Skullgirls: This is What Love Feels Like!

I’ve been playing fighting games competitively for about 3 years now+; I started with Street Fighter 4, and have moved on into Skullgirls. I’ve played hours and hours of the SF4 series. I’ve gone to local tournaments, and even a major. I’ve gone on forums, argued about tiers and techniques, and spent still more time in practice mode refining and discovering my technique.

I’m not a very big fan of the Street Fighter 4 series.

Jeez, where to begin? Hey, let’s try to beginning; what’s the deal with vanilla? Sagat with a free-juggle state (note that the best combos in this engine are juggles (also note that juggle ability is determinined ENTIRELY by Capcom (ANOTHER thing I don’t like about this game!)))? Sagat with a safe reversal? Hey, wait, EVERYONE with a dp has a safe reversal! What’s up with that? Who thought safe dp into blockstring was a good idea? FIRE THAT GUY.

And gosh, the balancing, it just makes no sense. Oh hey, let’s make defense good; that way scrubs don’t just lose the match super quick, and instead get super mad at losing it crazy slow. And hey, let’s make all the offense wakeup-mixup based! That’ll go well with our mashable, safe reversals! And yeah, option-selects; because NOTHING screams scrub friendly like OPTION-SELECTS! While they’re so busy trying to determine the best single action in a given situation, the master player has already chosen a SET of actions to take! GAME DESIGN!!!!

And so on and so forth, and endless travesty of design by committee. None of it adds up! Oh hey, we’re beginner friendly . . . only our combo engine assumes you’ve mastered an odd nuance to properly perform your links! Did we mention that we’re link heavy? Hope you like spending hours in training mode, not understanding what you’re doing wrong! And hey, you see those awesome new characters over there? Aren’t they awesome? Man, sure hope you have fantastic execution, because if you don’t, you really might as well not even be playing them! And even if you have godlike execution, even if you master their in’s and out’s, guess what? You’re still 4-6 against Akuma!

And the icing on the cake, the final fuck you in the message to the player, the last fart in the player’s face? Damn series isn’t even FUN. NO ONE actually enjoys the SF4 series. Every other series, from Darkstalkers to Guilty, to Melty, shit even FotNS has it’s defenders, it’s partisans . . . but not SF4!

And it’s no suprise . . . it’s such an empty little game, with nothing there save what the players bring with them.

So I hope you can understand my surprise when I found myself playing a fighting game that was actually . . . ya know . . . fun.

Ideally, it shouldn’t matter, should it? If you play to win, who cares how ‘fun’ it is? That’s scrub talk! A win is a win is a win, whether you get it bubbling with happiness, or mired in the depths of misery++. To even worry about all that ancilliary stuff . . . where does it end? Do I start playing the arcade mode, or (scandal!) pay attention to the story mode?

And yet, it does matter. When I play Skullgirls, when I probe it’s most intimate parts+++, when I bend it to my will++++, when I twist it and turn it and explore it+++++, it’s not just going through the motions; there’s life, and love, and glorious gaming PASSION++++++.

It just all goes so well together. The characters have CHARACTER, from their intro quips to their hitstun animations. There’s just so many little things, edge details that don’t have much to do with the game proper, just little window dressing things that scream “HUMAN BEINGS MADE THIS AND THEY ENJOYED IT”. Coming from the stale compromise that is the SF4 series, it’s quite a relief to know that, yes, people can like making these games.

And man, that’s just the dressing. The main course of the game? BRILLIANT! It’s basically CvS2 meets Marvel 2, with some Guilty thrown in for good measure. Marvel 2 brings everything except it’s tri-jumps and it’s balance, CvS2 brings a ratio-like system and an emphasis on spacing, and Guilty comes in with long, chunky hitstop, a strong varied cast, and robust aerial footsies.

And gosh, they hit all the notes, without any of the compromise! Who’d a thunk it? This game is fun to mash around in, and it’s fun to learn and master. The whole cast feels so powerful, so fun, like there’s endless possibility, and that possibility will only lead to the TOP TIERS. Logically speaking, the whole CAST can’t be A tier, but they sure as hell feel like they can; and man, we haven’t even factored in team composition! And DLC characters! It’s like the people who made it didn’t feel like they had to neuter every good idea they had! Man, that shit kray.

There are complaints, of course. Like hey, that Hornet Bomber is pretty dumb guys. And you’re really gonna make it so easy for Fortune to move her head like that? And ya know, forcing people to start their loops with a new normal every time will stop infinites, but it still gives us long ass loops, and that’s still pretty annoying. And hey, I can’t use multi-hit assists to start combo’s! IPS glitches out on them, giving them a burst before I even finish my chain! Wut up wit dat MikeZ?

And I’d love to get into things deeper, but I’m not sure what more there is to say; it’s just too early. It’ll take months before we can start being ‘good’ at this game, and years before people can talk with real authority about what this game is really about+++++++.But I know that I want to be there to find out what it is. And I’m going to love every second of it.

===

+ DISCLAIMER: I came into the scene with SF4.
++ 3s = 🙂   Twelve = :>  3s tourneys = :<
+++ WHOA THIS PIECE IS GOING UNCOMFORTABLE PLACES, BRING IT HOME ADAM – Adam’s Internal Editor
++++ NOT EVEN CLOSE TO HOME ADAM – Adam’s Internal Editor
+++++ I give up – Adam’s Internal Editor
++++++ Keep the #$%@ing Daniels cominnnnggg! –
Adam’s Internal Editor
+++++++ Early signs say
Marvel 2 with restands (HOLY SHIT RESTANDS ARE SUCH A GOOD IDEA OMG SO CRAZY). Expect resets into long combo’s, and strong zoning. We have a commando, we have a cable, we CAN MAKE THIS WORK.

***

Adam Burch was put on this Earth to play God Hand and chew bubble gum . . . and HE’S ALL OUT OF BUBBLEGUM! He programs robots and videogames and is ruining esports. He wants to start a game studio one day, release a spiritual sequel to God Hand and live the rest of his days bitter that it didn’t make him filthy rich. Read his blog Thus Spoke Pi or follow him on Twitter @roughly22over7.

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