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Skullgirls

aka: Skullgirls Encore
Moby ID: 62239
PlayStation 3 Specs

Description

Skullgirls is a 2D fighting game with a cast of eight playable fighters. In addition to the random arcade mode and story modes, the game also includes local play, tournament play, ranked match quick play and lobby play, the latter of the two taking place in online multiplayer.

In arcade play or multiplayer, the player can select whether they want a team of two fighters with their health split in half, a team of three fighters with their health split in third, or one single powerful fighter.

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Credits (Windows version)

465 People (329 developers, 136 thanks) · View all

Design Direction
Lead Programmer
Creative Director
Lead Animator
Lead Clean-up Artist
Senior Animator
UI Designer
Animator
Designer
Associate Art Producer
Story Supervisor
CEO
Additional Programming
In-Game VO Editor
Story Mode Writing and Dialogue
Story Mode Art
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 83% (based on 12 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 5 ratings with 1 reviews)

A heart-warming game about a Skull-heart and some awesome ladies.

The Good
Skull Girls was selected as a monthly free game for Playstation Plus members, which is how I came to play it. My first reaction in playing the game was being offended at the objectification of the female characters – every move, hit, and knockout seemed to result in a panty shot or an ass jutting out provocatively. Cut scenes laden with heavy innuendo didn’t help with this perception. It seemed sleazy, is what I’m saying. Luckily, it was a lot of fun to play, and pretty soon I was in on the fact that the game is very self-aware, and has high artistic merit. The 'fan-service' is completely self aware and is there to mock the concept itself, and the dialogue is so pun-ridden that it reaches an artistic level in and of itself.

LET'S TALK GAME-PLAY:

  • Each character (with the exception of Filia and Fukua) is very differently designed from the next, and each has a wildly different fighting style that is very telling about them. Pain Wheel’s attacks look like they hurt – both her and the person she’s attacking. Ms. Fortune’s attacks are all very playful and cat-like, Parasoul’s attacks show controlled grace and confidence. It’s very rare to see a game define a character’s personality through fighting moves, and through very well done voice work.

  • The control layout is a simple low-mid-high type, with different buttons for low kick, low punch, etc. Special moves are performed by quarter-to-half circle d-pad and/or analog stick rotations in conjunction with pushing two attack buttons at once. The ‘drama’ bar fills as you attack or take damage, and the corresponding ‘drama’ level allows the super attacks to be activated. The game allows for ‘tag teams’ of up to three characters at once, and allows you to set up tag points to have the other characters come in and strike. This is tricky to pick up, but results in more powerful attacks. Despite a unified control layout for all of the characters, they all fight extremely differently, resulting in certain characters providing more of a problem for a player than others. For instance, I can handily beat any CPU controlled ‘Parasoul’ character in near flawless victory. The CPU doesn’t seem to get the best out of her, ignoring her devastating mid-range umbrella combo’s and instead trying to use her land-mine gimmick. A CPU controlled ‘Peacock’ character, on the other hand, is my personal nightmare inside of an arcade mode run – the CPU spams her 40’s cartoon-esque long range attacks and doesn’t let you get close enough to take her out – and then uses a stun move to jump back out of reach.
  • There are two main single-player modes, a ‘Story’ mode which features a set tournament path with story segments (see my ‘Story’ segment for my thoughts on that), and an ‘Arcade’ mode which features a randomized roster of fights. The ‘Arcade’ mode gives this game a very high single player replay value, with a variety of difficulties to choose from, and with picking different teams, there is a lot to try out.

LET'S TALK GRAPHICS:
  • Every animated frame in this game is really charismatic. The developers have gone far and beyond to create unique and memorable characters for this game. The 1080p resolution really shines with the colorful 2D animation. Every move is an expression of a character, from a simple swipe to a dramatic leg-sweep - this is the opposite of ‘motion-capture’ attempts at realism. This is stylized cartoon animation at its finest – it feels like the artists made this game out of love for the animated characters more than that the animation takes place to service the fighting. The very wide variety of ‘palettes’ that each character comes in really adds visual variety to the game, and in fact they add a lot of personalization to the characters – because most of the palettes are references to other game, movie, or comic characters. The backgrounds feature a lot of characters that I think are the result of the crowd-sourced creation of the game – probably some kind of tier reward where the donator’s custom character is put into the game. The backgrounds don’t interfere with gameplay at all and do not feature any pitfalls or items – this is a pure fighting game.
  • The HUD is well laid out, with a television-program-performance-esque feel to the presentation.

LET'S TALK SOUND:
  • The voice acting is very good in this game, with characters taunting each other, saying silly puns at attacks, or screaming funny things (Ms. Fortune yelling ‘Cover ‘ya face!’ while she cat-mauls someone, or ‘Here body body!’ when she calls back her head always makes me chuckle). This aspect is really what got me over what I thought were just exploitative characters made for T&A – these are well rounded characters who define themselves with strong personalities. This is the opposite of Chun-Li from Street Fighter – she’s got no personality in game – she’s just a pretty airhead. These girls are sassy, saucy, and angry. As of recently, a whole new character was added, Eliza, who is expertly voiced by veteran voice actress Wendy Lee. There probably about 75 individual lines per character that happen during game-play. And it really adds a lot of flavour.
  • The music in the game is definitely jazz inspired, but can also ramp up into orchestral themes to give gravity to the end boss fight. I’d say the music helps give a strong feeling of ‘cool’ to the game that your average rock-synth or techno fighting game music would have denied it. A recent 'patch' that was actually larger than the initial download version (900+ MB while the install was 700 MB) added a ton of new music, and seems to have ramped up the quality of the other tracks as well.
  • The sound effects are also good – staying away from the splorchey sounds of Mortal Kombat and keeping a crisp kind of edge so that there’s not a lag between the on screen action and the sound.

LET'S TALK STORY:
  • Being an entirely new world, the game does a good quick job of establishing a believable setting in which fish people, cat people, magical artifacts, sentient hair monsters, Fascist Princesses, and genetic splicing all exist. The characters are much more interconnected via their story than it at first seems, and despite having a relatively small cast, the developers managed to create non-contradicting stories for each one using mainly the other characters as catalysts. This results in the characters having a reason to be fighting each other in context to the game, without relying on the ‘Tournament’ set-up. This is frankly more work than they had to do, and after playing something that had so much material to draw from (Playstation All Stars) and didn’t – it is very refreshing to see someone do so much from scratch.
  • Furthermore – the addition of new characters to this continually growing game results in new storylines that further flesh out the main conflict and add even more background to the story.

LET'S TALK CHARACTERS:
  • This is really the draw of the game for me, the personalities and look of the characters really make them appealing and fun to play as. While my first favourite was Ms. Fortune (I’m a cat lover), I have come to appreciate that as much attention was given to each different one. The opening battle quips, and the defeat quips, are very well done. Ms. Fortune’s wanting to make a pun after defeating each enemy results in her being frustrated after taking out Parasoul because ‘Your name is already a joke!’. She meows and purrs out her lines, and you can tell the voice actress was very enthusiastic about the character. Parasoul on the other hand speaks with authority and confidence, ordering her ‘Egret’ minions to take sniper shots at the opponent, expressing no surprise when she takes them down. Filia plays almost second fiddle to her demonic sounding hair monster, like an awestruck girlfriend. My second tag-team favourite, ‘Valentine’ is a cold blooded Ninja Nurse who is arguably the most despicable character in the game. Look no further than the online wiki to get a sense of how much the fans of this game really love these characters - http://skullgirls.wikia.com/wiki/Skullgirls_Wiki , they’ve made beautiful pages with likes and dislikes, heights, ages, back-stories – the fan based origins of their alternate palette costumes – it’s really quite amazing the love this game has inspired. When a patch gave me their newest character 'Eliza' for free, I finally decided to go and actually pay to download the other two DLC characters, and I was not disappointed! Squigly and Big Band are both a ton of fun to play as.


**The Bad**
As much as I like this game, I do fair reviews and I’m willing to point out the short-comings.

LET’S TALK GAME-PLAY:
  • The CPU needed better tweaking to make use of some of the characters, in particular Parasoul. Even in the ‘insane’ difficulty setting she really stands out as a punching bag. The character ‘Big Band’ is also needing some balancing, his large size and devastating mid-range attacks mean that to fight him you have to constantly jump and hit him in the head, but once you figure that out there’s no variety to fighting him anymore. Having now played as Big Band, his aerial attacks are phenomenal – if the CPU used these effectively he'd be a much bigger challenge.
  • The boss in the game – the eponymous ‘Skullgirl’ is not a very interesting fight. She’s hard to beat, and she is a spectacle, but I’d almost prefer a 2-on-1 type boss fight in the arcade mode after you beat her. After I was done unlocking colour palettes I’d honestly just re-set the game when I got to the boss because the fight isn’t fun.

LET’S TALK GRAPHICS:
  • Those background characters I mentioned… The game could do without them. It is so obvious that they are ‘fan-characters’ stuck in the background for $, and I hate to complain about them, because I know that people paid good money to put them there – but they stick out like sore fan-fiction thumbs.

LET’S TALK SOUND:
  • The only voice I can pick on is the ‘Skullgirl’, Marie. Maybe it’s the already annoying fighting style she employs, and maybe it’s intentional (Like Shao Kahn), but she grates on my ears.
LET’S TALK STORY:
  • A lot of the storylines have cliff-hanger type endings instead of resolution, which is a bit of a disappointment. I think the character deserves resolution after a one-shot game like this. If they were making actual sequels instead of ‘encore’ revisions, I could get more behind it.
    • REDACTED – Since writing the initial review of this game, I have learned that there are plans to further all of the story lines. I won't complain about a cliff-hanger so long as there are plans to finish the story in the future!
LET’S TALK CHARACTERS:
  • While the character designs are good – I really feel like the ‘unlockable’ (by paying for them) characters should have been unlockable some other way. ‘Big Band’ and ‘Squiggley’ look neat, but I haven’t purchased them based on how they fight in the arcade mode, they aren’t quite worth spending $5 a piece on to me. Maybe if I’d had to pay for the game it’d be easier to justify.
    • REDACTED – Since writing the initial review of this game, I have learned that both of these characters were offered free-of-charge for a set point of time after release. I have since purchased them, and they are well worth the $ for their unique storylines and move-sets.

      **The Bottom Line**
      In summary – this game really turned me around through sheer charm and good characters. I was ready to write it off and uninstall it, and now it’s one of my ‘every other day’ games. I’m not a fighting game guy either – it’s just really fun, and beautifully drawn. If you like fighting games, this is a solidly designed fighter with great moves. If you are a casual gamer – this is a great introduction to fighting games. I don't often actually advocate buying a game in my reviews, but I do really feel that Skullgirls is something that gamers should get behind and support – we need more games made with love instead of just with intention to make the developers money.
      They put a lot of work into this game, and they are still working to add characters and continue this story. What other game have you played where a FREE PATCH was LARGER than the original game install? That blew my mind – that they'd respect people who had purchased the game enough to give them all of the new work they'd done on it for free.

PlayStation 3 · by Kyle Levesque (904) · 2014

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by leilei.

Linux, Xbox One, Macintosh added by Harmony♡.

Additional contributors: Harmony♡.

Game added December 20, 2013. Last modified November 21, 2023.