Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

The Comic : The Movie : The Game : The Review
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: August 18, 2010
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Last week I knew nothing about Scott Pilgrim except it was a movie that was coming out (by Edgar Wright, one of my favorite directors) based on some comic book, and that there was a game being released in conjunction with the film. Since then I have read the entire comic series, finished the game, and watched the movie. I now consider myself to be an expert in all things Scott Pilgrim, and I can honestly say I have enjoyed the franchise in all three mediums. In fact, it amazes me that no one had told me to pay attention to Scott Pilgrim at any point in the last 6 years, since it revolves around video games, Smashing Pumpkins references and smarmy humor, three things that would be on my list of "likes" if I ever got my own Playgirl centerfold. But enough about me, you are here to find out more about the game, so let's get to it.

If you haven't already read the comic or seen the movie, don't worry. They don't go into a lot of plot in the game, but I'll give you a quick rundown of the story so you can follow along. Scott Pilgrim dates an underaged girl, meets girl closer to his own age he falls in love with, leaves underage girl but finds out he needs to defeat properly aged girls seven evil ex-boyfriends, proceeds to do so with the occasional help of his former underaged ex-girlfriend and also receives dubious assistance from his band-mates and friends. That should get you up to speed.

The first thing that will come to mind when you play Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is the old NES classic River City Ransom (unless you are a youngster who has never heard of anything before Grand Theft Auto 3). How could it not, being a beat-em-up with charming retro 8-bit sprites (by famed artist Paul Robertson) and a beautiful chiptune score (by also-famed group Anamanaguchi), wrapped around a game where you progress through town beating up gangs and fighting bosses, with some time for shopping on the side. There is no doubt that RCR was the template for this game (with some strong influences from Castle Crashers), but as befits the license, there are countless other references to video games tossed in throughout your journey to defeat the seven evil exes. The world map is an homage to Super Mario Brothers 3, one level design mimics Double Dragon and the thunderous KO that appears after each successful boss fight is lifted directly from Street Fighter Alpha 3. Many, many more are sprinkled everywhere, and the game does a good job of not only representing the movie, but also includes many touches and characters that were only found in the comics.

Nostalgia and callbacks are nice, but they don't carry any weight if the game itself isn't any good. Movie licensed games have a long and mostly negative track record, and there were undeniable rumors floating around that Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was rushed out the door to meet the film release date. While there seems to be some proof of that, they certainly found the time to polish the gameplay. I feel safe saying, as a beat-em-up fan, that Scott Pilgrim can take it's place as one of the rulers of the genre, thoroughly rendering the may games whose footsteps it follows in outdated. The amount of content packed into this title for $10 makes it an incredible bargain by todays standards. The game features seven levels that are of robust length, 4 playable character initially (with 2 more available to be unlocked) that can be leveled through 16 levels, and each level adds another move to your repertoire (many of which are unique to each character), as well as four stats that can be increased through purchasing items in the shops. You can play co-op with up to four players (local only, unfortunately) and there are tons of codes (all replicas of famous codes from the past when codes were still popular) that unlock all sorts of cool bonuses. For a brawler, this game is surprisingly deep.

The gameplay itself is fairly standard for the genre. You choose between Scott, his girlfriend Ramona (she of the evil exes), or one of the two Sex Bob-Omb bandmates (love that band name), Steven Stills (The Talent) and Kim Pine (she used to date Scott). They all control identically, with the four face buttons corresponding to light attack, heavy attack (these vary between characters... Ramona uses a huge hammer that appears from subspace[her purse] for her heavy attack), block and jump. The triggers control taunting and your "special move" that is a fairly weak attack that knocks back all enemies at the cost of some willpower. Taunting causes you to summon you underaged ex-girlfriend Knives Chau to show up and do something helpful (sometimes she brings coffee which makes you enter hyper mode for a brief time where you move super fast), and if you are playing co-op taunting together unleashes special co-op attacks (sort of like The Simpsons arcade game). Tapping twice in any one direction will dash, and as you level up you unlock a few simple combos.
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