We would like to apologize to our tens of fans. We’ve been experiencing some early onset writers block these last couple of weeks in the form of a combination of Ninja Gaiden‘s hard mode, Skullgirls, and a lack of our wife taking us out to the local Barrique’s coffee shop for a couple of hours over the weekend.
Before we get to the main body of what we’re typing, we’d like to point you to our Twitter page, which we converted from linusonatowel to eetikycar. We’ll be posting our daily video game exploits AND our musings about those exploits here, so you should subscribe. You’ll be sad if you don’t.
Let’s talk about Skullgirls. Here’s it’s logo:
Skullgirls is a new 2d fighting game (less than 2 weeks old as of this writing) available over XBox Live and the PlayStation Network. It is the brainchild of highly regarded fighting game tournament ace Mike Z and the over the top artistic stylings of Alex Ahad and Mariel Kinuko Cartwright. It is only $15. You should go spend money on it if you have the means to. We’ve only had about 2.5 hours to play it since we purchased it 3 days ago, but it’s real good. It plays like a mix of Street Fighter IV and Marvel vs. Capcom 2, which is means that Laura got kind of grumpy with the sounds of us pressing lots of buttons on our arcade stick yesterday while she was trying to do her school work.
As the title implies, the cast of Skullgirls is entirely made up of girls. It’s rumored that playable male characters will be introduced later, but there is no confirmation of this. All of the characters are trying to kill the eponymous Skullgirl, Bloody Marie, for one reason or another. That’s not important, because it’s story, and if story is merely unimportant in a game like Halo, it’s completely meaningless in a fighting game. We’ll talk about that in detail some other time though.
If there are girls in a fighting game, then there will be boobs, jiggle, and panty shots.
Those are all present in Skullgirls, but let’s examine each of the 8 playable characters and see why we don’t really think it’s very sexist at all. You will make snap judgments about the characters based on their portraits below, but it is of Paramount Importance that you not let those judgments pollute your perception of this game. Like any other character in any other video game, each character has a number of ways to interact with the player that move her beyond pure sex object status.
We’ll borrow and build on some of the ideas in Megan Townsend’s essay on Medium Difficulty from April 23rd, 2012. You should read it. We’ll start with two characters and we’ll go alphabetically. If you click on the character’s name in the heading, you’ll find her Official Character Introduction video, which will give you a bit of a taste of how she plays:
Cerebella: Diamond in the Rough
Cerebella is the game’s grappler. She wears a Living Weapon hat called Vice-Versa. During her standing hard kick, she actually yells “Gymkata!” which really couldn’t make us too much happier. Her command run move can be chained into an attack called Battle Butt that looks suspiciously like the ram horns from the Battletoads games of yesterday. She has legos on her sleeves.
Looking at her character portrait above, there’s not much we can do to illustrate that hilariously proportioned, lightly oiled curves of Cerebella’s body aren’t there to serve certain needs for some people. Apart from meeting the games teal and orange requirements, she rises above her status by being a destructive fusion of Zangief and the circus brat archetype.
If you click the Zangief link, you’ll see what grapplers look like in most fighting games. They are typically large hairy men in muscle shirts or speedos who pick the other characters up and throw them around for massive damage. They’re life bars are typically massive. They typically have several unblockable command throws at their disposal to compliment their normal throws, which makes them throw mix-upping machines. To counter these strengths, they are unusually large and slow, which makes them easy to hit and easy to play keep away from with projectiles. It takes a good deal of patience to play decently a grappler, because you have to wait for an opening to get inside the opponents safe zone so that you can take half a health bar away with one throw.
Cerebella has all of the characteristics of a typical grappler, but none of the aesthetics. In other words, she spends all of a match being real manly. Strong like bull even. She can also fly over your goddamn fireballs. Cerebella bucks the sexualization of her character design by making the player find ways to lure the opponent into her hat’s muscled, well-defined embrace. One of her Blockbusters (this game’s supers) even has her work together with Vice-Versa to stab her opponent with a sword. Did you even see the size of the horns on her hat?? If those are not tried and true symbols of acquired masculinity, then we don’t work for eetikycar. And we do.
Double: Toil and Trouble
Double starts out a fight looking like this:
Sexy nuns 4eva. We especially like the upside down cross. Then, she eats herself from the inside and turns into this:
Sexy blob of teeth, digestive tract, and boob type things! Not really.
Double immediately reminds one of Street Fighter IV’s Seth or Mortal Kombat’s Shang Tsung in that her fighting style is composed mainly of stealing key moves from other characters in the game. In fact, she never actually fights in her nun form, but instead shamelessly transforms from her innards on the outtards form into other characters to let the player know exactly who she’s stolen a move from.
Let’s not spend any time talking about the obvious Religious Commentary and instead wonder why the creators of the game took the time to draw up a curvaceous nun if they weren’t even going to let us watch her boobs bounce a little or something, like in this shitty movie called Sacred Flesh that we subjected ourselves to about a month ago. If you see it on Netflix, just keep moving. It’s not worth it.
ANYWAYS, Double transforms from one fetish object (sexy nun) to a gross amalgamation of ALL of the fetish objects represented in the game. We believe that Double is a way of the developers saying, “If you’re playing this game for the t and a, then you’re playing it for the wrong reasons.” Kind of like our discussion of Rachel from Ninja Gaiden Sigma making you terrible at Ninja Gaiden Sigma a few weeks ago.
“Quit focusing on the boobs and play the gaddang game.”
It should also be noted that Double and Valentine represent the two most readily apparent fetish characters in the game (sexy nun and sexy nurse) AND are the two “evil” characters in the diegesis. Because sex is bad or something. Or maybe it’s just NOT THE POINT of this game, which we would like to maintain. It’s a clever use of fighting game genre tropes to show how dumb the genre tropes are, and we can get behind that (tee hee).
Come back later this week for more Skullgirls Character Discussions, because it’s more fun than doing whatever else you do to procrastinate.
Genre and Girl-on-Girl Action: Feminism and Skullgirls by Megan Townsend
Skullgirls.com Official Web Site