While Black Dahlia won’t be officially coming to Skullgirls 2nd Encore until early 2023, the Alpha for the character is well underway, featuring the near-launch version of the latest DLC character.
Admittedly, I’m no Skullgirls expert. My history with the game has been one of violently bouncing against it, with its unforgiving complexity and seeming lack of learning players who haven’t already labbed hundreds of hours in the game. That being said, I’ve always come back because there’s something just so pure about the experience. In the face of many fighting games being more approachable, Skullgirls has held up the flag of being an experimental and bizarre game- like the hyper fighters it’s so clearly inspired by.
From her barrel setups to her timebombs to even her bunny girl hit squad, it feels like Black Dahlia can seemingly do it all. She’s a character seemingly built to excel with filling the screen with garbage- except garbage doesn’t have a hitbox associated with it. Even her command normals seem packed with utility- like her bear trap which puts distance between her and her unsuspecting enemies.
Burger King-style Combos
It feels like everything about Black Dahlia is another tool you can use to play Skullgirls in a myriad of ways. Her game plan doesn’t seem much more complex than simply making your opponent put down their controller in frustration. At her most basic, she’s got her grenade launcher- with 6 shots tucked neatly in the game’s HUD. A special move to reload them reveals something far more sinister, though- she’s actually got different ammo types, with different effects that can be loaded into each shot at random via the reload move. There’s even a perfectly timed version, and a metered version that lets you buck RNG to instead choose which rounds are being loaded in.
Just combining that with her teleport- a special that can cross up and feint- you’ve already got a stew going for an incredibly strong character. But she has so much more going on with her various specials that it feels like you’re looking at the next tournament staple.
Black Dahlia's new changes and supers are fucking sick. pic.twitter.com/R1WxqfLt8t
— SonicFox @ MFF (@SonicFox) December 14, 2022
Part of it is the fact that she just feels so free. In a lot of fighting games, it can feel like characters are locked into a specific win condition. But Black Dahlia has so many decisions she can make- her Stage Hazard super lets her kick a barrel down the stage, leaving a trail of oil to interact with her projectiles and moves. In fact, certain moves can blow the whole thing up, keeping enemies in the air or catching them off-guard. That’s very much what the spirit of Skullgirls has always been: for goodness’ sake, you can play it as a 1v3 fighter.
Even her bunny girls seem like the sort of thing other fighting games would demand patched out immediately- harassing players until they can successfully land two physical hits on them. To the outsider, this seems like a game-end scenario. To the decent Skullgirls player, I’m sure it’s just a matter of playing the match-up right.
I’m not saying this kind of freedom is unique to Black Dahlia either- the game’s whole roster is full of some of the most mechanically solid hyper fighters this side of Darkstalkers. But with the character’s release so soon now’s a great time to get any of your friends into it- if you can stomach the idea of a character rigging her own assist with a timebomb and blowing it up for a quick kill, you’re probably going to love one of the FGC’s greatest underdogs.
If you’re the all-in type, you can access Black Dahlia’s Alpha now by getting the game’s season pass- you’re sure to have fun workshopping all sorts of vile combos for people.