The minute I booted up Scott Pilgrim, I was instantly flooded with nostalgia. It was dark and rain was lashing at the windows due to the horrible storm going on outside. Suddenly I was whisked away to being caught inside during a storm as a 6 year old playing Battletoads on my NES. Then references of games I played in my childhood started to pop up. Sonic the Hedgehod, River City Ransom, Super Mario Bros 2, Double Dragon; they were all there and all for my nostalgic pleasure. And that’s what I love about the Scott Pilgrim franchise. It’s a video game, music and film lover’s series. References to these things pop up in the comics and films and so it deemed only proper to do the same with the game.
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: The Game is a straight up side scrolling beat-em up, taking influence heavily from River City Ransom. The game focuses around the same story as the comics and the film; Scott must defeat Ramona’s evil ex-boyfriends in order to win her heart. So here you find yourself coming toe to toe with the seven evil exes and their wide array of minions sent to stop you ever reaching the final boss stage. As a stripped down beat-em up, it’s OK. It’s familiar territory that we’ve already tread many times. But throw in some gorgeous sprite art by Paul Robertson, a great soundtrack by Anamanaguchi and more nostalgic references than you can shake a faded photo album at.
The main problem is this game is bloody difficult, even on “Average Joe” setting, you will find yourself dying a lot. I can manage to get through at least one stage before losing all my lives. It really does become a pain at times, especially in the longer levels, where you die during the boss fight and then have to start from the beginning of the stage again. Luckily, unlimited continues makes everything much easier, within reason. You’ll find yourself taking back your character to the earlier stages to grind up levels and boost your stats. Whereas the difficulty curve moved upwards at about the same pace as your stats and level in Castle Crashers, Scott Pilgrim ramps things up to eleven from the off.
But raising your stats isn’t too difficult, provided you have the coins to pay for it. Nearly all levels have a shop, if not several, which can provide you with different items. Using the coins collected from defeating bad guys, you can purchase these items to raise certain stats. The only problem is, you don’t know exactly what the items do until you’ve bought them so it’s definitely a guessing game at points.
As you level up, you gain more moves to take down the variety of demo hipster chicks, ninjas and robots. You start with a light/heavy attack, a block, a special move and the ability to call in a special attack, tag team style. From there you can gain elbows, more advanced combos, attack downed enemies and perform judo throws. Once you get these under your belt, it really mixes up the fighting and breaks the repetition that is inevitable with beat-em ups.
What makes Scott Pilgrim really stand out is just the overall feel of the game. The gorgeous sprite work by Paul Robertson plays a huge part with each area looking like its own piece of art. For anyone that has ever wanted to play through his famous video, Pirate Baby’s Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006, now is your chance because it looks equally as beautiful. Each area is littered with references to the comics, with characters such as Young Neil, Julie Powers and so on hanging out in the background and video game references everywhere. It really keeps everything looking fresh and exciting. The music by fantastic chiptune artists Anamanaguchi is perhaps some of their best work and suits the mood of the game perfectly.
Scott Pilgrim is really a co-op game and this is where problems start to arise, for starters, it’s couch co-op only. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; I’m a true believer in couch co-op being the most fun experience you can get with games, but for people who want to play with others not local, they’re unfortunately stuck as there is no online multiplayer. Secondly, it can all get a bit frantic on screen. It’s bad enough playing on your own but with more people it just gets ridiculous
I’m a big fan of the Scott Pilgrim series, it’s pretty much a series based around things I love. The music I love plays a prominent part in the comics and films, TV and film references are everywhere and the nostalgia of old video games is something I love. Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game is a worthy addition to the franchise and perhaps one of the best movie video games you’ll ever find, if you want to classify it as such. It’s just a shame that it can be frustratingly difficult and it chose to put itself in a genre which is somewhat tired in this modern age. I guess some of the references wouldn’t have come off as strong any other way but people seem to be tired of beat-em ups. Having said that, I found it a blast and the attention to detail, in terms of sprite work and just secondary things, really makes it stand out from the pack. With references to Akria, Turtle in Time, Super Mario Bros and more, you’ll definitely be taken back to a nostalgic age.