It seems impossible for Scott Pilgrim vs. The World to live up to the promise presented in its screens and trailers. People who love retro games, indie comics, chiptunes, pixel art and brawlers could potentially all find reason to hang their hopes on Ubisoft's PSN/XBLA title. Based on a short demo put together for E3, the game has more than satisfied my hopes. In other words, wow, this game. As a lifelong River City Ransom fan, this game is kind of a dream. A dream with a soundtrack by Anamanaguchi.
The demo level of the four-player brawler took place in a snowy Toronto with roads full of gaping holes. As Scott and Kim, an Ubisoft rep and I battled countless generic thugs. The fighting engine is a bit deeper than NES-era brawlers, with light and heavy attack buttons, a block, a grab, a special spinning attack, and a button that calls a partner (another character from the series) to perform an assist attack. Should those not fill your quota of different attacks rendered in beautiful Paul Robertson animation, you can also launch a combo attack with your co-op partners by holding the heavy attack button. That combo attack, of course, is a concert. The characters' instruments of choice appear on screen, and enemies are destroyed by the sheer power of the band Sex Bob-Omb. And, if not, you can always kick them afterward and collect their huge coins.
At one point in the level, we came upon a door marked "Sub-space," which, we were told, was a shortcut. It also turned out to be a surrealcut -- entering sub-space brought us into a tunnel full of simulated NES glitch effects and flying, giant piggy banks. Without having seen the level before, I can't say how much time I saved by taking this trip.
The game also awards you new abilities as you defeat enemies. For the demo, this was accelerated such that I was earning a new kick move or grab every couple of minutes, but I was assured the upgrading process would be more gradual in the version of the game that's not meant to make journalists freak out.
Here's where I would normally say something equivocal about the quality of the game, given its early state and the brevity and focus of the demo. But I'm not going to do that. I want to play more of it right now, and I'm going to buy it, and if you're the kind of person who replays Double Dragon even occasionally, you're going to like this. Even if you know nothing about the comics.