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Skullgirls: Boobs, Brawling and Panty Shots, Oh My!

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chris-littlechild - April 25, 2012

(Any tenuous excuse to get that Wizard of Oz reference into the title. My apologies.) Skullgirls, new fighting game from Reverge Labs, hit PSN and XBLA this month. In a genre that's been saturated of late like a royally pissed off cat in a rainstorm, I found this title a real revelation.

Skullgirls is populated by an exclusively female cast, à la Arcana Heart. As is often the case with women in fighting games, there's little in the way of modesty to be seen here. Valentine, primarily, leaves little to the imagination in that nurse's uniform. She's one of the preposterously fast and mobile characters, so I'm sure in this instance airbags may prove useful on occasion. She's clearly proud of the twins too, as is plain from the hilariously promiscuous entrance and victory animations she employs. I'm rather familiar with the fighting genre, but I must concede cleavage-thermometers are a new one on me. Parasoul, similarly, wears a skirt so short you can probably see what she had for lunch. (There'd be an odd sentient umbrella to the gizzards for trying, though.) All in all, I think the word would be bountiful bodaciousness-amundo. That's more of a phrase, if we're being pedantic, but it captures the pervading Jessica Rabbit vibe perfectly.

Aesthetically, Skullgirls is magnificent. The 2d art is some of the best I've seen, rivaling recent triumphs like Bloodrayne Betrayal and Rayman Origins. I'd suggest a warning screen before the main menu: "The graphics in this bugger are so damn sabre-sharp, they could most likely cut your face right off if you sit too close to the screen. Don't sue our asses if that happens." As such, it's a colourful cavalcade of cartoon combat, but with an edgier appeal for adult players. Essentially, the South Park of gaming. (Not to be confused with the actual South Park video games. Those bastards bit like a Tyrannosaurus Rex.)

Great as this all sounds, it would be meaningless if the core gameplay wasn't up to scratch. Luckily, tournament crazies who play in their underwear for a week without washing or even blinking were on hand to design the engine. As a result, play is grotesquely enjoyable, insanely hyperactive yet still technically sound. There are no cheap as Ebenezer Scrooge himself infinites, thanks to a system that allows you to escape. The small roster also results in each character being precision-honed to their purpose, none of the cast are really even similar to each other. This is infinitely preferable to Ryu, Ken (Ryu), Akuma (Ryu), Evil Ryu and Holy Balls, It's Ryu Again (Ryu). The hideous horde of homunculus shotos is dispensed with, and the world sucks a little less for it.

Skullgirls has emerged as my new favourite fighter. Its single player options may appear meagre, comprising each player's story and an arcade mode. But versus is the focus, as is rapidly becoming de rigueur. The content isn't much less generous than full-price releases, and as such this $15 download fares well. It also has the advantage of providing an extensive series of tutorials. Mix ups, cross ups, balls-ups and suchlike are presented in a way that eases casual players in. It's more welcoming than having a Japanese ninja online savagely kick your groin repeatedly, that much is certain.

Here's the character trailer for top-heavy ninja nurse Valentine, for your delectation:


Article by Chris Littlechild

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