By Brittany Vincent
Scott Pilgrim did more than meet the girl of his dreams. He met her in them. Ramona Flowers, a delivery girl for Amazon, is beautiful, mysterious, and changes her hair color weekly.
Unfortunately, there are seven major problems standing in the way of their happiness together: Seven evil exes.
These are failed suitors who want to keep Scott from dating her, all of them organized under the greatest ex of all, Gideon Graves. It’s up to Scott to finally find the power of love within himself in order to conquer Ramona’s jilted partners and nab a “good” ending for the both of them.
In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game, an adaptation of the comic series and feature film, you’ll take up the mantle of Scott, Ramona, or one of the members of fledgling band Sex Bob-omb on a raucous and thoroughly retro-licious journey to take out six evil ex-boyfriends and one evil ex-girlfriend.
Like the comics and movie from where this violent rainbow sugar rush of a side-scrolling beat-em-up came, this release relies on old-school gaming sensibilities and cheeky gaming references to create one of the better and more enjoyable book/movie tie-ins of all time.
Unfortunately, it’s not one of the best video games you’ll get your hands on. While this 8-bit brawler practically oozes style and classic gaming goodness, it doesn’t quite make up for its plentiful problems.
You’ll rush through several different comic and movie-inspired stages, bashing heads with baseball bats, destroying peons with fists of fury and calling on Scott’s own obsessive teenage ex-girlfriend Knives Chau to aid in battle.
Each character has a special move to make short work of enemies. If you look hard enough, you can even take a trip down Ramona’s “subspace highways” hidden behind sheds, doors, and other locations to reach later pieces of levels and to skip troublesome parts.
After mowing through what seems like an overly long stretch of crazed enemies, you’ll face an evil ex at the end of each stage. Defeat them, and you move onto the next location from the game’s hub world.
This is classic gaming 101. If you’ve ever played River City Ransom or Streets of Rage, you should feel quite at home here.
Shops are littered throughout each themed world (flying piggy banks, zombies, mascots, you name it) stuffed with power-ups like snacks and CDs to raise your experience points, health points, and “guts” required to perform special attacks.
You’ll need to grab all the coins enemies leave behind in order to upgrade your character and see this game through to the end.
That’s where problems begin. For starters, the game is brutally difficult. Playing alone on even the easiest setting exposes you to a hideous montage of painful humiliation until you can beef yourself up enough to withstand enough blows and preserve your allotted three lives. If you die three times in one level, it’s back to the drawing board with all progress erased, except for experience.
The game is also devoid of online cooperative play, so unless you have friends and extra controllers on hand, your mettle as a solo gamer will be put to the test.
Gameplay is compounded by the fact that you must constantly work to be on the same plane and position as your enemies to land hits. Enemies also have no qualms about kicking you when you’re down or simply streaming out and dog-piling on your helpless body.
I can’t equate the game’s awkward RPG character progression and vicious difficulty for solo players with “real” challenge. It just felt cheap. I felt cheap for enlisting fellow Scott Pilgrim fans to help me out without having completed the game alone first. But as someone who wants to make progress in a game without being cheated out of it, I simply lost my patience.
Perhaps this can also be attributed to the game’s deliberate old-school feel, when gaming was devoid of checkpoints or empathy, but modern times call for modern mechanics. To me, this felt like sloppy design.
It’s a shame such problems are present in an otherwise highly enjoyable offering. Aside from what can only be described as a retro gamer’s dream team of artist Paul Robertson (of “Mechafetus” fame) and chiptune greats Anamanaguchi providing visual treats and aural wonderment, the game serves up a hefty amount of style and flair. It also conjures up a few knowing giggles from players with instances of “Hey, I remember that!” rustled up among the game’s Super Mario-styled stage-select screen, the coins felled enemies leave behind, or the new moves gained with experience points earned in battle.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game is warm and familiar to anyone who can appreciate gamer culture. Perhaps that’s why despite all the issues, like Ramona to Gideon, I kept going back.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game
Xbox Live Arcade, PSN Network
Rated T for Teen