More than ten years ago now, Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim was a flashpoint in “indie” comics. Using a style similar to manga but with its own unique vibe, this series brought the kind of “slice of life” rom-com sensibilities of its peers into the videogames/comics/fandom space. Once it took off it really took off, inspiring more works of its ilk, a Universal film adaptation and a permanent spot in the pop culture canon. There was even a videogame, which was kinda neat. Unfortunately that game was delisted in 2014.
But now it’s back. Ubisoft has finally re-released (through tons of horrifying rights negotiations I’m sure) Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game, a River City Ransom/Kunio-kun inspired adventure/brawler hybrid dressed to the nerdy nines with Paul Robertson’s unrelenting pixel art and Anamanaguchi’s “garage band with a NES instead of a singer” musical gimmick. It’s called the “Complete Edition” now, which mostly means there’s a bit of included DLC, and the post-launch online multiplayer intact and ready to roll on day one.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition Review
As a work, Scott Pilgrim is absolutely the number of years old it is. The comic series was revelatory for many who were venturing outside of superhero comics for the first time, but it hasn’t entirely aged well. Still, there are plenty of fans and perhaps more importantly, this is such a cool-ass videogame that even if you have misgivings about the source material, this thing is a blast regardless.
The Kunio-kun formula is definitely one worth taking inspiration from, and you could even say Scott Pilgrim’s developers were validated in that choice in the years since as the River City brand has only expanded its presence over here in North America. Arc System Works has taken that brand and run with it, and that could very well provide more context to bolster the appeal of this game.
Basically, this isn’t just an arcade-style, Final Fight-inspired beat ‘em up like your Simpsons or Ninja Turtles licensed classics. There’s much more of a RPG vibe here, with areas to explore, stats to grind, secrets to find and hella shopping to do. It’s still split into levels unlike the games it draws from, but Scott Pilgrim appropriately wears its influences on its sleeves.
This can be to Scott Pilgrim’s detriment, as the need to get stronger can often get in the way of more casual play, especially dropping into some multiplayer with your friends. It’s easy to find yourself a bit undercooked as the levels go on, forcing you (if you haven’t) to make more of an effort to grind money and buy stuff to make those numbers go up. But this game isn’t unforgiving; just a bit finicky.
The real fuel lighting this fire is the art style and music. This game came out in an era when the chiptune music scene was really reaching a new level of popularity, and having a game that embraced that aesthetic so eagerly is a real treat. It even stands out today among all the pixel art-style indie games we’ve seen since, as Robertson’s art and Anamanaguchi’s music use the old school, retro gaming, pixel and chips thing as a springboard into their own contemporary work, taking these elements much further than nostalgia.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game is a great experience, but don’t jump into it expecting something massive, or some kind of super bonus edition. This is a move that’s frankly surprising considering the business realities of game preservation, but it’s also quite frankly a huge deal because of that. This game has often been the poster child for worries about digital gaming and expiring licenses, so seeing the most infamous delisting of our times make a comeback like this is reassuring in ways that go beyond this single piece of software. Also, Limited Run Games finally gets to touch Scott Pilgrim, something that has been a running joke there for years. Everybody wins!
If you’re on the hunt for some new multiplayer action, especially of the local, button-mashing kind, you can’t go wrong with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game. Whether you’re playing it for the first time or upending your wallet for the collector’s editions from Limited Run, this is the kind of celebratory release more games like it deserve. Even if you already have the game sitting on your PS3 or 360, this is a great chance to move it up to your modern platforms without worrying about losing it from your old hard drive.
At the end of the day, it’s just nice to see things like this happen.
- Delisting is a crime, and here we see justice
- This game’s style holds up better than the original story
- Multiplayer online being here on day one is great
- Can be grindy
- Online structure is awkward
- Gotta worry about it being delisted again
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review.