Evolution 2011: Thoughts on Skullgirls and Street Fighter x Tekken
Howdy, elite fraternity of readers. It’s been a while. I went to Evo last week (an international tournament for fighting games), and had a good time, as I always do.
I got a chance to play a few matches of SFxTekken and Skullgirls.
Skullgirls is kind of hard to explain in a few sentences, but basically: it’s a fighting game with an all-female cast (at least, thus far; the game is incomplete), and the characters and animation have a sense of whimsy to them.
People have been comparing it to BlazBlue, Arcana Heart, Melty Blood, the Guilty Gear games, etc. I don’t play any of those aside from some Guilty Gear X matches I’ve had, mostly against the CPU. But the game I would actually compare it the most to is Capcom’s Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, only with a more traditional Street Fighter layout for the button scheme (three punch buttons on top, three kicks for the bottom row). There are long combos and some characters have projectiles which they can use to fill the screen and keep opponents out. There aren’t “Stands” like in JJBA, but each character has a familiar of some sort, often related to some item they have: A hat with big burly arms, hair which turns into a monster, an umbrella that shoots projectiles, etc.
I didn’t get much quality time with the game, but I did get in a handful of matches. Unfortunately, the people I played had been learning the game all weekend (I didn’t play until Sunday), Evo started Friday morning, and so I was no match for any of the better players. I did get a pretty fair sense of the game, however. I played Peacock and Parasoul, the two most recent characters announced, as of this writing. Both characters were fun, though not the easiest characters to pick up and play.
Anyway, the verdict: the game is really interesting. It has a ratio system like the Capcom vs SNK games (selectable like CvS2), and a tag/assist system like Capcom’s Marvel games (teammate assists come in and do a move of your choice, but can be hurt in the process if you don’t protect them). The character variety is good, and the game looks good so far. On top of that, the game will be using GGPO’s netcode, so the online play should be better than most fighting games. And while the pricing hasn’t been announced, the rumor is that the game will only be in the $15-20 price range because it’s a downloadable game and won’t be on discs.
If you’ve played any of Capcom’s Marvel games or JJBA, you should be pretty familiar with Skullgirls, and it will be mostly a matter of learning a few new moves and features. There aren’t the same launchers and air combos as in Marvel, but the air dashes will feel pretty familiar, and combat mid-air is somewhat similar to how it is on the ground. To hear the developers (including noted Marvel vs Capcom 2 player and combo video maker Mike Z) talk about the game in-depth, click here.
Street Fighter x Tekken is pretty much self-explanatory. A bunch of Street Fighter characters vs a bunch of Tekken characters, this time in a legit fighting game- Namco x Capcom looked fun, but it was a different thing.
Control scheme is 6-button just like standard Street Fighter, and the Tekken characters have had attacks fleshed out to compensate. Their attack strings remain the same button presses in most cases, however. At least, this is how I understand it- I haven’t played Tekken in years, and didn’t try any Tekken characters when I played SFxT.
It’s a 2-vs-2 tag system, with no assists. Tag is both medium attacks, but IIRC you can’t tag while holding down/back to block or else you just get a medium attack. Tagging has both startup time and recovery time, unlike say Marvel vs Capcom 2 where your 1st character instantly tags out, but the new character you just tagged in has some recovery time. You lose the round when either of your characters gets KO’d.
Combo system is based on chains, seems like light-medium-heavy attack as opposed to the zigzag chains that the old Marvel games allowed for some characters. I didn’t see any dizzies/stuns.
Special moves (for SF characters at least) are generally the same- although Chun for example now does lightning legs as half-circle forward+kick (IIRC) instead of rapidly pressing a kick button. Special move motion with two buttons does an EX attack, like in the SF4 and SF3 games. Special move motion with 3 buttons does a super move like in the Marvel VS games, but it has to be all 3 punches or all 3 kicks, depending on the move.
There are alpha counters of a sort, but I didn’t see if they were any good.
Super meter is segregated into 3 bars like in the Alphas or CvS games (Capcom/C-groove or A-ISM in Alpha 3). EX moves take one meter, super moves take two meters. There’s a crossover mode like the duos in Marvel vs Capcom 1 that allows you to have both members of your team on screen at once, but I never actually did it, so I don’t know how it’s done or what the limitations are. It doesn’t seem to require all 3 super meters, but unlike MvC1, you have to toggle between which character you control, and aren’t controlling both simultaneously. See here.
Super motions are specific to the moves they represent- for example instead of qcf or qcb + 3 kicks with Sagat to get his super (Tiger Genocide aka Tiger Destruction), I found out it was a DP motion + 3 kicks, because the super move is based on the Tiger Knee.
Each character seems to have a special move that they can charge. With Ryu if you do a fireball but hold the attack button down, he’ll charge it up (think Gouken in SF4 or his Denjin animation in the SF3 games). If you charge it long enough it will become an EX move- but wont’ require the super meter. So essentially every character has a free EX move, with the downside being that they take a long time to charge. If you hold the button down as long as possible, it becomes a super move, and again, IIRC, it doesn’t cost any meter. But you have to hold it down forever, making yourself vulnerable to attack.
Pressing Fierce + Roundhouse cancels into a tag move, and because the game has a chain combo system, it’s pretty easy for everyone to do something like crouching light attack, crouching medium attack, standing hard attack into tag attack. The new character comes in and still has time to combo afterwards, as you can see in the videos embedded above. The downside being that this tag move has significant recovery time if it misses or is blocked.
There is a feature that allows you to tag in your partner while doing special moves, sort of like an Focus Attack Dash cancel in the SF4 games- you’re in the middle of doing an attack, and as you cancel it into a tag, you finish up your attack while the new character comes in, allowing them to continue a combo, or do a move that hits low while your old character attacks high, etc. I believe this takes one bar of super meter, like an EX move.
Juggle system is unlimited, from what I understand- there is no limit to the amount of times you can juggle an opponent, in theory. However, there seems to be a mechanic in place that makes the juggled character fall faster/further the more times they’re hit.
Verdict, Experience & Comparisons:
I liked it more than I was expecting to. Luckily I got to play about a half-dozen games, and unlike Skullgirls, I ended up playing with a group of other scrubs, so we were all learning the game instead of just getting owned mercilessly. I played Sagat/Ryu as my team, because I felt pretty comfortable with those characters, but eventually moved on to Sagat/Poison and Sagat/Dhalsim.
Dhalsim now does his far attacks by pressing toward and an attack button, by the way. His default attacks are the short-range close normals from older games, or back+normal attack moves from the more recent ones. He also doesn’t chain attacks as freely as some of the other characters.
The game feels a bit like Alpha 3, actually, only without the guard meter, different super system etc. The throws have an exceptionally shortt range, so the game is based less on mixup like 3rd Strike or the throw games in SF4, and more based around pokes- at least at this stage, so early in the game’s life. Couldn’t get an idea of what characters were good, though I saw a Marduk player (a native Tekken player learning to adjust to the new game, I think) who did some good combos. Seems to be a pretty aggressive game, and I think corner pressure and combos are going to be a big part of it.
Also, air-to-air is going to be a big deal for a few characters, like the crouch-cancel juggle opportunities in Alpha 3; after an attack that bounces the opponent high enough, or an air counter hit etc, you can keep doing attacks until you’re either out of range or your opponent hits the ground. So if you have a high-priority air attack and hit the opponent out of the air with it (let’s say you’re using Chun’s jumping Short as a hypothetical), you get the chance to follow that up with as many attacks as you can.
SFxT looks good. Though it’s a little less SF4 and a little more SFA3.
To hear some Capcom staff members talking in detail about the game see here, under the SFxTekken panel heading (the last set of videos in the blog post). See the 3rd of those videos, especially.