It's a great time to be a fighting game fan. The genre is in the midst of a renaissance, meaning Skullgirls couldn't have come at a better time. But here's the thing: fighting game tutorials still suck.
Before Skullgirls, that is.
With a fight stick in my lap, I checked out the mix-ups tutorial first. Here, the computer tries to catch you off guard with a bunch of mix-up combos. But the beauty of this is that there isn't any set pattern in place, so the CPU never gets locked into stagnant combos. It's fresh during each attack pattern and it really kept me on my toes.
I was surprised, since a majority of the tutorials in fighting games focus on being offensive and attacking nonstop -- hit confirmations and punishing exercises will certainly be included here -- but skilled players will tell you that constantly attacking is about the dumbest thing you can do. Spacing and a good defense are as paramount to victory as punching your opponent more times than they've punched you. And that's why I was completely enamored by Skullgirls' tutorial area.
These tutorial systems have been serviceable in the past -- for example, BlazBlue: Continuum Shift had a good tutorial system that taught players how to use each character -- but no tutorial system has better illustrated how to effectively master the genre. In BlazBlue, if you've never touched a 2D fighter, you're out of luck. If you've never devoted serious time to a 2D fighting game before, Skullgirls will teach you how to crawl, walk, then dominate your opponents. It wants to train you to be a master and I'm all for that.