Less Than Three
Alex Ahad (design director, artist, animator)
Ryan Tharp, Zinac
Mingbeard, Kenny Wood
SkullgirlS (also referred to as Skullgirls) is a 2D fighting game developed by Less Than Three. It is the precursor to its similarly-named successor, Skullgirls.
The Canopy Kingdom is caught in the midst of a grisly war between two other kingdoms, with no apparent end in sight. Queen Nancy of the Canopy Kingdom finds herself in possession of the Skull Heart, an ancient artifact with the ability to grant the wish of its owner at a substantial cost. If the person who wishes upon the Skull Heart is not pure of heart, they will awaken a great evil, and a Skullgirl will arise to bring ruin upon the world.
In an act of desperation, Queen Nancy wishes upon the Skull Heart for peace amongst the three kingdoms. Perverting her wish, the Skull Heart transforms Queen Nancy into a Skullgirl. Managing to terrorize and cause incalculable amounts of destruction to the three kingdoms before finally being destroyed, Queen Nancy also managed to bring the three kingdoms into an uneasy truce to combat her, and later to band together in the event that a new Skullgirl arises.
In the ruins of the no man's land where a country once stood before the war, a wealthy old man mourns the loss of his faithful maid and only friend, Marie. Anguished by her death, the old man revives her by wishing upon the Skull Heart. Marie was revived, but arises as the new Skullgirl; conflicted between the fond memories of her master and the Skull Heart's wicked ambitions, she soon kills her former master and amasses an undead army of fallen soldiers to take revenge on those who would destroy her land and force her hand into becoming the monstrosity she is.
SkullgirlS was envisioned to have 8 characters on release. Valentine and Double were not planned to be in SkullgirlS as playable characters, but later replaced Umbrella and Squigly in the roster as the game evolved into its final iteration. In the publicly-released alpha versions of SkullgirlS, only Filia and Peacock are playable.
- Filia - An amnesiac schoolgirl who possesses a parasite on her head named Samson.
- Peacock - A young woman mutilated by slavers and rebuilt with an array of powerful and enigmatic weaponry.
- Cerebella - A young lady who possesses a living weapon hat, Vice-Versa, which she uses to bludgeon people into submission.
- Miss Fortune - A fun-loving feral with detachable limbs, kept alive through mysterious means.
- Parasoul - The Princess of the Canopy Kingdom and daughter of the Skullgirl that nearly destroyed the world.
- Umbrella - The young carefree sister of Parasoul, dressed in a raincoat and armed with a powerful living weapon umbrella.
- Squigly - Accompanied by a parasite attached to her head named Leviathan, Squigly is a formerly-deceased young girl who has been reanimated through curious circumstances.
Origins and Development
SkullgirlS' production began in modest in the early 2000s, while creative director Alex Ahad was still in college; many of the ideas, concepts and characters created during this early period over a decade ago appear in the final release. Alex soon recruited the help of Ryan Tharp, the lead programmer of SkullgirlS, to bring his ideas to life through his programming expertise.
Between 2005 and 2007, several alpha builds of SkullgirlS were released to the public. With only two playable characters (Filia and Peacock), these early versions of Skullgirls featured art and concepts not seen anywhere in Skullgirls' final iterations. After 2007, development continued in private with little fanfare or announcements.
Ultimately, almost all of the existing technical groundwork for SkullgirlS was discarded in mid-2009 when Mike Zaimont and Alex Ahad teamed up to recreate the game in Mike's more robust engine. The distinction between SkullgirlS and Skullgirls begins to blur during early 2010, when Mike's gameplay mechanics and Alex's art both start to resemble the final iteration of the game; by this point, SkullgirlS is now referred to in text by its final name, Skullgirls. During this time, Filia as a character is completed and Less Than Three begins a search for a publisher to continue work on their game.
Between late 2010 and early 2011, Less Than Three becomes Reverge Labs. Reverge Labs goes on to create Skullgirls.