It’s a good weekend for e-sports, and the reason this isn’t up earlier is because I was watching demos of Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-. It’s EVO Weekend, and so the largest fighting game tournament in the US is underway. The schedule is here, and six of the nine “main” games have their finals tomorrow, all broadcast on Twitch. However…

I lied

This post isn’t actually about EVO. I talked with a friend who shall remain nameless about how hard it is to actually learn traditional fighting games. Fighting games are notoriously bad at teaching new players how to actually play fighting games. (They share this trait with most MOBAs and RTS games.) There are games making steps to correct this; I hear the new Killer Instinct does a decent job, but it’s only on a console I don’t own. Therefore, I’ll be talking about Skullgirls.

Setting the Stage

Skullgirls is a game that originally came out for the PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2012. It carries a unique style (which turns some people off) and (at launch) an all-female cast (which also turns some people off). The gameplay is most reminiscent of Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and the music is by Castlevania composer Michiru Yamane. Like Marvel, it has specials, supers, snapbacks, assists, tags, and tag supers. Because none of that made any sense if you aren’t incredibly familiar with Marvel vs. Capcom, it also has a very good tutorial.
barrel drop

And.. Action!

The vast majority of fighting games have a tutorial that teaches you what all of the buttons do, and Skullgirls has a tutorial that starts like this. They try to make it more interesting by giving you context, but it’s still the same “this is how you block” “this is how you dash” that most other games do. After a lesson on how super moves work (which is where most other games’ tutorials end), it shifts into practical knowledge. The very first lesson is “Defending against mix-up”, a very important thing to know when playing any game that has high and low block options. The second tutorial is on “punishing”, a concept applicable to even non-traditional fighting games like Smash Brothers. Other essential techniques are also explored in the tutorials, and it ends with character-specific strategies and moves.
guard mixup

That’s a Wrap

Skullgirls is coming to PS4 soon, and is available for PC, PS3, and 360 right now. If you ever wanted to get into fighting games but have been scared off by all of the arcane knowledge the genre doesn’t do a good job of teaching, I highly recommend Skullgirls. Even if the style of the game isn’t exactly your cup of tea, it can still teach skills that are useful for almost any other game in the genre.

One thought on “On EVO”

  1. I wish I had time to pick this up and learn all these essential skills…the levels of complexity of FF games is slightly higher than my days with SFII champion edition!

    I still desire to make it as a competent SF arcade fighter… one day…I will be the grandad that kicks everyone’s arse!

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