Skullgirls for Nintendo Switch Review

Skullgirls for Nintendo Switch Box art

The Great Indie Fighting Game Finally Arrives on Nintendo Switch

For over a year, I have been waiting for this port and finally, it’s here! After several delays and issues with preorders, Skullgirls has finally arrived on the Nintendo Switch. As a fan of Skullgirls, it’s felt like an eternity for this game to come. The port's constant delays and pushbacks almost made me believe the game wouldn’t even come out. Thankfully it’s here, but was it worth the wait and should you get it?

A Game That Has Survived the Test of Time

Robo-Fortune Combo

To begin with, what is Skullgirls? Skullgirls is a fighting game made in 2012 that is available in nearly every modern console and PC storefronts. The game is a beautifully animated 2D fighter that takes heavy inspiration from the game Marvel vs Capcom and western styles of animation. The game allows the player to pick from a roster of 14 unique characters. While the roster may seem small each character brings a new twist with their gameplay and animations which helps them stick out. For example, Big Band is a slow yet hard-hitting character that utilizes various jazz instruments during each of his attacks. Peacock is a projectile-focused character that takes inspiration from Disney’s older style animation. Each character has their own unique playstyle and animation that makes them a joy to play and fight against. All of these characters make Skullgirls enjoyable to play despite having a small roster.

Gameplay

Skullgirls tutorial

Skullgirls can be a bit daunting for new players. The game is a fast-paced, chaotic slugfest that emphasizes long combos, mixups, and mobility. To start simple, the game allows the player to pick up to three characters. The fewer characters chosen the more powerful they are. For example, you can pick a team of three weak characters or one powerful character. If you picked a team of two characters or more, you are also able to decide which move a character can perform when they’re not in battle – also known as assists. This freedom of choice makes the game stand out from other fighting games, as the ability to choose the size of a team and specific assists is an uncommon feature in other fighting games, including Marvel vs. Capcom.

The tutorial explains many of the game’s core mechanics, with several tips on how to improve. The only problem I have with the tutorial is that it doesn’t teach character specific combos, instead opting to show their special moves and their strengths in battle. But the tutorial is enough to explain the game to anyone. Skullgirls isn’t that difficult to get a grasp of and if you’re struggling try out some other characters and see what you can do. I highly recommend Big Band for new players.

On another note, the game runs at a consistent frame rate. Unlike other games like MK11 or Dragon Ball Fighterz, there are no visual changes or frame drops with the Switch version. It’s able to keep up with the chaotic nature of the game, making it perfect for some play on the go.

Single-player modes

Skullgirls Story Mode

While the gameplay withstands the test of time, Skullgirls also offers a variety of extra modes to play outside of the online and local modes.  The story mode plays similar to an arcade mode, but with a story unique to every character. Each character’s story has voice acting and features extra details on the world of the game making it an enjoyable way to pass the time. It’s a nice distraction to get invested in. Every other mode is passable. There’s an arcade mode, survival mode, CPU matches, and some other secret modes I’ll let you search on your own.

Skullgirls for Switch is unique as it requires the player to play some of these modes to unlock character skins and art. While I like the idea of incentives, I wish it wasn’t the case, especially with the other ports having all the skins unlocked right off the bat.

Online

Online Lobby in Skullgirls

With singleplayer content out of the way, how does online fair? Well, I have been reading reviews that praised this game’s online mode, but I honestly don’t see it. Don’t get me wrong, in every other system the game runs decent online, but the Switch is a different story. I would queue up for a quick match only to wait several minutes for a match to pop up. And then when I accept the match, the game would boot me back to the main menu. There was one time where I waited 30 minutes for a quick match until I just gave up and played another game. Also, there’s barely any open lobbies I could find. It could be because not many people are playing, but I highly doubt that since the game just released. Even if a match comes up, the game will usually have significant delays.

Take Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid, another indie fighting game. The game has matchmaking that matches players with little wait time and loading screens. Online matches run as if they were offline and when the match is over, you can immediately search for another game in a few seconds. If a newly made indie game from 2019 can do it, why can’t this 7-year old game do so as well?

Nintendo Switch Exclusive Issues

When I was writing this, Skullgirls had some ear-piercing sound issues. As of November 7, these audio issues have been fixed with a patch. There are a couple of small issues that the Nintendo Switch version has. First off, a couple of color palettes are missing from other releases. The ability to change the voice and language of each character is also absent.

 

Conclusion

Skullgirls is a game that has withstood the test of time. To this day it’s still being played in tournaments and has gained a cult following over the years. Unfortunately, the Nintendo Switch port is not on par with its other ports. The online mode and missing content are what drag the game down for me. I’m willing to put some of that aside for having Skullgirls on the Switch. Despite all the other flaws, the game runs great on the Switch. Despite the lackluster online and missing content, I can be happy that I’m allowed to play one of my favorite fighting games without any frame rate or visual compromises. If you love Skullgirls like me, or you’re mildly interested – and don’t mind any of the bugs – I would certainly give this port a shot. Although if you want the best experience, I would recommend playing on PC or another console, since it has all the missing content, a better online mode, and is usually cheaper.

Rating: 8/10