So after a long wait, one of the most unique Fighting games ever created has landed on the PS Vita system. I have to say that this is my first interaction with Skullgirls, and I regret not getting into the Skullgirls hype train sooner. From the opening movie, to the characters and the deep combo system, I can see the love and dedication that the guys at Lab Zero Games have put in Skullgirls.
The Story in Skullgirls is really good. “The legends tell of an artifact that can grant any woman’s wish….However, if the woman’s heart is not pure her wish will corrupt her and she will become the Skullgirl.” To sum it up: Now the current Skullgirl is wreaking havoc. However, each character reason to fight her and obtain the Skull Heart. This is what sets them up in their own adventure In my first play-through, I decided to go straight to the Story Mode and chose Filia. For whatever reason, Filia felt right to get a taste of the action. After finishing the Story mode, I felt that something was missing. It wasn’t something missing from the game, so I decided to go to the Tutorial mode to learn the basics.
I have to praise Skullgirls for its complete Tutorial mode. It teaches not only the basics of combat, but it does so with different characters, showing the player the different play styles and combo opportunities. Another great element found in the Tutorial mode, is the different systems in the game. One of my favorite inclusions is the Infinite Prevention System (kudos Lab Zero; you did well). It is a mechanic in which you can escape from an infinite combo, and let me tell you it is a godsend. One of the reasons I stopped laying UMVC3 was for the infinite combos. While they are cool combos, it is frustrating to do nothing to escape from them. Many times, I just left the controller and waited for the carnage to finish. With Skullgirls, I don’t have that issue since the combo system operates in a way that when you are in the middle of getting beat down by a large combo, you can use the IPS system to escape from it and do some damage. However, there are some rules for the IPS to work, but you learn that in the Tutorial. Another way to escape from devastating combos is the Drama system. It uses the same principle of the IPS. However, this is to prevent high damaging infinite combos. The Drama is represented by a green gauge under your life gauge. Each time you are getting hurt by a long combo, the Drama gauge starts to fill. When it is full, you can stop the combo and get a chance to counter attack, making each an enjoyable match that gives the player a chance to win. Also, the Tutorial mode covers each character specifics and some combos to get you started. Now if you want to master each character, the Trials are for you. There are four for each character ranging from easy combos to advance combos. However, the chain combo system allows for interesting combos, so your creativity know no boundaries.
The Challenge mode is really good as well. It is a good way to put your skills to the test. There are twenty-five challenges with different conditions to end them. Know some combos? Well, try to beat a character with unlimited Suspense, and you can’t jump. There are only combos over three hits can damage it. Add a timer of 60 seconds, and you are set. Some challenges are brutal but they are manageable at least with some effort.
The online mode is well done. I was able to find matches really quickly and with no lag whatsoever. However, I couldn’t know if I was fighting a fellow Vita user or a PS4 user. Maybe when the lobbies patch releases, this can be fixed. However, there is nothing game breaking.
The game itself looks amazing. The art style is so good, and it is a joy to look at. Each character is so highly detailed and on the PS Vita screen, they look beautiful. Though everything looks good, there are unfortunately some issues such as some of the text looking blurry and the letters are hard to read sometimes. The background on each stage is highly detailed, but all of the backgrouns are static (the PS4 version has dynamic backgrounds, so the stages look full of life). The Vita’s limitation doesn’t allow for them as the developer explained, so while it sucks that they aren’t dynamic, they are good enough. In all honestly, I almost never look at the stages when I am playing. One of the things I like the most is how Skullgirls was inspired by many games such as MVC and Street Fighter (love that you can see a “Ryu” in some stages but with Lab Zero unique style). However, just because they were inspired by them it doesn’t mean that Skullgirls is a clone. It is a whole different experience, and in my honest opinion, they have won my support for years to come.
Now the voice acting and the music is top notch. Each character feels alive, and each of the songs get that cool vibe. For me, playing with headphones is a must. I also love the subtle references to some fighting games, such as “This is True Love We’re Making”( reference to London Stage in CvS 2), or “Try again Kid”(Sagat all the way). To someone who grew up playing these kinds of games, it is nostalgic to hear and see this references.
Overall, I am pleased the game. The inclusion of all DLC characters is something that makes this the definitive Skullgirls version. Bottom Line: Skullgirls 2nd Encore is a terrific fighting game. It is the definitive version, and the Vita port looks and plays beautiful. With the great voice acting, great music, and a cast of different but peculiar characters (Peacock is something else), I can definitely recommend it to any Vita owner. As a plus is cross buy with the PS4 version, so you will get the other free.
See the trailer for Skullgirls 2nd Encore for PS Vita below: