When Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: The Game came out originally in 2010, I have to admit it slipped under my radar for a little until I picked it up on my Xbox 360. Mostly this was down to not actually knowing about the original Comic Book that the game is very much based on or seeing the film, something that has become a cult classic since its own release a decade ago. As a fan of side scrolling beat em up games when I did come to play it, I really enjoyed it, and following the 10th Anniversary of the film and the game, I was actually rather excited to get to play it again in this special celebration edition. It was time to take on the League of Evil Exes one more time!
Whether it is the comic book, the film or the video game, the story of Scott Pilgrim is still pretty out there with basically boy plays in a band, boy meets a beautiful girl, boy falls in love with beautiful girl, boy is attacked by seven evil exes of beautiful girl and must fight to survive and win the love of his life. All rather straight forward. In the decade since both the game and film came out, I have become more familiar with the story via the film, growing a deeper appreciation for the world of Scott Pilgrim and having enjoyed the celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the film’s release, I did get to thinking about the game that I had played and enjoyed but never really fully appreciated until now.
The retro art style is even more iconic now, playing on my Xbox Series S the big full screen 16bit visuals and animation is just beautiful, which you might think is strange to say but honestly in a world of RTX and 4K gaming, the retro look can look amazing especially when it goes big as it does here. I love the large character models. The levels all look amazing as well, and I admit to feeling more than a little nostalgic as I progressed through the stages remembering how much of the environment can be picked up and used as a weapon, I will never tire of roundhouse kicking a bin at an enemy for extra damage!! The musical score and soundtrack both hit all those retro buttons as well and it is quite joyful even when the game might be kicking your butt to have that soundtrack blasting in your ears with a good headset just makes it all the more retrotastic!
At the core of this game is the side scrolling fighting, a genre that has enjoyed quite the resurgence in the last 12 months with Streets of Rage 4 and Battle Toads remake for example releasing to great acclaim. Back on its original release, I found this to be a very good but problematic fighter. Happy to say that efforts have been made to tidy things up and smooth out the fighting system and it is still a very clever way of doing the combat. I love that you can still combo punch and kicks with jumps to bring the hurt down on the many enemies sent to take you out. As you progress you will “level up” and be given access to a new move such as the ability to kick a downed enemy or to hit an enemy behind you which may not sound all that impressive, but it is a game changer when you start out with a basic arsenal of moves and are being attacked from multiple sides.
The levels are designed as you expect with the objective to clear a section of enemies before moving on to the next section. Some of the later stages will be multi-part so working your way to the boss fight can be extra challenging but all the more satisfying when you get there. I always get a cheeky smile when playing side scrolling fighters now because when you know that every section is designed to lower your number lives and health to soften you up before the boss fight and Scott Pilgrim is brutal in doing this especially if you do try to play this solo because the game does not ramp down the action because you are on a solo run. Even on the “easiest” of difficulties, this game is a real challenge which can sometimes feel unfair especially when losing all your lives and hitting that “Press A to continue” black screen means replaying the entire level, even if you managed to reach the 2nd stage for example. This is old school and as frustratingly gleeful as it can be frustratingly painful to reach the boss, fail to defeat the evil ex then be made to tackle the entire level from the start again. This feeling is even more reflective of the time the game first came out for those who treasured every 50p they put into any arcade machine for that one more go!
This complete edition also adds the DLC, extra characters Knives Chau and Wallace and the mini games that came out after release with the Dodgeball and Zombies minigames giving a good size of gameplay to work though alongside the main game itself. You can have co-op locally or you can go online although I have to admit trying to create or join a game with randoms has proved a little problematic since release but hopefully this will improve server side and with more people picking u the game as this really is great fun with friends.
The game does have other niggles though as I said above, the difficulty spike and punishment of having to replay the entire level if you lose can be off putting and maybe a game stopper for some players trying to go solo, there really is no “Easy” mode here and whilst this is by no means the Dark Souls level of difficult, it will be challenging even for players experienced with this genre. There were also times where the controls felt very sluggish and unresponsive which is not great in a fighting game. The upgrading system, which are shops hidden within the levels and can be easily missed, are never explained fully so it can be a bit of a mystery to new players as to what they do and how the items can be used to help you as you progress through the game.
But Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: The Game is still fun to play and if, in the last ten years, found a love for the comic book that inspired it or the film that became a cultural icon, then this game is a really superb way to help celebrate that fandom. As a fighting game, this complete edition is absolutely worth to be in your collection but as a trip down memory lane, the asking price is worth battling an Evil Ex or two to have!