Scott Pilgrim's precious little videogame references

VOL. 4 – Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together

1. The title page

Once again, O’Malley patterns one of his splash pages after a classic title screen, this time with a big, beautiful color homage to Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

The biggest difference here is that, unlike Scott and Ramona, Sonic and Tails aren’t about to kiss. But hey, that’s remedied by like every Sonic fanfiction ever, so it’s all good.

2. Energy meters

Scott’s thirst meter is nearly full, but his cash meter is completely empty. It’s happened to all of us at one time or another. Sometimes all the time, and not usually in videogames, either.

As for whether those meters are from anything specifically, it’s hard to say for sure. But they look an awful lot like they came from a Dreamcast VMU game, or maybe one of the old Digimon/Tamagotchi virtual-pet keychains. Anyone know? Let us know in the comments.

3. Scott’s question mark

Is it…? It is! An 8-bit question mark that’s an exact copy of the ones on Mario’s question blocks!

Well… near-exact, anyway. The bottom part is a little too short.

Above: The rest of it’s all there, though

3. The dream forest

Scott’s dream sequence – in which he wanders aimlessly around a mysterious forest while being hounded by a chirpy elf who asks him if he knows the cheat code – is a direct nod to Zelda, and more specifically to the mazelike forest areas in some of the games.

Above: You don't necessarily need a code to get through these, but directions wouldn't hurt

That “random encounter” business is all down to RPGs, though. Especially JRPGs that surprise you with random battles when you least expect/want them to happen.


4. A job system

We mentioned already how Scott is kind of a moron, right? Here’s further proof: when Stephen Stills offers to train him as a cook if he takes a job as a dishwasher, Scott struggles to understand the situation by relating it to the “job systems” found most prominently in certain Final Fantasy games. Predictably, this nearly scuttles the job interview. Just like it probably would in real life.

Above: Scott is dumb. Do not be like Scott

5. +500 EXP

Scott gets the job anyway, and immediately gains a 500-point experience bonus. Not a specific reference, really, but where else but videogames have you ever seen pop-up numbers like that?

This happens a few more times in the series, but since those bits don’t really present anything new, we’re going to ignore the subsequent ones unless there’s a reason not to.

6. Pee meter

Scott’s minimalist status meter makes a return, and this time it’s pee-related. We’d say this is a sideways reference to The Sims, a game in which roughly 130 percent of any given day is spent peeing, except for the fact that the Sims’ bladder meters don’t empty when they pee – they fill.

7. The power of love

It’s easy to dismiss this as another generic-y RPG reference, but the visible stat boost and earned power echo one RPG in particular: Pokemon, with its constant leveling and evolving and learning new powers and goofy messages stating all those things.

8. Scott vs Roxie = Ninja Gaiden

One of the coolest visual references in the book (again, for old-fart NES fans) is the climactic duel between Scott and half-ninja Evil Ex Roxie Richter, which follows the opening of the NES Ninja Gaiden almost shot for shot. First, the two combatants stare each other down and rush across the field at each other…

… just like Ken Hayabusa (in orange) and Bloody Malth (in gray) did in one of gaming’s first-ever cinematic cutscenes:

Above: Each of these was a separate screen; we stitched ‘em together to make the similarities clearer

Also replicated are the panels in which Roxie and Scott leap at each other to deliver a midair strike before dropping back to earth.

The main difference is that Scott’s in front in both panels, while Ken’s in back. Maybe because Scott wins and Ken loses? Either way, the awkward midair poses we remember from our misspent childhoods are damn near identical. And that’s kind of awesome.


Tense as all that was, though, Roxie breaks the stark mood – and the “enemies turn into coins” pattern – by suddenly exploding in a cloud of adorable bunnies and birds. Strange, you say? Not if you’ve ever played through a boss fight in Sonic the Hedgehog.

Above: OK, yeah, that’s still kinda strange

10. Scott’s t-shirt

This one’s kind of easy to miss, but near the end of the book – after Wallace tells Scott he’s found a new apartment with his boyfriend Mobile – Scott’s wearing a Mother 2 tee.

In case that doesn’t ring any bells, it might help to know that Mother 2 is the original Japanese title for the game known in the States as Earthbound.

Above: Does it look familiar now?

11. Starmen

The Steve Manale-penned guest strip at the back of Vol. 4 is built around one single videogame reference: those invincibility stars from Super Mario Bros., which play MP3s and enable an abnormally brutal fight between Scott and guy-who-knows-everybody Michael Comeau.

Next page: Volume 5!




  • sophia030394 - December 5, 2011 8:49 p.m.

    The Power Of Love is a famous song by Huey Lewis and the News.
  • ryan-barrett - October 12, 2011 11 a.m.

    Just in case it wasn't overly obvious (I wonder how many people are going to read this) if you take the Triforce/GGG logo on Scott's shirt and rotate it 90 degrees clockwise, there are three 7's inside of the triangles. Gideon's the 7th evil ex, and 777 represents "the threefold perfection of the Trinity." Which is why getting triple-7 on slot machines usually means jackpot.
  • ryan-barrett - October 12, 2011 11:03 a.m.

    Furthermore, the relationship and/or "Love Triangle" between Scott, Ramona, and Gideon could be seen as very similar to the one between Link, Zelda, and Ganon. Gideon also shares the same first letter of his name with our well-known Zelda boss.
  • dthktty - March 10, 2011 2:34 a.m.

    oh sorry its not the Jadow free Viewtiful Joe 1, but actually the Gedow from Viewtiful Joe 2, hence the way it looks like 3 letter G's stuck together. sorry about the mistake guys
  • dthktty - March 9, 2011 7:41 a.m.

    on page six, number ten (the bus ride), could also be a possible reference to Viewtiful Joe, where early on you have to ride a bus to get across a bridge. Also this references is further advanced by the fact that Scott's tee-shirt in number thirteen, is the exact symbol for the bad guys in Viewtiful Joe that are called the Jadow. I could be wrong though.
  • Chaoscoolperson - January 2, 2011 8:13 p.m.

    Volume 6 error The logo on scotts shirt was obviously a triforce upside down.
  • RaptorRider - November 10, 2010 11:12 p.m.

    What I love more than anything is that I found a reference nobody else mentioned. In Book 2, before Knives attacks Ramona, while Scott's talking with Steven Stills, you can see him playing Parodius. He's playing as Pentarou, and he's just reached the cat-pirateship miniboss.
  • batmanboy11 - September 20, 2010 1:11 a.m.

    I'll be starting Volume 3 tonight. So far the series has been awesome.
  • zanthox - September 8, 2010 7:37 p.m.

    Such a great article. I just finished SP and loved reading this to see all the things I missed. Thanks for the hard work!
  • lymanzaar - September 4, 2010 11:56 p.m.

    One thing I'd like to add is that in the last page of the free comic book day issue, there is a panel called "Scott Pilgrim Says". this may be a refrence to the old Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons, where the episode would end in a segment called "Sonic Says"
  • batmanboy11 - August 30, 2010 10:58 p.m.

    Actually I'm just going to stop now. So far I've read page 1 and 2. I'll move on when I get 3 and 4.
  • batmanboy11 - August 30, 2010 10:50 p.m.

    Even though I haven't read the books yet (1 and 2 are coming from amazon) I'm going to read the whole article. Its not like its going to spoil anything. I've seen the movie twice and read sypnosie for the books. So far the article is cool.
  • RufusRuthless - August 27, 2010 5:13 p.m.

    @Slaanash The first novel came out in 2004. Maybe No More Heroes got all of its ideas from SP???
  • RufusRuthless - August 27, 2010 5:11 p.m.

    i wasnt an late 80's/early 90's gamer so i obviously missed a few of these. but good article! i have been reading SP since '05 and its always been my fave graphic novel, i hope it doesnt go away for good now that the series concluded, the movie came out and the game came out!
  • Slaanash - August 27, 2010 3:23 a.m.

    The whole series is totally a No More Heroes reference. Come on, a rather dickish yet strangely likeable character murders 7/10 skilled fighters, who explode into money, so he can get into a girl's pants?
  • ezekielzero - August 21, 2010 9:54 a.m.

    i think there may be a reference to sonic 3 with the giant floating chained island that ramona went to university. Its in the third volume.
  • SillyPigeon - August 20, 2010 3:42 p.m.

    Just finished reading through the books. Great article
  • EnragedTortoise1 - August 19, 2010 3:56 p.m.

    Comtinue? Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. One. GAME OVER.
  • gamewriter - August 19, 2010 3:52 a.m.

    Really wants to read the comic now
  • GamesRadarMikelReparaz - August 16, 2010 7:42 p.m.

    @ShotgunEric374: I think it's less that no one knew about it, and more that people started posting stuff about it the week the game/movie came out, because that way it'd be relevant to a larger audience. For my part, I've been reading Scott Pilgrim since 2006, so I was only about two years late to the party. I think Amazon kept recommending it after I bought some Blue Monday books. Wish I'd paid attention sooner.

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