Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Skull Girls

Well because I found yet another subject worthy of review I'm pushing on back the Tekken 2 review to next time I run out of ideas to do. Skull Girls has for me been one of those under the radar games. I first heard about it on Gamefaqs a few months ago and made a mental note to pick it up once it dropped and try it out, as I'm always eager to try out any new fighter that hits the market.  Much to my surprise the other day I logged onto the computer to see that it had released the day before. Fortunately I had a few spare points on my XBL account so I dropped them and downloaded the game.

One major selling point of this game right off the bat for me was that it was not only created in part by Konami, but longtime Castlevania series music composer Michru Yamane had  a large hand in the composition of the tunes within.

Skull Girls may feel a bit skimp when one first turns it on. At launch there are only a handful of characters, and sadly the developers did not put move list into the game meaning you'll have to experiment, or go on the developer's website to find out what they are. Gameplay wise it plays like a good ole 2D fighter with an all female but interesting set of characters. They range from your psychotic abomination out for revenge character to your cartoon character inspired crazy gunner type character.

Despite solid gameplay there are a few things that might turn away a newcomer to the fighing genre or maybe less hardcore fighting fans. The very first time I played the game I loaded up the story mode and picked a fun looking character to get a feel for how it played.  I left the difficulty set on normal, but within seconds the CPU destroyed me. I was paired up against Peacock, a very zoning efficient character who ran to the other side of the screen and mercilessly destroyed me with all sorts of spammed projectiles. Probably just a tough character matchup i thought. I'll try someone else. Well I picked another character and once again had it handed to me within seconds . What Skull Girls considers normal is a Normal Difficulty CPU on level 1 unleashes 10 and 15 hit combos , wall stunning, and overall humiliating you. I had to set the CPU to the easy and next to easiest setting to even get something remotely beginner friendly. I realize alot of the people buying this game won't be for single player yes, but if we ever want to increase the player pool a little bit more care should be taken in creating CPU. I almost feel like for a fighting game a dumber CPU (regardless of the difficulty) say something like in Tekken would be more adequate over one that just destroys you and refuses you practice.

Despite the flying sunglasses "deal with it" CPU the game does have one beginner friendly mode and that is the tutorial which will walk you through and test you on everything from walking and jumping to chaining advanced level combos together.  That being said chaining combos in the game in a big part of the gameplay, and unlike alot of Capcom's latest, getting a big showy combo together really isn't too tough. I applaud the game devs for showing you how the chaining works and giving you some examples to work with to help the newbie get started, if only the CPU wouldn't rape them as soon as they decide to actually try some of this stuff.

After having seen all this and clearing all the storymodes I decided to check out the online, and sadly I was disappointed. The online ranked match attempts to join you to an impromptu room, but after several minutes all I was able to find in any region were "room no longer available," and could not connects.  After I finally did get a match the game paired me up for my first match ever with someone who easily destroyed me in about 3 combos and didn't break a sweat. I realize that this is an arcade title but even early XBL arcade ports of other games have ranked systems that match you to the right skill, or let you choose same skill or below you. You can only learn so much from being destroyed before you waste your time. If you want to get better you need to play players near you level to get a feel for the game's system, as well as see what beats what, what works, what does, etc.

Bottom line is Skull Girls worth the 1200 MSP price tag? I'd say yes. Fighting game fans will have alot of fun with this new gem into the foray, and with promise of DLC and probably fixes ahead the game might very well fix some of its flaws. If you're new to fighting games Skull Girls might be worth picking up despite its CPU unfriendliness because of the in depth tutorial system and small number of characters means less to learn overall.

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