GAMESCOM '11 PREVIEW: SKULLGIRLS
GamesCom 2011 HANDS-ON Preview!
Posted by PlayDevil.com Staff on Sep 12, 2011 14:25 (Sep 12, 2011 14:25)
Written by: PlayDevil.com Staff
HANDS-ON @ GamesCom 2011 - Skullgirls:
One unexpected treat at Gamescom was Skullgirls, an upcoming one-on-one fighter from American developer Reverge Labs. Sat in Konami’s area you could be forgiven for thinking the game originated in Japan, with it loose grip on reality and huge beautifully animated sprites. But on closer inspection reveals a style that draws as much on the silver age of Disney as it does on Dragon Ball Z.
It terms of the overarching gameplay there is relatively little to tell. Standard 2D character-on-character combat takes centre stage, with the same kinds of special moves and combos that Street Fighter and a dozens of other titles have been using for years. Despite using this tried and tested formula Skullgirls brings its own flare to the mix and it this that will separate it from the crowd.
What it hopes to do differently is correct many of the problems with fighting games (I asked and all the characters being women isn’t apart of this plan). Autumn are fans of the genre and Skullgirls is their attempt to try to address many common problems within it, and from what I saw at game they might succeed.
It is beautifully animated with an eye-catching colour palette and art style that borrows heavily from a range of comic and cartoon styles. Each of the four women playable in the demo drew on different influences, looking and playing distinctly from each other. A balanced all-rounder came in the form of Filia, a girl with a demon for hair that can change shape in all manner of helpful ways. Providing the muscle and grapples is Cerebella, she possess a hat made up of two huge powerful arms that only she can control. Parasoul is the obligatory ranged combatant, making use of a parasol, a gun and the legions of troops she controls. Finally for the demo came Peacock, the obligatory inexplicably strange character, who drops random objects from the sky on her opponents, from toaster to safes.
Before selecting any of these characters I was offered a choice, did I want to take one, two or three fighters in to battle. Allowing tag-teams in such fighting games in not new, but Skullgirls offered an especially interesting take on the dynamic, with each player able to select the number of fighters they want, and the game then balancing each side up to make a fair fight. So, for example, I could pick three characters for my team against an opponent who only chooses one, but my three characters would deal less damage for each attack. It was fun to try in the short demo, but just how this will work out competitively remains to be seen.
I began my demo with three characters. My imaginative selection of characters felt fantastic to control as they leapt around the screen and I became used to the controls. With a supers, combos and a broad range of moves there was obviously a lot of depth hidden away beneath the surface that would take me far more time than I had, so instead I entertained myself with Peacock and her over the top moves. Her throw saw me stuff the opponent in to a bag before beating them down, a ranged attack saw her pull out weapon after weapon that drew its inspiration from another game and yet another special saw a shadow slowly grow beneath her opponents feet before a randomised object feel from the sky on to their head.
With fantastic humour and art Skullgirls will certainly attract casual fighting fans when it releases, but its long-term appeal will rest in the competitive scene. The short demo at Gamescom made it hard to tell if Skullgirls was balanced, but I was assured that is one of the key focuses of the developers. A creative combo system allows long chains to be established, but to prevent this ever becoming ‘cheap’ there is a system that detects when a combo loop is formed and breaks it to help ensure a level playing field. Ultimately it will come down to the final character roster and how the skills and techniques mesh together, but given how the weight and impact of what I played felt I find it is hard to believe hard there will be any issues.
With a number of characters (and all of the abilities and powers they will bring to the game) still to be revealed, Skullgirls should be automatic purchase for all everyone who has ever imagined themselves doing a dragon-punch when it is released later this year on PSN and XBLA.