Scott Pilgrim vs This Game Review: FIGHT!

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So Scott Pilgrim is both an awesome graphic novel and a kickass movie. But wait, there’s more! Scott Pilgrim also has a game for the Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade called Scott Pilgrim vs The World: The Game. I bought it, played it, and beat it. So is it any good? It’s Scott Pilgrim vs Chris Pranger, today, on Toy-TMA!

Some of you have already played Scott Pilgrim’s arcade game on the PSN since it was released a few weeks ago. However, the XBLA didn’t get the game until this last Wednesday, and since I don’t own a PS3, I had to wait. As soon as I could on Wednesday afternoon, I went onto the XBLA and bought Scott Pilgrim’s game. Okay, first I had to buy $10’s worth of XBLA points, which is crap because I had roughly $4 in points and just needed $6 more, but you can’t buy $6’s worth of points, only $5 or $10. That’s also crap. Oh yeah, the game!

Ready, set, START!

The Scott Pilgrim movie had me sold the moment the Universal logo came on all pixilated with a chiptunes soundtrack. The Universal logo appears at the beginning of the game, though it’s just the normal logo and everything. That was…kind of disappointing. Okay, whatever, that’s not the game. Onto the game.

The game is good. I was extremely hesitant when I learned Ubisoft was the one handling the Scott Pilgrim game property, mostly because I’ve seen how Ubisoft has handled the TMNT property (spoiler: not very well). Thankfully, they got things right, for the most part. And I’m going to be using that qualifier a lot here: “For the most part.” Get used to it.

There was a lot Ubisoft could have got wrong. Thankfully, they didn't screw things up too badly.

So you have four choices of characters between Scott, Kim Pine, Steven Stills, and Ramona Flowers. I played through the game as Scott because it made the most sense to me. It’s nice to have the four options to choose from, but I honestly would have liked more. I kind of wanted to play as Wallace, or even Young Neil, and especially Knives, but I’m stuck with these four choices. That’s okay I guess, for the most part.

Alright, combat. Combat is good, for the most part, insomuch as you have some basic attacks and then level up to gain new abilities. Your four main buttons let you jump, block, light melee and strong melee, but you quickly gain the ability to do a heck of a lot more. The tough part about combat is that you really, really need the higher-up moves to survive later in the game, but you can only gain those by leveling up, i.e. grinding your character a bit. Granted, you’ll be retrying some levels due to dying so it’ll balance itself out, but be aware that there is some grinding involved to beat the game.

My big complaint with combat falls on the limitation of the 2-D sprites. They look awesome, no complaints there, but frequently, as with a lot of old-school beat-‘em-ups, you’ll be trying to hit someone with an attack and they’re just slightly above your character’s plain, so you don’t hit them, almost like they’re literally a flat, 2-D character that can move in 3-D. It’s not awful, but it’s something that frustrated me about older games and it’s still broken today.

Maybe the grind isn't so bad with friends, but I'll never know.

If you have to pick one game that Scott Pilgrim borrows from the most, besides the numerous references, it is River City Ransom for the NES, a super sweet beat-‘em-up that plays almost identical to Scott Pilgrim: The Game in terms of combat. However, that’s not a bad thing at all because I loved River City Ransom. The big thing it did was incorporate weapons for use by all characters. You can pick up trashcans, bats, snowballs, even downed enemies, and either beat your foes with it or hurl it across the screen. This would be great, except for the fact that my character hardly ever wants to pick up an item when I command him to. You have to be standing in just the right spot to grab the item, and then if an enemy hits you, probably from behind because that’s where they like to stand, then you drop the item and have to pick it up again. Even worse, I repeatedly injured myself throwing an item, only to have it bounce off the edge of the screen and smack me in the face. That’s annoying, even more so when you keep doing it by accident.

All things aside, the game is really fun, for the most part. Levels do a good job of varying things up, and enemies range pretty well between standard and specialized enemies. Everything remains pretty fun until the final level against Gideon. The first boss fight with him is pretty simple once you figure things out. Then comes the second boss fight, a fight that was absolutely terrible. My fun plummeted for a few reasons. The first is that the second fight required almost zero skill. Just keep rushing up and beating away until you get super-punched. Then, when you ARE super-punched, you get hurled across the screen. This wasn’t fun because I’d get punched, hurled, land, and instantly punched again before I could do anything. I wasn’t at risk of losing the match because I had leveled Scott up enough to withstand crap like that, but still, I hated that finale.

The funny thing is, if this had come out on the SNES it would be considered an honored classic today.

Now comes the worst part of the review: Things that broke for me. I’m talking literally, as in “Times while playing where the game glitched and broke.” Simple things happen all the time, such as an enemy getting knocked out but remaining in the background, untouchable and just standing there doing nothing, but then there were bigger problems. For one, I keep hearing the music pull an 8-bit skip similar to what the NES would do right before crashing. Moments when the music stretches a note for a second longer than it should freaks me out and sends me back to the days when at any moment the game could freeze up and have to be restarted.

However, the worst glitch happened in the last level of the game when fighting that second form of Gideon. Before even getting to the boss encounter, you have to run across a random floating pathway, then jump on some clouds to the final platform. This is fine, but I fell off the pathway. Normally, when that happens you’re just placed back on the pathway with a few health points reduced. For me, instead of falling off and being placed back on, I somehow fell through the top layer of the game, meaning I was running around in the background unable to do anything. I ran to the spawn point for Gideon, and he showed up, but he couldn’t touch me and I couldn’t touch him. I then ran past the edge of the screen to the literal edge of what the programmers had programmed, and found myself in a white void. I was forced to restart the level, super pissed and with little confidence in the game’s QA department.

My final gripe is that the multiplayer is local only. I really want to play multiplayer here, but that would require me to have enough friends with Xbox 360 controllers who care about Scott Pilgrim AND who like beat-‘em-ups, and that combo isn’t easy to come by. If the multiplayer supported Xbox Live players, too, similar to how the TMNT Arcade Game does, then everything would be roses. Oh well, the single player is still good, for the most part.

Scott, teach me your ways, and I shall in turn teach you why some of them are wrong.

I just don’t know what to think about Scott Pilgrim’s game. It’s a fun game, and the references to other games only makes things better. The game has tons of personality and is by all regards a fun game to play. I just wanted more, I guess. I can play through the TMNT Arcade Game over and over because it’s short and simple. Scott Pilgrim is a game I don’t really want to play through again right away because I know the amount of work it requires, but after the game is beat, there’s not much else to do except replay it. I know there are a Boss Rush mode and a Zombie Hoard thing, but I don’t know where those are since they’re not listed. All I’m really left to do is complete a few silly achievements should I choose (seriously, 10 points for getting through a level untouched and 20 for just buying everything at a store? Are you kidding me?).

For you, the choice of whether to buy the game rests on your love of Scott Pilgrim and beat-‘em-up games. The game does both of those really well, but as a whole, it’s somewhat lacking. Pick it up if you have the points to spare, otherwise, maybe wait until this goes on sale with a half-price deal or something. Scott Pilgrim barely wins video game.

Want more game reviews? Check these out:

Why Are You Reading This? StarCraft II Wings of Liberty Review

Outlaws to the End: A Review of Red Dead Redemption

An Epic Gaming Session: A Review of God of War III

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About Author

Chris was the former Head Writer/Editor of Toy-TMA. He did a great job overseeing the site and getting new content published regularly. Always more than willing to respond to a comment or two, but pitiless with trolls! He has since moved on from TMA, and we wish him the best.

6 Comments

  1. I had the same thought when I watched the movie for the first time – you had me at pixelated Universal logo. It is nice to see that I wasn’t the only one taken in by that little extra. Of course I was also disappointed when it didn’t come through in the game.

  2. That’s what I’ve been hearing about Shank. The gameplay videos I’ve seen just make the game look sort of…boring to me. Maybe that’s just me though. I’ve never been one to be sold on ultra-violence.

  3. I’ve only played through the demo on the 360 but I had a lot of fun with it. Some of the collision detection was a little quirky, but I wrote that off as being true to the old 8-bit way. I haven’t played multiplayer so I can only imagine that being double the fun.

    I haven’t purchased Pilgrim yet because I’m still battling through the new Lara Croft game to unlock all the goodies there – which is also a great game, http://bit.ly/cwhx65 – but Pilgrim will be on my list once I burn it out otherwise.

    The game “Shank” also came out this week and I think that game is more along my fun factor. It’s $15 opposed to $10 for Pilgrim, but it’s far more fun to just watch, if you ask me. Both are pretty straight forward beat-em-ups. I fear “Shank” would be a quick play through and $15 is pretty steep for those cases. I think Pilgrim is a better value.

  4. Huh, you’re right. Their names are Kyle and Ken alright. I also want to say that the achievement for beating them at the same time is called something different, but I can’t find the exact panel online and don’t own the books.

  5. I bought this game the 10th of August on PSN, and I Absolutely loved it.

    You know Chris, for some reason, you seem to have a way of attracting glitches in games (cace and point: that one you mentioned in your God of War 3 review that I never saw.) Like, yeah, I notices some of the little things you mentioned, but the really rediculous ones I never whitnessed, and I’ve played through the game at least a good 3-4 times now.

    I will say this. Scott Pilgrim was the only game that got me and all three of my Siblings in one room playing the same game. It was that crazy. They haven’t even read the comics or watched the movie yet, but they all enjoyed it.

    The best way to fight Gideon in the second round, I found, was to keep hold of the Power of Love, and use it to spam blast him at a distance, that way you give yourself some range and a chance at blocking his punches.

    You know, I still haven’t played it on any of the more difficult settings, because you’re right about one thing, it is pretty damn hard. Fortunately, my brother and I learned a way to beat the system and give a character an unlimited amount of money to buy all the powerups you need to max your character out, and once you have all your powers, you are the freaking man.

    One nit-picky thing though: Ubisoft called the twins “Kyle and Kevin” Maybe I’m the one that’s mistaken but I was pretty dang sure their names in the comics were Kyle and Ken.

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