#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 .

Prelude to the vlog

um so sort of got an hour of me talking about split/second playing it and talking about comics and tv shows and stuff. also talked about what I did this weekend. I was at LordKat’s meetup on saturday. the beginning of the vlog mentions that I was there the dude in the blue shirt with the beard and longish hair in the pics. unfortunately, the video kinda messes up there. wow this video is really messed up here and there. i go slow motion a lot. I am going to be putting it up for the fuck of it. um let me know which parts are too messed up to understand I will re say parts.

Comic Books are expensive and overwhelming…NOT!: A quick guide on how to start

So you’ve been hearing some good things about comic books but you don’t know where to start?  This post is all about breaking down your fears and misconceptions and getting you reading without going bankrupt.

Misconception #1: I have to read 70 years worth of stuff just to know what’s going on

This is a pretty common misconception.  With both DC and Marvel having series approaching 600 issues and beyond, new readers think they need to read all 600 issues to “get” what’s going on.  You don’t.  In the case of DC they rebooted their entire universe in the eighties and everything restarted and they always start new series.

As far as Marvel, they generally don’t reboot the whole universe but they do have status quo changing events that set up the next year or two.  They also explain in comic about events and characters so you never feel totally lost.  Couple this with summaries of not just the current arc but the entire current world of each character presented at the beginning of each issue.  The recap page will get you up to speed even if you are jumping on mid story.  As a last resort you can always get a coarse summary of the character’s history on wikipedia.

Now is a great time to be getting into comics.  Marvel is starting a new status quo called the Heroic Age which will reboot or restart many of  the classic characters and super teams.  It is a very exciting time to get into Marvel with lots of homages to the original works by Stan “The Man” Lee.  The Avengers are fighting Kang the conqueror again for Peter Parker’s sake.  It’s the next golden age of comics if you can believe Marvel and if the last couple of years are any indication they are right.

DC is also starting a year long event called Brightest Day which is a great jumping on point. Honestly DC is not my area of expertise but from what I have been seeing, it’s a good time to get in on them as well.

You may have heard that Captain America died, well he did (sort of) but he is now back and will be leading a black ops team of Avengers consisting of Beast, Nova, Moon Knight and others.

You may have also heard that Batman died, well he did (kind of) and he is currently crawling his way back.

Misconception #2: Comics are expensive

If you want to keep it local, head to your local comic book store.  Odds are their are tons of people with similar interests working and shopping there that are all to eager to guide and advise.  Heck half the books out there deal with Heroes paying it forward by teaching the next generation.  It’s practically part of the DNA.  Make sure you ask them about any sales or regular in store events like 10% of Wednesdays etc..  Also ask about frequent buyer programs like spend a 100 get 20 back.

If the internet is more your thing, you can always subscribe directly to the company.  You will be able to get discounts pretty close to half off but know that not every title will be available for subscription, especially the limited series.  I also highly recommend www.mailordercomics.com.  They offer 38% off or more of the cover price on any comic coming out.  However with them you are ordering two months in advance and are dependent on the short blurbs of the solicits to decide on your choices.

Trade Paperbacks are a great way to catch up or just dip your toes in a little.  Think of them as director’s cuts. They generally collect a limited series or a set of recent story arcs.  They also sometimes include some background information on the development process.  They are a great way to see if comics are for you.

The best advice I have on how to get started is to just get started.  Pick a character and follow them odds are they will lead you to other books due to constant cross overs and guest appearances.  If you have no interest in super heroes, IDW and Dynamite have other popular culture icons with current or recently finished series.  Transformers, Doctor Who, GI Joe, Buffy and the rest of the Whedonverse, The A-team, Robocop, Terminator, Jurassic Park, Ghostbusters all have comics either currently ongoing, coming this summer, or came out in the last year.

So you really have no excuse, no matter what your favorite character or piece of pop culture is, you can find it in your local comic shop written and drawn by people just as fanatic as you.  So get out there and happy reading.