Every free thinking, truly good person in the world loves comic books, even comics without colorful masked men as the stars. And one of the best recent indie hits is the Scott Pilgrim series, and which has now become a Major Motion Picture (TM). Obviously, any film aimed at an audience that plays games is going to get a spin-off videogame, but quite possibly no film or comic book series before has been as simple a translation to the gaming world as Scott Pilgrim vs the World.
If you want to get technical about it, the game is slightly more based on the comics than the film, with designs lifted right off the page and featuring characters that aren’t in the film. But it follows the story of both, where you play as Scott and his pals battling all over Canada so Scott can defeat the seven evil exes of his new girlfriend Ramona Flowers. That very videogame-y concept is followed to its logical end as you battle through seven levels, each eventually ending in a boss fight with an evil ex.
The gameplay invokes iconic brawlers of the late ’80s and early ‘90s, like Final Fight and Double Dragon, but it most specifically channels cult classic River City Ransom. The combos are quick and simple, running from left to right is a given, and punching enemies till you just can’t punch them no more will happen. It’s all classic fun with snazzy retro graphics, though some will fault it for not going much deeper into the genre. But we bet they'll forgive its shallowness when they remember the price of this downloadable title.
Above: Recognize this reference to Mario 2? Then this is the game for you
River City Ransom in particular is a great jumping off point for the title because the comics and film were directly referencing that game more than a few times, including how enemies turn into loose change once beaten. It’s also great to see the Scott Pilgrim game embrace the simple leveling system and consumable items you can buy - which River City was ahead of its time for using. And there are tons of great references all over the place to more classic games than even hardened nerds like us will catch.
Ahead-of-its-time gameplay from 1990 still makes Scott Pilgrim vs the World retro today, and its difficulty is often very retro, meaning stupid hard. One player on the lowest difficulty is tough enough at the start and you’ll be thankful for the leveling system making it slightly easier. When up to three other friends play with you, the difficulty balances out some, but the screen can at times get too busy with that many players and enemies. Two players is the real sweet spot, which is when River City was at its best, too.
Scott Pilgrim vs the World could be called River City Ransom 2 for a post-modern audience, but we’re not snobs like that. Instead, let’s say that just like the movie and comics, Scott Pilgrim the game speaks perfectly to a specific generation of people that will absolutely enjoy this breezy blast from the past. And anyone who’s wanted a new yet classic brawler will be satisfied by this no matter how they feel about Scott Pilgrim getting a life.
Aug 25, 2010