Fighting game Skullgirls recently unveiled one of its latest feminine fighters, the 1920s-inspired character Peacock, a Skullgirl stuffed with in-jokes, pop culture references and homages to fighting games past, all peppered throughout her more than one thousand frames of animation.
Maybe you'll see some of them in her debut trailer above. Maybe they'll slip by you. Don't worry if they do.
The people who make Skullgirls were kind enough to highlight some of those nods and winks to other video games at a pre-E3 play session. I picked up on the more obvious ones: moai heads lifted from Gradius, gags based on The Ring, and a gun that shoots swords, giant robot arms and guns with swords attached to them. Most went by so fast, they'd require a keen eye to spot.
Developer Reverge Labs and Skullgirls co-creator/artist Alex Ahad helped us pick apart those references, plucking about 20 of the more memorable ones and explaining each in the gallery above. Maybe they'll make you like the downloadable Skullgirls, coming to Xbox 360 and PS3 this year, a little bit more.
Why is Peacock ready to punt a ball off the head of her sidekick Avery? "This is a reference to Charlie Brown cartoons, where Lucy always pulls the ball away at the last second," Ahad says. (Don't worry video game fans, there's plenty of gags for you further in.)
Hearkening back to the NES era, Ahad notes "That's the Kuribo Shoe from Super Mario Bros. 3 - truly the most under-appreciated power-up ever."
On Peacock's ruffled feathers, Ahad explains: "These are like Judge Doom's eyes from the end of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, where he reveals that he's a toon, and his eyes become these freaky eye-daggers."
On Peacock burning ants with a magnifying glass, Ahad says "This isn't a reference to anything, and just shows that she's mean. If you cancel out of the move, you can actually save the ant." Don't cancel and that heat ray can hurt your opponent.
"This is a pretty iconic gun-related gag." Indeed.
"Her gun shoots lots of different bullets, including these that look kind of Bullet Bills. Sometimes she'll also say ‘Garbage Day!' when she does the move, too." That's a double reference, from Super Mario Bros. and Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2.
"Peacock's gun can shoot lots of different things, such as this familiar-looking robot fist." Maybe you'll recognize it from Cyberbots, maybe you'll recognize it from Marvel Vs. Capcom 2.
"This sword should look familiar to fighting game fans."
"A gun that shoots a gun that's a sword. With a panda on it... just because."
"This sword should look familiar to RPG fans." Sure! Cloud, right?
"This is a reference to an old Tex Avery cartoon, Bad Luck Blackie, where this cat uses a whistle to call a black cat to give bad luck to a dog that's harassing him, which takes the form of random things falling on the dog's head." Peacock can summon all manner of things that fall from the sky. You'll see a couple of them after this...
"This is the oil drum from Final Fight, which of course contains a roast chicken. And, no, you can't eat it to regain health."
"Take it easy!" This one's obscure.
"Filia [another Skullgirl] is dressed like Sadako from the Japanese version of The Ring. This is also a reference to a piece of Halloween art I did where all the characters were dressed up, and this was Filia's costume."
"This is the NicoNico Douga face." That's Japan's video web site, if you don't know your NicoNico Douga.
"A moai head from Gradius." It spits energy rings, but its the weight of the rock head that hurts.
"This is the refrigerator from Requiem for a Dream." Please, give these guys some credit for this one.
"This is inspired by Hsien-ko's weight and spike ball super." You may know her from Darkstalkers!
"This is the rarest item drop, which is inspired by Dio's steam roller super from Jojo's Bizarre Adventure. Avery goes through the whole motion."