OK, guys. I’m just going to use this space today to toot the horn of a game you really should be playing. If you like fighting games and you haven’t played Skullgirls yet, play Skullgirls . If you like fighting games and quit Skullgirls in the early days, pick up Skullgirls again. If you don’t like fighting games, pick up Skullgirls anyway and use it to learn fighting games. In my opinion, Skullgirls is the best fighting game to release in the past few years, but also one of the most underappreciated.
I liked Skullgirls when it first came out, but I’d understand if you didn’t. The game had its issues. The two most common complaints were lack of a move list and small roster. The lack of a move list is pretty self explanatory. There was no way to figure out any of the characters’ moves without looking them up online.
As far as the roster goes, the game only had eight characters, which would be fine if it was just a single-fighter fighting game, but it was a game where you could have up to three characters on your team, and that means that anyone who used 3 person teams would see the same characters over and over again, which was discouraging.
There were a couple other issues too. Combos were particularly long and lead to one touch deaths in early builds of the game. Certain assists were far too good and ended up being overused. Zoning in particular was incredibly powerful and led to many a rage quit.
But beneath all this, there was a fantastic base for a very competitive yet also welcoming game. The Skullgirls team went out of its way to make sure that its tutorials actually taught players fighting game concepts like frame traps, mix-ups, and smart assist usage. It worked hard to make sure its input system was simple and easy to use, with no double quarter circles or half circle motions. It packed its training mode full of useful options, like the ability to see hit-boxes or the ability to play back opponents’ actions as reversals. Lab Zero wanted Skullgirls to be the one fighting game that everyone could play, without resorting to things like the “easy combo button.”
I’m not here to argue for what Skullgirls was, though. I’m here to argue for what Skullgirls is now. Over more than three years, the Skullgirls team has been consistently updating the game, tweaking the balance, and adding new features. The one hit death combos were taken out. Combo length overall was reduced and a new “drama” system was implemented to mitigate how aggressive you can be at any given time. Anyone with problematic moves has had those moves adjusted on a near weekly basis in the PC Endless Beta.
The roster has grown greatly in size from 8 to 14, which makes it far less likely that you will see the same characters over and over again. Best of all, these characters were added to the game completely free of charge! Certain characters in the old roster also gained new moves and new strategies to go along with them.
Move lists were added, so now you know exactly how to do every character’s moves. New training options were included, showing your inputs, allowing you to save the game state, color coding buttons, a frame data viewer, and much much more. Tutorials have been greatly expanded, teaching you every character’s moves and how to use them in combat. Not only that, but a number of new stages, costumes, voice packs, and more have been added for people who want the aesthetic touch.
And now the game is expanding even more with Skullgirls : 2 nd Encore releasing for the PS4. This version will have a fully voiced story mode, challenges which add new modifiers to matches, trials which teach you bread and butter combos for actual competitive play, a new survival mode, and cross play/buy functionality.
But more importantly, it’s shaping up to be the only VS game in town. Marvel vs. Capcom 3 no longer has support from Capcom, and versions of that game are slowly being deleted or left behind as people upgrade to next-gen systems. There is no other game on the market with tag team mechanics like this, mimicking the Marvel 2 style. Tournaments for Skullgirls have been ballooning in entrants. Simply put, if you want to be part of the VS crowd, numbers for Skullgirls are growing and numbers for Marvel 3 are falling. Not to mention Skullgirls still has a massively vibrant online community that aids in finding bugs and balance problems with the game.
The game has a 10 out of 10 on Steam and an 83 on Metacritic, and that score actually gets higher as more people review later versions and revisions of the game. In short, Skullgirls just keeps getting better while other games are left to stagnate.
This is a bit of an evangelical editorial, I admit, but I have a lot of faith in this game. It’s fun, fair, easy to play, and truly teaches people how to be competitive in fighting games. It got a bad rap in its early days, but no one has shown more dedication to prolonging the life of their game than Lab Zero and Skullgirls . You owe it to yourself to try it out again. There is a horde of hungry fans here and it just keeps growing, and they may be where the versus series survives when Marvel 3 dies. Here’s hoping there is enough love of Skullgirls on the PS4 that we eventually see Skullgirls 2.