Great fighting games don’t really age, and that’s just what Skullgirls: 2nd Encore, now available on Switch, is: a great fighting game.
Originally released for PS3 and Xbox 360 back in 2012, Skullgirls‘ journey from there to Switch has been a bit of a rocky one. But it’s all water under the bridge now. With its suite of additional modes, features and characters, Skullgirls: 2nd Encore is the ultimate version of the cult game, and it very nearly feels right at home on Switch.
Story mode, arcade mode, survival mode, training mode, tutorials, trials and challenges: you name it, Skullgirls: 2nd Encore has got it. You can, of course, also take the action online, engaging in quick ranked matches or creating your own lobby. Local multiplayer is the best way to play with others though, so you can see the determination on your opponent’s face, and also the disappointment when you batter them.
All those ways to play would be useless if it wasn’t for Skullgirls: 2nd Encore‘s varied roster of mostly female characters. 14 pugilists are available, and each has something different to offer. There are plenty of stages on which to do battle, too; you’re not going to get tired of seeing the same backdrops and fighting against the same characters too quickly. And it has to be said that Skullgirls: 2nd Encore is a gorgeous-looking game. The hand-drawn visuals are vibrant, colourful and full of personality. The soundtrack, featuring works by Michiru Yamane, Vincent Diamante and more, is also top notch.
Combat will be familiar to anyone that has played the likes of Street Fighter. You have light, medium and strong punches and kicks available, as well as plenty of special moves generally performed with quarter circles. There are also gauge-draining supermoves, which are useful for turning the tide of battle if you land them. Battles are fast-paced, and the robust mechanics mean that there’s considerable depth to be found. You can try to button bash your way to victory if you want, but only by taking the time to master Skullgirls: 2nd Encore will you be able to overcome it’s greatest challenges.
Like any fighting game, playing against other people is where Skullgirls: 2nd Encore shines. In fact, playing against the CPU you might get a little infuriating at times due to the overly aggressive AI; it often feels a little cheap. Unless you’ve got a like-minded group of friends to play it with though, finding online matches might be a bit of a chore. There really aren’t that many people playing, and if your connection isn’t strong they’re likely to decline a bout, which is understandable.
It should also be mentioned that it’s fiddly playing Skullgirls: 2nd Encore with Joy-Cons – they’re just really not that good for serious fighting games. You can have fun playing in handheld mode, but the tiny buttons may limit your combat abilities. For best results, you’re going to want to use a Pro Controller, or even better, an arcade stick.
At this moment in time, those who are familiar with Skullgirls: 2nd Encore may also be irked by technical issues in this port. The supposed “fully voiced” story scenes don’t actually have any voice acting, for example, and there are some audio and visual discrepancies that seasoned fans will notice. If you haven’t yet played Skullgirls: 2nd Encore, however, you might not really notice these issues or even care. The good news is that it appears that the developers of the game are already working on ironing out these issues, so if you feel like they’re really going to affect you, perhaps just wait a little while before picking it up.
Warts and all, Skullgirls: 2nd Encore is definitely worth picking up if you want a stellar fighting game to play with your friends, though its single player content will keep you entertained for quite a while too. Whether it has online legs remains to be seen though; that will ultimately decide how good an investment the game is for many. Interesting characters and modes aplenty aren’t enough to keep a fighting game afloat in the long-term. Active communities do that.