Scott Pilgrim Vs The World The Game Review

Genre: Sidescrolling Beat’em Up

Platform: PSN, XBLA

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal/ Ubisoft Chengdu

Price: $9.99 (USD)/ 800 MSPoints

It’s an unspoken rule… actually, it’s kind of a loudly spoken rule, that video games based on movies suck. There are exceptions to that rule, but the overwhelming majority of movie tie in games blow, or maybe it’s just the ones produced by Activision, but I digress.

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World The Game is in an interesting position, however. It is not only based off of a movie, but it’s based off of a movie based off of a series of Graphic Novels by Brian Lee O’Malley. That’s like, a double chance for the game to well and truly bomb.

Fortunately, the developers at Ubisoft opted to take on a novel approach. And by novel, I mean literally rip the game play mechanics of an often overlooked NES classic: River City Ransom.

The plot of the game is no different than that of the movie and the comic book: Canadian everyman Scott Pilgrim must defeat the 7 evil exes of his new love Ramona Flowers. This journey will take Scott, and up to three other player controlled characters, across 7 levels loosely inspired by locales from the film/comic. Players can choose between 4 characters: Scott Pilgrim, Ramona Flowers, Kim Pine, or Stephen Stills. There is also a hidden fifth character, and a free downloadble content pack enabling Knives Chau to be a playable character.

Game play is simple: Players traverse a 2D, sprite based level, punching, kicking, and super-moving their way through hordes of enemies, and face off with a boss (read: Evil Ex), at the end of each stage. There are two primary attacks, strong and light, as well as a super move executed by a the right shoulder button, and a special (left shoulder button), in which a helper character (Knives Chau), will hop down and lend support, at the consumption of Gut Points.

Progression between levels is laid out with an overworld map much like that of Super Mario Bros. 3, allowing players to replay completed levels and grind enemies for experience points, which level up the characters, unlocking new combat moves. There are also stores spread across the levels that can be entered, and using money obtained through fallen foes, world objects, and bonus levels, players can purchase items that will replenish health, as well as items that permanently increase player stats like Strength and Speed. The game design is, verbatim, that of River City Ransom. Which is not a bad thing in the least. Afterall, if you are going to rip off an old school game, why not one of the better ones?

Game play is fast and frantic, and as such, it can be a bit overwhelming to take on the game solo, unless spending quite a bit of time farming earlier levels for money and XP to help level up your chosen character enough to deal with the challenging later levels. Enlisting in a friend or 3 for local co-op play eases the pain, but the added players also lead to a lot of confusion when there are many enemies and player characters all moving across a busy screen, battling it out.

With that said, the game is fantastic fun. It’s challening, wonderfully animated, and packed with more than a handful of homages and references to old school gaming (like the aforementioned Super Mario Bros. 3 and River City Ransom). The game is charming, fast paced, and fun. There are also a few additional game modes like Battle Royal and Soccer that add to the fun with friends. The only negative I can see is the often spotty counter-attack detection (it’s often frustratingly hard to tell when to press the counter button), and the lack of networked co-op play. The almost brutally harsh difficulty when playing solo is a potential negative, but the option to replay areas to level up eases the frustration a bit.

VERDICT: BUY – Fans of old school gaming should get a kick out of this revival of an often underappreciated gaming genre. Fans of the Scott Pilgrim comic will enjoy the rather faithful recreation of O’Malley’s art style, and while the game skimps all of the subtle humor found in the comics and the movie, the visuals, quirky presentation, and fun game play should still satisfy. Its bargain price is another plus in my book. As a game based on a movie based on a comic book, this is one of the best. I highly recommend it.


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