TX Review Score:
- Fun brawler that mixes old and new
- Four playable characters
- Hidden unlockables
- Awesome 2D aesthetics
- Fantastic soundtrack
- Ten dollar price tag
- No online cooperative play
- Frustrating elements inherent with beat ‘em ups
- Occasional graphical glitches
It’s easy to say that Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is pandering to a gullible gaming audience. Video gamers have high regard for the classics, and any mention or reference to them can stir up a great amount of enthusiasm with minimal effort. However, there is a fine line between pandering and genuine affection. Through sheer craftsmanship and infectious charm, Scott Pilgrim comes off as a genuinely heartfelt tribute to the games of yore and a great companion-piece to the film. More so, it is an extremely fun brawler which emphasizes the genre’s strengths, and still avoids various problems that plague the many beat ‘em ups that give it its inspiration.
Much like the old games it tries so hard to emulate, the story in Scott Pilgrim is explicitly stated in the opening. The titular character is in love with Ramona Flowers, a girl with quite a lot of baggage. This baggage comes in the form of seven evil ex-boyfriends, each with their own individual powers and unique levels to traverse. Now it’s up to Scott, his band mates, and even Ramona herself to take down the exes and live happily ever after.
This seven stage story should last you anywhere between 4-5 hours if playing solo and about 2-3 if playing with a group of competent buddies. The game features four playable characters, each with their own list of moves and specialties. Each of them also levels up individually (yes, this game has RPG elements), and adding this to the game’s three difficulty settings, hidden characters, and hidden game modes, there’s actually a bit more to Scott Pilgrim than first meets the eye. The one fault in Scott Pilgrim’s suite exists in the absence of online multiplayer. Although I am of the opinion that these types of games benefit more from being in the same room with the individuals you’re playing, it should be obvious not everybody has such ready access to live bodies. It makes this oversight seem kind of major, but early indications are pointing towards a possibility of online co-op being patched into the game at a later date.
This problem, however, doesn’t figure into the gameplay, which is as fun, frantic, and frustrating as you’d expect from a beat ‘em up. Scott Pilgrim makes no illusions about its similarities to games such as River City Ransom, Double Dragon, and Final Fight, and for those who have played those games, you’ll know just what to do. Move from left to right and beat up dudes, only occasionally stopping to purchase health and stat-buffing items from in-game shops to stay in the fight. Playing the game solo puts more emphasis on building up your chosen character, and frustration will inevitably set in with some rather hectic fights, but playing with friends means you can make the most of the game’s mechanics and brute force your way through the majority of the game. In short, you move from left to right and beat up dudes. Sure, there’s a lot more to it than that, as Scott Pilgrim throws in some modern elements like air juggles alongside the classic clear-out moves and assists that have been with the genre since Streets of Rage.
This might seem like Scott Pilgrim is just a re-hashed version of these classics, but its uniqueness really comes through in its various boss fights, enemy types, and mini games. Ironically, these ALSO play into the game’s reverence for video games. Kim Pine flies on a star like Kirby, wolverines attack like their name-sake from the Marvel vs. Capcom series, a Guitar Hero inspired bass guitar battle takes place, and you’ll even bust up a car like you were playing Street Fighter II. I won’t spoil the multitude of other references in the game, but if you’re a video game fan, you’ll eat up all the lovingly placed homages found within.
Perhaps the most delectable part of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is its presentation. The 2D sprites and backgrounds look phenomenally detailed and ooze charm and character from every pixel. In a generation that seems to value the grey and brown color-scheme above vivid coloration, it’s refreshing to see a game looking so lively. Speaking of lively, the soundtrack (handled entirely by the band Anamanaguchi) is absolutely fantastic. It bursts with the hooks and high-level energy of the most classic gaming soundtracks and fits in perfectly with the game’s old-school sensibilities.
Brawlers are known for a relatively short shelf-life and while Scott Pilgrim isn’t the longest or deepest game, it has plenty to love. For ten dollars, there doesn’t exist a brawler with more charm and fun packed in. It doesn’t avoid every pitfall that the genre is known for, and it is far from a perfect game, but for fans of the movie, of classic brawlers, and of punching things (and why wouldn’t you be?) this game is a relative no-brainer. Grab some friends and prepare to take on the world.