PAX East: 'Skullgirls' Hands-On Preview

PAX East 2011 Skullgirls Hands On Logo

Former Blazblue tournament champion Mike "Mike Z" Zaimont is using his expertise to create a new fighting game hitting PSN and XBLA later this year called Skullgirls.

Mike Z was on the show floor at PAX East and gave us a personal tour of the game, showing off some of the innovative features in the title.

The first thing about Skullgirls that could grab people's attention is the art-style. Created by Alex Ahad, the game sports some crisp and clean 2D graphics that are pleasing to the eye - due in part to the 3D engine the game runs on. The system allows the environment and characters to be lighted in real time.

One example of the dynamic lighting is in a stage where the fight takes place on a street at night. As a fighter moves closer to a light source, the lighting seamlessly transitions from shadow to light. Sparks from punches also dynamically light the characters in battle. A very nice touch.

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Many fighting games that were traditionally 2D, such as Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom, are now making the jump in to 3D. Skullgirls, however, is not following the trend - and is sticking with the 2D aesthetic. 2D animation allows the developers to let their imaginations run wild when designing the outrageous moves in the game. The sprites are actually hand drawn and animated using traditional animation techniques. Clearly a lot of time and effort was put in to bringing the best possible visual experience to the player.

The combat system also features some unique touches that many fighting enthusiast will appreciate. Skullgirls was designed to be accessible to players new to the fighting genre while giving the experts the same level of control they expect from the big name titles. Players will have the option of playing with two balanced characters or one powerful character - which mixes up the match-ups and adds an extra level of depth to the game.

Another innovation comes in the form of character assists. In games where there's a tag mechanic, gamers usually have the option to assign an 'assist type' to their backup. These are usually predetermined by the developers, however, in Skullgirls gamers have the option of creating their own assists. Players can record button presses, as well as stick movements, and give their backup character any move they want when they jump in.

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Mike Z also made an especially strange choice with Skullgirls that might leave some fighting game fans scratching their heads. He took an exploit found in previous fighting games and left it in - infinite combos. While some titles suffered from infinite combo exploits, a way for players to unleash an endless stream of hits, these were intentionally left in Skullgirls. To make sure it was a thought-out feature, instead of a glitch, Mike Z included a visual clue to signal when a normal combo turns into an infinite combo - allowing the player taking the beating a brief moment to hit any button and break free. This forces combatants to switch up their combos and keep the fight fair.

Mike Z and his team at Reverge Studios are passionate about bringing a quality – and most importantly fun - fighting experience to PSN and XBLA when it releases later in the year. It's a fast-paced and action-packed title that should be on everyone's radar.

Are you looking forward to Skullgirls when it releases?

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