#nycc Day 0: #Skullgirls Preview

Are you a fan of competitive fighting games? Are you tired of comeback mechanics? Does the idea of anything less than 3 punch and 3 kick buttons sicken you? Do you look upon games like Darkstalkers, X-Men VS. Street Fighter, and Marvel vs. Capcom 2 with a tearful eye and a melancholy sigh? If yes is your answer to any or all of these questions then boy oh boy does the team at Reverge Labs have a game for you.

Skullgirls is a new wholly original six button fighting game that takes all of the titles above to their next logical evolution. This is accomplished by offering smart and innovative solutions to the problems that have been plaguing competitive fighting games for over a decade. Where other developers put limits on what a player can do with the likes of hit stun decay, Reverge Labs solves the problem with infinite protection. True creative combo freedom is in full effect allowing those with skills to really let loose. Long drawn out combos are there for those creative and skilled enough to pull them off as long as they are not repetitive. As soon as the engine detects that you are pulling off a repeat in your combo string, your opponent is able to combo break with the push of any button. As long as you are earning your hit count the game does not punish you. With other engines the challenge is coming up with combos that trick the hit stun deterioration with Skullgirls the challenge becomes being able to come up with the next step of the string to keep it all unique.

When Capcom decided to up their team size to three in Marvel VS. Capcom 2, they decided to abandon the traditional three punches, three kicks six button layout. The attack buttons were reduced to four with the last two being assists. Skullgirls also offers teams of three with assist calls but sticks to the traditional layout. Tagging in the second and third character on your team is handled by hitting both mediums and both hards respectively. Assists are handled by hitting diagonal combinations of buttons.

Most modern fighting games feature some kind of comeback mechanic. No matter how badly you are losing, there is a magic button or game mechanic that can be used to take out your opponent. You get rewarded for losing. The developers say that it allows people new to the game to be competitive against more experienced players. Call me old fashioned but if someone is better than you at a fighting game you should lose. The developers of Skullgirls agree and offer no comeback mechanics whatsoever. Instead they are promising a robust tutorial system and an AI that learns your playstyle and trains you to deal with real situations. They are so confident in their tutorial system they feel it can teach you to be a better fighter no matter the game.

Skullgirls is not just about offering solutions to these age old problems. The characters, stages, music, story and the world in general all come together to create a completely unique package that brings up feelings that I have’t felt since I saw Darkstalkers for the first time. Each character fits an archetype and no two are even remotely the same. There is a grappler, a keepaway, a rusher, a rekka/shadow, a trapper, an air dominant, and there are still two more characters to be revealed. The animations are all hand drawn and use a technique similar to that used by Disney before they embraced CG. The stages have dynamic lighting. The music is composed by Michiru Yamane, who is famous for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

All of this is information that can be found just about anywhere but I needed to put it in to try and relay how excited I am for this fighter and to hopefully get you excited as well. I knew the second I saw that this game was going to be playable at the New York Comic-Con that I would be spending a fair amount of time on the sticks. It took me a while to get my bearings and I found myself shifting to old habits because I had not played a 3 pucnh 3 kick fighter in years. I kept hitting the buttons like they were Marvel VS. Capcom 3 and wondering why I couldn’t string three moves together. There are no control compromises here. While all of the characters share the same button layout, they each have their own unique launcher button and no two characters are even remotely the same. I found myself picking teams of three (you can choose from a super powerful character, two medium strength or three weak to make up your team) just so I could experience what each one had to offer.

Skullgirls has so much to offer including things I haven’t covered (like high low protection and custom assists) that it is hard not to go off for pages and pages expounding on every little thing I loved. So I’ll wrap this preview up by offering some tidbits that I don’t think were covered anywhere else. The game was recently pushed back to early 2012. That could mean anything but according to one of the designers on hand at the booth, they mean EARLY early like January. It is well known that there will be eight characters but I found out from the same designer that there are going to be eight or nine stages as well. Also, the stages are not tied to any one character and the themes are tied to the stages only. Also, there are going to be some male characters (Skulldudes?) with the ratio being the inverse of Street Fighter.

skullgirls.com has all of the information and is updated very frequently with blog posts from the team on topics ranging from the art to the online play to the music. You can also follow them on twitter at @Skullgirls.

Pictures courtesy of skullgirls.com .