Maybe If You Knew the Science… : Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World The Game Review

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Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Chengdu & Ubisoft Montreal
Systems it’s available on: Playstation 3 (available on Xbox 360 on August 25th)
ESRB rating: T for Teen
System reviewed on: Playstation 3

By now, we all know the basics of Scott Pilgrim: the titular clueless 23 year-old plays bass in a garage band, sleeps ‘til noon and generally just drifts through life until he hooks up with literally the girl of his dreams. The only problem is that in order to keep dating her, he has to fight seven of her evil ex-boyfriends.

One of the most infectious things about Bryan Lee O’Malley’s six-volume masterpiece is the way it channels video games in both the background and in the logic governing the plot progression. And now the patently obvious–Scott Pilgrim becoming a game–has happened with Ubisoft’s Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game.

It’s weird; I was nervous about the prospects of the Scott Pilgrim game after E3. But, after getting into it, I think the downloadble title stands as an example of everything that’s right with fan service. SPvTW apes the side-scrolling beat-em-up structure of classics like Golden Axe and Streets of Rage with some RPG elements. You can explode dudes into money with punches and kicks and use the cash to buy new moves.  Stephen Stills, Kim Pine and other members of Sex Bob-omb are playable in addition to Scott. The gameplay is a simple throwback to old-school NES games but the boss battles against the ex-boyfriends are inventive and challenging. SPvTW also throws in a catchy  soundtrack by chiptune band Anamanguchi and new art from O’Malley.

It’s weird playing 8-bit graphics through a high-def console, because the juxtaposition of sharpness and blockiness makes the retro look is oddly hypnotic. The homages to cult-classic games of previous generations start even before the game’s loaded. Remember the Department of Justice seal with the quote “Winners Don’t Use Drugs”? It gets hilariously Pilgrim-ized into a cautionary message from the Vegan Bureau of Investigation with the warning “Winners Don’t Eat Meat.” The game’s overworld map looks like the one from NES cart StarTropics, too. Some of the shops hidden through out the levels hold awesome Easter eggs, too. You can buy an album by Bryan Lee O’Malley’s one-man band Kupek, or go into the video shop to see Scott & Wallace’s exorbitant late fees. Secret doors in the levels will open into the Subspace Highway, which is a bonus section peppered with sections of glitched-out stretches made to look like the code that didn’t load properly. Anyone who played games on the Commodore 64 and its contemporaries will get the same warm fuzzies as I did.

But the most old-school thing about SPvTW is the difficulty. When you die, you’ve got to start right back fro the beginning of the level. You get to keep all your monies, though, and that’s good because you’ll need to upgrade your character’s attacks in order to make it to Gideon Gordon Graves. It’s a damn shame that there’s no online co-op option, as this would’ve been great fun to play with distant friends. As it stands, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World satisfies both the urge for a fun playable romp in Bryan Lee O’Malley’s world and gamer nostalgia for the low price of $10.

Official Techland Score: 8.6 out of 10