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For the longest time it looked like the Scott Pilgrim game was simply going to be another chapter in the long story of gaming’s abandoned past.
Originally released on the PS3 and Xbox 360’s digital stores in 2010, the game was eventually pulled from both storefronts at the end of 2014, most likely due to the expiry of the licence. Since then, it’s been impossible to buy the game, meaning to all intents and purposes it had been abandoned.
It’s taken six full years of fan campaigning, but the game is finally back (along with a limited edition physical version, which should ensure it’s properly preserved this time). It was certainly worth the wait to see the game once again, though you’re likely to get the most out of this re-release if you didn’t play it the first time around.
For the uninitiated, Scott Pilgrim vs the World: The Game is a side-scrolling beat ‘em up similar to the likes of Final Fight and Streets of Rage. In fact, the most accurate comparison would be with Street Gangs (also known as River City Ransom), because it’s clear this is the game Scott Pilgrim takes the most inspiration from: the combat is very similar to that of Technos’ NES classic.
Players take their character of choice through seven Toronto-based stages that roughly follow the plot of the cult graphic novels and the similarly cult movie they spawned. Along the way you’ll take on Ramona Flowers’ seven evil exes, who conveniently serve as your opponents in the game’s lengthy boss fights.
The game’s presentation is arguably its strongest point. The art style is a perfect recreation of the comics and fans of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s work will essentially feel like they’re playing his illustrations in animated form, such is its authenticity. Meanwhile, the soundtrack by chiptune rock band Anamanaguchi is among the best you’ll find in gaming, perfectly mixing retro with contemporary with a variety of earworms.
This would all be for nought if the game itself wasn’t entertaining to play, but thankfully that isn’t the case. Combat starts off fairly basic with weak attack, strong attack, jump and block moves, but as you defeat more enemies you start to level up and unlock new techniques such as dash attacks, back attacks and the ability to throw weapons at high speeds.
Your first playthrough is likely to be a fairly difficult one. With a weak protagonist and a limited moveset, it won’t be uncommon to lose all your lives each time you attempt a new stage. Over time, though, you become stronger and, combined with your constantly increasing array of attacks, you’ll find things much easier when you replay older stages. This is a game that rewards multiple playthroughs, and the feeling of evolving and improving the more you play is a satisfying one.
“The art style is a perfect recreation of the comics and fans of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s work will essentially feel like they’re playing his illustrations in animated form”
It’s the weaponry that’s perhaps the most entertaining element of the combat system, though. Each stage is filled with a wealth of items to pick up and use, ranging from the conventional (baseball bats, swords and the like) to slightly quirkier ones like electric guitars, snowballs and even Super Mario Bros 2 style turnips. Their slightly unrealistic physics mean chucking them around the room can quickly become a hugely entertaining dose of anarchy.
The game includes the two DLC packs that were also made available back in the 360 and PS3 days. The base game allows you to play as Scott, his girlfriend Ramona or his fellow band members Kim Pine and Stephen Stills, while the DLC added Scott’s other girlfriend (it’s complicated) Knives Chau and his roommate Wallace Wells to the mix.
Each of the six characters has their own levelling system and their own movesets, which means there’s plenty of replay value here: at the very least, players will be expected to beat the game at least six times to see each character’s ending, and even then they may be encouraged to keep going to level each character out fully. Crucially, this doesn’t feel like a chore.
The main issue with this new release of Scott Pilgrim is that, for some, this will be retreading old ground. This isn’t a remake, a reboot or even a remaster: if you owned the original game and its DLC and you still have access to your own console, this new version is practically identical and as such there’s really no reason for you to buy it again unless you’re an achievement/trophy fiend or you want the convenience of having it on a modern system (or, indeed, on the move if you buy the Switch version).
Some extra content would have been nice, be that new stages, new characters or even a bonus section with concept art and the like: anything at all to help long-suffering fans justify double-dipping. As it is, if you still have the Xbox 360 or PS3 versions, you essentially have this one already.
As such, Scott Pilgrim finds itself in an interesting situation in that it’s clearly been brought back as a response to fan campaigning, but at the same time, those fans are the least likely to get something out of it. Meanwhile, if you missed the game the first time around, it’s still as entertaining as ever and as such there’s really no excuse not to check it out now.
Beat 'em ups were flatlining when Scott Pilgrim was originally released. A decade later the genre is in rude health, but it's a testament to the game's quality that it still stands tall as one of the better examples. Fans may be disappointed, however, that practically nothing has been added to the game after all this time.
- Fantastic art design that looks like the comics have come to life
- Anamanaguchi's soundtrack is among the best in gaming
- Combat system is satisfying and the levelling up system encourages replay value
- Includes the previously released DLC packs as standard
- If you already own the 360 or PS3 versions, there's nothing new for you here