Today I couldn’t seem to find any Inspirational Gamer of the Week news – but I did find a game worthy of some definite accessibility praise this week, and so I felt like sharing with you all. Today we’re going to be talking fighting games [ yes, I know the dreaded fighting game – so much button mashing and quick reflexes required!] This is true, but there’s far more in the newest indie title Skull Girls by Autumn Games and Reverge Labs. Now – let’s get ready to RUMBLE!
Now when you hop right into the game the color schemes are vivid, quirky, and down right cartoony – but that’s the feeling that the game goes for – and it works to it’s advantage. There are some levels that are darker in tone – but overall the game is a visual overdose, just like it’s male counterpart fighters. The uniqueness comes in the visual hand-drawn animation styles that the game uses.
It reminded me of some quirky, wacked out, 1950’s/80’s cartoons, and it definitely added to the ambiance of the gameplay. You get to play as any of 9 possible characters [ at least from what I saw in the demo – there could possibly be more to unlock via full version ] The controls, while robust, were pretty easy to grasp – and having a solid tutorial system was a definite bonus into easing my way in.
Now onto the ACCESSIBILITY – AWWWAY!
- Fully customizable control scheme!! Yes – you heard that right. You have a button configuration set up in the Options menu. A FIGHTING game with BUTTON REMAPPING? GENIUS! Only one button can be attached for one input, but it’s awesome to see developers put accessible functions like this in!
- Colors are vivid, bright, and easy to keep track of. Hand-drawn animation lends itself to looking like what would happen if Disney ever designed a hardcore fighter. Despite some moments via combo maneuvers – colorblind gamers should have little problem with this game.
- Tutorials are all text-based, and while there is a Story mode [ which I didn’t get to check out ] most all important dialogue was text-based, so not sure if that’ll change via Story Mode, but for now, rest assured that some form of text-based subtitles will be present for deaf gamers.
- Easy to use, understand, and navigate tutorial system that amps up your progression slowly, to ease you into performing more difficult combos and maneuvers. A plus.
- Customizable Assists function for when playing tag-battles. Program your moves the same way an arcade fight stick would!
- Multiple difficulty settings [ Sleeper, Easy, Normal, Hard ] make for more accessible gameplay.
- Button mashing/fast-paced gameplay can make the game difficult for motion impaired gamers [ not impossible, but just more difficult than normal ]
- High intense graphics during combos, etc. could lend itself to seizures for epileptics. The graphics aren’t as intense as say, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, so if you can handle that game you should be able to handle this one. Just a fair warning though.
- Control scheme can be difficult to master, I honestly felt like I was button mashing to figure out combos a lot of times – but a suggestion to beat that: play through tutorials first, customize your button inputs, and then go to town!
Overall, the game is delightful. The controls are smooth and fluid, despite having a bit of a learning curve to them, and while I haven’t invested myself into the Story mode yet, I’m pretty certain [ considering the cast of female characters you get to choose from ] that the Story mode will be a very – odd/different – experience than any sort of fighting game experience I’ve had previously. Now I hate saying if a game is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – for one, it’s not for me to judge, and two – I’m a designer. I look at the game not for it’s wrappings, but for the mechanics that make it more accessible and entertaining and why they make it entertaining to the user.
Skull Girls is a definitely user friendly piece and should be ventured and looked at by all. If you want a fighter where you can really let your hair down and brawl to the wall – this little indie nugget may just be your ticket to a new found freedom of control! Take care folks and happy gaming! Props to Autumn Games and Reverge Labs – for seeing a need in the accessibility of fighting games and filling that need with Skull Girls. Your design decisions are very much appreciated!