Friday, 20 August 2010

Game Review – Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Formats: XBLA & PSN


I chose to give Scott Pilgrim vs. The World a moment of my time due to a number of reasons; first of all, I feel I do not give enough credit and recognition to some of the incredible online games we are able to download. Games such as Braid won many awards but players steer clear of games that they cannot get physical copies of, and while this is indeed understandable, one cannot help but feel sorry for those people who are missing out on a lot of fun. Secondly, it made sense to me to review Scott Pilgrim with the brand new movie coming out staring Michael Cera.


Scott Pilgrim takes its formula from traditional side-scrolling beat-em-ups like Golden Axe and my personal favourite retro game of all time, Streets of Rage. However, it plays with this formula with outstanding 8-bit and 16-bit graphics, some clever RPGish elements, lots of great laugh out loud moments and fast paced combat. While there are some issues surrounding Scott Pilgrim, most do not interfere with the actual game-play so once you dive in, prepare to experience a fun and rewarding experience that you can share with your friends.



So the story is pretty simple here, Scott Pilgrim wants to date the love of his life Ramona Flowers, but in order to do that, he must defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends in combat. The game sets out beautiful stages ranging from frozen suburbs, to a film set, all the way to a subspace highway. Each level spawns its own set of clever and interesting bad guys to beat up, they all have different ways for you to interact with them and offer a considerable amount of replay value if you want to find all of the level’s secrets. Naturally, at the end of each level you will come to a boss fight, which all prove to be thrilling, crazy and challenging, keeping the combat fresh and entertaining.


Scott Pilgrim incorporates RPG elements very well, allowing you to collect coins and spend them to upgrade your different stats, the generic strength, defense, will power and speed points. Lord knows you will definitely need to upgrade them because the game can be horrendously challenging as you become overwhelmed and surrounded by enemies. This can be manipulated by the games three-difficulty modes, but even on ‘average joe’ without powering up you will find yourself in a lot of trouble. Never fear however as in each level you will find shops that sell loads of whacky food products, books, DVDs, CDs and so forth. Each one cleverly hints at what it will upgrade but you can never actually see until you purchase the product. Some people have complained about this feature but if you do not understand that ‘bionic arm’ is more than likely going to boost strength and ‘speedy porcupine’ is going to raise your speed, then quite frankly you need some lessons in logic.


Scott Pilgrim makes it very clear that the game should be played with friends by its marginal difficulty levels. You can take up to 3 friends with you along the journey and boy is it a lot of fun. There are four playable characters in the story so its not like you are using just template characters and they all have varied attacks and stats, making it just a little bit different when changing characters. You can also sign in with your gamer profile, which allows you to collect the various trophies on offer in the game. The one thing that seriously lets Scott Pilgrim down is the lack of co-op online, for me this wasn’t a particular issue because my friends were local so we could all play off of one system, but those looking for an online experience will not find it here. Another issue is there is no ability to instantly drop-in or drop-out of play. This means that you and however many friends will have to start from the main menu to play together, this is completely illogical as all old side-scrolling games featured this function, it was almost completely staple so it puzzles me why they chose to omit this function.

Technically, the game impresses on multiple levels, a fitting soundtrack that really revives the old 16-bit era strings all its fluid game-play, great graphics and RPG elements together almost flawlessly.



Ubisoft have done a great job forming a technical and deep game, as you level up by defeating enemies you will unlock new moves and combos that help throughout your adventure. There are tag team moves available, super special finishing moves when four players play together and the ability to summon aid mid-combat to help you in sticky situations. Your health is measured in heart points and you also have gut points to use your special moves. If you get knocked out however, the game transfers your gut points to health points and if you get knocked out without gut points, you lose a life. A clever and cheeky mechanic in Scott Pilgrim is the ability to turn into a ghost and steal your friend’s lives once you have run out yourself. This is irritating but oh so much fun at the same time, creating a little bit of selfish competition for survival. You can share health and coins as well, furthering the idea that this really should be experienced with friends.


Ultimately Scott Pilgrim is a very entertaining side-scrolling beat-em-up. It takes the old formula that we all know and love, implements it well minus the lack of drop-in and online co-op, while at the same time re-styles the formula if you will with its own whacky and cartoony artwork, RPG-like mechanics and a whole load of style. Scott Pilgrim is available on the PSN and Xbox Live Arcade and should not be missed for those looking for a fun trip down nostalgia lane with a few twists to keep things fresh and exciting. Be sure to check out the movie as well coming out at the end of the month, it looks like an absolute blast.


Technical presentation – 7.0

Graphics – 9.0

Game-play – 9.0

Replay value – 7.0


Final score – 8 / 10


CeX UK Contributor

Igor Kharin


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