Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Beat-Em-Up Filled With References Everywhere... The Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game Review (PSN)

Note - Videos are from the XBLA version, but the PSN version looks identical if you wanna compare.

When you have a movie coming out that is filled with video game references or reminds yourself of your gaming past time, it sounds pretty cool in concept. That is the case with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World starring Michael Cera as he dates Ramona, but he has to deal with her seven exes. All of this seems like a cool video game as well as Ubisoft Montreal decided make an old-school beat-em-up revolving this franchise. Being a beat-em-up of the glory days of the genre really fits the description well with Scott Pilgrim reminding you of those games when they were cool from River City Ransom, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Double Dragon. Like the comic book and movie, this game is filled with video game references everywhere with the games you love in the old days as even some of the levels themselves remind you of those beat-em-ups as well. Despite all that fanservice to games in general, does the Scott Pilgrim game live up to those games' legacy? The answer to that yes even though there are still flaws that prevent it from becoming something special.

There are four characters to choose from with Scott, Stills, Kim, and Ramona as the select screen is straight up Super Mario Bros. 2 on the NES with the curtains and more. There is an overworld screen after that refers to the Mario games with pipes and multiple paths. Since there are seven exes to beat up, there are well, seven levels to traverse through, but it is no easy task especially alone. As an old-school beat-em-up, this game is clearly designed for up to four players at once to beat up the opposition and it can be done locally, but not online unfortunately, which is the game's biggest setback. I am not sure what the thought process was behind the developers deciding to not have online co-op, but you do have to consider trying to release the game in time for the movie's release and you also risk the potential of lag issues too especially with a game like this where chaos can be everywhere. However, if you do have three more friends locally to join along, then the game is a total blast.

River City Ransom was pretty much the big template behind the Scott Pilgrim game from the enemy design, shops to buy supplies and upgraded stats since there is a level up system for the characters gaining new moves as they gain more XP by beating up more enemies along with increasing your strength, defense, speed, etc. The controls are pretty simple as expected with light and heavy attacks, special moves like the Streets of Rage games, picking up various weapons, and so on. While not as fluid as the old-school beat-em-ups, Scott Pilgrim's gameplay is still solid. If playing solo, expect yourself to grind at previous stages if you're stuck at a certain point because you're not strong enough to go till to the end of the level where a boss fight awaits because this game is indeed tough alone even on the easiest difficulty. There are no checkpoints in the stages, so a game over after losing all your lives will result in restarting a stage from the beginning, but at least your stats will be saved which makes this game somewhat of a grind and the repetition does kick in. If playing with multiple people, you can revive fallen teammates if they lose health and you better so quickly before they lose a life. Also sticking to the beat-em-up tradition, the game is not that long to beat which is several hours solo, but obviously less than that with more players around.

Other than being an old-school beat-em-up, what truly stands out with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is the graphics and sound. Graphically, the game looks very stylish as if you are playing a modernized 16-bit game in the current generation of consoles. The art on the characters, backgrounds, look pretty neat fitting to the retro look as well as setup scenes to the levels and boss fights. However, there are some little bugs where the game can hitch up for a bit as it takes a little longer to load up your status and move list when the overworld screen or the music doesn't kick in at the right time. Even the little things can disrupt a special experience from truly shinning as you just wish the execution was perfect on the developers' end. The soundtrack though is amazing blending in modern and 8-bit sounds together into one cohesive piece and another reason why you feel like you're in the 90s playing this game at some arcade. There are no voice overs, which is a good thing even though it is still a licensed game, as the game does do a good job of telling the straightforward story throughout.

For ten dollars, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is a worthy pick up if you love old-school gaming especially beat-em-ups like River City Ransom and Double Dragon. The gameplay is solid even though it might be slow at times, but that's probably the case when you're starting to level up a character as stats will increase by gaining levels and buying CDs, books, and other goodies. The shining point of the game is living up the franchise's source material and references to video games in general from Mario, Mega Man, and more as the fanservice is everywhere even to the hidden material such as similar codes to those games unlocking something similar to when you input them back in the day. It also looks great as a stylish beat-em-up that looks like you were playing a game in the 90s and the soundtrack fits along that description as well. The lack of online co-op and little bugs prevent this game from perfection, but if you have local friends along for the ride, then you would enjoy more out of the game than playing it alone grinding it out with certain characters to make them become stronger. All in all, you feel like you're playing a love letter to gaming culture as a whole with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game.

Score = 8/10

  • Solid beat-em-up gameplay
  • Lives to the franchise's source material from the story to the presentation
  • Amazing soundtrack mixing in modern and 8-bit sounds
  • More fun with three more players into the mix
  • No online co-op
  • Little bugs disrupt the experience
  • Can be difficult alone, which makes the game a grind to level up characters
  • Since the game can be a grind at tough moments, repetition does kick in

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