The art of indie fighting games reached terrific heights.
Skullgirls has been out there for quite a while. Despite not getting the same level of popularity as some huge classic titles, the game enjoys a stable and pretty dedicated audience throughout the years.
Is it because of the unique art style? Is it because of the gameplay mechanics? Or do the stories behind the creation process make the game special?
Let’s delve into the topic — just to discuss the phenomenon.
The first thing most players see in a game is visuals. A bit later, you might go deeper into the moves and combos, and still, the first impressions are already there. With Skullgirls, they are wonderful!
The game looks so beautiful! It easily attracts attention, and you appreciate the style even after quite some time playing it.
And that’s not only about the images. The general art experience of Skullgirls is awesome. Music is beautiful; it creates such a great atmosphere for a fighting game. The story is weird enough to take its decent place in the genre. Character design is also great. It’s not often you meet such personalities.
Yep, aesthetics make Skullgirls an extraordinary game. Is it enough to succeed?
However breathtaking the art aspect is, this quickly becomes a secondary factor when it comes to the process of playing. As a fighting game, Skullgirls is brilliant! It offers lots of deep and interesting mechanics to have fun and polish your skills to the (unattainable) level of perfection.
It would not be accurate to say that Skullgirls is beginner-friendly. It is genuinely difficult, which also adds to the game that specific charm.
There is (hopefully) a good comparison. Have you seen trailers of Cuphead? Have you tried playing it? Not only do these games have something in common in their art department, but also they are similar in terms of difficulty. You need some dedication to get even just a little bit good at them.
Sure, this comparison is not a perfect one as Skullgirls is not that hard. But you’ll not find beginner friendly-twists, such as auto-combos. It’s just a proper, full-fledged fighter.
Character archetypes are versatile here, and you have the opportunity to express yourself through different fighting styles.
All the fighting mechanics are cleverly elaborated, and the game feels nicely balanced. You’ll find here some unique features, such as the ability to use 1-2-3 fighters for a match, changing their health and power accordingly. Also, you can choose assists and thus adjust the abilities of your team.
Skullgirls is a solid fighting experience that follows its own path and feels pretty authentic. From the technical side, it offers a very good online experience thanks to GGPO rollback netcode. We all know how important lag-less online fights are.
An indie game
In a world of titans, it’s not easy to get noticed. You probably need to grow to their height.
The fighting games industry has many of those titans. Powerful, well-established brands include Street Fighter, Tekken, Mortal Kombat, Guilty Gear, etc. These series regularly receive new installments, and the community automatically gets interested in them.
You should bring something to the table in such situations. Get some big names, such as Dragon Ball or Dungeon Fighter, to let your product explode and prove itself. But what to do if your game doesn’t continue a fighting franchise and has no big anime names in it?
The fate of many indie fighting games is not bright. Even if they are good, the community is too focused on their current practice to get distracted by new fights with unclear prospects.
The path of Skullgirls wasn’t easy as well. The illustrator Alex "o_8" Ahad and the lead designer/programmer Mike "Mike Z" Zaimont put a lot of effort into forming such a superior level of fighting experience and making the game a miracle it is right now.
Sure, you can’t see the same number of peak players in Skullgirls as in, say, Guilty Gear -Strive-. But the consistency this game keeps its active core audience is absolutely impressive.
It’s hardly something that would motivate people to play Skullgirls, and still, a successful indie fighting game is something special.
Talking about things that may motivate you to play a game. Every time you join a multiplayer match, you interact with other players. When you are enthusiastic about something, you share that passion on socials and get connected to other fans. The Skullgirls community is special.
I know, we can tell this about many fighting games. But in the case of such relatively small circles, this aspect crystallizes — in a way, you become part of the family.
Some popular esports professionals significantly help the game and the community live long and prosper. SonicFox even got their cameo in the in-game tutorial.
In general, you can compare Skullgirls to a treasure within the fighting games community. And definitely, people who play Skullgirls make it so unique.
No reason can make a fighting game universally special. They work to motivate gamers to take the controller and try out those matches. Then, it’s just your preference whether you’d like to go further with this experience or it’s not your game.
In any case, if you consider yourself part of the fighting games community (or even a gamer in general), don’t miss a chance to build your personal opinion on this title. Could it be that gem you are looking for?
For more practical info, check out our Skullgirls Guide for Beginners.