Which of the Switch's October fighters is most deserving of the win?
Skullgirls: 2nd Encore is perhaps the most beautiful high res, hand-drawn 2D fighter ever. It's been critically acclaimed for years and is available on just about every platform as of today, its launch date for Nintendo Switch. Just last week, another 2D fighter called Roof Rage was released on the same console. This one is all-new, still working to build an audience, combining elements of AAA fighters like Street Fighter and Smash Bros. together with deep-cut darlings like Samurai Gunn and Outfoxies in equal measure.
These are about as different as games in the genre can get, though they both excel in the areas they prioritize. If Skullgirls is a hyper-focused distillation of everything great about the Capcom superhero rave arcade era, then Roof Rage is a jack of all trades, master of... three? Maybe even four, depending on how the still in development online mode turns out. They are also both games made by the first generation of developers who barely remember a time before Street Fighter and Smash Bros. existed. Neither has much interest in simulating an actual fight. Both take the wildest moments of '90s fighters as a baseline and build on the abstraction from there.
But which game deserves to win the battle for your hard-earned cash? Read on to find out!Round 1: Going solo
Round 1 goes to Skullgirls.Round 2: One-on-one
I hate to say it, but Roof Rage doesn't really stand a chance on this one. Still, there was a point when I thought it might be able to score an upset. Despite the fact that they are all so small, each of the game's fighters has a very different feel, with tanks like Yamaha and Pakaw feeling appropriately heavy and rugged, while zoners like Punk and Lionel feel appropriately intimidating at a distance and fragile up close. There is a character based on Ryu, which is relatively standard for modern 2D fighters, but there's also a guy designed to make Samurai Gunn players feel at home. On top of that, every character has a shared projectile move; they can pick up roof tiles, throw them, or even catch them mid-air. It's a clear tribute to Towerfall's arrow mechanics that adds a wrinkle of depth rife with potential. It also has Towerfall's wall jump mechanics, which will make platformer pros feel right at home.
Round 2 goes to Skullgirls.
Round 3: Party Time
Here's where Roof Rage's claws come out. Allowing for up to 8 players at a time, it's already got a huge advantage over most other fighters today when it comes to group play. Combine that with the previously mentioned available playstyles and you have an easy-input fighter that everyone from Street Fighter to Smash to Towerfall fans can pick up and play right away.
There's also the fact that in Roof Rage, knocking out an enemy by draining their life bar is just as viable as knocking them out of the arena. You may be low on health, but an effective edge guard and meteor smash can still win you the match. Likewise, if you know that playing King-of-the-Hill style isn't your speed, you can choose a character that isn't tailored to those strategies while keeping yourself away from ledges. The large and varied range of stages, each tailored to play to a particular character's strengths, further emphasizes the party power here.
Round 3 goes to Roof Rage.Round 4: Longevity
Round 4 goes to Roof Rage.
That's right folks! It's a tie! What an upset, right? I can't say I'm too sad about it though. I like it when everybody at least kind of wins, and neither of these games deserves any sort of loss.
More than anything, I just hope people give Roof Rage a chance, as its the new kid on the block and things could go either way for it at this point. Skullgirls is already a hit on other consoles and its reputation will be enough to help it find its audience wherever it goes. For an all-new independently developed fighter on Switch, in today's crowded market with no reputable publisher to rely on for marketing and reputation, it could go either way, no matter how good your game is. There was a time when Skullgirls was in a similar position, with just a few playable characters on its roster and no pre-installed fan base to call on for support. Eventually, though, it found its place. I hope Roof Rage manages to do the same.
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