SkullGirls: 2nd Encore (Switch, PS4, PS3, PS Vita, Xbox One, 360, PC)

Ever since 2012, I’ve always wanted to review SkullGirls.  It’s a 2-D fighting game with cartoony graphics and a cast of very interesting characters.  But for whatever reason, I was never able to review it.  Until now.  SkullGirls: 2nd Encore is now on Nintendo Switch, the first time it’s been on a Nintendo console, and features all the DLC and extras of the original game.  Now I get to see what the fuss is all about, and believe me, most of that hype is well deserved.

At its core, SkullGirls plays pretty much like any 2-D fighter.  You choose a character, go one-on-one with another as you press button and joystick combinations to pull off special moves and whittle the opponent’s life bar to zero for the win.  Depending on the mode, you can also choose to have two or three fighters to switch out, similar to a Marvel vs. Capcom game.

But it’s the style and presentation that sets this game apart.  The cast of characters is very interesting and varied.  I might even write a blog about them someday, once my backlog of game reviews dies down a bit.  The cast is predominately female, and features a nurse, a puppet, a 1920’s style cartoon character, a circus performer who has a cool hat who does most of the fighting for her (that’s my favorite character), an ex-cop made out of musical instruments, and much more.  The game is set in a 1920’s style art deco film reel world, and kind of reminds me of the motifs found in the 90’s cartoon, Batman: The Animated Series.  For what’s considered more or less an ‘indie’ game, SkullGirls can certainly go toe to toe with some of the big name games in fighters, like BlazBlue or even Guilty Gear.

There are tons of modes to keep you entertained.  Story Mode lets you pick a character and find out why they are fighting to obtain the Skull Heart.  Most of the time, the stories in fighting games don’t interest me, but this one is simple enough to understand yet intricate enough to still be compelling.  There’s an Arcade Mode where you pick a team and fight in random challenges, a Quick Match against the CPU, and a Survival Mode against an endless barrage of CPU opponents.  For multiplayer, you can have a tournament or quick match, and go at it local or online.  There is also an extensive tutorial mode, options, and extras.  Some of the extras include an art gallery and a mode where you can fight against a super hard version of the last boss.

I’m glad that there is an option to make the game very easy, since I’m horrible at fighting games.  But even then, I couldn’t beat the last boss with some of the characters.  I don’t know if that means the characters are unbalanced or the last boss is really cheap (or a little of both), but that’s really the only problem I had with the game.  If you enjoy 2-D fighters and have never played SkullGirls before, the Switch version is the way to go!

Kid Factor:

SkullGirls: 2nd Encore is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Use of Tobacco, Blood, Violence, Mild Language, and Partial Nudity.  The 1920’s cartoon fighter character smokes a cigar after a match.  And it’s a fighting game so of course there’s violence, although most of the time it’s pretty cartoony.  During matches, I didn’t notice any blood, but there is some during cutscenes in the Story Mode.  The Story Mode also has most of the bad language, and some of the female fighters wear skimpy outfits and have suggestive proportions.  The Story Mode has some surprisingly mature content, too.  There’s an Egyptian lady who is secretly some kind of demon, and can change parts of her into a skeleton.  And a nun who can turn herself inside out to become a mass of jumbled body parts and organs.  Granted it’s still all cartoony, but the first time I saw those two things I said “Blech!”  But because of that I’d say this game is best for older gamers.  I still enjoyed it, though, which is surprisingly because most of the time I enjoy more kid-friendly fare.  But sometimes I like to venture out and play more grown-up games like this.  I think SkullGirls would make a great cartoon as well, albeit a more mature one.

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