Boy falls in love with girl. So far, so cliche? Not quite — see, there's a twist to Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers' burgeoning relationship; Scott must defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends in order to go on a date with her. Thus ensues the perfect set-up for a seven-stage beat 'em up game moulded around classics such as Final Fight, Rival Turf and River City Ransom.
Released to tie-in with the movie of the same name, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game sticks closely to the original graphic novel source material. The novels, which are heavily inspired by video game culture, have been transcribed into a pseudo-retro art-style which is stunning to look at. Audio's provided by chiptune rockers Anamanaguchi, who've nailed the tone of the product perfectly. In fact, if the soundtrack doesn't get its own separate release we'll be particularly furious.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World's available from the PlayStation Store for $9.99 / £7.99.
It's the easiest thing to commend about Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, but Ubisoft really has done a stunning job creating a believable, sprite based universe that takes advantage of the added processing power of the PlayStation 3. See, while Scott Pilgrim looks like a classic NES game, the animation and visual clarity is above and beyond anything that was ever possible on that system. Unlike MegaMan 10 (which sticks closely to the hardware limitations of the original Nintendo system), Scott Pilgrim feels like a new game in a distinctly retro skin. And that's cute.
It's not often that audio is the most championed element of a video game, but Anamanaguchi chip-tune soundtrack sets the mood unbelievably well. Mixing traditional instruments with the soundboards of the NES and GameBoy systems, there's a distinctly nostalgic flavour to Scott Pilgrim's audio. The soundtrack needs a separate iTunes release now. We demand it.
As you progress through Scott Pilgrim you'll earn XP and gain levels. With each new level (there are 16 in total) you'll learn new "moves". As your arsenal of attacks grow, so too does Scott Pilgrim's gameplay. Initially the brawling might seem a bit stiff, but it grows into an incredibly fluid system. Throughout the game you'll also collect money. This can be spent in a number of different shops and used to provide health upgrades or stats boosts. In a touching nod to Bionic Commando, we picked up a Bionic Arm to increase our strength. Scott Pilgrim is littered with classic video game references — from the little gremlin dudes out of Golden Axe, to the coin-cubes from Super Mario. It's all a loving homage to a bygone era.
There's no online co-op in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World which is a big miss. Thankfully, the local co-op is fun. You'll need to work as a team to revive each other, share health and share money in order to beat the later bosses. It's an enjoyable game to play whilst vegetating on the couch with friends. Providing you've got any...
Let's be honest, side-scrolling brawlers died for a reason. As a homage, Scott Pilgrim falls into all the trappings of the genre it tries to imitate. Movement can be creaky and unresponsive, depth perception is difficult to judge, and the gameplay is agonisingly repetitive at times. The game does its best to mix up the action, unlocking new moves makes the game more fluid as you progress, but at its core it is still an old-school brawler. And again, there's a reason there aren't many of those games anymore.
Scott Pilgrim is designed for co-op but it is still playable in single-player. As such we were hoping for a more balanced experience depending on the number of players, but Pilgrim doesn't appear to take that into account. The game gets ridiculously hard in single-player, and requires you to grind through previous levels in order to bump your stats and take down some of the later bosses. It takes away some of the natural progression from the game. Online co-op could have eradicated the issue somewhat, but it is not included in the package.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World's a quirky retro brawler packed to the brim with fan-service. Franchise aficionados will be delighted with the way Ubisoft's reconstructed the Scott Pilgrim universe into video game format; but even those unable to discern Ramona from Kim will get a kick-out of the River City Ransom-esque gameplay. Perhaps the only disappointment is what Scott Pilgrim doesn't offer — despite being designed with co-op in mind, the game only includes local multiplayer, which is a huge missed opportunity.