demonic animé-looking girls with some awesome animations. Filia’s hair is possessed and she uses it to throw and spike her opponents, while Cerebella has huge Frankenstein arms growing out of her head that she uses to grapple. The ranged zoning character, Peacock, is some kind of Popeye-meets-Roger Rabbit throwback to old American cartoons, with her wielding an arsenal of guns (some with a “bang!” flag), cannons, and mechanized bombs to torture her opponents.
To allow for as much detail as possible in the sprites, each one is hand-drawn at double the size before being shrunk down for the screen, and the art team has come up with literally thousands of frames for incredibly fluid and beautiful animation. The engine also uses dynamic lighting to reflect off the characters depending on where they’re positioned on the screen. You definitely haven’t seen a fighting game with art and style this original in years.
While only three characters have been shown so far, the devs promised me they would roll out as many as they could fit in before the game is released sometime in late 2011. I can’t wait to see what kind of insane designs they come up with next.