If you haven’t been swept up in the Scott Pilgrim phenomena yet, you soon will be. This graphic novel turned motion picture tugs at the heart strings of all gamers with quirky references to classic titles, and an overall 8-bit feel at its core. As with most movies nowadays there is of course a videogame tie-in. Ubisoft has crafted a downloadable side-scroller to accompany Scott Pilgrim’s film debut and much like the movie, the game takes a stroll down memory lane.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a definite kick-back to old-school game design. From the look, to the sounds, to the punishing repetition, this game was made for children of the 80s. If you have ever played classics such as Final Fight, Streets of Rage, or more appropriately River City Ransom, then Scott Pilgrim will be familiar. It has been a while since I jumped into a game with blinking arrows directing me where to go, which was always comical as you can only move left to right. Still the nostalgia is absolutely intoxicating and with every enemy you take out, the game feels more at home on something like the Super Nintendo.
At its core Scott Pilgrim is a straight-ahead beat ‘em up title. You move left to right thwarting similar enemies and of course picking up giant coins and weapons. The formula is as old as gaming itself, but rarely is it presented with such style this day and age. One of the bigger twists on the classic formula though is the ability to level up one of the four main characters. I also want to mention that this is a must if you are attempting to tackle the single-player game alone. Some of the levels can become excruciatingly difficult, that is until you figure out the enemy patterns.
Not everything in the world of Scott Pilgrim is bright and colorful though. One of my biggest issues is that if you are playing solo the game’s levels are extremely long and definitely tough. Leveling up helps, but unless you enjoy repetition you will more than likely get frustrated frequently. Now this can be remedied by teaming up with your friends in co-op play, but this also comes with its own set of problems.
The first and most noticeable problem is a lack of online co-op. While the game does support up to four players you will all be forced to be in the same room to enjoy this awesome feature. The second biggest issue with the co-op play is that there is no drop-in, drop-out option. So if you want to enjoy the game with friends you will have to start a game together, which can be a pain if you are in the middle of a session when friends drop by. Outside of that once you get a good game of co-op going the game truly shines. I hope that in the future perhaps we could get a patch to add in these omissions, but as it stands they stand out like a sore thumb.
I guess the biggest problem with Scott Pilgrim is that it feels structured for co-op play, but that feature feels a bit lacking. If you plan to go at it solo prepare for plenty of grinding, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the atmosphere and levels are definitely a treat to play through.
When it comes to the visuals I cannot express how much I really enjoyed the way Scott Pilgrim is designed. The colorful sprites look fantastic in HD, and the bonus levels are a treat for anyone who played some of the more obscure 16-bit titles. Each level has a personality all its own, and traversing each one is more enjoyable than the last. The music is just as fantastic featuring chiptune band Anamanaguchi. The tracks all mesh into the world perfectly, and if you are a fan of the bleeps and blips of cartridge-based gaming, this soundtrack will melt your ears, in a good way.
Scott Pilgrim is definitely a niche game that is appealing to a specific audience, much like the movie itself. If you don’t enjoy old-school looks, repetitive gaming and blips for music, then you obviously aren’t the one this game is aimed at. However, if those things give you goose bumps and memories of beating up the same enemy over and over then Scott Pilgrim is your game. For ten bucks it is hard to argue with such passion. Now if we could only get a patch to help with the co-op mode.
Review copy provided by publisher.