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Cat Fights on Steroids


We aren't exactly properly reimbursed for our time reviewing horror films, so when a game goes on sale on Steam, we take advantage of the opportunity. Skullgirls was one such title we took advantage of this week, and given its material, I decided to share my thoughts with you on the game. And those thoughts are resoundingly positive.

Skullgirls is fantastic on so many levels, but let's start with its story from conception to execution. As an indie game, Skullgirls is already fighting an uphill battle to become a successful title that manages to out-perform its budget. But when you consider that the game hit legal, organizational, and financial snags throughout its production, you get an even stronger respect for the game's completion, let alone its fantastic quality.

One of the true dying art forms in the world (and this does not merely include art forms as it pertains to video games, but art as a whole) is the 2D fighting game. A good 2D fighter provides a visual spectacle unattained via 3D combat. In fact, the transition to 3D fighting, particularly as it pertains to the linear, single-plane style of Marvel vs. Capcom and Street Fighter, is a cop-out. It is a lazy way to produce new titles without having to put in the time and effort (which, admittedly, must be excruciatingly extensive) into the animation involved in 2D fighters. The latest MvC and Street Fighter installments are a travesty. There are many fans of the latest titles that would turn red over such a statement, but for the "get off my lawn" crotchety old guy in me, there is nothing like the art style of a good 2D fighter, and to abandon it to save a buck is beyond disappointing.

And for my last segue before actually getting to the title in question, I have to mention the courageously superb Guilty Gear series. Where Street Fighter and MvC have failed us, Guilty Gear has pressed on as the only remaining modern 2D fighter that fits the traditional mold. Its gorgeous art and crisp animation, mixed with its very original characters and memorable style, make it a sight to behold. And Skullgirls follows this model perfectly.

Skullgirls is essentially an indie homage to the Guilty Gear style. It took horror elements and a strong cast of original characters and built an addictive 2D fighter that has you impressed with the clean animation and enthralled with the variety and originality in the characters. How 'bout a nun that transforms into an amorphous amalgamation of the other fighters? Or a beauty sporting a hat with massive fists that pulverize the opponent? Maybe a girl with a demon for hair? Or are you more-so the trenchcoat-draped cyborg made of trumpets kind of guy? It's incredibly enjoyable just immersing one's self in the characters.

And the universe isn't half-bad either. It's quite a horrific setting for our cast of fighters, as they battle over an item with the ability to turn a woman into an unstoppable killing machine. But who knew this theoretical monstrosity would pale in comparison to the fighters we get to engage with? Maybe you should just check it out for yourself. The indie feel is there (minor issues in details of the design), but the intricate detail put into this game's fighting system and style is undeniable.

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