Skullgirls: The Next Big Fighting Game?
For more on Skullgirls, see "Skullgirls: Screenshots from the Next Big Fighting Game." Check out our E3 2011 category for more coverage from the show. See more photos in Shannon Cottrell's slideshows, "E3 2011: Day One" and "E3 2011: Day Two."
Reverge Labs Skullgirls
Over the course of E3, there was one game that we kept revisiting. Skullgirls sucked us in with its striking artwork and fighting game format. We, apparently, weren't the only ones who were swayed.
"I haven't really gotten the chance to play the game at all because there are always people playing it," says Ian Cox a designer who has been working on the game, "which is exactly what we want."
In some ways, Skullgirls was at a disadvantage at the annual trade show. The game, developed by Reverge Labs and published by Autumn Games with Konami distribution, doesn't have the same level of name notoriety that many other products at E3 had. There wasn't a huge unveiling or big media hype. It is, however, clearly gaining a following. The team has had a demo version for a while now and has been taking it around to conventions and fighting game events. Right after E3, they headed to the ReveLAtions tournament.
"We're hoping that it's one of those things where by putting it in front of people, we can build the hype organically," says Cox. "We aren't putting out a bunch of big trailers and trying to get a bunch of traditional hype. We really want the players to know what the game is like."
We stopped by the booth several times each day of the three-day show and, every time, we saw more and more people waiting to play it. By Thursday, the game had received Best Fighting Game nominations and awards from several game publications.
"We are getting a lot of word of mouth," says Cox. "We feel lucky that people are seeing it and bringing their friends over and playing it again."
He adds, "You couldn't ask for more, really."
Cox acknowledged that part of the attraction may be the games creators, Mike Zaimont, otherwise known in gaming circles as Mike Z., and artist Alex Ahad. Both have solid reputations within fan communities.
Zaimont is a fighting game champion. He attends the Evolution Fighting Game Tournament every year and he's participated in Japan's Super Battle Opera. Ahad is an artist whose work is probably familiar to users of the popular anime social networking site Gaia Online, where he used to work. He's also contributed art to a number of comics and games. Zaimont devised the game's engine, while Ahad designed the characters and plot. Together with Reverge Labs, they've developed a captivating and forward-minded 2D fighter game. While Skullgirls, planned for release on Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network later in 2011, has technically been in development for about a year, Zaimont and Ahad had been working on it for much longer than that.
"I wanted to make games since I played Battletoads," says Zaimont, referencing the early '90s game. "I wanted to make something that could make someone scream in frustration as much as that game made me scream in frustration, but I love it."
In college, Zaimont studied computer science and began working on an engine for a fighting game. He turned it in as his senior project, but continued working on it after finishing school as a hobby. Then, in 2007, he mentioned the engine to a gaming friend of his. The friend suggested that Zaimont meed Ahad, who had been working on characters for a fighting game for an equally long time.
"I met him and the first thing I said when he showed me the plot and the characters, was 'Why do you want to make a fighting game?' This should be an RPG," Zaimont recalls. "He said, 'I love fighting games. I'm terrible at them, but I really want to make one,' so we teamed up."