Review | Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game Complete Edition
It’s been roughly six years, but Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is finally back. Released originally back in 2010, Ubisoft Montreal’s arcade style beat ’em up was considered an instant classic. Unfortunately, due to licensing issues, the game was delisted in 2014. Now, thanks to Engine Software and a new deal, the game returns with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game Complete Edition. Adding all the downloadable content, the game is now available on modern platforms. Was it a triumphant return for this pixelated classic?
Fans of the Scott Pilgrim series of graphic novels will likely appreciate this take on the series, as it also draws inspiration from the 2010 film. With that in mind, the game does still deviate a bit. Like the source material, Scott falls in love with Ramona Flowers. In order to date her, he’ll find himself facing her seven evil exes in difficult challenges. Players will have seven playable characters, each with their own ending that strays from the other sources. Given the context of the game, there’s also the addition of more enemies for Scott and friends to face. As a beat ’em up, the story is pretty simple, but it also has quite a bit of charm because of it.
Each character will have their own unique abilities and skills that they unlock as they level up to a max level of 16. This includes dash attacks, foot stomps, grabs, fireballs and more. For eagle eyed fans, they may notice some moves take some inspiration from Capcom’s Street Fighter series, but that’s just one of the many influences to the game. Normally, players would just have access to Scott, Kim, Stills and Ramona at the start, but thanks to the Complete Edition, you’ll also have the selection of the DLC characters Knives Chau and Wallace Wells. For those that put in the extra effort, they can even unlock the evil Nega Scott.
With the gameplay, Scott Pilgrim takes the foundation of classic beat ’em ups like Final Fight and Streets of Rage and goes a bit deeper. Combos go much further, characters will have stats that will improve, and the physics can be pretty dangerous. While you’ll be able to punch and kick enemies like normal, you’ll also be able to launch them into juggles, pick them up to use as a weapon, and even be able to hit items back at them. The game really simulates a fighting game on scrolling levels. As you defeat enemies, they’ll drop money which players can then spend on various items in shops. These items can heal you, buff you, grant extra lives and much more. Of course, some shops are well hidden, but if you find them, you can get your hands on some very valuable items.
There are seven stages total, each with their own midpoint checkpoints and phases. Players will have three difficulties to select from, though even the “Average Joe” difficulty can offer challenge to newcomers. Even better, you can invite up to three friends to tackle each stage with you. While the game does offer online multiplayer, in all honesty, it’s the biggest issue with this game. The online matchmaking doesn’t offer much flexibility, and if you manage to start a stage, it’ll almost always break. In multiple attempts, I’ve had screens freezing, stages halt progress, strange error codes, and more. It’s best to say that this is one to enjoy with friend locally if you can, as hopping online will likely just frustrate you. Hopefully it gets a patch to improve the online experience, because it drastically needs it.
At the end of each stage awaits a unique boss battle. Some bosses will be simple like Matthew Patel and his “Demon Hipster Chicks” while others like the Katayanagi twins will fight you with a giant robot. While the boss battles are fun, there is a certain inconsistent nature about their AI. Sometimes you’ll go into a fight and wipe the floor with a boss as they struggle to even pull off a move. Others, you’ll get caught in a pattern where they’re using all types of crazy moves to annihilate you. I suppose this does just depend on skill, but I’ve had both experiences against practically all the bosses. Either way, the varied nature to how these bosses are presented is pretty amazing.
One of the claims to fame of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is the art style and visuals. Boasting fantastic pixel art and animation from Paul Robertson, the game gives itself life with every frame. The style manages to take just enough from Bryan Lee O’Malley’s drawings while still giving off its own vibe. It’s also a game made using the recently departed Adobe Flash, which makes it even more impressive. Either way, the game will resonate with fans of classic retro titles, especially those in arcades. Little nods to games like Sonic the Hedgehog, Pac-Man, Super Mario and more help to bring this game closer to the source material.
The other claim to fame for the Scott Pilgrim game is the Anamanaguchi chiptune soundtrack. There’s a certain magic to the background music that makes it energize you. The Scott Pilgrim franchise is no stranger to music, especially with several of the characters being part of bands. Even the movie has one of my favorite film soundtracks of all time. It’s great that the game found a way to integrate music with such a unique taste that feels right at home. Of course, part of this is also the sound design, as the music will play most of the time. Sometimes, like during Subspace Highways for example, music will be muted. It really makes those areas feel more tense and abstract, especially paired with the visuals.
While online multiplayer is easily the biggest flaw with the game, there’s still some other issues with the design of the game. Players have the ability to summon allies for a quick attack, though they almost feel pointless. They usually don’t do enough to matter and they just use valuable Guts points. Another issue comes from various input response, mainly in shops. It’s pretty frustrating to make a purchase, only to wait a few seconds to either purchase something else or leave. There’s an occasional bug here or there, but nothing that will break the game. Of course, the game did crash on me after my first time beating Todd Ingram, so perhaps there’s more that I’m not seeing. Luckily, the game doesn’t cost much and it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Thanks to this being the “Complete Edition,” the game collects all the content in a nice package. Players no longer have to unlock modes like Boss Rush or Survival Horror as the game makes them available from the start. The previously downloadable Dodgeball and Battle Royal modes are also available from the start. Even though there’s not a lot to gain from them, you’ll still earn money and experience for playing. It also helps to give players some practice with their moves.
Overall, while the online experience is in severe need of fine-tuning, the rest of the game is pretty great. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game Complete Edition is a great use of $15, and it’s a great local co-op game to enjoy with friends. We just need to have an end to this pandemic so we can see our friends again. If you’re a fan of the graphic novels or the film, you’ll likely have something to love about the game. Come for the fantastic pixel art style, stay for the Anamanaguchi music. This is still the classic we deserve after half a decade.
Final Score: 8.5 out of 10