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Review: Skullgirls 2nd Encore.

Skullgirls is a 2-D fighter that is beautifully and expertly hand drawn. Not only does it ooze style and looks beautiful, it’s an amazing homage to fighting games and the fighting games community that any member of this community will be sure to smile and laugh at. And to top it all off the game itself plays great and has some amazingly creative mechanics.

 

Legends tell of an artifact that can grant a woman’s wish…

While fighting games aren’t known for their story Skullgirls manages to deliver a great story experience with interesting characters, dialogue, art, and fairly deep lore. Skullgirls’s story is about an object that grants any girls wish she desires and in return it changes the user into a Skullgirl which will then be tasked to destroy the world. Every character is out for either the Skullgirl or the Skullheart for one reasons or another, crossing paths with other characters stories and seeing them to the end is fun and engaging. Players pick one character to follow and see the narrative unfold. When going trough the story mode with a character the player will fight several different characters mostly leading up a fight with the Skullgirls. Tough the only flaw in the story and arcade mode is the actual Skullgirls being a fighting game boss with some unfair moves and can get pretty annoying to kill, but even then it doesn’t get as bad as it could have been all things considered. In between battles the characters will engage in text-based conversation, with an occasional piece of gorgeous artwork thrown into the mix to emphasise certain plot events. With the exception of some characters dialogue is kept to its essentials avoiding long walls of text, and battles go pretty fast making sure the players gets to see most stories finished in around 30 minutes. Dialogue is very well written in text boxes and in in-games chatter. It’s clever, it’s funny and most of all it’s charming. Custom dialogue is used between specific characters and the fighters engage in constant chatter.At some point you might find yourself just going into versus matches with the music muted just to hear what characters have to say against each other. Other than the main story mode going trough a specific characters narrative there is a lot of lore and history going on in the background making it feel like you joined a world that’s already in full force and still has enough mysteries to explore when the curtain calls. The story of Skullgirls has some deep lore and history, can be funny, can be dark and is really fun to go experience and explore. But a great story mode is nothing is if the core game and mechanics aren’t fun. So does Skullgirls have enough to be fun, or deep enough to be a competitive fighting game?

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As far as fighting games go Skullgirls has a pretty good story mode.

Setting the new standard.

Skullgirls plays on a 2-D plain much like the Marvel Vs. Capcom 2. Characters can almost combo from any normal into any higher normal. It feels very natural and everyone will find at least a 3 to 6 hit combo in just a bit of playing. All characters have a launcher, an air combo finisher and supers called Blockbusters. It feels good discovering combos and the possibilities seem endless. While Marvel Vs. Capcom has been criticized as trying to get one hit in and then doing flashy supers until the opponent is K.O.ed Skullgirls certainly doesn’t have this problem. Many of the blockbuster moves while strong don’t feel or look as unmanageable as the supers in Marvel and are tools to end combo or deal in that extra amount of damage. They feel balanced fair and while still being visually pleasing attacks don’t overdo it.What makes Skullgirls so special gameplay wise is the neat touches and creative mechanics that makes Skullgirls an example for all fighting games to follow. Going over all the mechanics is going to be too much. Some of the more noticeable mechanics are the character selection amount and custom assists. While it’s possible to play as one character players can also choose to play as two or three characters. The cool thing is that while one player might play as three regular powered characters the opponent can choose to take one super powerful character or two medium powered characters. It’s all balanced and allows players who don’t like or can’t work with assists to be on even grounds. The players who do take more than one characters can instead of taking a preset assist move choose to make their own assist move. This means that when you take a character and you select the custom option you can take just about any move excluding air moves, throws and Blockbusters. so this means if you want to take an anti-air special you can set it to the light medium or hard version, or if you want you can take a simple normal attack or even command throws. The possibilities are endless and good players will find weird and unique sett-ups for assists that will be sure to amaze and open up new tech to discover. Skullgirls character roster is diverse and besides Killer Instinct has the most creative and unique systems characters have ever had. Peacock mirror matches are some of the craziest matches you will ever play and Valentine has a Blockbuster that can revive K.O.ed opponents. Other than that Skullgirls has some neat touches that show Lab Zero knows some of the problems that have been bothering other fighting games. Things like having to hold the start button in versus before the game pauses to avoid accidental pauses from ruining matches. Or 360 detection which knows when you try to do a 360 motion and won’t let you accidentally jumps. Things like these go a far way to make the game so commendable. Other than nice little touches and cool mechanics Skullgirls has the usual to offer. A story and arcade mode and with the exception of Killer Instinct 2013 has the best tutorial in any fighting game ever, covering the basics with nice detail and the more advanced mechanics with care. Skullgirls also has an online mode which is some of the best around. Matches can be found relatively fast and play lag-free. Skullgirls is an absolutely complete package.

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Great mechanics and options make Skullgirls the top of the line.

One of the best in the genre.

Every frame a piece of art.

Skullgirls has an amazing Art-Deco art style and a jazz-themed soundtrack. Skullgirls takes the art style to heart and reminisces old 50’s style art and noir films. The game oozes style and personality. The animation is gorgeous and all characters feature around 1.500 frames of animations making it the highest animated fighting game ever made. Colors and shading are amazing everything pops out and is visually appealing. Moves, colors, stage and character dialogue is full of references and homages. While some players might just not be into Skullgirls every fighting game aficionado must own this game into their collection if only for the crazy references to other fighting games. When selecting a character for the first time you will more than likely spent an hour going trough all the colors the roster has to see what they’re referencing. Skullgirls is a love letter to not only fighting games but the entire fighting game community.Skullgirls 2nd Encore_20150821015918

Stages look lively and colors really pop. Every frame of animation is gorgeous.

Closing note:

Skullgirls is a love letter to everything fighting game and more. It’s visuals are stunning, the animation and colors are all breathtaking. The Art-deco style is taken to heart and the jazz soundtrack makes the game feels like a 50’s noir film. The gameplay feels amazing, most characters have something unique and creative to them game-play wise. A lot of little touches make the game a prime example for other games to follow. Custom Assist is one of the best things about the game. And an actual story mode with a deep narrative, lore and history make this (with the exception of Mortal Kombat) the best story mode in any fighting game ever. Skullgirls is among one of if not the best fighting game out there.

 

(2nd Encore):Skullgirls is now out on the PlayStation vita and PlayStation 4 as 2nd Encore. This version adds full voice acting to the story mode. The voice acting in the original game was only used when characters fought. It already sounded great but now in the story mode you get even more of an idea of how good the voice acting is. Since the story mode features characters that aren’t playable the team had to get double the amount of voice actors so it’s a pretty ambitious feat. All characters sound great and make the story mode more enjoyable. One small complaint would be that the voice clips in the story mode seem to follow-up a bit to fast after each other giving lines no time to breath. 2nd Encore also adds a few new mode like Trials in which you need to execute specific combos, or a survival mode which tasks the player to take on a never-ending horde of opponents to see how far they can get. Challenge mode adds up to 25 challenges to complete. These range from not being allowed to jump or even go as far as playing as the boss of the game. A CPU quick match option was also added which allows you to fight against any opponent you want without the player having to go into arcade or training mode. An art mode is also included wich is a nice feature considering the amazing art the game has. All DLC has been added free of charge wich include five characters and a handful of stages. And even though previous versions started getting this feature there is an option to change the announcer’s voice with up to four choices and more might be underway. Lastly, 2nd Encore has a cross-play feature allowing Vita players to play with PlayStation 4 owners, and both can play with Playstation 3 owners. This new version of Skullgirls is the definitive version of the game. And while it might not be enough to convince some, the upgrade is filled with a decent amount of new content. It’s worthwhile if you are a fan or if you haven’t bought the game yet.

10/10

 

I'm a fun loving guy who like piña coladas, getting caught in the rain and long walks on the beach. I work hard, I play hard. Must like cats. Ugos need not apply. If you want to ask me anything you can contact me at yordi.verhoene@gmail.com