Sharp-eyed consumers of crap NES games will immediately recognize that the second Scott Pilgrim book shares its title with the second Simpsons game, in which Bart jumped around through profoundly ugly levels based loosely on other countries.
2. The title page
Opening the cover, we’re confronted by another game reference: the logo Scott’s lying inside of is damn-near identical to the title screen of Bonk’s Adventure for the Turbografx-16.
3. A vidyagame!
Early on in his flashback, Scott’s sitting in his basement, playing what looks to be a Genesis. Possibly with a Sonic game playing, although it’s impossible to be sure.
People play games a lot in the Scott Pilgrim books, so in the interest of not spending forever writing this, this is the only time I’ll point it out – unless, of course, there’s some other, more compelling reason to do so.
4. River City Ransom
Scott’s brawly high-school flashback is one of the best parts of the entire series, particularly if you were a NES gamer in the ‘80s. If you were, then you’ll instantly recognize several distinct shoutouts from River City Ransom, beginning with some of the stranger onscreen text…
… and ending with Scott fighting a dude named Simon on the roof of a school.
5. Bomb up!
Another gaming scene, this time with a specific game: Bomberman.
It’s hard to be sure which Bomberman, but it’s definitely Bomberman. Which incidentally is also one of the best games ever to play with friends.
6. Sonic and Knuckles
Continuing O’Malley’s habit of naming bands after old games, Scott’s high-school band (consisting of him, Kim and their friend Lisa) is named after Sonic’s fourth game, when he shared billing with a punch-happy echidna.
7. I am rubber, you are glue!
Squint really hard at that last panel on the left, and you’ll be able to read Scott spouting this classic (and totally ineffectual) schoolyard comeback. This is another one we would never have pegged as a reference if O’Malley hadn’t specifically called it out as “kind of a Monkey Island thing.”
Above: And so it is!
8. The Clash at Demonhead
A combination of legendary punk band The Clash and the weird old NES game Clash at Demonhead, The Clash at Demonhead is another reference aimed squarely at old-school Nintendo Power readers, circa 1989-1990.
The band itself also packs a couple more references to the game, but we’ll get to those later.
9. The bass line from Final Fantasy 2
This one’s a little confusing. Sure, he’s talking about Final Fantasy, but does he mean Final Fantasy II, or Final Fantasy IV, which was released over here as II on the Super Nintendo? For that matter, which bassline does he mean? There are dozens.
Thankfully, O’Malley makes it a little clearer by saying that “As many of you know, the intro to the bass line from Final Fantasy one through six (and nine) is ludicrously simple.” There’s just one easy bassline that’s (sorta) consistent between those games specifically, and this is it right here:
Above: It may be easy, but it’s still awesome
10. Tony Hawk
In preparation for the upcoming battle against skater-turned-actor Lucas Lee, Scott’s roommate Wallace makes him “train” by playing Tony Hawk.
This is actually kind of appropriate, considering how many people thought they could skate after playing the first Pro Skater 11 years ago.
Above: NO YOU CAN’T
Much to everyone’s mild shock, Scott somehow gets it into his head to give Ramona the nickname “Rammy.” While it wasn’t intended as a reference at the time, O’Malley’s notes say he later realized Rammy was the name of Um Jammer Lammy’s black-and-white evil twin (and player-two avatar), and now calls it an “unconscious homage.”
12. ITEM GET!
This doesn’t appear to be a reference to anything specific, unless you consider the countless MMOs, RPGs, shooters, brawlers and other games that include item drops whenever you defeat a special enemy.
It all becomes more narrowly MMO-y, however, when Scott examines the stat-boosting Mithril Skateboard and realizes he can’t use it because he never picked that skateboard proficiency back in grade five. And so it pops out of existence, its potential completely wasted.
Above: Oh well
13. You fight like a cow
When Knives attacks Ramona at the library, she gloats about how she “grazed” Ramona, to which Ramona replies:
Anyone who’s played The Secret of Monkey Island will instantly recognize this as one of the very first Insult Swordfighting comebacks you learn, where it’s used as a counter against “You fight like a dairy farmer!”
14. The cheat code for Sonic 3
The cheat code for Sonic 3, incidentally, is Up-up-down-down-up-up-up-up, entered just after the Sega logo fades.
15. Saved over your game in Final Fantasy
OK, this one’s a little cheap, since it’s just Wallace offhandedly saying “Final Fantasy.” But everyone’s had this happen to them at one point or another (usually after loaning a cartridge to a friend), and it sucks.
16. Are we an item?
Scott’s kind of a moron. If you’ve read the books, you don’t really need me to tell you that – just like you don’t need me to tell you that when Ramona asks him about their relationship, the “items” he thinks of are straight out of Super Mario Bros.
Does the strange, vaguely skull-shaped “NO” logo on the front of The Clash at Demonhead’s kick drum look like it’s from a videogame? That’s because it is. Appropriately enough, it shows up in Clash at Demonhead, when you “accidentally” shoot a friendly character.
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