Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game

With the release of this game it seems that the medium has finally come full circle, in a sense. It’s a game based on a film, which is based on a comic book, which is largely influenced by and heavily references….. you got it, video games.

This makes it kind of an odd beast – true to it’s source material the game is full of material referential to gaming and the culture that surrounds it. I find this to be rather strange, because whilst the allusions to gaming have a place within the film or the comic books, it’s almost out of place for a game to make such a big deal of the fact it is a game.

Yes, I know that I’m playing a game. I have a pad in my hand!
That’s not so much a criticism as it is an observation. After all, the game is merely reflecting its source material. But it is a thing I find rather odd. But at the same time, it’s incredibly endearing.

And that’s probably the way I’d describe the entire game. The whole experience with it is one of endearment. Although I can see this not applying to everybody. You see, Scott Pilgrim is the story of a 22 year-old, and everything about the game, and the film, (I can’t speak for the comics, haven’t read them yet.) seems geared towards appealing to people in that age bracket. As a 23 year-old I’ve squeezed out plenty of enjoyment from the game. But I could see a lot of what I’ve enjoyed about it going over the heads of younger players.

So what’s so good about it then? Well, there’s a quite prominent nostalgia factor that comes into play. The game harks back to the 8-bit and 16-bit era that 22 year old Scott would’ve grown up with if he were actually real. The game has a strong resonance with the likes of Turtles in Time, Double Dragon, River City Ransom, and countless other side scrolling beat-em ups that were popular back in the day.

It’s refreshing to play something along those lines again – because, put simply, developers just don’t make these kinds of games anymore. It’s nice to go back to the simplicity of this style of game. Also, at least when you start playing it, it’s tough as nails – just like games used to be back in the 90s.

It’s got other things going for it besides tugging at my inner sense of childhood nostalgia. With 5 different characters to play through as, there’s a good bit of replay value in there, especially for a game that costs about a fiver. I also get the feeling that multiplayer on this game would be an absolute blast (something I’ve yet to confirm though).

Combat in the game is solid, you start off with a simple 2 button system of light and heavy attacks, and you gain more moves as you progress through the game. You get coins for every enemy you defeat, and those can be used to buy items to beef up your stats. It’s a simple formula – but it works.

But there are a number of things about the game that don’t work. For one, it’s a buggy mess. Menus take a ridiculous time to open, which just isn’t particularly acceptable for a game that doesn’t exactly use a lot of assets. And the game has a tendency to completely crash at some intervals.

One of my main gripes is that, aesthetic differences aside, there’s almost nothing to differentiate the different characters. Yes their moves have different animations, but they all do more or less the exact same thing. Playing as Scott doesn’t feel any different to playing as Ramona.

The lack of online co-op is another of my issues with the game. After all, it’s a 4 player game, it’s meant to be played with 3 other people, and the only way you’re able to do so is by actually getting that many people around into one place. (Although this is the perfect kind of game that’s worth getting 4 people together with a load of drinks and snacks, and making a night of it.) The only positive I can garner from the lack of any online play is that with how poorly put together the code is for offline play, online play would probably be a horrific enough experience that you’d want to scoop your eyes out with a spoon afterwards.

Despite its flaws, overall it’s a solid game that I’d fully recommend to anybody looking for a bit of nostalgic fun, or as a way to get rid of a few Microsoft points that aren’t being used. It’s a great bit of fun, and well worth the couple of quid. It doesn’t break any new ground, or do anything really impressive – but if you’re playing a side scrolling beat-em up with 16-bit graphics and find yourself disappointed by the lack of innovation, you really need to ask yourself what the hell you’re doing playing the game to begin with.

7/10

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