Indie Game Spotlight – Skullgirls

By – Drew Martz

            Hello everyone, and welcome back to another Indie Game Spotlight! Like I mentioned in the last eSports Update, this week we are showcasing a game that is near and dear to my heart. I have followed this game since it was first announced, seeing each piece of concept art through to either its inclusion or its scrapping. I would go to the game’s official website every day to see if any news had occurred over the past 24 hours. This week, ladies and gentlemen, we are shining the spotlight on Skullgirls.

            Now, if you are big into the fighting game scene, you have probably heard of Skullgirls. It’s that one game that’s picked up steam at a lot of professional fighting game tournaments over the last year, and while it may not overtake the big dogs of Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat anytime soon, its hand-drawn animation style and unique cast of characters are what make this game stand out from the competition.

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Let’s get into the story, which is solid for the genre. Skullgirls takes place in the land of Canopy Kingdom, an art-deco-styled region reminiscent of the 1950s, where mobsters rule the streets, the study of science has little regard for morals, and background NPCs makes you wonder exactly how many species of intelligent life exist in this universe (like seriously). Anyway, there’s this mysterious artifact known as “The Skull Heart”, which is said to grant a woman’s wish as long as the individual possesses a “pure soul”. Otherwise, it turns them into a monstrous being known as the Skullgirl. Now, despite the fact that hundreds of people have tried and failed to use this artifact to no avail, there are still many individuals and organizations who want to utilize the Skull Heart for their own nefarious (and sometimes seemingly innocent) plans. And so our story begins…

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Well, 14 stories, to be exact, since this is a fighting game, and each playable character has their own (fully voice acted!) story mode. So what separates this game from all of the other fighting games, you ask? Skullgirls is a fighting game developed specifically for fighting game enthusiasts. The game uses an assist system similar to Marvel vs Comcast 2, except in Skullgirls you are able to choose anywhere from 1 to 3 characters as opposed to requiring to play with a set amount, with damage ratios being altered depending on the playstyle you chose. You can play as one super-strong raid boss character, or have the option of using character assists and sacrificing a bit of power in return. There is also an infinite combo detection system and a defense against unblockable attacks.’

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“But I’m not that good at fighting games! Why would I want to play this game if it’s targeted for pros?” you ask. Well, Skullgirls also offers an absolutely fantastic tutorial system, designed not to just teach you the basics, but have you master them once you’re done. For example: not very good at predicting high/low mix-ups? Do you even know what those are? Skullgirls has a tutorial for that, and to complete it, you will have to predict a certain number of mix-ups in a row. If you mess up, it’s back to the beginning of the lesson. It’s a great tool for someone who wants to learn to play fighting games competitively, but has no idea on where to start.

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Finally, and this is the most important distinction of them all: the characters themselves. Each character is so incredibly unique (besides the intentional clone characters) both aesthetically and mechanically that a very large range of strategies are possible, especially when you consider the aforementioned ability to choose any multiple of characters. In terms of mechanics, each character has its own style of play. Peacock, a psychopathic little girl inspired by ALL of the 50s cartoons, is your standard harass-based character, while Cerebella, a circus performer with a second giant pair of arms just chilling on her head, is the one who grabs you a lot. The aesthetics of each character are absolutely gorgeous and just as creative: there’s Parasoul, who, well, utilizes a parasol that spits plasma at your face, and Eliza (the best character), who uses her own parasitic blood to attack you and has more nods in her kit to Egyptian culture than you can shake an ankh at. You should just go look at all of these characters online. It’ll honestly do you a lot more good than me just explaining them.

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While you’re at it, you should just go buy the game. It’s on Steam now for $14.99, and it’s worth every penny (I bought it twice, but I’m hardly unbiased). But wait, you can also pick it up in this week’s Humble Bundle (I swear this wasn’t intentional), which also comes with all of the DLC! Aaaaand, if all of that wasn’t enough, I’m going to take this time to help out the developers. Indivisible, a new IP from the creators of Skullgirls, just got its own IndieGoGo campaign! It’s an Action/RPG with gorgeous art and I am so excited for it (you can bet your ass I’m doing an IGS on it as soon as it comes out). So, now go do any of the above. Preferably all three. I highly recommend it.

That’s all for this week! Check back next week for another eSports Update! See ya!




About the blogger

aaaaDrew Martz is a junior at the University of Michigan studying Computer Science, and has been an avid gamer since he was only 5 years old. His favorite games include League of Legends, Pokémon, and Animal Crossing, but also is a big fan of the RPG genre.  His dream job is to be a character designer.  In his downtime, when he’s not playing games or following E-Sports, Drew enjoys binge-watching TV shows on Netflix and YouTube videos.