Skullgirls hands-on preview

Reverge Labs recently swung by the office to show off their upcoming DLC fighting game Skullgirls. A 2-D fighter with a totally unique cartoony style, the game is aiming to combine the best elements of other fighters, specifically the Versus games, while putting their own spin on it all.

Any good fighting game needs interesting characters, and Skullgirls has them in spades. While the full roster hasn’t been revealed yet, the ones we have seen look great. Filia is a Morrigan-like character with a parasite attached to her head a la that Treehouse of Horror Simpsons episode. Cerebella is your traditional high-damage grappler character, though she’s still capable of some big combos.

Peacock is one of our favorites, a creepy, cybernetic, cartoon obsessed character with lots of weird attacks. Most notable is her item attack, a move that can be charged and drops one of 30 items on the opponent. Skullgirls has lots of visual flair, and nowhere was it more apparent than with Peacock. Some of the items she dropped included: An Easter Island head from Gradius, a barrel and turkey from Final Fight, and something that looks awfully like Hsien-Ko’s spikey ball super. Her old time-y sepia toned color scheme makes her look a lot like Steamboat Willy too.

Parasoul is a charge character that controls space with projectiles that can linger around the screen. She also has defensive attacks that summon WWI looking soldiers to come block hits and cancel moves for her. We didn’t get enough hands-on time with her to give a good impression, but she seems quite capable of controlling space.

To call Ms. Fortune an unorthodox character design is an understatement. As gaming’s first zombie-esque catgirl she’s already unique, but her playstyle is equally as singular. While her regular moves are straightforward enough, she can completely change her moves by switching her stance. And by switching her stance, I mean she rips her head off and throws it at the opponent, then the head just sits on the floor. From that point on the body and the head are separate and using hard punch attacks and special attacks allows you to control the head as you attack with the body.

Attacking someone from two sides as once has obvious advantages, meaning your opponent will have to block both ways. The head can also create new combos not possible when attached to the body. The catch is that when the head is detached, it can be hit by the opponent. The damage done to the head is reduced, but it’s a good way of keeping Ms. Fortune balanced.  

From what we saw, Skullgirls is doing it’s best to offer options for players of all stripes, catering to the hardcore while including a lengthy trial/mission mode that covers everything from the most basic movement, to intermediate blocking, to more advanced combos. We’re glad to see a game reaching out to new players instead of just throwing them into advanced combo sessions and calling it a day.

While a lot of the game’s features will go completely over the head of some of the more casual players, a lot of them are practical. For example Cerebellum, the command grab heavy character, needs to do 360 motions a lot. 360 motions can be difficult for new and even seasoned players to perform consistently because while inputting the motion you’ll sometimes jump during the up motion of the joystick. Skullgirls uses a neat trick that reads your input to see if you’re doing a 360 and prevents Cerebellum from jumping. It’s a character specific tweak that benefits both new and old players alike.

Skullgirls picks and chooses its favorite bits from lots of other classic fighting games like Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Capcom vs. SNK, incorporating both character assists and character ratios. This means you can play with a two or three man team or a more powerful individual character. The game's unique assist system definitely makes a team more appealing though, as the game lets you manually record almost any move and use it as an assist. It's a wild idea that allows for a lot of creativity between characters.

While the game is still a ways off from being complete, the graphics and backgrounds look markedly better since the last time we saw the game in July. The stylized animation is super smooth and we definitely got a kick out of all the game’s little visual touches and easter eggs. There’s no concrete date yet, but the game is tentatively scheduled for a January 2012 release on PSN and XBL. Skullgirls may not have a Capcom budget, but the expertise, experience and dedication of the crew working on it shines through. If you’re a fighting game fan, keep a close eye on Skullgirls.


  • CitizenWolfie - November 13, 2011 4:51 a.m.

    First I've seen of this and it looks great. The cynical side of me is thinking "sigh, Sucker Punch: The Game," but I still like the art style and the fighting looks pretty solid. Can't believe this is only a DLC game, it feels more like a full box release. Loving the idea of smart controls such as the predictive 360 direction input as I love playing as Zangief but hate the fact that most of the time his throws are blatantly coming after a jump. ReCAPTCHA: forecasts ariels - how appropriate!
  • BugPope - November 13, 2011 7:25 a.m.

    Skullgirls has been in productions for years, long before Suckerpunch. So it's a pretty odd accusation.
  • CitizenWolfie - November 13, 2011 7:46 a.m.

    I wasn't accusing it of anything. I just thought some of the characters look similar as is the steampunk style. Sucker Punch was rubbish though so this looks much better. By the way, both Sucker Punch and Skullgirls began production in 2009. Although SP was pitched back in March 2007 but put on hold due to the director making Watchmen.
  • BladedFalcon - November 12, 2011 2:12 p.m.

    This looks really fun and polished! Will definitely be picking it up! Just hoping the roster will be at least of 10 characters. Though it helps that each one of them look incredibly different from each other other, gameplay-wise
  • Ravidrath - November 12, 2011 9 p.m.

    There will be 8 characters at launch, with more coming as DLC later. Keep in mind that this is a downloadable game for PSN/XBLA, so it will be significantly cheaper than other fighting games.
  • BladedFalcon - November 13, 2011 12:10 p.m.

    True, and fair enough. I'm not being demanding mind, just that a good character pool does tend to help the lifespan of the game. But well, like I said, if every character is as varied from each other as they look to be. * initially should be more than enough ^^
  • codystovall - November 12, 2011 1:52 p.m.

    Dlc , meaning I cant get it even if I want it.
  • HattoriZangetsu - November 12, 2011 12:23 p.m.

    I Love this game. I hope can get when hit the Store
  • tareq - November 12, 2011 1:33 a.m.

    Been waiting forever for this =/
  • R-ape - November 12, 2011 12:20 a.m.

    What the shit's going on in that 2nd screen shot.
  • Mamudo - November 12, 2011 10:17 a.m.

    That's Peacock's super, she stuffs you in a sack and her cartoon friends help her stomp you out.
  • Mamudo - November 11, 2011 11:53 p.m.

    One of my most anticipated games of early 2012.
  • erreip199 - November 11, 2011 9:50 p.m.

    The Grapplers name is Cerebla no Cerebellum :D just pointing that out! Member Remember The Fifth Of Dismember!
  • Cyberninja - November 11, 2011 8:26 p.m.

    The game is looking good and i will buy it if its reasonably priced
  • Ravidrath - November 12, 2011 9:01 p.m.

    It's a downloadable game, so it shouldn't cost any more than $15.
  • taokaka - November 11, 2011 8:15 p.m.

    Skullgirls keeps looking better and better with every preview I read, I really hope it lives up to the praise it is receiving. The best part of that preview for me was definitely reading that you won't jump when doing a 360 motion because I hate losing a match just because the game read your inputs differently than you wanted when putting in an attack, it's rare but it's damn annoying when it happens. Also Ms fortune looks awesome because from videos I thought her fighting style was a mix of some of my favourite fighters from other games and her concept is fantastic.

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