I love fighting games. The genre has fostered such a passion in me that I buy fighting games to support the scene and familiarize myself with titles, so I can discuss them at tournaments or on streams. For a while, the Lab Zero Games-developed Skullgirls—a 2D, team-based fighting game—was a game I watched regularly, but I didn't get into it due to lack of interest in the original roster. That changed with the release of Skullgirls 2nd Encore, a $14.99 upgrade to the base $9.99 game. It contains the two wonderful new characters that pulled me into the game, Beowulf and Big Band, three other combatants, a fully voiced story mode, a new survival mode, and fresh challenges, trials, and character colors. For $25, Skullgirls Second Encore is packed with value and content, and really puts Street Fighter V ($18.30 at Amazon) , a full-priced game with a $30 season pass, to shame. Skullgirls is a PC game, but it's also available on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live.
Learning From Your Elders
Skullgirls takes cues from many highly regarded fighting game series. The team-based fighting utilizes a Capcom vs. SNK-style ratio system that lets you select up to three characters to battle up to three rival characters. This means you can choose two characters to go against three characters, or even one character against two. The ratio system balances the action by awarding damage and health points bonuses to teams with fewer combatants than their opponent's. For example, when the teams are not even, squads of three have 100 percent health and damage. Teams of two receive a 115 percent health and 130 percent damage boost. A one-fighter team has 205 percent health and 150 percent damage. If the number of fighters is the same on each team, it's a wash.
It would be wise for beginners to master one character before moving onto team play, but there's a benefit to having more than one fighter on your squad: assists. Like Marvel vs. Capcom, 2nd Encore lets you call in teammates to increase a combo's damage and create set up attacks. In a unique twist, Skullgirls grants you the ability to create your own assists. Such custom assists can be any attack that doesn't involve a jump.