Initial release date: August 10, 2010
Updated release date: January 14, 2021
Developers: Ubisoft Chengdu, Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft Pune
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Complete Edition: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, STEAM, Google Stadia
Awards: VGX Award for Best Adapted Game
Publishers: Ubisoft, Universal Pictures
"Review Copy Provided by Ubisoft"
I’ll admit something that will stun some people; I’ve never read the graphic novels written by Bryan Lee O’Malley nor have I watched the movie starring Michael Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead so I don’t have much familiarity or nostalgia for the series so I’m going fully into this title blind as I didn’t get the opportunity to play this game back in the day on Xbox Live Arcade and PSN and was removed from the digital market fronts in 2014 leading to many thinking it would be lost to the gaming world forever. Fast forward a decade and we now have the game rereleased and made available on all modern platforms as well as physically for a limited time via my friends over at Limited Run Games. While this game has grown to mythical status over the decade, the question now is does it still hold up as the brawler genres lost gem or is it made irrelevant by the current resurgence of the brawler genre with Streets of Rage 4 and River City Girls? Let’s find out!
For the sake of simplicity, the story of Scott Pilgrim Vs The World The Game Complete Edition is centered around the titular character Scotty P needing to battle the seven evil exes of his girlfriend Ramona Flowers.
The way Scott Pilgrim plays is very similar to that of what you’d expect if you’ve played the River City games from Ransom to Girls to Underground in that it’s not only a beat em up but also is a RPG as well. Also this game is balls hard, keep that in mind.
I’ll start with the beat em up aspects of the game; you have your standard punch, kick, jump, block, and run all mapped to your face and shoulder buttons. You can chain together punches and kicks to beat down your opponents and can even juggle them when needed to take down some baddies with ease. You will gain more and more moves and abilities from leveling up by grinding by fighting baddies in each level while grinding for coins and using coins to upgrade you arsenal.
When I spoke of leveling up, that was my Segway to speak on what the second aspect of the game was being another thing pulled from the River City franchise. As you progress through the levels and beat up baddies you’ll start to gain experience and will start to gain levels which will inlock more and more moves and abilities such as countering, rushing attacks, and more. The big problem with this RPG lite system of unlocking moves is that it’s a real grind to even be able to feel fully equipped to take on just about every enemy that comes your way. The grind takes a lot of time and patience to get your character to a suitable level with suitable abilities not to mention you’ll need to do this with each character individually which can often feel like a chore but is required if you want to have a solid roster of characters deliver a righteous beat down on the baddies.
One of the other aspects of this game which is awesome is the fact you can have 4-player online and local coop allowing you and some friends or online randoms have some good times beating up Ramona’s exes and their lackeys.
This edition of the cult classic gives you all the DLC from the original release such as the extra characters as well as some extra modes like Battle Royale which is essentially a survival mode with you needing to be the last one standing. There’s a Boss Rush mode with you taking on all the game’s bosses in sequential order as well as a Survival Horror mode where you face off against zombies needing to survive and finally there’s Dodgeball mode which is very similar to that dodge ball River City game that is, well, dodge ball. There aren’t any new game modes outside of what was there a decade ago but that isn’t a bad thing necessarily.
This game perfectly replicates the look and style of the comic book series in a pixelized River City retro style that honestly adds layers of depth to an already visually unique art style. Each of the main characts from Scott to Wallace all look distinctly different with fluid animations when attacking, being hit, and while idle. The graphics feel like they’d be right at home on the SNES or Sega Genesis with its superb 16-bit pixels enshrouded in brilliant bright colors and vibrant backgrounds.
Each of the enemies are pulled from the comic and also some of the attacks from enemies such as Todd’s mutated arm attack look like they were pulled straight from K9999’s SDM from King of Fighter’s 2001. There’s a lot of easter eggs in the moves both the playable characters and the enemies end up doing. The levels are incredibly diverse and have a distinct 2010 punk rock aesthetic to it having you battle in snowy Toronto, movie sets, moving trains, and more.
What Anamanaguchi have done with this game’s soundtrack is LEGENDARY! The chiptune soundtrack is pure retro goodness that fits each and every area that you find yourself in.
I’m going to upset a lot of people with this part because I know how beloved this game is to so many and I’m going to call a spade a spade and say that this game, while good, at best is highly overrated and at worst is an incredibly mediocre beat em up. Overrated you say? Yes very much overrated and overhyped because when you boil it down to it’s essentials, Scott Pilgrim is nothing more than a River City game with a different coat of paint with the exception of having the ability to play the game with up to 4 people locally or online.
The game requires you to grind heavily to even make the game open up a lot more and be more enjoyable vs how it is when you start the game and when I say that I mean that you start the game being swarmed with enemies that will require you to really think about how you approach situations because you will be beaten to a pulp by your enemies as you take a lot of damage from each hit even when you’re playing the game on easy. I don’t mind a challenge in my games, in fact I love them, but I can’t stand the fact that I always feel so ill equipped to take on bigger and badder enemies unless I keep going back to old levels and grinding to level up just to get more moves and better stats to be able to progress.
Then there’s the issue of rubberbanding in the game with the enemy AI and how they constantly swarm you and often will keep you from being able to get up from knockdowns resulting in your health just being drained and lives being depleted. No matter how you maneuver around the arenas, the enemies will always surround you and stay within an short distance of you and effectively “rubberband” about you as you move around.
The other issue I have with this game is how the hit detection is spotty and how bad the stun lock can be when you’re hit by an enemy which will keep you from doing much of anything and eating damage. I think one of my last complaints is the fact that the game doesn’t clue you in to shops being obvious to go into and you’ll often walk right past them not knowing you can walk into them and be able to buy buffs and debuffs and items.
Many will chastise me of my grievances with this game, but these are things that I didn’t care for.
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World The Game was, in it’s time, considered one of the greatest beat em ups of all time. In the decade it’s been dormant and inaccessible, it’s grew a cult status and legend that in all honesty made the game to be way more than what it actually is which is pretty standard if mediocre brawler which borrows heavily its mechanics and aesthetics from River City that launched in an era where brawlers were basically a dead genre and it shined. As it is now it is still a decent game if not a good game if you play with friends or spend time grinding to get your characters leveled up massively.
With the advent of brawlers that have come out in recent times such as River City Girls, Fight N Rage, The TakeOver, Streets of Rage 4, and even Battletoads; Scott Pilgrim Vs The World The Game Complete Edition doesn’t match up to these games honestly, HOWEVER, if you’re willing to look past it’s flaws and just dive into the game as it is and learn it’s mechanics then I think you will find a fairly enjoyable game that more than deserved a return in all its glory on all platforms. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World The Game Complete Edition may not be a must play in my book but is still a testament of why video game preservation is a must in the modern era.