Skullgirls has been getting a fair amount of attention lately, and I thought I’d write about it since a lot of my friends have worked on and are still working on the game.  It’s been in development for quite a while, and I admit that when I first heard about it I thought it would never get off the ground.  Skullgirls had a good team of people working on it and the art direction was solid: Rithli had a video showing the very promising early designs of the 8 main characters.  This video has been taken down for a while now though, most likely because the SG team wants to formally announce the characters one-by-one.  Even with all this, I had little faith in the game simply because it was fanmade.  A big project like a fighting game is very unlikely to be completed in a reasonable amount of time when it’s development is limited to whenever its fans have free time to work.  This was way back when it was under Less Than Three Productions(lol), so it was before they started working with Reverge Labs and Autumn Games.

But now the game has corporate backing, and the development team is actually getting a salary so all is good.  I remember Mike Z taking the game to many of the old SoCal Guilty Gear gatherings, and the game has changed a lot since then.  Back when I first saw it at a gathering, Filia was the only available character and nothing was even colored in yet.  It was interesting to watch the game transform from a Guilty Gear inspired 1-on-1 fighting game to a Marvel vs Capcom 2 styled game with a Ratio system.  Skullgirls is looking great, and what I’m most impressed with is how much community feedback is being taken into consideration.  Mike has been bringing the game to many major fighting game tournaments and other big events like Comic Con.  I remember hearing that at Evo the game changed several times in one day(the way Parasoul’s tears worked, etc) from community feedback alone.  Skullgirls is just as much our game as it is theirs, so I have a lot of faith that it will be good.

There’s a lot of cool and unique things about the game system that were clearly refined from what other games have done in the past.  Since the game is like Marvel 2, it has assists, but every character has a completely different tag in.  Some characters tag in very close, some very far, some straight from the sky, and Parasoul comes in from a motorcycle.  While calling an assist, if the point character gets hit the assist won’t do anything.  This is AMAZING, and I’m sure it was a reaction to some of the stupid trades that happen in Marvel 3.  There are two preset assists in the game, but there’s also a third which is a completely custom assist.  This is awesome, but it does have the potential for brokenness.  I remember hearing that the early Alpha builds of Skullgirls let you set a super as a custom assist, but this was quickly found to be broken so for now it’s just attacks and specials.  Like many other games these days, there is hitstun decay and gravity to help combat infinites, but Skullgirls takes it further with an anti-loop mechanism that looks for patterns in inputs.  I don’t actually agree with Mike’s philosophy on loops being bad, but it’s a unique mechanic and I’m curious to see how it’ll work out when the game goes gold.

I really love the spritework too.  Streams and Youtube videos really don’t do the game justice: you have to play the game for yourself to really immerse yourself in the visuals.

There was a stream yesterday hosted by my friend Tushar aka Hellfromabove at Top Tier Gaming.  It’s pretty long, clocking in at around 5 hours, but there’s a lot of good information shared and Tushar is a pretty funny host.  A digest version of what was shown on stream, gamewise:
-You have to hold the Home button down for 3 seconds to access the PS3 menu.  There’s been too many people who’ve been disqualified in tournaments because of accidental Home button presses, so this is a great addition.
-In game menu is great.  You can rematch, change character, and change stage.  Certain options have more priority than others.  For example, let’s say 1P presses rematch, while 2P presses change character.  The game will then go to character select, but 1P will still have the same team, while 2P is free to choose their characters.
-There are a TON of palettes, and each of them seems to be a reference to some other character in media.  I was surprised to see Filia have a Saki Tsuzura palette.
-Characters have widely varying movement options.  Peacock has a double jump and an airdash, Filia only has an airdash, and Parasoul can’t do any of these.  She can however float slowly down to the ground with her parasol opened up.
-The music is godlike.  As expected of Michiru Yamane

As to which character I’m going to play, it’s gotta be Parasoul.  I have to admit I wasn’t too enamored with her when I saw her original sprite, though:

Yeah her old sprite was pretty ugly.  Luckily, her sprite now is HOT.  There are some good screenshots of her in game on Reverge Labs under GamesCom 2011, but they really don’t do her sprite justice.  You have to see her in motion.  I could stare at her idle animation all day.

Delicious Parasoul~

One thing that’s really cool about Parasoul is the amount of sprite customization she gets on her palettes.  Normally, Parasoul is wearing a long-sleeved blouse, but her sleeves are actually considered separate from the rest of the blouse.  So, many of her palettes have her with different colored sleeves, or nothing there at all.  She can also have a striped pattern on her blouse and an arm sash.  Her skirt can also be a different color from her blouse.  Normally she has nothing on her legs, but she can also have knee-high socks, thigh-highs, and stockings.  And if Parasoul wasn’t classy enough, she can also have glasses <3 <3

Megane Parasoul with socks and striped blouse

So yeah, Parasoul has my name written all over her.  To top things off, she has a bunch of amazing palettes.  From what I’ve seen so far, she can be Rin Tohsaka(Fate/Stay Night), Mireille Bouquet(Noir), Megurine Luka(Vocaloid), Zero Suit and Justin Bailey Samus(Metroid), Kula Diamond(King of Fighters) and…  JESSICA RABBIT!  The last one is especially cool because it’s pretty clear that Parasoul’s design was inspired by her.  She’s got the same same long, wavy red locks in the peek-a-boo hairstyle that Jessica Rabbit has(loosely based on Veronica Lake’s style).  I think Parasoul’s Jessica palette also has her outfit all shimmery too.  Right now Parasoul doesn’t have a voice, but I wouldn’t be surprised if her future actress has the husky, sultry Kathleen Turner/Lauren Bacall type voice.

I also hope that Parasoul will have a Mitsuru Kirijou(Persona 3) palette.  They have similar hairstyles and the way Parasoul holds and uses her umbrella Kreig is very much like a fencing rapier.  Parasoul’s walk is pretty much a fencing shuffle, too.