Latest in Gaming

Image credit:

Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game


You may have heard of this whole Scott Pilgrim vs. The World thing -- it's kind of a big deal. There's a movie based on a series of graphic novels opening this week (we saw it a little early), and there's all manner of tie-in merchandise capitalizing on its epic epicness. So, here's the Scott Pilgrim video game. "Probably designed by Uwe Boll's less talented cousin Steve and coded by a drunken monkey," you say. Alas, licensed games do generally have that reputation about them.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is one of the best video game adaptations I've ever played. Like, since I was falling into pits playing E.T. on my Atari 2600. Unlike that train wreck and so many others that followed (with rare exceptions like Batman: Arkham Asylum), Scott Pilgrim isn't the product of dubious market research, cutting corners to maximize profits or designing a game for the lowest common denominator. It's clear almost immediately that this is made by people who have gaming ingrained in them down to the sub-atomic level. This is their love letter to their favorite hobby and, in turn, an invitation to revel in it alongside them.

Gallery: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (PS3, Xbox 360) | 16 Photos

Scott Pilgrim is a beat-'em-up in the vein of Double Dragon, River City Ransom, Final Fight and the many other classics of a genre that's been largely ignored by major publishers. And it really does seem like the crews who put it together at Ubisoft Montreal and Chengdu seized the opportunity to make a game in one of their favorite styles, busting out tattered notebooks filled with years-old notes and scribbles under the heading of "Ideas for the greatest brawler EVER!" It's a matter of debate whether or not they succeeded in creating that, but they did make a shockingly good entry in the genre that pays mucho respect to the old school, while still clearly taking lessons at the new school.

I was in love with Scott Pilgrim almost from the moment I loaded it up. The coin-op style intro, the title screen, the sound effects -- everything is an homage to video games past and present. It plucks a string inside my silly old heart but it'll be enough to make youngsters sit forward with a grin.

It looks like nothing else. Sure, Mega Man 9 and 10 brought back the 8-bit NES look, but they stopped there. Scott Pilgrim is almost "hyper 8-bit," somehow managing to be insanely detailed and alive within a pixelated look. Like the comic and movie that inspired it, the game is filled with subtle (and not-so-subtle) nods to loads of classic games -- and even films -- and rocking tunes, too. It could have been gobbling up quarters in the '90s with the best of coin-ops, yet the gameplay and level designs are decidedly current-day.

The whole thing's based around Scott Pilgrim's quest to defeat the seven evil exes of his love, Ramona Flowers. As you can imagine, this makes for an ideal game framework: seven levels, seven unique bosses. You've got the snow-covered streets of Toronto, a movie set, highways; the game world is rich and the levels never end looking exactly like they started. Take the movie set for example: You'll be punching and kicking through paparazzi one moment, and fighting creeps in monster costumes the next, all through a "camera lens," Viewtiful Joe-style. (Just wait 'til you get to beat up the guys in the green mo-cap suits.)

It could have been gobbling up quarters in the '90s with the best of coin-ops, yet the gameplay and level designs are decidedly current-day.

At the same time, the gameplay for 1-4 local co-op buddies -- sorry, no online co-op -- also changes as the battles against the exes and legions of ruffians escalates. Characters level up, gaining new moves that add up to a surprisingly deep repertoire, complete with counters, side-stepping and multi-tier attacks that feel like they could be easily built into a great one-on-one fighting game. Enemies leave coins -- Canadian, of course -- behind to spend on health-refilling food and rock albums that provide temporary boosts in strength.

Yes, it's an arcade beat-'em-up at its core, but a deep one -- with a "Survival Horror" mode (one life, lots of zombies) and a boss rush option to boot. And, yeah, it's missing an online component, but Scott Pilgrim is so amazing as a complete package, I don't so much see it as a fault as something that just would've been really nice to have.

So, yeah, this is awesome stuff. I couldn't recommend it more highly, especially at 10 bucks, and I'm sure you'll be telling everyone you know the same after you clear the first stage (if not sooner).

This review is based on a pre-release build of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game for PS3 provided by Ubisoft.

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext filevr