Skullgirls 2nd Encore Nintendo Switch Review: the best Fighter with Joy-Cons

Skullgirls 2nd Encore is a cult 2D fighting game developed by the fighting game community for everyone really. Skullgirls can be as simple or complex as you want to make it, making it an excellent entry point for fighting games and has enough mechanics to keep veterans happy too.

Skullgirls was largely crowdfunded though the only tell is the small roster of 14 and 2nd Encore isn’t the sequel just the complete edition after Konami screwed over developers Lab Zero Games, so 14 isn’t bad for a new IP even if the original did launch in 2012. Don’t be fooled by the age of the original game as a billion refinements and improvements have been made since then, making Skullgirls undeniably one of the best and most mechanically solid fighting games ever made. Just to show the kind of love that’s gone into making this game, Lab Zero created and gave away for free the code that allowed PS3 arcade sticks to work on PS4 rather than keeping it an exclusive Skullgirls feature on that platform.

Get of a load of them brass knuckles.

Skullgirls is a unique team based fighter where you choose between one and three characters for your team, the catch is the more you choose the weaker they are but the more life you have and the more options you have, especially with flinging support attacks out at your foes. It’s a 6 button fighter with all the usual team fighter mechanics of specials, supers, follow up supers push blocks, assists, hitting an opponent off the screen and calling in another. Plus it’s got GGPO for online play which will mean online is far smoother with less input lag than many Japanese developed fighters.

The supers are awesome.

The action itself is smooth as butter on hot toast and plays like a mix between Marvel Vs. Capcom and an anime fighter with easy to play chain combos (for example light punch, light kick, medium punch, medium kick, heavy punch, heavy kick) into specials and supers. Then combos are made more advanced with launchers, jump cancels, spikes and continuing the combo. The simple play, hard to master philosophy behind Skullgirls fits perfectly with Nintendo’s own philosophy.

I probably won’t ever say this again about a fighting game on Switch and I don’t know how Lab Zero did it but Skullgirls actually plays fine with the Switch’s Joy-Con face buttons.

You get a whole heap of guest art to look at in game.

To help you master Skullgirls there are heaps of tutorials enlightening you on every mechanic the game has to offer as well as some combos for each character. The training mode is probably the most in depth I’ve encountered in a fighting game, you can see hit boxes, stun times, even put a grid on the screen to see the length of moves. Skullgirls is the perfect game if you’re a lab monster and like nothing more than to grind out combos in training especially with its flowing combo system. These modes are a necessity as Skullgirls is crazily hard and you’ll be spending quite some time getting those combos into your muscle memory.

Lab Zero have made the perfect game for labbing.

There is a story in Skullgirls with every character having their own story mode where you play solely as them. The story is simple, everyone’s after the skull heart that’ll grant a girl a wish and transform her into the Skullgirl. Along the way you meet an interesting cast of NPCs that hopefully some of will feature in a sequel, because once you play Skullgirls you’ll want a sequel too. The scenes in story mode are fully voiced and played out like a visual novel, as an added bonus the difficulty is scaled back massively so everyone can enjoy the interesting bite sized tales of each character.

Minette for Skullgirls 2.

The graphics, the graphics, good god the graphics! They are stunning you won’t see anything quite like it outside of Cuphead, the absolutely beautiful and silky smooth hand drawn noir 50s US comic book art style is just sublime. The characters are some of the most varied ever in a fighting game and even with 14 you won’t find it hard finding a team you just love, both aesthetically and play style.

Even the CPU on medium can deal some crazy combos.

The upbeat jazz soundtrack is absolutely perfect and will you humming along to your favourite tracks in no time or at least the main menu music as you’ll be a bit busy during the fighting. I also love that there’s different commentators and they don’t just say the same thing either, my favourite being the communist with great quipes such as calling Peacock ‘American Cartoon’.

This move is actually called OMNOMNOM.

If fighting games are your cup of tea and you don’t already own Skullgirls (why not?), it’s definitely a game you need to add to your collection. Yes online is pretty dead but that’s the case across platforms so your best bet is go find a discord group to arrange some online if that’s your biscuit of choice for the delightful cuppa that is Skullgirls. I now own Skullgirls on 4 different platforms and rather than thinking “maybe this is a bit of overkill” I’m greatly pleased by the fact that almost whatever I’m playing I can easily switch to Skullgirls as it’s fast paced, simple to play, hard to master and perfect for Nintendo’s hybrid system.

A huge thank you to Skybound Games for supplying the review code. Skullgirls is available now on the eShop for £19.99/€24.99/$24.99.

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