Note: Reviewing the 2021 Re-Release
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: The Game, is based off the Graphic Novels of the same name, and with that, it follows the basics of the books plots, more so than the movie does.
Sometimes a game feels like it was perfectly tailored for a person, and back in 2010 when the Scott Pilgrim movie came out, and alongside it the game was released, it felt like it was made specifically for me. I used to say that Platformers were my favorite genre, but I’ve realized that Brawler games are my actual favorite ones, and Scott Pilgrim was the perfect one at the perfect time in my life.
Revisiting it now, with the Re-release in 2021, with both DLC’s bundled together, after about 7 years absence after it was wiped from online store fronts, I can see the faults a bit more. The things that bothered me about the game still bother me, but I am more level headed about the game now than I was back when it originally came out in 2010.
For those who know nothing of the Scott Pilgrim universe, Scott Pilgrim, a 23 year old is in love and wants to date a mysterious Amazon delivery girl named Ramona Flowers… The catch is that he has to fight and defeat her 7 evil exes before they can be together. That’s pretty much the gist of it. So the game follows the story of Scott tracking down and fighting all of Ramona’s exes and defeating them.
The story lends itself quite well to the Brawler format. Going through each level, taking out all opposition and henchmen, be they random dudes, or engineered killer robots, or even zombies. And at the end of the level, you get to fight the evil Ex-boyfriend. Picking up dropped weapons help fight off the numerous thugs that have it out for you, and some light character stat progression does help keep your interest the whole way through.
The Scott Pilgrim universe does what a lot of media does right now, and that’s use a lot of classic pop-culture from the writer’s childhood to fill out the world, and the Scott Pilgrim universe is filled with classic video game references and even world bending formation. What I mean is that in the Scott Pilgrim universe, if you fight and defeat a bad guy, they explode into change, that can be used to purchase upgrades and health. This is cribbed from the NES game called River City Ransom, even Scott’s ex-girlfriend Envy Addams has a band, who uses another NES game’s name, called Clash At Demonhead (another band uses a NES game’s name too, Crash and the Boys).
Many people complained that these references were too much, and were basically just using old game names and ideas to fill out the world. It’s not, and there is a lot of complex ideas at the heart of this series, and just glossing over that with a blanket statement of “its just references” just show how much someone writes something off with just a glance. The universe is filled with references, but really makes the world feel unique and most importantly fun.
Ramona’s subspace highway system, where she can travel long distances, its art style is like a weird video game glitch world, where there is plenty of garbled text and random symbols and letters along the outside of the edges of the screen. The world map is a hub with an overhead view that looks like it’s taken from Mario 3… but enough about the Scott Pilgrim universe, let's talk about the actual game.
Like I said, the ingame map is reminiscent of the Mario 3 overworld map, and once you complete a level, you can actually go back and replay the earlier levels, and this is super important to do, and also one of my biggest issues with the game. The game is supposed to be difficult, but with a grand total of 7 characters, you have to play through the entire game level by level, and just because you got to the third level with Scott, doesn’t mean you can now chose Ramona and pick up at level 3, no, you have to start back at level 1. All the levels are long (the first level takes a half hour to complete the first time through). When you first start out with a character, you are severely underpowered, and it takes forever to level up. In the middle of Level 1, you come across a shopping district and the background has several shops that you can actually go into, which I was not aware of when I first played the game. It actually took me about 8 hours of trying to play through the first two levels over and over again to figure out why I couldn’t progress, and was having such a hard time… the game requires you to use those shops.
The Shops in the game are main for buying health, but a single store in the first level, called the No-Access video store, requires you to pay off Scott’s late fees before you can buy stuff there (and this is the best place to buy stuff at) The late fee is $504, and playing through the first level takes half and hour and will earn you roughly about $50… so to pay off the late fee would take roughly about 5 hours… And that’s what I did originally back in 2010, it just took so long and I had such a bad time with the game, but I was so in love with the series, that I glossed over it.
Since I beat the game back in 2010 I took a much easier road for playing through the game this time. I found that the game allows for you to use the Konami code to basically waste one of your lives in exchange for around $50 in game. So if you want to get about $150 in around a minute, you can use the code while wasting your life. And I did this with each character in the game, but it took a while, because you have to play through the entire first level with each character, and that takes about half an hour.
Once the late fee is paid off, you can then use your money to buy permanent stat boosts and level up your character. This will not only increase stats like power, health and speed, but you can also buy unlockable moves sets. These movesets and stat boosts are the key to actually beating the game. If you don’t, there is no way to actually beat this game without superhuman memorization and timing.
Each level is built around the story and delves deeper into how the book progresses. Some places and characters are completely omitted from the movie, so reading the books will help make more sense of why zombies are showing up, or why there are killer robots after Scott.
And the boss fights really are fun, if not a bit more difficult that they need to be.
In total there are eight stages, the first one taking place throughout a city, getting to the first rock concert, where Romona’s first evil ex, Matthew Patel, is waiting. The snowy landscape and it’s accompanying song “Another Winter” by the chiptune band Anamanaguci, really solidify this game out of the gate as something different. Each thug feels like a threat at the beginning, as it does take a while to take out a single enemy. An annoying factor of enemies being knocked down and having to wait for them to pop back up, so you can continue to beat them up does kill a lot of the built up momentum.
There is a lot to this game, more than it shows at the beginning anyways. There is a hidden strategy that you can figure out if you pay attention. If you kill enough enemies without getting hit, you’ll start flashing, and your strength and speed stats get a temporary boost. With this boost, you become a massive threat to all enemies. There is also a Special move that can be done at the cost of your “Guts” a secondary number that allows you to use the special move if you have enough, and also you can call in a special striker character to help you thin the herd when you get cornered.
Grabbing an opponent will allow you to clobber enemies into a bloody pulp if you can mash the attack button enough times. If you end up falling in battle, due to the loss of enough hit points, and you still have a reserve amount of guts, you can mash some buttons and recover a small sliver of health back without losing a full life. Along with all these little things, there are still small shortcuts through the Subspace Highway, and also hidden shops that will allow you to purchase even more special items to help fight the evil exes and stop Gideon Graves.
The game could have done a better job balancing the difficulty with the enemies and leveling up. I would have really loved a better ingame way of pushing you toward understanding the store system a bit more, and realizing that buying an item is the only way to know what it does (I wasted a lot of good hard earned money on useless items, thinking it would help level me up).
For what Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: The Game really is, it’s hard to be upset with it, especially when there is a good amount of game for $15. The game lacks a bit of tutorialized, and can lean a bit too hard in the direction of “NES Hard”, but you can’t help but smile through the whole game.