Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game Review (PSN)

 

It’s like River City Ransom and Streets of Rage mixed together and made for the Neo-Geo Arcade Cabinet

 

O Canada. It’s such a charming country and I feel proud to be Canadian. Although not a major world stage, a lot nevertheless does happen here, espically in Toronto, the location Scott Pilgrim takes place in.

As shaming as it is, I have yet to read the Canadian exploits of Scott Pilgrim and his friends.I’m just not enough of a nerd I suppose. I’ll have to fix that. Luckily for me,  the series has recently expanded beyond black and white pages into other, much more exciting media.

2010 has been a pretty important milestone for the series. The sixth graphic novel has been released, a film adaptation has deputed to the world (see it. It’s good), and best of all, there’s a new videogame based on the property that owes its very existence to parodies and references to nerd culture.

The game was obviously planned to be released alongside the film so that each can help promote the other. The problem what that is obvious to anyone who has been gaming for a long time. With very few exceptions, videogames based on movies are always terrible.  So the question is, how good is the game counterpart of the Scott Pilgrim Vs the World movie?

Story

Scott Pilgrim,  a 23 year old slacker and bass player for the band Sex Bob-omb from Toronto, falls in love with the mysterious Ramona Flowers, a delivery girl with weird mystical powers to travel in into the subconscious. Scott soon learns that in order to be with her, he must first defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends, who have formed a syndicate and are out to kill him for some reason. It makes no sense, but its a videogame plot. Or rather it’s the novel plot based on videogame plots then put into this videogame. Whatever.

Graphics

Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game is a beautiful, sprite based game that looks like it could have been made for the SNK Neo-Geo hardware. Lush, beautiful 32-bit sprites animate with cartoon-like motion. I can honestly say that Scott Pilgrim vs The World has some of the best looking sprites I’ve ever seen, Arcana Heart, Odin Sphere and Muramasa included. The reason the sprites look so good is in large part thanks to the wonderful art direction.

The art direction. under the unbelievably talented pixel artist Paul Robertson, makes this game the playable embodiment of his sprite films, just without the extreme violence. If that doesn’t make you want to play this game, then nothing will.

I can completely imagine Scott Pilgrim vs the world the game as an arcade cabinet co-op game I could have played endlessly growing up. From the way even the shop characters animate to the clever use of parallax scrolling, Scott Pilgrim will satisfy anyone looking for a retro-fix on their new console. It handles similar to classic Konami games such as The Simpsons Arcade or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Arcade.

Audio

The entire soundtrack for Scott Pilgrim vs The World The Game is composed by American chiptune band Anamanaguchi. Distinctive as their prior works, the soundtrack is composed by the wonderful sounds of both the real NES and Gameboy hardware, as well as real drums and guitars.

Scott Pilgrim has some of the best music I’ve heard in any game in a long time. I personally have a soft spot for chiptune music, but this stuff I think has universal appeal.

Just check out this track to the first stage to get a taste of what you’re in for.

Gameplay

Scott Pilgrim vs the world the game is a homage to all the great beat ’em ups of yore, but is espically a homage to the Technos NES classic, River City Ransom. It isn’t completely identical as there is now a RPG-like level up system, encouraging replayability.

As you fight enemies, they will burst into coins, which you collect to spend in shops for food and items that restore health, boost your stats and sometimes even allow you to level up. being a Canadian property, enemies burst into Canadian coins. This was completely unnecessary, but the attention to detail with minor aspects like this really do add up.

You can pick up just about anything  lying around and use it as a weapon, from baseball bats to garbage cans, even fallen enemies and snowballs. Most of the make-shift weapons do a fair bit of damage and are great for crowd control. Best of all, nearly all objects you can pick up can be used infinitely and don’t disappear if dropped, a true rarity in beat ’em ups.

Control

Scott Pilgrim is a fairly simple beat ’em up, but employs the use of six buttons! Two are for attacks (weak and strong), a jump, block and two special moves used for crowd control. The controls themselves are responsive and the game is fun to play, no matter if you prefer the d-pad or the analog stick. Most of the time you’ll only be using the two attack buttons and the jump, so don’t feel overwhelmed by the number of buttons the game uses.

On the PS3, most likely due to tight scheduling, Scott Pilgrim cannot be played with most USB controllers. Only the PS3 controller and a select few arcade sticks can be used. My Sanwa modded Datel PS3/360 stick works perfectly, but none of my other sticks seem to work at all. This is a real shame, as Scott Pilgrim is built as an arcade brawler, and is best experienced using a quality arcade stick.

This unfortunately also means the Saturn USB controller can’t be used either. It’s a real shame. Hopefully this will be fixed in a future update. This is my one and only major complaint with the game.

Frustration

Scott Pilgrim is at heart, an arcade game. Much of the difficulty from classic coin-op games is present, and therefore so is much of the frustration those games entail. The game can be played solo, but it’s a lot easier and more enjoyable when playing with a group of friends.

Evidently due to time restraints, Ubisoft did not implement any online co-op, so you’ll either need to go through this one alone or with a group of friends on your couch.

The game gives you three lives for a stage, but depending on your level, sometimes this just won’t be enough to complete everything. Mercifully, the game allows you to retain any experience.

You can also revisit previously beaten stages, so it’s also possible to level grind if you feel the need. Doing this allows you to gain more cash as well, so it’s not a wasted effort. The level cap is at a mere level 16, so even if you do choose to grind, you won’t have to do so for long.

System availability and price

Scott Pilgrim is a downloadable game for the Playstation 3 or the Xbox 360. The game is $9.99 on PS3, and 800 Microsoft Points on Xbox 360.

Audience

Scott Pilgrim features none of the gore and extreme violence Paul Robertson is known for, and there’s no blood either unless you enter a password. The game’s cartoony graphics make it friendly for anyone to enjoy.

History

Scott Pilgrim was originally a series of black and white graphic novels released between 2004 and 2010. The series is known for many references to nerd culture that would appeal to gamers currently in their 20’s. Some references are obvious such as the band Scott is in being called “Sex Bob-omb”, where bob-ombs are the wind up bomb enemies first featured in Super Mario Bros. 2 for the NES.

If you know a good deal of NES gaming, you’ll get a lot of these references. It should be pretty obvious to everyone what the cover for volume 3 shown above is a reference to.

Other references, such as rival band names “Clash at the Demonhead” and “Crash and the boys”, are actually titles of obscure NES games. The Scott Pilgrim vs the World game is jam-packed with these sorts of references, and its fun to go through every stage and see how many you can notice. Maybe you ought to stop by the video store and pick up a copy of “Never ending Fantasy”. I hear that’s a long running RPG series!

Overall

Good

Brilliant graphics, addictive music, fun fast placed gameplay and the references to the past twenty or so years of nerd culture make this game a clear winner. The game is lengthy for a beat ’em up I’d say around 4 -6 hours worth of gameplay here. Not bad for $10.

Bad

The fact that you can’t play this online stings. Worse, the fact that you can’t use the wonderful USB Sega Saturn controller and many arcade sticks means you will probably have to use the stock controller, which is a total bummer.

Conclusion

Scott Pilgrim vs The World The Game is just as good of a game as those it is paying homage to. If you’re a fan of Scott Pilgrim, this game is a no-brainer, but even if you don’t care about the series, there’s enough solid game here to itch that retro fix.

It might not cutting edge, but Scott Pilgrim proves that there still is a place in this modern HD gaming scene for brand new, 2D sprite based action games.

If you’ve read this far, you owe it to yourself to at least download the demo. Scott Pilgrim will not disappoint.

Data

Platform: Playstation 3, Xbox 360

Genre: Beat ’em up

Release Date: August 10/25, 2010

Devoloper: Ubisoft Montreal

Publisher: Ubisoft

Developer’s notable other works: 3D Prince of Persia series, Assassins Creed series

ESRB: Teen

Buy or skip: Buy

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2 Responses to “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game Review (PSN)”

  1. Great review, really in-depth. I liked the demo but LOVED the music, so much so that I had to hunt down the OST almost immediately after playing the first level.

    • satoshimatrix Says:

      That’s only the tip of the iceburg. The game has so many great melodies that play throughout the entire game making it well worth checking out.

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