STAFF REVIEW of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition (Xbox One)

Sunday, January 31, 2021.
by Peggy Doyle

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition Box art Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game - Complete Edition (henceforth in this review known as Scott Pilgrim) is finally back 6 years after being removed from digital store shelves. The 2D beat-‘em-up represents the source comics and movies from which it was derived quite well. Each stage ends with a boss fight between Scott and one of Ramona’s evil exes. It’s highly entertaining even if there are no changes from its original launch.

Scott Pilgrim was first released in 2010. When it was delisted from digital stores in 2014, it became a bit of a collector’s item for fans of the game to show off to their friends. No one ever really confirmed why it was removed from stores, but most believe there were licensing agreement issues. When the 10th anniversary of the movie was celebrated in August 2020, rumours of the game returning began to surface. Now here we are with the Complete Edition. Although the game has built a hardcore cult fandom, and most have heard of the film, not everyone is aware that it was actually based off a comic book series. Intertwined with video game references and self depreciating Canada jokes, the unique nature of the series makes it still quite intriguing after all these years.

For those unfamiliar with the content the game is based on, Scott Pilgrim follows the adventures of 20 something Scott, as he battles for the love of his life, Ramona, against her evil exes. The game features the major characters of Scott, Ramona, Stephen and Kim. The Complete edition of the game includes DLC characters Knives and Wallace as well. Each character has their own signature attacks, standard health bar and points which will allow Super Attacks or the ability to call in an ally to help you in battle for a quick boost and assist. Each character can be leveled up in your character's stats of Defense, Speed and Willpower. Stores sprinkled throughout the game allow you to purchase stat boosting items like food and concert memorabilia. You can even pay off Scott’s late fees at a video rental for special perks.

Co-op in the game can be played via local (couch co-op) or online with up to 4 friends. Players have the ability to resurrect others when downed, loan money or even steal lives. I didn’t venture into the co-op game so I can’t really provide much commentary on that.

Characters from the original comic are sprinkled throughout the background in game and each have their own cute and unique animations. Enemies range from music fans, bus drivers, paparazzi, to actors on movie sets in dinosaur costumes. Each enemy has a distinct fight style which important to determining your attacks. It is full of Toronto hipster style, and instantly reminded me of from my time there.

In addition to the main game there are 4 bonus game modes: Survival Horror, Boss Rush, Dodge Ball and Battle Royal. These give you some bonus content even if they didn’t bring anything particularly fresh to the game. I could see Boss Rush being a lot of fun playing with friends.

The biggest issue for me was that I felt incredibly underpowered. Classic games of this style weren’t something I really grew up playing other than for a few exceptions at the arcade. Because of this, I have never really been particularly good at them. This game was no exception. With no ‘easy mode’ I struggled to find the formula that eventually allowed me to work through the levels. Even on the easiest difficulty I struggled at the beginning. As I leveled up I was able to add more abilities and fill out my special moves, helping me feel at least more comfortable with the game. For the first few hours, I definitely felt under equipped. Like most retro style games, it does not hold your hand. This means you’ll die a lot, especially in the beginning, and there’s a frustration to the ‘start again’ mentality of the title that has the potential to alienate a lot younger gamers who have grown up with different styles. When you die you start at the beginning of the level all over again.

The game has no dialogue, telling the story of Scott and Ramona though brilliant, pixelated splash screens and a lot of video game references. You can spot references to Mario, Zelda, Final Fantasy and Resident Evil just to name a few. It has a lot of nostalgic appeal to gamers who remember either the original games or that genre from their youth. Just looking at the game made me happy every time I played.

Being that Scott Pilgrim takes place in Toronto, it holds a special place for me as a Canadian. I love all the time I spent in that city. I can’t recall another game where you collect toonies to buy poutine while also avoiding TTC (Toronto Transit) buses in the street.

2D stylized 8-bit graphics are what makes this game truly a nostalgic stand out for me. I can easily feel like I jumped back in time to the games I played in high school, even if that was before this game originally came out in 2010. The beat-‘em-up style is always a perfect fit for 8-bit graphics like this.

Anamanaguchi’s catchy chiptune soundtrack remains fully intact from the previous version of the game. It blasts in the background while playing and brings a level of high energy matching well to the gameplay; pure nostalgic magic. I could close my eyes and be taken back to a simpler time. There is a reason a lot of games in this genre use this style of music - It’s upbeat, peppy and makes you hyped to take on the fights and boss battles. If you want to hear the satisfying sounds of your punches and kicks hitting the enemies, just drop the music audio in your settings.

Everything from the original Scott Pilgrim game is there; the side-scrolling, button-bashing combat, the beautifully rendered 8-bit graphics style, the music, the comedy and tongue-in-cheek charm.

A lot of modern gamers may not appreciate the retro appeal of a game like Scott Pilgrim or the excitement for it’s long awaited return. A lot have become accustomed to the realistic graphics and heavily detailed designs of current AAA games, and in that case, Scott Pilgrim isn’t likely to change their mind for their preference in games, nor convince them to play it. For the indie loving or retro fan like me, this was exactly what I needed to remind myself of the joy and the frustration of the genre. For the low price of $14.99 USD / $19.99 CDN, it’s a great deal for the fun I had with it.

**Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition was reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 7.6 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.5 / 10
Sound: 8.3 / 10


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