Archive for the ‘360’ category

GameBabble – Dead or Alive 5 (review)

December 19, 2012

GameBabble is now in HD and what better way to kick it off than with a 20 minute rebuttal to the claim that DOA5 is “more of the same” in the guise of a review!

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Sonic the Fighters (unedited) – 5/10

December 18, 2012

(This is the original unedited draft of the review. To read the edited version, check out GamerCheese: http://gamercheeese.com/2012/12/01/sonic-the-fighters-review/)

Sonic the Fighters is a strange beast. It began with a programmer throwing Sonic and Tails into Fighting Vipers and Yuji Naka liked the idea so much it evolved into a full game. However the game itself was little more than a novelty and was so rare that few folks are even aware that the actual U.S. name of the game is “Sonic Championship”. Though plans for a Saturn release were in place, it didn’t actually see a home port until a decade later in Sonic Gems Collection. But now, thanks to XBox Live Arcade, the game gets another chance.

If you expect incredible plot in a fighter from 1996, you’re crazy. Dr.Eggman/Robotik has built an evil space station and someone needs to collect eight (yes, eight) chaos emeralds to power a single seater rocketship to destroy it. The cast, however, is definately eyebrow raising and makes you realize that even in the good old days of Sonic, there were a lot of characters. Bark the “Polerbear” (sic) is the only original character, with Espio hailing from Knuckles Chaotix, Fang from Sonic Triple Trouble, and Bean from Dynamite Dux. Obviously the mainstays of Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy are all here too.

The visuals are surreal for many reasons. For one thing, the game uses the pre-Adventure character designs and is incredibly cartoony. Characters squash and streatch with limbs growing in size as they fight. It definately gives the game a unique flavor as I have never seen such a cartoony fighter in my entire life! But the other reason the game is surreal is because this port is in HD, with 1080p graphics and a 60 FPS framerate! Flat shaded polygons have never looked this good before! Even the game’s few textures look surprisingly high-res!

But what really matters is the gameplay and it’s here that you either love or hate the game. At its core, the game is a simplified Fighting Vipers with a few tweaks. Instead of blocking you have a limited number of breakable barriers that can also be expended to go into a Hyper Mode. Each characters movelist is somewhat small for a 3D fighter and many moves are shared between multiple characters. However, each character has a couple of special moves. Sonic can spindash, Amy can throw her hammer or squash enemies with it, Knuckles can glide, and so on. That may sound typical on paper, but 3D fighters seldom had such distinct moves back then. Go try Fighting Vipers if you don’t believe me. The resulting game is very basic and a little stiff, but far from mindless. In many ways, it’s a beginner’s fighter and maybe that isn’t such a bad thing to some people. Others though, will find the sparse moveset to be restrictive and will quickly drop the game. Lets not mince words here, the game is incredibly shallow and really meant more as a novelty than a legitimate fighting game.

Perhaps the most interesting element of this release is what has, and hasn’t, been added to it. The mode selection is definately sparse with nothing more than Arcade, Versus, and Online play avalible. The lack of a training mode is very strange. However, options to adjust the screen size, music volume, and all the dip switch settings are avalible. Also, as I just said, it has online play. The very idea of playing Sonic the Fighters competitively over the internet is worth the cost of admission if you ask me! It’s a basic game, so it’s not hard to get into and it’s something that has not seen any competitive play before. But this isn’t even the best new addition. The game now features three new secret characters! Two of them are the bosses, Metal Sonic and Dr.Eggman, who can only be used in offline versus and Player Matches. The third, however, is truly peculiar: Honey/Candy from Fighting Vipers, as a Sonic-styled cat. Hackers found her data in the game code a few years back, but she was unfinished and didn’t emulate properly. Now though, she is completely finished and functional and can be used in Arcade mode (but not Ranked Matches). Online play and Honey are probably this game’s strongest selling points.

This being a Sonic game though, the soundtrack is phenomenal. Upbeat techno tunes fill the game and the grand majority of them are awesome. In fact, pressing LT and RT on the main menu allows you to cycle through the game’s music and here you’ll find even more amazing tunes! Seriously, there are like four or five music tracks that I absolutely cannot place but are amazing.

Presentation – 1080p 60fps flat shaded polygons look surprisingly good!

Optimization – Game runs completely smooth and the netcode is so good I could play against my friend in Hawaii without issues.

Ingenuity – A very simple game, but the cartoonish moveset gives it a unique flavor.

Sound – Fantastic upbeat techno and fittingly cartoony sound effects.

Entertainment – You’ll either love the simple pick-up and play gameplay or hate the sparse and shared movelists.

5/10

Unfortunately I cannot score this game highly. I personally find immense merit in having a fighter that is easy to pick-up and play. Not to mention the cartoony style is unlike anything I have ever seen in a fighting game. However, from a serious competitive standpoint, the game is just too shallow. This is a love it or hate it kind of game and really more of a novelty than anything else. Thankfully, SEGA was smart enough to price it at $5 and at that price? It may just be worth it for the novelty value alone.

Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (Unedited) – 9/10

December 18, 2012

(This is the unedited original draft of the review. To see the shorter, edited version check out GamerCheese: http://gamercheeese.com/2012/11/26/sonic-and-all-stars-racing-transformed-review/)

Kart racers are a fun genre, mixing bright colorful characters with unusual racing environments and an element of combat, it has a broader appeal than the average racing game. Problem is, most racing games throughout the years have been cheap cash-ins with very few companies putting real effort into their kart racer. This resulted in a stigma that drove much of the genre, aside from really cheap cash-ins, away and left Mario Kart with a monopoly. If you want a good kart racer, you get Mario Kart.

However, Mario Kart is a Nintendo product and thus exclusive to Nintendo consoles. What about all the people that want a good kart racer and don’t own a Wii or DS? What about XBox 360 and PS3 owners? This was where SEGA and Sumo Digital came in with the original Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, a shockingly solid alternative to Mario Kart available on practically every system out there. It wasn’t flawless but it came quite close to Mario Kart and filled a much needed niche. Nearly everyone that gave the game a chance loved it too and were hoping for a sequel. Really, SEGA could have gotten away with rehashing the same game but with more characters and courses. However, that is not what they did. Instead, they got creative and brought us Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed.

At it’s core it seems like your typical kart racer. You have zany characters and crazy tracks, you hold a drift button to drift through turns and build up a boost, and you collect items to throw at your opponents. However there is much more to the game than that.

The game’s title gimmick is that as you race your vehicle transforms from a car into an airplane and a boat depending on the terrain. On paper this sounds a lot like Mario Kart 7, but in reality it’s closer to Diddy Kong Racing. Each of the vehicles handles quite differently and has large portions of the track dedicated to them. The boat turns the game into a weird fusion of Hydro Thunder and Mario Kart while the airplane is fully controllable (rather than just gliding like Mario Kart 7) and barrel rolls out of the way of oncoming objects to gain boosts. The trick system has been overhauled since the previous game. Rather than merely spamming a trick button on designated jumps, you now flick the right analog stick in different directions while you’re airborne. There are no longer those obvious “trick jumps” like in the previous games (or Mario Kart) but rather if you hit a jump with enough speed and manage to get a decent amount of air, it is up to you to make the call on doing tricks. It’s a real risk-reward element and adds another layer to the gameplay beyond “drift a lot”.

Speaking of drifting,  the boost you get has been tweaked. It is now much harder to get a level 2 or 3 boost and what’s more, there are levels beyond that. If you’re already boosting and you hit a boost pad or use a boost item it actually levels up your boost and makes you go even faster. Finding ways to chain together boost oppritunities is another part of the gameplay and results in the game going at Sonic speeds, in every sense of the word.

Lets not mince words here, this game is fast. Far faster than its predecessor or really any other kart racing game out there. In fact, it’s almost insulting to call this a kart racer which is why some folks even insist on calling it an “arcade-style racer” instead. Honestly, they aren’t wrong as the game often feels more like Outrun 2 meets Sonic Generations than Mario Kart. I can’t help but be reminded of SEGA’s old Genesis ad with the two race cars when comparing this game to it’s competitors.

But while the racing mechanics are rock solid, it’s the courses that are the real star of the show. Each one is based on a different SEGA game, from well known classics like Shinobi and House of the Dead to more unexpected ones like Skies of Arcadia and Burning Rangers. This alone gives the game a leg up on it’s competitors as it means the tracks are more varied than what you would see in a game based in a single world, but it goes further than that. As I mentioned, the tracks often take the players through land, sea, and air with their vehicles changing to match. However, some courses feature branching paths that can give you a choice of vehicles. Stay on the road as a car or take to the sea? But going even further than that, some courses even change between laps. The Skies of Arcadia stage, for example, comes under attack with pieces of the track falling away, leading to more jumps and longer flying segments as the track falls apart. Meanwhile, the Burning Rangers stage is an underwater lab that floods and by the third lap is almost entirely a boat race. Needless to say, these courses keep players on their toes, making it hard to just “drift a lot and boost constantly” or stick to a specific “race line”.

Of course there is another factor to any kart racer: the items. On one hand, the items are just random stuff like bees and snowballs, not actually related to any SEGA game. On the other hand, they are brilliant. All of the items are useful and balanced. The game’s equivalent of the banana peel is a puffer fish that can be either dropped behind you or shot forward like a green shell. Meanwhile the snowball comes in packs of three and fires quickly. If you hit your opponent with just one it stuns them, but all three actually freezes them and holding the fire button will fire all three shots at once! More importantly though, the game is devoid of any cheap catch-up items like bullet bills and blue shells. Yes, that’s right, there are no blue shells.

That should have been the game’s tagline: “Kart racing without blue shells”

While players in the back can get slightly better items to help them catch-up, none of them are overpowered and the person in first is still getting good items. Perhaps the most questionable item then, would be the character specific Super Star move. What this does is it turns your vehicle into its plane mode, though it hovers above the ground if you’re in a car or boat segment. This, however, causes it to go faster and ignore the terrain. While it is doing this you get an infinite supply of a character specific attack. However, these attacks are balanced for their infinite numbers and stun opponents far less than normal items. The result is that the Super Star is little more than a powerful boost.

I would go on about hidden super items and kart mods but this review is already wordy and I haven’t even spoken of the game modes yet! Suffice to say, there is more to this game than there first appears to be.

Fans of the original might be mildly disappointed that they have to work for their character unlocks now. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed features a World Tour mode full of challenges and special races. One challenge may be to drift along a specific line to earn time extensions, another may ask players to take down a tank, while another turns the game into OutRun and asks players to weave between waves of traffic. Clearing these challenges earns the player stars which are used to progress and unlock content. The harder the difficulty, the more stars you get. Contrary to what you might think, this game is not easy. Even on the normal difficulty, these challenges are tricky. Hard and Expert difficulties, meanwhile, are vicious. But, believe it or not, I have not seen a single speck of rubberbanding or blatant cheating. The game appears to actually play fair.

Amazingly, you don’t have to face this challenge alone. As you might notice, at the bottom of the screen is a prompt telling players to press start to join. Sure enough, practically every mode can be played in 4-player split-screen (5-player on WiiU)! Yes, this includes the World Tour mode. This absolutely boggles my mind. The game openly allows players to team up with their friends to take on brutal drift challenges. Better still, you and your local friends can even play split-screen online. That means you and your local friends can challenge your online friends and random opponents all at once. Multiplayer is truly where this game shines.

Of course that raises the question of framerate. The original game had some framerate issues, especially in multiplayer. Amazingly though, I do not have that problem here from my experience with the 360 version. Even in split-screen the game manages to keep a solid 30 fps almost the entire time. Only once did I manage to get a split-second of framerate drop in the many hours I have spent with this game.

Admittedly though, the online is a little odd. You can either make a custom private match, or join a ranked match, but you cannot do a public custom match.So you’re out of luck if you wanna race a specific course against random opponents. The way Ranked Matches work is reminiscent of Mario Kart and that is wonderful. You just click “Ranked”, it finds you some opponents, and you’re ready to roll. Once you clear a course, everyone gets to vote on one of three tracks to be the next course. It not only makes finding opponents easy (even pre-launch), but it keeps things moving at a good pace and keeps track choices varied.

Really, aside from fanboyish whining about them cutting a few of my favorite characters, I have only one complaint with the game: only one person can use each character. So if you wanna play as Sonic but someone else already picked him? You’re out of luck. The game tries to alleviate this by making players pick their characters again each round, but that is not a good solution. If two people are big Sonic fans, they should both be able to race to find out who the better Sonic is. One can only hope they come to their senses and patch this. But, considering they didn’t patch this with the previous game, I doubt they will here.

Beyond that the graphics are colorful and detailed, the courses are bursting with detail, and the music is excellent. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed features remixes of classic SEGA music fitting to each stage. While the lack of vocals on some formerly vocal songs is disappointing, the remixes are universally awesome. I could complain about them picking “Mambo de Verano” instead of “Samba de Janeiro” for the Samba de Amigo stage, or choosing “Splash Wave” over “Magical Sound Shower”, but at that point I may as well be complaining about the color of Sonic’s eyes!

Well, I guess there is one other thing I could complain about: no force-feedback racing wheel support. An odd complaint I know, but the previous game supported it and I may have bought said racing wheel just for that game. Don’t judge me!

So lets see, what we have here is a rock solid racing game with great graphics, lots of content, and boatloads of multiplayer options. I think it goes without saying that this game is good. Some have said that Mario Kart is still better for nebulous reasons, but this is only because they are afraid of shaking up the status quo. I, however, am not. This game wipes the floor with Mario Kart, and that’s coming from a guy who generally sides with Nintendo. Even if you do prefer Mario Kart, there is absolutely no denying this game is awesome.

Better still, the game launched at a discounted $40 price. While a lower price doesn’t make a bad game good, it should make a “I’ll wait ’til it drops in price” game into a “I should try it now”. Needless to say, Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed recieves my wholehearted recommendation. Even if you don’t like kart racers, check out the playable demo. You’ll see what I mean.

9/10

Sonic the Fighters (360) – 5/10

December 3, 2012

Wait how did this get a 3.5/5?! We use an “out of 10” rating scale!

http://gamercheeese.com/2012/12/01/sonic-the-fighters-review/

Err…to summarize my original intent: Sonic the Fighters is unique and fun and there is definite charm to a easy to pick-up and play fighter like this, but it is admittedly shallow and thus as much as I love it I can’t score it highly.

Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed – 9/10

November 27, 2012

The reviews I write are too damn long! Anyway, here’s another one and I am 100% serious about the score. I have a feeling I’ll be calling this “Game of the Year”.
…it has been a pretty crap year though.

http://gamercheeese.com/2012/11/26/sonic-and-all-stars-racing-transformed-review/

Psuedo-Review: Skullgirls – Beyond the Overhype

April 13, 2012

*note: When I started this article it was mostly going to be first impressions and complaining about the fans. However as I progressed it basically became a review so heck with it. It’s a bit wordy and whiny and not quite on-topic but we may as well consider this some sort of review.

If there was one fighting game I would describe as overhyped, it would be Skullgirls. Over the past 3 years at least, people have been raving about the upcoming indie fighter. They, of course, had plenty of reason to. Created by a tournament player, the game boasted high-res hand drawn 2D artwork that animates as well as Street Fighter III and also claimed it would have one of the deepest and most balanced fighting engines around. Indeed, there was reason to be excited.

The problem, however, was how psychotically overzealous the fans became. Many declaring the game “The Best Fighter Ever” years before it’s release and bringing it up in any fighting game discussion. You want balance? Play Skullgirls. Hate infinites? Play Skullgirls. Wanna learn how to play fighting games competitively? Skullgirls will teach you. Great graphics? Skullgirls can’t be topped. Sexy characters? Nothing is sexier than Skullgirls. Good music? Michiru Yamane is composing the music for Skullgirls so clearly it will be better than anything else in the industry. Netcode? Did you hear? Skullgirls is gonna have GGPO so the online play is gonna be so flawless.

It gets worse once they start mocking other games because they’re not Skullgirls. Talking about old skool all-girl fighters like Asuka 120% or Advanced Variable Geo 2? Well Skullgirls is gonna be like those but so much better. Talking about new doujin fighters? Well Skullgirls is gonna be so much better. Talking about 3D fighters? Well I don’t play 3D fighters because Skullgirls will be so much better.

What makes all of this worse was that much of this sentiment was coming from people who had never played the game. At best they had played about 5 minutes of it at a special preview event.

With this much hype, of course, hype backlash is inevitable. As such there has been a cavalcade of jackoffs who take a sick sort of glee in bashing Skullgirls. Usually, however, their complaints are little more than “LOL GENERIC ANIMU! THIS GAME IS WEEABOO CENTRAL!”.

Sorry but no, while Skullgirls has definite anime inspiration, it is far from “generic”. I’d honestly say that it hits a pleasant middleground between anime and American cartoons. Not quite Matt Bozon-level, but close.

However, to the haters’ credit, that was all they could complain about because the game was not out yet!

It’s such a damn shame too because had I not had the game crammed down my throat for the past 3 years (has it really only been 3 years? It feels like 5!) I’d probably be a lot more positive towards it. I mean heck, it has freaking Bonus-kun in one background and has a stage full of cute fish girls! What part of this doesn’t absolutely scream GEL-bait?! But when it becomes completely impossible to hold a conversation about fighting games without someone bringing up how much better Skullgirls is gonna be, it’s hard to stay positive towards the game.

Not to mention there’s plenty of reason to be proud of the game too! It’s rare that a fan project like this actually makes it to completion. It’s rare to see an American made fighter that’s actually good (I mean shoot, Skullgirl’s closest competition was Clayfighter 63 1/3rd Sculptor’s Cut…and that’s not a joke either)! The visuals are incredible, the style is unique, and it has caught the eye of many major players in the videogame industry. This is a small fan project that has made serious waves.

So, with the game finally released, how is it? Does it live up to the hype? Is it the most amazing fighting game ever made?

No. Of course it isn’t. When you have people claiming it’s the most balanced and perfect fighting game ever made, that will unite every fighting gamer ever and bring newcomers into the fold while changing the face of the industry? Yeah ,it’s not going to live up to that kind of hype. It is, however, a very good fighting game.

If you picked up Skullgirls on PS3 blind, not knowing anything about it’s development history or the hype surrounding it, what you would find is a gorgeous looking, well presented, well made fighting game with good netcode, but a very small character roster, not a lot of modes, lengthy load times, and many strangely absent features.

Note that I said PS3, because if you picked this up on 360 you’d find a buggy unfinished mess. To be blunt, the PS3 is the native console and the 360 port was half-assed. The already lengthy load times are 3 times longer, matchmaking is a complete mess, and characters often break apart into clusters of green hitboxes. It’s honestly quite embarassing, especially after all that hype. Thankfully, these bugs are known and they intend to patch them soon.

Though, the fan reaction to the 360 port is “Well they’re playing it on 360 so you know something is wrong with them,” and “360 owners couldn’t appreciate Skullgirls anyway”. Because, you know, the 360 doesn’t have any exclusive anime-styled games that would appeal to Skullgirls fans.

In case you can’t tell, I’m just a little bit bitter towards the fans.

But getting back to the point, the game is very well presented. As such, you would not be able to guess that this was an indie game. The graphics even moreso. Visually the game is just astonishing. The character sprites are rendered at a higher resolution than any other game in the industry. We’re talking a higher resolution than KOF XIII and BlazBlue. What’s more, they animate incredibly well. Again, we’re looking at animation on-par with SF3. On top of that, the game features slightly 3D backdrops and 3D lighting effects on the 2D sprites. What this means is that lighting actually affects the sprites as they move around the stage. The result is a gorgeous looking game that manages to avoid the “flash game” look most high-res 2D games have.

The combat itself is rock solid as well. I’m very picky about my controls. I mean, I constantly complain about how awful SF4 and SFxT feel as well as any Tekken game released after Tekken Tag Tournament. If controls feel stiff, awkward, or “too Dimps-y”, I will complain. Skullgirls does not have this issue. The controls are tight and responsive with only one odd issue: air dashing.

You see, in Skullgirls, you can dash in two different ways: either pressing forward twice or by pressing weak and medium punch simultaneously. However, for some reason you cannot air dash with forward forward when you jump straight up; but you can air dash by pressing both punches. What’s more, you can also air dash with forward forward as long as you jump towards your opponent. The result, however, is that air dashing with forward forward (i.e. the way most people are used to air dashing) is awkward and doesn’t seem to work consistently.

Aside from this little hiccup though, the combat is great. It’s not blindingly fast-paced like BlazBlue or most doujin fighters, but it’s far from slow. It’s combo-centric but not overly so. Some folks describe the game as “basic” and that too is quite false. The game features ratio-based tag matches, meaning you can pit one, two, or even three fighters on a tag-team against any other team combination. What’s more, you can use nearly any attack as an assist (the exception being Miss Fortune’s headless-only moves), which is a fun new idea. There are tons of combo possibilities and some unique mechanics as well (like Miss Fortune’s detachable head that stays on-screen even when tagged out).

The big one, however, is probably the much lauded Infinite Prevention System. The fact of the matter is that every fighting game has infinites and/or 100% damage combos. There are no exceptions unless you actively go out of your way to prevent them. The best way is to have some kind of Combo Breaker move, but these are usually poorly implemented (like Guilty Gear XX’s Burst system) and annoy fighting gamers. The IPS is a heavily tweaked version of a burst, designed to prevent infinites but still allow big damage combos. The way it works is that it counts every time a move is repeated and looks for patterns. Once it sees one, the hit sparks and sound effects change and players can press any button to burst out of the combo. It’s a clever way of handling things as it still allows fighting gamers to get crazy with their combos but avoids the infinite issue.

The question then is if it prevents 100% damage combos as well. Characters do very little damage with every attack so actually dealing 100% damage would be difficult. However it may not be impossible and even if it is, I can definitely confirm 50% damage combos exist. You can decide for yourself if that’s an issue or not but if you ask me, it kinda is.

There’s actually more to the combat system as well, like Advancing Guard (i.e. a guard that pushes back the enemy if you press two buttons while blocking) and Delayed Hyper Combos, things seen in the Marvel vs Capcom series. Something people might know if the game bothered to tell them!

Yes, despite fans condemning every other fighter for not doing a good enough job of teaching new players how to play fighting games and insisting that Skullgirls would be the exception, the game’s tutorials are lacking. Not only does it not really tell you about some of the in-game systems, but it lacks an in-game movelist! Yes, that’s right, if you want a complete movelist you’re going to have to find one online. Even then, the official movelist from the website is incomplete and does not list all the special regular attacks (like forward+hard punch). While a minor hiccup in any other situation, it’s easy to see how aggravating this is when Skullgirls was hyped the way it was. Also, good job placing the character sprites in front of the text so you can’t read what you’re supposed to do.

This does bring us to the question of balance. Again, the game was hyped as being the most balanced fighter ever, but no fighter is truly balanced. The biggest question, of course, is Peacock. The character is built around keeping opponents at a distance and out ranging them with projectile spam. In a game that is otherwise almost devoid of projectiles, it’s kind of awkward fighting a character that is nothing but projectiles! Getting in close to her is a pain and it is far too easy for her to run away and make space between her and the player. Miss Fortune’s detachable head may also cause issues as it can be commanded to bite opponents, making for an easy combo opening. However, as the head itself can take damage, this might not be quite so bad. Cerebella being a grappler with chain throws also means she tends to have some of the biggest damage combos I have seen so far and may again be an issue. It is far too early to really make any sort of judgement calls and I will say the game feels decently balanced, but there are still questionable elements in there.

The Story mode is an interesting beast. It starts out very nicely presented, but when we get to just two portraits talking the presentation gets wonky, having to reload both portraits and the text box with each new line of text. I know it sounds minor but it really does hurt the presentation. What’s more, there’s not a lot to said story mode. There’s an intro, a middle, and an end sequence with some random unexplained fights in the middle. At first I wanted to complain about this as they should have thrown together some talking portraits for the middle fight. However, then I realized they’re trying to make it like BlazBlue’s Arcade Mode only they don’t have enough characters to properly pad it out. It’s a little awkward but not bad.

I do have to be honest though, the music is disappointing. It’s not bad by any means, just often too atmospheric. One stage, for example, is a happy suburb and it has happy suburb music. That’s great, it fits, but I can’t really fight to it very well. There are exceptions, like the lab stage and the boss stage, though. However, while their music is good, I don’t think any of it is that great either and it needs to be said that the atmospheric music greatly outnumbers the fighty music.

Credit where credit is due, though, the game does have a number of gorgeous looking and well detailed stages to fight in. Normally I don’t count stages that much, but after MvC3 and KOFXII, I’ve started to make note of when fighters have a decent number of stages. You can only fight in a hidden ninja village so many times before it starts to get a little bland. So, kudos to Skullgirls in that respect.

About the only other thing to comment on is the online play. The game uses GGPO and as such in most cases it works great. Mind you this game really strains the GGPO system (much like SF3 did) and as such connections aren’t guaranteed to be perfect. In a strange twist, Soul Calibur V has actually surpassed GGPO in terms of netcode quality. Still, 90% of the time you’ll have a wonderful lag-free match and that’s what really matters. The issue, aside from massive connectivity problems on 360, is that these are 2 person only lobbies, no spectating.

There’s also no replay saving, which is a real disappointment. Online Training Mode would have also been nice. Yes, only SFxT actually has this feature right now, but it is something fighting game fans have been clamoring for and so I kind of thought it might wind up in the game.

Of course it’s at this point that someone will point out that the game is going to be patched. We have been promised fixes for the 360 version’s bugs as well as in-game movelists and spectateable matches in an upcoming patch in the very near future. This is what brings us to what may be the best and most important part of Skullgirls: the game is made by actual members of the fighting game community. This means they are on the ground floor listening to fan complaints, knowing about the bugs and glitches as well as any broken tactics. As such they can actively work to fix these issues. Skullgirls is their only game and chances are they will be dedicated to making it the best tournament level fighting game on the market.

The problem is, it hasn’t been patched yet. We don’t know what kind of stupid red tape they’re going to slam face first into when it comes to patching these issues. We don’t know what exactly will be fixable. Not to mention, with how shoddy the release was and the general reaction from the fans, I’m not certain if the 360 release will get the same amount of support it’s PS3 counterpart will.

So, at the end of the day, is it a good game? Should you buy it? If you have a PS3, then yes. The visuals are amazing, the fighting is excellent, a lot of time, effort, and love went into this game and it is well worth a purchase. While $15 may seem a bit steep for a game with only 8 characters, I can also understand it. As for the 360 release? Well I’d only recommend that to desperate fans who want to play the game but don’t have a PS3. It’s far from unplayable but the lack of polish makes it difficult to justify the $15 price tag.

It’s at this point that I realize this has gone well beyonmd mere first impressions and fandom ranting. Heck, 2600 words in and every element of the game commented upon, I think I can officially call this a review. Make no mistake, this was not intended as a review initially but considering all I need to finish the job is a score, I may as well give it one.

At launch, Skullgirls on PS3 seems to get a…

4 out of 5

While the lack of characters is annoying and it is somewhat short on content, the low-ish pricepoint helps soften the blow (and it does have more content than Soul Calibur V). Meanwhile the excellent combat, good netcode, and buckets of polish make up for the minor irritating design oversights. Make no mistake, Skullgirls is a good game and does deserve a purchase. It just has a fanbase that deserves a punch in the mouth just as much.

However, I do need to mention that my assumptions on the PS3 release are based on the demo. I actually bought the game on 360 and no I am not buying it a second time. Because, really, who rewards a company for fucking up a port?! While the 360 release is still good, it really lacks the polish (at launch) that helps justify that $15 pricetag. So I give the 360 version a…

3.8 out of 5

Yes I know that’s actually a pretty drastic drop, but the matchmaking and loading really is that bad. Seriously, I’ll spend 10 minutes looking for a 1 minute match. But, once it gets patched, you can just give it the PS3’s 4 out of 5 rating.

As for why neither of them have a 5 out of 5? Well the roster is small and it’s short on features and modes. Maybe in two years, when the DLC characters are released, the issues are patched, and a disc-based version is on the way, it might elevate itself to such lofty heights. However, at the moment it is not the greatest fighting game ever.

The point is, Skullgirls is good. I’m just bitter.