Review of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game

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One of my favorite movies in recent years would have to be Scott Pilgrim versus The World. The flick based on a Bryan Lee O’Malley comic was fun to watch thanks to its combination of over the top action and comedic humor. As a self confessed geek I especially appreciated the film’s over abundance of nerdy pop culture references, which put the average College Humor video to shame. In hindsight I regret that it took me so long to check out the film, which I can blame on its less than impressive trailer. My how I would have loved to experience the Scott Pilgrim spectacle on the big screen. Ah well, at least I can console myself in the knowledge that I wasn’t the only one to miss out on seeing the movie at the cinema. Despite excellent reviews, the Edgar Wright directed feature disappointed at the box office proving once again that the mainstream movie going public has terrible taste in entertainment.

I’ve recently gone on a Playstation Network shopping spree having acquired a new PS3 endowed with a suitably large hard disk for storing downloadable purchases. The new machine replaces my old 40GB console, which sadly died midway during a FIFA 13 matchup. Rest in peace faithful friend. We had some good times over the years playing through the likes of Dead Space, Final Fantasy and Mass Effect. Anyway, given my praise for all things Scott Pilgrim it shouldn’t come as a shock that the Scott Pilgrim video game topped my PSN store shopping list. Having played through it multiple times, with different characters, I am pleased to report that the game is one of those rare examples of a licensed title doing the source material justice.

The game’s zany plot follows the story of both the movie and comic it draws inspiration from. Scott Pilgrim, the 24-year-old bass player of the upcoming band Sex Bob-omb, has started dating Ramona Flowers – an American ninja delivery girl who is in the employment of the online retailer Amazon. Their relationship would be going swimmingly were it not for Ramona’s seven evil exes who will stop at nothing to cock block anyone with aspirations of courting their former lover. If romance between Scott and Ramona is ever to see fruition the couple will first have to teach Flowers’ previous flings a lesson of the fisticuffs variety. Aiding the lovebirds in their struggle are Scott’s fellow band mates Stephen “the talent” Stills and the group’s moody drummer Kim Pine.

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World is a side scrolling beat-em-up much like Final Fight or Double Dragon. The easy to get to grips with gameplay has players progressing through levels pummeling anything that gets in their way. Choosing to forego the realistic looking visuals the PS3 can produce; the game instead opts to go for colorful blocky sprites as a nod to the old school brawlers it is mimicking. As a thirty-year-old game playing dinosaur it is good to see that retro graphics are all the rage these days. It must be said that the simplistic looking character designs work well as they match the artwork that appears in the Scott Pilgrim comic book perfectly.

The game’s story spans across seven levels, which are accessed via a Super Mario like world map (one of many video game references you’ll spot throughout Scott’s adventure.) It’s not the longest brawler on the market, but I feel I have already got my money’s worth as I have replayed it numerous times to unlock a hidden playable character and watch all of the endings on offer. Battling through the stages is always a joy due to the game’s charming sense of humor and varied environments. One moment you will be scrapping with thugs in snowy Toronto, next you’ll be battling Godzilla cosplayers in a movie studio, followed by duels with ninjas at a sushi bar or some graveyard based zombie bashing. You certainly cannot accuse Ubisoft of not changing things up with respect to the level design.

Initially the game may come across as challenging, but that is soon remedied via some RPG style character enhancement. As foes are defeated Scott and chums earn experience points allowing them to eventually level up, which unlocks new moves. When starting life out in level one players are restricted to a couple of punch attacks, but as their level grows new maneuvers are added to their fighting repertoire including the ability to throw opponents, a strike that punishes anyone sneaking up behind you or a sweep for tripping up adversaries. Defeated enemies burst into a pile of coins that can be picked up and spent at stores to further improve your fighter. There’s nothing more satisfying than buying some snacks to beef up your strength and then knocking out uber enemies, that previously gave you trouble, in a sole hit. You’ll feel like such a powerhouse.

For anyone who has enjoyed Scott Pilgrim in its movie or comic book guises this game is a must have. Fans of classic beat-em-ups will also love this downloadable title. An excellent chip tune soundtrack composed by a group named Anamanaguchi compliments the game’s retro art style. Prior to this game I’ve never heard of the band, but having listened to their work I have to say that I am thoroughly impressed. Scott Pilgrim has one of the best gaming scores I have heard in quite some time, proving that you don’t need real instruments or a fancy orchestra to produce excellent music. Much like Streets of Rage or the Mega Man series of years gone by you cannot help but admire what catchy ditties can be produced using nothing more than 8 bit bleeps and electronic synchronizer type sounds.

Much as I loved playing the game solo I would imagine that Scott Pilgrim vs The World would only be more fun if you can take advantage of the co-op multiplayer. The game supports up to four players on one machine, but inexplicably did not offer online play when originally released. That omission has prevented me from sampling the multiplayer as scheduling free time with my buddies isn’t easy when juggling the demands of shift work. Perhaps I should get a girlfriend to join me for some two-player gaming sessions? Nah. Video games have taught me that female companions aren’t worth the hassle. They inevitably get kidnapped, requiring rescue, or have you battling jealous ex-boyfriends for their affections. I don’t have time for such shenanigans when there’s so many uncompleted video games left to play.

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