If you’re a fighting game fan, then odds are you’ve probably heard about a quirky fighting game called Skullgirls. What you might not know is what its developer has done for a very strange fan project, one completely unrelated to Skullgirls.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
No, you aren’t reading that incorrectly. For the few of you who don’t know about the strange phenomenon that is My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, I’ll explain a bit about it. It’s pretty much exactly what you would expect from the title: a cartoon based on the “My Little Pony” brand of toys from Hasbro. What makes it different is – mainly — the person who was hired to attempt to bring the toys to life yet again. Lauren Faust, well-known for her work on The Powerpuff Girls (with now-husband Craig McCracken), Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Super Best Friends Forever, and now, Galaxy Girls, signed on with Hasbro after some tough negotiations for creative freedom. Given that freedom, Faust set out to resurrect (pun intended) the franchise’s television presence.
No one, anywhere, could have predicted her success in doing so.
It started simply enough — a few animation fans noticed that Faust was doing some extremely high quality animation in Flash. A few episodes of admiration in, and a real enjoyment took hold of people watching. Excellent voice acting, top notch writing, and the aforementioned animations combined to create a genuinely good cartoon show, that just so happened to be aimed specifically at young girls and their parents. Societal impetus be damned, male fans began to flock to the show. The fanbase grew amongst 13 to 35-year old males, gaining popularity by word of mouth. Soon a full-fledged community had arisen to enjoy the show, and the name that they chose for themselves was: “Brony.”
A couple years and a pair of seasons of the show later, and hundreds of fan works had been made; from the regular fan art to the fan-made music, and of course to the fan fictions (and, naturally, all of these falling in some circles to the infamous Rule 34 [if you don't know that "internet rule," don't look it up at work]), Bronies were creating as much fan work as any other engaged fandom. So while it wasn’t all that surprising that a few fans were building their own game based on the characters from the show, it was, at the very least, amusing to find out that the genre these fans had chosen was (pause for dramatic effect) a fighting game.
My Little Pony: Fighting is Magic
Fighting is Magic was the name that Mane6 ( the “Mane Six” in the show are the six main characters. Get it? Mane. Ha! Fun with homophones), the newly formed game developer, chose for their game featuring Hasbro’s multi-colored ponies. The game made splashes in the gaming scene as well as the intended Brony audience, and came in 4th in EVO’s Charity Fundraising Competition. Unfortunately for Mane6, this — and other bouts of big publicity for Fighting is Magic — caused Hasbro to take notice of the game. In due time, Hasbro issued a Cease and Desist to Mane6. Not to be defeated so easily, Bronies bemoaned the sad loss of a potentially excellent game online. Fan outcry about the cancellation of a game so long in the works eventually reached the ears of Lauren Faust, who offered to create entirely new characters, in a new setting, for Mane6′s game.
So how does Skullgirls figure into this? Recently, thanks to the generosity of Japanese video game publisher Marvelous AQL, Lab Zero – creator of Skullgirls — has been hard at work on the port of its Indie fighting game to the PC. As a part of this, they launched an IndieGoGo Campaign to fund the development of a new character, with the stretch goals being second and third characters. All of these goals were reached neatly, and so Skullgirls will go on to add three new characters; each one, I’m sure, will be as amusing as the rest of their wacky cast. The strange thing was — buried amongst the many and various stretch goals — the inclusion of a stretch goal unlike the others, and made stranger still for being unrelated to Skullgirls in any way: “[at] $725,000: Mane6 will get the Skullgirls engine to use, for free!” This goal is exactly what it sounds like: if enough money is raised for their crowdsourcing campaign (a note: enough money was raised), Lab Zero would give the pony-themed developer the Skullgirls engine to use in their own game. Now Mane6 is hard at work creating… whatever they decide to call Fighting is Magic v2.0.
The story of Fighting is Magic’s rise, then fall, and its slow climb back up is a weird, inspiring story of friendliness and Indie developers, and it is a testament to Mane6′s dedication that they didn’t simply give up when their original project was shut down.
So, whether you know a Brony, love ‘em, hate ‘em, didn’t know about them, or are just plain apathetic about them, Mane6 seems to have a good idea of what they’re doing, and with Lauren Faust on board, it’s certain to be one fascinating game.