Scott and Ramona, in wonderful pixel optics
Contrary to the comic book template, there seemed no chance of a happy ending for Scott Pilgrim on video game consoles. In 2010 it was released for Xbox360 and PS3 – purely as a digital download game.
It disappeared from console stores in December 2014 before the game made the jump to the Xbox One and PS4. The game was considered lost. You could only play it if you had an Xbox360 or PS3 on which the game was installed.
Since then, fans have asked year after year if Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is coming back. For the 10th anniversary of the Scott Pilgrim film and thus of the game, the gentle scream was loud again after the game. The creators of the Scott Pilgrim comic and film publicly asked Ubisoft to bring the game back in May 2020. At first the scream seemed to go unheard, but in August 2020 came this tweet from Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley:
Not a bit older than old
Now it’s 2021 and Scott is actually back in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game – Complete Edition for PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC. It is a remaster that contains the 2 DLCs of the original game from back then (therefore: “Complete Edition”).
The return to snowy Toronto wasn’t quite as great for me as I longed for after the long wait. Not because the game has aged badly, but because it has been preserved so well.
The game uses retro pixel graphics, which were very popular when the game was released in 2010. But now it is 2021 and there are 2 console generations in between: The brain needs something to notice that the rough font, the feeling of indolence and the many large pixels are intentional.
From a technical point of view, the re-release has been implemented cleanly. The resolution has been adjusted, the frame rate remains fluid and the coherent chiptune soundtrack sounds at least as good as it did back then.
More comic than film
Anyone who knows the comic or the film knows what the game is about. For those who are new to the Scott Pilgrim universe: Scott meets Ramona, Scott falls in love with Ramona, Scott sets out to defeat Ramona’s 7 evil ex-friends in order to win their hearts.
Due to the graphic style, the game is more like the original comic than the film. Anyone who has only seen and liked the film so far will still love the game (and then maybe buy the comics). The interpersonal depth of the comics is dispensed with in the game in favor of the gameplay.
River City Ransomware – Toronto Style
The game is a 2D beat-em-up. It deliberately borrows from classic games and other popular culture. It is therefore no coincidence that it is reminiscent of the classic River City Ransom game.
Basically you fight your way through the levels from left to right (but you can always go back) to defeat the boss at the end. The levels are lovingly designed and full of references, regardless of whether you are out and about in the snowy streets of Toronto, in bars or on film sets.
The wolf in pixel fur
But you shouldn’t be too enchanted by the background, because the game is anything but a walk in the park. The level of difficulty increases extremely quickly. While you can still muddle through the first one or 2 levels, the fun is over afterwards.
There are several reasons for this. First, the combat system, while easy to understand, is so complex that it is difficult to perfect. In addition to the basic attacks, there is also the special attack, calling for support, mocking the team and using courage points.
Second: Moves are only unlocked gradually, through level-ups of the characters. Some of them, like countering or attacking breaking through the blocks, are essential for successful battles. So you may have to play the first levels more often in order to rise in the character level so that you have the moves to make later levels.
Third: There is a value system for every character, for energy points, strength, etc. These values can be improved by using items that can be bought in the shops on the first level. To do this, however, you first have to collect money by defeating opponents and finding bonus sections. The same applies here: If you want to make your characters stronger in order to be adequately armed, you have to play the early levels more often to collect money.
After all, the game developers were a bit gracious: If you lose all lives, you just have to restart the level. The earned character level and money are not reset to 0.
More players, more fun
Soloists still have an extra hard time. The game is designed to play together. Offline and online, up to 4 players can defeat Ramona’s ex-friends at the same time. This not only makes the game easier, but also more fun.
For example, you can perform team insults, revive a fallen friend or give him money to buy items. If you have not been resuscitated in time, you as a spirit can suck the life force of your fellow campaigners in order to be able to fight again yourself.
A little annoyance: I couldn’t find any public games during my test and no one entered my session either. I’ve tried it at different times and days of the week. Either nobody is playing Scott Pilgrim in Europe or the matchmaking is suboptimal. Anyway: It’s more fun anyway when you meet up with friends for an online Scott Pilgrim round – or even better offline, if the pandemic allows it again at some point.
Once you have found a group or at least a buddy to play with, you will have a lot of fun with Scott Pilgrim. With the included DLC, you have 6 instead of the original 4 characters in the original game. Leveling them all up also increases the playing time. The additional Versus modes Battle Royale and Dodgeball may be looked at once, but will then quickly return to the original game.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game – Complete Edition is definitely worth the 15 euros if you liked the game back then. If you don’t know the game yet, regardless of whether you have read or seen Scott Pilgrim, you must primarily ask yourself the question: Do I have friends / family with whom I can play the game? Because it’s only half the fun on your own.
It’s a shame that the game was almost too well preserved. Matchmaking in online multiplayer is just as bumpy as it was back then and the high level of difficulty still deters casual gamers. A selectable “casual” mode would have been good in order not to frustrate less experienced beat-em-up players (keyword: life partners). Here one should have taken an example from Streets of Rage 4.