The movie adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel may have been sleeper hit at the box office, but that doesn’t make the 8-bit, Michael Cera-less title of the same name any less captivating. With the game, players chose one of four distinct characters (Scott Pilgrim, Ramona Flowers, Kim Pine, and Stephen Stills), each touting their own individual moveset and personal upgrades purchasable through coins and experience. It’s a humorous side-scrolling brawler, revolving around each character’s quest to vanquish Flowers’ seven evil exes, and loaded with an eclectic bounty of wacky enemies and equally-absurd scenarios. The progression system is well-developed, the old-school aesthetics well-honed and it offers a viable slew of hidden and unlockable content for the face-punching aficionado. The lack of online and drop-in co-op can be tough to overlook, but the spirited chiptunes and nostalgic-tinged ambiance will keep you glued to the screen from beginning to end. Now, if only there was more Cera in the mix..
Skull Girls — $15
With titles like Bikini Karate Babes and Battle Raper, it’s safe to say Japanese fighting games aren’t devoid of the occasional sexual subtitles. While Skullgirls may posses the iconic short skirts and busty bosoms the genre is known for, it also sport a superbly-crafted and fast-paced fighting system, along with in-depth tutorials that lay the fundamental groundwork for truly playing any classic fighter. The hand-drawn 2D renderings are vivid and lush, bursting with colorful hues and fluid animations, yet many will still find the hypersexualization of the cast rather insulting and misogynistic. Each of the title’s eight female characters perform distinctly and diversely in their quest for the Skull Heart, whether fighting one-on-one or as a three-female squad akin to Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and come properly equipped with alternatives for the unblockable and infinite-looped cheapshots built-in to similar fighters. It’s the perfect amount of frantic, however, I sincerely doubt your mother would like it much. Shame.
Let’s no sugarcoat it: Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown is a no-frills brawler, plain and true. Unlike the Street Fighter franchise and others similar suites of games, Virtua is a title firmly root in actual martial arts, from Shaolin Kung Fu to Tourou-Ken, and adorned with pages upon pages of command lists that utilize three standard buttons (block, kick and punch). The updated incarnation of the complex title runs smoothly, offering some of the most technical and balanced combat of any fighter in history, but the visuals have exactly improved substantially since the game’s ’06 debut. Yet, even without the affordable DLC character packs, the title provides ample bang for your buck considering the overhauled fighting mechanics, advanced tutorials and additional interactive stages. It’s easy to learn, though difficult to master, and finds excellent grounding in the competitive matchmaking. Just don’t expect much of the single-player mode.
Everyone loves a good two-for-one special, especially when it involves two of Capcom’s most finest titles. Final Fight: Double Impact bundles the harrowing dragon-slayer Magic Sword and the laudable, mayoral brawler Final Fight. Although both revel in the original gameplay mechanics and an air of authentic presentation, complete with 16-bit sprites and options for blasting the original soundtracks, it’s Final Fight that sets the high-water mark. The game’s premise is gold: a street gang kidnaps the daughter of Metro City’s mayor, who also happens to be a beefy, retired pro wrestler with a knack for fist-pounding vengeance. With the help of his daughter’s boyfriend and his buddy, you combat your way through a motley crew of baddies, unleashing two-button fury and flying pile drivers on anyone in your path. The inability to pause is a setback, as is the lack of challenge that comes with infinite lives, but it’s just as rewarding as it was in ’89. And let me reiterate: pro-wrestler turned politician.
Capcom often seems like it updates and revamps its fighting titles more than Apple does its iPhone lineup, yet that doesn’t mean the reissues are purely half-baked ports. Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix is one of the best, if not the best, classic title Capcom has ever brought to current-gen consoles. The talented team at Udon Entertainment has given the visuals a HD makeover, with crisp sprites and blazoned backgrounds, while Overclocked Remix lent its hand to remixing the original soundtrack. It’s specifically tailored for the hardcore gamer, featuring well-tuned, and balanced fighting mechanics crafted using input from some of the best Street Fighter players in the world, and devoid of unlockables that might otherwise distract from the game’s classic nuances. Quarter Match Mode is a blast, placing six players in a lobby where they can trash talk and challenge the top-rank player round-robin style, but the title is also bundled with myriad of both offline and online modes. Trust us, Ryu’s Hadouken never felt so damn sweet.