Skullgirls 2nd Encore Review
One of the most iconic indie brawlers of the previous generation just kicked in the doors of the Switch library, demanding any and all answer its challenge. Skullgirls 2nd Encore, complete with its addictive gameplay and robust roster of colorful characters, makes its highly anticipated Nintendo debut and it’s one fighting fans won’t want to miss.
This 2D tournament fighter first made waves on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network all the way back in 2012 and developed a bit of a cult following over time thanks, in part, to its charming animation and over-the-top caricatures of alternative aesthetic. While ports of the title eventually showed up on PC, iOS, and even Vita, a proper Nintendo version always eluded the franchise. Rumors floated around of attempts to get the game on both Wii U and 3DS, but for one reason or another it just never worked out. That is until now, as the latest print of the game finally gives Skullgirls the mobile outing it deserves (no offense Vita fans).
Skullgirls takes place in the desolate warzone known as the Canopy Kingdom. You follow the story of a variety of different people & groups and their efforts in retrieving the Skull Heart, a dangerously powerful artifact known for corrupting any woman deemed impure and therefore unfit to possess it, turning them into the titular Skullgirls. The beginning of the game sees the Skull Heart in the hands of Skullgirl Marie, and each fighter has their own reason for tracking her down and trying to claim the Skull Heart as their own.
But, as with most fighting games, the real content is in the gameplay and Skullgirls presents some of the most fast-paced and challenging out there. Thankfully it also features some of the most fun fighting mechanics I’ve ever seen in a linear tournament fighter. You begin by selecting your loadout of up to three characters and tag-team between them as you take on challengers either online, through the campaign, or locally in party play. Each character has a unique moveset and balance to them and the trick is quickly picking the best loadout possible with the characters at your disposal. Fortunately, the 2nd Encore expansion gives you every DLC fighter right out the gate so already you have a wild roster of fighters to choose from.
The addition of the DLC is also a wicked awesome plus. The development team famously cut ties with original publisher Konami after they decided to be jerks about publishing any additional content for the game. Going completely independent, they crowd-funded the DLC through an incredibly successful IndieGogo campaign, showing that fan support for the Skullgirls brand was as alive as ever. Eventually Revenge Labs linked up with Skybound to bring this version to the Switch and it is an excellent port overall. There aren’t any ridiculous bugs or slowdowns; just fluid animated goodness from start to finish.
The only major gripe I had with the game is that playing on the Joy-Cons without a proper d-pad can be kind of a nightmare, and the difficulty is already pretty ridiculous as it is. It’s not impossible or game breaking by any means, but you may want to bust out your Pro Controller or play it on the Switch Lite if you want to get most the comfortable experience.
Speaking of the difficulty, casual players may want to be weary going into this one because it can be unforgiving at times in terms of challenge. Despite coming out earlier, its title of “the Cuphead of fighting games” is incredibly accurate. The colorful but edgy fighters and environments are all remarkable as far as artwork goes, but they are ultimately a distraction; meant to lower your guard as the challenge continues to ramp up. Obviously, that’s part of the overall charm for Skullgirls and I can’t knock it too much for that. But those outside of more competitive gaming circles should know that they are heading for a challenge when they pick this one up. Those that are up for a beating are in for a real treat.
Skullgirls 2nd Encore Review
- Graphics - 9/109/10
- Sound - 8/108/10
- Gameplay - 8/108/10
- Lasting Appeal - 9/109/10
Final Thoughts: EXCELLENT
The Switch is a really good system for highlighting games that have aged well over the years and Skullgirls is a defining example of this. This was a landmark title from that period of gaming, and this port shows that love and support for the Skullgirls name has only continued to thrive. This is an absolute must-have for competitive gamers and anyone who loves a game bursting at the seams with personality.
Evan Roode is a full time journalism student and amateur game historian. His favorite song from Guitar Hero III was “Even Flow”.